shaving soap gone wrong

BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
200g experiment of shaving soap. Initially it was a quite respectable gel consistency, not pasty, but after 3 days it has separated! The bottom layer is purple... 

stearic acid 30%
coconut oil 10%
palm oil 5%
NaOH 0.3%
KOH 7.5%
TEA 2.8%
glycerin 10%
fragrance 1%
polyquaternium 7 1%
preservative (methyl parabens) 0.3%
water Q/S approx. 32%

Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.

Comments

  • Belassi,
    Sorry I didn't see this!  I an familiar with this formula as it is part of my 600+ page research document on Shaving Cream.  Your post calls it "soap" as some guys do call shaving cream.  I have never seen a formula like this turn into a separated version like in your photo.  The only ingredient which is usually not in this and other similar formulas is the Polyquaternium 7 which is usually clear in color.  I see TEA listed at 2.8% and I assume you are using triethanolamine and not TEA Stearate?  I have seen 1% TEA Stearate and as high as 3% in some formulas but never 2.8% triethanolamine.  I did a batch with 4.5% Tea Stearate but it was sort of wet and pasty which didn't work well for me.  Temperature is so important in a product like this and getting it up into the 160-170 F degree range isn't not always easy and keeping it up there can be a problem as well!  How did things go with this project?
    David
  • Very interesting. The only possibility I can really think of is that there were more 'active' ingredients added prior to/during saponification. I'd have been inclined to saponify the stearic acid, coconut oil, palm oil separately to make your shaving cream 'base', with your solution of KOH and NaOH and add the TEA, glycerine, fragrance, polyquat and preservatives thereafter (perhaps with some in solution).
    I'd be surprised if you had got this aspect wrong, given your repertoire. 
    I might actually give this a go a little later and see if any separation does occur.
    The only other thing that might be worth noting is rates of saponification. IIRC stearic acid reacts very readily to form sodium/potassium stearate, so that will oftentimes 'mop up' a reasonable amount of the NaOH/KOH (probably useless info here). Otherwise, it's reasonably KOH-heavy, so would be a little looser than if more NaOH was subbed in.
  • I am guessing there is a salting-out phenomena.
    I am having this problem with my olive oil soap (olive oil and KOH). the first couple of times it worked great, then something happened and it started separating with a bottom phase having a color similar to yours.
    I do not have currently a solution for this problem but I hope that it can be solved.
  • Had fun trialling this one with a spare 5 minutes available.
    Tried as hot process as it was quicker than leaving things cool down and allowed me to add the stearic acid as liquid rather than trying to incorporate a semi-solid stearic acid/coconut oil/sunflower oil (as didn't have palm to hand, adjusted for sap values).
    Pretty well as two phases, didn't get around to preservative or fragrance, added with mixing with an immersion blender.
    Nearly instantly (as to be expected with Stearic Acid saponification) formed lumps of reasonably solid masses, so not thoroughly homogenous. pH was holding high around 11-13 for the accessible bits. As if there wasn't quite enough water added, or that it crashed the potassium stearate out quicker than anything else could happen (more likely).
    Would be interested to hear whether you did this as cold process, which I'm assuming you did.
    Funnily, adding more water and blending the mixture allowed me to fetch the pH down closer to 9-10, though was a bit messy. The resulting liquid foamed quite nicely and had a reasonable amount of slip to it, so I'd like to think that the original mixture would've been nice until it had separated.
    I did notice that the outer interface of the solid masses was a little 'bouncy' so assume that it was more gel than 'cream' in consistency. Fun little trial, unfortunately with no answers to your conundrum. 
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I did not continue with this experiment so I can't comment further.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Belassi said:
    I did not continue with this experiment so I can't comment further.
    It's a shame you're not commenting on some of the points raised, in case someone wants to satisfy their curiosity and try and replicate/resolve the issues you experienced.
  • Benz3ne said:
    Belassi said:
    I did not continue with this experiment so I can't comment further.
    It's a shame you're not commenting on some of the points raised, in case someone wants to satisfy their curiosity and try and replicate/resolve the issues you experienced.
    Benz3ne,
    I agree with you.  We're here to learn so let's see what we come up with!  The two issues which I see are the "TEA" listed and the amount of NaOH used and the ratio between the NaOH and KOH which are covered in many old books and other sources.  If it is actually TEA Stearate then it would probably work out to .9% triethanolamine and 1.8 stearic acid with .1% superfat included in the stearic.  The ratio of the NaOH to the KOH seems to be the problem here.  The oils used in the percentages listed are the same as a formula posted here by "saleem" in 2012:

    "Here is a simple formulation of shaving cream with its simple procedure.
    (A)
    Stearic acid =                        30.00%
    Coconut oil =                        10.00%
    Palm Oil =                             5.00%

    (B)
    Potassium Hydroxide =     7.00%
    Soda caustic =                      1.50%
    Glycerin =                             10.00%
    water =                                  36.50%

     

    Process.
    Part (A) and Part ( B) separately Heated in the vessels at 75 centigrade temp
    After this mix both parts till it become homogeneously.
    Add the perfume in the end at 35 centigrade.
    It is a simple formulation which raw material easily available in the market."

