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Bubli

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What is the least amount of total water you can use when making soap? I've been using 30%, but if the majority evaporates out, is it safe to go lower without messing your soap up? I've seen some recipes that use 28%. If you get below a certain % does your soap not mix well? I ran across a lady asking this at a fair and the guy that sold the soap only knew as far as his recipe did, he didn't know what to tell her. But I'm glad i heard her ask and am gathering she was inquiring about shortening the time it takes cure and water to evaporate out of bars, which makes sense. But surely there is a low that is too low, right?
 

Candybee

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The lowest I go is 30 or 33%. I typically split my liquid and use half for my lye and the other half as my milk for my milk soaps. I know that if I go less than 50/50% lye to liquid ratio I start having trouble with my lye. It starts to crystallize and harden on the top. It was so bad once I had to throw out the lye and start over once. Now I know never to water discount too much it effects my lye. I know thats at least part of the answer. Another part has to do with the oils combo and how fast/slow you want your soap to trace. The amount of liquid plus your oil combo plays a huge role in that. I don't want my swirling batch to trace so fast I can't work with it.

So when I use 5oz lye I know I can safely use 10oz liquid and split that; half for lye solution and the other half for my milk or whatever liquid I am using.

As far as shortening curing time thats a myth. Soap curing is much more than the liquid evaporating out of the soap over its first few weeks. Curing also allows the soap to develop its full conditioning properties and the only way for that to happen is for a good long cure. The average soap cure is 6-8 weeks for most soaps. Castiles are much longer-- 6 months to 1 yr and some won't touch them until they are at least 2 yrs cured.
 
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Candybee

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Hah! You posted the article at the same time I posted. Good info there. I learned the info I posted on my own through trial and error. My rule of thumb is the same- use twice the amount of liquid to lye or 2:1 liquid to lye. That's enough discount for me and my soaps pop right out of the mold next day. Well usually, the milk and castor oil I use often makes my soaps a little soft for a day or two but doing the water discount helps correct that.
 

Bubli

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LOL! About castor oil, I have been using 15% and sometimes it seems gummy kind of. Should I be using less? Example: 15% castor, 25% coconut oil and 60% olive oil. Very basic shampoo bar. I have seen recipes with higher castor oil amounts but also have read that above 15% would not work well and make for a very soft soap.
 

Candybee

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Castor will make your soap soft and sticky and hard to unmold if you are using 15%. Shampoo bars by nature are soft because you want a high conditioning bar. Castor is a great hair oil as is olive and avocado and a few others.

I use Lindy's shampoo bar recipe thats posted here on this forum. Except I switched out soybean oil for grapeseed and lowered a coupld of oils so I could add in 10% coconut oil for shiny hair. Anyway, Lindy's recipe calls for 10% castor I believe. The soap stays soft for a few days but then gets hard. I've made it both ways-- using her recipe and my way by tweaking the recipe oils just a bit. I was going for a lower iodine level so I wouldn't get DOS. Got DOS with Lindy's recipe. But its a great shampoo bar I just don't like DOS.
 

Bubli

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I did it! I could not resist! I just had to try it if someone said it could be done without killing myself. I made soap discounting my water to 1.5 times the amount of my lye. So I probably won't sleep tonight, my anxiety is do bad about it. I'm afraid my kitchen my blow up or something, lol. A few posts up, I put a link for a site that discusses water discount, so I had to try it. We'll see what I end up with in the morning :) Got my test strips and tongue ready to go!
 

Bubli

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I ended up falling asleep somewhere in the early A.M. Right around the time my eyes began crossing and the last time I jolted myself back into the waking world. Sleep deprivation quickly kick my rear. But at last check late last night, my soap mold still felt warm so I was sure it would gel like I wanted, I even had a hand towel warped around (I'm talking about a tiny 1 pound wood test batch mold with lid). Well 10 hours in, as soon as I woke to realize I had caved to the urge, I checked my soap and it was pretty hard, especially for a recipe that SoapCalc said was a 30 on hardness. It did not gel like I wanted it to. So I figured, "what's to lose?" I didn't want to put my wood box in the oven so I tried a make shift heating pad.... AND IT'S WORKING!" I took 2 giant gallon sized very thick high quality zip lock freezer bags, filled one 3/4 full with hot water. my hot water heater is set really high,so my hot tap water is very hot. I made sure I removed air and sealed it up and stuck it in the other zip bag for added leak proofing and durability (this was my reasoning in a panic mode anyway ;) ). So next I put this water bag in a cozy fitting Tupperware tub to stabilize it. I laid a cloth over the bag and set my mold on it and wrapped it in a few hand towels. within an hour it started to gel and at this point is almost fully gelled. This actually looked like a make shift water bed kind of. I am amazed how it could go from being cooled and hardened at 10 hours after not gelling to adding heat to it and then it goes through gel. Soap it strange! It's weirder than I am even!

