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When will my soap be ready to try? How do I know when it is cured? Is it soap yet?

When I embarked on my very first batch of cold process soap, two of these questions came to
mind as I melted the oils, added lye water, mixed and poured the batch into the prepared mold.
The first was, “When will this become soap?” Once the mixture hit trace, I knew it was soap, so
my question was answered—I thought.
After molding and wrapping the requisite towel around the newly born soap, I dreamed of
using it. As I consulted books and early online soaping groups, the consensus was that in six –
eight weeks my soap would be ready to take a shower with me. It never crossed my mind that I
might try it earlier.

Still, I wondered what constituted a fully cured bar and how I could know. I mean, six – eight
weeks? Did that mean that any point between six and eight weeks the soap was ready, or was I
looking for specific signs that the soap was cured? Surprisingly, I found no one who could clue
me in.

It took several years, but I am happy to say that I now know the answers to each of the original
questions.

Is it soap yet? Although trace is the hallmark sign of saponification, the mixture actually
becomes soap once the oils and lye water come together and emulsify, which occurs before
trace. Soapmakers who want as much time as possible to create designs quit mixing at this
point. Whether you choose to wait until trace or stop at emulsification is entirely up to you, but
if more time to design is important, begin as soon as the oils and lye water combine and do not
separate.

When may I try the soap? Soapmakers are always eager to try their creations and may do so as
soon as no lye is present in the soap, but it is likely more harsh than a fully cured bar and some
report skin irritation at this point, so take care. Please be clear that this bar is for testing
purposes and personal use only. Do not give baby bars away or sell them at this point. The soap
is not cured.

How do I know when soap is cured? It was several years before I found an answer to my query,
but I learned that soap is cured when it stops losing weight.

Here is the procedure for curing and judging a cured soap: Make a batch sheet form or at least
an index card. Record the date the soap was created and the date it was ready to cut. On
cutting day, choose one bar and mark it somehow to weigh the same bar each time. Weigh the
bar carefully and record the date and weight. Repeat this procedure each week until the bar
weighs the same two weeks in a row. The soap is now sufficiently cured and ready to wrap.

Now, if you feel strongly that a longer cure is a better cure, by all means, cure longer. Soap does
indeed continue to dry out and become milder as it is affected by the acidity in the
environment.

Now you have it. Go forth and make soap!

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles
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Creating the ideal bar of soap is the holy grail of soapmaking for many a modern soapmaker. The more we learn about the fatty acids that make up oils, the better our potential. The fatty acids we are concerned with in soapmaking are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic. Click on any of these fatty acid links to learn more about each and formulating with them.

​Even armed with the knowledge of fatty acids, the concepts of INS and Iodine levels seem to be among the best kept secrets of soapmaking. Few understand them, but those using Soap Calc have, no doubt, seen them and checked to see if their formulas are in the acceptable range. Yet, what are they exactly?

The iodine level refers to the polyunsaturated fats in a given soap formula and is measured by the amount of iodine that can be dissolved per gram of fat or oil. High iodine levels usually produce soft soap subject to rancidity or DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots). It is logical then, to conclude that oils with high iodine numbers are best used at lower percentages to make a bar that resists rancidity. Hint: these oils are high in linoleic and linolenic fatty acids.

The INS of soap is an historical method developed in the 1930s to determine the most pleasing soap to consumers. Dr. Bob McDaniel, author of Essentially Soap, informs us that the INS is a combination of the SAP value and iodine level, and 160 is considered ideal for soap. It is now out of print, but if you have the opportunity to purchase Dr. Bob’s book, do add it to your library as a great reference for making bar soap. Most soapmakers who make use of INS keep their formulas between 136 and 170, as recommended by SoapCalc.

Can the soapmaker create a great bar of soap without understanding Iodine and INS? Is it foolproof? Of course you can; but in the constant quest to educate ourselves, learning what these terms mean can help guide us to better quality soap. Knowing the INS number of a calculated formula can help determine if it will result in a pleasing bar. It is less helpful with one oil bars, such as the classic castile bar and superfatting well over the established ranges, such as coconut oil bars superfatted at 20%. Overall, nevertheless, it is a helpful indicator of a good general bathing soap and worth exploring as you learn about making soap.

Do you pay attention to Iodine and INS levels?

