Why is my ls resolidifying???

Discussion in 'Liquid Soap and Cream Soap Forum' started by PieBorg, Dec 4, 2019.

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  1. Dec 4, 2019 #1

    PieBorg

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    I'm new to liquid soap after making HP soap for a couple of decades. So far, things are not going well. My KOH is 100%, according to the package, but even at 7% superfat, the soap keeps resolidifying after appearing to be completely diluted. The soap is clear, thin and watery while it's on the heat, but when it's allowed to cool, it goes back to almost completely solid. This is in my nice, warm kitchen, so it's not due to the weather.

    My recipe:

    16 oz Avocado oil
    4 oz Castor oil
    8 oz Coconut oil (76 degree)
    8 oz Olive oil
    7.0 oz KOH
    27.0 oz Water.

    After cooking, I added an additional 88 oz water, a cup or two at a time. The soap seems harsh when I wash my hands with it, so I threw in another 4 oz of coconut oil, thinking there might still be some free lye floating around.

    I think there must be something wrong with my calculations. Any input would be most appreciated.
     
  2. Dec 4, 2019 #2

    Obsidian

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    The first thing I would do is double check that you actually used koh. I've seen people accidentally use wrong kind of lye.
     
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  3. Dec 4, 2019 #3

    PieBorg

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    Thx, Obsidian. I am certain that this is KOH. The only NaOH I've ever used is Red Devil lye, but this stuff is totally different. (I've made the mistake of trying to make liquid soap by diluting a solid homemade soap before, and it just never quite came together the way this stuff did.) The recipe seemed to be working okay, and I left it overnight to bottle up the next day, but when I came back to it, it was almost completely solid again. I put it on the heat again and added just a little more water. As long as it's warm, it stays fairly liquid, but as soon as it cools off, it starts solidifying. I'm stumped!
     
  4. Dec 4, 2019 #4

    DeeAnna

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    If you plan to use the soap at room temp, then ask yourself why you're focusing on the viscosity when the soap is warmed. Why is that important? The viscosity that you want to pay attention to is the viscosity at room temperature. It sounds to me like you need to add more water, but do this at room temp so you dial in the right consistency at room temp.

    Your recipe is based, as best I can tell, on 3% superfat and a KOH purity of 100%. You need to adjust the KOH purity in the future to the purity of your actual KOH to avoid building in too much extra superfat. The extra superfat is equal to the difference between 100% purity minus the actual purity of your real KOH. Most KOH purity ranges anywhere from 85% to 95%. And stick with no more than 3% superfat as a general rule of thumb.

    Did you do a zap test to confirm if your soap had excess alkali before adding more fat? If you didn't, then adding more fat may be solving a problem that doesn't exist ... and creating a new problem that you'll have to solve of the excess fat separating out from the soap. If the zap test shows no zap, then there are some other issues to consider --

    If this soap is relatively new, you might want to wait a few days to let the soap mellow a bit more before deciding it really is too harsh.

    Liquid soap can be harsh on the skin because people tend to use a higher % of coconut oil (in other words a higher myristic and lauric acid content) in LS than they do with their regular bar soap.

    Think also about how much LS you're putting on your skin when you wash -- it's very likely to be quite a bit more than when you wash with bar soap. More soap on the skin when washing can dry the skin more than when using less, even if the recipe is as mild as they come.
     
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  5. Dec 5, 2019 #5

    Zany_in_CO

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    Hi PieBorg, and Welcome to SMF!

    I ran your recipe through SoapCalc and came up with different numbers for the KOH and water amounts:
    LS Recipe.png
    Assuming the weight of the paste (soap) was somewhere around 64 oz I would dilute this batch at 20% soap to 80% dilution water due to the high amount of liquid oils vs coconut oil.
    64 oz (20%) soap + 256 oz (80%) water = 320 oz finished LS
    This results in watery soap but should have excellent lather. It can be thickened with salt.

