Friday, March 18, 2016

Liquid Laundry and Dish Soap

So, this is a recipe I've been working on for years and it seems I finally got it after several times of no issues.  It's quasi advanced, in the sense that it's a No Paste/Alcohol Method.  This means I add all my dilution water up front once the soap mixture emulsifies, which happens before trace.  So there is no need to dilute later.   The alcohol is a powerful solvent, so more clean, but also facilitates in making a gel soap, or at least a heavier bodied/thicker soap, as outlined by Catherine Failor in her book on LS.  Just make sure you use air tight containers. Add this slowly!
I also use a pretty high lye excess, at 30%, or -30 superfat.  This is done for 3 reasons: 1) it raises the alkalinity.  Higher alkalinity means the better it cleans.  Many laundry detergents run around a pH of 11, such as Tide. 2) the excess lye will bond with fats in clothing such a grease stains, or grease on dishes, turing that into soap . 3) My washing machine dose not get build up of any sort.  Now, some may be concerned by this excess in thinking that it will harm your skin.  It won't.  My entire household does their laundry and dishes with this with no harm.  My theory is that since there are 2 pH adjusters in this, Borax and Washing Soda, that they counter any harmful effects the excess lye may have, in the same way that using potassium citrate in our soaps will help adjust pH and make the soap milder as well. 
Another ingredient used is meat tenderizer.  The primary ingredient in that well known spice cabinet additive is bromelain.  If you can find bromelain on it's own, that's even better since the stuff from the spice section typically has anti caking agents added which leaves a gook in my pot.  But this ingredient is used in cooking to make meats tender, by breaking down protein.  In laundry, it will break down tough protein stains. This is an optional ingredient, however.
 This all may sound like a lot, but in the long run, it's still cheaper than the HE detergents from the store, hands down.  And cleans very well.  My husband worked on the oil rigs for 3 definitely cleans well.  Its also great for folks with hard water, since salt it used to combat that issue.

Remember, all ingredients are added in pretty much up front after emulsion happens when you add your dilution water.  Or, if it's easier, you can do ALL water up front by dissolving your lye in that, then add other parts at emulsion.  I used my big stock pot on the stove.  So if you go this route, keep an eye on temps and don't let it get too hot, as coconut oil soaps are prone to crawling out of the pot.  Add it all together, low boil for an hour.  put it to bed overnight, meaning wrap it up in towels and let sit.  Unless your oven can fit your stock pot, then preheat your oven for 170*F for 10 minutes, turn off, then place pot in.  Either way will allow saponification to complete.  If you do this in a crock pot, you'll have more control, but I don't think this will fit in even the largest crock.  Plus, on the stove is by far faster since the mechanical agitation from the boiling aids saponification.  Don't expect this to be perfectly clear due to the use of salt.  It should be slightly murky once cooled.  I use a little lemon extract to scent and counter the alcohol smell.  If after cool down, the soap is a little too thick, just add a little more alcohol, or hot water, your preference.  Being a strong solvent, alcohol incorporates faster.

Will fill 1 Persall detergent bottle plus 1 Palm Olive bottle, just to give you an idea of how much you'll get. All ounce measurements are by weight. And how much you use is up to you.  I just go by the fill lines the dispenser in my washer.


48oz Coconut Oil
16.62oz KOH ( - 30% superfat ) Will vary slightly based on the lye calc you use
60oz water (20oz to dissolve KOH if you choose to separate)
1/3c (1.5oz) Borax
1/3c (3.5oz)Washing Soda
1/8c (1.4oz)Salt
10oz 91% Rubbing Alcohol
1/3c Unseasoned Meat Tenderizer ( 3.37oz container) (optional)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Who wants to try a salt soap in liquid form??

     Well, I did.  I've wanted to for some time.  It's been another one of those many "can it be done?" things that floats in my head when it comes to liquid soap.  

      I'd stepped away for several months shortly after the end of some incomprehensible negativity towards my work that wasn't meshing too well with my mental health, on top of some serious life changes that our family was about to embark upon.  So I stepped away.  I got back into focusing more on belly dancing, taking Tribal dance classes for the spring semester in order to expand my knowledge base.  As well as regain my Zen. I'd also been performing again.   In a strange way, I'd also rediscovered myself, tapping into my inner Morticia Addams as far as clothing style was concerned.  You probably don't know, but I'm heavy in the Goth subculture in terms of music and building a local community.  Not so much in the daily fashion department.  Until recently.  But anyways, between dancing, a photoshoot, and managing my ever changing family, soaping took a back seat.  As soon as school let out in Louisiana at the end of May, we moved back home to Coastal Virginia.  Closer to family and friends.  My husband quit his job to go to school full time under the GI Bill as a disabled Veteren.  As always, times are tough.  We always manage to keep our heads just above water, but we can never really swim to shore close enough to just wade through.  Some day though, I'm sure.  We bought our second house, cleaned up and re-rented our first house and now we seem to be fairly settled.  Summer time was a big transition time.  So again, soaping was the last on my mind.  

    It's now October.  We're enjoying the cooler weather...real seasons again.  The smell of the ocean, instead of swamp and canals.   And finally, I was inspired to pull out my supplies and get to work.  Made a small batch of hand soap for the sinks and this passed week was my attempt at a Soleseife (zol'uh seefe).  Soleseife is a German style of soap making, translated directly as "brine soap", which is essentially a salt water soap. Not to be confused with salt bars, which are made with whole grains of salt.  The process and results are different, but not to much.   You can go online and find Soleseife anywhere in bar form, and of course, tutorials for it.  But alas!  Nothing for us liquid soapers.   Until today.  I know this was covered in a Facebook group, but the final results weren't revealed, as of 3 days ago that is.  But who's got time to go through a big thread for that info when you can go to a one stop shop, right?  I guess it'd be great to get multiple takes on the soap with different recipes and salt types.  But that anticipation and wait and see factor is kind of killer.  Plus, you may have to hunt down the thread, altogether. Dunno really, I'm not in that group.  But anyways.  It shouldn't be too different from making bar soap, should it?  

     So from what I gathered about it, the salt is added at the very beginning, dissolved in the lye solution before lye is added, typically at 25% of your lye liquid amount.  I say liquid instead of water because not everyone uses water to dissolve their lye.  Like me!!!  Which comes to another aspect of this.  I do glycerin method, which is dissolving lye in 100% hot glycerin.  So in this case, I had to dissolve the salt, Himalayan Pink BTW, and lye in the heated glycerin, which wasn't super easy.  But not hard at all either.  The salt just didn't want to dissolve completely  It wasn't a lot undissolved, but just enough to screw with my neruoticism.   Now, with dissolving everything in water, I know from reading, that the solution turns milky white.  With glycerin method, the color wasn't pretty. Take a look in the stainless steel pot on the left.

