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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 04:26 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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    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
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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.

  33. #33

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

    Thank you for providing this information. Can you answer a quick question for me? I am working on a formulation for liquid soap. I have come up with a great formula but it is expensive unless I can dilute it with more water. I would like to add some salt to help thicken the formula now because I added more water to make it more cost effective. It is working great with the additional water as the orginial formula is very concentrated. However, it is now thin and runny. My question is at what point do I add the salt? Do I add it to the liquid castille before I formulate the rest of the ingredients? Or do I add the salt at the end. I appreciate this informative post and hope you can help me out. Thank you in advance!

  34. #34

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

    I forgot to ask my other question! If I used a combination of liquid castille and flaked castille would this improve the consistency? Thank you!

  35. #35

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

    I can answer this!

    Salt will only thicken primarily olive oil based recipes, I think. If you have a lot of coconut oil or another oil in your recipe, it might not work.

    "Natural" soapers tend to prefer xanthan gum for thickening liquid soaps. I have used this and it works well. You will need to first blend the powder with a little glycerine (preferred) or sulfonated castor oil using at least as much glycerine/SCO as xanthan gum powder. This helps it disperse in the liquid soap better without forming clumps.

    Other options to use are:
    Crothix
    Guar Gum
    Hydroxyethylcellulose
    Carrageenan
    or any of several other polysaccharides or polymers. The same blending instructions apply to any of these powders.

    Blending flaked castille bar soap into your liquid soap will not work - it will eventually separate into two layers.

    ~Jon

  36. #36

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

    Hi and thank you so much for taking the time to provide me some insights!

    I am in fact using olive oil castile soap! Do you have any advice in this case - I would so prefer to use the salt method to thicken if at all possible.

    Thanks again!

  37. #37

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

    Oh and one more question, if I was to make my liquid castille from castile soap paste, could I make it thicker to begin with and avoid the issue of needed to thicken it after?

    Thanks again!

  38. #38

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

    Quote Originally Posted by 2manyhobies View Post
    I can answer this!

    Salt will only thicken primarily olive oil based recipes, I think. If you have a lot of coconut oil or another oil in your recipe, it might not work.

    "Natural" soapers tend to prefer xanthan gum for thickening liquid soaps. I have used this and it works well. You will need to first blend the powder with a little glycerine (preferred) or sulfonated castor oil using at least as much glycerine/SCO as xanthan gum powder. This helps it disperse in the liquid soap better without forming clumps.

    Other options to use are:
    Crothix
    Guar Gum
    Hydroxyethylcellulose
    Carrageenan
    or any of several other polysaccharides or polymers. The same blending instructions apply to any of these powders.

    Blending flaked castille bar soap into your liquid soap will not work - it will eventually separate into two layers.

    ~Jon
    Hi and thank you so much for taking the time to provide me some insights!

    I am in fact using olive oil castile soap! Do you have any advice in this case - I would so prefer to use the salt method to thicken if at all possible.

    Thanks again!

  39. #39

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

    I have not used salt myself because of the many problems associated with it. Using a polysaccharide gum is fool-proof. From what I understand, the salt method is very touchy - too little salt will not thicken the soap, nor will too much. Also, it can form clumps. You have to find out how much salt is the ideal amount to use in each recipe because it will thicken each recipe differently - not a problem with a polysaccharide gum.

    If I were to use salt I would do it like this:
    1. make a strong brine solution using a known weight of salt in a known weight of warm to hot water (for example, 200 grams of salt in 800 mL of water for a 20% solution).
    2. make several equal measures of your finished liquid soap (100 grams each, for the sake of this example) in separate containers.
    3. add a measure of this brine to each container of liquid soap. If you add, say 5 mL at a time, that's 1g of salt per 100g liquid soap. Add double that measure of brine to the next container of soap, and so on, until you have containers of ratios of salt:soap at 1:100, 2:100, 3:100, 4:100, etc.
    4. mix all your containers well and let them sit to see if they thicken - if they don't thicken, add more brine to the containers so that you have ratios of 5:100, 6:100, etc.
    5. keep doing this until you get the thickness you want or until adding more brine just starts to make it thinner. Make note of your ideal ratio for this recipe. You can top off the containers with a lower ratio of brine with additional brine to match your ideal ratio, and then mix all your experimental containers back together so that you don't waste any of your soap figuring all this out.

    Note that the numbers and ratios used in this example are just for illustration purposes as I have never done this myself. You may find that you need to use much smaller steps in your ratios (0.1:100, 0.2:100, etc.) or larger steps (2:100, 4:100, etc.) to find the ideal ratio. I read a recipe at some point that suggested 5:100 was about the ideal ratio for that recipe, but know that the ideal ratio will be different for each recipe and for each person. Also note that you will probably have to use much more salt to thicken than you would have to use a polysaccharide gum (based on my reading).