    That being said, DeeAnna is correct. 3% SF is the max recommended for liquid soap. In addition to that, both olive oil and avocado oil are high in unsaponifiables, so that adds to the excess oils in the batch. PLUS you've got some unsaponified coconut oil in there.

    Remedy:
    You will need a 3 gallon or larger stainless steel pot to accommodate (320 oz/128 =) 2.5 gallons of soap.

    Calculate the amount of KOH needed to saponify the coconut oil and to bring the SF down to 0% to reduce the amount of free floating oils.

    Add (320 oz - 88 oz = ) 232 oz more dilution water.

    Once you add the extra KOH and dilution water allow the batch to sit on the range top on warm for as long as it takes to dilute. If a skin forms on the top that tells you you're at the right dilution level. Add a bit more water as necessary to clear the skin. Don't rush it. You can turn it off and leave it over night and continue the next day if necessary. Let the soap be your guide. ;)

    Please read: What to Expect from Various Oils in LS
    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/what-to-expect-from-various-oils-in-ls.62864/

    Here is a good tutorial for Basic Beginner Liquid Soap:
    http://alaiynab.blogspot.com/2014/07/basic-beginner-liquid-soap-and.html

    I hope this helps. Please let us know if it works or not.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2019
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  6. Dec 5, 2019 #6

    PieBorg

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    Thank you, DeeAnna and Zany!

    According to the packaging, my KOH is indeed 100% I forgot to mention that a phenol test was pale pink, almost clear, yet the soap was still harsh. I ended up deciding to neutralize with Borax solution. Did that yesterday, left it overnight, and the soap no longer makes my hands itch. The consistency is much better too.

    There are still a few small chunks floating on top, but it didn't resolidify overnight. I added a little more water (at room temperature as suggested) to dissolve those chunks. I thought I needed some heat to help things along, but maybe I'm just evaporating water away and defeating the purpose of adding it. Also, I must've read a hundred times that this takes patience. Have I been patient? Nope.

    It seemed like I was adding way too much water for the consistency I want, yet not enough to fully dilute the soap. I think that's why it kept resolidifying. The Borax thickened it up nicely and has allowed me to add enough water to finish diluting. It's hard to get used to the whopping amounts of water it takes to get the job done!

    Once the batch has time to mellow, I'll see how much oil is left floating on top. I was really hoping the soap wouldn't leave my skin feeling two sizes too small. So far, it does seem to be quite drying. I took a look at those links (thank you, Zany!), and it would seem that my recipe should be gentle. Maybe there's something that can be added to make LS less drying, but I don't know what it is.

    Even though I've been making solid soap forever, LS is a whole 'nother ballgame. Lots to learn, so
    thank you both for your help.
     
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  7. Dec 5, 2019 #7

    Zany_in_CO

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    You're so very welcome, @PieBorg. :) Please pay it forward .
    Correct.
    Time. :thumbs: Patience. :D

    You should be proud of yourself. I'm impressed how you've managed to use your experience and knowledge of soapmaking to work through the problem to a positive result. Keep up the good work!
     
  8. Dec 5, 2019 #8

    PieBorg

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    Thanks again, Zany! I checked on it a little while ago, and as it turns out, this batch is still not diluted enough to stop solidifying, although it's getting there. Gallons and gallons of water... <sigh> After adding what probably still isn't enough water, the nice consistency is gone. I'm hoping that more Borax will thicken it up again after it finally finishes diluting. Maybe it'll thicken on its own without the Borax, if I can just stop messing with it and give it a chance to mellow.

    So much for patience... This stuff is nowhere near ready, but guess who took a shower with it anyway? The good news is that the lather is amazing and my skin doesn't feel tight and itchy after all. Maybe someday, if I live long enough and keep adding water, there's a chance this could turn into a success.

    This is my second batch ever. The first one was a real flop -- very harsh and flip-flopping between too watery and too solid. That seems to be my mantra so far, but if I ever solve the issues with the second batch, I'll revisit the first one and see if it can be salvaged. It did become liquid enough at one point for the extra oil to rise to the top.

