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Water percentage of Summerbee Meadows vs Soapcalc

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I normally always use the Summerbee Meadows soap calculator but the last few times I've made soap I've used more than 9 oils and have used the soapcalc one. The first time my soap didn't work out and I had to rebatch and I made another one on Sunday night that is unscented and it's fine but it's taking forever to harden up. I used the default 38% water that is there.

Does anyone know what percentage the Summerbee Meadow one uses (I have sent them an e-mail and am awaiting a response) or what water percentage would you suggest?

I did a recipe on Summerbee Meadow and on Soapcalc and the closest I could get for each recipe to have the same water and lye amount was about 34% on Soapcalc. It was still more water than Summerbee uses but it was very close.

I've never discounted water before in a recipe (well tried it once and wasn't thrilled with the result) and used to use The Sage soap calc until someone told me about Summerbee Meadow.

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I don't usually use the summer bee meadow calculator but I ran a recipe through there to compare with soapcalc. It appears summer bee meadow gives about 10% more water than soap calc. So if you reduced soapcalc's water by 10%, you should get approximately the same amount of water as what summer bee meadow would have given you.

It could also be that this particular batch was unscented. Sometimes the fragrance can speed things up a bit, so by leaving it unscented, the process could take a bit longer. But since you need to cure for a few weeks anyway, the end result shouldn't really be different.

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Thanks, I tried again today with a different recipe and got them both almost exact by making the soapcalc 33 for water. I'll also post when I heard from Summerbee Meadow as well if anyone else wants to know.

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I had the same problem with my soaps taking forever to harden, when I used the default Soapcalc water amount. I mean, months! I think soapcalc just gives a lot water. The default water amount in Soapcalc is 38% of oils. For example in the following simple recipe at 1000 grams,

50% olive

25% coconut

25% palm oil

soapcalc gives 380 grams of water at 38% water to oil ratio. This is only a 27% lye concentration (lye divided by lye+water). I researched this forum to see what people use and it seems that most popular is about 33% lye concentration, although some said they used a range of % depending on recipe.

I think that soapcalc gives that much water to make the recipes workable in case someone wants to do a HP soap, but for CP this seems too much, at least from what I have understood about the numbers. I am still pretty new at soaping though compared to others on this forum, it could be I made some mistake in my thinking above, so please correct me if I said something inaccurate.

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Thanks I think this soap is going to take awhile to get hard. I have it sitting out and it seems to be doing well now but compared to the others it's not rock hard. I read on there that 38% water is the default for newbies to make a decent bar of soap but next time I'll change it to 33% if I have to use it again.

I prefer summerbee meadow though. Sometimes I go to soapcalc to see the hardness of a soap and then use the recipe on summerbee.

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Firefly, you are correct with that more water is recommended for beginner soapers, I just found this website and she does consider the 27% lye solution as a "no discount" and best for beginners.


For the recipe I included above, the 27% lye concentration corresponds to the 38% water to oils ratio. Here I would like to mention one thing, perhaps it is clear to most, but it was not to me, when I first started soaping. I had to research the subject to get a good grasp on it.

There seem to be two approaches to calculating water. One is what soapcalc uses, water to oil percentage, which is set at 38% default. This formula will give you the same amount of water regardless of the type of oils you use, but a different strength of lye solution.

Another approach is a lye concentration, which is the amount of lye divided by lye+water. This will give you a lye solution of consistent strength, but the amount of water will vary depending on the types of oils you use, just as the lye amount does. So if in the above 1000 recipe the amount of water was 380 for a 38% water to oils and 27% lye concentration, if I choose a 100% olive castille soap, the 38% water to lye will still give 380 grams of water, but only a 25% lye concentration. To get the 27% lye concentration, I would have to reduce the water to 348 grams.

It is my understanding that what most people use is the lye concentration formula and not the water to oil formula and that the 33% refers to that. In my 3 oil recipe above, that would be 287 grams of water and this is about 29% water to oils.

Anyhow, I would like to point to the rest of the article I mentioned above, which is here:


Here the author gives some warnings regarding using a lye solution stronger than 27%. I think this page gives some valuable information. The stronger solution is more caustic, hotter, and can speed up the trace of your soap, etc. if I understand correctly.

I hope some experienced soaper will chime in here on the subject.

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I agree with the points made on that page.

I discount water and typically use 33% lye solution for most soaps, but I use a 40% for my castiles. It makes a huge difference in trace time and the time that you have to wait before you cut it.

The only downside to DWCP is that you can easily get soap on a stick with some floral and spice FOs, and that the solution is smoking HOT and super caustic.....extra safety precautions are in order. A lye burn with 40% solution is nothing that anyone wants.

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I always set the lye to water solution at 2:1 which automatically changes the water percentage on soapcalc. Super fat at 7% and am not brave enough to push the envelope on my lye solution. Really experienced soapers are familiar enough with the different oils properties to know how low they can go before the batch goes bad.

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  • 8 months later...

I just saw this post for the first time...

Our Summer Bee Meadow soap calculator calculates a 30% lye concentration (weight lye : weight water) for all solid soaps when using sodium hydroxide. (Selecting potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps uses a different calculation).

Some calculators figure water as a percentage of total oils weight, but frankly, there is no chemical-process relevance for this method. A weight-to-weight ratio calculation provides the same chemical concentration of sodium hydroxide for all oils. Time to trace and time to dry is more consistent, too. Trace time may be shorter than with some calculators, depending some on the choice of oils used.

Our own six-oil formula soaps trace fast and are therefore mixed at only a bit higher than room temperature and then hot-processed in the mold. Our soaps are cut to 4.3 ounces each after finishing and curing them in the mold in a "soap oven" at 160 degree for 4 hours, then cool, cut and trim them to 3.75 ounces each before wrapping.

We just updated our website, which is at http://summerbeemeadow.com with all the same features as before, including the SBM soap calculator & recipe resizer. Feel free to email me directly at steve@summerbeemeadow.com if you have questions.

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