What percentage should water be in CP soap?

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hyperhounds

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I have just started using SoapCalc to make some soap recipes. Up to this point I was using recipes from beginner books. My question is what percentage of the oils should the water be in a regular soap recipe? what should it be in a salt bar recipe? I feel like the recommended 38% water is high?
 

Steve85569

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Lots of the more experienced soapers than I recommend a 2:1 ratio ( 33% ) for CP. I am following their lead and it seems to work very well for most recipes. There are always the exceptions that want more or less water - or maybe it's just me and inconsistent temperatures.:?
 

notapantsday

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Just remember that lye concentration is not the same as water as % of oils.

Most of the more experienced soapers here seem to work with lye concentration, so I've started to do the same. Your finished soap may have varying water content, but the lye always has the same strength which is supposed to make the whole process more predictable and repeatable.

If you use water as % of oils, the amount of water in your finished soap will always be the same. But depending on your superfat content and the composition of your oils, you can have stronger or weaker lye which can speed up or slow down the saponification process and probably also affect other things.
 

notapantsday

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Most of the time, something between 30% and 33% seems to be recommended around here. I think you would use a higher concentration if you have a lot of olive oil in your soap and a lower concentration for coconut oil (for example), but I'm still a little wonky on that. I've just always used 33% and it has worked out well so far (mostly lard and coconut oil).

Maybe wait for someone with more experience to chime in.
 

IrishLass

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I had no idea there was a difference. what is a typical lye concentration?
Yep- big difference between them. 'Lye Concentration' is the better way to calculate your water, for sure. We've had several really good discussions about the difference on the forum. I'll see if I can dig them up and post some links to them.

A 33% lye concentration is my typical concentration. I call it my 'Goldilocks' concentration because things don't move too fast or too slow with it, but just right.....at least for the majority of my batches anyway. If I'm using an ornery FO, I'll usually use more water to bring the concentration level to 30% or 31%, and if I'm soaping a 100% olive oil batch, I'll bring the concentration up to 40% by adding less water.


Edited to add these 2 links that discuss lye concentration vs. water as % of oils:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=38387

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53642


IrishLass :)
 
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DeeAnna

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There isn't a typical lye concentration. That's kind of like asking an avid beer drinker, "What is a typical beer?" Lots of answers! :)

I'm first going to ask you to switch from using "water as % of oils" and instead use "lye concentration". The link at the bottom explains why, but accept this at face value for a moment. As the lye concentration goes UP, there is less water in the recipe.

Important point to remember as we're talking about lye concentration -- the weight of the LYE doesn't change. For a given recipe, the weight of lye is constant!!! But you can use more or less water for the same weight of lye. You can make the lye solution weaker (less concentrated) by using more water when you mix up the lye solution. Or you can make the lye solution stronger (more concentrated) by using less water.

Next thing to know is the approximate lye concentration for "full water" soaping is about 28%. This is for a balanced blend of fats. Use this 28% lye concentration as your rule of thumb for "full water" soaping -- this is pretty much what you get when you use the default of "38% water as % of oils" in Soapcalc.

One of the problems with "full water" recipes is that some recipes will trace really slowly with that much water (olive oil). There is more chance of streaking and mottling ("glycerin" rivers). There is more chance that the soap batter can separate in the mold. A full water soap is more likely to go into gel, which is a disadvantage if you don't want the soap to do that.

To reduce some of these issues, many soapers use less water to make their lye solution. This is sometimes called a "water discount" but there's no need for a fancy name. To use less water in your recipe, simply set the lye concentration to something higher than 28%. Don't make huge changes -- just a percent or two is plenty. I'd suggest you try a 30% lye concentration for your next batch and see how that works for you. Many soapers routinely use a lye concentration from 30% to 33% for recipes that have a balanced blend of fats.

Some types of soaps can do better with a specific lye concentration. For example, a 100% olive oil soap might work well when using a 40% lye concentration, because olive traces very slowly when the lye concentration is lower. A high coconut oil soap might be happier at a lower 28% lye concentration, because coconut oil traces fast and often overheats in the mold when the lye concentration is higher than that.