    The ratio of the oils in the above formula is about 5/1 which many sources suggest and the .3% NaOH used in this formula is quite low throwing this ratio with the 7.5% KOH to 20something/1 ratio which is way out of the ballpark!  My formula with 4.5% Tea Stearate made a batch that was wet and pasty so I'm thinking that the too low NaOH and what may be too high Tea Stearate may be the reason it did what it did!  Such strange results!  Benz3ne, what do you think?

    David
  • If it is actually TEA Stearate then it would probably work out to .9% triethanolamine and 1.8 stearic acid with .1% superfat included in the stearic.  The ratio of the NaOH to the KOH seems to be the problem here.  The oils used in the percentages listed are the same as a formula posted here by "saleem" in 2012:

    "Here is a simple formulation of shaving cream with its simple procedure.
    (A)
    Stearic acid =                        30.00%
    Coconut oil =                        10.00%
    Palm Oil =                             5.00%

    (B)
    Potassium Hydroxide =     7.00%
    Soda caustic =                      1.50%
    Glycerin =                             10.00%
    water =                                  36.50%

     The ratio of the oils in the above formula is about 5/1 which many sources suggest and the .3% NaOH used in this formula is quite low throwing this ratio with the 7.5% KOH to 20something/1 ratio which is way out of the ballpark!  My formula with 4.5% Tea Stearate made a batch that was wet and pasty so I'm thinking that the too low NaOH and what may be too high Tea Stearate may be the reason it did what it did!  Such strange results!  Benz3ne, what do you think?


    David
    TEA Stearate vs TEA seems to be a very valid point in my opinion.
    I'll also agree that the NaOH vs KOH values seemed way out of whack. I've seen 5:1 being mentioned before but had a good go with a veggie-friendly shaving soap (harder, rather than cream/paste) with 3:2 KOH:NaOH and that firmed up nicely also. It is absolutely worth noting that the Stearic Acid definitely likes to freeze up during hot process. Something that I've seen mentioned on multiple occasions.
    I am, however, interested in the distinction between Belassi's formula vs Saleem's, in that Belassi's contained Polyquaternium-7. 
    I recall doing some fiddling a while back with shaving soaps/creams and found that stearic-heavy formulae gave a lot of fluffy bubbles. Nice to look at but not substantially slippy to provide glide during shaving. Saponifying castor oil definitely helped, as did palm oil. I don't recall trying with coconut oil but have some fractionated coconut oil to hand now so I may well dig out some notes and give it a go (with PolyQuat-7 included I think) and see how that goes.
    Similarly, I found that overloading with glycerine gave stick/tack rather than slip so that's worth noting.
    Laaasttly, I have some vague recollections of accounting for evaporative losses with water content, though I could've dreamt that up... It's always worth noting that superfatting is a very worthwhile avenue to explore for shaving soaps.
  • Benz3ne said:

    TEA Stearate vs TEA seems to be a very valid point in my opinion.
    I'll also agree that the NaOH vs KOH values seemed way out of whack. I've seen 5:1 being mentioned before but had a good go with a veggie-friendly shaving soap (harder, rather than cream/paste) with 3:2 KOH:NaOH and that firmed up nicely also. It is absolutely worth noting that the Stearic Acid definitely likes to freeze up during hot process. Something that I've seen mentioned on multiple occasions.
    I am, however, interested in the distinction between Belassi's formula vs Saleem's, in that Belassi's contained Polyquaternium-7. 
    I recall doing some fiddling a while back with shaving soaps/creams and found that stearic-heavy formulae gave a lot of fluffy bubbles. Nice to look at but not substantially slippy to provide glide during shaving. Saponifying castor oil definitely helped, as did palm oil. I don't recall trying with coconut oil but have some fractionated coconut oil to hand now so I may well dig out some notes and give it a go (with PolyQuat-7 included I think) and see how that goes.
    Similarly, I found that overloading with glycerine gave stick/tack rather than slip so that's worth noting.
    Laaasttly, I have some vague recollections of accounting for evaporative losses with water content, though I could've dreamt that up... It's always worth noting that superfatting is a very worthwhile avenue to explore for shaving soaps.
    Benz3ne,
    This formula is for a Lathering Shaving Cream.  Stearic Acid has a high meltpoint compared to typical soap making oils and is used both in this type of product and in a puck of hard shaving soap because of the lather that stearic acid can produce if it is paired with some form of Coconut Oil.  Typically Stearic Acid produces a dense foam type of lather and for shaving, "bubbles" are not what is needed to make it a good product.  Castor Oil containers a large percentage of Ricinoleic Acid which creates a soap that is quite water soluble and creates larger "bubbles" which are not what is sought to create a good lather for shaving.  Fractionated Coconut oil is also an oil that is not only more expensive but creates a very soft soap which would not be ideal for any soap type product!  Typically Glycerin is used in the 5%-10% range in shaving cream products and does assist in creating slip and glide needed for lathering shaving cream.  Typically a superfat is included in shaving creams and shaving soaps and from my research starting back in 2004, the 4% range is what is suggested in old soapmaking, cosmetic chemistry books, patents and other information available starting in the 1920's and continuing through the next few decades.  It is quite a balancing act and getting just the right consistency as well as good performance is not easy!