Thankfully, that color doesn't stay.  Now that we're at this point, the soap recipe I used was my trusty basic liquid soap, the one I mentioned I made hand soap for.  Here's that recipe, as calculated by Brambleberry's lye calc.  Though I create my recipes with, I use either this, or Summer Bee Meadow for my lye amounts, as they both automatically account for the KOH impurity AND they both call for less lye than Soap Calc.  Also, the lye amounts are pretty much on point, so I could flip flop between the 2 with little to no discrepancies. Anyways, here's that basic recipe:

As you can see, I did a 5% lye discount, which is typically not recommended in LS.  However, with glycerin method, one is given a bit more wiggle room, FYI.  But you can use any liquid you like.  Also, I rounded up the liquid amount to an even 3oz to start, to aid in dissolving all the solids.  Also, if you prefer, you may substitute the Olive Pomace with your chosen Olive Oil.  Just please run things through a calc before proceeding.  Pomace has a different SAP value from other Olive Oils.  Aside from that,  the following additives were used:

0.75oz Himalayan Pink Salt (or your preferred)
0.2oz Potassium Carbonate (optional)
~5.5 to 6oz Dilution Water.
 Maybe another half ounce of glycerin to help dissolve salt and lye, as needed.

 Step By Step Instructions:

Universal safety precautions should be accounted for, such as wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE; gloves, goggles, etc), making sure kids and pets are away from the area and you have no distractions.  Keep close to a water source in the event spills happen. ALWAYS flush with water first if an accident does occur.   

1. Measure oils and warm them in crock pot on high.
2. Heat glycerin to 200 degrees, or until it starts steaming.  Keep heat between low and medium so the glycerin stays very fluid.
3. Dissolve chosen salt.  Use a whisk to sort of whip it up and dissolve as much as possible.
4. Dissolve Lye.  Add more glycerin as needed to help. A little goes a long way. Be careful here, as it does fizz.  If left too hot, it could fizz over.  Maintaining the temps settings I recommend will help you avoid this issue. Taking the pot on and off the stove also helps. By the way, use ONLY a stainless steel pot.
5. Once everything is dissolved as much as possible, remove from heat and go ahead and add to your oils.  The solution is over 200 degrees by this point.  Everything will level out to the optimum cooking temps with no issues.  Maintain a high setting on your crock.

     Here, you stick blend like normal.  The solution will remain fluid so don't look for any thickening.  This is how glycerin method behaves.  If you're using water for your lye solution, you will likely see some thickening.  Here is where a no paste method will benefit.  Regardless of what liquid you use, go ahead and add your dilution water to the soap as soon as you see emulsification.  Not trace, those 2 are totally different.  Avoid using cold water for this as it could seize up your soap.  Blend well again, then cap it off to cook.  You can lower the crock setting to medium or low if you like at this point.  I prefer to keep on high to speed the process along.  2-3 hours later, take a peek and go through your doneness test motions for liquid soap.   Cut the heat and let it cool to check it's overall thickness.  

    Now, a few things about salt in liquid soap.  Salt is typically used for thickening LS.  Depending on the recipe, it can be a significant amount, like with high olive oil recipes, or no thickening at all, like in high coconut.  Also, when using salt, you risk clouding.  So, your once perfectly clear soap will lose that clarity.  Depending on the salt though, it could bring an interesting visual quality.  I remember using Celtic Sea salt to thicken a Castille in the beginning, and it produced an opalescent effect.  Because of this thickening quality, it's why I recommended doing a no paste method.

     Now, my thoughts on it.  When it comes to LS, we have the ability to do much of our special additives last, rather than up front.  It helps preserve the integrity of the additive in question, since lye can and will break down or convert additives in some way.  That said, this could be tried in a different manner, by adding the salt to your dilution water and adding that at the end.  The hassle of trying to dissolve it all in glycerin is avoided, and thus, cuts down time. I'll be trying that another time. I can't say this soap was thicker, since I'm certain I added a half ounce more water than I thought I needed at the time. I'm certain it will be though once I nail the water amount.  With glycerin method, I typically don't need a lot of water to dilute; on average i only need half my oil amount.  I didn't take into consideration the salt thickening, though I knew in the back of my mind it would happen. It also did become murky/cloudy.  The finished product is translucent, rather than transparent.  Especially when compared to the original recipe sans salt.  Here's photos for comparison; left is without salt, right is with salt.

No Salt
With Salt

I did notice that over the time span from bottling to today, about 3-4 days, the clarity did increase some.  So, settling time did garner improvement.   Here's the shot of the soap 3-4 days later to compare to it's earlier counterpart above.  I do apologize for the insufficient lighting.   Note:  I did use citrus EOs in this, namely Litsea and Orange Verbena, as well as a smidge of Grapefruit Bitter.  So that may have impact.

If you watch the accompanying video to this post, you'll get to see the soap in the pot prior to scenting and bottling.  And of course, it did suds up nicely in the sink, in my hands and on my pouf. 

       I've been using the soap for a few days now in the shower, and to be honest, I"m not impressed.  I've used a brine soap before and it was amazing. It was a coconut soap of coconut oil, coconut milk and salt.  It was velvety feeling.   This was...meh.  Maybe more salt?  Higher lye discount...different recipe?  Sadly, I was disappointed.  I'll try again later on though.  All in all, this was fun and easy to do.  It is still considered an advanced method, so I do recommend you familiarize yourself with basic liquid soap making and work your way up from there and I do hope this helps someone along the way. If you've ever tried this before, or plan on trying it, please share your experience so that others can learn from it.  Hell, maybe I'll get to learn more about Soleseife for LS than I know right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

BOOK REVIEW!!!! featuring Jackie Thompson's 'Liquid Soapmaking'


First off, I'd like to give my friend and fellow soaper, Ann Rein, special thanks for taking time out to volunteer some minor editing to this post for me.  I definitely appreciate her support, as well as that of many other soapers who continue to encourage me to experiment and write. 

So, after a long wait, I finally received my copy of Jackie Thompson's first book, Liquid Soapmaking, released roughly 2 weeks ago.  From my understanding, she's taught several workshops at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild conventions on the topic, and finally put her knowledge on paper to share with the rest of us.  This is a remarkable thing, because the last, well, only book that came out on strictly the topic of liquid soap, was Catherine Failor's  Making Natural Liquid Soaps, back in 2000.  That's 14 years between updates!! 

This book is most certainly a breath of fresh air, as many of us know, Failor's book left us a little wanting.  The easiest description is that the book is rough around the edges.  Some will go so far as to say it's completely outdated (it really isn't).  Its formatting was definitely displeasing to many.  It's still a great book, and it definitely helped me in my journey.  I can definitely say that my improvement began solely because of her book, which I finally broke down and purchased a year after I began soaping. I've been soaping for 3 years now, I believe..give or take a few months. I began right around the time my son was born, and he'll be 3 next month, in January. So anyways, her book still has relevance.  And it is the book that pioneered hand crafted liquid soap making. So it's always good to have around and learn from.

Failor's book touched on a few things that she never further discussed in any subsequent chapters, or even in her minor Kindle reader updates (for those who get the digital version).  She mentions additives like potassium carbonate and rosin.  She confusingly breezed over the use of proper doneness testing, i.e., the use of phenolphthalein solution drops (phenol-p).  And then of course, we all realized she was calculating her potassium hydroxide (KOH) amounts with a 10%, with very little reason as to why.  The latter was actually beautifully explained by David Fischer in his blog, 'Candle and Soap'.  Honestly, his entire LS section is great for those who want a beginners approach on the subject without a lot of scientific jargon to mentally digest.  However, Thomson explains and utilizes some of the prior mentioned additives in her book, which in the end, should make LS making so much easier for noobs and experienced alike. Among many other things of course.  Her book brings to the table new techniques for making nice, clear, THICK liquid soaps and gels, without the use of synthetic ingredients such as HEC (hydroxyethylcellulose), which Thompson sent a sample of and briefly discussed in her book, or HPMC ( hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose).  So, I guess without further adieu....

