Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soap Making Troubleshooting: My Shea Butter Milk Soap

Hi all. My first serious soap recipe wasn't a total success, but after doing some research and asking some friends, I know how to improve. Here are my soap troubleshooting tips:

Problem 1: The soap didn't trace well and was too soft in the molds.

The culprit was olive oil. My recipe had a 45% Olive oil ratio. I partially did this because it's cheaper. Olive oil is very good at making a good moisturizing soap, but it takes a long time to trace and is initially soft in the mold. It will however harden later after curing.  

The book I used recommended multiplying your total lye by 90% for a more gentle soap(10% superfat). This also contributes to a softer bar.

Solution: next time decrease the olive oil ratio and increase a "harder" oil like coconut. Secondly, don't reduce the lye so much. A 95% lye ratio at least.

Also, I read about something called sodium lactate, that the pros use. If you add a small amount, like a teaspoon to your lye solution, it will cause your soap to go to trace much faster and harden more quickly in the mold. I'm not sure if it's available in Japan, or where I could get it, needs more research, but could be my magic ingredient.

Problem 2: It was difficult to get the soap out of the mold. 

After a couple of days, I actually had to put the molds in the freezer for a while in order to get them out. 

Solution: Make a harder soap(lower olive oil, higher hard oil ratio, lower superfat ratio, sodium lactate). And don't forget to line your molds with wax paper dummy!

Problem 3: The soap came out bright orange. It was pretty, but not what I wanted. 

It was because of the red palm oil. 

Solution: Don't use it next time and buy some regular palm oil. 

For my next batch, I'm planning about 1/3 ratio of coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil with a slightly higher ratio of coconut and lower olive. I also read that a small amount of Castor oil makes a better bar. maybe get some of that. Wish me luck, see you soon!

My First Recipe: "Cheese Soap", 5% Shea Butter Milk Soap

Hi! Welcome all to my new blog about soap making in Japan, The Soap Box. I'm going to be sharing all my recipes, trials, and tips. This is all a learning experience, so won't you go on this soapmaking adventure with me?

This is my first serious soap recipe. I wanted to make a shea butter milk soap. This was a 2000g oil batch. I made it on September 20th, 2015


Olive oil             900g     45%
Coconut oil        500g     25%
Sunflower oil      300g     15%
Palm oil             200g     10%
Shea Butter       100g      5%

Lye                  299.8 g x 90%= 270g  (10% superfat)
Saline water       600g  (30%)

powedered milk      15g
milk                      a small dash 
Essential oil
Lavender              a few drops

Measuring out the oils.

Weighing the Shea Butter

Measuring the lye and water.

Mixing and cooling the lye solution. Checking for the right temperature.(37-40C/ 98-104F)

Added the lye to the oils. Mixing, mixing, and more mixing!

Poured into my molds.

My finished blocks and bars after unmolding.

The Result:

The mixture thickened. I mixed and mixed, but I never got a clear trace. The soap was still very soft the next day. I had trouble unmolding, then I realized I should have lined the molds with wax paper. I had to stick the molds in the freezer for a while. Eventually, the came out, whew!

My friends joked that it looks like cheese. I don't blame them. The orange color was completely unintentional. It was the red palm oil I used. The original image was milk soap remember?  I was going for a white on white look. I had removed about a cup and a half of mixture and added a little more powdered milk and a smidge regular milk. I poured this over the top of my molds. I wanted to make a swirl effect, but the red palm oil dashed those plans. In my next batch, I'll take out the red palm oil. I have a lot, so I'll save it for another soap that should look orange. Maybe Halloween soap. Ah, that's another idea.

Anyway, the soap is still good and very moisturizing. It doesn't lather really well, but feels good. In my next post, I'll go over the problems and solutions I had for this batch. I love the learning process.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Welcome to The Soap Box Japan

Thanks for stopping by. This is my new soap making blog. I'm getting serious now about soap making and I'll be sharing all my recipes, trials, and tips. This is a learning process. Come learn the joys of making soap with me.

Jason Winter
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