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Discussion Starter #21
TODAY'S UPDATE I have just created a controlled batch of mix using 1 cup Carbonate in 2 cups of filtered water in 1 cup of hydrated lime in 2 cups of water. It has produced a milkshake looking mix of 4 cups of fluid which will now slowly seperate out to solids and liquid. I did put a small amount in the funnel to filter out. By the end of the day I hope to have an idea of how much lye solution I'll recover from this mix. That in turn should give an idea of strength.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
SOAP TEST While I am waiting for today's batch to seperate, I decided to test the lye solution created yesterday. Using a steam bath for safety, I warmed 1 oz of Crisco in 4oz of yesterday's test batch. At 130 F the lard came apart and began to dissolve. At 145 F the lye solution now had a thin layer on top. After cooling, a sample was taken from the layer by eye dropper and placed in 2 tsp of water. The sample dissolved with no problem and felt soapy to the touch.
I will use the same test with each new batch, but the indications are that the solution has lye in it and will perform its basic function in soap making. I am awaiting some test papers to determine the strength of the solutions.
 

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<<<What is the concentration of the lye solution you use in soapmaking?>>>
barefootboy:
normally I use a 38-40% solution. I've tried up to 50% before, (for my own use) but I think that the soap needs a little more water to be sure that everything gets dispersed correctly. But, (as in your experiment) if the 50 % solution is how it starts out...that might work. I'm starting from the dry lye. It depends on the water type how well it dissolves. Undissolved lye is not something desirable.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
I believe my test solutions to be in the 40-50% range, and possibly quite useable. One more advantage to this process is you don't have to worry about mixing the dry lye pellets. I ended up with 2oz of lye solution from the 4 oz of water used, which should make it around 50%.
Will you consider trying this option to see how it works with a test of your soapmaking? I do need someone who does make soap to tell me how it works for them. How much lye solution do you need for a test batch?
The Carbonate was from Home Depot sold as soda ash for increasing pH in pools $6 lbs for $4. Any garden or hardware store should have some form of hydrated lime.
As for me, I'll take a break until next week when I get some new pH test strips and see how strong the batches are.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
QUICK UPDATE
My new test papers arrived and I checked the 32 ozs of mix I created a few days ago. They came in at 13 on the scale.
For those of you unfamiliar with the pH scale it runs 1 to7 for acids with 1 being the strongest then 7 ( neutral) to 14 for bases ( alkali ) such as lye with 14 being the strongest. I estimate that batch as being no less than 50%.
Tomorrow I'll be putting the finishing touches on the procedure and should be posting it here. I will go for 4.5 oz of lye solution at 50% which seems to be an amount and strength commonly used for 16 oz of lard.
 

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I'd error on the side of caution and use 4 oz of the lye solution for the 16 oz of lard. Using 4.5 oz of lye solution will put you toward the lye heavy end of the scale.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Mullers'
No problem, as I am not actually making the soap, only using that as a guideline for the lye solution production. That actualy makes it easier. the .5 was a bit of a hassle..lol
So tomorrow my goal will be 4.0 oz of 50% lye solution made from the ordinary chemicals.
 

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Anxiously waiting results!

If I didn't have so much to catch up on after being gone 4 of the past 7 weeks, I'd try this myself!

Anyone want sweet potatoes?? After canning up 2 dozen pints, I've hardly touched the sweet taters my 6 plants gave me.
 

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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
I have made the final test and the method is ready for all you hobby soapmakers having trouble geting regular lye in cans or bags.

First , however the legal mumbo-jumbo LOL

This information is provided for educatinal purposes. Any use of this information is at YOUR OWN RISK. While evey attempt has been make to keep this process as SAFE as possible, there is always a danger with working with chemicals in general, and lye in particular. I assume NO responsiblity or liablity for your actions.

Ok, I know you all who make soap know what the deal is, so here we go.

Equipment:

Rubber/latex gloves!! Before anything else have your gloves on!!

2- 2cup containers. These can be dollar store measuring cups
as no cooking or heating will be involved.

A clear. non metal container that can hold at least 12 oz.

A clear non metal container of at least 8 oz that a funnel can sit on top of . You can use a totally cleaned out plastic 12 oz soda bottle with the lable removed for example.

A funnel at least 4" wide that can sit SAFELYon top of the container.

Coffee filters for the funnel.

Plastic spoons or rods for mixing

two 1/2 oz. measuring spoons

Chemicals

Sodium Carbonate sold at Home Depot under the brand name of Pool time as "pH UP" soda ash for increasing Ph. It cost me $4 for 6 lbs. If you have to get it elseware, check the lable. You'll want 100% Sodium Carbonate. If you can't get 100% get what you can and adjust the mix ( If 50% double the Carbonate . You may have to add more water because of that.)

Hydrated Lime. I got this at a local hardware under the Hoffman brand for $10 for 10lbs. If I wanted to wait I could have ordered it through Home Depot for 50 lbs for $8 and gotten purer building lime.

Distilled water prefered, or at least filtered water.

AND NOW TO THE MAGIC...LOL

Put 4 oz. of water into each 2 cup measuring cup ( or container)

Slowly add 1/2 oz of the Sodium Carbonate to the water in the first cup and stir. It will clunk up , so you'll need to stir gently but well with each 1/2 oz you add. NOTE There will be some very minor but noticable heat given off. This is normal. ( if you work with lye pellets, you know of such heat, but this is way less.) Add 1/2 oz to the water until you reach 2 ozs. Stir until the mix is clear. There may be a tiny amount that will not mix. This is NOT a problem.

