Tallow Recipe Formulating: Part 2

March 7, 2017

Testing Time!  I sent out 8 batches to long time users of my soap to test.  Note: These soaps were made in October 2016 and sent to testers.  With most of the results in here’s what I found.

I asked them the following questions:

Conditions of Use: Hard/Soft Water?  Do you wash with soap on skin or use a washcloth/poof?

As you used: (they used a ranking system)

  1. How long did the bar last?
  2. How did the bar lather?
  3. Did you like the “feel” of the soap?
  4. What did you like about the bar?
  5. What did you dislike about the bar?
  6. Did you have a preference/favorite?
  7. Rank the bars from favorite to least favorite.
  8. Do you have any other comments you wish to add?

Results: So, I get results that go from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m used to this. Part of why I ask people their skin type/water type/how the wash is because that can greatly shape why someone likes or dislikes a soap and it helps me hone in on what the results really are saying.

Overall, no one really DISLIKED any of them, but people definitely had preferences.

Bar #5 was probably the least favorite for everyone with the exception of one tester who love it.  This doesn’t surprise me.  It was the bar with 70% tallow.  I got a lot of: “it lasted a long time, but the lather wasn’t great.”  And also, “too much of a squeaky clean feeling”.  It was definitely my LEAST favorite.

Tallow makes a great hard bar, but it lacks the ability to add lather and isn’t the most conditioning of fats.  I tried a 70% tallow bar because when I was doing my initial research there were a number of people who said they used up to 70% and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that much tallow being a nice bar so I decided to try one for myself.

Bar #2 and Bar #3 weren’t disliked or loved, but just weren’t favorites.  Both of these recipes used 50% tallow.  People with oily skin actually liked this bar better than those with normal to dry skin.  I wasn’t impressed with the lather.  In part that was because I cut down on the amount of coconut oil I used to accommodate the additional tallow.

Bar #1 and Bar #4 just about ended up in a tie.  Either way they were the top two finishers for most of my testers.  Bar #1 used 19.4% tallow and was my standard recipe with a straight sub of tallow for palm.  Most liked the lather, the feel on the skin, and the feel after showering.  All around it was generally liked.

Bar #4 was 25% tallow.  And I think that might be a magic number for me with using tallow in a recipe.  The one down side is this bar seemed to go a little faster.  I had people test travel size bars (I tested a full size). To me the full size bar lasted about as long as my standard bar.  Travel bars are smaller and thinner.  I actually think the reason that this bar went a little quicker was because I kept using it (longer than an of the other bars) each time I showered. I just LOVED the feel of it on my skin (as did many of my testers).

End thoughts: I went into this thinking Bar #1 would be my favorite. I LOVE my current recipe and that bar was just a straight sub of palm for tallow.  I didn’t make any other changes.  I was sure nothing else would stand up to that bar.  And while I did like Bar #1 (19.4% tallow) my favorite was Bar #4 (25% tallow).

Ultimately from this experiment I would recommend a usage rate between 20 and 25% of tallow in a recipe.

Thank you to all my testers!  I appreciate your help.

 


Tallow Recipe Formulating: Part 1

March 6, 2017

I have wanted to make tallow soap since I first read about animal fats in soap.  I wish I could remember the book I read about them in (it was one of the many I devoured when I first started making soap and was requesting every soap book my library had.)

When I started making soap to sell I’d formulated a recipe that was free of animal products and was a really nice bar. I love it.  My customers love it and at this point I wouldn’t change it, but I have still had this burning desire to play with tallow and formulate a new recipe…maybe an additional or specialty line of soaps one day.  Either way I knew I’d love using them and my family and friends would too.

I set to work creating different recipes.  The first one I did was a straight up sub of palm oil for beef tallow (run through a lye calculator of course).  Then from there I started playing. I had six different recipes by the time I got done.  And I realized some were a little too similar and so I managed to narrow it down to three recipes (so I was left with four total).

The biggest differences in these recipes was mainly the percentage of tallow I used.  I’d done a lot of reading and research and come up with a wide range of percentages to use in a recipe: from 25% up to 75% (in fact I think one person even told me they use 80%).  That’s a huge range and so I decided to do testing.  At first I didn’t go above 50% in my four test batches, but I decided a couple weeks later that I would do one more test batch with 70% tallow, mostly because I was really curious how a bar with 70% tallow would turn out.

Recipe 1:  19.4% Tallow

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This recipe was kind of my control recipe in the sense it was the exact same as my normal bars, but I subbed tallow for palm oil.  I wanted to see if there were any differences people picked up.

