Soapmaking Lessons Learned

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* [ Supplies and Equipment] – [ Ingredients] – [ Lessons Learned]
* [ First Batch] – [ Second Batch] – [ Third Batch]

* Carrot peeler is great for cleaning up bars.
* Large loaf pans often have flared sides which are hard to keep square.
* Some essential oils turn your soap doo-doo brown.
* Disolve all powders in water before mixing into the soap.
* Caustic forms a dense mass at the bottom if dumped in at once.
* Glass bowls full of lye water are scarey to transport even a few steps.

* Narrow mouth jugs of caustic are WAY easier to measure from. Essential Depot’s containers are great.
* KOH uses WAY WAY more than NaOH. Expect 3:1 by mass for NaOH, and 2:1 for KOH. Expect the clumps of KOH to spot-boil the water as they break up during mixing.
* KOH Is 3-5 times as long to react, though hot/early soap granules will happen about the same time.
* KOH Leaves you with a creamy soap. It will never harden, though maybe if your water was 1:1 or less.
* KOH soap will trade ions with NaCl, so adding salt will harden it up. Go stochiometric. I left 0.11 out of 6.29 mols of Potassium soap, and the rest as KCl.

* Sieze is not the end of a batch. It’s just an early beginning of the separation phase in a hot batch. Be patient and it will work out. Heat, water, and elbow-grease.

* Crumbly soap means too much caustic was used. Test your pH, rebatch at 180F, add more oil, cook 30 mins, re-test your pH. Refined triglycerides are about 4.75. Raw oils are about 6. Lye crystals are 14. Target is 10. 11 is ten times as basic (free -OH) as 10.

NOTE: pH is a standardized measure of the power of Hydrion (-OH) in WATER. Other than sulfated oils, soap oils don’t dissolve in water. Technically, they have no pH value. Realistically, you can compare their pKa to known acids in known solvents, or you can titrate with NaOH to determine the effective pH.

* Having your ingredients too warm will lead to early separation. A stick blender helps tremendously.
* Stick blenders will cause mixture to heat up 10-20 degrees since it speeds saponification.
* Smaller batches are harder to blend with a stick blender
* Tilting it in a shallow batch splatters too much. Tilting it in a deep batch massively improves the flow within the pot.
* When the stuff turns into mashed potato looking glop, the stick blender will only suck air.

* Double-Boiler LOW is 135, 1 is 160, 2 is 175-180.
* KOH should be mixed in 3 adds into ice water, rather than all at once.
* Be more cautious measuring by weight
* Add Zinc Oxide at light trace
* Hot oil and caustic go straight to the separation phase.
* Mix additives, water soluables, and fragrances at TRACE, not after full-soap.
* Adding things at full-soap requires more water
* Hot caustic gives off hydrogen fumes which are not fun to breathe.
* 3 heaping tsp of Zinc Oxide per quart is awesome.

CP/OP likes to volcano in the oven unless you have an awesome oven, or are just good about setting a low low temperature.

CP is great for making swirls, but SO MUCH WAITING. Maybe CP with a good water discount would be okay.

Map the grams of oil per mole of triglycerides, based on the SAP values, to enable better stochiometry. (Three moles of NaOH (1 normal) to break down one mole of triglyceride (3 normal)).

Initial research indicates most oils on are reported with 5% too much NaOH for saponification, though a few of them are correct (Castor). This is probably why everyone defaults to a superfat of 5%. Default oil pH, if it were water soluble, is around 6, and NaOH is 14. The mean of those is 10. Coincidence? Nope!

I’ve found their default of 5% to be a little drying, so next round will be 13% `superfat` for an actual closer to 5% based on my oils. Since I’ve got Cottonseed in here, that’s plenty of tocopherol to prevent rancidity.

HP seems to only lose about 7% of the input water per hour of cooking (180F double boiler). Out of impatience, I decided to try HP with water discount.

1.1:1 seemed intimidating, so I used 1.3:1 in a 6 pound batch. This was 2400g oils, 293g NaOH, 384g H2O, 60 grams of additives. Superfat was 11% per soapcalc, but based on moles and weights, it was closer to 7%. I still need to measure the pH to confirm exactly, but I’m expecting high nines.

It was my first time to discount below 2:1, and it was a game changer. It ran WAY hotter and much faster. Overall though, this was great. The soap is so much more firm. I cut it at 3 hours, and at 9 hours, it’s harder than my 4:1 soap that’s been cooked 3 times and cut for 2 days. (4:1 was an error in late water addition).

I should run a little cooler next time. It goes from oil, to emulsion, to separated bits, to oatmeal, to soap in just a few minutes if using a stick blender and high heat. If it volcanoes at oatmeal phase, then COOL IT OFF, stir it down, etc. I melted my stick blender, and was packing hard, hot soap into the molds.

If it separates a second time, I blend it for 20 seconds to fix it (and probably volcano it again).

The trick is to start coloring it at oatmeal, and start molding it at pudding, while avoiding volcano. But, sometimes the emulsion looks like pudding, and sometimes it skips through 2 or 3 stages all at once. More often, I end up molding it once it’s turned to full soap, so even at 180F, it’s pretty firm and can be hard to pack into the mold unless I’ve got a lot of water in the mix.

Once you see soap sticking to the sides of the pot at oatmeal, prep the molds immediately! Turn off the heat! TIME IS UP. Once it is fully soap, even 180F is hard to pack into the molds. Air pockets will be problems in tube molds. It’s okay to let the last 5% of the reaction go on in the mold. You’re not going to use the soap for a few days no matter what process you use to make it.

Also, hot soap is hot. 180F helps keep Candellila soft, but the soap progresses really fast. Also, a tiny blob at 200F hurts more than you’d think.

Lastly, be careful what you add to the water with the lye. I was going to use some additives, and they turned to some weird gelatain, and sucked up the water really quickly. I was skeert and didn’t know what was going on, so I halted, waited, then diluted with infinite water and rinsed it with lots of water, followed by some vinegar. I then started over with nothing in my lye water but lye and water.

Some good water discount information:

Next DWHP, I’ll stir immediately rather than putting the lye pot in the sink. I won’t use additional heat once it emulsifies. I’ll start working on the color/scent additives at early oatmeal rather than stirring it again. Lastly, I won’t use my stick blender as a spoon against the volcano.

I still need to try making some wine soap, and some milk soap. The web tells me that for those, I need to keep the temps down, and if I can do that, then replacing all of the water makes for a more pronounced soap. Under 120F is prefered, so up to 10 mins to add the lye might be done. Others use a frozen slurry of liquid and add the lye there. I like that idea better than staying in hazmat for 10-15 mins.

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