Slowly add 1/2 oz of lime to the water of the second cup, stirring with each 1/2 added to mix as much as possible. Continue until you reach 2 oz. The mix will look like a grey white milk shake and there will be some gritty
residue especialy if you use garden lime. This also is not a problem.

Carefully pour the first cup with the 4 oz of clear liquid into the first large container, leaving any non liquid behind.

Now pour the second cup carefully into the first large container.
The mix will now become an even thicker gray white mix. Allow to seperate into a clear liquid and a white/grey solid. This can take 2 hours or more. General rule, if you can let it sit for 24 hrs, do so.

Set up your funel with filter on top of you second container.
MAKE SURE THE FUNNEL SITS SECURELY ON THE CONTAINER

When the mix has settled, carefully pour off the clear liquid into the funnel.
The first 3 to 3 1/2 ozs should filter off rather easily, the last 1/2 oz will take a bit longer. You can either let the mix sit and seperate over time, or put the white semi-solid in the filter and let sit until as much of the liquid as possible filters out.

What will be left on the filter paper will be Calcium Carbonate
(raw chalk) with lye residue. Dispose of this very carefully.

You should now have 4 oz more or less of at least 50% lye solution , which I am told is what you need for you soapmaking. The 4 oz batch I made yesterday tested out on the pH scale at 13, the same as the batches before.

I will try a "Crisco" test with this batch to "make soap", but if someone does this as their hobby and does use a batch of the mix , I'd like to hear how it goes.

There you have it hobbists. No more ID's No more hassles. All the lye solution you need and the cost is mere pennies.

FINAL NOTE Please excuse any speling errors. I am a disabled vet and my hands have problems with typing. I try to go over each entry and edit them for my errors, but some do creep in.

Do , however, ask me if anything in this method is confusing or unclear.

Happy soapmaking , all
 

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Barefootboy; do you have the WEIGHT of the ingredients written down somewhere that you could tell me ?. When I make soap, I weigh everything up on a digital scale for accuracy.
I'm going to go down to Lowe's today and pick up the ingredients to try this!
Thanks for going to all the work to figure this out!
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Lathermaker,
As listed above 2 oz of Soda ash ( Sodium Carbonate) to 4 oz of water and 2 oz of hydrated lime to 4 oz of water = 4 oz more or less of 50% lye solution

I will be awaiting your results.
 

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OK. I'll give it a try as soon as I can locate the ingredients. The way I read it, you were using 1/2 oz. measuring spoons, not a scale.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Yes I did use the spoons to keep it as simple and inexpensive as possilbe. The "equipment" shouldn't cost more than $10 at a dollar store.
Also, the idea of this came from a "survival" situation storyline I was working on so the conditons had to be as basic as possible, such as spoons and no scales. My goal was how to come up with soap making on a scale greater than what you could get with just wood ash lye production. When I found how difficult it was getting for hobbists to get lye, I thought I'd get a "three'fer" out of testing the idea. One would be giving hobbists a safe, economical alternative to getting lye, two, to prove that the idea worked , and three to have practiced the idea and know it works just in case the "day" ever comes.
(A little side note here. I dislike stories where the author has not checked their facts. If I have a character doing something, I want to know it is reasonably do able.)
 

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Ok, I have a question. I keep plugging the 50 % lye solution into the soap calc calculator and trying different oils. The recipe at the end shows that whatever I use I come up with a soap that would make a good laundry soap, but not a good bath soap. Even calculating with a 5% superfat I come up with something that looks like it will pull oils (drying to skin). Also, when I plug in the numbers it usually gives me more than 4 oz. of the lye solution. One calculation was 4.2 oz. and another was 4.5 oz. Would cutting this solution with distilled water to the extra oz. reduction the lye concentration and would it be usable for saponification at that point. For instance, if I took the 4 oz. of the 50% solution and added .5 oz. of distilled water would I be able to get the oils to saponify and would I have a lower solution of lye at that point that might lend to a more conditioning soap? Thanks, Kat
 

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Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
whisperwindkat
Yes, once you have made your batch of 4 oz, you can cut it with as much water needed to lower it. An equal amount of water would give you somewhere near 25% lye strength in 8 oz of water. YOU CAN ALSO DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF WATER YOU USE IN THE MIXING STAGE TO 2 OZ OF CHEMICAL TO 6 OR 8 OZ OF WATER.This way at the end you'll have more mix with less concentration.
Remember , this is "meatball" chemistry, so the % is a fair guesstimate, but the strength is verifed by the pH test. Ever batch has shown it to be 13 on the scale, one step from the top level. if there is any doubt , lean towards putting more water into it. Try 1 oz of the batch to 3 of water. That should drop it down.
As I have NOT made soap, and don't have a calculator, I need you and others to tell me what you need to work with. But when in doubt, carefully water the batch down.
VERY IMPORTANT WHEN WATERING THE BATCH DOWN, SLOWLY ADD THE BATCH TO THE WATER, NOT WATER INTO THE BATCH, TO AVOID ANY POSSIBLE SPLASHING OR ERUPTION.
 

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If you want a more conditioning soap, up the super fat level to something around 7 or 8%. The amount of mildness of the soap depends on several factors.

Type of oil~ each oil has different properties. Some are more conditioning, cleansing or make a harder bar. Research the oil properties to start with.

Amount of superfat (aka: lye discount) 5% is usually the starting point, go up from there.

If you dilute the lye batch out too far, yet use up that entire amount, you'll end up with soft soap that takes a long time to harden up.
 
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