"Ultimate Guidelines" for CP request!

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Marco

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Hi all!

I myself already did a couple of batches of CP soap that most turned out well. I did a lot of research on the web and in books.

Nowhere I could find a really good guide for formulating CP recipes.

Here, a lot of great advice is buried in the hundreds of threads. It should be aggregated somewhere.

I think it would be a great addition to this forum, and probably attract a lot of new traffic, to publish (in a sticky note for example) an ultimate guide for recipes but that would still be simple to read and understand. SoapCalc is great for calculating NaOH but is limited as to the expected properties of the soap.

The guide would focus only on oils and leave out additives, fragrances and colors for simplicity.

I can provide the format I would like it to look just to start the discussion:

1. Levels of fatty acids to aim for and standard oils to use for each.

2. What needs to be modified in order to enhance a specific aspect (conditioning, hardness, lather, etc.).

3. Effect of lye concentration on the outcome / recommended concentration by types of oils or desired outcome

4. At least an example of a recipe that would achieve all recommended levels of fatty acids for a standard soap.


Of course a lot of others things could be discussed. But this guide should focus only on the formulation of recipes for now.

That would be the best of the net, here on SMF.

Thanks for all your valuable advice!
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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But you can't really just write out how to 100% formulate recipes, in the same way that you can't explain to someone how to be a good singer or how to play an instrument - you can advise people of where they are going wrong, certainly, but a 101 on this is made worse because there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. If two people were to write this, you would get 3 different answers!

Which is why it is good being split over so many threads - people can read through them and see the discussions taking place which will help each person to see what they need to do, what works for them, rather than one standard answer
 

Gini

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What the Gentleman said is true. There are probably as many good guides for formulating recipes, as there are combinations of oils, depending on what qualities one is seeking - so there really is no standard, other than what one wants to achieve, which again are varied to near infinity.

Also, while many many many people help others on this site, and many share recipes, qualities, techniques and other bits of wisdom, there are also many that come to the site to -- ahem -- "borrow" recipes that other's have taken the time, research, trials, errors and successes to develop.

In the years I've been making soap, the thing that is often most gratifying, is the unique qualities of each soap, that I've developed myself.
 

Marco

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I understand what you two are saying. But there must be a standard, or else there would be no point of having ranges for each properties on SoapCalc.

Maybe that my "scientific" part is stronger than my "crafty" part.

Is everyone doing dozens "test" recipes just for fun until they get something they like? I think everyone is following some rules at a certain point, like I am.

I know I will not try certain % of certain oils or lye. That follows the rules of soap making. They exist. Some things you can do, others you cannot.

I'm sure that the "standard" soap exists. A lot of handmade soap companies are making it. Though there may be small differences between them, they practically use all the same ingredients.

When you know what is your destination (i.e. properties and levels of fatty acids), you figure out your own way to get there.

I am not here to get recipes. I want the knowledge to formulate the best ones.

And I will get it.
 

Seawolfe

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The thing is, there are very few things that all soapers absolutely agree on. And soaping is really more of a technique than a collection of recipes. There are a few basic "rules" or guidelines, but within those the alternatives are endless.

Also realize that lots of rules are made to be broken. Any soap calculator will tell you that a 100% olive oil soap, or an 80% coconut oil soap will be horribly unbalanced, yet either of those can make a lovely soap if made and cured properly.
I can provide the format I would like it to look just to start the discussion:

1. Levels of fatty acids to aim for and standard oils to use for each.

2. What needs to be modified in order to enhance a specific aspect (conditioning, hardness, lather, etc.).

3. Effect of lye concentration on the outcome / recommended concentration by types of oils or desired outcome

4. At least an example of a recipe that would achieve all recommended levels of fatty acids for a standard soap.
1. This information can be gleaned from any good soap calculator and associated lists. Oil list on SoapCalc: http://soapcalc.net/calc/OilList.asp
2. Again, available on SoapCalc : http://soapcalc.net/info/SoapQualities.asp
3. This doesn't depend on oils so much as how fast you want trace, or if you are doing HP or CP, or if you are doing something like a castile. Most people start with the calculators default water as percent of oils, which isn't going to hurt anything, but is logically an odd way to do things. I like lye as 33% of water, but thats for MY recipes.
4. I would argue that this would be the SMF much touted:
35-45% lard/palm/tallow
25-35 % olive oil
15-25 % coconut oil (lots of us here like it less than 20%)
5% Castor oil
5% superfat
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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How I got that knowledge was by doing what I suggested.