Jackie Thompson's book,  Liquid Soapmaking, surprised me starting out.  While I did expect a major update on the topic, what I did not expect was the scientific approach she took in this book.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for that, in case you haven't already read my other blog posts or seen my videos.  But I wasn't ready to have to digest the approach she took, in general.  I had to read the book twice to process it all, much like when I read Kevin Dunn's Scientific Soapmaking.  Only his book was more like a science textbook for soapmaking, with a little how-to thrown in, whereas, Thompson's book was the reverse. A how-to book with a little science.  I'm not sure if I want to say that this book is noob friendly.  If you can find a way to filter out the chemistry aspect of the book, then yes, it's noob friendly.  Once I sat down with it the second time, and took my time, it all made sense.  This book definitely utilizes a lot of math.  Though basic, it is still not my forte and my brain tries to shut down every time.  Not good when trying to understand the chemistry behind all of this, since chemistry is one part math, and one part practicality. Anyways....

As with any book on soapmaking, she starts off with safety, equipment and PPE.  No need for details there, right?  Pots, stick blenders, gloves etc.  We are easily taken into a brief chemistry lesson on the basic composition of oils and saponification. She then goes into pH, acids, bases, etc (obviously my favorite topic), but it was kind of a stab in the eye as she discussed it.  Why?  Because in the end,  she says, "Attempting to artificially lower the pH will change the chemical structure and it will no longer be just soap". (SCCRREEEAAAACHHH!!!!!)   I came to a dead stop on that part.  Then shook my head and giggled to myself.  If you have been following along, or this is your first visit, you'll see that I've discussed this topic numerous times with fervor.  It can be done.  Soap can be acidified to a much closer to neutral pH, with the right additives that won't cause the soap to break down, and "not be soap".  I encourage you to take a look at those posts when you have the time.  They are lengthy, and have a few accompanying videos linked to my YouTube channel. Just to warn you, Jackie doesn't discuss how she came to this conclusion.  So there's no telling if she ran any experiments herself, or if she just chanting the same old same old.  And before I forget, she said that a 100% Castile soap carries a lower pH than a 100% Coconut soap.  Da hell??  Maybe she's confused?  From the numerous batches of castile and coconut soaps I've made for experiments, their starting pH has always been around 10 (Castile w/ 2% superfat) and around 9 (Coconut w/ 0% superfat). Superfatting affects pH in that it can lower it slightly, so it was important to indicate that detail.   I always measure a soap’s starting pH before I continue an experiment.  So, again, her statement had me scratching my head.
 As I mentioned, she talks about phenolphthalein (phenol-p).  She attests as it being the most accurate method for testing soap for doneness, or 'neutrality', and attempts to compare it as above using a pH meter.  I actually find her thoughts on that confusing, and amusing, because she says a meter can only test for a specific pH.  What exactly does that mean?  pH meters test full range, whereas phenol-p only tests a specific range, which she confirms as being between 8.2-10.  As I've stated in my post on testing pH of soap, the drops go from clear to pink in the presence of an alkaline solution that falls within its range.  Then back to clear when it's outside that range. The varying shades of pink roughly correspond to a pH scale: faded light pink being on the low end of its range(8.2) and bright fuchsia, almost red at its high end (10).  Again, it goes back to clear outside of those ranges.  She explains that "because soap pH is dependent on the pH of the oils used (which is true), it has a pH range, not a specific pH".  OK, I can see her point there.  But most of us already know this. That soap falls within a range, and so we aim for that range.  Having a meter ensures absolute accuracy within that range.    Thompson also lets on (as an undertone) that the need to calibrate a meter is tedious.  To be honest, her method of titration phenol-p drops is way more tedious.  But that's just me.  We all will have our preference.  So long as it's used accurately and provides accurate results each time, it shouldn't matter.  Speaking of which, she not once mentions Zap testing.  That should say a lot to those who inquire about it still. Her method of testing for free fats and alkali kinda hit a neurotic nerve for me.  In my previous post, I indicate the use of a 1 or 5% soap solution for testing cloudiness as well as pH, by dissolving the appropriate amount of paste in lukewarm/room temp water.  I prefer this because it ensures consistency in results; making sure that the same concentration of soap is used each time.  I also prefer tepid water because warm water tends to produce a false clarity on the clarity test.  Warmth temporarily helps solubilizes excess fats. For those of you who have already made LS, have a beautiful clear diluted soap bottled, thinking you're done, only to turn around hours after it's cooled and find it cloudy, you know the struggle. She covers 3 methods of neutralizing, and none of them involve borax. Most of them quite tedious, if not downright scary to the new liquid soaper.
I don't want to divulge much on the potassium carbonate.  That's the big player in her book, as it does make the soap easier to stir, but also provides other benefits as well such as consistency, detergency, and clarity.  So, you'll need to get the book to find out more.  Sorry guys!

She goes deeply into SAP values and what affects those as well as what affects lye in soap making, i.e. quality.  She doesn't press on the use of distilled water like many others, which is a good thing, to a degree.  She instead says to use distilled or softened water ( the latter which I use due to the ion exchange filters we have for our drinking water tower).  She's very clear to emphasize throughout the book that the use of hard or tap water is not good for the soap.

And now the good part: her new methods.  Again, I'll only briefly touch on them because they are the stars of this book, which means you need to get it to get details. She goes old school and talks about paste method, which is good to cover for noobs. And she encourages proficiency of this before moving onto to her other methods. Within that, she goes over double boiler, crock pot/turkey roaster, water bath, oven, and no-cook process methods.  No mention of direct heat stove top processing like in Failor's book.  She then has her No-Paste method of LS making, and a section for making gels and Jellies.
Her discussion on dilution irked me.  She makes it seem as though the soap is diluted twice.  Maybe there was some language barrier that I hit, but when it starts out with this line:

" The soap paste recipes in this book are made with approximately 33% water, and the rest is understood as anhydrous soap (soap plus alkali). Depending on the oils, some soap pastes may be made with (bold for personal emphasis) up to 60% water."

..I got confused.  I've NEVER made a soap paste with 60% water.  Nor have I ever heard of anyone who has. She then goes on to calculating dilution rates and ratios. And even indicates that the oils used will determine how much water is needed.   I hate those, with a passion.  I can't tell ya how many new people have used these charts and ratios and come back saying their soap is too thin.  My rule of thumb:  Add water in 4-8oz increments until you reach your desired consistency.  Document the amount, then use that for next time. It's more tedious.  But it's better than having watered down soap to correct.  And this goes back to her statement of dilution amount being dependent on the recipe.  So, why use a chart of ratios, when no 2 recipes are alike?  But that's just me.  It may work well for others.

 Jackie of course, goes into additives, like colorants, herbal extracts, pearling agents, sequestering agents,  fragrance, etc.   She goes into GREAT detail on the use of essential oils.  Not only blending, but government accepted usage rates as determined by the EU Cosmetic Directive and the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). If you're in the US, obviously the EU regs don't apply, and the standards are voluntary here.  Sorry EU! A chapter is dedicated to this and contains tons of EOs and their restrictions under these regs.  There's also learning how to blend them, as well as help enhance their scent.  There's also discussion on alternative liquids such as aloe, milks and teas, how to use them and when it's best to add them. More detail is put into milk soaps.  Though I'm left disappointed here, yet again.  She indicates yet again, that something can't be done, when I know differently.  Cold processing milk LS so as to not burn it.  I happily witnessed a wonderful soap maker named ByrdiJean Zoric who one week just felt like trying to cold process milk LS.  It came out this wonderful light creamy color.  And while not clear, it was PERFECT for a milk soap.  The downside is that it took several days for full saponification.  But, she did it.  You can find her on YouTube, as well as many different Facebook groups, such as Hot Process Soapmakers.  Hmm....maybe Jackie should get on board with joining a few groups.  She'll find folks like myself and ByrdiJean all over and could possibly learn a few more things. 

