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Adventures in soapmaking

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  • Adventures in soapmaking

    So, my mother has for quite a long time been talking about making soap. She bought all kinds of supplies and ingredients and has been "just about to get some lye" for maybe 6+ years now. So I got tired of hearing her say that repeatedly, and last night I ordered fresh oils (hers expired a loooong time ago) and a canister of lye flakes. I may even end up doing this on my own, we'll see.

    The first batch will be 30% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, 30% palm oil, and 10% castor oil. I'll let that cure for 6 weeks and then try it out. The next batch will have fragrance oil added to the same oil ratio as the first batch. After that I'll tweak the oil ratio a bit and see what I like. I'll get some fresh shea butter eventually too, since I need more anyway for the solid lotion I make. I'll experiment with that in soap, since it seems to be popular for that purpose.

    I'll keep this thread updated with my progress as I go, and when I start to do the fancy swirls and such I'll post pictures. My order hasn't shipped yet and the place I ordered from is busier than normal at the moment, so it may be a few weeks before I can get started.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

  • #2
    I'm a soap maker myself. My interest started when I tried to make my own shaving soap. I never got the shaving soap dialed in to my satisfaction, but the bath bars are a big hit in the house.

    Lye flakes? Do you mean potassium hydroxide? If you aren't making cream or liquid soap, then what you want is sodium hydroxide which typically comes in little pellets vs the flakes of KoH. I never got the hang of cream soap either.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by alaskazimm View Post
      I'm a soap maker myself. My interest started when I tried to make my own shaving soap. I never got the shaving soap dialed in to my satisfaction, but the bath bars are a big hit in the house.

      Lye flakes? Do you mean potassium hydroxide? If you aren't making cream or liquid soap, then what you want is sodium hydroxide which typically comes in little pellets vs the flakes of KoH. I never got the hang of cream soap either.
      I mean this:
      https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.co...de-flakes.aspx
      Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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      • #4
        I cannot help but visualize Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies out by the "cement pond" with her kettle brewing lye soap.

        I'm always still in trouble again

        "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
        "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
          I cannot help but visualize Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies out by the "cement pond" with her kettle brewing lye soap.
          EGGzackly - my very first thought even reading the title.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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          • #6
            Originally posted by QuantaFille View Post
            We'll then, you are good to go. I've not seen that NaOH in that particular form before.

            Have fun!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
              I cannot help but visualize Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies out by the "cement pond" with her kettle brewing lye soap.
              I'm not actually making that kind. Not yet, anyway.
              Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by alaskazimm View Post
                I'm a soap maker myself. My interest started when I tried to make my own shaving soap. I never got the shaving soap dialed in to my satisfaction, but the bath bars are a big hit in the house.
                What shaving soap recipes have you tried? I have been looking online and saw one that looks promising. Olive oil and soy wax, maybe 60/40 or so, with some clay for slip. In the lye calculator the predicted properties look like ideal shaving soap but I need to get some soy wax without additives, as the stuff I have on hand is meant for candles.
                Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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                • #9
                  I've still got a batch of bubble bath from Deb.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Juvenal View Post
                    I've still got a batch of bubble bath from Deb.
                    She's the one who told me about the site where I've been getting lotion making supplies for years. It's where I bought the stuff to make this soap.
                    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by QuantaFille View Post
                      What shaving soap recipes have you tried? I have been looking online and saw one that looks promising. Olive oil and soy wax, maybe 60/40 or so, with some clay for slip. In the lye calculator the predicted properties look like ideal shaving soap but I need to get some soy wax without additives, as the stuff I have on hand is meant for candles.
                      I don't recall off hand what exact recipe I was using - it was one I developed myself and since we just moved I don't know where my recipe book is at the moment. IIRC it used tallow, avocado oil, shea and mango butters, stearic acid, castor oil, and kaolin clay. I also messed around with adding silk and lanolin to the mix. I also used a mix of NaOH and KOH to make more of a croap (softer soap). It lathered very well but was lacking in the slickness department and I never really got that sorted too well. These days I buy my shaving soaps from other artisan soap makers.