    David
      
  • Benz3ne,
    This formula is for a Lathering Shaving Cream.  Stearic Acid has a high meltpoint compared to typical soap making oils and is used both in this type of product and in a puck of hard shaving soap because of the lather that stearic acid can produce if it is paired with some form of Coconut Oil.  Typically Stearic Acid produces a dense foam type of lather and for shaving, "bubbles" are not what is needed to make it a good product.  Castor Oil containers a large percentage of Ricinoleic Acid which creates a soap that is quite water soluble and creates larger "bubbles" which are not what is sought to create a good lather for shaving.  Fractionated Coconut oil is also an oil that is not only more expensive but creates a very soft soap which would not be ideal for any soap type product!  Typically Glycerin is used in the 5%-10% range in shaving cream products and does assist in creating slip and glide needed for lathering shaving cream.  Typically a superfat is included in shaving creams and shaving soaps and from my research starting back in 2004, the 4% range is what is suggested in old soapmaking, cosmetic chemistry books, patents and other information available starting in the 1920's and continuing through the next few decades.  It is quite a balancing act and getting just the right consistency as well as good performance is not easy!

    David
      
    Thanks David - yes I agree. 'Bubbles' is probably not quite the right word, and I'm drawing a lot from memory of around 2 or 3 years ago when I was trying my hand at shaving soaps. Lathers are, in essence, small bubbles anyway so I think the distinction is reasonably moot.
    The things I recall is that stearic acid saponified rapidly, that coconut oil-bases if used at higher %'s are typically quite drying, that the combination thereof typically makes stable lathers. I recall that small quantities of castor oil really aided the glide of the lather. 
    As you allude to, it's all about the balancing act. There's no benefit in a wholly stearic acid soap, a wholly coconut oil soap, etc. for shaving. 
    The consistency I eventually settled on was a soft 'block'. Malleable but not a cream. Gave a rich, dense lather with little effort and was reasonably heavily superfatted in lieu of less glycerine. I'm also blessed with soft water so that helps when trying lathers.

    Long and short of it is the balancing act and that some people like things that others don't!
  • Benz3ne,
    As long as it works for you!  I'm selling to the "shaving community" out there online and they are quite a tough crowd with lots of experience with all of the varieties of Lathering Shaving Cream made and sold all over the world which doesn't make it easy!  Interestingly, the original post included a formula that was posted on this site but it wasn't put up here correctly in the first place!  It is actually a Harry's Cosmeticology formula that didn't include "Palm" oil but rather "Palm Kernel" oil which puts it into a different ballpark!  Also the ratio of KOH to NaOH at 7.0% to 1.5%  is not actually a 5/1 ratio which is what is most often suggested!  Yup!  A balancing act for sure!
    David
  • Benz3ne,
    As long as it works for you!  I'm selling to the "shaving community" out there online and they are quite a tough crowd with lots of experience with all of the varieties of Lathering Shaving Cream made and sold all over the world which doesn't make it easy!  Interestingly, the original post included a formula that was posted on this site but it wasn't put up here correctly in the first place!  It is actually a Harry's Cosmeticology formula that didn't include "Palm" oil but rather "Palm Kernel" oil which puts it into a different ballpark!  Also the ratio of KOH to NaOH at 7.0% to 1.5%  is not actually a 5/1 ratio which is what is most often suggested!  Yup!  A balancing act for sure!
    David
    That's exactly it! I would consider myself part of the 'shaving community', albeit lighter involvement now than previously. I had an inherent interest in straight razors, though I've now dwindled that stash (with much sellers' remorse).
    Ah, see that's where the devil is in the detail. Coconut vs fractionated coconut, TEA vs TEA stearate, Palm vs Palm Kernel... it all makes a difference!
    It's funny how you'll spend all this time perfecting something and you get the one oddball who says something along the lines of:
    "But Vitos/Cella/insert old-school Italian soap name here is just as good, costs less and was made x decades ago!" - tough crowd indeed.
  • I have recently delved into this category. Has anyone ever tried colloidal oats in the water phase? I have completed 3 different formulations with this ingredient (0.75%) and it is absolutely a great addition. I have coarse hair and sensitive skin so I am the perfect tester.  I guess the issue would be proper preservation. I have used 0.5% Germall plus. 
  • Whenever I use an additive that is finely ground like an herb, spice or other similar things I have added it to the oil phase.  That way it can absorb the oil first rather than absorbing the lye into it from being in the water/lye bath.  I have done a great deal of this in handcrafted soap and perhaps only a natural powdered colorant in a shaving soap or cream but I would think adding it to the heated oil phase would be the better option. 
  • Hi David, I am glad you are back. I have been focused on this category in the last week and I know this is your wheelhouse. 