Recipe 2: 50% Tallow / 20% Olive

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Recipe 3: 50% Tallow / 15% Olive

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Recipe 4: 25% Tallow

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Recipe 5: 70% Tallow

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All recipes used a water discount of about 15%.

Initial reports from the five recipes is that each created a fairly hard bar (to the touch after a four week cure time), though Recipe 5 was definitely the hardest (even after just 48 hours!  Seeing that it was made with 70% tallow I wasn’t surprised with those results.


Fall Soaps: Pumpkin Lager w/ Beer

September 29, 2016

I’m a pumpkin fan…especially when it comes to pumpkin and baked goods!  This is probably my favorite pumpkin scent of all the pumpkins I’ve tried in the past years and of the ones I’ve made this year (which include: spiced pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and pumpkin lager).  Of course I had to make this soap with beer :D.

Wholesale Supplies Plus describes it:

A seasonal malt blend of fresh picked pumpkin, nutmeg and finishing notes of fermented warm vanilla.

So yummy!  This is another one that I knew would morph. I added orange mica to it so the soap didn’t become dark brown but has that orange hue to it.  Then I stamped it with a like orange mica and it really pops!

Prior to discoloration:

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I actually think the soap looks better fully cured and with the darker brown orange.  It makes the stamp stand out more.

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Fall Soaps: Oatmeal Stout w/ Beer

September 22, 2016

I love this scent.  I’ve used it once before, and I don’t know why I stopped using it.  It’s just down right yummy!  Bramble Berry describes the fragrance as follows:

This fragrance smells positively edible! It’s a full bodied and smooth beer fragrance blended with Creamy Oatmeal, Orange Peel, Butterscotch, Farm-fresh Milk, Nutty Almond and Rich Vanilla.

I knew the vanilla content was high and I planned my design accordingly.  The white layer is unscented.  The dark brown layer has no color (the fragrance did all the coloring there).  Then the top layer I used TD.  With the vanilla it ended up a medium brown.  I added mica lines between each later (in hopes of preventing some of the bleeding of fragrance (and hence color morphing) into the white later.

As a side note:  Look at this soap just after I cut it and what the finished soap ended up looking like.  Crazy how much it darkened!

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Just after I cut the soap.

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Seaweed Soap

September 12, 2016

Seaweed!  NDA describes seaweed as follows:

Ascophyllum nodosum – a brown seaweed commonly known as knotted, knobbed or bladder wrack, or kelp – is one of many species which form part of the botanical order or algae.

I dislike the smell of seaweed.  So why I had this burning desire to use it in my soap I’m not sure, but I did.  The seaweed powder isn’t too bad (smell wise), but the instant it gets “wet” – as in it mixes with the oils/lye or the bar itself is used after it’s cured – it stinks!  That, I realize, is probably a personal opinion that not everyone will agree with me on, but I think seaweed stinks.  Even NDA describes it as having a “pungent odor.” (Notice they had a much nicer way of saying it stinks! Ha!)

Appearance: Greenish brown powder with a strong pungent odor.

New Directions Aromatics says the following about seaweed:

Benefits: Seaweed Powder is a rich source of vitamins including vitamins B12 (not found in land plants), vitamin E, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, and other nutrients. Seaweed powder makes for an effective cleansing and exfoliating agent. When applied to the skin, Seaweed treatments act as a powerful detoxifier that draws out toxins and impurities while adding beneficial nutrients. It helps to stimulate the body’s metabolism and circulation which gives skin a healthy, revitalize and glowing appearance. Seaweed contains fatty acids to combat skin irritation and inflammation; and may assist with skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Seaweed Powder is suitable for all skin types.

Application: Seaweed Powder can be used in face masks, detoxifying body wraps, soap making, body scrubs and bath powders.

Caution: Persons with an allergy to iodine should avoid using this product. This powder has a strong pungent odor that some may find offensive, so test product before using.

I don’t know what it was that initially made me want to use it in my soap.  I just know about a year ago I had the urge.  And I think after reading the benefits of seaweed I was sold.  I mean did you read the above benefits?  It just makes me sigh in delight when I read about all that natural goodness!  So, while I might dislike the smell I love it in my facial soap.

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These are the facial bars. Large and a travel size.

I couldn’t leave it at a facial bar though, no!  I decided to make a batch of body soap with seaweed. I scented it with eucalyptus and peppermint (two rather strong essential oils) hoping it would subdue the seaweed smell. I can’t say it does, but I think if you dislike a smell you pick it up more than any other smell.  The bar itself is a very nice bar!

