As all good students do, I have been following the basic rules of soap making since day 1. This included using a pretty high water amount to prepare my lye solution. 38% water (as a % of total oils) is the default value on most of the online lye calculators and it’s certainly the suggested amount for beginners…or at least that’s what I knew/thought before coming across Lovin Soap’s blog!
According to Amanda & Benjamin (experienced soap makers) beginners can use a reduced amount of water (a more concentrated lye solution) and still have plenty of time to create nice designs.
Read Calculating Your Water Amount for Soapmaking
With less water, soap bars harden faster, can be unmolded and cut sooner, have a shorter curing time and have reduced (or no) soda ash (my Achilles heel)!
Despite obtaining nice results in the past by following the “standard” water amount, I always felt like something was missing…(perfection?!?). Nevertheless, I never felt confident in water-discounting because of my relatively short experience as soap maker. I’m always willing to try nice swirls and fancy techniques, but I used to believe that they couldn’t really work in my hands unless using a (hideously) slow to trace recipe…high in water.
For my last soap, I decided to be brave and follow Amanda & Benjamin’s advice: using a 2:1 water:lye ratio (which roughly corresponds to 28% of water as % of total oils).
Reducing the amount of water has been the best choice ever!
I could work with the batter long enough to attempt an in-the-pot swirl (video HERE).
And at the end, when the batter was firmer, I could do some piping to create the cobblestone-like pattern on top of this soap (video HERE).
My soap went through gel phase and after 22 hours was ready to unmold (easy!). Surprise again: NO SODA ASHES for the first time ever! YIPPEE!!!
The finished soap!
Take home message: be brave (not only in soap making though ? )!
Below you find the recipe I formulated for this soap with all the details. Happy soaping, folks!
Cobblestone Soap Formula
Total oil weight: 800 grams
- Water as % of oil weight 28.17%
- Superfat: 7%
- Water:Lye Ratio 2:1
- Essential oils: Lavender (3 gr) and peppermint (8 gr)
- Soaping temperature: Oils @ 46 °C, Lye @ 48 °C
- Micas: Emerald and Aqua Green for the green, Candy Pink and Plum Purple for the lavender
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (gives the yellowish color) 27.50%
- Coconut Oil 32.50 %
- Sustainable Palm Oil 22.50%
- Shea Butter 10%
- Canola Oil 7.50%
About Roberta Galletti of RobsCreations
I’m Italian, I live in France and my blog is international (I adore English language)! I’m a molecular plant scientist by training and a wannabe crafter. Crafting relaxes me and gives me the chance to create unique and personalized gifts for friends (but also, as in the case of cards, for people I never met and who are going through difficult moments). I make soaps, candles, cards and more. I always drive my husband crazy when I craft, because I leave my tools everywhere 😉 WEBSITE | FACEBOOK
I love water discounting. I went from my normal 2:1 to now doing 1.5:1 or with high Olive oil I’ll do 1.2:1. Even when using milk, beer, wine, or purées im able to do swirls and have a nice hard bar with less stress at 1.5:1. Great article
Thanks for sharing. I’ve been soaping for a little over 2 yrs and I just started lowering my water to make a 33% lye solution. Without the additional water I rarely get glycerin rivers anymore! Using the lye solution or ratio of lye to water seems to make more consistent batches when changing the amount of soap I make as well, versus using the % to oils.
I agree that diaper, even those just starting out, should lower that water amount. You’ll find that the soap cures faster and doesn’t shrink as mush too!
**soapers, not diapers….just hate the auto correct! 🙂