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I did it!


Craftedinthewoods
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I made my first batch of soap on my own today! (I helped make one before with my mother-in-law but I'm not counting that today. This time I did it myself.)

After a ton of reading on line and on this forum and after several questions were answered and confusions cleared up (again, on this forum... ) I made up a recipe and got busy.

I made 2 small batches, both traced and both are solid even as we speak, or type. I'm dying to touch it and look at it closely. But I'm waiting until tomorrow. This takes supreme patience.

Yay! I'm a soaper!!!

:yay:

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Thanks, guys! I'm pretty proud of my new soap.

So the recipe I used was one I made up using info from Top and much reading:

20% coconut oil

35% lard

40% olive

5% cocoa butter

These are what I had on hand. I actually made 2 small batches of the same thing. But in the second I added 1 tblsp. of sugar and 1/2 teasp. of salt. (I read in another post / tutorial that the sugar can add lather and the salt will add hardness.) I also added 1/2 teasp. of paprika to color this second batch so I could easily tell them apart. (I read about several natural coloring spices that can be added.)

So this morning when I couldn't wait to look any more, both batches were solid and so I tipped my mold over just to see if they would come out. The batch I used the salt & sugar in slipped out of the mold without any effort! The batch that had no salt is still stuck in the mold. I'll give it a bit more time before I work at it again, but could that be the salt that made the second batch come out so easily so soon? It seems likely to me since that is the only difference between them.

Another question that came up form e while making the soap... once the soap reaches trace should I keep mixing to reach a thick trace or does a thin trace acheive the same results?

That might be the other difference between my 2 batches as well. The first batch (no salt & sugar) I mixed to a pudding thick trace and I can even see the 'dollops' on the tops of the bars in the mold. The second batch (with salt / sugar) I stopped when I saw trace so when I poured into molds the tops leveled themselves out quite smooth.

Is on better than the other? Would a thick trace stick in the molds more than a thin traced soap?

Sorry for all the questions I threw in here.

Today I would like to try the same recipe, but add in 5% castor oil in place of some of the lard. I'd like to see the difference castor adds. I'll also try using a pvc pipe for a mold. Maybe using the salt it will come out fairly easliy.

And tomorrow or Tues. I'll be getting palm kernel flakes in the mail. What soaps to try then???!!!:) (definitely addicted already!)

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If I were in your shoes, I'd try adding the castor in place of some olive oil instead of decreasing the lard. Some of the advice you get from people and lye calculators encourages the use of lot of liquid oil (for instance, so-called 50/50 rule of thumb).

You can pour at any level of trace you want. By the time you're seeing a light trace, the mixture should be emulsified to the point that it cannot separate. That's the very first point of all the mixing before you pour into the mold.

Beyond that, you can choose the level of trace based on what works for you. Colors will swirl differently depending on the level of trace. The texture of the soap will come out differently on top, as you noticed, and some people leave that part for the homemade look. With a light trace, the soap will probably take longer to firm up in the mold and some recipes might benefit from a little more heat applied after pouring.

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If I were in your shoes, I'd try adding the castor in place of some olive oil instead of decreasing the lard. Some of the advice you get from people and lye calculators encourages the use of lot of liquid oil (for instance, so-called 50/50 rule of thumb).

I'll take your advise on this. I kind of debated with myself if I should put castor in place of the lard or olive. I guess I just chose... But I'll do it in place of the olive oil.

Beyond that, you can choose the level of trace based on what works for you. Colors will swirl differently depending on the level of trace. The texture of the soap will come out differently on top, as you noticed, and some people leave that part for the homemade look. With a light trace, the soap will probably take longer to firm up in the mold and some recipes might benefit from a little more heat applied after pouring.[/

I think I like the lighter trace better. I like the smooth tops of my bars and it poured so smooth and easy into the molds.

One of my batches is still stuck. Well, I forced one bar out just to see... it is noticably softer. It came out all right though. I'll check them again tomorrow to see if I can get the rest out.

