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cris01us

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So a while back I posted in regards to how some of my soap making was going. Well I'm here to say that I am quite pleased with all the results. I made four different kinds of soap: Tea Tree Oil, Old-Fashioned Lard, Shea Butter, and "Baby Soap". The only issue I have with what I've made is that the bars aren't really as hard as I would like them to be. I have lightly used a bar in the shower and it lasted about a week-and-a-half, with heavy use it's a week.

So what are some tricks to make a firmer bar, and one that doesn't dissolve so quickly? As always I appreciate the feedback.
 

shunt2011

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What were your recipes and how long of a cure? It all plays into how long a soap will last.
 

cmzaha

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Did you use lard, tallow or palm? I use 35% palm in vegan soaps and my soaps usually last around 30 showers, depending how the bar is used and cared for. I usually mix Tallow with lard if making a non-vegan soap and they last as long. Sometimes I mix tallow and palm, I like my customers to get a long lasting bar
 

snappyllama

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In addition to the recipe and cure time that might be your culprit, how are you using it?

Does it have a chance to dry out entirely between uses or is it sitting in a pool of water?

Are you using a bunch of it each time? My daughter likes to use bath poofs. DH is a fuzzy guy (he has a built in bath poof, lol). I don't use a poof, and I'm not a Sasquatch. My bars last twice as long as theirs. When I first started soaping, I did run through bars a little faster since I like to test them out constantly - couldn't get over how much nicer the bubbles were and that I'd actually made soap...
 

Arimara

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I felt the same way when I just started soaping! I was sort of dumbfounded that I had actually made real soap that worked!
I can't wait to test out my first ever batch of soap next Saturday. It's thin and rock hard but perfectly capable of teaching me things.
 

DeeAnna

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Need recipes to make any reasonable suggestions. Also, the recipe isn't the only issue to consider. Are you located in a very humid area especially near the ocean or are you in a drier climate? Also, how do you store your soap between uses?
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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........So what are some tricks to make a firmer bar, and one that doesn't dissolve so quickly? As always I appreciate the feedback.

I agree with DeeAnna. Whenever people ask for help, it saves time if we have all of the information regarding recipes and additives. If you're already using salt, I won't suggest it because I can see it's already there. If I can see you're using a lot of castor oil, I can highlight that issue. With no recipe, there are just too many possibilities
 

earlene

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So a while back I posted in regards to how some of my soap making was going. Well I'm here to say that I am quite pleased with all the results. I made four different kinds of soap: Tea Tree Oil, Old-Fashioned Lard, Shea Butter, and "Baby Soap". The only issue I have with what I've made is that the bars aren't really as hard as I would like them to be. I have lightly used a bar in the shower and it lasted about a week-and-a-half, with heavy use it's a week.

So what are some tricks to make a firmer bar, and one that doesn't dissolve so quickly? As always I appreciate the feedback.
cris01us, I see you posted 3 recipes in your previous posts back on June 22nd and July 3rd. For one thing, no matter which recipe the soap you are using in the shower is, that's probably part of the reason your soap is not lasting long in the shower. It (they) are too young yet.

Maybe the soap you made on Jun 22nd is old enough at 2 months, but I don't know if that's the one you are using. The ones made on July 3rd (or maybe the day before?) are still pretty young. I can't read the 2nd & 3rd recipes very well (photo of your hand-written recipes), so it's hard to determine much about the recipes.

And you didn't post about the 'baby soap' as far as I can find, so I don't know when you made it, if you are using it, or its composition.

So, maybe share a bit more about which soap it is you are using in the shower as well as typing out its recipe here in this thread, and sharing the other information people are asking about here. Also, how old was the soap before you started using it in the shower (4 weeks old? 8 weeks old?, etc.) And by light use and heavy use, what do you mean? One person using it per day in a 10-minute shower? Lots of scrubbing of the bar onto a washcloth or onto a scrubby or inside a mesh soap bar holder (I find those never allow the soap to dry out between uses, btw.)
 

Arimara

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cris01us, I see you posted 3 recipes in your previous posts back on June 22nd and July 3rd. For one thing, no matter which recipe the soap you are using in the shower is, that's probably part of the reason your soap is not lasting long in the shower. It (they) are too young yet.

Maybe the soap you made on Jun 22nd is old enough at 2 months, but I don't know if that's the one you are using. The ones made on July 3rd (or maybe the day before?) are still pretty young. I can't read the 2nd & 3rd recipes very well (photo of your hand-written recipes), so it's hard to determine much about the recipes.

And you didn't post about the 'baby soap' as far as I can find, so I don't know when you made it, if you are using it, or its composition.