    Maybe there's a way to suspend unsaponified oils in the liquid. When I make oil and vinegar salad dressing, I use a smidge of mustard to keep it from separating. I doubt anyone wants mustard in their soap, but maybe there's something that would work the same way without causing cravings for hot dogs. Time to do some research...

    Happy Holidays!
     
  9. Dec 6, 2019 #9

    Zany_in_CO

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    Polysorbate 80 or 20 might do the trick. Some LSers use it to "solubize" shea butter, cocoa butter, etc. to get it to incorporate into the finished LS. The rate varies according to what oil you use. For essential oils, I use 1:4 EO to Poly 80. For olive oil, 1:1 works. Have to play with a small amount to get the ratio first. I use a small beaker. Put an ounce of soap or water in first. I use pipettes and mls to do the test. Add the poly 80 and stir until clear. Add the oil and stir until clear. Let it set long enough to see if the oil rises to the top.

    ETA: Actually, you shouldn't do anything until after the 2-week sequester. That's the amount of time it takes for something to rise to the top or settle on the bottom. Then you're better able to decide on a remedy for the whole batch.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  10. Dec 6, 2019 #10

    PieBorg

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    Wow, Zany! Thanks! It'll probably take me a couple of weeks to get my hands on some Poly, which will prevent me from getting impatient and messing with it sooner. (That works out okay, because according to your previous post, I still have a gallon and a half of water to add. That'll take time and a bigger pot.) If the Poly works out, it would allow me to superfat over the 3% max, and that would be wonderful! Even if it doesn't quite work that way, it's great to know there's a way of dealing with oils floating on top other than just dumping them out.
     
  11. Dec 8, 2019 #11

    Zany_in_CO

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    FYI: Borax doesn't thicken liquid soap batches containing 20% or more coconut oil. It may appear to do so at first and then go flat on ya after it sits a while. :p Borax is primarily used as a neutralizer in LS. Meaning, it also lowers the pH and at some point your batch may separate if you add too much. :eek:

    TO NEUTRALIZE WITH BORAX
    Make a 33% solution of Borax & distilled water:
    Add 3 oz. Borax to 6 oz. boiling water to make 9 oz. of solution. Keep hot and stir until clear. Borax will precipitate out of solution if it is allowed to cool so reheat before adding.

    Use 3/4 oz. (1 1/2 Tablespoons) of solution per pound of paste.
    EXAMPLE: 48 oz. Paste = 3 lbs. X 0.75 oz. = 2.25 oz. Borax solution

    Go back to Post #5 and click on the link to Alaiyna B Blogspot to learn more about other ways to thicken finished LS.
     
  12. Dec 8, 2019 #12

    PieBorg

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    Thanks, Zany. I took a look at the link, but the only mention of other ways to thicken soap was in a comment below the article, which said salt could be used. No mention of how to calculate the amount of salt needed. Also, I've read that salt can reduce the lather, so I'm a little hesitant to use it, even though a lot of LSers apparently do.

    I appreciate all the help from this forum. I knew LS wasn't for beginners, but I didn't realize it would be such a tricky thing. My experience with solid soap didn't prepare me for this at all. I'll continue following the suggestions, (I still have to deal with that excess oil) and maybe someday, I'll have usable soap.

    I found a link that gives good details about thickening with salt, in case any other noobs are interested:

    https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-...icks/how-to-use-and-thicken-liquid-soap-base/

    I think I'll give it a try. If I use very small amounts of salt solution, maybe it won't affect the lather too much.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2019
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  13. Dec 9, 2019 #13

    Zany_in_CO

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    From my files:
    NOTE: This applies to 100% olive oil castile LS.

    Brambleberry:
    Use 0.5 oz. table salt (very important it be plain table salt, just the cheap stuff) dissolved in 1.5 oz. distilled (warm) water to naturally thicken the soap prior to adding fragrance. We use about 12 ml of the salt solution in 16 oz. to get a very thick soap. Give it a try!

