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!


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