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 SoapCalc.net, 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.
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.
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.