Of course, what good soap making book isn't complete without a discussion into preservatives.  She's great on providing the different individual preservative constituents found in many broad spectrum chemical preservatives, that actually are affective in the alkaline environment of soap.  That has always been a topic of discussion for many of us, because there aren't many available to those of us who insist on using them.  She was very quick to discount the fact that antioxidants are a type of preservative, which I've discussed in a previous post. I like how she addressed whether LS even needed a preservative system or not, without actually saying yay or nay.  She provided information and left it up to the reader to decide.  But from what she wrote, it's clear on how she feels about it.

She discussed how to formulate.  Which I don't think many soap making books do this, let alone Catherine Failor's book.  She goes about it in very mathematical manner, so be prepared.  Then again, it is simple multiplication, once you have the SAP values.  But she does admit that those values can vary.  She goes back into how lye purity can affect the calculations.  But what she doesn't distinctively indicate, as David Fischer did in his blog, is that KOH is about 90% pure straight out of the bottle.  But she does manage use mathmatics to indicate this.  Her mention of Summer Bee Meadow (SBM) the lye calculator, who's liquid soap calculations bare the 90% impurity in mind, threw me off.  Actually, it was the creator of SBM, Steve Mushynsky, who shed light on the impurity aspect and had this to say :

"The crystal structure of KOH actually intrinsically contains about 10 to 11% water bound up in its structure, along with about 1% other impurities (mostly potassium carbonate)"

Again, their calc is calibrated to reflect this.  So if you were to do a 0% superfat, you would need little to no neutralization, theoretically speaking.   SBM is calibrated to the SAP values of the oils that they used to sell in their shop, prior to Steve becoming permanently disabled. It's been almost 2 years since I last spoke to him and his health was going to hell back then. Anyways, if you scrape through their website, you'll find this:
"I programed our calculator to have a very small excess of lye. When using our own oils and with careful measurements of lye and oils amounts, it will produce liquid soap that is usable without further 'neutralization'.
This was done by taking into account the water content that is always present in KOH flakes and by verifying the sap values of our oils by making single-oil liq. soap batches with each of our oils. Oils from other suppliers may have varying sap values (notably so for coconut oils), so I can't guarantee accuracy every time when using oils from other sources. Best to do a test batch to judge the result. "

And this is found on the top paragraphs of their basic and advanced calcs:

"Calculations take into account the typical impurities percentage found in NaOH and KOH supplies."

Jackie indicates in her book that their calc uses a 4-6% excess.  That's not small at all and memory tells me that somewhere else on the SBM website, it's said up to a 2% excess is built in, which would coincide with what Fischer concluded with in his blog:

"Make sense? What he's saying is that the potassium hydroxide (KOH) we use is only 90% KOH - the rest is water and other impurities. So the 10-12% lye excess is only a 0 - 2% excess. Now that I can live with...and understand how a bit of borax or boric acid could neutralize!"

 0-2% is a big difference compared to 4-6%! What I'm sure Jackie failed to realize is that all their calculations were based on THEIR oils' SAP values.  Not the industry average. Does this make SBM less accurate? Not really.  Honestly, it calls for less lye than the most popularly used lye calc,, in both KOH and NaOH soaps.  According to Jackie, using her calculation method outlined in her book, compared to SBM, SBM produces discrepancies, or some sort of lye excess.  But comparing SBM to 2 other major calcs available, it would seem that it is almost on par with Brambleberry, and LESS than SoapCalc.  I'll leave it up to you to decide what that will mean to you as a formulator.  Do a comparison for yourself.  I had examples here, however, the pictures keep disappearing, and now I no longer have them on my drive to re-upload.  Just remember, the SAP value is the amount of KOH is milligrams it takes to saponify 1 gram of fats.  So convert these numbers to metric for a better picture.

Throughout the book, Jackie uses glycerin to help speed up the process, and provide clarity, as is indicated in Failor's book as well.  But Jackie seems to do what is called a 'modified glycerin method', instead of full glycerin for lye solution, you do 50/50 water/glycerin.  I don't think her recipes are quite that ratio, but the modified method is still there.  She indicates that too much glycerin dampens foam and leaves a sticky feeling on the skin.  I've seen 1 or 2 complaints about the latter.  But the dampening of foam is far from the truth!  The biggest aspect of doing glycerin method is to have the increase in bubbles! Castile soaps finally have bubbles using this method.  I swear by it. Oh gods and using it with coconut oil soap?...serious bubble blowing potential for the kids.  I think that is one thing I wish she had covered, as it had become a trend in the last year, and I know it was "discovered' prior.  I guess she finished the writing aspect of her book by the time it became a fad in the LS community. Another thing I wish she discussed was Rosin, or Colophony. She said she used a Failor bubble bath recipe that included Rosin, but did not say anything more.  There is almost NO info on its use in soap.  I'd found a few things a while back.  But it would take some serious digging to find them again. I do remember the SAP value being around 183. The one thing I didn't want to see in her book was very brief snippet at the beginning of her formulating chapter, where she told of a soaper who needed troubleshooting help.  The soaper was however reluctant to divulge her recipe, as it was her "trade secret".  Of course, we can't help troubleshoot without knowing the recipe, and Jackie told them this, under the confidence that she would not reveal the recipe.  Jackie did, under the excuse that it was a very basic recipe, therefore nothing special. While yes, it was in fact pretty basic, it was this person's recipe.  And Jackie assured them that she wouldn't tell it.  Quite the opposite, she printed it in her book.  As an Asatru Heathen (Norse Pagan), we firmly believe and live by honor.  Our word is our bond and we hold each other to it. Being an "oath breaker' is not taken lightly, especially amongst kindreds.  The soapmaking community is somewhat like a kindred.  And Jackie disclosing this soaper's recipe, regardless of the reason, is dishonorable. And that is all I will say on that.

Anyways, it looks like I've summarized enough of the book. Like I said, it's quite a bit to digest due to her use of chemistry.  Again, there is nothing wrong with that, for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing (like myself).  But for a noob, it's intimidating.  I think, this book, paired with Failor's book, would do great together. Using Failor's book as a baseline, then jumping to Thompson's book for deeper explanations once a soaper is ready.  Either way, I feel both books are integral parts to liquid soapmaking as a whole, and no good LS maker worth their salt should be without them.  It's funny, many times this year I've been told I should write a book on the topic.  Maybe.  Let's give it 5 years and see how this new addition to our soaping arsenal works out. Then 'mayhaps' I'll get into putting my ideas on paper. Until then, I look forward to working on these new technique, and to see if I can employ them with my own somehow, once I get supplies replenished.  So, stay tuned.  I know I don't write much.  But when I do, I try to keep it meaningful.  So until next time, HAPPY SOAPING!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

pH Testing Your Soap

I think I'm going to cut to the chase on this one.  I'm horrible at keeping up with this, and it's been on my mind to finish for a long while.  Having this finished will also allow me to simply copy it's link to provide in online forums and Facebook groups, rather than having to repeat all this info. 

