Sunday, February 7, 2016

Castor Oil Soap Experiments Part 1 of 3

Most of the soaping book and online information recommend using between 5-10% castor oil in soap recipes to boost bubble.  It's said that castor oil contributes to lather power of soap.  However, more recent studies show that when making 100% castor oil soap the soap has very little to none lather.  Shocked?!  I was when I first read it!  So what is the truth about castor oil in soap?  What exactly does it do in a bar of soap?  Here are some facts we know about castor oil in soap:
  1. According to wikipedia 85-95% of the fatty acid in castor oil is Ricinoleic with the remaining spread across Oleic and Linoleic.  This fatty acid profile is unique and none like others!
  2. Recipes using high percentage castor oil tend to trace faster.
  3. Soap made with high percentage castor oil tends to be softer.
  4. Soap made with high percentage castor oil tends to melt faster.

Now the million dollar question is, if castor oil really boost bubble in soap, why doesn't the 100% castor soap lather at all?  On the other hand, if castor oil does not boost bubble in soap, why would all information suggest that?  And if castor oil is not used to boost lather in soap what do we use it in our recipes for?  To answer all these mysteries I decided to do a little scientific experiment of my own.

I simply just created a simple 3-oil recipe that takes up 75% of the oil weight with the remaining 25% being the variables to play with combination with and without castor oil.

  • Soap #1: coconut oil 20%  palm oil 20%  olive oil 35%  castor oil 25%
  • Soap #2: coconut oil 20%  palm oil 20%  olive oil 35%  avocado oil 15%  cocoa butter 10%
  • Soap 3: coconut oil 20%  palm oil 20%  olive oil 35%  hazelnut oil 15%  cocoa butter 10%

This first group is used to prove if castor oil soap melts faster than other soap without castor oil.  They would be made with the same water content with the same size and material mold.  As of now these soap had been made.  I will cure the soap for 2 weeks, cut a piece from each block and weight them to be exactly the same gram and pretty much the same dimensions.  Then I will dip each piece into a glass of water (same type of glass with same amount of water) for a period of 48 hours.  Each piece of soap will be taken out and weighted at 2 hour, 6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour and the last 48 hour mark.  This is to examine the water solubility.

  • Soap #4: coconut oil 20%  palm oil 20%  olive oil 35%  avocado oil 15%  cocoa butter 10%  water contains 5% oil weight brown sugar (sorry, I don't have refined white sugar in my household)
  • Soap #5: coconut oil 20%  palm oil 20%  olive oil 35%  avocado oil 15% cocoa butter 5% castor oil 5%

This second group of soap is to be used together with Soap #2 to examine if castor oil in deed contributes to bubble boosting power like all the information points to.  As of now Soap #4 & 5 had also been made already.  They will be cure for the same 2 weeks before doing the tumbling test with water.  I will again cut a similar dimension and weight piece from each block, pre-washed my hands, then go for 10 second and 20 second tumble lathering test in my kitchen sink.


The final part of this experiment is a bit harder.  How do I find out if castor oil really contributes to "moisturizing" property of soap?  What feels moisturizing to one may not be the same to others.  Here's where I ask my readers if any of you would like to participate in my little scientific experiment.  Each volunteer will receive 5 different samples of soap marked with alphabet letters that are no associated with the soap numbers I assigned.  This is to ensure there are no bias in the final result.  Each participant will have to follow my instructions and perform the same tumbling in the sink test then fill out my survey.  Don't forget to leave your name and contact email in a short comment and I will get in touch with you shortly!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Soaping Book and of course Soap Making

This is my first blog post of 2016!  I know it's already February, time flies...  I will be starting up my blog this year by talking about a new soaping book.
Brambleberry is one of the most reputable online soaping suppliers in the US.  I was recently invited by them to receive a copy of the founder/owner, Anne-Marie Faiola's (aka Soapqueen) new soaping book and make soap with one of their new soaping kits.  Her new book is called Pure Soapmaking, here's the link if you are interested: Pure Soap Making
I was given 3 kit choices to pick what I want to try.  I picked Aloe Vera swirl kit because it's the one with beautiful greens.  I love using colors!  What surprised me is the size of the package, didn't notice the whole kit is to make 5 lb soap log, including soap mold and a handy hanger swirl tool!


This new soaping book has lots of color photos and detailed step by step instructions.  With a wide range of recipe, additive, and soaping styles, I'm sure even the pickiest soap makers would find at least one they can't wait to try.

