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  1. #1

    Smile What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    I have a liquid castile soap (lavender essential oil inside) that I love, but it's far too watery to be used well in a pump dispenser as a hand soap. Is there a natural product I could add to the liquid soap to thicken it a bit, yet not affect the soap's cleaning ability? I'm trying to keep it as natural/organic as possible.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Add more soap!

    You probably have a solution in water of potassium soap, these soaps are soft, a bit like butter. Adding more soap makes it thicker.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    That's the only thing I know of as well.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    just leave it open for some time in order to let it dry a bit losing his water part (more volatile than the greasy part). This should work.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    You could add glycerin to thicken it, try a small portion to get the ratio correct.
    Jim

  6. #6

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Guar gum

  7. #7

    Smile Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Thank you everyone for the responses! It's the Dr. Bronner liquid castile soap - I have both the lavender one and the unscented one (for my young son). When I use them full strength, the soap is a bit thin, but it still takes forever to rinse it from my hands. And when I thin it by 1/3 with water, the consistency becomes too thin and the soap shoots out of the dispenser, landing on the wall, floor, wherever our son uses the dispenser.

    We hadn't noticed this, but did as soon as some water got on the bathroom floor and we almost slid across the room. And it took forever to clean up the soap from the floor too.

    I will try a few things and see what works best. Where are the best places to purchase glycerin or guar gum?

    And just in case, can anyone recommend a very natural/organic or gentle liquid hand soap we could use (if I can't figure this out), that doesn't cost a fortune? We have trouble buying it in larger bottles and dislike spending the money on the replacement containers in addition to a small amount of liquid soap.

    Thanks again!

    Herb Lady

  8. #8

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Glycerin Is available in drug stores and at Whole foods markets,take care
    Jim

  9. #9

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by goosemeplease
    Glycerin Is available in drug stores and at Whole foods markets,take care
    Jim, thank you for the information.

  10. #10

    Smile Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by janmeut
    Add more soap!

    You probably have a solution in water of potassium soap, these soaps are soft, a bit like butter. Adding more soap makes it thicker.

    I checked the ingredient list of the liquid Dr. Bronner soap. It's basically, water, saponified organic coconut and organic olive oils with retained glycerin, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid and Vitamin E.

    I also purchased one of the bars of the same brand of castile soap; it has the same ingredients, with the addition of salt, and water is naturally present in a much lower amount. Could I shave/grate some of the bar soap and perhaps melt or liquify it in some way, and then add it to the liquid castile soap?

    My soapmaking experience has been limited to making herbal bar soaps (including lye) so I'm inexperienced with other kinds.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

    Herb Lady

  11. #11

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    My understanding is that although you could add bar soap to liquid soap to thicken it, that you'd have to heat both mixes. Usually a gum like guar gum is used and you would probably not have to heat it.

    You can also add melted waxes, like beeswax or stearic acid.

    There are also lots of synthetics and polymers that you could use such as sodium acrylate, but then that wouldn't be natural anymore.

    Also, salt will increase the viscosity of liquid soap, but you can only use so much. You could also boil some of the water out of your soap, but that seems like a lot of work to me.

    Generally, the type of lye used sodium vs. potassium hydroxide determines how solid the soap will be. Liquid soaps like Dr. Bronner are made by saponifying oils with potassium hydroxide. You can also make liquid soap with sythetic detergents.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb_Lady
    I checked the ingredient list of the liquid Dr. Bronner soap. It's basically, water, saponified organic coconut and organic olive oils with retained glycerin, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid and Vitamin E.

    My soapmaking experience has been limited to making herbal bar soaps (including lye) so I'm inexperienced with other kinds.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Dr. Bronner's is a favorite of mine, too. If you try mixing in more glycerin, please let us know how it turns out.

  13. #13

    Smile Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbillion
    My understanding is that although you could add bar soap to liquid soap to thicken it, that you'd have to heat both mixes. Usually a gum like guar gum is used and you would probably not have to heat it.

    You can also add melted waxes, like beeswax or stearic acid.

    There are also lots of synthetics and polymers that you could use such as sodium acrylate, but then that wouldn't be natural anymore.

    Also, salt will increase the viscosity of liquid soap, but you can only use so much. You could also boil some of the water out of your soap, but that seems like a lot of work to me.

