Still not completely understanding superfatting

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likeablelady

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I understand the basic idea of superfatting. My question is this.... when using soap calc, and putting in the superfatting amount, is the oil amount calculated in what is printed out? Do I "hold" some of the oil back when starting the mixture, or is the superfat amount and additional amount not printed in the results? Sorry if I am confusing anyone.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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It can be confusing, because of the terminology mostly.

Superfat is the amount of unsaponified oil. in CP it is interchangeable with Lye Discount -

Lye discount is the reduction of the lye from all oils being saponified - so a 5% lye discount means that there is 5% less lye than would be needed for all the oils to be saponified, which means that 5% of the oils are not saponified. A 5% superfat, if you will.

In CP, you can only do a lye discount. Even if you add oils in at trace, the lye will take it all as if it was put in at the start. No matter what bloggers might say, it is that way.

In HP, you can cook a batch with a 0 or 1% lye discount and THEN put in some oil after the cook is finished (no more lye left) and that is a superfat in the pure sense of the word.

(I've had a lot of Amaretto, so I hope that makes sense)
 

dixiedragon

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Some of your confusion may come from the fact that "superfat" is used in two different ways in the soap community.

#1 - the percentage of oil over what the lye will saponify (aka turn into soap). Let's say you are making a soap with lard, olive oil, coconut and sweet almond. If you like, you can add your sweet almond oil after trace (this was the "rule" when I started soaping 10+ years ago). But the lye takes what it wants - just because you add the sweet almond oil after trace, doesn't mean the lye won't gobble it up!

#2 - In Hot Process soap making, this is the oil added after the cook. In this case, most of the lye is already used up during the cooking process, so if you add sweet almond at the end of the cook, then the sweet almond will remain (mostly) unsaponified.

When you choose your superfat % in soapcalc, that amount is included in the calculations. Because Soapcalc takes the oils you have chosen and the superfat % you have chosen and it does the math for you and determines how much lye you need. You don't need to add extra oil or hold anything back (unless you want to add something after the cook in HP). If you choose 5% as your superfat in soapcalc, that means that you have 5% more oil than the lye will saponify.
 

Seawolfe

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When you use soap calc, that is the whole recipe, just put all the oils in at the beginning. The calculator basically calculated how much lye you needed for that amount of oils, and then calculated something like 5% less lye so you could have a 5% superfat. And in cold process that superfat is a mix of all the oils you used, regardless of when you add - because in cold process saponification has barely started when trace happens, and isn't done till the soap is hard in the mold and passes the zap test.

The only time you want to "hold out oils" is for hot process. Then I just make my oil of choice to be a 5% ingredient list on the oils, and add that at the cooldown.
 

lsg

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If you are making cold process soap, add all of the oils, adding an oil or butter at trace doesn't guarantee that will be the oil used as superfat. The lye is still very active and does not differentiate which oil is saponified, so unless you know the percentage of unsaponifiables each oil or fat contains, you cannot control where the superfat comes from. If you are making hot process soap, then adding you superfat oil at the end of the cook will give you a better chance of choosing which oil or butter you want to use as the superfat.
 

topofmurrayhill

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You are getting a lot of perspectives here. Let me try a different one.

First the instructions. If you are fairly new to this, just use the standard 5% superfat in Soapcalc to make sure your soap is safe, then use the oil and lye amounts that Soapcalc gives you.

Here is the extra credit explanation:

Soapers imagine that they know the amount of caustic needed to saponify their oils, but they don't. They imagine that they know how much unsaponified oil is left in their finished soap, but they don't. The composition and SAP value of oils varies significantly, and caustic typically contains some unknown amount of moisture and impurities that decreases its strength. Unless you go to the trouble of chemically analyzing all your ingredients, the exact result of combining the lye and oils is not really known. You could be using less or more lye than you want.

The "superfat" terminology in Soapcalc is popular but not very appropriate. It is actually a lye discount. When you enter a percentage there, it decreases lye in the recipe by that amount with simple arithmetic. The first reason for this is to help ensure there is some excess of unsaponified oil instead of an excess of lye.

Unsaponified oil in the soap is called superfat. Unlike the lye discount, which is a simple calculation, the superfat is an unknown amount. If you use a lye discount of 5% for instance, there is a good chance of making a soap with some amount of superfat, but it could be closer to 10% or closer to 0%. People who want more unsaponified oil might enter a larger lye discount into Soapcalc, but the amount of superfat will still be a guess.

Let's say you use only palm oil and use its average SAP value with a 5% lye discount. If the palm oil you have on hand has exactly the average SAP value, you'll have a 5% superfat. If your palm oil has a SAP value at the bottom of its typical range, you will have a 1% superfat. If the SAP value is the typical maximum for palm oil, you'll have a 9% superfat. In no case will you have any idea how it worked out.

CP and HP are the same in all those regards. The only difference with HP is that people sometimes reserve one of the oils to add at the end of the process. That helps ensure that any superfat is composed largely or entirely of the selected oil. It's not possible to do that in CP soaping.
 

sudsly

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if you want 5% superfat, the calculator only adds enough lie to saponify 95% of the oil in your recipe. if you want 7% it only gives you a lye amount to saponify 93% of the oils.
 

Kamahido

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Good question. This too vexed me when I started my epic journey towards soap making.
 

likeablelady

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It can be confusing, because of the terminology mostly.