I ended up not making any more soap today. I'll have to bide my time...

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I just had to share, my wonderful husband just stood admiring my curing soaps and listened to me for 15 minutes on all I've learned to date about soap. What a sweetheart! He even is excited to try it.

I've made a few more batches of soap. I am particularly excited about a couple shampoo bar recipes.

I've molded these recent batches in pvc and they turned out great. Although the top end of the log has a different color and feel than the rest of it. Might this be the ash I've been hearing about?

I wonder if the top of the pvc log just didn't keep enough heat and that top 1/2 inch or so didn't gel? After cutting, the bars look wonderful, except that top one.

One batch I also experimented with more FO and there was FO hanging around on the top of that log. I assume that is because there was too much FO.

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Hey, Crafted!

I just want to say that I've been following your soap journey because I decided to learn the technique recently as well (I'm only familiar with candles). You've asked some really great questions and I'm finding the answers useful in my own practice sessions!

Take care!

Sandi

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I just had to share, my wonderful husband just stood admiring my curing soaps and listened to me for 15 minutes on all I've learned to date about soap. What a sweetheart! He even is excited to try it.

Good for you. Glad to hear it's all going well.

I wonder if the top of the pvc log just didn't keep enough heat and that top 1/2 inch or so didn't gel? After cutting, the bars look wonderful, except that top one.

If it's lighter in color and not brittle or anything weird like that, it probably just didn't gel.

One batch I also experimented with more FO and there was FO hanging around on the top of that log. I assume that is because there was too much FO.

I've never added enough FO to have it ooze from the soap or anything close to that. I suppose it's possible, but remember that most of the liquid in your soap is the water from the lye solution. My slight fear is that soap might have more tendency to separate in a tall PVC tube if you don't get a good trace on it. Maybe avoid pouring it extra thin.

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I've never added enough FO to have it ooze from the soap or anything close to that. I suppose it's possible, but remember that most of the liquid in your soap is the water from the lye solution. My slight fear is that soap might have more tendency to separate in a tall PVC tube if you don't get a good trace on it. Maybe avoid pouring it extra thin.

Well, this batch was definitely a thicker trace. Almost like pudding. And I'm (pretty) sure it was the FO as it was oily feeling and had the smell. I used 1 oz. for the 1 lb. of soap I was doing. Maybe it was just that particular oil? Anyway,....

I do have another question. Do you know what actually causes that 'sticky' feeling after using a bar of soap? (I talked about it in another thread, but I just can't find it.) When I've used store baught soap - I always used Dove - my skin feels smooth after rinsing... not slippery, but my hand swipes over it very smoothly.

After using some of my earliest soaps, (they were milled with my mother-in-law and now cured for several weeks) I don't feel that smoothness. My hand does not just swipe across my skin, it 'sticks' and 'stutters'. I don't notice any difference after I'm dry, just while still in the shower.

Does anyone else experience this?

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I do have another question. Do you know what actually causes that 'sticky' feeling after using a bar of soap?

It's refreshing to hear someone ask about that. You might be stunned at how much handcrafted soap is evaluated based on wishful thinking. It's made with $20/lb cherub buttcheek oil, or SoapCalc says it has a conditioning value of 70, so it must be "luxurious." We will carefully fail to notice anything about how it actually works.

One thing to notice about the effect of soap on the skin is whether it's drying, but few people seem to actually test that. The basic test starts with noticing the tightness of the skin on your hands before washing--you probably won't notice any if you have average skin. Then wash your hands with the soap and dry them. Wait 15 minutes and then flex your hands and fingers again. If you notice any tightness in the skin that wasn't there before, the soap is drying to some extent.