I've seen an insurgence of folks wanting to learn how to pH test their soaps.  While many are still inclined to use Zap Testing to test for "doneness",  I prefer a more scientific, and frankly accurate, approach. What is zap testing and why to I feel it isn't as accurate as other methods?  Before I continue, I want to say I don't mean to offend, (typically I don't care if I offend anyone or not).  But just to be clear, that is not my intent.  I'm simply presenting my case.  Now, zap testing is essentially licking, or tasting you soap to see, or feel, if the soap has fully saponified.  Meaning no free lye is present.  I feel it is inaccurate because of the varying responses that are given to describe what it is actually like to zap test.  Many people will compare it to licking a 9V battery, with the assumption that everyone has done this in their childhood.  I haven't.  So I wouldn't know what that sensation is like.  Some say it just tastes nasty. But, doesn't soap taste nasty to begin with? Isn't that nasty taste why Moms of old used it to wash the mouths out of potty mouthed children?  I remember getting soap in my mouth during bath time.  It's not pleasant, and I asume that since it's commercially made, there is no free lye present.  Whether it was a liquid wash, or a green bar of Ivory.   In any case, the feeling is different for everyone.  Even more perplexing, some don't "feel" anything at all.  Meaning they don't get zapped.  Most soapers would equate that to the soap being OK to use.  However, I've personally zap tested a soap paste that had a lye excess, 'cause I'm weird like that.  And  I was fine.  No shocking feeling like a 9V battery.  No sting.  Nothing.  Just..soap.  And then, I've had the misfortune of reading a thread on Facebook where a young lady actually zap tested her soap batter before pouring it into a mold.  Soap batter is not quite soap.  It's the emulsification of the lye fluid (water, milk, beer) and the oils used. But it isn't fully saponified soap.  All comedy aside, this is a testament as to why I feel zap testing is inaccurate.  To me, accuracy is a practice that is constant that has predictable results across the board. In zap testing, there is no constant.  Not only is each individual different in how something will taste and feel,  but each recipe is different, down the the actual SAP numbers of the oils used (meaning the SAP numbers presented on your favorite soap calculator, may not be the same as what the actual oil's SAP number is.  In the end, you must KNOW what a soap with free lye truly tastes like, which is indicated on page 76 in the book, "Scientific Soapmaking", by Dr. Kevin Dunn. In that section, he describes how you can go about zap testing, and what he speculates you should feel when you do so.  However, in his book, he indicates that zap testing is used for indicating alkalinity, or alkali, not free lye.  I do not know if they are one and the same in this case.  For the purpose of this blog, I'll assume so, since soap makers understand free lye, not alkalinity.  Also, you must test several sections of the soap.  One side may zap, but another not.
I also feel it can be dangerous.  What if the soap still has free lye?  What if you're actually able to get a sensation?  You would essentially be subjecting yourself to a chemical burn, should the zap test fail.

We all know that handcrafted soap has a pH around 9-ish on average, for a well rounded, superfatted recipe.  Some folks will say between 9 and 10 is good. Dr. Dunn indicates that soap is "tongue neutral" (no zap) in a range between 8-10.  I err on the side of caution and say around 9, as the higher the pH the more likely you will have free lye. Essentially, just stay below 10. And the lower the pH, the more likely you could have issues with the soap hardening. Though I will admit, some soaps, such a Castile (olive oil soap) will garner a natural pH of 10-10.2.  I discovered this on a Castile batch with a 0-1% superfat. Most soap makers superfat at 5% and above.  Superfatting actually lowers pH a little, due to the excess fatty acids present in the soap.  Higher the superfat, lower the pH. So technically, you shouldn't get zapped if you're superfatting, as the free fats will consume all of the available lye in a fully saponified soap.

Why am I concerned with pH? Well aside from the free lye issue, I also like to acidify my soap, meaning i purposely lower the pH in my soap, to attain a milder soap. You can find out more about this on my post, here, here, and hereEssentially, skin prefers acidic cleansers, as they are less likely to harshly strip away the acid mantel of the skin, the way alkaline cleansers do. Also, the acid mantel recovers much faster the less alkaline a cleanser is, as determined by this study using 48 volunteers in Sri Lanka.  And the same is for hair care as well, in that when in an alkaline environment, the cuticle of the hair shaft 'lifts' or 'opens'.  Some folks would think that is good, to allow more nutrients in, but it's not.  The shaft opening in such a way is quite damaging, since the cuticle isn't meant to do that.  It's even worse for folks who do the vinegar rinse after, as the acid closes the shaft, thus causing more damage to the cuticle.  It's not a door.  It's not meant to open and close that way.  This is why hair care products are acidic. To keep the cuticle closed.  Also, a closed cuticle will allow more light to reflect off it the hair, because it's smoothed.  Thus the "shinier hair" claims of most products. The alkaline environment also strips the hair of it's natural oils, with superfatting replacing them.  It does the same thing to skin as well.   Here are some links to support my stance on using alkaline products in the hair.

Anyways, enough hard science for the day.   Whatever your reason for testing pH, you need to be able to test it properly, so that you attain consistent, accurate results every time. Next, I will provide you will a few different methods for testing pH.  It's essentially up to you to decide which will work best for your purposes.

When testing pH of soap, it needs to be in solution, either a 1% or 5%, regardless of method.  Either will do.    For a 5%, dissolve 5 grams(g) of soap in 95g of water.   Or for the 1%,  1g in 99g. 
When testing bar soap, make sure you take your sample from the INSIDE of your soap.  Truth be told, the outside is slightly less alkaline than the inside, due to air exposure. When testing liquid soap, the most important test time is the finished diluted soap, since that is what will be used in the bath.  However, testing during the cook phase for the soap paste tells you when you can stop cooking and move on the to the next phase.

pH Meter
The most accurate testing method is a good pH meter.  Preferably one with automatic temperature compensation, and can be automatically calibrated (single button calibration)  rather than manually (using a screw driver in back) to avoid user error.  But that feature depends on cost to the user. The meter I use is the Hanna HI 98129.  And make sure you purchase the appropriate calibration and storage fluids, to ensure accuracy and proper care of your meter.  I chose this particular meter to also test the Total Dissolved Solids in our drinking water, since we use a water purifying system that needs filter change based on that reading.  Also, keep in mind, that cheaper meters tend to not last very long. You may get anywhere from 6 months to a year out of one. Especially with those that do not have an interchangeable pH probe (the part that tests the pH).  If you can change the probe, you'll get more life out of your meter. I can't give advice on whether the cheap garden meters are OK to use.  They may have a limited pH range, or may not be able to withstand the alkalinity of soap.  The uncertainty is why I opted for a pricier meter.
Phenolphthalein (phenol-p, phph)  solution drops. You will need the kind that go from clear to pink NOT red.  Red is for pools, and test a different alkaline range.   The drops we will need will react to alkaline solutions within a certain range, between a pH of 8.2 to 10.  Some sources have said 12, but they are VERY few), by changing from clear to pink.   All my tests have shown up to 10, when compared to my meter  The color range is your indicator, from faint pink(low end)   to bright fuschia(almost reddish)(high end).  So when you place your drops in solution, use a white background to help determine the coloring.  You want faint pink.  On the flip side, if your drops read perfectly clear, most folks will say that is perfect and therefore the test sample is not lye heavy. That is false. Soap cannot naturally be a pH of 8.  Ever.  Only when you purposely lower pH can it go that low, and lower even.  Otherwise, soap will remain above 8.  So if your solution is clear, your soap is lye heavy.  I will direct you to this thread in in Chemical Forums for more detailed explanation, especially on why we don't test directly on the soap.

