Beginning My Journey into Liquid Soapmaking (Also Reviewing The Ultimate Guide to Liquid Soap)
I’ve been making bar soap for a few years now. Liquid soap is something I’ve been mildly curious about, but after hearing it could have little to no superfat in the finished product, I steered clear of it. My dry skin wants a superfat in my bar soap. So, I shelved the concept of liquid soap until I was ready to revisit it.
As things go in my life, liquid soap was ready for me before I was ready for it. Thanks to Ashley Green, the author of the three incredible soap books that can be found here: https://www.ultimateguidetosoap.com/, I got my hands on a thorough, science-based instruction manual for building recipes and creating various types of liquid soap. I also greedily got my paws on the CP and HP books too, and they are just as amazing. The liquid soap book has 18 chapters and 526 pages of soap information - everything from the reason for why the book is written how it is, through soap history, formulating recipes, and troubleshooting. While I expected it to have some pre-made recipes too, it surprised me to find that it has 30 recipes in it - 30 full recipes. The recipes range from simple to more advanced, and it’s really quite an impressive compilation.
Before I began reading the book, I already had it in my head that I wanted to make a dish soap. I already use a 100% coconut oil bar soap for dishes and general household cleaning, and while it is one of my simplest soaps, it’s one of my favorites. I wanted to start there with its sister version in liquid form. As I began reading, I learned that fatty acid profiles can have different effects in liquid soaps. I won’t tell you all the things I learned there, because you’ve got to read the book to see (fair is fair and copyright, right?), but it made me start to wonder if I was making the right choice with this coconut oil soap I wanted. As I kept reading, I learned how the soap would turn out - what to expect in terms of consistency and clarity and why. I was back on track with this dish soap. It was almost like the emotional rollercoaster I go on when I read books for entertainment.
I got through the book, went over to my favorite soap calculator (soapmakingfriend.com) and plugged in the numbers I wanted. While this is similar to a recipe in the book, I think it’s ok to share, because there’s only so many ways to do a dish soap, and I truly had no idea it was in the book until I went back through it to double check. This has a little bit of a different spin on it, because it’s very similar to how I already make my bar dish soap. Here is the recipe I typed into the calculator https://drive.google.com/file/d/15A2U1nX7qzKi3qPmce8X_E6C4caOp-nF/view?usp=sharing . I don’t want to say, “Here is the recipe I created,” because while I did come up with the numbers I wanted to use, I’m sure someone else over the past several hundred or thousand years has made this too. It’s an all purpose cleaning soap, and I would be shocked if I was the first person ever to use these exact numbers and percentages for this soap.
I made some notes at the bottom of the recipe I linked above. I don’t want to tell you why I added honey, because I learned the concept of adding sugars from the book, and I’m not about sharing spoilers. Seasoned liquid soap makers may see why I added it or may be shaking their head at this right now wondering what I was trying to do with the honey. I’ve got to learn by doing, and that’s what I did. I made the soap paste with this recipe via cold process. In other words, I made cold process liquid soap (CPLS). I blended the soap together like I normally would and thought it had come to trace. I went back to check on it after about 30 minutes, and it had separated some. I blended some more until it was almost the consistency of marshmallow, and my stick blender didn’t seem to be very effective anymore. I put a lid on my container and waited over 24 hours to begin adding water to the paste. I did check on it a couple more times to ensure it was staying solid and not separating.
After I was happy that it was saponified, I weighed out some paste and began adding water. I started with 1:1 paste to water ratio to see how well it would dissolve. That left some soap bits in the water, and I added a little more to increase it to 1:1.3 paste to water ratio. That worked quite well. It would have been sufficient, but I wanted to see how far I could make this soap go. I ended up landing on a 1:2 paste to water ratio, and it works wonderfully. I have been using it to wash dishes and clean the counters and stove. It’s easier to use than my bar soap, but it’s still a fairly natural product, minus the KOH and preservative.
I developed a huge crush on my dish soap and wanted to try my hand at something else. I browsed the recipes available in Ashley Green’s book, and thought about a bastille option. Then I decided to develop one of my own. This is what I came up with: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NBsJf87RcfZY3DZiiJjhviCaPxEq62Hf/view?usp=sharing. Not only was I itching to make my own recipe, I wanted to make it via high temp hot process. I watched a few of the videos available on The Ultimate Guide to Soap’s channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/THEULTIMATEGUIDETOSOAP ), and tried it. All I could think when I made it was, “That was fast.” I didn’t follow the steps to make it as a no-paste soap, and I had to figure out dilutions which took a little calculating, a little guesswork, and some note taking as I continued to add water. This soap was exciting too. Honestly, I wasn’t quite as excited as I was about my dish soap, but It was still fun. I do think this soap may be something people love, but there are definite adjustments I need to make, and I know some of them I can do already such as adding a small superfat.
I’m definitely off to a good start, and I wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for such a good book. I got a great foundation, and I can’t imagine how so many soapers had to figure so much of this out on their own. Liquid soapmaking is way different than bar soapmaking, and I would have gotten so many things backwards from the beginning if it hadn’t been for this literature. My adventure into liquid soap making has been fun and fruitful. I can’t wait to see where my soap journey takes me next.
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