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      CommentAuthorchrima
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012 edited
      4 points
    I have been asked more and more to teach classes on soap making and in thinking about how to go about this, I consulted some of my books that have been sitting on my shelves for years and ever so often get peeked into but as I realized, not nearly often enough. One of my favorites is "Essentially Soap" by Dr. Robert S. McDaniel. He approaches soap making from a very scientific angle and his book is extremely informative. I highly recommend it to any soap maker.

    I have to add that I've been making soap for 14 years and gotten quite lazy and somewhat dependent on the MMS lye calculator. If I were to teach someone else, I thought, I needed to get out my saponification chart (in the book) and be able to show someone how to calculate the lye from scratch. In doing so, I stumbled across something in the book that I never before paid attention to, and that is the INS value. He lists it as one of his secrets that contribute to the perfect bar of soap. Every oil has one along with the saponification value and taking this into consideration should help determine the proper ratio of oils. The ideal INS factor for the combined oils should be 160.

    For instance, olive oil has an INS value of 107 while coconut's is 257. If i were to use these two oils only taking the INS ratio into consideration, I'd have to use 35% coconut and 65% olive to get the ideal bar of soap. Over the years, I have always followed the rule that you use no more than 25 - 30% coconut or your bar will be drying. This throws it all on the head, or does it?

    Over the years, partly through intuition, partly through hands-on experience, I have come up with lots of recipes. After reading this, I went over all my recipes and figured the INS factor. Funny as it may be, almost all my recipes with all different kinds of oil combinations always figure in the 136 range. I have always been very happy with the results and so have my customers, but this still has me thinking.

    Does anyone out there take these values into consideration when figuring their recipes? I'd be very interested to hear what your experiences are! I'm also curious to know what would happen if I were to start now and whether I may like the results or not.
    • CommentAuthorLaurie R
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    How funny that you should mention this TODAY, as yesterday I was at a farmers market and got into a conversation with a person selling soap there. She was saying that the secret to her perfect bars is that she keeps/calculates her batch INS numbers at 130. She said it was a well kept secret...and then she said that it actually isn't a secret anymore though, and that is why she told me. Hmmm....

    Like you, I have been making soap for many, many years and never took the INS # into consideration. Although, when I returned home, I calculated some of my fave staple soap recipes and they were all right around 130-135 anyway.

    Well...my question is this: WHAT EXACTLY *IS* THE DEFINITION OF "INS"????? What does it stand for and what is it?? I've never paid attention to it in all these years..Like you, through hands-on and through "unwritten laws" of soap making..lol... has been pretty much rule of thumb and common sense from the properties of each oil you are combining to make that "perfect" batch..

    So...what IS it??? :) And I wonder why he says 160. Thanks for bringing this up. :))))
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      CommentAuthorMesha
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    I have never paid attention to it and really had no idea what it was for. Now I am really going to have to look into this further :)
    • CommentAuthorLaurie R
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    I'm thinking that , Chrima, like that old saying.." If it isn't broke, don't fix it." ;)

    Doesn't mean I'm still not curious though...BECAUSE I AM NOW! (although i'm very happy with the quality of my soaps and have never once gotten a complaint either)
    • CommentAuthorLaurie R
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      1 point
    Well...I found this.... "INS - A measure of the physical qualities of the soap based on the SAP and iodine value.

    And this: "INS - A measure of the physical qualities of the soap based on the SAP and iodine value. Experience has proven a range of 145 - 165 will generally be acceptable. Closely related to Hardness and Iodine values."

    And: "I would guess too that iodine is just a by product of the chemical reaction that takes place when you add potassium or sodium hydroxide with animal or vegetable oils." [INS]

    And some other Googles just said that they know this only because it says so in McDaniels book....but they don't know why or what it means, really.

    Anyone else find anything?

    Also, that a lot of newer soap makers think 130 is the perfect INS. Hmmmmm.......
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      CommentAuthorchrima
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    Well, McDaniels' book states that 160 should be the perfect value. But all my own recipes, after going back and calculating them over, figure in almost exactly identically at 136. I think I might try to reformulate the proportions of oils though to get to a 160 value just to see what happens.

    One of the things I remember well, and I'm not sure whether that has something to do with it: There used to be a soap maker on this forum a long time ago, Rita in Texas was her name, and she once mentioned that she formulated all her recipes so that she could hand stir them and have them trace in 10 - 15 minutes. It has me wondering . . .
    • CommentAuthorLaurie R
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      11 points
    LOL...OMG I remember soaping before the stick blender!! How far we have come! LOL!!!!

    I wonder if Rita's soap came to trace so fast (without the blender) had to do with the "INS". If/when you do make a batch please let us know what you think!

    Maybe I'll do the same. Kinda lazy though... ;)

    I was googling again (lol) and stumbled on this article from Soap Queen when I googled Iodine effect on soap. Here it is:(abt INS)


    INS is a soap theory that was developed in the 1930′s. It stands for … well, no one knows. It’s possibly Iodine In Soap. Or possibly, Iodine And Saponification. But the theory hasn’t been deeply explored since the 1930′s and since then, in only one book, Dr. Robert McDaniels “Essentially Soap” (out of print but you can find it used).

    An INS number is supposed to tell at a glance what an oil will do in soap in terms of hardness, conditioning, lather, iodine, cleansing. That’s like the holy grail of soapmaking -there would be no more thinking about how to design the best recipe for conditioning ability that also lathers well. Alas, it’s akin to using training wheels on a bike. It’s biking. It’s fun. But, you’re limited. In this case, the numbers are only guidelines.