A lot of people do do a lot of trial and error, or posting the recipe for feedback, first.

The numbers aren't the be-all and end-all. They don't take in to account the other parts of an oil that isn't saponified.

The information that you seek is there in the forum posts, waiting for you to get. It's not on a silver platter, but it is there. It won't take long at all for you to see the patterns in what is suggested to start piecing together the important 'why?'
 

shunt2011

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Yes, I agree with what the others have said. I didn't use any specific recipe. I learned from trial and more trials. I played on a soap calculator for many many hours and experimented. The one thing I do recommend is keep it simple. You don't need 10 different oils in any recipe. Especially the expensive ones.

You can also search oil qualities in soap for ideas.

Many of us have spent a lot of time to formulate our recipes. That's actually part of the fun and science.
 

penelopejane

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I like Castille. Many don't. I add lots of salt to my pure Castile and my DH loves it. This is a complete no no.

I don't want to use animal fats and coconut dries my skin.

That's just me. You have to test soaps to work out what is best for you (and your customers if you sell). It is what makes your soap unique and desirable.

Start with the recipe above and modify it to suit. Yes it takes 6 weeks for each trial but it is the only way to find the best soap for you. Frustrating, I know.

I've been soaping for 7 months and already I can look at a recipe someone is raving about and think "that won't work for me". Everyone is different and every soap recipe batch is unique. It is what makes soaping special.
 

dixiedragon

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I don't think soap made by individuals and soap made by large companies such as Zum (relatively large, that is), is an apples to apples comparison.

I also think that the "destination" for all soapers isn't the same. The vague "destination" of "great soap" is the same, but what that means varies widely.

For example:
- Great soap using only local ingredients
- Great soap made as cheaply as possible
- Great soap made with no animal fats
- Great soap that lathers in my water type (hard, soft, middle)
- Great soap for people who get really dirty
- Great soap for people with very sensitive skin
- Great soap without certain ingredients (For example, some people are allergic to everything in the palm family - so that includes palm, palm kernel, coconut, and babassu)

Once you figure out your particular parameters, THEN you build your recipe.

Also, I think the information you seek already exists - just google "properties of soapmaking oils" and then trying plugging different combinations of oils that meet your criteria into the calculator. Most of these tables have recommendations for the percentage you use, the shelf life, the percentages of each fatty acid in the make up, etc.
 

lionprincess00

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okay what I have to say about the subject is:
the main standard for new soap makers is what several of us saw from soap queen: a 33/33/33recipe (33.33% so to speak) or the 30/30/30/10.
30% coconut oil, 30% or other hard oil, 30% olive or other soft oil, and remaining is a special whatever. I'm pretty sure when I started out those with the main percentages she suggests.

Once I got here and started researching which I did for 3 to 4 months before I made my first bar, I actually was a lurker here, I saw that many people didn't like over 20% coconut oil/cleansing oils. Some people do. Some people like them at 28-33% with a higher superfat, some people like cleansing oils lower, 15-20% with a lower superfat.

Most of us did experiment with dozens and dozens of recipes to find what it is we like most.

Some people refuse to use animal fats and only use palm oil, some are vegans or sell only to a majority of vegan customers and refused to use any animal products whatsoever as well as palm because of its questionable source.

A higher stearic acid is going to cause a harder bar that might break depending on your water level. Do you prefer low water, high water, or mid-level water? That's only going to come through experiments. I can tell you I use 40% lye concentration, and most people don't. A lot preferred 33%, and several people prefer full water.

So asking us this, there really isn't a standard we can tell you. I didn't get the feel that you're asking for our specific recipes. I got the feel that you're asking for just the basic standard. If you want that go troll soap queens blog and her videos. She uses very basic standard starter recipes, though I have seen much more complicated ones too. That's where a lot of people start and they build off of there.

