Many fellow soapers ask about lowering pH in soap to make a milder soap. To me, that is music to my ears. It means they understand that the high alkalinity of hand crafted soap is in fact, harsh on the skin. Dove had the right idea, any many scoff at it because they create hybrid soaps. I guess, since I went there, I'll go over this "debate" as well. This post has me killing 2 birds with 1 stone it seems.
Dove is soap. Yup. I said it. And to MANY, that is blasphemy. Ok, so let's try, hybrid soap. But to the chemistry minded soap maker, or in the least, one that knows how to read and research ingredient labels, it's truth. So let's get right into it an analyze an ingredient label, shall we?
This is Dove's basic beauty bar. Unscented, for sensitive skin. I know many a soaper that get the comments from (non) customers who say they can only use Dove, or it's what Doc recommended. But take a look at the ingredients. What do you see? I see plenty of soap ingredients in this list. Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate(Tallow), Sodium Palmitate(Palm Oil), Lauric Acid, Sodium Stearate(Stearic Acid), Sodium Cocoate(Coconut Oil), Sodium Palm Kernalate(Palm Kernal Oil), Sodium Chloride(Salt). All very normal ingredients used in a basic bar of soap. We all recognize the oils, the Stearic and lauric acids are both used as acidifyers, lowering pH. Stearic provides a harder bar, and lauric provides bubbles and cleansing, and possibly a harder bar as well. Both are fatty acids found in any of the oils found on this panel. Salt is also used to create a harder bar. Out of 16 ingredients (or 14, depending on how you count the pairs with "or" in between), 9 max are used in hand crafted soap. I didn't even consider the titanium dioxide as colorant, and of course water which would bring it up to 11. That's 50% in soap making ingredients by count!
Now let's look at the other stuff:
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate: a sodium salt of the lauric acid ester of isethionic acid. The Isethionic Acid is a rough one. When cross referencing this, it is considered an "organosulfur compound" (sulfur) that is found in all things and is essential to life. From what I an understand, it's obviously not a fatty acid combined with lye to create it salt counterpart. The Lauroyl is converted lauric acid in this. This is considered a very mild detergent surfactant.
I've also found that sodium lactate, used by many soap makers to create a harder bar overall, thus facilitating earlier cutting, and makes Hot Process soap more fluid for pouring in the mold, is also has the ability to acidify, though it would seem it requires a considerable amount to do.
Now, the biggest arguments I as an LS maker come across is, what about the free fats that result in this? Well, simply put, use a solubilizer. There are many on the market available to the home formulator. So it's a matter of finding out which one is effective for your recipes, and suits your overall needs. In my first video, as linked above, I used Polysorbate 80. It didn't produce the clear soap I wanted, sadly. In the second video, it was a combination of polysorbate and the sugar solution I used to maintain water concentration and weight. That produced that beautiful, clear soap..that I hated. I chose polysorbate for it's cost effectiveness and ability to get the job done. Which was to solubilize free fats and prevent separation. I just recently purchased EcoCert solubilizers (caprylyl capryl glucoside) to test out. But for the experiments at hand, I didn't want to waste such pricey ingredients. What bothered me also about experiment #2, is the fact that generally, a solubilizer has to be paired in equal parts to the oil amounts used. Remember that 40%? Equal parts to that. Nope. Won't even do that with my EcoCert solubilizer. But!! With all this said, you can superfat your LS and have a truly luxurious liquid soap. I do plan on conducting some comparisons with a few solubilizers. There is NO information as to how they behave in LS. Not even from suppliers themselves. So, it's high time someone does it. I'll do a short entry on that at a later date. But until then, here's a link on what you can look forward to if you give this a try yourself. It does take some work and experimenting. Patience is certainly a virtue when making liquid soap.
All in all, this is forever a work in progress. And for this particular topic, as I make new discoveries, I'll do my best to update here. For those of you that happen to have something to add, please do. It's always nice to learn something new. And always better that we all share so we can advance the soap making craft with quality products, for in the home, and for those who sell.