Rolling My Own

What is your opinion on fine shaving creams and hard soaps? Do you like Trumpers, Coates, Taylors, Truefitt & Hill? Post your reviews and opinions here!
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drmoss_ca
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Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 05, 2013 7:59 am

brothers wrote:Did it smell OK?
Not repulsive, but not strongly of mandarin either. I think the more volatile elements of the soap will off-gas and then we'll know. Adding scents is a thing in itself. If you cold-process, you have to add a lot more scent oil as it too will undergo some saponification, even to the extent that the amount of scent oil must be included in the calculation for the amount of lye required. On the other hand, a hot-processed soap has the scent added as it cools, and at this stage there isn't supposed to be any unreacted lye left, so you can use less scent. When the scent isn't strong enough, and you add more and more, you are changing the physical qualities of the soap as well as the scent. Since I added 75ml of mandarin "essential oil" (that's what the label says, but whether it is real or artificial I don't know) that is 5% of the total fat. The recipe was to allow for 5% superfat, so I may have up to 10% unreacted fat in the soap.

I begin to see why manufacturers are so very pleased to accommodate the sensitive-skin buyer with an unscented version!

About the pH being high and potential use for softening hair: the ultimate end of that tendency would be the Magic Shaving Powder which uses KOH and thioglycolate to break apart keratin.

Chris
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
Pierre-Simon de Laplace

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Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 05, 2013 8:30 am

Tim,
My lard was Tenderflake brand, and significantly, the tubs are on the shelf in the store, not in a cooler cabinet with butter and margerine. So I would assume it was well hydrogenated. I rather liked the idea of using lard (cheap, locally available, renewable etc) but if you think I would be better off I will order some stearic acid. The supplier I used last time has 2kg of vegetable origin for $12Can. Perhaps I should use half lard and half stearic acid? If you can offer guidance there I'd be grateful, as I want to take this further. I think I will buy some of this stearic acid and some castor oil as I might be needing them.

I'm going to leave the soaps I have just made on a shelf in the basement where they can sit in cool dry darkness. They may yet turn out right. Texture -wise they are just right for those who love Italian soft soaps.

Chris
My mother used to grow the castor bean plant in her garden simply because it was so pretty. I was never tempted to try to make ricin! (Actually, she was a naughty girl, growing white poppies and Jimson Weed just for the colours. You can get away with a lot when you are the youngest person to have passed the exams of the RHS!) I was used to being told at the earliest age to keep away from those red berries and those seed pods on the tree with the yellow flowers (rowan and laburnam) - which would probably count as child abuse these days. I think she operated on the principal enunciated in Ransome's Swallows and Amazons when the childrens' mother receives a telegraphic reply from their father as whether they should be allowed to sail - "If not duffers, won't drown. If duffers, better off drowned."
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
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Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 05, 2013 9:16 am

Tim,
How would this combination work?

Image

Chris
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Post by TRBeck » Sun May 05, 2013 10:46 am

Chris, I have been aiming for a "creamy" number over 60, which almost dictates the use of pure stearic acid. I don't like using palm oil products, but both stearic acid and palm kernel oil have things to commend them from a soap production standpoint. The stearic acid wouldn't have to be palm-derived, and this is why I've been looking at chemical suppliers who might have fully hydrogenated tallow, which would serve the same purpose and avoid palm products completely. To be honest, vegetable-derived stearates mystify me, as I can't imagine they're very practically obtained. Shea, illipe, and kokum butters are the three best vegetable sources for stearic acid and are costly. Palm oil is "cheap" but actually contains little stearic acid - it is, as one might intuit, more palmitic acid than stearic. I'm not much of a chemist; maybe it's possible to convert the palmitic to stearic or maybe it's legal to label palmitic acid as stearic since they act identically? Or maybe all of the palmitic acid is shuffled off into applications like making fake chocolate coatings for candy bars while the stearic is sold to candlemakers and soapers?

