I have been working on making liquid soap for a few months now and it has been a bit tricky for me. I have made a few good batches initially, but then I decided to change up my recipe and add some new elements and screwed up my recipe! Beyond frustrating! So, I have researched on several soaping forums, blogs, websites, and youtube videos to figure out how to keep my soap clear, how to dilute, and how to thicken.
I learned several things: 1. There are a lot of things that can go wrong or right with a liquid soap recipe– there are a ton of variables to consider, 2. everyone has a different recipe and a different opinion on liquid soap, 3. You really need to experiment on your own to find what works for you (unless you’re lucky enough to have someone show you how to do it).
There are books, videos, blogs, and tutorials out there that can be very helpful, but also confusing too. To start off with, many soapers suggested that I read Catherine Failor’s book on liquid soapmaking (Making Natural Liquid Soaps). Failor’s book has a lot of information, but as I made batches, experimented, and researched more I came to the conclusion that some of her information is a bit outdated. There are some decent youtube videos that were more helpful in the aspect I was able to visually see what the soap paste was supposed to look like and the overall end result, but the information contained within the videos was minimal.
I was able to develop a nice, bubbly clear soap after dilution, but had issues with adding fragrance oils, essential oils, and getting the consistency of the soap where I wanted it. This is where I had a bit of trouble. I could not get my soap clear or thick!
I learned about sequestering- storing the soap for up to 2 weeks using sequestering agents such as sugar solutions and/or glycerin to clear liquid soap. Failor’s book gives a decent description of this. I tried sequestering, but had little success with this. I think sequestering as described in Failor’s book works best for soaps that have cloudiness due to excess fatty acids and mine were not cloudy from excess fatty acids, at least I didn’t think so. So, I tried an emulsifier to help the fragrance oils and essential oils to mix better hoping this would decrease or eliminate the cloudiness. I tried Polysorbate 80 since I had some on hand and I was ecstatic when it worked! Yay!
Thinking I had the cloudiness issue all cleared up (ha!) I tried to thicken my soap. There were 2 ways that I knew of to thicken my soap besides limiting the dilution rate while diluting the initial paste. The first was to create a saltwater solution using regular ol’ table salt. Sounded easy enough and I had used this method to thicken my very first batch which worked great! But for some reason, subsequent batches didn’t work! Frustrating!
So, to the internet I went! I also reviewed Failor’s book. The book mentioned trying a borax solution to thicken so I thought that may be something to try, but some soapers are hesitant to use borax. Here are some of my thoughts on borax. I thought there had to be other solutions so I asked around and researched some more and learned about thickeners such as xanthan gum and liquid crothix. Xanthan gum is naturally derived from sugar. Crothix is a complex ester derived mostly from stearic acid. To learn more about crothix visit this informative blog. Not too bad as a compound really from what I’ve read, but of course I haven’t tried to use it yet.
I plan on doing a write up and possibly even video about each of these thickening options to see which works best for me. I admit, I’m hoping I can get the salt solution to work since it would be the most cost effective solution for me to use, but I am not totally against the others yet. I may change my opinion after I try them, but I am trying to leave my options open until I have gotten the chance to experiment.
I didn’t want to toss out my “failed” experiments to far, so for the cloudy slightly thickened soaps I decided I will use myself for a thin body wash. For the solutions that weren’t cloudy but not thick enough I bought foaming dispenser bottles to try. I love them! They work great and here is a video of my first time using them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHO-npBshEU
Also the new April giveaway begins this weekend! How to enter giveaway: Any one who shares my facebook page and then either notifies me through messaging or on my facebook wall will be entered in the drawing for the prize. The prize is made up of a variety of items created by me (of course!). Some of the items are currently available in my etsy store and a couple of the items will be new additions! Please enter and join in on the fun!
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