Pure Soap Making is all about making soap with natural ingredients.  In the book there's a section talking about all different colorants we use to color cold process soap.  The greens being used in this kit are oxides.  There are debates on whether or not oxides are considered natural.  Oxides used to be the mineral colorants mined from nature.  But those that mined from nature are heavy in body harmful metals.  Without filtering and refinement these oxides are not legal to use in cosmetics.  Because of the harm risk and extensive refinement process, nowadays oxides are man-made but identical to naturally mined.  Therefore a portion of soap makers consider oxides to be natural.  However, I disagree with this classification.  It's like saying man-made diamond is diamond.  Man-made diamond is identical to naturally mined diamond, in fact they are better than naturally mined diamond as they are literally flawless without a bit of inclusion.  So, would you consider man-made diamond real diamond?  I wouldn't think so.  When buying jewelry, sellers have to indicate whether the stone is naturally mined or the word "lab created" has to be indicated.

The book calls for swirly soap top but I'm never one who is known to follow instructions well.  I always have to put my own spin on soap.  I ended up peaking up the soap top with a spoon and sprinkle these tiny white soap balls I had rolled previously from left over soap.  I think it looks like heavy snow on evergreen forest.And don't forget to sprinkle some sparkling mica for an instant eye catching shin!Over all this new book is very well done.  It covers enough information for both beginner and more advanced soap makers.  I give it a thumb up!  Check out the kit and book deal from Brambleberry: Aloe Vera Hanger Swirl Soap Kit & Book

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Year End Collage

Can't believe another year passed and I'm still making soap!  Here is the highlight of this year's creation.
And wish everyone happy holidays!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rainbow Soap Balls

Making soap balls for the use of embedding in a log of soap is commonly done.  I've done single color soap balls, complicated layered balls, tiny and large.  This creation is talking about rainbow color soap balls and how I made them.
I started with making a batch of fresh soap mixed with each individual rainbow color.  I usually unmold the soap and wait for 2 days, that's when my soap is still soft enough to knead but not sticky anymore.  Then I kneaded each soap dough into thin long rods.
Combined the rods, cut into sections then twisted them into balls.  It is time consuming but look how pretty those balls are!  Usually if I want to embed big balls into a fresh batch of soap I need to do it within a week, otherwise the balls will get dried and become too hard to cut against soft fresh soap.  Here's the final soap I used these balls in:








Monday, November 16, 2015

Shooting Star

The actual time spent in making soap is pretty short, but that's not to say each batch doesn't take a long time to produce.  Why?!  Because I spend most of my time designing in my head.  This is a short story about the making of my Shooting Star soap. 
 It started with me thinking about my holiday season soap making.  I don't usually re-make soap from the past, if I can, I prefer reinventing the wheel.  Last year the same fragrance soap was made with rainbow colored soap bits embedded in t a white base.  The colors of rainbow always catch people's attention.  And the idea of rainbow led me to the image of shooting star.  The actually star is made ahead of time with transparent melt & pour soap base to embed into the soap log to look like a star on top of a ray of rainbow.
 Well, this is a perfect case of what I see in my head is totally not what happened in the reality...  See my diagram below:
Oh well, there's always the next time!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

300 Blog Post Giveaway Winner

The winner is Gina Sollitt!  I will email you for details, thanks everyone!
If the winner does not respond to my email within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn again right the way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Modified Spin Swirl

First of all, this is my 300 post!  Wow, I never imagine myself lasting this long!  And, this will be the fits blog post I give out my original recipe, so please watch my video further down the post to find out all the details.  And here's the celebration part, anyone (sorry but USA only) who leaves a comment with email address below will enter into the draw for 3 modified spin swirl soap showed in this post!  This giveaway ends on October 10th, 2015.  I will randomly draw a winner and contact via email.  If you do no leave your email contact you will not be entered.

I first saw spin swirl done was from an YouTube video made by a Taiwanese soap maker with a made up name "Mu Lan", here's the link to her original The First “Spinning Swirl Soap”  I have no idea who actually invented this, it is not the point in the post.  My soaping recipe is usually not fluid enough to flow like the video because I personally do not prefer using high content olive oil.  I had a few tries few months ago and had not much success, see my previous blog post if you want to see my "failed" attempts: Spin or not to Spin?  Since then I've been thinking about how to improve this technique and put a twist to it to make it my own style.

The flaw (if I may say) to this spin swirl is that the slab mold is so wide that the centrifugal (I think I use it correctly) force prevent the center from being moved while all sides are being swirl to a muddy stage.  It might look great as a whole before the soap slab being cut into bars, but this bond to have a couple bars at the center that would not appear as dramatic as the others.  I care less about a whole look.  It would be great if it looks flawless both as a whole and into individual bars.  But individual look always takes president in my soap designs, customers buy soap in individual bars, not a whole slab or loaf.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this fully explained video (and with recipe!) I made: Making Frosted Forest Soap
 Here's me cutting it open: Cutting Frosted Forest Soap
 Literally every bar is unique:

Here are some other batches I made using the same technique:



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