    ~Jon

    Edit: removed potentially wrong and/or misleading note about my use of xanthan gum.
    Last edited by 2manyhobies; 27th January 2015 at 12:04 AM.

  40. #40

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

    Quote Originally Posted by 2manyhobies View Post
    I have not used salt myself because of the many problems associated with it. Using a polysaccharide gum is fool-proof. From what I understand, the salt method is very touchy - too little salt will not thicken the soap, nor will too much. Also, it can form clumps. You have to find out how much salt is the ideal amount to use in each recipe because it will thicken each recipe differently - not a problem with a polysaccharide gum.

    If I were to use salt I would do it like this:
    1. make a strong brine solution using a known weight of salt in a known weight of warm to hot water (for example, 200 grams of salt in 800 mL of water for a 20% solution).
    2. make several equal measures of your finished liquid soap (100 grams each, for the sake of this example) in separate containers.
    3. add a measure of this brine to each container of liquid soap. If you add, say 5 mL at a time, that's 1g of salt per 100g liquid soap. Add double that measure of brine to the next container of soap, and so on, until you have containers of ratios of salt:soap at 1:100, 2:100, 3:100, 4:100, etc.
    4. mix all your containers well and let them sit to see if they thicken - if they don't thicken, add more brine to the containers so that you have ratios of 5:100, 6:100, etc.
    5. keep doing this until you get the thickness you want or until adding more brine just starts to make it thinner. Make note of your ideal ratio for this recipe. You can top off the containers with a lower ratio of brine with additional brine to match your ideal ratio, and then mix all your experimental containers back together so that you don't waste any of your soap figuring all this out.

    Note that the numbers and ratios used in this example are just for illustration purposes as I have never done this myself. You may find that you need to use much smaller steps in your ratios (0.1:100, 0.2:100, etc.) or larger steps (2:100, 4:100, etc.) to find the ideal ratio. I read a recipe at some point that suggested 5:100 was about the ideal ratio for that recipe, but know that the ideal ratio will be different for each recipe and for each person. Also note that you will probably have to use much more salt to thicken than you would have to use a polysaccharide gum (based on my reading).

    ~Jon

    Edit: removed potentially wrong and/or misleading note about my use of xanthan gum.
    Jon, thank you so much for this amazing and thorough reply with instructions! I think I am convinced that the xanthan gum is the way to go. I will try out the salt method regardless just to see what happens but I really want to make this easy.

    Is there anything else you can tell me about the xantham gum to get good results? PS - do I add it to the soap base (meaning the liquid castile soap) THEN move on to the next steps of my formula? Here is the soap I am making (This recipe I found online, but I doubled the amount of water and included glycerin) I am going to get castile paste and make the liquid soap myself as the brand of liquid I have is actually not pure olive oil castile and that is what I want to use. Any other advice your can offer is greatly appreciated and thanks again for taking the time to help me - you are very kind!

    water - 310 g
    liquid castille - 175 g
    deycl glucoside - 75 g
    coco betaine - 50 g
    citrus eo and Limonene - 7 g each
    polysorbate 20 - 30
    glycerin

    ps - (I am not sure when to add to add the glycerin, or if this is a good amount for a little thickening and moisturizing! can you advise?) - 30 g.

    Valerie

  41. #41

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

    Hello Valerie,

    Whatever you decide to do for thickening, do it as your very last step. When your soap is thick it will be trickier to add additional stuff too it, plus you never know how adding additional materials might affect the texture after you have got it just the way you want it with xanthan gum or salt. So again, thickening should be the very last step (even after sequestering - if you are doing that).

    After writing all that out in my last post, I am tempted to try salt thickening with my next batch even though my recipe is only 28.5% olive oil. I will attempt to answer your additional questions, but all I can offer you is my opinions, because I don't know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your recipe. First, castile soap already contains glycerine by definition. I think it contains about 12% (if I remember correctly) glycerine, naturally, as a byproduct of the chemical reactions that produce soap. All soaps contain glycerine when they are first made - most commercial soaps remove this glycerine later on in the process, but castile is by definition a "glycerine retained" soap. I, personally, see no reason to add additional glycerine unless you are using it to help disperse the xanthan gum when mixing it in. I don't see glycerine as an effective thickener. Are you a cook? adding the xanthan gum to at least as much glycerine and mixing these two together before adding to the finished soap is the same concept of making a roux with flour and butter to thicken a gravy so you don't get lumps - adding the dry flour right to the gravy risks creating lumps that you can't get rid of.

    Note that the soap will reach maximum thickness about 24 hours after adding the xanthan gum, so start with just a little at first (maybe 0.2% or so) and wait a day to see how thick it gets before adding more.

