Water Amounts

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Jsoaps21

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Okay I realize this is an older thread but I am hoping for some help anyway.
So after poking around these boards yesterday I have come to the realization that even though I researched CP soap making for almost a year before diving in, I still have so much to learn.
I want to do this right. So I read this entire thread and started throwing some of my recipes in SoapCalc I had previously used Brambleberry's lye calculator...
Anyway I have a recipe that I have used several times, it's a recipe from brambleberry or soap queen. I have always just used the recipe as is.
When I enter it into soap calc, it returns the recipe with the same amount of lye to be used but about 2 oz more of water than the recipe calls for.
So I understand this might be a stupid question but what does this mean? What does this higher water amount do to the soap? Have I been making mistakes to just follow a recipe? I will be spending the day doing some more research obviously I don't know ad much as I thought I did...
 

Jsoaps21

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Thanks, clearly I am still learning how to navigate these boards...
 

lsg

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SoapCalc automatically calculates for a full water amount, no water discount unless you choose it. I usually do not do a water discount, but go with SoapCalc. If you are just starting out, I suggest that you go with what SoapCalc calculates for the amount of oils you entered.
 

DeeAnna

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Every soap recipe calculator out there is a bunch of math equations and data. No one calc uses the same set of data and the same exact assumptions. So they aren't going to give identical results. My advice --

First, pick a calculator that you like -- soapcalc, BBS, Soapee.com, whatever -- and stick with it. Learn how to use it well and understand its foibles. Compare it to other calcs if you like, but understand there WILL be differences and sticking with one calc will help your soap to be more consistent. It's like driving one car all the time -- you learn how to drive it well in all weather conditions, and you know where all the various switches and knobs are and what they do without having to fiddle or wonder.

Second, ALWAYS run ALL recipes through your chosen soap calculator. As Susie has explained many times, even the most experienced and capable authors and bloggers make mistakes or use bad assumptions. Every soaper is personally responsible for making soap safely and well; we can't expect anyone else to do that job for us.

Did you make a mistake to follow someone else's recipe? Well, no, not exactly. Everyone has to get started somehow, and most of us are largely self taught. Sometimes someone else's recipe is the only option while you're getting started. You were smart and chose a reputable source for your recipes, so that's good! Now to take the next step.

Also as you get more experienced, you will likely want to tweak the water content and lye discount (superfat), even if you decide to use the specific fat blend from the other person's recipe. For example, most recipes in books and blogs are based on "38% water as % of fats" and there are many reasons why I really don't care for that setting. So I change it to suit myself.

So to your question -- what happens if the recipe calls for a bit more water?

What might happen? It will increase the chance your soap will gel. It may make your soap somewhat softer so you might have to leave it in the mold a little longer (hours to a couple of days, depending on the recipe). It may increase the time the batter takes to get to trace. An excessive amount of water -- a lye concentration under about 27% -- may cause your soap batter to be more likely to separate ("break") in the mold. Will these things happen? Not necessarily.

What won't happen? A little more or less water won't make your soap safe or unsafe. The proportion of fat and NaOH is what controls that.
 
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Jsoaps21

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Wow Deeanna, thank you! Awesome explanation.
I really thought I had a good handle on this soap making, I researched CP soap for over a year before I attempted it. My first batch came together fairly easy, even did a Clyde Slide for that batch, and it came out beautiful, of course I was following someone else recipe and instructions to a "T" so I just pretty much was a copy cat :). Easy enough to do. Finding this forum has shown me I still have a lot to learn.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question.
 

DeeAnna

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You sound like me -- taking a good long look before you leap. ;) Sounds like you are on the right track and you'll get the hang of making soap pretty quick.
 

Jsoaps21

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You sound like me -- taking a good long look before you leap. ;) Sounds like you are on the right track and you'll get the hang of making soap pretty quick.
Well I do not have money or time to waste so I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into :)
 

Susie

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You'll be fine. You have exactly the right mindset to be a really good soaper!
 
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