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Thread: Home made shaving soap

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  1. #1
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    Default Home made shaving soap

    Hi everyone.. I know this has been discussed before, but I had to ask everyone's opinion.

    SWMBO makes soap as a hobby, for our personal use and for gifts. She tried making a shaving soap for me using that recipe at about.com. The results were as expected. It's now being used in the shower. It just dried out my face like crazy and started burning on the second pass. Also, the lather didn't hold. The next day, I was back to my Mama bear soap. That about.com recipe assumes that upping the castor oil a little (9%) and adding bentonite clay is all there is to shaving soap...

    I've been reading a LOT about shave soap recipes and i've come upon a few bits of information:
    Olive oil in large quantitys is no good is shaving soap. It kills lather
    Lots more castor oil can be used.
    Coconut oils in large quantitys can be very drying.
    Clay does not turn a regular soap into shaving soap, but does give a little extra slip.

    After all the reading, using soap calc, I changed the original recipe:
    olive oil 5% (down from 40%)
    coconut oil 15% (down from 30%)
    Palm oil 50% (up from 22%)
    Castor oil 20% (up from 8%)
    Cocoa butter 10% (none in original recipe).
    We still added 1 tablespoon of clay to the oils and we used kaolin instead of bentonite this time. 1 tablespoon of glycerine was also added at trace. I'm hoping it will help the lather a little.

    Lye is discounted at 5%.

    What these changes did, according to soapcalc, was decrease the cleansing factor of the bar a LOT, increase the bubblyness a little, and increase the creamyness a LOT. We did a very small batch, only a 4 oz puck to see how this recipe would be. The last time we did 2 pounds.... Worst case, I'll wash in the shower with it again. It's still fun trying :)

    I will know the results in about 4-6 weeks, but I was wondering if any soapmakers were able to give me their opinion? Or suggestions for improvement? I might be doing another try soon replacing the cocoa butter with shea butter (for it's stearic content), or maybe we will just replace the palm oil with tallow, if I can get my hands on some.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by charles_r; 03-22-2011 at 07:38 PM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
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    drop the olive oil completely. it has no business being in shaving soap. drop the clay too. no good retail shaving soap i know of uses clay. i think it just makes the lather gritty and possibly dulls your blade faster. you can up the stearic acid by using castor and cocoa butter but most people supplement with pure stearic acid to get appropriate levels i think around 20% if i recall correctly. no need to add glycerin you are making plenty already plus you have a 5% discount so have leftover oil in the soap. I don't think shea butter is high in stearic acid...but cocoa butter definitely is. if you can get tallow then use it. tallow, stearic acid and coconut oil is the basic recipe that most shaving soaps are based on. you might also want to look into getting KOH in the mix with NaOH to saponify with as it makes a nicer soap and purportedly helps get full benifit of the stearic acid...

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tips Quintar. I was considering adding stearic acid to the mix if this puck failed. We do have some KOH here, used for liquid soaps. I didn't know one could with it with NaOH.

  4. #4
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    I have been wondering the same myself. Sounds like a great recipe. I dislike clay in soaps too because it dries out my skin terribly (I have dry skin).

    I prefer the quality that shea gives to soap as opposed to cocoa butter. But that is just preferrence. Coconut oil also gives better lather in hard water (it will lather in sea water) and if you super fat enough it won't be drying at all just very cleansing so good for oily skin.

    I am really wanting to try tallow. They say palm is the best substitute, but I want to try the real thing.

  5. #5
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    Saponify with something like a 60 / 40 ratio of Potassium Hydroxide to Sodium Hydroxide (or even 66 / 33). Note that this ratio division is calculated in terms of the saponification value - not weight.
    Try to get the purest KOH you can find. I've found some vendors selling KOH which is only around 90% pure which is low enough to start to muck up your calculations (and increases the chances of DOS). The purest KOH I've found has come from companies supplying those making D.I.Y biodiesel.