    Additional things you can add (besides glycerine) for additional moisturizing/conditioning properties are sulfonated castor oil aka "turkey red oil" (to maintain a clear soap), or any other fixed oil or butter if you don't care about clarity. Personally, I add shea butter and avocado oil, and I end up with a cloudy soap, but that's the way I like it.

    May I ask, why are you adding the additional surfactants deycl glucoside and coco betaine? Also, I'm not sure you need the polysorbate 20. I think the surfactants you are already using should be enough to keep your 2% fragrance emulsified in the soap. If you are worried about clarity, you might want to use peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil in place of the polysorbate, as you can generally use it in a smaller amount, it's not sticky-feeling like polysorbate, and it's usually cheaper

    In summary:
    I can't advise you on how much glycerine to add, because I don't add much additional glycerine to my liquid soap. When using xanthan gum, mix it first with the glycerine, then add it to the *finished* soap. Add just a little bit at first (maybe 0.2% or so), wait 24 hours to evaluate thickness, then add more if needed.

    I hope this helps. Please keep us (well, me at least) informed of your results.

    Cheers,

    Jon
    Last edited by 2manyhobies; 30th January 2015 at 04:29 PM.

  42. #42

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

    Quote Originally Posted by 2manyhobies View Post
    Hello Valerie,

    Whatever you decide to do for thickening, do it as your very last step. When your soap is thick it will be trickier to add additional stuff too it, plus you never know how adding additional materials might affect the texture after you have got it just the way you want it with xanthan gum or salt. So again, thickening should be the very last step (even after sequestering - if you are doing that).

    After writing all that out in my last post, I am tempted to try salt thickening with my next batch even though my recipe is only 28.5% olive oil. I will attempt to answer your additional questions, but all I can offer you is my opinions, because I don't know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your recipe. First, castile soap already contains glycerine by definition. I think it contains about 12% (if I remember correctly) glycerine, naturally, as a byproduct of the chemical reactions that produce soap. All soaps contain glycerine when they are first made - most commercial soaps remove this glycerine later on in the process, but castile is by definition a "glycerine retained" soap. I, personally, see no reason to add additional glycerine unless you are using it to help disperse the xanthan gum when mixing it in. I don't see glycerine as an effective thickener. Are you a cook? adding the xanthan gum to at least as much glycerine and mixing these two together before adding to the finished soap is the same concept of making a roux with flour and butter to thicken a gravy so you don't get lumps - adding the dry flour right to the gravy risks creating lumps that you can't get rid of.

    Note that the soap will reach maximum thickness about 24 hours after adding the xanthan gum, so start with just a little at first (maybe 0.2% or so) and wait a day to see how thick it gets before adding more.

    Additional things you can add (besides glycerine) for additional moisturizing/conditioning properties are sulfonated castor oil aka "turkey red oil" (to maintain a clear soap), or any other fixed oil or butter if you don't care about clarity. Personally, I add shea butter and avocado oil, and I end up with a cloudy soap, but that's the way I like it.

    May I ask, why are you adding the additional surfactants deycl glucoside and coco betaine? Also, I'm not sure you need the polysorbate 20. I think the surfactants you are already using should be enough to keep your 2% fragrance emulsified in the soap. If you are worried about clarity, you might wan to use peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil in place of the polysorbate, as you can generally use it in a smaller amount, it's not sticky-feeling like polysorbate, and it's usually cheaper

    In summary:
    I can't advise you on how much glycerine to add, because I don't add much additional glycerine to my liquid soap. When using xanthan gum, mix it first with the glycerine, then add it to the *finished* soap. Add just a little bit at first (maybe 0.2% or so), wait 24 hours to evaluate thickness, then add more if needed.

    I hope this helps. Please keep us (well, me at least) informed of your results.

    Cheers,

    Jon
    Thanks again Jon for your detailed response! Much appreciated.

    The recipe I am using seems to give me a nice foam, lather and grease cutting ability and is highly concentrated. My understanding is the glucoside and coco betaine are helping to achieve that nice foam/lather. I think I might skip attempting to thicken the castile as I am not overly attached to it being thicker and in my quest to keep it simple I am going to forgo any more attempts to do so.

    I will take your advice and try a small batch without the polysorbate 20 and see if, as you suggest, my EO in able to stay emulsified without it.

    Thank you for you suggestion to add some skin conditioning oils such as shea, avocado, or the sulfonated castor oil. I do find my formulation is a bit drying on my hands, but it is dish/household soap so I am not overly concerned. I will also try a small batch without adding more glycerin as you suggest. Also, I am not concerned if the end product remains clear, cloudy is fine!

    I did make a batch with some borax and also a batch with some add salt to try to thicken it but as you indicate and what I found was due to using coconut castile soap neither thickened the soap. Further, I did not notice a difference in effectiveness. I may continue to include them in my recipe because I read that salt adds a bit of preservation, and the borax a little extra detergent cleaning power.