    Generally, the type of lye used sodium vs. potassium hydroxide determines how solid the soap will be. Liquid soaps like Dr. Bronner are made by saponifying oils with potassium hydroxide. You can also make liquid soap with sythetic detergents.
    Thanks for the suggestions. As I now own two huge bottle of the Dr. Bronner, and a little seems to go a very, very, very long ways, I'll probably try a few different methods and let everyone know how they turn out. I have pure beeswax from a colleague who's an apiarist, and could melt some down and see how that works. I just want to make sure it doesn't clog the liquid pump dispenser. And I'll also look for the guar gum. Just bought glycerin, so will try that too. Thanks everyone for adding to this post.

  14. #14

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbillion
    Also, salt will increase the viscosity of liquid soap, but you can only use so much.
    I have tried this (or rather, salt water) recently with SLS liquid soap, and it does indeed work. I do not know if it has the same results with castile soap.

  15. #15

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Hi!
    Sometimes just a little buzz in the microwave helps thickening it.
    Take it out of its bottle, pour into a MW safe dish.

    Normally (with home made cream soaps or liquid soaps) its boric acid solution or stearic acid to thicken it but I wouldn't recommend it for store bought stuff cause there are too many things in the recipe that are unknown. Hence you can't calculate the additives correctly.

  16. #16

    Default So what worked best?

    When I first saw your question, my first thought was "add salt".

    I'm in Denmark, and use a brand called "Minirisk", which is hypoallergenic and incorporates as few ingredients as possible (so that if someone does have an allergic response, they can narrow down the possible culprits very quickly). It does contain salt, evidently as a thickener.

    I noticed someone else suggested salt, and you noted that it is an ingredient in the solid Bronner bars. Since salt is water soluable, and a component of the human body, it seems like the best bet as a thickener. Unlike gums or resins, there should be no clogging issues, and it shouldn't have an adverse effect on the already somewhat poor rinsability, either.

    But does it work?

    M.

  17. #17

    Default Re: So what worked best?

    Quote Originally Posted by mysteriousmongoose
    When I first saw your question, my first thought was "add salt".

    I'm in Denmark, and use a brand called "Minirisk", which is hypoallergenic and incorporates as few ingredients as possible (so that if someone does have an allergic response, they can narrow down the possible culprits very quickly). It does contain salt, evidently as a thickener.

    I noticed someone else suggested salt, and you noted that it is an ingredient in the solid Bronner bars. Since salt is water soluable, and a component of the human body, it seems like the best bet as a thickener. Unlike gums or resins, there should be no clogging issues, and it shouldn't have an adverse effect on the already somewhat poor rinsability, either.

    But does it work?

    M.
    Salt is only usable as a thickener in some soaplike substances like SLES, SLS and other alkylsulphates / alkethsulphates. It is not an universal thickener for liquid soaplike products.

  18. #18

    Smile Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Just a quick update - I've had some trouble buying larger quantities of glycerin, inexpensively, but am still looking. In the meantime, I may have found a temporary solution to my problem of thickening a liquid soap.

    We were given a pump-bottle of another liquid soap brand that produced a foam, when dispensed. I suspected that it was the specific pump mechanism that was creating the foam, and not the brand of soap itself, so I removed the original soap and replaced it with the liquid castile Dr. Bronner's soap. IT WORKS! Thick foam soap, with no soap shooting across the room, when used by our young son. It's not perfect, as the soap occasionally clogs the mechanism slightly, but a quick rinse under the tap loosens it completely, as does a quick swipe with a Q-tip.

    Anyway, I'm now also on the lookout for other bottles with similar foam-producing mechanisms, just to see if I can find a better one. It's been a huge money saver, because we can purchase the large bottles of Dr. Bronner's and not waste money on new soap dispensers each time, while using the organic soap that we want for our family.

    I'm still looking to thicken the Dr. Bronner's though, for use in other containers, so when successful, I'll re-post here.

    Thank you everyone, for your assistance!

    Herb Lady
    Last edited by Herb_Lady; 4th April 2007 at 03:26 AM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: So what worked best?

