To Superfat Or Not to Superfat...That Is the Question

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by thinkativeone, May 2, 2013.

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  1. May 2, 2013 #1

    thinkativeone

    thinkativeone

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    Other than the unbelievably obvious title, that's pretty much my question. It came about this way, in (not word for word) conversation:

    Me: "I followed the general advice I read around, to superfat at 5%."
    Experienced Soapmaker: "I never superfat anymore, anything above 2% (and that was pointless at that rate) gave me DOS and I knew for a fact my oils were very fresh, not rancid at all."
    Me: "Huh. I'll have to do some reading on that." *did not even know what Dreaded Orange Spots were at the time* :crazy:

    So is it really fine to not superfat at ALL? Will it save me on oils and prevent DOS? This came about from a conversation where I was discussing making my own 100% coconut oil soap for washing laundry (I make homemade laundry detergent - a Dr. Bronner's bar is part of it) and for washing dishes by hand (I wash dishes with Dr. Bronner's bar soap also and baking soda). Even my 5% superfatted 100% olive oil soap can make my skin dry. I make lotion bars and body butter too, so it might stand to reason I should just save the oil and keep using those moisturizers the same amount since my soap is not really moisturizing for me? I cannot think of a time a bar of soap ever felt moisturizing to me, with the exception of maybe Dove (yuck, personally, it left a clingy film).

    I see everything from "Break the rules! Do a 20% superfat for your 100% coconut oil soap!" To, "0% superfat only if it is a strictly cleaning bar - but do not use it on your skin!" :Kitten Love:

    I have another question but it might be better suited to a separate thread. Thanks for reading the lengthiness! :lol: I appreciate your help so much.
     
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  2. May 2, 2013 #2

    jax1962

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    i might be inserting foot into gob here but i usually superfat at a massive 15% and i've only ever had one soap with dos - i now know it was because i has a high % of sunflower oil as i thought at the time it would make a nice white soap (it did, but a year later it's almost all orange lol!). i even go as high as 20% if i've got a high % of coconut oil. perhaps the dos in your friend's soap was caused by humidity? or some people say that curing on cardboard may cause it?
     
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  3. May 2, 2013 #3

    mel z

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    Since you were talking about laundry soap, super fatting is not necessary as you will not be using it on your skin.

    Not calculating a super fat percentage does not save on oil. You will use the same amount. Super fat is there to make sure the lye gets all used up, just in case you get a couple grams over, issues with the lye, etc... It is there to cover that.

    I have found that 5% super fat is still a very drying to my skin bar and have now started using 8% to see how that goes. I have not noticed DOS, I think that comes about due to the types of oils used, how long the shelf life of the oils is, and how old the oil was to begin with. I could have missed some reasons for DOS and super fatting there.
     
  4. May 2, 2013 #4

    new12soap

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    Ohmygoodness. Yes Yes YES a million times YES you NEED to build superfat into recipes. Unless it is for laundry or dish soap where a little bit of excess lye won't hurt anything, for use on people you should always have some superfat (or lye discount) built into your recipes!

    The reason for this is twofold; first of all, no kitchen scale is going to be completely totally 100% accurate. Get a good one and keep it calibrated, but we are not making soaps in a lab with medical grade equipment here, small variances will happen! And in a small, home-sized batch of soap, say one pound, the difference between a 5% superfat and a 0% fat is usually something less than one quarter of an ounce (depending upon your oils). We NEED that margin to cover even the smallest differences!

    The second reason for a superfat is because saponification values are averages only! There is no one set value for any oil, because agricultural products will always vary from one year to the next, from one region to the next. The values given on any lye calculator are averages, not hard numbers. That is why if you put your recipe through several different calculators you will get back slightly different lye amounts! The sap value of YOUR oil may be higher or lower than that average, and there is no way to tell. Superfat gives you a range of protection to cover that possibility. Read here http://cavemanchemistry.com/LyeDiscount-Dunn.pdf A superfat of 5% is really the minimum level to give you insurance against being lye heavy.

    As for DOS, that is not true that a higher superfat causes it. Not at all. http://cavemanchemistry.com/HsmgDos2006.pdf If your experienced soapmaker friend was getting DOS it was because of another reason, not the superfat. As for "breaking the rules" and superfatting a coconut oil soap at 20%, that is a fairly standard practice in soapmaking. When using oils that are more cleansing many soapers will raise the superfat level to offset the drying effects. And it is pretty easy to go that high with coconut oil because it is so very shelf stable. I routinely SF mine at 15%, then add coconut milk (with lots of fat to increase the SF level, I just don't do the math). Again, that is for use on skin, not laundry or dishes.

    I agree with the previous poster, you are not "saving" any oil whether you do a superfat or not. Your batch size is based on total weight of oils, no matter when you add them (and putting them into CP after trace is just a waste of time and effort). Superfat just means you use less lye for the oil amount.

    I do not know why your 100% olive oil soap superfatted at 5% is drying to you. How long a cure does it have? Castile really should have at least a 6 month cure to be at its best.