As for the other original part of my experiment, all it know at this point is it WAS hard as heck before I forced gel, it looked great,consitant color no funky smell or strange spots. So after this gels and cools, cuts. I'll do the zap and strip test to see. But so far so good!
 

Candybee

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May I ask why you want to make such a high water discount? In all the years I have been making CP soap I never had the need or desire to do a super high water discount. I do water discounts on some of my recipes but never had the need to go lower than 30-33%. Water is part of the soap recipe and is an important piece of what makes the lye work and the soap to saponify.

If you are doing it because your soap is too soft that is self correcting in many recipes for high conditioning. The soap will get hard it just takes a few days longer. If you don't like that than you may want to rework your recipe. I find it helps to pay attention to your fats profile when working a new recipe. These will tell you if you will have a too hard or too soft bar or enough condtioning, bubbly, creamy, iodine, etc. Soapcalc has lots of info on how to better understand how to read these which in turn will help you build a better recipe.

I don't see using a water discount unless its a basic recipe you won't be doing swirls on. I use full water for working with color swirls. I only water discount for my simple recipes I don't do color work on.
 
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Bubli

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Just out of curiosity I guess. And because I was stuck with this question of, "if most of the the water evaporates any way, why use so much more than is needed to make the solution and fully incorporate it?" Just one of those thoughts I had try. I guess patience plays a huge role too (I don't have any!). Then I came across that site lovinsoap.com that told how to do it, so I'm trying it. You ever have that "something" gnawing at you, and you just will never know if you don't do it?" Well this is IT for me. May work,may not. But I agree with the 2x ,or like 30%like you said. That's what I learned with and and will probably be what I continue to do, but I had to try it to know. I would have always been left wondering. And surely ALL that extra water that takes forever to evaporate doesn't ALL play a major roll in the process. I'm not rocket scientist, but that's just my guess. I think I just like risky maybe. Wasn't it not to long ago even that people used even more water to make soap then is generally used today? I just don't like waiting. And I may very well have to. ;). Wish me luck!
 

seven

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part of the fun in soapmaking is the experimenting. trying all sorts of oils and recipes, this and that. so i can totally understand where you're coming from, Bubli :)

it is true that soap with steep water discount is going to be ready sooner compare to one with full water. ready as in the soap is going to get hard faster. that said, still nothing beats a good, long cure. the mildness and lather are improving as the soap age with time.
 

Bubli

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Totally agree. But gotta do it! Its Just when I learned to make soap, that was what totally made me go, "huh? If it EXTRA evaporates, why put it there?" But really, I do get it, the cure time and all and the logic behind curing. I just want to see. I guess I'm to rational at times, if it doesn't make common sense TO ME, and its something that intrigues me, then I must make it make sense in my own rational way (does that make sense?) 2x is good and low enough for me but I had to try it. Or be disappointed with myself every time I made soap and continued wondering. ;) what's worse that could happen? Throw it away and wast a few bucks. Thanks gals.
 

Bubli

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EXPERIMENT UPDATE! So here it is. The 1 pound very basic shampoo bar test batch of 15% castor oil, 25% coconut oil and 60% olive oil. I meant to do 5% lye discount, but mistakenly did a 3% discount which ended up fine. And as the experiment was supposed to go, I used 1.5:1 ratio for my water:lye solution. And I was scare to death the whole time! Waited too long to cut it, I had to use a butcher knife. This oil recipe is a 30 on hardness, yet It is way harder at 2 days old than a 40 hardness oil recipe with 30% water and 3% lye discount which also included shea butter and palm oil. WOW! I zap tested at 24 hour and it was a pinch tingly, checked again at around 48 right before I cut it, and no zap, so I used the ph strip and it is read a 9 on the ph scale. I'm still curing this for 4 weeks because I believe good cure is a MUST and cant be beat regardless of how hard soap initially is, but I am curious also to see how much harder it will be at that point than an identically recipe with normal water amount. As you can see in the picture, there is no funky anything about this batch. I did not do fragrance or extra super fat at end of process because I wanted to be able to smell any badness as well and it smells very natural and normal. I'm amazed! You can see I had an issue cutting it due to hardness . IF I do this again it would be cut right when I unmold. ImageUploadedBySoap Making1403207070.161647.jpg
 
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The Efficacious Gentleman

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There is an experiment on water loss that has a cool graph with it. From that graph, I imagine that your bars will always be physically harder than a bar with full water, but how much harder will reduce over time. At this point, your bars would be much much harder. After two weeks, still noticeably harder. After 4 weeks, there will be a difference, I am sure - but how much of a difference...............? Some, but it will be less of a difference.

It's not to say that is it not a worthwhile experiment at all, but that the results may not be as impressive as you hoped for.
 

navigator9

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Interesting experiment....your bars look lovely. Just a note about gel. The smaller the batch, the harder it is to get it to gel. It doesn't have enough mass to generate the heat it needs, so with your smaller, experimental batches, you may need to give it some help, as you found out. Good luck with your bars!
 
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