Friday, July 28, 2017

Soapy Friday - More Tomatoes and Masterbatching Math

Happy Friday everyone! We're finally going to get some rain today, but first, a tomato windfall.

I went outside this morning to pick "Oh, 12-or-so tomatoes" and this is what I came back with...



Oh well, no rest for the weary or wicked.

On to soap, shall we?

It’s been an exciting week of sorts in the soap department. First, I finally was able to try out my “Summer Melon” soap and it was perfectly smooth and silky to use…no grit or scratchiness at all and it smelled wonderful! This is the green light I was waiting for to go forward.

"Summer Melon" measured up 
I’ve also been using my “Lovespell” soap and it is amazeballs; I’m so happy!

"Lovespell" soap and bath bombs...coming to a friends and family soon!
Secondly, I am going to geek out a little and talk about science. Specifically, soap science. So, if your eyes start to glaze over, you won't offend me. :-)


I’ve been curious about what is called “masterbatching” in soapmaking, which is not to be confused with Masterblaster from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”. But wouldn’t it be fun if these two made soap?

Let's go make soap!
Anywho, masterbatching is where you pre-mix large amounts of your lye water solution and oils in separate containers and set them aside for when you need to make soap. If, say, you want to make soap, instead of individually weighing and combining all your ingredients each time, you’d have them all pre-mixed in separate “masterbatches”. All you’d need to do is scoop/measure out what you’d need from each and be on your merry-little-way. This saves a TON of time in prep-work!

Specifically, I wanted to learn about masterbatching lye water. I didn’t really know you could do this and could set it aside at room temperature. Traditionally, when you mix lye with water, it heats up to about 180°, and then you have to wait till it cools down to around 100° before you can make soap. This can take about an hour or more. I often mix my lye water solution first and then I have to go find something else to do until it’s ready.

If you masterbatch your lye water, it’s always ready when YOU ARE, instead the other way around. The tricky part about this is you often have to calculate, based on your recipe, how much lye water solution to add to your oils to make soap, as the lye and water are no longer two separately measurable ingredients.

For example, if you make a 50/50 masterbatched lye water solution (meaning 50% of that solution is lye and 50% is water) and your recipe calls for 4.61 oz. of lye and 9.15 oz. of water, how much of the concentrated lye water solution would you need instead of the 2, separate ingredients?

To go even deeper, if you needed to add MORE liquid to that 50/50 lye solution to make your recipe, how much would you need to add?

Ummm....

This is me in real life
IKR? It sounds like one of those annoying math word problems on a test. And believe me, I've been banging my head around trying to understand this, BUT I'm pretty confident I've got a handle on it. 

You see,  through this I've learned there are two types of people in the soapmaking world: Those who calculate their recipes based on water as a % of oils and those who calculate their recipes based on the lye concentration requirements for each recipe. 

Most "newbies" (including myself) and casual crafters have used the former. In fact, most DIY and craft websites use the "water as a % of oils" approach to calculate a soap formula. It's the easiest and most forgiving to understand and grasp, but it's not consistent and leaves room for error, as it assumes that ALL oils are the same and saponify at the same rate.

You see, each oil has it's own separate saponification requirements...some oils (such as olive oil) need more lye to turn them into soap, and some oils (such as coconut) need less. When calculating a recipe basing the water requirements as a % of  the total amount of oils, it assumes that all oils in the recipe, regardless of what they are, need the same amount of water/lye amount. 

If you are calculating your recipe based on the lye concentration requirements necessary for all the different oils in the recipe, it's more precise and reliable. I REALLY could go into nerdom and talk to the different percentages of lye concentration mixes and how they perform in soapmaking, but I think this is enough for now.  In fact, I'm probably not explaining what I have explained exactly right...it's complicated.

I've run some of my previous recipes back thru using the lye concentration vs. water as a % of oils approach and have been shocked and validated on the results and my hunches. This is why some of my recipes haven't been doing what I've wanted them to do and I'm confident that things will be going in a MUCH different direction from here on.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Very interesting post that helps me appreciate what you do even more. I'm a science geek so this is right up my alley.
That is SOME tomato haul! Holy cow! WHat a difference a few weeks makes in tomato world.

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