    Quote Originally Posted by janmeut View Post
    Salt is only usable as a thickener in some soaplike substances like SLES, SLS and other alkylsulphates / alkethsulphates. It is not an universal thickener for liquid soaplike products.
    Are you certain? It's just that sodium chloride IS found in liquid soaplike products that DON'T contain SLES, SLS or other alkyl/alkethsulphates. As the ingredient lists include [other] substances with preservative functions, I don't believe it is that; any thoughts?

  20. #20

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb_Lady View Post
    We were given a pump-bottle of another liquid soap brand that produced a foam, when dispensed. I suspected that it was the specific pump mechanism that was creating the foam, and not the brand of soap itself, so I removed the original soap and replaced it with the liquid castile Dr. Bronner's soap. IT WORKS! Thick foam soap, with no soap shooting across the room, when used by our young son. It's not perfect, as the soap occasionally clogs the mechanism slightly, but a quick rinse under the tap loosens it completely, as does a quick swipe with a Q-tip.
    That is very interesting to learn. I had never considered that the foaming was purely a result of the packaging rather than the product. I will have to get a foaming pump bottle and try that out.

    Also, Walgreens has a Peach Nut Oil Soap that comes in a pump bottle, and its consistency is very much like Dr. Bronner's. You might try a bottle of that and see if Dr. Bronner's goes through it all right.

    Keep us informed of your experiments!

  21. #21

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Advocate View Post
    That is very interesting to learn. I had never considered that the foaming was purely a result of the packaging rather than the product. I will have to get a foaming pump bottle and try that out.

    Also, Walgreens has a Peach Nut Oil Soap that comes in a pump bottle, and its consistency is very much like Dr. Bronner's. You might try a bottle of that and see if Dr. Bronner's goes through it all right.

    Keep us informed of your experiments!
    Thank you for the interest and information! I realize that it's been some time since I've been able to post on this topic, so am glad that I'm not boring others with it.

  22. #22

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Any luck Herb Lady?

  23. #23

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Actually you CAN use salt to thicken liquid castile soap. I own a natural body care business and do this all the time. I use plain old sea salt. This is just salt, they don't add any anti-caking agent so your soap will remain "natural". Morton's actually makes it now in a round container just like the old table salt. This is nice to use since it's a uniform size. Pour some liquid castile soap into the bottom of a measuring cup with a spout (you might want to use a pitcher if you are making large quantities). Sprinkle some sea salt into this mixture and let it sit for a minute or so. I suggest about a teaspoon or so for every 8oz of liquid soap. The salt will all fall to the bottom of the container and begin to dissolve. After a minute stir this mixture together. Your soap will become more opaque than it was. Now you add more liquid soap a little at a time until it's all incorporated. If the mixture become too loose (runny, thin) at any time just add some more salt and keep stirring. I would recommend doing this in batches if you are thickening large amounts of soap. If you look closely at the end product the product doesn't really change color but is just full of millions of tiny bubbles from all your stirring. Let your thickened liquid soap stand over night and these bubbles will rise to the top and disperse. Your soap should retain it's original color. Now just add scent if you want to and enjoy! Sorry so long, hope this helps someone

  24. #24

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Hi,

    I wonder if anyone is still following this thread. I just came upon this forum while searching for an answer as to what to do about my liquid soap that came out too thin.

    I make my own liquid soap and the base is coconut mostly and some olive oil.

    This time it didnt set up right and is thin.. what a waste I thought. I have to figure out how to fix it.

    So a search brought me to this forum and I looked at all the answers. Since borax, according to my soap book wont thicken a coconut oil based soap I decided to try the salt since I had it.

    It is thickening it wonderfully without having to heat anything!

    This thin soap I did find out though works great in a foaming pump... so I figured if I can successfully thicken all of it I will put it in foaming bottles... so I guess the loss will not be too great.. I just hope my customers who love my soap can accept it in a foaming bottle for this batch anyway. ... hopefully I can thicken all of it. You will need a stick blender for the salt makes little lumps that needs to be blended or smashed out but it is do-able. Thanks for the great advice here.. .it just saved me a small fortune.

  25. #25

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    I'm glad the information helped you. Isn't it funny what an easy fix it is? Good luck!

  26. #26

    Default Re: So what worked best?