So, maybe share a bit more about which soap it is you are using in the shower as well as typing out its recipe here in this thread, and sharing the other information people are asking about here. Also, how old was the soap before you started using it in the shower (4 weeks old? 8 weeks old?, etc.) And by light use and heavy use, what do you mean? One person using it per day in a 10-minute shower? Lots of scrubbing of the bar onto a washcloth or onto a scrubby or inside a mesh soap bar holder (I find those never allow the soap to dry out between uses, btw.)
Thanks for doing that. I can read the recipes to a degree but I'm attempting to do my hair right now. If OP doesn't comeback and clarify, I can always rewrite it up.

Edit- On second thought I won't re-write the recipes (unless you wanna try them since they look really good) But I will say this: the recipes are high in water which may be a main factor in why the soaps aren't as hard as OP would like. The only suggestion I have is to try a 2:1 water to lye ration for each recipe. The third recipe would have hardened up nicely by now and be ready to use as it would have yielded the hardest soaps of the three. The second, because of the lard, would probably need another month IMO. I found lard to behave more like a soft oil.
 
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cris01us

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I will dig up the rest of the recipes and get back to you all on that, but just to answer a couple of questions. I let the TTO soap cure for 6 weeks and the others for 4- to 5 weeks. Where I live the humidity is around 70-80% constantly, it sucks but that's life. Below are the "traditional soap" and Shea Butter Soap:

“Traditional Soap”:
Lard 453g
Coconut Oil 181g
Olive Oil 226g
Castor Oil 45g
Lye 127g
Water 344g

Shea Butter Soap
Avocado Oil 180g
Coconut Oil 270g
Shea Butter 135g
Olive Oil 270g
Castor Oil 45g
Water 326g
Lye 126g

The soap lathers nicely but feels a little "oily" at times. It does sit at the sink, so probably wetter than it should be. They all have lightened in color and smell wonderful. As always I appreciate the feedback - SOOOOO glad I found this forum!
 

Arimara

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You could probably get by with a lower superfat than 5%. It certainly won't kill you and it might alleviate the oily feel a little. The only other thing is to let some of your soaps cure for 3 months and on and the note how they feel as they cure longer. You might find that the soaps mature greatly during this period.
 

topofmurrayhill

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I will dig up the rest of the recipes and get back to you all on that, but just to answer a couple of questions. I let the TTO soap cure for 6 weeks and the others for 4- to 5 weeks. Where I live the humidity is around 70-80% constantly, it sucks but that's life. Below are the "traditional soap" and Shea Butter Soap:

“Traditional Soap”:
Lard 453g
Coconut Oil 181g
Olive Oil 226g
Castor Oil 45g
Lye 127g
Water 344g

Shea Butter Soap
Avocado Oil 180g
Coconut Oil 270g
Shea Butter 135g
Olive Oil 270g
Castor Oil 45g
Water 326g
Lye 126g

The soap lathers nicely but feels a little "oily" at times. It does sit at the sink, so probably wetter than it should be. They all have lightened in color and smell wonderful. As always I appreciate the feedback - SOOOOO glad I found this forum!
There are two things you need to do here to get harder, long-lasting bars.

(1) These are simply not very hard recipes. I find the lard out there really doesn't have hardening properties equal to palm oil, so in that first recipe you need more lard. In the second recipe you aren't using any hardening oils except for the shea butter. I think you've got the right idea there if you are trying to avoid palm oil. You're just going to need a lot more shea butter. If you didn't have any problem with the 15%, then try 25% and take it out of the olive or avocado. Besides, if you want to call it a shea butter soap, let's get serious about it and make it live up to the name. You can keep the coconut oil as is to preserve the lather along with the castor. But it needs to be backed up by hard oils to avoid being a little harsh.

(2) If you are curing in a humid environment, you need a head start on getting rid of moisture. Best way is not to put it in in the first place. Set the lye calculator to a 33% or higher lye concentration and it will transport you 2 weeks into the future as far as drying time goes. Certainly the more drying time you give it the longer it will last. That hopefully needn't take months and months. If you weigh one bar periodically you'll see when the weight loss from drying levels off.
 

cris01us

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Man thank you so much, these are some great tips and just what I was looking for. God Bless!!
 

TeresaT

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There are two things you need to do here to get harder, long-lasting bars.

(1) These are simply not very hard recipes. I find the lard out there really doesn't have hardening properties equal to palm oil, so in that first recipe you need more lard. In the second recipe you aren't using any hardening oils except for the shea butter. I think you've got the right idea there if you are trying to avoid palm oil. You're just going to need a lot more shea butter. If you didn't have any problem with the 15%, then try 25% and take it out of the olive or avocado. Besides, if you want to call it a shea butter soap, let's get serious about it and make it live up to the name. You can keep the coconut oil as is to preserve the lather along with the castor. But it needs to be backed up by hard oils to avoid being a little harsh.

(2) If you are curing in a humid environment, you need a head start on getting rid of moisture. Best way is not to put it in in the first place. Set the lye calculator to a 33% or higher lye concentration and it will transport you 2 weeks into the future as far as drying time goes. Certainly the more drying time you give it the longer it will last. That hopefully needn't take months and months. If you weigh one bar periodically you'll see when the weight loss from drying levels off.

