When (how) to use citric acid?

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StormyK

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Okay, so my understanding is that including citric acid at approximately a 2% ratio can help with lather in hard water (which we most definitely have), can help reduce soap scum, and - to a lesser degree - may assist in preventing DOS... I've even got the math for replacing the lye that will be consumed, but what I don't understand is possibly the most basic part of when / how to actually add it in!?

I've read to A) dissolve it into your water and then add the lye to the water mixture and B) dissolve it in an equal weight of water then add to your oils.

Can anyone advise which of these is correct (assuming it matters at all)?
 

BattleGnome

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DeeAnna to the rescue!

for what it’s worth, I do the first method. As long as you dissolve the citric acid in water before it gets introduced to the lye, I think you’re good. I could be wrong though. I’m not the most scientific mind on the forum. I
 

atiz

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It does not really matter, but if you do B) make sure you subtract it from your overall water amount. (E.g., you could have a 50% lye concentration and use the remaining water to dissolve the citric acid.)
 

DeeAnna

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Here's the link to my article on citric acid -- https://classicbells.com/soap/citricAcid.asp

To answer your question -- Either way works. Whatever you prefer is the way you should do it.

What people find when they add the citric acid to water and then add NaOH to that solution is that the mixture will heat to a higher temperature than if you just combine water and NaOH.

IMO, it's still safe, just disconcerting. Also, if you want your lye solution to be cool before you start soaping, the "add citric acid to the water and then add NaOH" method may add some time to the cool-down process.

That's why I suggest dissolving the citric acid in some of the water for the recipe and then adding that liquid to the oils instead.
 

StormyK

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As always, thank you all!

I'll probably flip between the two techniques depending on what I'm using then (i.e., if I'm using something that could burn). The higher heat doesn't bother me much otherwise and I'm patient enough to let it cool down a bit as needed. :)
 

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