What Makes Salt Bars "Work?"

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BrewerGeorge

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Feel free to merge this with the bigger thread if you feel it's appropriate, but I thought it might be best separated since its focus is more "Why" than "How."

Does anybody know what makes salt bars so wonderful? Why they work, chemically? How is their function affected by the hardness/softness of water?

If their main utility is that they somehow overcome the soap problems caused by hard water, are they any use to those of us with water softeners where even "normal" soap lathers great?
 

Obsidian

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They do nothing to soften the water. I have moderately hard water and I get soap scum from salt bars just like I do with my regular bars though its less as high coconut doesn't seem to produce the amount of scum a high lard bar does.

I have found with my hard water, if I use a lot of salt, my bars won't lather as well so I like to use 35%. If you have soft water, you could easily use 100% salt and still get great thick lather.

Not sure why they work so well but it has something to do with the combo of coconut and salt. A 100% coconut soap is nice but nothing compared to the same bar with added salt. At the same time, a regular recipe that is made with salt brine just isn't the same as a regular salt bar.
 

BrewerGeorge

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We have righteously hard water here (over 600 ppm the last time I had some tested) which practically mandates a water softener. And it means that our softened water is super-slick because it's running above 1200 ppm sodium after softening because of the 2:1 relationship of Na and Ca/Mg cations.

So I guess I'm just curious about what adding even more sodium to the mix in the form of a salt bar will do.

No way to know for sure except to try it, I guess. ;)
 

shunt2011

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My parents have hard water but have a water softener. I pretty much use salt bars all the time these days. I've not had any issues with them in their shower. But give them a try.
 

Seawolfe

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When I'm out on ships, where their water makers make water that almost makes it impossible to rinse soap lather off, I've learned to appreciate my salt bars. They seem to rinse better in those conditions. At home I have fairly hard water, so that's when I appreciate the nice lather of salt bars. The best way to see is to try one :)
 

BrewerGeorge

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Went out and bought some pickling salt and coconut milk tonight. Salt bars tomorrow it is. :twisted:

(Couldn't find coconut milk without guar gum, though. I assume that's alright...)
 

lenarenee

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I recently made salt bars also with coconut milk with guar gum and no problem.

Mine are only a couple weeks old, and I've started trying them at 1 week and was sorely disappointed. But now....I'm beginning to see the appeal! A very intriguing lather - and no dryness even at this very early cure.

Have fun!
 

BrewerGeorge

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Are y'all adjusting the coconut milk weight up to account for the fact that it's only 80% water? As in: my recipe calls for 188g of water, but I'd need to add 239g of coconut milk to actually get that much water...
 

shunt2011

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I agree with TEG. I don't overthink it. I don't even consider the extra fats to adjust my SF. Though I know some folks do.
 

kumudini

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I only sub CM for 50% water and I view it as any other liquid, don't really bother to adjust for the real water percentage. But if there is a tiny little bit extra in the can that's going to waste, I just dump it in.

I do adjust for the fat content as it's fairly oily (CO of course). I just randomly chose to do 15% SF instead of the regular 20% and my bars are just fine.
 

TeriDk

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I use a brine of mineral salt for my salt bars and love the super clean feeling. I have not tried using coconut milk to make them but after reading this tread, I might make a small batch and see. In lieu of the 20% SF, use 15%. What about a water discoun, is it possible? How much of a discount-I'm new to water discounts with only 1 batch.
 

Obsidian

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I really wouldn't do a water discount for salt bars. When I use coconut milk, I do half water/half milk. Dissolve the lye in the water and add the milk to the oils.
 

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