    Quote Originally Posted by mysteriousmongoose View Post
    When I first saw your question, my first thought was "add salt".
    Mine too - once upon a long time ago I used to work in a chemical factory and one of my jobs was to balance the thickening of the shower gels, bubble bath, shampoo and so forth. We used to use salt to thicken and industrial methylated spirit to thin - I dare say the latter would not be permitted now, but the former still seems harmless and should be effective.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
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  27. #27

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    So another question... do you think I could add salt to my soap making process.. I am thinking of adding it last thing...when the mix is still hot., but for the amount I make probably just a half teaspoon.

    In correcting my mess today I've noticed that adding the salt changed the viscosity of my soap... it is now smoother and less stringy.. not that it was terribly stringy before but now it is just very smooth and creamy. I like it!

    any ideas on how to incorporate it so Im not fixing a problem but making it good the first time?

  28. #28

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    When I used to do it on an industrial scale we used to add the salt (by the hundredweight!) right at the end, so yes I'd have thought that would work fine.

    If you look you'll often see salt (Sodium chloride) on the ingredients list for lots of commercial liquid soaps and detergents where it is used as a thickener and to improve the texture. It also has some preservative effect, which is handy.

    I should be clear however that I've not done this for over 30 years now and I'm not an expert when it comes to soap making - I'm sure there are others here with more relevant experience.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
    ― Dave Barry

    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  29. #29

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Yes, salt is the only thickener I use. My products are all natural and salt is all I need. I suggest you work in small batches until you get an idea of what works. A word of caution-salt is not exponential. So if you use a teaspoon of salt to thicken one cup of liquid soap, you will probably not need 8 teaspoons to thicken 8 cups. The amount you need varies by what ingredients are in your base. I always let my bases sit over night once I blend in the salt so that they have time to set up properly. And if you ever get it too thick, don't worry, just add more base. Remember that salt will pull the water out of your product, so if you add too much the water will separate from the rest of your base. These are just some things I have learned over time working with all natural products, I hope that I have answered some of your questions. If you ever have questions feel free to ask and if I can't answer I have other friends in the industry that might be able to. We soapers have to stick together Good luck!

  30. #30

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    I use one of these: http://www.redferret.net/?p=21351

    It is a soap dispenser that has little plastic beads in it. I add my soap ends to it but you could use it with specific hard soap bits. You add water, let it sit, and shake. If it gets thick you add more water. I think you could probably convert any liquid soap dispener to do this just by adding beads to it but you would have to grate the soap to get it through the neck of the bottle.







    Quote Originally Posted by Herb_Lady View Post
    Thank you everyone for the responses! It's the Dr. Bronner liquid castile soap - I have both the lavender one and the unscented one (for my young son). When I use them full strength, the soap is a bit thin, but it still takes forever to rinse it from my hands. And when I thin it by 1/3 with water, the consistency becomes too thin and the soap shoots out of the dispenser, landing on the wall, floor, wherever our son uses the dispenser.

    We hadn't noticed this, but did as soon as some water got on the bathroom floor and we almost slid across the room. And it took forever to clean up the soap from the floor too.

    I will try a few things and see what works best. Where are the best places to purchase glycerin or guar gum?

    And just in case, can anyone recommend a very natural/organic or gentle liquid hand soap we could use (if I can't figure this out), that doesn't cost a fortune? We have trouble buying it in larger bottles and dislike spending the money on the replacement containers in addition to a small amount of liquid soap.

    Thanks again!

    Herb Lady

  31. #31
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    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    Here is something odd.

    As a result of this thread, I've successfully started using diluted, salt-thickened Ajax dishwashing liquid (the grapefruit scent) at our kitchen sink, both to extend it and to use for hand washng.

    BUT a couple of weeks ago, when I tried to similarly dilute and thicken my mother's Palmolive dish soap at her residence, it would not thicken at all. Her water is chlorinated while mine is well water. I wonder if this is the reason? Or does this process simply not work with some detergents?

    Now I'm going to have to run a little experiment to see whether non-chlorinated water makes a difference....will report back.


  32. #32

    Default Re: What to add to a liquid soap to thicken it?

    I recommend crothix (liquid or pastilles), but there are a lot of other options including hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC), xanthan gum, a simple salt solution or a borax solution.

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