Test Strips/Papers
If drops seem too confusing, the use of lab grade pH strips is recommended.  You get what you pay for when going cheap on strips, and that includes an inaccuracy of up to 2 points. Here is a link for more info, plus recommendations on strips to find.

And here is more infoor ideas on testing soap.  I'm not too fond of them, but it is a different perspective other than my own.

Regardless of what method you choose, you are to do your best to ensure that you are performing it correctly.  A test is useless if you don't follow some sort of structure with it to ensure consistent results.  So, until next time.  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Few Thoughts On Preservatives

I know it's been several weeks since my last post.  My comp has been in the shop and it's been pretty busy here in my Hall.  I'm just now commandeering my husband's gaming comp to do this.  I can't write about what I truly would like to since it takes a while to research and gather info to write about.  And for me, that can take days to gather, and hours just to compile in a cohesive essay.  But, I need to get this topic off my chest. So this is somewhat of a rant.  But an informative one.

Maybe folks are keeping up with me.  Maybe not.  But in my previous post, I talked in depth about preservatives, especially in regards to the role they play in Liquid Soap (LS).  I'm still very confident in what I've written, and in fact, have made small edits to it just to add a smidge more information, rather than create a whole new post.  Over the months, I've been asked how I felt about this type of preservative, or that type. Am I for chemical preservatives, or for 'natural' methods?  To be honest, I'm for neither.  No, this does not mean I'm not for preservatives of some type, and there are MANY types.  I'm just not for one or the other.  What I am for is responsible use of them.  If you choose to use/ not to use a preservative, that's up to you.    I won't bat an eye either way.  now if you ask for my opinion on a specific product, I'll give you the best informed opinion I can muster, based on my research.  What I don't understand is, why the constant use of chemical preservatives to begin with?  I am astonished at how many people insist on the use of a chemical preservative in almost every single hand crafted bath and body product, especially when it isn't warranted.  Meanwhile, there are plenty of companies with products on physical shelves and in online shops that don't use chemical preservative.  My favorite company, despite how much I hate some of their marketing, makes an amazing conditioner that lacks a chemical preservative like what would be found in Germaben, Germall and Optiphen.  They also make a baby lotion in the same manner that I'm in love with. Their products contain nothing but oils, butters, botanical extracts and water.  The conditioner never lasts long in my house  (3 females with heads full of curly hair).  But that baby lotion lasted me almost a year (yeah, it stopped being just for baby).  Sure, I never got it tested to be certain, but it never grew mold.  Never discolored. Never changed odor. Obvious physical signs of microbial contamination and overgrowth.   I used it on my infant son's sensitive skin, especially the diaper area, as well as mine, with no adverse effects.

Take a look at the big "sugar/salt scrub debate" amongst hand crafters.  Folks are always asking if scrubs need a preservative since it's anhydrous.  Some will say yes, because it gets exposed to water.  I'm on the side that says no, and I site scientific reasons as to why, with plenty of reference material to back it up. From my previous blog post:
"Salt and sugar both draw out water and tie it up within itself, making the water unavailable for any chemical reactions to occur. High concentrations of salt interfere with the growth of microbes, while sugar may also encourage the growth of healthy microbes that prevent the harmful type from growing. High concentrations of sugar also exert osmotic pressure that will draw water out of bacteria, preventing them from growing as well."

 Yet folks still go for the "just in case".  OK, that's fine. But here's where I have issue with this thinking.  When asked if hand crafted soap needs one, EVERYONE (no exaggeration at all) will say no.  Why?  They all site scientific reasons, mainly referring to it's pH. But also because it's anhydrous 

                       But But?!!  ...It's exposed to water!  

It sits in a damp shower/bath area, and is rubbed against wash cloths and bath poufs, or even bare skin, and  thus constantly exposed to the resident microbes there.  And don't tell me you can rinse the bar off.  It's still exposed to water, especially microbes in the water, as with scrubs, and even more so likely to be left in the damp shower area.  Even if you take it out the shower, it's still left out wet until it air dries.  But who actually does that?

See my frustration?  Why are folks using scientific fact for soap, but completely ignore it for scrubs?  

Another instance of 'preservative thumping":  I asked in a Facebook group, folks' thoughts on adding an emulsifier to a body butter.  For those who don't know, body butters are basically a wonderful combination of oils and butters used on the body, very much like a lotion, but without water as a carrier.  So you get all the goodness of the oils,  undiluted. Other things are added, like clays or cornstarch, for added silkiness or to cut back on greasiness.  But it's still an anhydrous product.  I think somewhere in the thread, someone misread.  It was essentially a thread I started as a free flow brainstorm, looking for the added thoughts of others as well, without asking for recipes and such.  I really hate asking for things like that, asking for copies of folks hard work that is. At first, in shower lotion popped in my head, but then I was like, 'nah, those have water in the them as well'.  I reiterated several times that it was to be a body butter with an emulsifier added.  A completely leave on product.  One commenter completely misread everything I said, and on top of that, insisted I ensure the use of a (chemical) preservative.   I asked why, since it was an anhydrous product.  And her only answer was, 'just in case water gets in'.  Well, first, had she read carefully, she'd know water wasn't going near it.  And second, did she care to ask how I'd planned to package it?  If I put it in a wide opening bottle, not jar, it's less likely to be contaminated by water, like some facial scrubs I buy. St. Ives comes to mind, since it has a wide enough orifice to allow it's thick product to be squeezed through.

The use of chemical preservatives seems to be a knee jerk reaction by hand crafters.  Someone, SOMEWHERE said that they are needed in almost everything when water is present, despite conflicting information dictating otherwise.  I think my concern is, the overuse of said ingredients.  Like antibiotics,  microbes can, and will, become resistant if these specific ingredients used too much.  Then what?  What will be the new, trending chemical preservative available to hand crafters all over?  The aforementioned brands are just that: widely used, and overused, IMO. You find blogs everywhere stamping the use of these ingredients into the heads of easily frightened individuals who don't know any better and are obviously confused by the information that is available that dictates differently.  Some folks, sadly, also prefer to be just be told what to do, rather than research on their own. And none of them, I can guarantee, have their products tested to see if their preservation method even works. They, just like myself, assume that since 'nothing funky' is seen or smelled', then nothing is happening.  That may not always be the case folks, and even the most highly recommended chemical preservatives can fail. Just keep that in mind. I also only make small batches, so nothing sticks around long enough for me to find out, to be honest.
 Ssigh, I'm not saying don't use preservatives.  I use one in my hair conditioner, but it's an EcoCert ingredient, and it's none of the above listed either.  And only because my earliest attempts to go preservative free failed miserably, due to my lack of knowledge.  Just do your diligence.  Stop taking the word of this major blogger here, or that major personality there.   If I can sit here, mom of 3(2 special needs), wife of a Navy Vet, now rig wife,  can dig all this up for y'all and write about it once in a while, some of y'all can make a better attempt at researching you ingredients to find out what is and isn't needed. Just sit back for a little bit and think about it.  If you still go the route of wanting that 'extra protection' for your products, again, I won't bat an eye.  But, ask me what I think about it,  I'll give you an answer, and you may not like it either.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Sapnoifier Magazine Rebuttal

So, I don't even know how to begin this.  