Anyway, sorry for the digression. You can get to a pretty high stearic content with lard/tallow alone, but not without other fats that might hinder lather formation and stability, and I have not been able to manipulate the numbers in SoapCalc to get to a stearic/creamy number that will work without adding some stearic acid or a good deal of castor oil. Nevertheless, some very well-regarded artisan shave soaps are made without stearic acid or with stearic acid listed very low in the ingredient lists (Mike's and Mystic Waters, for instance).

As I said, my more successful recipes have had a creamy number north of 60 and the jury's still out on a couple of formulations where that number is above 70. :!:

The recipe pictured in the OP has a creamy number of 64, and you can see the texture of the lather. It dries out a bit with time, too, becoming crispy by the end of the shave, but it isn't bad.

The price you quoted, should you decide to get some stearic, isn't bad. Buying in quantity does help here, though. I bought 5 pounds for $20 shipped. But now I have to make a helluva lotta soap.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by CMur12 » Sun May 05, 2013 1:45 pm

This is a fantastic thread that truly adds luster to this forum. Simply outstanding!

Tim and Chris, I admire the time, thought, and effort you put into this endeavor and I thank you for including the rest of us in the adventure.

- Murray
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Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 05, 2013 1:46 pm

Any recipe I try out (in theory on SoapCalc) with pure stearic acid ends up as a very hard soap. Pure stearic acid and NaOH ends up with a hardness and a creaminess of 99 (and everything else at zero, which tells me that the javascript that is SoapCalc simply attributes certain qualities to each fatty acid, thus ensuring that a soap made from stearic acid and NaOH has no cleansing, no conditioning and no bubbliness. Rubbish!). I don't mind a hard soap if it works as a shaving lather. Did you ever do this? Sorry to be asking so many questions, but you know how it is.

Chris
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Post by TRBeck » Sun May 05, 2013 3:02 pm

Chris,

I haven't done a stearic and NaOH soap. However, even at 60% stearic acid and a mixture of potassium and sodium hydroxide, I get a pretty hard bar of soap. I haven't gone beyond 50% for NaOH. My soaps with lots of stearic acid don't actually come together like the ones in the hot process soaping videos. Upon adding lye, the glycerin (this glycerin is only from coconut oil; no glycerin is present in pure stearic acid) and fatty acids separate immediately and a large amount of bright white precipitate forms in the bottom of the crock pot, saturated fat I think, a result of temperature dropping too much too quickly. This takes a good amount of work to stir back into a Vaseline-like mass, whereupon the crockpot gets turned up to high for a few minutes until the whole thing gets hot and loose enough that it is ready to emulsify. I then use the stick blender to emulsify it and bring it to a thin vanilla pudding consistency. This is trace. At this point, I start cooking, usually on high. Most hot process soaps can be cooked on low in the crockpot, but stearic acid needs to be very hot to turn liquid, so it needs to be hotter still to gel/saponify. After it has saponified, when I shut off the heat, it is a matter of 10 minutes before the soap is nearly too stiff to put into the mold. Adding fragrance/EO accelerates this a bit (as an aside, the lemongrass batch set up almost immediately after I added the oil...it is my understanding that some fragrance oils accelerate this process more than others, so I suppose it makes sense that the same holds true for EO). I let my soap sit for about 5 minutes after I shut off the heat before mixing in my EO and pouring or ladling it into the soap mold. I am making a batch tonight. I'm no photographer but will try to take some pictures to demonstrate what I'm talking about.

At any rate, Chris, I made a soap with a bubbly number of 9, as I mentioned, and it was lacking for bubbles. Very. And, back to the hardness question, I have not made anything as soft as an Italian soft soap, despite using at least 50% KOH in every batch. So I don't know for sure, but I imagine a pure sodium stearate soap would be brittle, hard, and lather into thin cream. It is interesting to note this ingredient list for Vitos, taken from Italian Barber's site: Stearic acid, hydrogenated tallow, potassium hydroxide, water, sodium hydroxide, sodium hexametaphosphate, benzoic aldehide, talc

No coconut oil, though the hydrogenated tallow would have a bit of lauric and myristic acid to contribute bubbles. Not much, though. I haven't used this soap in some time, but there's clearly something more than creaminess to its lather. Potassium hydroxide must be a pretty major proportion of the lye, based on where everything appears in the list, and I'm curious as to whether potassium and stearic acid, besides solubilizing well, have some other particular chemistry as it were in terms of producing voluminous lather.