                      I haven't come across a shaving saop with a high percentage of olive oil that was good since olive oil tends to produce a flat, non protective lather. There are a couple of artisan makers that make an olive oil soap but it took them several years to dial it in satisfactorily. The key to shaving soap is to have a high percentage of stearic acid and olive oil doesn't have enough.

                      For more info about shaving soaps than you ever thought you'd want to know check this thread over at the SoapMakingForums.

                      Hope this helps out some.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alaskazimm View Post
                        I don't recall off hand what exact recipe I was using - it was one I developed myself and since we just moved I don't know where my recipe book is at the moment. IIRC it used tallow, avocado oil, shea and mango butters, stearic acid, castor oil, and kaolin clay. I also messed around with adding silk and lanolin to the mix. I also used a mix of NaOH and KOH to make more of a croap (softer soap). It lathered very well but was lacking in the slickness department and I never really got that sorted too well. These days I buy my shaving soaps from other artisan soap makers.

                        I haven't come across a shaving saop with a high percentage of olive oil that was good since olive oil tends to produce a flat, non protective lather. There are a couple of artisan makers that make an olive oil soap but it took them several years to dial it in satisfactorily. The key to shaving soap is to have a high percentage of stearic acid and olive oil doesn't have enough.

                        For more info about shaving soaps than you ever thought you'd want to know check this thread over at the SoapMakingForums.

                        Hope this helps out some.
                        Interesting. I've read a good chunk of that thread now, there is a lot of good info there. I'm still researching. I'm going to get one of those tiny crockpots (the ones for queso and the like) and experiment. I'm trying to find good sources for the ingredients still. I thought I had found stearic acid at WSP but theirs is several different kinds mixed together and that's not what I need. I also found a reputable butcher in town from whom I could probably get some suet to render into proper tallow, since apparently most of the "tallow" you find in online shops is made from fat from the entire cow, and not just the stuff from around the kidneys. I had originally wanted to stay away from animal fat but too many people are saying it makes good soap. I may just experiment with it to get it out of my system, and then formulate something entirely plant-based.
                        Anyway, my supplies still haven't shipped and won't for a while so I am still researching.
                        Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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                        • #13
                          I get most of my supplies from WSP, but for stearic acid I got it from Nature's Garden. They have some soaping supplies but carry a lot of candle making supplies as well. Also Brambleberry is a good source of supplies and info on soap making. If you don't want to use tallow, palm oil (not palm kernel oil) is a good substitute. It has almost the same characteristics as tallow and works very well. Of course palm oil also has its own ethical issues with unsustainable harvesting.

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                          • #14
                            I did a little more reading and it turns out the stearic that WSP sells is the same that anybody sells, so that's what I ended up ordering.
                            I just checked out Nature's Garden, and oh my goodness, there go my next couple paychecks, lol! They have lotion, candle, and incense making (!) stuff and I make all of those so it's nice to find it in one place. I see they have a lot of fragrance oils but I didn't look at them because I'd just end up ordering more and I need to use up what I have first. Their incense making section seems to be more focused on air fresheners and potpourri but they do sell frankincense in bulk, so I'm going to have to order that eventually.
                            I did find Brambleberry too, and already placed a sizeable order with them. I did buy some palm oil from WSP but it is RSPO certified, but now I'm hearing that RSPO certified companies are just as bad as the rest. Fortunately, people are becoming aware of that and are formulating recipes that don't use palm products so I should be able to do without it.
                            Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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                            • #15
                              My bachelors degree in food science included 8 classes (24+ credits) in chemistry. Two of those were Organic, each of which had lab lessons we needed to complete.

                              One of these lessons was on saponification:

                              a process by which triglycerides are reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) to produce glycerol and a fatty acid salt called "soap." The triglycerides are most often animal fats or vegetable oils. When sodium hydroxide is used, a hard soap is produced

                              So, we all made soap that day.

                              More importantly, in a prior lab we'd synthesized isoamyl acetate, where the lab TA mysteriously told us to save it for an upcoming class. Most of us did this...

                              ... and used it for the saponification class. The result was that we ended up making banana soap. It was pretty neat, though the TA told us that we probably shouldn't use the soap very much, as it was slightly caustic. Smelled great, tho!
                              I can solve the problem of evil without interfering with anyone's free will. So can your God, but he refuses. This is why I'm His moral superior.

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