    The soap will be a softer but the sodium hydroxide will give it enough body for it to form a hard bar. The resulting potassium stearate is much more soluble in water than sodium stearate which means the properties of the stearic acid (principally a very dense creamy lather) can be fully utilised.
    A bias towards potassium hydroxide over sodium hydroxide is common practice in commercial shaving soap making and this is why the potassium salts are often listed before the sodium salts in the ingredient list. One commercial shaving soap I know of that didn't do this was the (old) reformulated Erasmic shaving stick. It contains no potassium salts at all and is regarded one of the most useless commercially-made shaving soaps of all time.
    Last edited by Fortitudo Dei; 03-24-2011 at 01:03 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Hi everyone...

    So here's what my test puck #2 will look like (will try this next weekend)
    Coconut Oil 20%
    Castor Oil 20%
    Palm Oil 50%
    Cocoa Butter 5%
    Shea Butter 5%
    I'm keeping the lye discount at 5% and I won't add in any clay or extra glycerin.

    I would love to try the 60/40 mix of KOH to NAOH for puck #2, but I can't seem to find any site that has a lye calculator for this purpose. They all pretty much a selection box with choice of KOH or NAOH. I'm also unsure on how to prepare the lye if i'm mixing the two... should I prepare the two types separately and then add to the oils, or just prepare them together in a single container? With our current level of knowledge, any reference I can read would be great.

    If I can get the info on the lye/water calculations, I will also make a puck #3, replacing the 5% cocoa butter with 5% stearic acid.

    For now, I'll skip the tallow, simply because I cannot get it locally and we are no where near an order with our supplier. (the shipping would be a deal breaker for a single item).

    Thanks for the info everyone, if I ever manage to make even a half decent shaving soap, i'll share the recipe :)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintar View Post
    you can up the stearic acid by using castor oil...

    I don't think shea butter is high in stearic acid...but cocoa butter definitely is. if you can get tallow then use it.

    not to be a smartass, but castor oil doesn't contain any stearic. it's 90% ricinoleic, plus some oleic and linoleic. and shea butter has a higher stearic content than cocoa butter. shea = 40%, cb = 33%. kokum butter is the best one to use in shaving soap, if you can find it (55% stearic).

    tallow is super easy to make yourself from cow fat if you can't find a source for it. and from what i've read, extra glycerin still helps lather. as far as qualities go, you want low cleansing, low bubbly (relatively), high stable, and high conditioning. a little avocado oil in there works nicely also (~5%).
    Last edited by ahoiberg; 03-23-2011 at 09:05 PM.
    Andrew

  8. #8
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    Keep us updated with the results.
    Randall, member of BOTOC

  9. #9
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    We just unmolded the soap after 24 hours. It's a little on the soft side, but it's still a bar.
    I found a little chunk the size of a penny stuck to the mold.

    I was just too curious. I took my cheap 4$ turkish brush and tried the soap penny, which was probably still a little caustic.

    This is what I got. And the lather didn't collapse... (after 20 minutes I just dumped it in the sink). Hopefully it will be even better in a month after it's cured. I'll try it when it's ready

    Smells good too.. eucalyptus/mint
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mousse1.jpg   mousse2.jpg  

  10. #10
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    how did it work out after a month.. looks fantastic so far. Good job
    Dave Martin

  11. #11

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    There are so many tipes of clay. Are you sure all aren't ok into a shaving soap receipe? For exemple white clay goes on sensitive skin. The green one is great for the oily skin...The red, pink and violet clay have others indications...If you are using green clay on sensitive or dry skin, for sure ain't help :)

    Sorry for my english :">

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luthelo View Post
    There are so many tipes of clay. Are you sure all aren't ok into a shaving soap receipe? For exemple white clay goes on sensitive skin. The green one is great for the oily skin...The red, pink and violet clay have others indications...If you are using green clay on sensitive or dry skin, for sure ain't help :)

    Sorry for my english :">
    That's easy; don't use clay. It's not needed and not necessary in a shaving soap. Spend your efforts in getting your formula right before wondering what type of clay to use.
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  13. #13

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    I am very interested as well. The lather you show looks pretty good, you may have a new business to get into (Mama Bear started out in her home as well IIRC).

