Glycerin Method Liquid Castile (100% Olive Oil) Soap Tutorial

The glycerin method for making liquid soap is quite popular as the main benefit is how it greatly reduces the time it takes to make your soap paste.  Glycerin in place of water speeds up the entire process which is very appealing to many soapmakers.  Making liquid soap using distilled water as your liquid can be very time consuming especially when working with formulas high in olive oil. These formulations high in olive oil take a very long time to trace (up to an hour for me) causing overheating of stick blenders, arm fatigue and so on.  The first time I made a 100% olive oil liquid soap, I was quite surprised (and frustrated) with how long it took.

Here is where using glycerin in place of water will be beneficial.   My 100% olive oil liquid soap using all glycerin instead of water to dissolve my KOH takes 2 1/2 hours from start to finish (not including diluting the paste).  This includes the time it took to measure out and prepare my ingredients and equipment.

So, let's get started...................... Please read through everything first before attempting this.

Crock Pot - I use a 4.5 quart crock pot with 3 settings - Warm, Low and High
Strong Solid Stirring Utensil
Stainless Steel Spoon or Whisk
Stainless Steel Stick Blender (Plastic ones may overheat and melt)
Stainless Steel Saucepan/Pot for Making the Glycerin/KOH solution
Container for measuring Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
Digital PH Meter to test pH of soap
Phenolphthalein Drops to test for excess lye and paste doneness

Castile Liquid Soap Formula with about a 3% superfat using Summerbee Meadow Calculator
20 ounces Olive Oil 
3.95 ounces (112 grams) KOH Potassium Hydroxide (see below)
12 ounces Glycerin

If you are unsure of the purity of your lye, you may want to use a lower superfat to insure that you do not end up with an unintended superfat that is too high for clarity.
2% superfat - 4 ounces  (113 grams) KOH
1% superfat - 4.03 ounces (114 grams) KOH
0% superfat - 4.07 ounces (115 grams) KOH

Please use all safety precautions including wearing eye and hand protection, long sleeves, long pants and closed toed shoes.  Both Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide are caustic materials which will burn if they come into contact with your skin or eyes and can do some serious damage.  Not something to scare you away, but always take appropriate safety measures when making soap from scratch.  Using the glycerin method requires that the glycerin/lye mixture be heated to temperatures between 250 - 300 degrees F - this is not something you want to mess around with

My 4.5 quart crock pot does a great job on formulations with 20 - 30 ounces of oils.  Any more than that, and the mixture gets too close to the top of the pot.

Starting this project at about 8:30pm

Step 1:  Whenever creating soap from a new formula always calculate your water and potassium hydroxide amounts even when they are given.  I use Brambleberry's or Summerbee Meadows Lye Calculators for liquid soap with a 0 - 3% superfat.  If find theses calculator work well for my formulations and I do not superfat above 3%  as excess fats that cannot be saponified may cloud your soap.  I also do not formulate with a lye excess which would require an added step of neutralizing the excess lye afterwards.  Even though I have already given the KOH amounts for this formula, I still recommend this process as these calculators have been updated and improved over time to account for the 10% impurity found in KOH.  There a lots of older formulations out there on the web and in books that are formulated with a lye excess and the extra step of neutralization with borax, boric acid or citric acid.  So always run the formula you are using through a calculator (or if you want, you can calculate by hand). 

Step 2:  Measure out your olive oil into the crock pot to heat.  Bring oils to a temperature of about 160 degrees F. 

Step 3:  Measure out your glycerin into the stainless steel pan.  I use a 2 quart Stainless Steel saucepan for the amount of KOH/Glycerin for this formula.  Make sure that it is stainless steel only.  The Potassium Hydroxide will react with other metals or coatings.  DO NOT HEAT YOUR GLYCERIN AT THIS POINT.

Step 4:  Measure out your Potassium Hydroxide into a suitable container.

Step 5:  Add your KOH to your ROOM TEMPERATURE glycerin and mix well with your stainless steel utensil.

Step 6:  Heat this mixture on low to dissolve the KOH.  The temperature will get very, very hot (up to 300 degrees F) so be very careful.  By heating the two together, you avoid the bubbling up that occurs when room temperature KOH is added to and reacts with hot glycerin.  Continue to stir until all the KOH is dissolved.  This can take upwards of about 10 minutes or so.  Your mixture may be completely clear or slightly amber in color and even slightly cloudy.  I find you need glycerin in the amount of at least 3 times the weight of your KOH for it to dissolve completely.  Make sure there are no bits or pieces of KOH floating before moving on.

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