    Finally, I mixed all of my prior experimental small batches after testing them individually, to see what the results were. I am super excited about this soap! I used little less than 2 teaspoons in a 1/2 gallon bowl of hot dish water, then washed all of the pots and pans, dishes glasses etc from dinner the night prior (sat out all night getting nice and caked on). Dinner was salmon cooked in heavy cream with side dishes. The last items it I washed in the dirty water a milk kefir jar and a jar that had chicken bone stock stored in it (again both were left out over night). I poured the dirty water into the jars and washed them, no soaking. I was stunned that they both came out SPARKLING no grease! It rinses quickly and does not feel slippery. I also put some of the soap in a foaming dispenser and this is working great for "light duty" cleaning (glasses etc). Everything is drying perfectly with no water spots (and we have very hard water). Next, In my quest to clean more things, I put a tiny bit on a clean rag and wiped down counter tops and washed out my bath tub! The smell of the formula is devine - I am using every citrus oil EO I could find, and added some limonene too. Now if I can just get the cost down! I found castile soap paste and will try using this to get my cost down further, then eventually I will try my hand at making my own liquid soap. The ingredients of the paste I ordered contains "coconut oil, castor oil, unrefined hemp seed oil, potassium hydroxide, glycerin and filtered water." from what I understand, I think this is going to work great in my recipe and if I decide I would like a thicker product I can control my dilution. My understanding is that Dr. Bronners I have used is similiar to this but that they dillute it a lot.

    Thanks again for you advice, comments and suggestions. I will let you know how my next batch comes out!

  43. #43

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

    To all:

    I hope that this liquid soapmaking thread is not too annoying to all you perfumers out there. I know that it's way off topic for this forum, but I hope you see some value in having insight into the concerns of soapers like Valerie and me, especially since so many "crafters" (soapers, cosmetic-makers and the like) filter through here looking for scenting advice.

    To Valerie:

    I'm a bit confused. Earlier in this thread you said you were using an olive oil castile soap and in your last post you said you were using a coconut oil soap. Coconut oil soap is going to be foamy and powerfully cleansing. Olive oil soap has a reputation for being less foamy, less cleansing, but gentler on the skin. Go to http://soapcalc.net/calc/soapcalcwp.asp to get an idea about how the different oils used in making soap affect the properties of the finished soap. <>EDIT: removed statement about Dr. Bronner's soap<>

    Keep in mind that anything you add to a soap to make it gentler on your skin is going to reduce its grease-cutting power when used on the dishes. The same power that cleanses the grease off those dishes is also going to strip the fats and oils out of your skin, leading to dryness and irritation. You just can't have it both ways.

    I don't know about the combination of glucoside and coco betaine increasing foaming, but you already have coconut and castor oil which are supposed to be very foamy. Remember, foaminess does not necessarily equal cleansing power. I do know that the combination of glucoside and coco betaine is supposed to be very mild on the skin, so you might want to consider it for that reason (and because it might help you to dissolve more essential oil into the soap without using a separate solubilizer), but know that it may reduce it's grease-cutting power.

    Don't be afraid of xanthan gum if you want to thicken your soap - it's really very easy to use. Dilution isn't really great at controlling thickness. Liquid soap seems to want to be in either a paste form or a thin liquid form. It basically dries from a thin liquid back into a gummy paste without getting thicker first, unlike many of the synthetic surfactant detergents. Most recipes seem to suggest a dilution of 1 part soap paste to 2 parts water to keep it liquid. My recipe seems to be fine at a 1:1 dilution, but it is very thin even at this strong concentration - I have to add something to thicken it.

    Please let me know how your projects work out. When you are ready to make your own liquid soap from scratch send me a PM, and I will be happy to share my recipe for "conditioning hand soap" with you (but I wouldn't recommend it for use on dishes).

    ~Jon
    Last edited by 2manyhobies; 30th January 2015 at 02:14 AM.

  44. #44

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

    Hi Jon, my apologizes for not being clear. Opps! I see I did say that I didn't realize until I went looking that (Dr. Bronners for my current sample batches) Is actually not pure olive oil. And upon further investigation I learned that the Dr. Bronners type of "castile" is actually a better option for my formulation. Thanks for your insights into what the coco betaine and glucoside are adding to the formula. I will certainly at some point try to thicken the soap, but for now I think it fine the way it is. Thanks for the fyi on dillution of the paste and the resulting watery consistency. Again, this will be fine for me.

    I will certainly take the step to make my own liquid soap at some point! I'm thinking a blend of coconut, hemp, castor oil? And something for skin conditioning? Now that I know more about the difference between OO castile and the other blends I think the OO might not be the best for my application.

    Again, thank you so much for your time, suggestions etc. I really appreciate it!

    Valerie

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