There really isn't a standard for anyone, and I find over 20% cleansing too much for me personally. it is virtually impossible for us to tell you a standard other than just the basic 33 33 33 recipe. That's because we're all so individual, and what we like and what we decide to choose as our selling points or for those of us that are hobbyist our using points.

For what it's worth I've been soaping for over a year now and I've run the gauntlet on different recipes (dont sell, just a hobby). Right now I prefer an extremely high Lard, low sweet almond oil, low castor oil, and 20% even down to 18% coconut oil. That's just something that comes from experimenting. Again I really didn't think that you were asking for our recipes but a standard and that's the best honestly I or anyone else can tell you. Start experimenting, get familiar with how different fats and oils feel quality wise, and find out your preference. Make it your recipe, your favorite recipe, and after a year or so, if you are wanting to sell, then it doesn't matter what the basic or standard is. You've made it so individualistic so unique that it's your own. You can sell it, you can promote it, because it's your favorite and you see that it works well for you and others.

That's a good point to bring up, make sure you test them on friends and family and make sure that it's good for not just you but for everyone around you. A well rounded recipe that works for many different skin types. You're not going to find the most perfect one, but find the one that works for you and a majority of others. I wish you luck in this period. We've all been there we've all tried to make the best just as fast as we could, the problem is with this hobby or eventual job of selling soaps is that it takes a lot of time and experiments.
 
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rainycityjen

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okay what I have to say about the subject is: the main standard for new soap makers is what several of us saw from soap queen: a 33/33/33 recipe (33.33% so to speak) or the 30/30/30/10.
30% coconut oil, 30% or other hard oil, 30% olive or other soft oil, and remaining is a special whatever. I'm pretty sure when I started out those with the main percentages she suggests.

Once I got here and started researching which I did for 3 to 4 months before I made my first bar, I actually was a lurker here, I saw that many people didn't like over 20% coconut oil/cleansing oils. Some people do. Some people like them at 28-33% with a higher superfat, some people like cleansing oils lower, 15-20% with a lower superfat.

Most of us did experiment with dozens and dozens of recipes to find what it is we like most.
I like this practical advice from Lionprincess. Even though we all customize to taste, it's valuable to know a) rules of thumb and b) what you can expect to learn as you go. That being said -- just that info is already too much for a single sticky thread. It's better suited to a book or Soap Queen type venue.

BUT ... If I were to write out a tutorial of the path I wish I'd taken, it would go like this...

1. Ditto on starting with a 33/33/33 recipe of lard, coconut, and olive oil. They're all easy to source at the store, it's a baseline, and it's dead simple. Your first lesson will probably be how much coconut feels drying, and starting here (at what is commonly considered an upper threshold for coconut) is a good idea.

2. Start with the calculator defaults of 38% water (full water), 5% superfat, and 0.5 oz/ppo fragrance.

3. Start with the common methods of soaping at 90-110 degrees F, insulating to gel, and unmolding at 24 hours.

4. Use the baseline recipe as the first entry in a running journal of your recipes and experiences.

5. Test your bar every 2 weeks until at least 8 weeks, maybe 12-16. Weighing it to determine water loss is a good idea too. Keep the bar cool and dry and maybe keep an index card or your journal nearby.

6. Starting with oils, make new batches that tweak one variable at a time. Consider common usage ranges for similar oils as a guideline:

Olive/Canola/Soybean/Rice Bran (soft oils): 30-100%
Coconut/Babassu/Palm Kernel Oil (cleansing oils): 15-25%
Palm/Lard/Tallow (hard base oils): 20-50%
Shea/Mango/Cocoa (butters): 5-20%
Apricot/Hemp/Almond/Safflower/Nut Oils (conditioning): 5-15%
Castor (suds and conditioning): 5-10%
Soy Wax/Beeswax/Jojoba: 0-5%

7. Give lots of cured bars to friends and request feedback.

7. Once you have an ideal base recipe off of the baseline, start the whole lifetime of additive experiments you will undertake, attempting to change one variable at a time when you can. This is where it gets too long to explain. Some variables include: gelling versus not gelling, superfat %, cold process versus hot process versus CPOP, water discount (this table is useful here), FO or EO usage, water substitution (animal and plant milks/aloe/juice/beer), additives to change feel (sodium lactate/silk/salt), additives to change lather (sugar/honey/rosin), additives to improve performance in hard water (citric acid is one), soaping temperature, trace level at pour, natural preservatives and antioxidants, additives for color (mica/labcolor/clay/plants/spices), additives for purported skin-fixing properties (calendula/charcoal/pine tar/egg/neem oil) ...