    Okay, sorry if this comes across as a lecture, there are just so many beginners that might think it is fine to just do away with a superfat and end up with a lye heavy soap! But I will step off my soapbox now :) HTH
     
  5. May 2, 2013 #5

    mel z

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    Well said newsoap12! You are very good at 'splainin' things. :thumbup:
     
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  6. May 2, 2013 #6

    judymoody

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    According to Kevin Dunn (Caveman Chemistry; Scientific Soapmaking), superfat level does not contribute to higher incidence of DOS.

    I SF at 10%. I've only gotten DOS twice - once when I was experimenting with fragrances and used a cheap recipe with Crisco. The second time was 100% OO and I believe it was from the essential oils I used (citrus/lavender/cedar). That was well after a year the soap was made for both problem batches.
     
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  7. May 2, 2013 #7

    thinkativeone

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    Haha, relax... :) The whole purpose of this thread was to find out if it was okay before I did it - I was not saying, "I heard this so I'm gonna do it!". The explanations make sense, thanks for all the great links and help everybody. :) I do not fool around with lye!! ;) Seems the superfatting confuses a lot of people, but now I know that if anything, I guess with a superfat you might save a teensy bit on lye. :lol: Who knew. I actually would use the coconut oil on my skin unintentionally because I would be washing dishes by hand, so would the 0% not be safe for that? I use a dishwasher sometimes but prefer to wash by hand.

    To answer your question, my soap has a minimum cure time of 4 1/2 weeks before I use it. However, similar to what you said, I have noticed it is at its peak for me between 4-5 months. Just harder and more bubbly. But I have always loved bar soap and never found any bar of soap to be moisturizing, except for the one example that sort of fits that. I know that's probably weird.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
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  8. May 8, 2013 #8

    Soapman Ryan

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    new12soap;
    Could I ask what oils you're using in your soap?
     
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  9. May 8, 2013 #9

    VanessaP

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    The 15% superfat level she was talking about was for her 100% coconut oil soap, judging by the rest of that paragraph. The milk she adds has its own fats to add to help up her superfat up to near 20%. 100% coconut oil soaps have such a high superfat to help offset the stripping effect of the soap.
     
  10. May 8, 2013 #10

    Soapman Ryan

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    Would a 10% SF be too much for regular oils such as OO, CO, shea, castor and palm?
     
  11. May 8, 2013 #11

    dagmar88

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    Meh. Soap is soap = cleansing.
    Moisturising might not be the best word; 'less stripping' comes closer.
     
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  12. May 8, 2013 #12

    Brandica2013

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    Thanks

    ~OK As a newbie I want to say thank you for this info.I have been reading so much about SF & I have only done a few soaps but I SF @ 5% so I knew that but The info you just gave along with the PDF helped me so much & i understand it so much more. So this to me is not a lecture its a soaper really knowing what the heck she is talking about. This is a learning process and a-lot is hands on but I believe that other soapers that's been doing this a long time are the teachers for us new soapers and I value your opinion and information & if not for you all id be so lost...
     
  13. May 8, 2013 #13

    Brandica2013

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    I agree 100% she splains things so us new soapers understand better :)
     
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  14. May 8, 2013 #14

    thinkativeone

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    I was thinking this but not saying it, wondering if that was the case. :) :oops:

    I wash my hands a LOT throughout the day. For my 100% OO castile soap, should I modify the 5% superfat to an 8%? Or more? Or is that just going to ruin it? I want to make a HUGE batch so it can cure for months before I use it. It really does get better with age.
     
  15. May 8, 2013 #15

    Hazel

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    I have dry skin and I used 7% SF (or lye discount depending on how you like to phrase it) when I made a 100% OO batch and I used buttermilk for the liquid. I found it very gentle and not drying at all. I calculated the fat in the buttermilk and I think it may have bumped the SF about 1%. It's just my opinion but I think 8% would be fine.
     
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  16. May 9, 2013 #16

    dagmar88

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    8% is fine.
     
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  17. Sep 3, 2014 #17

    sethkaylyn

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    Superfat?

    I'm ready to make a second batch of soap but not sure about superfatting. Which is the most recommended superfat to use?

    My recipe I used for the first batch:

    20% coconut oil
    40% lard
    35% oo
    5% Castor oil
     
  18. Sep 3, 2014 #18

    Susie

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    Wow, you necro'd this thread. Next time it might be better to start a new one.

    Is the soap for someone with dry skin or oily/normal skin? I use 5% for my normal skin.
     
  19. Sep 3, 2014 #19

    shunt2011

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    I superfat 7-9% but use 15-22% Coconut/PKO Combination in most. I've the perfect medium for my soap recipes.
     
  20. Sep 3, 2014 #20

    jules92207

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    There is a lot of good advice on this thread, but I want to also say a lot of olive oil in soaps tend to feel drying to me too. I do think mine need a longer cure but I also think its just my skin. I don't do as well with oo as others. So I keep my olive oil around 40% in my soaps and fill in with avocado, butters, almond, rice bran, etc and I find them less drying. I also keep my sf around 5%. Just my 2 cents. :)
     

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