For more about why lye concentration makes more sense to use versus "water as % of oils", please read: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53642
 
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sayyidhassan

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I have just started using SoapCalc to make some soap recipes. Up to this point I was using recipes from beginner books. My question is what percentage of the oils should the water be in a regular soap recipe? what should it be in a salt bar recipe? I feel like the recommended 38% water is high?
It will also depend on the type of oils in your recipes, for recipes high in "hard" oils like coconut, you may need a higher water percentage to slow tracing.
 

Arimara

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There isn't a typical lye concentration. That's kind of like asking an avid beer drinker, "What is a typical beer?" Lots of answers! :)

I'm first going to ask you to switch from using "water as % of oils" and instead use "lye concentration". The link at the bottom explains why, but accept this at face value for a moment. As the lye concentration goes UP, there is less water in the recipe.

Important point to remember as we're talking about lye concentration -- the weight of the LYE doesn't change. For a given recipe, the weight of lye is constant!!! But you can use more or less water for the same weight of lye. You can make the lye solution weaker (less concentrated) by using more water when you mix up the lye solution. Or you can make the lye solution stronger (more concentrated) by using less water.

Next thing to know is the approximate lye concentration for "full water" soaping is about 28%. This is for a balanced blend of fats. Use this 28% lye concentration as your rule of thumb for "full water" soaping -- this is pretty much what you get when you use the default of "38% water as % of oils" in Soapcalc.

One of the problems with "full water" recipes is that some recipes will trace really slowly with that much water (olive oil). There is more chance of streaking and mottling ("glycerin" rivers). There is more chance that the soap batter can separate in the mold. A full water soap is more likely to go into gel, which is a disadvantage if you don't want the soap to do that.

To reduce some of these issues, many soapers use less water to make their lye solution. This is sometimes called a "water discount" but there's no need for a fancy name. To use less water in your recipe, simply set the lye concentration to something higher than 28%. Don't make huge changes -- just a percent or two is plenty. I'd suggest you try a 30% lye concentration for your next batch and see how that works for you. Many soapers routinely use a lye concentration from 30% to 33% for recipes that have a balanced blend of fats.

Some types of soaps can do better with a specific lye concentration. For example, a 100% olive oil soap might work well when using a 40% lye concentration, because olive traces very slowly when the lye concentration is lower. A high coconut oil soap might be happier at a lower 28% lye concentration, because coconut oil traces fast and often overheats in the mold when the lye concentration is higher than that.

For more about why lye concentration makes more sense to use versus "water as % of oils", please read: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53642
Another example of me getting your point but I have to say it:

Budweiser is your typical beer, hands down. It'f the best beer for typical beer drinkers who believe it is the best and only beer around. It's not exactly the beer but it just as tried and true as the handcrafted beers more experienced drinkers and those who want to branch away from Typical City flock to.

Ah, that felt better. :)
 

seven

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I dont understand the whole % thingy, water:lye ratio works best for me. My typical is 2:1.. More water if fo is fast tracing or with certain additives, like pine tar.
 

Arimara

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I dont understand the whole % thingy, water:lye ratio works best for me. My typical is 2:1.. More water if fo is fast tracing or with certain additives, like pine tar.
The lye concentration part does add a level of control that rivals the ration, if it doesn't edge it out a little. I tend to use ratios myself but I see where the lye concentration function would have been helpful to me.
 

DeeAnna

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Water:Lye ratio works basically the same as lye concentration, so pick yer poison, as some would say.

It's just that when you get away from the "easy" ratios of 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, etc. then using water:lye ratios gets tricky for me. If I use a 33% lye concentration that is basically the same as 2:1 water:lye ratio. This water:lye ratio is easy to remember.

But what about a 32% or 30% lye concentration? The water:lye ratio is 2.13:1 for 32%. And the ratio is 2.33:1 for 30%. Which numbers are easier to remember now?

I see a difference between 30% and 32% lye concentrations, so I often use one or the other for my recipes depending on what I want to do. I can remember easy numbers like 30 and 32. I can't remember 2.33 or 2.13. :)
 

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