    Joanne wrote: 1/2 teaspoon to 16 oz. LS and it is plenty thick!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Here's another one from a member on the Liquid Soapmakers Group

    Saline Solution Cocktail
    Using sea salt, I make a 1:4 salt saline solution. I microwave 1 part sea salt in 4 parts distilled water until dissolved. I have used table salt, although that can present variables of other minerals also. Since you are no longer saponifying it (dealing with the lye part) -it should not be detrimental if you use sea salt or table salt.

    To thicken my liquid soap I would slowly add the saline cocktail with a stick blender for finite reaction. If it "takes" you are going to see it "take" relatively fast-in the area you are pouring it. If it does not take, and sometimes it will not if you simply have too thin a soap--you should know it just as fast. My experience says do not keep adding saline if it is obvious it is not taking. Try it in a small amount if you want to be sure first.
     
  14. Dec 9, 2019 #14

    Zany_in_CO

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    Actually, it isn't all that tricky once you get the hang of it. It's unfortunate that you started out with such a large batch. My advice is to try a few batches using 16 oz. oils -- 50% coconut oil + liquid oil(s) of choice from the list of oils linked in Post #5.

    You can dilute LS high in coconut oil at a rate of 40% soap to 60% dilution water and have a nice viscosity at that point without needing to adjust in any way.

    There are as many different ways of making LS as there are LSers! LOL I'm "old school" so that's where I'm coming from -- very basic. There have been a few innovations over the years since I started that have made it easier to make LS on the first try.

    I'm wondering where you got that recipe?
     
  15. Dec 10, 2019 #15

    PieBorg

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    @Zany, You are so right about starting with such a humongous batch! What was I thinking?! Well, I didn't know it would take much water to dilute. I was going by something I read that said to calculate the amount of water, start with twice the weight of the oils. That would have been a reasonable batch size, maybe a little on the large size, but okay if you're hoping to make enough to last a while. Instead, I stopped keeping track when I still needed more water after I had added 4x the weight of the oils.

    Salt really does do a good job of thickening it up, but I discovered that the temperature of the soap makes a huge difference. This soap is quite clear and watery at room temperature or warmer, but in my cold garage, it still turns somewhat opaque and semi-solid. So I have to warm it up just a little, add some salt solution, and wait until it cools off again to see the result. I'm trying to get a nice, honey-like consistency, but it's really hard when a temperature swing of ten degrees or so could change everything.

    To answer your question, the recipe is one I made up. I made my own lye calculator a couple of decades ago, with SAP values for both NaOH and KOH. I just plug in my superfat %, and it spits out the water and lye amounts for me. It's very reliable for NaOH soap, but I also ran my recipe through SoapCalc to check my numbers for this batch.

    I've read that some oils need more water to dilute than others, but no mention was made as to what those oils might be. When making solid soap, I never worried too much about the properties of the fatty acids. As long as I included oils that lather well, I was good to go. But as I'm finding out, LS requires a lot more planning. What is a good ratio of solid oils to liquid oils? What do I need to consider regarding the properties of the fatty acids, other than lather? What else should I consider when concocting a recipe?

    It'll probably take the rest of my life to use the soap I've already made, so this is, more than likely, just an intellectual discussion on my part. But I'll save any information I can collect on the off chance that someday, I'll run out of LS and want to make more.
     
  16. Dec 10, 2019 #16

    Zany_in_CO

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    See my answer below. Pay attention to the information in the link provided concerning various oils.
    Yes, different oils require different amounts of dilution water. The range for all is somewhere between 40% soap (for 100% coconut or PKO) to 15% soap (for 100% liquid oil - olive oil or almond oil).

    Generally speaking (and there are a few exceptions), I use coconut oil and palm kernal oil in high amounts (50% or higher) for the best viscosity that doesn't require thickening. Be sure to weigh the paste before dilution so you know how much water to add. Be sure the paste tests neutral by whatever method you like (I use phenolphthalein drops) before dilution. I dilute in an SS pot range top just below simmer. Takes 3-4 hours while I do other stuff.

