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Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 8:30 am
1.5 hours and pH now 10.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 9:26 am
What are the main reasons that someone would choose between hot or cold process? I have an impression that the do it yourself shaving soaps that are less than ideal are cold, and the ones that make better lathers that perform better are hot process. Is that generally accurate?
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 9:40 am
Chris, yeah, it is very fun. Made another batch last night. The bain-marie looks great.
Gary, hot process has a few advantages for shave soap:
- Less wait time to use it - no cure vs. several weeks to cure cold process
- No worries about temperature of lye mixture and fats; it's all gonna get cooked, so you don't need to try to combine lye and fat at roughly equal temps as you do with cold process
- The big advantage: you can use more saturated fatty acids, and particularly more stearic acid. If you cold-process something with a high stearic acid content, it will seize before the lye and fats are fully emulsified and saponification won't happen; besides you'll have a mess on your hands. I suppose it's possible to just heat the resulting mess enough to get it to trace, and then turn it off and let saponification happen over time as with cold process, but pure cold process soaping just won't work if you want a soap with enough stearates to work for shaving IMO (caveat: if you figure out how to use castor oil properly, there may be a workaround, as you could cold-process something mostly made of castor oil and tallow, but I don't know enough about castor oil to be sure on that front).
Advantages of cold-process generally are the capacity to do more layering of colors, swirls, etc.; plus less time on the day you make the soap. It's also generally easier to pour cold-process soaps into molds, as once they've been soaped in hot process, they set up quickly while cooling off and can get a little lumpy when you put them in the mold. This is a hurdle I need to get over with better consistency (pun intended) so my soaps look nicer.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 9:46 am
I have too many questions to ask here. I'll do as you have done and read before questioning. I admire your enthusiasm. I hope the soap works out as well as you hope.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 10:35 am
Here is my morning's work:
Romano bean stew, cooling soap and a multigrain loaf. Oh, and these were done earlier:
Tear-apart white rolls to go with the stew.
The soap in the mold, with strips of waxed paper on top:
And with the lid on that makes the surface smooth:
Recipe and notes (for open source purposes):
Tomorrow I shall slice it up and try a shave! If only the hospital would stop calling me with silly questions, life would be near-perfect!
Who assumes his universal indicator paper doesn't lie
and hopes it isn't affected that much by surfactants and
knows that his skin will fall off if all the alkali isn't consumed
by the reaction...
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 10:48 am
drmoss_ca wrote:1.5 hours and pH now 10.
Chris, is it cooking the entire time for the express purpose of lowering the pH, and what is the recommended pH?
Remember I am a complete beginner, with only A-level chemistry to back this up! My understanding is that one cooks the soap mix in a hot-process until the reaction is complete. If you have calculated the amounts of lye and fat correctly, the resulting mixture will not have XS alkali left behind. One might actually put in slightly more fat than the alkali can saponify, thus making a 'superfatted' soap. My recipe allows for 5% superfat. If you go in the other direction leaving a slight excess of alkali will make the soap harsher and less suitable for tender skin.
The pH is all about whether the reaction is complete (the pH stops changing) and at what point it stops - bathing soaps being less alkaline than, say, laundry soaps. I have read that a pH of 9.5 is suitable for laundry soap, but I let this mixture stay on the heat until the indicator paper said it was neutral - I wasn't in a hurry to move the stew onto the temperature-contolled ring as the beans hadn't finished pressure-cooking, and I thought it wouldn't be possible to overcook a soap in a double boiler water bath. Tomorrow will tell me if any of my assumptions are correct!
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 11:23 am
Two hours in the mold, and while the bulk of the soap is still warm, there is a small extruded part that came out between the waxed paper folds. This is at room temperature and is morbido; time will tell whether it becomes duro, or whether much drying is required. I was aiming for a soft soap so I shouldn't complain. I can also dry a slice of the soap in my film dryer, or if I want to get really serious I could put slices in the dehydrator I use to dry fruit and jerky. I had a customer in the office yesterday who makes soap, and she told me that sunflower oil would contribute to a softer soap.