About a week ago, roughly, I received a private message from a friend's mom, who is also a soap maker.  I was outside vacuuming the inside of my truck after I'd just changed it's oil.  I glanced at my phone to see the notification, so I checked it out. She asked me if I get the Saponifier Magazine, because Dr. Kevin Dunn, author of Scientific Soapmaking, had mentioned me in an article.  I was sick with apprehension.  Why?  Welp, why would a gentleman with a PhD in chemistry mention me, a stay at home mom and hobbyist soap maker,  in a nationally, or possibly internationally, known soapers magazine, that I don't even read?   It HAD to be about my experiments, and somehow he came across them.  I posted about it in my favorite soap group and a few of my soapy friends who had the recent issue of the magazine posted screenshots of the pages.  From those shots, every thing looked good actually.  And my apprehension waned, while plenty of congratualtions went up.  But, something seemed off.  I could tell lthere was more to the artocle, so I went ahead and purchased a subscription including the current Sept/Oct issue in question. If you haven't already, and would like to, you can do a full subscription of the magazine, or purchase individual back issues, including the Sept/Oct issue,   here .  Welp, I read the full article and realized, in some odd way, I'd been set up for some sort of public rebuttal, by another soap maker, Rae Ellyn Alexander of Celestial Balance Body Products.  I've come across this lady in a few groups, and to be honest, She's very snarky and prude, not only to myself it seems.  I'd also been shown where she wanted Dr. Dunn to "school me' on my experimental claims, when she took my YouTube link and posted it on his private Facebook page.  I can't get too upset over that, I did post it in a public group.  But still, her reason behind it seems a little malicious to me.

In the article, Dr. Dunn summarizes my video on acidifying soap.  At first he seemed to be applauding my efforts.  There almost seemed to be a bit of admiration coming from him.  But just as quickly as that applause came, so came the rebuttal.  To summarize, because of my use of polysorbate 80 to solubilize the free fatty acids that were released during the whole process, it is questioned as to whether it was my soap that truly did the cleaning, or if it was just the polysorbate.  Further, he calls poloysorbate a detergent, which, for a soapmaker, is a stab in the eye with a stick blender covered in raw soap batter, since we strive to get away from detergents.  However, my research on polysorbate does not say that this product is a detergent.  Simply a surfactant that acts as a solubilizer.  Please keep in mind, surfactant does not means detergent.  There are many different types of surfactants, but I won't be getting into that here.  The point is, polysorbate 80 is not a detergent.  If anyone would care to argue differently, you're more than welcome to.  just please site reliable resources so that I may be able to have them at my disposal for future use.  But to put it simply, Dr. Dunn gave me the proveribal pat on the head and "nice try but no, you're still wrong".  He however, did not offer any reason as to WHY soap can't be acidified.

Anyways, I know where I messed up.  I did my final testing AFTER adding the polysorbate, rather than before.  So, rather than quitting soaping, which I'd actually said I would do if that article turned sour for me, I put my mind , and camera for video evidence, to work and reconducted the experiment, changing a few elements. You can watch the full video here . Instead of using castile soap, which I was out of, I used an 8oz sample of coconut oil soap I make to clean with.  I found the coconut soap was a good idea as well since it's very bubbly, as we all know, and it was a great way to note any changes.   And of course, i nixed the solubilizer all together.  I used only citric acid to lower pH.  It's really simple: using my pH meter, I measured the initial pH of the soap, which was 8.86.  I noted in the video the condition of the soap, how bubbly it was, viscosity, etc.  Then, i proceeded to add 0.25oz of citric acid directly to the soap.  In the video, you'll see the soap go from clear to very white and milky.  You'll also see it froth up as foam builds from mixing it in.  I blew a few bubbles, and then test pH, which stabilized at 7.77.  Then when washing my meter's probe, i noted how the soap felt and show that it produced a creamy lather.  It rinsed off my probe and my hands very well.  I added a final dose of 0.1oz of citric acid to the mix and repeated those same observations. Final pH was 7.03 before I discontinued observation of that.  Foam was reduced but still present and I couldn't blow bubbles anymore.  When washing,small bubbles formed when washing my hands, and everything rinsed squeaky clean.  I even tested on a wine glass to see if any residue or film would form and be difficult to remove.  That also came up squeaky clean. The reason why the squeaky clean aspect is important to me, is because the free fatty acids are very sticky and difficult to remove.  I've needed a scrubber brush to scrub it out of my sink.  So being able to wash the soap off my hands and out of the wine glass easily was a treat. I honestly didn't know what to expect with this experiment.  If it didn't work, well, I'd have admitted to it with full tail between my legs.  In this case, based on evidence at hand, it still worked.  

The experiment got me thinking some more about how soap works.  It would seem that the more alkaline the soap it, the better is cleans.  The alkalinity helps break up the surface tension of oils.  In testing run by researchers in Sri Lanka, they found that the higher the pH of a cleanser, the more it strips away the acid mantel of the skin, a protective layer of the skin which is comprised of naturally produced oils, sweat, resident bacteria, etc, and thus making it more difficult for that layer to regenerate.  The higher the pH, the more oils are stripped away.  It's why it's suggested that lye heavy soaps be shredded into laundry soap, which is easier than trying to rebatch to correct the issue. But, lower pH does not mean it won't clean. It's just not as well as higher pH.  But that's one way to look at it.  When we're talking about acidifying soap, using basic citric acid, we are essentially having the citric acid swap places with the fatty acids in soap, thus bonding with the hydroxide, creating either sodium, or potassium citrate, and fatty acids.  You basically lose soap content.  But how much soap, is undetermined. You'd have to filter out the fatty acids that emerge with each addition of citric acid.  And that has proved a tad bit difficult.  It's not impossible to do, but it is a little frustrating. So, i can see where folks say it's no longer soap.  As I've proved, there's still soap left, even after lowering to a pH of 7.03,  and it seemed to have done it's job well.  I just couldn't tell you how much soap was left. That may be another experiment for later, but I'm pretty sure like with all things in soap making, it's recipe dependent.  