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine

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Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids, each a unique blend. Usually, we seek to create a well-balanced bar for general bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than making soap with just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of several oils in search of that ideal bar, one that is hard and long-lasting, but that lathers well and cleans without drying the skin. Knowing what each of the fatty acids adds to soap is key to creating the bar you want.
The fatty acids we consider in soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.

Previous posts dealt with lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic and linoleic acids. If you missed them, just click on the links to catch up.

Linolenic acid, a fatty acid of import in soapmaking, is similar to linolenic fatty acid in many ways. Both are Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and valued for their rich, condition and silky feel in soap.

Pomegranate seed oil leads the list of high linolenic acid, followed by perilla, flax and linseed at 50% or more. Camellina Seed, sea buckthorn, cranberry seed and rosehip also contain a good percentage of linolenic acid. Limit these lovely oils to 15% or less to ensure they do not cause rancidity in the soap. Otherwise, DOS (Dreaded Orange Spot), those orange patches of rancidity may greet you one sad day.

Use discretion when purchasing high linolenic oils. Do not purchase more than you plan to use within six months, or keep excess amounts frozen until needed to avoid rancid oils.

We covered all the fatty acids we consider in making cold process or hot process soap. Use the
information you collected to create the perfect bar! Next blog post, Iodine and INS in soapmaking.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine
Learn more about making soap, bath and body products and candles--Subscribe today!
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Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids, each a unique blend. Usually, our goal is to create a well-balanced bar for general bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than making soap with just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of several oils in search of that ideal bar, one that is hard and long-lasting, but that lathers well and cleans without drying the skin. Knowing what each of the fatty acids adds to soap is key to creating the bar you want.
The fatty acids we consider in soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.
Previous posts dealt with lauricmyristicpalmiticstearicricinoleic and oleic acids. If you missed them, just click on the links to catch up.

Soapmakers know of linoleic acid as the one that adds conditioning and moisturizing properties to soap and lends a luxurious silkiness, as well. Many of the high linoleic oils are chock full of the much sought after Omega 6’s. Sounds wonderful, does it not? It is! 

Of course, linoleic also has a downside when it comes to soap. All of that luxurious moisturizing will also cause rancidity and DOS if calculated in high percentages. Furthermore, soaps high in linoleic fatty acid take longer to harden before unmolding and cutting. Most soapmakers therefore, cap oils high in linoleic at around 15%.

This decadent goodness also translates to a short shelf life, so consider adding mixed tocopherals or ROE to the oil to retard rancidity and keep it refrigerated or frozen until use. Plan to make soap with it within six months unless freezing.
Which oils are high in linoleic fatty acid? Evening Primrose Oil leads the pack at 80%, but low oleic safflower and low oleic sunflower follow closely behind. Other more common oils include grapeseed, walnut, hemp, wheat germ and cottonseed oil, along with more exotic oils such as passion fruit seed oil, poppy seed, black cumin, raspberry seed and watermelon seed. They sound luscious, and they are, but only if used quickly or in moderation.

Next blog post: linolenic acid.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine
Learn more about making soap, bath and body products and candles--Subscribe today!
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Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids, and each a unique blend. Usually, our goal is to create a well-balanced bar for general bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than making soap with just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of several oils in search of that ideal bar, one that is hard and long-lasting, but that lathers well and cleans without drying the skin.
The fatty acids we consider in soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.

Previous posts dealt with lauricmyristicpalmiticstearic and ricinoleic acids. If you missed them, just click on the links to catch up.

Oleic acid is truly a soapmaker’s friend. What is so wonderful about oleic? In a nutshell, it
contributes to a moisturizing and conditioning bar, yet is slow to trace and it offers a long shelf
life. Oleic is no help however, with lathering and although it makes a hard bar, it does not make
a long-lasting bar as soaps with palmitic and stearic acid do.

Without doubt, a soap formula is not complete without a good percentage of oleic acid, except
for a few instances, as evidenced by the long history of olive oil in the most prized soaps in
history.

The list of oils high in oleic acid is long and includes the ubiquitous olive oil, as well as high oleic
sunflower and safflower oils. In addition, canola, sweet almond, apricot and peach kernel and
avocado, of the often preferred oils are quite high in oleic. Of the less commonly employed,
such wonders as carrot seed, pataua, camellia, papaya, marula, hazelnut, moringa, buriti, bear
tallow, plum kernel, pistachio, macadamia nut, karanja and more fit the bill, and all boast more
than 50% oleic fatty acid.

