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Thread: Adventures in soapmaking

  1. #11
    tWebber alaskazimm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaFille View Post
    What shaving soap recipes have you tried? I have been looking online and saw one that looks promising. Olive oil and soy wax, maybe 60/40 or so, with some clay for slip. In the lye calculator the predicted properties look like ideal shaving soap but I need to get some soy wax without additives, as the stuff I have on hand is meant for candles.
    I don't recall off hand what exact recipe I was using - it was one I developed myself and since we just moved I don't know where my recipe book is at the moment. IIRC it used tallow, avocado oil, shea and mango butters, stearic acid, castor oil, and kaolin clay. I also messed around with adding silk and lanolin to the mix. I also used a mix of NaOH and KOH to make more of a croap (softer soap). It lathered very well but was lacking in the slickness department and I never really got that sorted too well. These days I buy my shaving soaps from other artisan soap makers.

    I haven't come across a shaving saop with a high percentage of olive oil that was good since olive oil tends to produce a flat, non protective lather. There are a couple of artisan makers that make an olive oil soap but it took them several years to dial it in satisfactorily. The key to shaving soap is to have a high percentage of stearic acid and olive oil doesn't have enough.

    For more info about shaving soaps than you ever thought you'd want to know check this thread over at the SoapMakingForums.

    Hope this helps out some.

  2. #12
    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskazimm View Post
    I don't recall off hand what exact recipe I was using - it was one I developed myself and since we just moved I don't know where my recipe book is at the moment. IIRC it used tallow, avocado oil, shea and mango butters, stearic acid, castor oil, and kaolin clay. I also messed around with adding silk and lanolin to the mix. I also used a mix of NaOH and KOH to make more of a croap (softer soap). It lathered very well but was lacking in the slickness department and I never really got that sorted too well. These days I buy my shaving soaps from other artisan soap makers.

    I haven't come across a shaving saop with a high percentage of olive oil that was good since olive oil tends to produce a flat, non protective lather. There are a couple of artisan makers that make an olive oil soap but it took them several years to dial it in satisfactorily. The key to shaving soap is to have a high percentage of stearic acid and olive oil doesn't have enough.

    For more info about shaving soaps than you ever thought you'd want to know check this thread over at the SoapMakingForums.

    Hope this helps out some.
    Interesting. I've read a good chunk of that thread now, there is a lot of good info there. I'm still researching. I'm going to get one of those tiny crockpots (the ones for queso and the like) and experiment. I'm trying to find good sources for the ingredients still. I thought I had found stearic acid at WSP but theirs is several different kinds mixed together and that's not what I need. I also found a reputable butcher in town from whom I could probably get some suet to render into proper tallow, since apparently most of the "tallow" you find in online shops is made from fat from the entire cow, and not just the stuff from around the kidneys. I had originally wanted to stay away from animal fat but too many people are saying it makes good soap. I may just experiment with it to get it out of my system, and then formulate something entirely plant-based.
    Anyway, my supplies still haven't shipped and won't for a while so I am still researching.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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    tWebber alaskazimm's Avatar
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    I get most of my supplies from WSP, but for stearic acid I got it from Nature's Garden. They have some soaping supplies but carry a lot of candle making supplies as well. Also Brambleberry is a good source of supplies and info on soap making. If you don't want to use tallow, palm oil (not palm kernel oil) is a good substitute. It has almost the same characteristics as tallow and works very well. Of course palm oil also has its own ethical issues with unsustainable harvesting.

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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    I did a little more reading and it turns out the stearic that WSP sells is the same that anybody sells, so that's what I ended up ordering.
    I just checked out Nature's Garden, and oh my goodness, there go my next couple paychecks, lol! They have lotion, candle, and incense making (!) stuff and I make all of those so it's nice to find it in one place. I see they have a lot of fragrance oils but I didn't look at them because I'd just end up ordering more and I need to use up what I have first. Their incense making section seems to be more focused on air fresheners and potpourri but they do sell frankincense in bulk, so I'm going to have to order that eventually.
    I did find Brambleberry too, and already placed a sizeable order with them. I did buy some palm oil from WSP but it is RSPO certified, but now I'm hearing that RSPO certified companies are just as bad as the rest. Fortunately, people are becoming aware of that and are formulating recipes that don't use palm products so I should be able to do without it.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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    tWebber Whateverman's Avatar
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    My bachelors degree in food science included 8 classes (24+ credits) in chemistry. Two of those were Organic, each of which had lab lessons we needed to complete.

    One of these lessons was on saponification:

    a process by which triglycerides are reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) to produce glycerol and a fatty acid salt called "soap." The triglycerides are most often animal fats or vegetable oils. When sodium hydroxide is used, a hard soap is produced

    So, we all made soap that day.

    More importantly, in a prior lab we'd synthesized isoamyl acetate, where the lab TA mysteriously told us to save it for an upcoming class. Most of us did this...

    ... and used it for the saponification class. The result was that we ended up making banana soap. It was pretty neat, though the TA told us that we probably shouldn't use the soap very much, as it was slightly caustic. Smelled great, tho!

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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whateverman View Post
    My bachelors degree in food science included 8 classes (24+ credits) in chemistry. Two of those were Organic, each of which had lab lessons we needed to complete.

    One of these lessons was on saponification:

    a process by which triglycerides are reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) to produce glycerol and a fatty acid salt called "soap." The triglycerides are most often animal fats or vegetable oils. When sodium hydroxide is used, a hard soap is produced

    So, we all made soap that day.

    More importantly, in a prior lab we'd synthesized isoamyl acetate, where the lab TA mysteriously told us to save it for an upcoming class. Most of us did this...

    ... and used it for the saponification class. The result was that we ended up making banana soap. It was pretty neat, though the TA told us that we probably shouldn't use the soap very much, as it was slightly caustic. Smelled great, tho!
    If the soap you made was too caustic because it was lye heavy, all that means is that you didn't use enough fat/oil. If all the lye is used up in the saponification process and you have a very small amount of fat/oil left over, you should have a very mild soap. Harshness/mildness has more to do with what oils you use and not so much the pH. Soap made correctly usually has a pH level around 9 or 10, which is not enough to burn you especially since it is diluted and rinsed off the skin right away. I should also mention that if the TA used paper test strips to check the pH, those don't work for soap anyway. It really messes with the dyes those are made with and you'll get wildly inaccurate results.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

  7. Amen Whateverman amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Whateverman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaFille View Post
    If the soap you made was too caustic because it was lye heavy, all that means is that you didn't use enough fat/oil. If all the lye is used up in the saponification process and you have a very small amount of fat/oil left over, you should have a very mild soap. Harshness/mildness has more to do with what oils you use and not so much the pH. Soap made correctly usually has a pH level around 9 or 10, which is not enough to burn you especially since it is diluted and rinsed off the skin right away. I should also mention that if the TA used paper test strips to check the pH, those don't work for soap anyway. It really messes with the dyes those are made with and you'll get wildly inaccurate results.
    We were teen-aged kids "playing" with chemicals. There's no-doubt our lab experiments were inefficient, though to be fair to the professor, the reaction was the focus rather than the (practical usability of the) results.

    I regret having mentally-lost most of those 2 semesters of organic chem. It was an annoyingly difficult class, but still pretty darned fascinating, too. In a semester filled with 18 credits (IIRC), I was bound to lose 90% of what I learned during those 3 months :p

    ps. I did try my banana soap, and yes, it wasn't the greatest. Not terrible, but not anything I wanted on my face more than once :)
    Last edited by Whateverman; 06-17-2020 at 02:27 PM.

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