    Here is a formulation that has worked quite well for me 

    water =                                  to 100%
    Glycerin =                             6.00%
    EDTA 4Na =                          0.10%
    Potassium Hydroxide =         7.00%
    Soda caustic =                      1.50%

    Stearic acid =                        30.00% (Half after sapon.)

    Coconut oil =                        10.00%

    Palm Oil =                             5.00%

    Isopropyl Palmitate =              2.00%
    Essential Oil Blend =               0.90%

    I was even successfully in pressing them using a shampoo bar mold w/ 95psi. It fits nicely in a 4oz jar and leaves room for a brush. I am such a newbie, I have never even owned a brush! One is on its way from Amazon. I had to try and lather with my hands. The shave is absolutely incredible. 

    I also had multiple attempts to recreated the Proraso Pre Shave cream. It is a product I have used for years, but with my new shave soap, I don't feel like I need it as much

    dH20 72.9
    Glycerin  3
    EDTA  0.2
    KOH 0.9
    Avena Sativa 0.5
    Stearic Acid  20
    Cetearyl Alcohol  1
    Germall Plus Liquid  0.5
    Menthol  0.4
    EO Blend 0.6

    I will try and dissolve the colloidal oats in the oil phase, it makes sense. 

    Currently working on soap which would be softer and could lather up without the use of a brush.  I would have to remove the palm oil I believe, as I had a trial with only coconut oil and it was much fluffier. I also have an attempt using sodium lauroyl sarcosinate but I feel like I used too much (2%)

  • Hi!
    Yes, I am familiar with that formula.  It was listed here by "saleem" and it is available online from various sources starting with books but also in .pdf form which has the "Palm Oil" listed but the original formula actually has "Palm Kernel Oil" listed at 5% and the rest of what is out there appear to be "copies" of that original book formula from "New Cosmetic Science".  Hopefully, the colloidal oatmeal will work well for you!

    The problem with shaving cream and shaving soap formulas as well as some other shaving types of products is that most of the available information from traditional shaving products is around 100 years old and some of the best sources of these types of products are old cosmetic chemistry and soap making books with the most useful information starting in the 1920's.  For me, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" is my philosophy but I'm open to working with these types of formula and experimenting with "newer" ingredients if I feel like it!  I also like to keep it simple, if I can as long as the product can do what you need it to do!  I'll check out the "colloidal oatmeal" when I have some time! ;)
    Thanks!
  • I learned of the formulation on this very thread. I also found a formulation using saponification of fatty acids including myristic in the cosmetic and toiletry formulations book.

    I found the addition of isopropyl palmitate to be very helpful, almost to the point where you could do second passes without lathering up again. 
  • Cafe33,
    You must have found formula #2226 of Poucher's as there are very few formulas with Stearic, Myristic and Coconut in them!  This one isn't even a lathering cream either!  The problem I have encountered the most is that so many of the "shaving cream" formulas of this type don't specifically say what their purpose is!  I have seen only a few that list "lathering" as their type and others like the one above is more of a liquid cream that is applied to the face with your hand and a brush is not really needed.

    There a some formulas that contain "observations" and "recommendations" about formulating these shaving creams which has been helpful but some may vary on certain points from the others which makes it more difficult to know which aspect will work best!

    I like working with these old style formulations because they are simple and if done correctly can give you exactly what you need!  They are can have some more "modern" types of additives that can give them something a little special but still remain acceptable in the shaving market!
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