    Soap recipes turn out differently depending on where you are soaping. The actual bars of soap change depending on where you are showering (no joke; use the same bar of soap in a hard water versus soft water environment and there is a world of difference). Soaps lather differently depending on the temperature of the water. INS numbers will not fix the variations that all oils have from crop to crop. Depending on where an oil is grown, how it is harvested and how the climate changed from one batch to the next, the oil properties will be slightly different (really, truly!).

    Supposedly, the ideal INS soap is to design a recipe that comes to the perfect 160 number. In this theory, a soap mixture with 160 INS will be a perfect bar of soap. Let’s look at this from a practical standpoint. If you had a soap with 100% Cocoa Butter, it would have almost a perfect INS number but it certainly would not be a perfect batch of soap. To test this theory, I actually made a batch of 100% Cocoa Butter soap (5% superfat, no water discount). It is truly a disgusting bar of soap – slimy, no lather, and a horrible feel when rinsed off.

    I don’t believe that INS numbers can accurately predict if a bar is going to be “good” or not. What’s good for you is different than what I define as “good”. In my opinion, best case scenario, what INS numbers appear to predict is from a scientific standpoint is what technically should make a good bar of soap. Unfortunately, reality seems to override this perfect, sterile scientific theory. The most that INS values seem to predict, in my opinion, is how quickly and easily a batch will trace. Having a recipe that has an INS of 160 versus an INS of 110 gives you a faster trace and a harder (initially) bar of soap. Of course, if you want a hard bar of soap faster, water discounting will do that as well.

    Using INS numbers is a personal preference. If you’re using them and love them, keep using them. They don’t hurt anything. But, if you’ve run your favorite recipe through an INS calculator and are feeling sad that your beloved recipe didn’t “score” very well, toss the calculator and don’t think about it again.

    If you’d like a comprehensive list of INS numbers, Dr. Robert McDaniels has written a book about it (out of print but available used here) or you can download a spreadsheet with all the INS values for all oils listed here (it’s on the first tab). If you’d like to see how INS values are calculated, this blog post is comprehensive and informative.

    And as for me and my soaping, my training wheels are off and I soap with all kinds of fun, exotic recipes, many of which break soaping rules. Join me! It’s fun.
  1.   0 points
    Thanks Laurie, if I could give you more than one "up" for that last post , I would.

    And now back to that banana, egg, cucumber, aloe, strawberry, whipped cream, chocolate, sugar, milk shake soap. ;-0
    • CommentAuthorcaren
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    I've run mine thru soalcalc to check INS and it usually is around 136 to 145 depending on my recipe. Once I found that site, I ran all my recipes thru there to check them out, nice to know if you change up a recipe for any reason they have that there so you know how it will react for bubbles and conditioning, etc.
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      CommentAuthorchrima
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    wow, laurie - you really went all out in getting us this information. i tried to vote you up just like susan did, but for some reason my computer doesn't give me an option here. i'll figure it out later.

    and now that i know, i'm kinda divided into two separate camps here. the soapmaker in me is gonna not worry about it too much and stick with the 136 that all my recipes seem to figure up to.

    the teacher in me kinda wants to use this because:

    a lot of people ask me to teach them. of course i've gotten quite good at politely letting them know that i'm not giving away years of learning and experience for free. so it's understood they will pay for classes.

    one of the things i have watched in a dwindling economy is that a lot of people pick up a craft or trade they saw somewhere and are out doing craft shows. seems like everybody and their grandmother makes jewelry nowadays and a lot of people are trying their hands at soapmaking.

    it makes me a little leary because not only do i want to protect my unique way of earning a living, i also want to protect the quality and reputation of handmade soap and toiletries as a whole. so i am thinking that if i teach it from the bottom up with as much detail as possible, including calculating your own lye and using INS values, it would weed out those people that aren't 100% serious about doing this in the first place, make them more appreciative of what i actually do and maybe turn them into customers for life.

    maybe i'm just being stingy, but i gotta eat, just like the rest of us.
    • CommentAuthorLaurie R
    • CommentTimeOct 31st 2012
      0 points
    Thanks you guys! My pleasure. :)

    Chrima, that is a brilliant idea about teaching students to calculate their own formulas right off the bat. Some will stay and some will go...lol Weed 'em out.

    And I agree with you abt the INS. You have to figure...McDaniels wrote that in 1930 (!!) A little past our time. So, although I am curious, I really don't care because my recipes work for me and all who have my bars. And who ever wrote that article I found on google (THANK YOU THANK YOU WHO EVER YOU WERE!) is soooooooooo right in that how your soap acts when in use truly depends on where you live, what type of water system is in your house (hard or soft water? well water? etc etc etc) so sometimes exact scientific numbers just don't cut it.

    I live in the woods out in the country and have my own well and can always tell when the water softener has recycled because not only my home made bars don't lather right, but my store bought lovely shampoo doesn't lather very well at all either. Then after two days when the not so harsh water is through the whole house and pipes, back comes my awesome silky thick rich lather.

    We all have the *perfect* bar recipe, I bet. :)
  2.   0 points
    My main recipe just calculated to 163. If I remembered it correctly, while I sit at my desk. BUt very curious, I think I will calculate all of mine now.
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      CommentAuthorAnaBanana
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2012
      0 points
    I just bought this book ~ I am so looking forward to digging in! :-)