How long the shelf life or rancidity potential of any high oleic oil depends of course, on just how
high the percentage of oleic is, as well as the other fatty acids that make up the oil, so carefully
examine oils of interest and determine the best percentage for your formula based on that.

As an example, high oleic sunflower oil is about 83% oleic, so its shelf life is long enough that
limiting the percentage due to fears of rancidity or DOS is unnecessary; whereas, canola oil at
61% and over 20% linoleic fatty acid, gives greater concern and should be used in a lower
percentage. A high percentage of superfat incidentally, may affect the DOD and rancidity factor
and should be taken into account, as well.

Join us for our next fatty acid review, linoleic acid.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine

Learn more about making soap, bath and body products and candles--Subscribe today!
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Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids. Each possesses its own unique blend. Usually, our goal is to make a bar well-balanced for bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than using just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of each oil to create that ideal bar. A bar that is hard and long-lasting, but lathers well and cleans without drying the skin is the goal for most batches. Exceptions to this are not uncommon, but this is typical.
The fatty acids we are concerned with for soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.

Previous posts dealt with lauricmyristicpalmitic and stearic acids. If you missed them, just click on the links.

Ricinoleic acid is perhaps the most interesting acid of all because of the oils, it is only found in
castor oil. In fact, around 90% of castor oil is ricinoleic. None of the other oils contain it at all.
That alone is enough to make it fascinating; but what it does for soap is also interesting.

Ricinoleic acid traces quickly and creates a hard bar of conditioning soap. It not only
moisturizes, but is hygroscopic, meaning it draws moisture. Additionally, its viscosity helps to
stabilize lather and assists oils high in myristic and lauric fatty acids create more, bigger
bubbles. As if that was not enough, it also creates creamy lather. What’s not to like?

In truth, you would probably dislike castor oil in a single oil bar. It makes a thick, tacky, “lather”
on its own that is rather unpleasant. The biggest surprise of all is that this soap makes not one
bubble!

In a bar at even a small percentage however, it is a team player, adding the aforementioned
qualities, whether used at 2% or up to 25% in special circumstances. Most soapmakers calculate
well under 10% however, for a general bath bar.

If you have not tried castor oil in CP or HP soap, you may want to for your next batch.

Join us for our next fatty acid review, oleic acid.
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine
Learn more about making soap, bath and body products and candles--Subscribe today!
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Receive a FREE Formulators Notebook when you subscribe or renew (print or online formats)!
Expires August 31, 2017
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It is time once again for the Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candle's (formerly Saponifier) popular Raves for Faves Survey. This is where we take the pulse of our industry to find out what you like to make, what products are trending and how business is for you.
We value your participation and thank you for taking the time to carefully answer each question. If a question does not apply to you, please skip it. You may answer anonymously or give us your name; but we can only quote you if you give us your name. No specific information will be shared with the public other than your comments.

New this year, we will be doing a random drawing for three free digital subscriptions to Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles. Everyone who completes the survey and leaves a name is eligible! (Those involved with the magazine are ineligible.)

The survey closes on August 31, 2016.
Fill out my online form.
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Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids. Each possesses its own unique blend. Usually, our goal is to make a bar well-balanced for bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than using just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of each oil to create that
 ideal bar. A bar that is hard and long-lasting, but lathers well and cleans without drying the skin is the goal of most soapmakers. Exceptions to this are not uncommon, but this is the standard.
The fatty acids we are concerned with for soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.

Previous posts dealt with lauric, myristic and palmitic acids. If you missed them, just click on the links.

Let us talk about stearic acid. Stearic acid makes for a hard bar with stable, creamy lather. The oil
highest in stearic acid is surprisingly, soy wax, boasting a whopping 87%! All butters are high in stearic, as well. Mango, cocoa, shea, kokum, sal, illipe, you name it, is high in stearic acid. Animal fats contain a respectable percentage, as well.

The hardness and creamy, stable lather from stearic acid make it a must for shaving soap. It is also preferred for hardening soaps high in fatty acids that would not create a hard bar by themselves. Soapmakers sometimes add it to high olive oil soaps, as well, to make the soap harden faster.

Stearic acid, in combination with lathering and conditioning oils, contributes to a great bar.

Join us next time to learn about the unique ricinoleic acid.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne
For Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine
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