  14. #14
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    interesting that you used 50% stearic acid... i've never seen/read about using it in amounts that high. but it looks like you've got a nice lather for a 24hr cure! definitely update when you get a chance. i've got a recipe curing right now that i can't wait to try out.
    Andrew

  15. #15
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    thanks for your comments everyone! The bars aren't quite as soft as when I unmolded. I'm going on vacation soon, but I'll try out the soap when I get back on the 23rd. If it works out well, I might try another batch and try to add something conditioning.. (avocado oil maybe?). maybe tryu hot process instead of cold process too, which i've never done yet

  16. #16
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    Hi everyone, I just tried the soap this morning. It worked out OK. The lather seemed to need a little more work to make than let's say Mama Bear's, but that could just be me getting to know a new soap. It seems to be very hungry for water. I had two days of stubble, so I decided to use my slant instead of my daily EJ89. The shave was comfortable with no nicks or cuts. my face felt very soft when I was done. So now that I have a decent base to work with, I might try changing things A LITTLE on the next few batches to see how it goes. Maybe I'll try adding the clay, since the jury is still out on that one. If anyone wants to try out my recipe, and does any good changes, please post them here. thanks!

  17. #17
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    Good luck with this. My wife makes bath soap but just can't seem to get shaving soap to work out.

  18. #18
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    Hi everyone, this is an OLD thread of mine, but since then I have done two other recipes, that all worked well. However, I now know what works best for ME. Honestly, I have a few commercial and artisan soap and lately I just always seem to grab the ones I made. Also, as it turns out, i'm in the pro clay camp. Clay thrown into regular soap does not make it a shaving soap, but clay thrown into shaving soap makes it a better shaving soap. I like how to skin feels after the shave when there's added clay. I've tried Bentonite and Kaolin. Both are nice. Benonite feels a little nicer, but the soap ends up greyish. Kaolin is better than no clay, and the soap stays white.

    I won't be making a commercial venture out of this, so I thought I would share my final recipe for others to try. (i'm an open source software nut too)
    For one pound of shaving soap:
    Oils
    Beef Tallow 165g (33%)
    Stearic Acid 165g (33%)
    Coconut Oil 100g (20%)
    Castor Oil 70g (14%)

    Lye
    Sodium Hydroxide (NAOH) 25.2g
    Potassium Hydroxie (KOH) 65.6g
    Distilled/Purified Water 180g
    This is a 35% NaOH to 65% KOH ratio in snowdrift farm's calculator.

    I use about 1 "large" TBSP of clay. I create a slurry with the clay using either glycerine or more castor oil. You could probably use any liquid oil you want for this purpose. Don't add to much oil. Just enough so that the clay is no longer a powder. This avoids clay specs in the final product. When that's done, I add them to the oil and stick blend a little bit so that the clay is well dispersed. If you don't like clay... well don't add it :)

    If I do any more experimenting, it might be reducing the stearic a little to replace by skin goodies like 5% avocado oil or cocoa butter but for now I have enough soap to last me a couple of years. The latest batch was to give away at christmas. Now I just have to find really inexpensive giveaway brushes.

    If anyone would ever like to try this but don't do your own soap, i'm sure we could work something out (I just can't afford the shipping costs these days, my wife is jobless at the moment) or maybe another local member of B&B could make a batch.

    If you try this, I would love to hear your comments

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles_r View Post
    ..... Now I just have to find really inexpensive giveaway brushes.....
    Not sure where you are located, but in Canada the Dollar Store seems to carry low end boar brushes as a stock item. A friend of mine bought a couple of dozen for a similar project. She didn't like the look so she masked off the brush part and lacquered the handles with brown spray paint (I forget the brand, but its the kind that bonds with plastic). She paid a dollar each for the brushes and $8 for the spray paint.
    ---Dave--- (on extended hiatus)
    http://bentonclay.com

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles_r View Post
    I won't be making a commercial venture out of this, so I thought I would share my final recipe for others to try. (i'm an open source software nut too)
    For one pound of shaving soap:
    Oils
    Beef Tallow 165g (33%)
    Stearic Acid 165g (33%)
    Coconut Oil 100g (20%)
    Castor Oil 70g (14%)

    Lye
    Sodium Hydroxide (NAOH) 25.2g
    Potassium Hydroxie (KOH) 65.6g
    Distilled/Purified Water 180g
    This is a 35% NaOH to 65% KOH ratio in snowdrift farm's calculator.
    Looks like a great recipe! how does it compare to some commercial soaps? Like which one would you say it's closest to?

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