The other thing to notice is exactly what you're asking about: what's the feeling on the skin immediately after rinsing off? I find this easiest to evaluate in the shower and I know exactly the feeling you're talking about--that stuttering glide and the water beading on the skin. I've experienced it many times and associate it with unbalanced oleic soaps. There might be a more general answer than that, but I can tell you for sure it's caused by the fatty acid balance of the soap--the overall recipe and nothing else.

As regards the question of what exactly that feeling is, I can only speculate at this point. My guess is that the oleic slime cleans very poorly and has a tendency to coat the skin, and then the minerals in the water react with it to form an insoluble soap. So basically, you end up with a soap scum residue on your skin.

It's interesting that you mention Dove. They had a whole big ad campaign centered around not leaving residue on your skin. It's perfectly valid too, but the way they do it is by combining soap with anionic detergents. The detergents not only work at a lower pH, but they also don't react with the minerals in the water, so you get less residue. But you can get a nice skin feel with just soap too, if it's formulated well.

One thing I noticed is that you can't counteract that weird skin feel entirely by adding lauric oils to a castile recipe. You'll get better cleaning, but it will still feel a little weird, plus the lauric oils eventually add a drying effect on top of it. A certain balance of palmitic and stearic soap seems to be essential.

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This is defintiely Soaping 101! I really appreciate all this great info for what is behind a great bar of soap. I've joined the quest for the perfect recipe!

... It's made with $20/lb cherub buttcheek oil, ...

Nice :rolleyes2 - I wonder if they sell that oil at walmart?

One thing to notice about the effect of soap on the skin is whether it's drying, but few people seem to actually test that.

I've been washing my hands excessively since making soap (you know, I just can't keep my hands off the stuff) so I have attributed my dry hands to over washing. But I wonder now if I have dry hands because my soap is drying? To experiment with that do I lower the amount of the lauric oils (especially coconut)? But then do you up the amount of oleic or palmitic and create more problems with 'the stuttering glide'?

...But you can get a nice skin feel with just soap too, if it's formulated well.

OK - I'm believing you on this one. I'll keep working at it.

One thing I noticed is that you can't counteract that weird skin feel entirely by adding lauric oils to a castile recipe. You'll get better cleaning, but it will still feel a little weird, plus the lauric oils eventually add a drying effect on top of it. A certain balance of palmitic and stearic soap seems to be essential.

Ok - so I cheated and used one of my soaps I made a week & a half ago. (I couldn't wait another day!) It's not only with my rebatched castile that I feel the 'stutter'. My first tester contains:

20% coconut

35% lard

40% olive

5%cocoa butter

This was my first cp recipe I tried myself and I didn't have palm kernel or castor oil yet. I definitely felt the stutter - and it was a bit drying, too. My next recipes are similar but with pko & castor subbed in at differing rates. (I'm hoping with using some pko instead of all coconut, the drying factor is helped...)

From what you said about a certain balance of palmitic & steric, I wonder if I have too much lard (palmitic) and not enough cocoa or shea butters (steric)? Most of the soaps I've made so far have 30 - 35% lard and only 5% cocoa. Adding more butters would lower the oleic oil (possable cause of stuttering) and still offer conditioning, I think. Am I on the right track?

I don't want to get discouraged, for pete's sake, but for all the fun I'm having making soap I know I have to find a way to make soap that leaves me smooth or I won't enjoy using them.

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If you wash your hands a lot, they'll get dry regardless of the soap. Start with your skin feeling normal and see what one usage of the soap does. It's that tightness after 15 minutes that gives away the drying qualities of the soap, even if your skin doesn't feel dry the same way it would after over-washing it.

There are a lot of possible fatty acid balances that could work. Experiment and see what your conclusions are and what you can create. What I wanted to emphasize is to concentrate on the fatty acid balance and not on what particular oils it comes from. There are no luxurious oils, just convenient and useful ones. And there are balanced recipes that work because of all the oils that go into making them. No one oil automatically makes a recipe better or worse.

And remember that no lye calculator can evaluate your recipes better than you can, or anticipate the results as well as you will learn to.

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