Currently, my understanding is that for a hard bath soap one would use lard and NaOH, but for softer and more complex textures we have to introduce KOH and other fatty acids. Hence the coconut and lanolin. Wouldn't it be funny if I managed to make a superb wool-fat soap and didn't appreciate it because just like my experience with Mitchell's and the Classic Shaving Wool Fat Nightmare (which, incidentally, performed wonderfully as a bath soap) my water won't lather it?
Yeah, effin' hilarious given the materials ordered
and the time involved. Evidently, I need a better sense of humour...
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 11:45 am
Regarding pH - Chris, I completely understand your approach, and don't disagree with it. It brings to mind one data point I will mention: I came across some information in a text written for producers of cosmetics and toiletries on a commercial scale. The author cited a "typical" pH of lathering shave creams for use with a brush of 10. Take it with a grain of salt, as it is only one source and the industry professionals who provided data may or may not have been entirely forthcoming. OTOH, it should be easy enough to check a pot and verify.
Two things come to mind: First, soap and lathering cream are two different entities, produced by different means and methods, and the information regarding one may not be applicable to the other. Second, commercial production methods doubtless dictate efficiency and speed of production, and a pH that tilts slightly harsh may not bother them. It is worth noting that many veterans of the boards have struggled with use of shave creams over time, myself included, as their skin just responds better to soaps. Perhaps this is owing to a pH issue; perhaps the source is wrong. I don't have any Creighton's creams on hand at present, but I do have a pH meter and pH strips, so I'll see about checking my Nancy Boy cream and maybe some Italian Palmolive later.
As an aside, some soaps annoy my skin in a similar way, and I have often chalked it up to individual ingredients, particularly fragrance. Maybe it's just pH?
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 11:51 am
Chris, I'll be curious to see how the soap comes out texturally. I have made soap with a 50:50 KOH:NaOH ratio, and it is fairly hard, approximately Arko in its consistency. I have an inkling that something closer to 80:20 might be more correct for a soft soap, but I haven't tested that theory out. I have been aiming for the Arko-Klar Kabinett part of the spectrum texturally, and of course much depends on the makeup of the fats in the soap, too.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 12:04 pm
Many years ago, there were a couple of commercial soap introductions that were met with many adverse comments. QED made a rose soap that irritated the skin, and Classic Shaving did something similar with their short-lived Citrus Spice. The former might have been an issue with the scent, but the latter was attributed to too high a pH in the soap. I guess they wanted to sell it before it had matured on the shelf.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 12:06 pm
TRBeck wrote:Chris, I'll be curious to see how the soap comes out texturally. I have made soap with a 50:50 KOH:NaOH ratio, and it is fairly hard, approximately Arko in its consistency. I have an inkling that something closer to 80:20 might be more correct for a soft soap, but I haven't tested that theory out. I have been aiming for the Arko-Klar Kabinett part of the spectrum texturally, and of course much depends on the makeup of the fats in the soap, too.
If I get an Arko hardness I will be happy. I was rather hoping for an Italian soft soap texture, but the consolation prize of something harder is that if it doesn't work, it can be re-purposed as a bath soap.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 12:53 pm
TRBeck wrote:Regarding pH - Chris, I completely understand your approach, and don't disagree with it. It brings to mind one data point I will mention: I came across some information in a text written for producers of cosmetics and toiletries on a commercial scale. The author cited a "typical" pH of lathering shave creams for use with a brush of 10. Take it with a grain of salt, as it is only one source and the industry professionals who provided data may or may not have been entirely forthcoming. OTOH, it should be easy enough to check a pot and verify.
I read a blurb on Wikipedia that stated something like "high pH substances cause hairs to swell, crack, and therefore soften. Per-shaving products aim to achieve this."