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This bar smells like eucalyptus, peppermint, and seaweed! There’s no getting around that smell!

If you’re interested in trying some in your soap I used it at similar usage rates to clay.

I used about ½ to 1 teaspoon per pound of soap.  I premix it with a little bit of distilled water, but I’ve also just added it straight to my oils and used the stick blender to mix it in with great results.

I can say I love it in my facial soap!  I can’t quite deal with the smell as a body soap, though it is a nice bar.  And I haven’t been brave enough to make a mask of it yet.  😉

facialseaweed


Brine Soap a.k.a Soleseife

September 5, 2016

On my list to make has been brine soap.  What is that you ask?  Brine soap or Soleselfie (German and pronounced: zo-luh-zigh-fuh) is soap made with salt, but instead of adding the salt at trace you mix the salt in with your lye-water solution and let the salt dissolve.  You end up with a super hard bar like a salt bar, but not the super scratchy bar of a typical salt bar.

A few things you have to remember:  Salt takes more water to dissolve than lye and so the amount of salt you use can only be 25% (max) of your water.  And you have to take in to consideration that the lye requires at least a 1:1 ratio of water to dissolve.  You’re not using nearly as much salt as you would in a traditional salt bar, but the results are still pretty awesome.

EXAMPLE:

Say my recipe calls for 10 oz of water and 3 oz of lye.  I need at least 3 oz of water to dissolve my lye. That leaves me with 7 oz of water. I take 25% of that and that’s how much salt I can use if I want it all to dissolve.  You can’t take 25% from the 10 oz.

I’ve seen soapers use traditional salt bar recipes (majority of recipe is coconut oil) for brine soap and I’ve seen them use standard recipes with multiple oils.  I think my preference is towards the latter.  I have to cut my soap sooner, and the lather is much smaller (but creamier), but I really like the end result.

A few months ago I made a seaweed and brine facial bar. I used mostly dead sea salt (it’s all I had on hand). I KNEW it would make a soft soap, but it was a small batch and I wanted to play and so I did it.

It took days before I could unmold the soap it was so soft (almost crumbly).  And when I did unmold it the bars ashed over (thickly).  But I put it on my dry rack and forgot about it for a couple months.  Then one day I went to check it and the soap was rock hard (just like a salt bar). I was pleasantly surprised.  I started using the soap and I loved it.  It didn’t build a big lather—I used my standard facial recipe and not a traditional salt bar recipe—but it was oh so creamy and for washing my facial it didn’t bother me the lack of big bubbles.

When I was playing around with aloe and avocado I thought I should make another batch of brine soap.  I had sea salt on hand this time and I liked the previous bar so much that I thought it was good enough to sell.

The facial soaps turned out great.  I made some body soaps too in a loaf mold where I had to cut the soap about 4 hours after I poured.  If I’d waited a full 24 hours to cut like I usually do the batch would have been rock hard!  I can’t wait to see how these set up and to try them once they’ve cured.  I might have some new soaps I add to my line!

Experimenting is fun!  These past couple weeks I’ve played around with aloe, avocado, salt, and tallow.  I need to do this more often!


Salt Bars

August 29, 2016

Salt Bars!  Since I was playing around with brine soap I figured I’d play around with salt bars too.  It has been years (like four or five years!) since I last made salt bars. I wasn’t a fan of them the first time I made them and never had any burning desire to make them since.  That is until recently.

I had some extra pumpkin from a batch of beer & pumpkin soap I’d just made so I decided to use it in my salt bars.  Used a traditional recipe high in coconut oil with a little bit of Shea butter and a 10% superfat.

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This is less than two hours later and they’re solid.

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I’m squeezing these as hard as I can…and not even a minor dent. These bar are rock hard! (Note it took them less than three hours to go from soapy liquid in the pot to hey here’s a bar!

Testing: And once again I’m just not a fan. Low, low lather. Super scratchy.  Just not for me, but I know some of my customers will love it.

I couldn’t leave it at that.  I made another batch with a slightly different recipe (replaced shea with avocado) and no pumpkin.  And I tried to push the limits of using dead sea salt (with a blend of sea salt) and it didn’t work.  I mean the bars are hardening up, but they were very soft and crumbly…didn’t come out of the mold pretty. *sigh* I should know better.  The bright side, is my desire to make salt bars is gone. Ha!  So I’m probably good for another five years when it comes to making salt bars ;).

One thing that amuses me to no end with salt bars is how fast they set up (when you use the proper salt).  Within three hours of being poured my bars were rock hard.  I mean you could do some serious damage with them. 😉