Too many additives?

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Well-Known Member
Jan 1, 2020
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Is there such a thing as too many additives when it comes to CP soap?

And by this I mean beyond pigment, scent, exfoliants, and any top decorations that one may use. I'm talking sugar/honey, milks, salt/vinegar, citric acid, EDTA, etc. They all seem to have the potential to add specific traits to the resulting soap - most of which would appear to be beneficial - so I'm wondering if there is any reason to really 'cap' the number you would use? Or are there any that react adversely to one another?
That's certainly a personal choice. For instance I use Sodium Lactate in most soaps so I don't add additional salt. And my bars are pretty well balanced to start. I use castor oil and CO so I don't add extra sugar though I do use milks and they have some sugars in them. I use EDTA and not Citric Acid....etc. I try to keep things as simple as possible. Especially if you're a beginner, add one thing at a time that way if something goes wrong it can be figured out for the most part. I also don't add any botanicals and generally don't add anything on top. I prefer a standard bar of soap. Nice swirls work but don't need 40 different techniques for me.
I think it's less about number of additives and more about total quantity of additives. Your non-soap organic additives (milk, pureed fruit/veg, herbs), have the potential to mold if they are wet or if they aren't infused well enough into the soap. Not sure if "infused" is the best word.

And for purpose of determining what went wrong, it's obviously easier with less options.
Less is more in my book, just the essentials, and as said a well balanced soap recipe which can look pretty and not like a vegetable casserole with half of the garden in it. I personally dont like highly coloured soaps that look like marbled paper but a light swirl can look lovely, that is just my personal taste though.
Additives aren't a panacea. Loading your soap with non-soap ingredients is not going to somehow make the soap better 'n better.

Too high of a salt content (table salt, sodium lactate, sodium acetate, etc.) can reduce lather. Too much of a hardener can soften soap or create a crusty residue on the surface of the soap. Sugars can increase lather but also make soap softer and/or sticky. Multiple chelators don't necessarily work any better than one.

When I use an additive, I'm using it for specific reasons, not throwing it in willy-nilly just because it's the latest "ooooh, shiny!" ingredient that everyone seems to be using. Fads for various additives float through SMF and the Facebook soaping groups on a regular basis, and not all of them stand the test of time.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not working at developing the equivalent of a soap-style cornicopia! lol
I like some colour, but otherwise am not really into excessive soaps. I've also done enough baking to know that if your base sucks, no amount of extras is going to make it palatable! (honestly, I kind of see soaping as the equivalent of baking on steroids :D).

But, I am curious about how the additives actually interact. For example, if one wanted a goatmilk and honey soap would adding a bit of salt makes sense too offset the possible softening caused by the sugars in the milk/honey? And, if you were to add the salt, would it negate any lather-improvement you might have otherwise seen from the sugars in the milk/honey?

I'm sure I'll experiment with additives as I move forward, but I figure I may be able to garner some base insight before delving in.
Trial and error is the very best learning ground I have found, there are the odd disasters which have ended in the bin!LOL but for the most part it can be quite scientific finding if this works or that doesn't so much. You mostly get quite usable soap and some amazing soaps too, and well some which only just work out, its all part of the fun, and thus the process of elimination! Also no matter what anyone says you will always find what works for you and what works for you sometimes does not work for someone else!
I decided at one point that I was just going to change one thing at a time in my recipe. That way I would know the impact of that certain ingredient. (This is after making many changes in a recipe and then not being certain why the soap felt better or worse to us.) In your case, that might mean making small batches, first with just goat milk, then with goat milk and honey,etc. In the beginning, I never made a batch over 500g of oil, so I could feel free to take it slowly and test things out gradually - and not waste oils.
I have always loved "white" or "Neutral" soap. Maybe it gives that illusion of being "clean"...LOL Not sure, but that's my preference. I have in the past incorporated many ingredients into my soap thinking it will be more beneficial than my last recipe. What I've come to realize is that if I keep it simple, work out the minimal required ingredients into SoapCalc, I'll end up with a cost effective bar that does the same as the expensive ingredients (butters, oils, etc.) I use to incorporate. My Motto has always been..."Less is More!"