I know really good top end soaps are easily affordable but was curious if anyone had tried making shaving soap? I've had 3 attempts at making tallow soap at home and I'm rather pleased with the result, eventually. Can't say it's ever going to set the world alight compared to commercial product, but am curious if anyone has had a dabble at soap making. Any tips out there.
I've tried making a regular soap. The result is still curing in the cellar so I don't know whether I've succeeded or not. I used olive oil and avocado oil by the way. Cold method.
Matt, unless I'm mistaken your links didn't include any lye calculator. That's a must.
My next attempt will be a pure vegetable oil shaving soap. I've ordered lanolin, shea butter and bought palm oil and coconut oil in a chinese supermarket. 's Gonna be fun!
My wife makes soap on occasion. It's quite nice for non-shaving purposes. (I often miss it when we have to go back to "commercial" soaps, the scare quotes being because we only buy the simpler soaps like Dr Bronner's and small scale glycerin soaps that lack the large amounts of unnecessary chemicals found in many soaps.) When she started out, she tried making some shaving soap a couple times at my request, although neither of us really knew what was needed to make shaving soap. The formulation had some trouble with lathering, so I've been meaning to research more about shaving soaps. I can't really complain much since I wasn't the one making it, and I've got enough shaving soap anyway.
By the way, Wim, it's not really a pure vegetable oil shaving soap if there's lanolin...
"No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof."
—Henry David Thoreau
From the research I've done, to get a creamy stable lather, stearic acid is the key. It's a long chain fatty acid found in tallow and cocoa/kokum butter, you can actually add stearic acid in it's pure form. Tallow gives the creamiest quality. The way the soap is superfatted also makes a difference. Don't want to give to much away as I know some guys make money from making shaving soap.
Thanks for the hints!
I've been reading a bit about soapmaking and it seems to me that the soapmakers who found a decent recipe tend to keep this secret - which I can understand.
What I'm wondering is: what is it they keep secret ? Are we talking about percentage of this oil or that type of fat ? Or is there more to it than that. E.g. the lye numbers, solution of the lye or even the methodology to make the soap ?
You're right of course about the lanonin. When I thought pure vegetable I meant no animal fats.
I have no idea what the big secret is, however I think I've made some pretty good gueses some by accident. Firstly superfatting is not the same as lye discounting. The first controls which fats don't saponify. I used soap calc to work out a formulea with a stearic value of mid to high 20's (don't know if thats neccessary but works for me?)
Adding stearic acid makes for a very stiff mix resulting in a hard bar and traces almost instantaneously, I would say hot process is the only way to go. Because of this I used quite a bit more water than soap calc recommends, its not critical as long as the sodium hydroxide is correct weight for amount of fats used.
My tendancy is to react out all the stearic with lye and go for higher superfat %, in my case 15%.
The resulting soap is very creamy and stable lather and does not dry out if you get water content correct, that can be a bit critical I must admit.
Hm, I thought superfatting and lye discounting were the same, i.e. reduce the amount of lye so you get more fat in your resulting soap. What difference do you see ?
I'll try superfatting one of the next batches. However, 15% ... do you get a stable soap ? I read that the more fats you end up with, the more unstable the soap.
I've only ever made 3 small batches so am no expert on soap and could be wrong. My understanding is Lye discounting alway means that there's not enough lye to chemically change all the oils in recipe, therefore if you have more than one fat/oil a percentage of each reamains unchanged. Superfating can mean the same but also that additional fat/oil can be added at trace, the distinction is subtle and terms generaly interchangeable and the difference is only one of control over which fats you do or don't want to react.
Not sure what you mean by stable? If you mean rancidity then that is a risk, which is why commercial soaps contain synthetic antioxidants. Having said that, I think it depends on oils used and generaly should only be the soap surface thats exposed to the air (I did wonder if adding vitamin e would be beneficial as an antioxidant), any way time will tell.
I don't know if 15% is to much, it's only what I've read from others that have tried but the bar is hard. I did have to use a stick blender to get everything mixed and smooth during process. Hope this helps?
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