Anyway you already see that I'm struggling to capture it, but it's what I would have wanted to read to begin my longtime obsession with searching this forum for gold nuggets...
 
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navigator9

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And this is why I always have a hard time answering the question, "Is it hard to make soap?" Well, it's not really, just get a recipe off the internet or from a book, mix your oils and lye solution, and voila, soap! But you need to know why we do what we do. And for that, you need first to understand the properties of the oils and butters we use in soapmaking. A google search will help with this. As basic as you can get is the "holy trinity", olive, palm, and coconut oils. An excellent bar of soap can be made with just those three. But as stated above, no one can give you the exact proportions, because none of us would agree on this, because we all like our soap a little different. Here are a couple of websites about formulating recipes that you might want to take a look at.
http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/formulating-cold-process-recipes/
http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/secret-to-the-best-soap-recipe/
"Is everyone doing dozens "test" recipes just for fun until they get something they like?"
Yes!!! I'm fairly sure that all or at least most of us arrived at our favorite soap recipes by trial and error...lots of it. And most of us loved every minute of learning from our successes and failures. Every batch is a lesson. We looked forward to being able to make that next batch, tweaking the oils up or down just a few percentage points, and then waiting four to six weeks to find out the results, hovering over those babies, turning them, looking at them, planning the next batch, dreaming about it.....because most of us love it that much, that we really do those things.So I hope you get to a point where you don't consider all of that work, or wasted time, because all of that is how you learn.
 

LisaAnne

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I really like modern Soapmakings article on formulating recipes. But I have to say where I really turned a corner was when I learned the fatty acids and what they contribute. I believe modern Soapmaking has an article about a poll asking where people like their numbers to fall. I have note book after notebook of notes I have taken. I tried every additive, most oils and where I am at now is simplicity. I want a hard, low cleansing mild bar with probably 4 oils and a butter. What I wish I had learned early on was to make small batches.
I tried palm, tallow and lard, settling on lard. I know where I like my cleansing numbers, bubbly, creamy all of them. I know what kind of bubbles I like, it is a journey that each of us has to take. If not you might as well copy a recipe and stick with it. It is frustrating at times, but the legwork I had to do to get to this point has been invaluable. I still haven't found my recipe but I am closer and while I keep searching for it I am learning different techniques. What I have learned also is... That if Soapmaking is really for you, you will continue studying and making soap. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.
 

Kamahido

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Indeed. Once you understand what each oil brings to the table formulating your own recipe to meet your own needs it not quite so daunting a task.

When I was learning this, I read the following article. It started me down the right path. But it also showed me that this was but the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/secret-to-the-best-soap-recipe/
 
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melinda48

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I understand what you two are saying. But there must be a standard, or else there would be no point of having ranges for each properties on SoapCalc.

Maybe that my "scientific" part is stronger than my "crafty" part.

Is everyone doing dozens "test" recipes just for fun until they get something they like? I think everyone is following some rules at a certain point, like I am.

I know I will not try certain % of certain oils or lye. That follows the rules of soap making. They exist. Some things you can do, others you cannot.

I'm sure that the "standard" soap exists. A lot of handmade soap companies are making it. Though there may be small differences between them, they practically use all the same ingredients.

When you know what is your destination (i.e. properties and levels of fatty acids), you figure out your own way to get there.

I am not here to get recipes. I want the knowledge to formulate the best ones.

And I will get it.
Perhaps read “Making Soap from Scratch” byGregory Lee White. This was the first soaping book I bought and it got me off to a great start! I am still very much a newbie but a learning more and more every day! This forum is a wonderful place to learn.
 
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