I am going to make this batch tonight just like the last few except for a revision of the creamy:bubbly ratio. I feel like I'm close to dialing that in, and then it'll be time to mess with the hydroxide ratio. I haven't pondered exactly how much effect a 10% shift in the amount of potassium hydroxide might have, but I'm becoming more curious day by day. The fatty acid proportions clearly are not the only thing that matters, but that's the variable I chose to work with first. At one point, I had in mind that the only thing to do was try to max out the creaminess and bubbliness to the exclusion of everything else, but I'm coming to an understanding that there is something to be said for a ratio of the two factors rather than a maxed-out numerical value, and that leaving something else in the soap may do favors for the durability and lubricity of the lather. Also, clearly, altering the lye ratios has some impact, and how great that impact is remains to be seen.
Last edited by TRBeck on Sun May 05, 2013 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by gsgo » Sun May 05, 2013 3:10 pm

First one to P.160 wins! :lol:

The science of this is amazing but getting the formula to work and create what you want is all art.

Carry on fellas!
Good shaving,

Gary

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Post by TRBeck » Sun May 05, 2013 4:23 pm

Murray, Gary, thanks, but this is all just fumbling in the dark. I wish I were more knowledgeable about chemistry or had a mind for math and science. As it is, I no sooner finish a batch than I read something that makes me think I've royally fouled up. So far, the soaps are at least usable. Mostly.

I wanted to add something about SoapCalc; Chris, you're dead on. The numbers are a guide but not absolute at all. For instance, any soap can be conditioning, regardless its chemical makeup, if superfatted properly. A common "stunt" soap in the homecrafting field is 100% coconut oil superfatted to 20%. This should be incredibly drying and zero conditioning per SoapCalc, but unsaponified coconut oil is an incredible emollient. So the soap is, I'm told, luxurious. Similarly, I imagine there's some bubbliness from any saponified oil. And some creaminess, for that matter.
I have begun to view the numbers as a means to identify shave soap traits rather than using the terms that SoapCalc uses. Conditioning, to me, means lather-diminishing, while creamy means tight lather but not necessarily creamy lather. When you handle stearic acid flakes, you realize how waxy the stuff is. When saponified, the impression holds, as it makes for a very tightly-knit lather, but not necessarily well-hydrated nor with the sheen that I associate with the best lathers I've made (though stearic lends itself to that type of lather, other things are required). Glycerin helps here, superfat, too, but the point is, creamy and creamy are two different things. There's poetic license in SoapCalc's use of these terms, and the soapmaker has to figure out what they mean in context of the soap being made.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by dosco » Mon May 06, 2013 9:45 am

The approach to milling described on this post on B&B looks very interesting...

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Post by kingfisher » Mon May 06, 2013 1:16 pm

Interesting reading. Thanks.

the only problem with coconut oil as an ingredient in a shaving soap (and I realize it's in almost all of them) is that saponified coconut oil is quite drying to the skin.

I know it's possible to make a fantastic shave soap without any coconut oil at all, because Michelle at Mystic Waters does exactly that. She intentionally omitted coconut oil so her soap wouldn't dry the skin. People pretty consistently say her soap gives the best post-shave skin feel of any soap on the market; this is probably a large part of the reason why.