    The dilution rate for 100% olive oil (NOT EVOO) is
    15% soap to 85% dilution water. This results in a watery LS that has amazing lather but may need to be thickened with salt solution.

    Many members choose to use much less water for dilution and prefer to stop when it reaches the viscosity they prefer. No worries. But, and this is just me, (1) a lot of LS IS wasted during the extended period of time it takes to rinse off, and (2) as the water evaporates over time, it's more likely the soap will want to solidify in the bottle.
     
  17. Dec 10, 2019 #17

    PieBorg

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    Thanks so much for the info. I wish I had been able to stop diluting when this batch got to the consistency I liked, but it was only there for a moment until it cooled a little. It's one extreme or the other, depending on temperature. Even at room temperature, it has a bit of skin on top but is so runny, it seems a shame to add more water. Yet isn't that exactly what I need to do? Then try to thicken it up with salt without accidentally going too far in the other direction and turning it into a gloppy mess? Ugh!

    So am I correct that the overwhelmingly high ratio of liquid oils to solid in this batch is the main reason I'm having so much trouble achieving a nice consistency? Something like 60% lard, 10% castor, and 30% coconut oil would have diluted nicely without much, if any, need for thickening?

    I really appreciate all the help.
     
  18. Dec 11, 2019 #18

    Zany_in_CO

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    Family favorite is 50/50 PKO + Lard. 40/60 soap to water. No thickening necessary. Elegant feel.

    60 lard, 10 castor, 30 coconut may do as well. Note -- skin on top means "more water please", but not much. Also, get it out of the garage. Freezing temps no good for clear soap.
     
  19. Dec 11, 2019 #19

    PieBorg

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    Okay, so lesson learned. The ratio of solid oils to liquid oils makes a huge difference. Your family favorite recipe sounds great. If I ever use up what I've already made, I'll do that one.

    Temps in the garage are above freezing, but it's still really cold there. My family has started rolling their eyes at the perpetual soap production in the kitchen, so the portion of the batch that still needs diluting has to wait its turn in the garage. I'm working with just a little bit of soap paste at a time, diluting and thickening before adding it to the jug of "finished" LS. Of course it isn't actually finished until it has had a chance to sequester. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be okay other than maybe some oil floating on top.

    This batch has been a nightmare. I probably would have ditched the whole thing if I hadn't gotten so much help here. I made just about every mistake possible, yet the soap seems to be recovering. Thank you, Zany, for all the hand holding!
     
  20. Dec 13, 2019 #20

    Zany_in_CO

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    You're so very welcome @PieBorg
    For what it's worth, I thought it might be helpful to mention that the first time I made LS (2003) it totally failed and I swore I'd never try to make it again. Over the next year I continued to run into bits and pieces of information until I finally put the bits together and had another go at it. Voila! Success. After that, I joined a Liquid Soapmakers Yahoo Group where all the pioneers of LS were sharing on a daily basis. I saw all the innovations as they happened. It was a good group.

    That's why I was able to understand where you are coming from. It's definitely "old school". If t'were me, I'd set that batch aside and do what I've always done with failed batches... use it for laundry soap! Or, at least try it. Maybe too oily? Dunno. :smallshrug:

    The world of LS has come a looooong way since that time and there are much easier, quicker, and darn near fail-proof ways of making LS. For example, my first 100% olive oil castile LS took 10 hours to cook. It now takes all of 2 minutes (!) to become soap using the "sub glycerin for water" method. I don't recommend trying it until you have a few more batches under your belt because the glycerin gets extremely hot, scorches easily and a few members have suffered burns when they tried it.

    ETA: Have a look:

    Also, take a look around other threads in the LS forum. I hate to see you struggling when you really don't have to. If you even make one or two more small batches to get the hang of it, it may help you figure out how best to handle that batch.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019

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