Superfat is the amount of unsaponified oil. in CP it is interchangeable with Lye Discount -

Lye discount is the reduction of the lye from all oils being saponified - so a 5% lye discount means that there is 5% less lye than would be needed for all the oils to be saponified, which means that 5% of the oils are not saponified. A 5% superfat, if you will.

In CP, you can only do a lye discount. Even if you add oils in at trace, the lye will take it all as if it was put in at the start. No matter what bloggers might say, it is that way.

In HP, you can cook a batch with a 0 or 1% lye discount and THEN put in some oil after the cook is finished (no more lye left) and that is a superfat in the pure sense of the word.

(I've had a lot of Amaretto, so I hope that makes sense)
THANK YOU!! What a great definition. I cannot thank you enough. You have made it very simple.
Some of your confusion may come from the fact that "superfat" is used in two different ways in the soap community.

#1 - the percentage of oil over what the lye will saponify (aka turn into soap). Let's say you are making a soap with lard, olive oil, coconut and sweet almond. If you like, you can add your sweet almond oil after trace (this was the "rule" when I started soaping 10+ years ago). But the lye takes what it wants - just because you add the sweet almond oil after trace, doesn't mean the lye won't gobble it up!

#2 - In Hot Process soap making, this is the oil added after the cook. In this case, most of the lye is already used up during the cooking process, so if you add sweet almond at the end of the cook, then the sweet almond will remain (mostly) unsaponified.

When you choose your superfat % in soapcalc, that amount is included in the calculations. Because Soapcalc takes the oils you have chosen and the superfat % you have chosen and it does the math for you and determines how much lye you need. You don't need to add extra oil or hold anything back (unless you want to add something after the cook in HP). If you choose 5% as your superfat in soapcalc, that means that you have 5% more oil than the lye will saponify.
Thank you for the wonderful information
When you use soap calc, that is the whole recipe, just put all the oils in at the beginning. The calculator basically calculated how much lye you needed for that amount of oils, and then calculated something like 5% less lye so you could have a 5% superfat. And in cold process that superfat is a mix of all the oils you used, regardless of when you add - because in cold process saponification has barely started when trace happens, and isn't done till the soap is hard in the mold and passes the zap test.

The only time you want to "hold out oils" is for hot process. Then I just make my oil of choice to be a 5% ingredient list on the oils, and add that at the cooldown.
Are you saying that the "Lye Discount" is already calculated for you using Soap Calc when you choose a superfat percentage?
You are getting a lot of perspectives here. Let me try a different one.

First the instructions. If you are fairly new to this, just use the standard 5% superfat in Soapcalc to make sure your soap is safe, then use the oil and lye amounts that Soapcalc gives you.

Here is the extra credit explanation:

Soapers imagine that they know the amount of caustic needed to saponify their oils, but they don't. They imagine that they know how much unsaponified oil is left in their finished soap, but they don't. The composition and SAP value of oils varies significantly, and caustic typically contains some unknown amount of moisture and impurities that decreases its strength. Unless you go to the trouble of chemically analyzing all your ingredients, the exact result of combining the lye and oils is not really known. You could be using less or more lye than you want.

The "superfat" terminology in Soapcalc is popular but not very appropriate. It is actually a lye discount. When you enter a percentage there, it decreases lye in the recipe by that amount with simple arithmetic. The first reason for this is to help ensure there is some excess of unsaponified oil instead of an excess of lye.

Unsaponified oil in the soap is called superfat. Unlike the lye discount, which is a simple calculation, the superfat is an unknown amount. If you use a lye discount of 5% for instance, there is a good chance of making a soap with some amount of superfat, but it could be closer to 10% or closer to 0%. People who want more unsaponified oil might enter a larger lye discount into Soapcalc, but the amount of superfat will still be a guess.

Let's say you use only palm oil and use its average SAP value with a 5% lye discount. If the palm oil you have on hand has exactly the average SAP value, you'll have a 5% superfat. If your palm oil has a SAP value at the bottom of its typical range, you will have a 1% superfat. If the SAP value is the typical maximum for palm oil, you'll have a 9% superfat. In no case will you have any idea how it worked out.

CP and HP are the same in all those regards. The only difference with HP is that people sometimes reserve one of the oils to add at the end of the process. That helps ensure that any superfat is composed largely or entirely of the selected oil. It's not possible to do that in CP soaping.
Wow, that is a lot of food for thought. I can understand what you are saying...you explantionis a very good one. Thank you.
Very informative thread!
I'll say!! Everyone knocked themselves out with outstanding and very detailed information. I love this site!!
 
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topofmurrayhill

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Are you saying that the "Lye Discount" is already calculated for you using Soap Calc when you choose a superfat percentage?
Yes, what is called superfat percentage in soapcalc is actually a lye discount. All it does is decrease the lye by the amount you request there. Theoretically you can think of a 5% lye discount as decreasing the lye to leave 5% of your oils unsaponified.

Because of the natural variability of your ingredients, it would actually turn out to be more or less than 5% if a laboratory analyzed the soap. You can't really know exactly. The first purpose of a basic 5% lye discount is that it makes it likely you have some leftover unsaponified oil and unlikely that you have leftover lye. It pretty much guarantees safe soap.

Whatever leftover oil there might be should make the soap milder. The reason to increase the lye discount beyond the typical 5% safety margin is to make the soap milder by increasing the leftover oil (superfat) -- even if you don't know the exact amount you're ending up with, you know there will be more.

A slightly briefer summary of what I said earlier.
 
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