Also, adding more stearate doesn't always improve a shaving soap's lather.
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Post by TRBeck » Mon May 06, 2013 1:26 pm

I agree that coconut oil can be quite drying and the soap maker must either limit it or find a way to ameliorate its drying effect. It is the lauric acid in particular that can be problematic, and it's probably no coincidence that many Creighton's creams make use of myristic acid in greater proportion to coconut oil. Similar action to lauric acid but less drying.
I hear wonderful things about Michelle's soaps. Castor oil seems to do double duty in her formula, adding bubbles in the absence of a lot of lauric/myristic acid and creaminess in the absence of pure stearates. I would love to try her soaps but cannot use shea. I don't doubt there efficacy based on the reviews I have read from gents in the know.
More stearic is not automatically better, no. But I don't think that's been implied in the thread. As I noted, my highest-stearate batch lathered poorly.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by TRBeck » Mon May 06, 2013 5:30 pm

dosco wrote:
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
Missed this before. Sorry, I haven't had a chance to go back and really look for it. That said, one of the sources linked by the gentleman over at Soap Making Forum is also linked in your post above from B&B. The book of Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas... That book is a rabbit hole of the first order. The night I first clicked over to it on Google Books I was hung up for hours.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by dosco » Mon May 06, 2013 7:03 pm

TRBeck wrote:Missed this before. Sorry, I haven't had a chance to go back and really look for it. That said, one of the sources linked by the gentleman over at Soap Making Forum is also linked in your post above from B&B. The book of Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas... That book is a rabbit hole of the first order. The night I first clicked over to it on Google Books I was hung up for hours.
Have you read the google book American Soaps:A Complete Treatise on the Manufacture of Soap...?

There is mention in the book of sodium carbonate (washing soda, or soda ash) and potassium carbonate (pearl ash). Unfortunately these ingredients aren't specified in the shave soap recipe, however I could see how they might contribute to beneficial properties of the finished soap.

Interestingly on post 59 of the B&B thread, the question of potassium carbonate (listed as an ingredient in Cella) is brought up. Maybe the "secret sauce?"

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Post by TRBeck » Mon May 06, 2013 9:33 pm

Yes, that's another from the list, and a good read. The tooth soap recipe intrigues, and the shaving soap section drives home the idea that tallow was what good shave soaps were made from before the identification of individual fatty acid constituents. Note also that a mixture of two different alkalis was deemed prudent.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by drmoss_ca » Tue May 07, 2013 5:04 am

I'm going to have another go the weekend after this (I'm away at operas this weekend). I'll have lard, stearic acid, coconut fat, castor oil and lanolin on hand. I think I'll do 50:50 KOH and NaOH again. Any suggestions, Tim for a fat combination to try.
Castor 10
Stearic 45
Lard 35
Coconut 10
Gives some nice numbers in SoapCalc, but will it work in practice? I think I will avoid contaminating it with scent this time as it complicates matters and might hide the true performance.

Chris
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Post by gsgo » Tue May 07, 2013 6:44 am

***NEWS FLASH - Canadian Press Agency - NEWS FLASH***

Strange mushroom cloud appears over Canada's east coast this weekend from an unknown source. Eyewitnesses report a strange odor of lavender and bergamot in the air. Authorities post for all residents to bring in their children and pets and not hang their laundry to dry outside. Fishermen on the east coast report strange softening of the beards when in the fog. Rick Mercer (Canada's versions of Colbert and Stewart) headed to the area for a live report, stay tuned for more news.
Last edited by gsgo on Tue May 07, 2013 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Good shaving,

Gary

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Post by TRBeck » Tue May 07, 2013 6:45 am

Chris, that's an interesting recipe. I ran almost identical numbers on Sunday for a batch I have planned. I think this wil work very well. You'll get a boost to both the volume and stability of the lather from castor oil and should have plenty of stearates. I am really interested in exploring castor oil more. I revisited my first batch for a test lather last night, 20% castor, and was pleasantly surprised. I think you'll make a more than serviceable shave soap with that, and it may even be a great one. Do be aware that the castor will alter the texture, making a putty like feel t o the surface even with a high stearic/hardness factor.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by drmoss_ca » Tue May 07, 2013 7:37 am

I think I'll do that one next then. I feel like I'm just playing with numbers on SoapCalc, but don't feel I can put that much faith in the calculated qualities. I appreciate your actual experience!

Hmm, now I realise I had planned to turn 6 litres of milk into cheddar that weekend. Perhaps I can do both, as long as I don't put castor oil in the cheese and rennet in the soap!

Chris
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Post by Sam » Tue May 07, 2013 7:59 am

This is making for a most entertaining read.

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