Any truth to this? Might explain high pH soaps(?)
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 1:55 pm
As I was adding the mandarin oil to scent the soap, I thought to myself that I have a bottle of very strongly scented oil above the stove - black truffle oil! Now that might make a very different and more-ish kind of soap.
Incidentally, I had to add far more scent oil than I expected to cover the smell of the lanolin (even though it was only 5% of the fat in this 3lb batch) - about 75ml of scent, which is around 2.5oz.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 2:38 pm
Thanks for that note, Dave. Intriguing thought, and something I've not heard before.
A couple of things I want to throw out there. First, my starting point, recipewise:
20% castor oil
12% stearic acid
8% palm kernel oil (I bought a "starter kit" for soapmaking so I have some palm kernel and palm oil on hand, though I don't intend to buy any more if I can avoid it)
Hardness - 54
Bubbly - 28
Cleansing - 10
Conditioning - 44
Creamy - 62
Second, some numerical interpretation:
- The "cleansing" number is a sum of the percentage of the soap's fatty acids comprised of lauric and myristic acid. In this case, 5% of the fatty acids in the soap were lauric, and 5% were myristic.
-The "bubbly" number is a sum of the lauric, myristic, and ricinoleic acids as a percentage of total fatty acids.
- The "conditioning" number is a sum of the percentages of unsaturated fats.
- The "creamy" number is a sum of the total percentages of stearic and palmitic acid, plus ricinoleic acid.
- The "hardness" number is the percentage of fatty acids that are saturated.
As a general rule, the hardness and conditioning numbers are inversely proportional, and the bubbly and creamy numbers are inversely proportional.* Bubbly and cleansing tend to correlate.**
* unless ricinoleic acid is in the mix
**unless ricinoleic acid is in the mix
Virtually the only source of ricinoleic acid is castor oil. Castor oil is 90% ricinoleic acid on average. It is conditioning to the skin, contributes to bubbliness, contributes to creaminess, and contributes to stability of lather. One of the reasons I want to read "Scientific Soapmaking" is that there apparently a good portion of the book devoted to castor oil and ricinoleic acid. Reading the list of its properties, one wonders why you wouldn't just make a soap out of castor oil. Part of the answer is that, even at 5-8%, it can soften a soap considerably and make it feel a bit sticky/slimy. At 20%, I was pushing it a bit, but the resulting pucks are not as soft as croaps, though they are texturally very different to other shave soaps. I suspect, but don't know, that there is also a fine distinction to be made between types of bubbles and how well they form a matrix with the stearate "creaminess." But again, I have tried to downplay castor oil in subsequent formulations until I get a better handle on everything else and read more about how it works.
Something else to consider when contemplating the right fatty acid mix is the use of two kinds of lye. The "hardness" number, for instance, more or less assumes the use of sodium hydroxide exclusively. Potassium hydroxide will make for a softer soap, all other things being equal. It seems the consensus amongst soapmaking cognoscenti is that potassium hydroxide and stearic acid solubilize in water more readily than do sodium hydroxide and stearic acid. Thus the prevalence of "potassium stearate" in shave preparations, wherein creamy lather is desired. That said, there is another part of the equation. I made a recipe where I dialed up stearates and dialed down coconut (my bubbly number was 9) to see how low it could go. The result was creamy, soft, runny lather, something like watery cold cream. Such a lovely thing to rub between your fingers but not good for shaving at all (actually, the "slip" it provided was very nice, but there was no cushion at all).