Now what if i used some other acid?  What if, instead of citric acid, which we know basically replaces the fatty acids when combining with the hydroxide, and thus reduces the actual soap content, I used an MCT, (medium chain triglyceride).  In brief, an MCT is a fatty acid chain with 6-12 carbon fatty acid esthers of glycerol, found in it's raw form.  They are some of what make up the oils we commonly use in soap making. You'll know them commonly as Lauric and Myristic Acids (Coconut and Palm Kernel), Stearic and Palmitic Acids( Palm and Tallow). Stearic is also highly common in Coco and Shea Butters.  Of these, most soap makers use Stearic Acid for various reasons but most common is producing a harder bar of soap.  It can be used to thicken liquid soap as well.  Problem with using Stearic is, becuase of it's carbon chain length, 18 carbon atoms, it isn't very soluble in water, and therefore causes clouding in liquid soap.  So for this endeavour, I chose Lauric Acid, which has a carbon chain length of 12.  Bascially, the shorter the chain, the more likely it's soluble in water.  Which in turn means less likely to cloud.  Here's where my train of thought is going:  Citric Acid, along with all fatty acids, are essentially weak acids. But, of those, citric acid is the stronger, which is why when it's used, fatty acids are released and seperate out of liquid soap in white sticky, oily mess. The stronger acid reacts with a potassium salt of a weaker acid to free up the weaker acid.  Hands down.  There's no way around that.  But, if we were to use an acid of equal strength, ie, another fatty acid, as mentioned prior, wouldn't that essentially prevent the 'breakdown' and loss of soap, but still allow the pH to lower?  In my first experimental video, I noted that i used a combination of citric and lauric acids to lower the pH.  In another instance of playing around with pH, I used the lauric acid alone, 2oz in an 8oz soap sample to drop the pH from 9.08 to 7.35, according to my notes.  In Jackie Thompson's HCSCG conference presentation, she indicates the use of stearic acid to neutralize her liquid soap.  So it would seem that MCT's are another viable option at pH adjustment without the potential to lose soap I think the only downside is amount needed vs cost compared to those factors for citric acid.  Citric acid, being the stronger acid, needs less, no more than an ounce for an 8oz sample of soap,  to do it's job, and is considerably cheaper compared to lauric acid, which is more fatty than acid,  where I needed 2oz of that for an 8oz sample of soap.

Just now, I'd literally completed another test for my last theory, of using lauric acid to lower pH in a 4oz sample of coconut oil soap.  0.5oz of lauric acid lowered the pH immediately from 8.87 to 7.1.  The flakes dissolved fairly easily in the heated soap, using a bit of a modified double boiler; measuring cup in a pot of boiling water. Per usual, when hot, the soap was clear, then when cooled, very cloudy.  Not quite milky, in that the soap was on the cusp of translucent and opaque. My guess is that is was saturated with lauric, in that like sugar dissolved in hot water, it looks clear while hot.  You can keep adding until no more dissolves, and it remains clear.  But when the saturated sugar solution cools, it becomes cloudy, like with the soap when it cooled.  According to a few resrouces, lauric acid is soluble in water at the rate of 55mg/L @ 20*C(68*F).  That's really not a lot of lauric, so I assume that at temperature, attemting to dissolve anything more than 55mg will cause the solution to cloud. And this is all specualtion, since I'm still trying to understand the chemistry at play here myself.  But in any case, the clouding can easily be remedied later on.  But, overall this was the most successful of experiements, in that the soap remained very bubbly compared to any other attempts, and of course, it cleaned, yet attained a very low pH.  I'm beyond pleased; and now wish I did pull out the camera for this.  And to note,  this principle can easily be applied to bar soaps,  using stearic acid,  which will help harden the bar. 

So, you see, you can acidify your soap, and there are many ways to do it.  Again, this requires trial and error to see what works for you, and of course, your willingness to think out
side the box.  I'm really not keen on being put on blast the way I was.  I don't see the point in Rae trying to tear down a fellow soap maker.  It's not like I'm competition.  And I don't appreciate having my name and YouTube channel link printed in a magazine that I'd never heard of before without my permission. I've even come across the managing editor, Beth Byrne, of the magazine many times in Facebook groups.  She could have easily contacted me for my consent.  My YouTube channel actually doesn't have my real name on it either,  as is the same for this blog.  I only shared that channel link twice, receiving very few views to it afterwards, as I was actually very hesitant, and for this very reason.   Looks like it won't matter now, will it?  I appreciate all the new YouTube hits and subscribers that this stunt produced for me though.  So no, Dr. Dunn, it's not an impossible dream, as your article was so wistfully titled.  It's a reality.  Maybe you could take the time to try out some of my experiments, or even try a few of your own?  Or, in the least, share exactly why it's impossible rather than writing a rebuttal and giving the proverbial pat on the head to some unknown soap maker in a magazine she never knew existed until recently. K? Thanks!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Revisit of Acidyfying Liquid Soap

So, a few days ago I finally did my post on acidifying liquid soap (LS), or, lowering the pH of soap. In that, I  touched on a few different methods to garner the same end result, which was not only to lower the pH, but see if soap properties were maintained, such as bubbles and cleaning ability, the latter of which is most important. I originally didn't bother with working with straight citric acid, because we all know how it behaves for the most part. Until I got to thinking back on some of my research.  A fellow soap maker, possibly well known even,  by the name of Jackie Thompson, is in the process of getting her book released on LS.  It will be a breath of fresh air on the topic since Catherine Failor wrote her books on transparent and liquid soap making over 10 years ago.  In venturing to Jackie's website, I found it quite sparse on the information side.  She did include 2 powerpoint presentations, each containing a slightly different approach to LS making, like Failor did in her book with the paste and alcohol methods. The one thing that both of these presentations have in common that stood out to me, was how she neutralized her soap.  Without going into details, she uses citric acid.  Nothing special there, except, she used a 25% solution(her presentation says 20%) , so, diluting 1oz citric acid to 4oz water, or a 1:4 acid to water ratio, for ease of recipe resizing.  After adding the appropriate amount of solution, based on titration using phenol-p drops until they go clear, she just "skims off the curds".  What??!!  But, if my memory serves me well, those curds are the freed up fatty acids that we usually worry about needing to be incorporated back into the soap, and solubilized.  That's potential superfat material right there. Why would you want to skim that off?  Hopefully her book will go into detail about this and it should be released in September.  I've already pre-ordered.

So, with all that having pushed forward recently, I decided to give her method of neutralization a go.  Only, unlike her, I went for a true neutral, using the last 8-9 ounces of my glycerin method castile that I'd been experimenting with for the last 3 months, on this very topic.  I'd already had the solution premade, but I didn't have much left.  In this experiment, i used grams instead of my normal ounces, since I was using relatively small amounts of solution.  The pH of the sample was already low, sitting a 9 on my pH meter.  Going in increments, and skimming the curbs after each addition, I totaled out with 13 grams of solution and stopped there, gaining a pH of 8.57At such a low concentration with only slight change, I switched gears and started using straight powder, noticing that the solution, of course, watered down the soap.  So using my percentage calculator app to make quick of tedious math. I got the amount of citric acid actually in 5 grams of solution, 1.25, and added that as powder. PH went down to 8.26.  My impatience got the best of me, and I doubled this amount, adding 2.5 grams of powder, and thus, lowered the pH too far!! I ended up with this giant curd, and this watery liquid with fatty acids I couldn't strain out.  And a pH below 7.  Down the drain that went.  I really need to learn patience....  At any rate, the actually total amount of citric acid used, be it in solution or powder form, was 7 grams(0.2469oz) for 8-9 ounces of soap. I will most definitely use less than that next time, but this does give me a good idea of how much will be needed. Also, and interesting note, I weighed the curds I strained after a 5 gram addition of solution; it weighed 20.4 grams.  So it would seem a significant amount of weight can be lost using this method.

I did however learn something else from this method, and it brings me back to one of the other methods I tired. Using citric acid alone in lowering pH of soap causes fatty acids to be released from the potassium molecules in soap, and be replaced by the citric acid, thus creating potassium citrate.  I used 2 forms of potassium citrate to lower pH, and yet, neither material worked. The pH hovered around 9, and in some instances, tried to rise a little.  What made this so different?  I don't think i could google enough to figure this one out sadly, and Kevin Dunn's Caveman Chemistry forum seems pretty dead. This will be looked into further as I go along.  I do hope someone could chime in on topic someday.