cream soap - 1 *

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ever since i conquered the making of "liquid soap", i've tried to use it to make an emollient, non-drying bodywash. however, for me, (as well as many others), liquid soap made by this method tends to be too drying for face and body use. even if you forego the transparency, adding oils or butters (beyond the limited superfatting range of 2%) only kills the lather.
one approach i've tried is "bar-soap conversion", which entails using castille "bar soap", (made with a small amount of coconut oil), grated and liquefied by adding water ...and a few other ingredients. this did seem to produce a liquid soap that wasn't so drying but it was water thin. thickening this with xantam gum is an option that i've yet to explore.

click to enlarge
then, I came across the concept of a cream soap ...with the texture of whipped cream. there isn't a lot of available data on this but catherine failor's "making cream soap" book"let" -- (it's only 40 pages) -- covers this topic and offers a possible approach in my quest for the ideal bodywash. depending on the oils and the amount of water used in the process, the texture can be controlled to range from a semi-liquid to the fluffy texture of whipped cream to a dense, salve-like soap.
this approach falls in the category of hot process, although I did run across a couple of recipes [for cream soap] that used the cold process method -- the soap wasn't cooked and had to sit for 7 - 10 days to complete saponification. Both methods require the combination of both sodium and potassium hydroxides as well as a large percentage of stearic and/or palm oil (from which stearic acid is derived).
(with cream soap added to the other types of soap i make from scratch, it was inevitable that i'd tackled making my own "m&p soap base" from scratch and "whipped soap" -- to round out my soapmaking repertoire.)

* my initial attempt at making cream soap (below) follows the method outlined in c. failor's book and uses a stove-top double boiler, and is later supercreamed with boric acid.
subsequently, resulting from my interaction with other cream soapers, i've modified that procedure and my recipe; i've outlined this new data on the "cream soap - 2" page.

a detailed outline of my procedure for making cream soap with the stove-top, boric acid method is as follows: -- (see "soap recipes" for my cream soap recipes)
decide the batch size and determine what oils are being used. place oils/butters in soap pot over medium heat until melted.
again, i'm working with a 1-lb. batch size. this is the smallest quantity you can effective work with.
olive oil, shea butter, and castor oil (to make a softer pliable soap) make up the soft oils (12% of the total oils). coconut oil (for lather), stearic acid, and palm oil (to produce a denser soap), constitute the hard oils ...all combined to make the 35% (of the total product weight) fatty acids. i'm aiming for a firm, but semi liquid result as opposed to a fluffy, stiff soap.
the high percentage of stearic acid and/or palm oil is necessary to make this kind of soap.
add glycerin to the melted oils and stir until dissolved.
calculate amount of the two hydroxides, and the water; dissolve the lye into the water.
using your favorite "lye calculator", determine the amount of sodium hydroxide (no discount) needed to saponify the selected oils. multiply that amount by .217 ...(ms. failor never explained how she arrived at this figure.) this is the amount of sodium hydroxide you'll need. now multiply that figure by 5. this is the amount of potassium hydroxide. combine these two figures and multiply by 6. this gives you the amount of water.
add the lye water to the melted oils and blend (with hand blender) until the mixture reaches a white-honey homogenous state.
the time it takes to reach this homogenous stage depends on the oil formulation. blends with low percentages of stearic acid/palm oil and high percentages of soft oils will take longer to saponify.
note: in such blends, your mixture will probably "curdle". don't panic! simply continue to blend, alternating with short periods of rest until the mixture reaches the desired state.

the blend used in this example went to the homogenous state very quickly with no curdling at all. this could also be due to the small quantity. the mixture resembled a creamy, frothy vanilla milkshake. before placing the soap pot into the larger pot, i hand stirred to eliminate some the of the air that had been whipped into the mixture during blending with the hand blender.
the larger pot should be large enough to totally contain the soap pot, so you can place the lid on both pots don't want the condensation from the outer pot's lid to get into the soap pot. use a sheet of aluminum foil if no lid is available.
cook for 2-1/2 hours, lightly stirring every 30 minutes to insure even heating.
check after 10 minutes of cooking to see if any curdling or separation has occurred. if this is the case, remove the soap pot [from the larger pot] and blend until the mixture is homogenous. return the soap pot to the larger pot and continue cooking.
after 2-1/2 hours, the soap should be neutral (all the lye has been consumed), and should be translucent. if opaque, continue cooking for another hour. if still opaque, there is excess alkalinity probably resulting from an error in calculating the lye or in measuring the ingredients.

during this time, the mixture went from a creamy white opaque liquid to a stiff, dry opaque paste, to a translucent liquid, to a translucent paste.
remove soap pot from the water bath and allow to rest (with the lid on) for 24 hours at room temperature.
during this time, the mixture is supposed to morph back into a creamy white liquid, the consistency of heavy whipping cream. if it doesn't, ms. failor recommends adding a bit of water, making note of the amount so you can include it as part of the total water added.

my mixture didn't liquefy. it turned to liquid around the edges, but the bulk of it was still semi-solid ...very soft, but not liquid. i added a small amount of water (it took very little) and blended it in thoroughly until the mixture reached the desired consistency.
supercream -- "supercreaming" is to cream soap what "superfatting" is to bar soap.
choosing to supercream at 4% (the recommended ranges is 3% - 5%). i measured the boric acid (2% of the total oils) and dissolved it in hot water.
note: in this circumstance, you want boric acid, not borax!

ms. failor's tome covers several ways to accomplish this and explains the chemistry behind the process. i've chosen to add boric acid to the cooled mixture opposed to adding boric acid or melted stearic acid to the hot soap.

i transferred the thick flowing soap mixture to a large mixing bowl. using a large spoon, i incorporated the boric acid into the soap mixture. the mixture doesn't react immediately, but over the next hour, it thickens and just as you would beat whipping cream, beating this mixture incorporates air and you end up with a mass the consistency of whipped cream. the more you beat, the more air you incorporate and the stiffer it gets.
add water.
after supercreaming, addition water (or aloe vera and/or glycerin) can be added to adjust the consistency.
as a result of the water i added in step 7, and the water used to dilute the boric acid in step 8, i found there was no need for any extra water. if necessary, however, water can be added during the "rotting" process.
if you're repeating a recipe that you know requires a certain amount of extra water at this point, you can add that "extra" water to the lye water at the beginning thereby avoiding this step.

10 "rotting"
this "unfortunate" expression refers to the period of time (ranging from a few days to a week) that the soap is allowed to sit during which it softens and develops a sheen.
the texture of the soap changes during rotting and more water can be added to further adjust the consistency. -- after 24 hours, the texture of my soap stiffened a bit and i added a very, very, small amount water ...making note of the amount and adding it to the total "extra" water addition.
i never was any good at this "waiting" thing, so after about 48 hours i proceeded with the fragrancing and bottling.
11 add fragrance and color.
fragrancing is done very much the same as with other soap, but since no alkali or heat is present, much less is needed. beware that some oils (essential and fragrance) may discolor the soap so do a test before committing the whole batch.
any soap coloring will work, but this is perfect in its naturally fluffy white state; it really doesn't need a color.

12 put finished soap in containers ...and voila!
before thinning my soap a bit for dispensing from a squeeze bottle (i'm using this as a body wash), i filled a cosmetic jar with the thick whipped soap for the purpose of this illustration.
this would be accomplished by placing the whipped cream textured soap in a pastry bag, (or a plastic bag with a small hole cut in one corner), and piping the soap into the containers.