Anyway, you can sort of throw out the hardness number from SoapCalc if you mix potassium hydroxide in, though I suppose if you used straight KOH the number might give you a sense of how firm your "croap" would be. In between the extremes of using only one or the other form of lye, though, there's a lot of experimentation to be done. 50:50 is a good place to start, IMO, if you know you're going to want a formula that uses both. That way, once you feel like you have the right fat profile, you can use the 50:50 base recipe as a control and experiment up and down the ladder.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 3:50 pm
Tim, in your last post, end of the next-to-the-last paragraph, you state the following:
"I made a recipe where I dialed up stearates and dialed down coconut (my bubbly number was 9) to see how low it could go. The result was creamy, soft, runny lather, something like watery cold cream. Such a lovely thing to rub between your fingers but not good for shaving at all (actually, the "slip" it provided was very nice, but there was no cushion at all)."
When I use a mild razor (Gillette Tech, iKon second-gen 3-piece with safety bars, or Feather AS-D1), I seek maximum slip and minimum cushion, as cushion impedes the cut and befouls the razor (overloads the narrow blade gap and lifts the blade from the skin surface). With a mild razor, slip provides adequate protection of the skin, while cushion interferes with the shave. So, the formulation you mention here might be a good one for mild razors.
Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 5:24 pm
Murray, thanks for that. As with all of my test batches thus far, I'll continue to give it a shot over the coming weeks to see if performance changes as the soap ages.
Meantime, I want to say that I'm in the process of sending samples out to a few members here. Some have received them already, others have not, but there are three test batches headed out. I am going to be shaving with these three test batches almost exclusively in the next few weeks to parallel their testing and hopefully post some results. One reason I have not posted all of the particulars of the soaps is to avoid biasing the testers toward a particular formula.
Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 6:40 am
Bit of a disrupted start to the day with an unexpected housecall at 7.30am. Eventually I got home and chopped up the soap, which is just like Tipo Morbido in texture.
I pressed the first slice into an empty wooden bowl, one that used to hold Lothantique, then sliced up the rest.
Then I cut up the waxed paper to separate them while they dry further (and possibly cure):
Then I went to try it out. I noticed that the soap takes a lot of rinsing when cleaning up my fingers so I could strop the Friodur - not like the feeling of bleach but just like I had soft water. I must test the pH again in case I got it wrong yesterday - this might mean some unreacted lye is still present. It lathered very easily, making a slightly thin 'crispy' lather, and sadly this disappears in a couple of minutes. It's usable, but not a world-beater (but who expected that at first try?) I did one further test, which was to remove the soap from the ex-Lothantique bowl, wash off the surface and lather it in my hand, using a new brush - better lather. The Lothantique did the disappearing lather trick as fast as can be, but has been a perfectly respectable bath soap. I wondered if the wood or the finish/stain on it had an effect on the Lothantique, and maybe it did as this soap makes better lather when not in that bowl. For now I have stuffed it in a mug and will come back to it again in case it changes over the coming weeks. After all, there is plenty of it to use!
Looking at the fatty acids in my recipe on SoapCalc, I see that I ended up with lauric 12%, myristic 5, palmitic 22, stearic 10, ricinoleic 0, oleic 34, linoleic 5 and linolenic 0. So using 70% lard didn't get me much stearate, and look at all that oleic - next time I might just use lard alone.
Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 7:10 am
Did it smell OK?
Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 7:15 am
TRBeck wrote:Chris, I'll have to post some links later from one of the soap forums. A gentleman did some experimentation using washing soda and potash as his alkalis attempting to replicate the soapmaking processes used before sodium and potassium hydroxide were available.
1. We're you able to find the link to this? I am interested.
2. I can't find the link to the blurb about how high pH softens hair. Still looking...
EDIT:found it. Look under "niche applications." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_hydroxide
Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 7:17 am
Chris, keep in mind that because you bought lard, some of it was hydrogenated - at least around here, shelf-stable lard (Armour brand, generally) is labeled "lard and hydrogenated lard." Thus some of the oleic was converted to stearic. It's hard to know how much of the lard is hydrogenated, so it's difficult to run the numbers on SoapCalc.
Also, every soap I have made so far has changed a bit in time, the lather becoming a bit tighter and less airy, so I should think this represents a good start and may be better still soon.