Yep, yep, yep. I am a lardy; and unashamed. My recipes range from 50% lard to 40% lard depending on how much "luxury" oils I add to it. The majority of the time it is 45% with 10% "luxury" oil. I occasionally make a 100% lard bar, too. That's a nice bar of soap. I leave that fragrance and color free; just lard, water and NaOH.

I soap at 2:1 (33.333%) concentration and it is my comfort zone. I can adjust up or down if needed. I use a master batched 1:1 lye solution, which makes it much easier to deal with, especially if I want to alter some of the liquid. The extra water can just be aloe juice or milk or whatever may be. (I used to master batch at 2:1, but when I wanted to change out the liquid, I had to make fresh solution.)

Using salt can help with the hardness of the bar, too. Personally, I like using vinegar in my soap to produce a hard bar, but that's tricky and you'll have to do math to figure out how much vinegar:NaOH to use. I suck at math, so it was hard for me to "get it" but TOMH was patient and taught me well. (LisaAnne was the real breakthrough for me, though.) Here are a couple of threads to read through regarding the use of vinegar in your soap. It was a challenge at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll really love the process. (http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=57991) and (http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=59148 see LisaAnne's post #37)

It is hot and humid here and I don't have central a/c. The room I keep my soap in has a fan to circulate the air better and the window & door are kept closed; but the humidity still makes the soaps weep. It also makes curing longer in the heat of the summer because there is too much water in the air to allow the water in the soap to evaporate. I have started weighing four bars per batch and recording those weights. I usually weigh every other week. I've gone as long as four weeks. Once I get the same weight on all four bars three times in a row, I'm satisfied that there isn't going to be anymore water evaporation and put them in a box to finish curing. I like to cure for six months, but that's just me. Although, I certainly do use younger soap; I've discovered (pretty much by accident) that my particular recipe does best with a long cure.

This last sentence, for me, is very important. That could be something you should consider. I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have only been soaping for a little over a year. Last year, when I made my first batches of soap, I thought they were really good. I liked them. I was lucky, I figured out a formula that was good for my particular skin right out of the gate. I've been using it since. I made my first batch of soap in April of 2015 and several more quickly followed.

Around Christmas time, I had a bag of "first soaps" in my bathroom cabinet. I ran out of the bar I had been using, so I grabbed one of those. The soap, which was about 6 or 7 months old by then, was absolutely amazing! It was a thousand times better than it was when I first made it and much better than anything on my shelves at the moment. I went to my computer to check the recipe. It was the exact same recipe I was currently using. Wow! Old soap is the best.

The soaps I have in the shower are in a mesh thing that you're supposed to hang over the closet door and store shoes in. Most of those things are plastic now, but if you can find a mesh one, grab it! You can store a lot of soap in it and they dry completely out. I also have little spiky soap savers at all of the sinks to put the soaps on so they'll dry completely between uses. I bought a case of them from the dollar store (online) and give them to friends when I give them soap. This is what they look like. They're very useful and good to have; plus, they're really cheap and washable, unlike wooden soap racks that are popular. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000DZFA66/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20)

OK. I guess I've bored everyone long enough. These are my "tips" on getting a harder and longer lasting bar of soap. Vinegar will give an immediate result; but a lengthy cure will give the best result. The hardest bar in the world is going to dissolve into mush if it is left in water. You've got to make sure it is thoroughly dried between uses.
 
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penelopejane

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^^^Teresa

Have you tried 1tsp salt dissolved in reserved water batch against a vinegar batch?
Why do you prefer vinegar?

I use salt and CA (to reduce scum but haven't tested it against old no CA soap yet)
 
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topofmurrayhill

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^^^Teresa

Have you tried 1tsp salt dissolved in reserved water batch against a vinegar batch?
Why do you prefer vinegar?

Or is the vinegar an alternative to CA?

I use salt and CA.
Vinegar is an alternative to sodium lactate. You get sodium acetate when the vinegar reacts with sodium hydroxide, and the acetate is at least as effective as the lactate. There are various ways you can delve into the math of it, but the easiest thing to do is just decide how much of your lye water you want to replace with vinegar. It could be 1/4, 1/2, or even all of it. The only additional trick is a simple calculation to add the right amount extra NaOH to react with the amount of vinegar you use. Multiply grams of vinegar by .0335 to get grams of extra NaOH.
 

cris01us

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Smart smart people

You all are so insightful and so clever! I love going back through and reading everyone's input. I wish I could (or someone) take all the knowledge on here and document it! A book perhaps!?? I always wonder if there are folks on here that ever decide to get together and start up a business!? I've been making soap a whole 3 1/2 months and I already day dream about it. With so much experience and knowledge it would seem like a great idea.

At any rate I just want to thank everyone who responded! More soap to come!
 

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