Being new to soap making, the essential tool you will need to make great soap continually is a soap calculator. Even if you are following a recipe, it is still vital. In the article, I break down the steps to make it easy for anyone to use the online calculator confidently.
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Why do I need a Soap Calculator?
I get it; you have a recipe and want to get on with it. But even seasoned soapers sometimes have a moment where things don't go as planned.
I recently spent days preparing a recipe and gathering the ingredients. When it finally came to melting the oils, the tallow I had purchased was rancid! Now, if I had palm oil, I could have substituted it. But I had just used my last lot of palm oil, and the new batch hadn't arrived.
I had to think quickly but also sit down and rethink my recipe. And just like any calculator on the planet, A soap calculator ensures your recipes are just right and allows you to repeat a brilliant recipe confidently. In this article, I will show you how to use it.
A Calculator does all the chemistry for you.
As anyone who has ever made soap will tell you, a lot of chemistry is involved. Soapmaking is the perfect blend of art and science. Once you find a recipe you love, you will want to repeat it and scale it up or down, and if you sell it, you need to make sure you have the correct calculations on the label.
That's where a soap calculator comes in. A soap calculator can do your hard work by calculating basic information about your desired recipe. It will work out the perfect ratios of Oil to Lye and tell you how much water you need to add.
A good Soap Calculator will also help you decide what you want the result to do. Do you want one with extra bubbles? Do you want a bar of soap with creamy moisturising qualities? A soap calculator allows you to play with the results to get a perfect recipe every time.
So which soap calculator is best?
If you have tried to find one on the internet, many are out there. But I think if you are starting, then Soap Calc is an easy tool to utilise.
It is a great free tool because it helps you build a recipe without much knowledge. There are many soap calculators, do a google search and find the best one for you. Soapcalc.net is a website in the USA, so a little knowledge of English is advised, but if you know what the ingredients are in English, it shouldn't be a problem.
How do I use SoapCalc?
Step A – The Recipe Calculator
You will see a few headings on the Soap Calc site. It's always a good idea to go through the other pages and learn how best to use the site. But if you don't have time, I'll take you through it quickly, step by step.
Firstly Click on “Recipe Calculator” (top Bar). Clicking here will take you straight to a daunting page, but if you are starting, it's easy.
Step B – Type of Lye
This page has several boxes and numbers. Look at box #1 and the table below (there are 7 in total).
It automatically highlights that you will be using Lye. KOH is Potash and mainly used for shower gels, so you leave this section as it is and go to box #2
Step C – Grams or Ounces?
Volume is difficult to measure, so always measure by weight. You will find recipes in grams and ounces, so pick a scale that can do both, and then you can't go wrong.
I am using grams for my recipe and put in 930g since my favourite mould can take only 1kg.
Ignore the following three blocks (3,4,5), but here is a picture with a little explanation of what they do for future reference.
Block #3 – This is the percentage of water to oils. Most experienced soap makers will change this value, but if this is the first few times you make soap, leave it as it is.
Block #4 – Here, the super fat represents the added extra oil, a buffer to ensure that your soap isn't too acidic. Again you can change it, but it is an excellent buffer for someone starting. So please don't change it.
Also, it is wise to leave the fragrance. This default setting is 31 grams per kilogram. I recommend leaving it unless a specific recipe tells you otherwise. Once you have tried a few different recipes, you can start playing with varying amounts of fragrance.
Block #5 This is a breakdown of the quality of the oils, but again ignore this for now, as it's not necessary until you build your experience up and start experimenting.
Step D – Add your oils.
It's finally time to add your recipe. Here is where the magic happens.
Suppose you find out that you don't have enough of a particular oil, “Oh dear, I only have 200g Olive Oil”. You can substitute an equivalent oil and still get the right amount of Lye.
I'm keeping this recipe to resemble my beginner's soap recipe. Once you have put in your values, you might notice things on the page begin to change. You can see precisely how many lye crystals there are and how much water to add. The critical button here is “2. View or Print Recipe”. You must view it and save it because if it works, you will want to make it again and again.
Make your soap!
I love this tool; it means doing science is a little easier. I will add tea tree oil to this and make it a fantastic gardener's soap for my neighbour. Remember always use distilled water, not filtered.
Explore my shop for some inspiring soap ideas. Happy Soaping!