When to add luxury oils

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John Harris

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I parachuted into this group from a group of long ago who still believed that luxury oils should be added at the very end so as to save them from the initial ravages of the lye. Now I read that it doesn't matter when you add those oils because the lye is going to have its way with them no matter what you do to protect them.

For my re-introduction to soap making a week and a half ago, I couldn't bring myself to do it the new way. The luxury oils went in at light trace. I've made two more batches since then and, due to logistical reasons, it was more convenient to add them with the base oils, so I did it. (I felt guilty!)

I am curious, despite all the modern day advice, how many of you still add your luxury oils at the last minute?
 

DeeAnna

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I don't use "luxury" oils in soap, but if I did, they'd go in the soap pot with the other fats. If you're making soap with the cold process method, it really, really doesn't make any difference if you add a fat at trace versus adding it up front with the other fats.

You won't hurt anything by adding at trace, but you won't gain any benefit either. The big downside to adding at trace (at least for me) is it's easy to forget about it and leave it out.

So if you want to let go of the guilt, focus on how much more guilty you would feel if you got your soap all done and in the mold just perfect ... only to see that "add at trace" oil sitting off to the side, unused. ;)
 

shunt2011

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I too don't add much in the way of luxury oils to soap. I do use shea and it's all added in the pot together. I save luxury oils for leave on products. When I first started (pre forum) I had read to add SF oil at trace. I forgot it a few times and just quit doing it. No guarantees what the lye monster takes so it's just easier to measure out everything at once and in the pot.
 

Obsidian

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When I was using luxury oil or butters, I always added them up front.
Saving it to add at trace is just a extra step with no benefits so why do it?
 

artemis

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When I was a new soaper, everything I read said to add it at trace. However, everything also said that saponification wasn't complete for a few days. That's when I stopped worrying about one fat or another being my superfat. It just didn't add up to me.

As an experienced soaper, I can even see evidence in my soap bowl. Especially if we're talking about light to medium trace. I can see the soap change right before my eyes. If I were to add a special oil at trace, the lye is clearly still working away.

I just choose oils that I know I can still feel later in the soap. I can feel avocado when I use it. Lanolin, too. When I'm feeling fancy, I like Shea or cocoa butter. I can't really tell the difference with some others.
 

IrishLass

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Ever since reading Dr. Kevin Dunn's book, 'Scientific Soapmaking' where he put the 'superfatting at trace' theory through scientific testing to see if there was truly any benefit or not (and through scientific analysis saw that it made no difference in all actuality whether the superfat fat was added at trace or up front), I made things easier on myself and just added all my fats together up front..... even when I HP.

Up until that book came out, superfatting at trace (with the idea that your luxury oil would remain forever untouched/unchanged) was just theory based on what on the surface seemed to make fairly logical sense, but without any solid proof to back it up, all we were really doing was just a wishin' and a hopin'. It turns out much is still chemically going on inside of a soap that one cannot see by just looking at the surface. Even after saponification is complete, there are still micro changes occurring inside of a bar of soap due to something called "dynamic equilibrium". See this post by DeeAnna in regards to dynamic equilibrium (start reading down at paragragh 8). Pretty fascinating stuff!


IrishLass :)
 

Microchick

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Ever since reading Dr. Kevin Dunn's book, 'Scientific Soapmaking' where he put the 'superfatting at trace' theory through scientific testing to see if there was truly any benefit or not (and through scientific analysis saw that it made no difference in all actuality whether the superfat fat was added at trace or up front), I made things easier on myself and just added all my fats together up front..... even when I HP.

Up until that book came out, superfatting at trace (with the idea that your luxury oil would remain forever untouched/unchanged) was just theory based on what on the surface seemed to make fairly logical sense, but without any solid proof to back it up, all we were really doing was just a wishin' and a hopin'. It turns out much is still chemically going on inside of a soap that one cannot see by just looking at the surface. Even after saponification is complete, there are still micro changes occurring inside of a bar of soap due to something called "dynamic equilibrium". See this post by DeeAnna in regards to dynamic equilibrium (start reading down at paragragh 8). Pretty fascinating stuff!


IrishLass :)
Don’t you just love Kevin Dunn? He explained that some fatty acids saponify faster than others, generally the saturated fats faster than unsaturated fats, with hemp oil the slowest of our commonly used oils. His experiments were CP but he thinks that since in HP over after the cook any oil then added would be unsaponifiable, therefore SF.
 

DeeAnna

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Lye can entirely break a fat into its main components -- 3 fatty acid molecules and 1 glycerin molecule -- but it can also partially break down the fat. It can munch off just one fatty acid or two to make monoglycerides and diglycerides. These mono- and di-glycerides aren't the same as the original fat.

Even if the "superfat" is mostly made of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in your recipe, it doesn't necessarily mean the superfat is pure hemp oil (picking on hemp for the sake of argument). The superfat is more likely to be a mix of the original hemp plus various mono- and di-glycerides of hemp plus assorted unattached fatty acids floating around. Plus a smattering of all the other glycrides and fatty acids in the recipe.
 

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