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Author Biography:

Catherine McGinnis  is the creative mind behind Soaping101. Catherine earned her MBA, Summa Cum Laude from MSU. With a background in marketing and a keen eye for design, soap making was a perfect fit. She founded newt+fig Soaps which soon gained a faithful following and led to requests for video tutorials. She now helps Soapmakers sharpen their skills through free online classes. www.Soaping101.com

Bubbles, Bubbles, No Toil and No Trouble
By Catherine McGinnis Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Sugar is found in many forms and is also a natural element in countless edibles. Glucose, fructose and sucrose not only up the lather but they also contain incredible antioxidant compound and antibacterial properties. It is important to keep in mind that the addition of sugar in your cold process soap recipe raises the temperature at which the batter moves from a liquid to a solid state. In a sense, it sets in motion the gelling process. Knowing that recipes with sugars are heat sensitive, you should be conscious of your time and temperature.

For me, adding sugar to my cold process soap recipes abundantly increases the lather and bubbles. Scientifically, it is the combination of the oils and percentages used in a recipe that determines the outcome of lather. But whether it is deliberate or a component of another additive, sugar in soap making can enhance the effervescent.

Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar and Confectioners Sugar

All of these are made up of molecules of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Granulated sugar is chiefly obtained from the juice of the sugarcane or sugar beet. It can be combined with molasses (a by-product of the refining of sugar cane) to produce brown sugar. Or it can be pulverized into tiny fine particles to produce confectioners sugar.

Adding these sugars to your soap can be done in a variety of ways. You can directly add the granulated, brown or confectioners sugar to your warm lye water. Often added at one teaspoon per pound of oils, the warmth of the lye water will dissolve the sugar. Be careful not to add to hot lye water as the heat can caramelize your sugar and darken them. Alternatively, you can create a simple syrup. Reserve a small amount of water from your lye water measurements, combine with the sugar and add this liquid at trace. I prefer the second method as it allows me the most time to work with my soap batter.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and maple syrup contain a similar make up as granulated sugar but they are actually considered natural sweeteners. Honey has the same relative sweetness as granulated sugar but also imparts innate antibacterial properties. By adding one teaspoon of honey per pound of oils, you can expect increased lather and a moisturizing benefit.  This is simply done by either mixing the honey in your lye water or adding warmed honey at the trace stage.

Maple syrup, a sap stored in the roots of the maple tree, is packed full of antioxidant compounds. In addition to increased bubbles in your soap, it is also a great humectant for the skin. Try using one teaspoon per pound of oils of maple syrup to amplify your skin’s moisture retaining capabilities.

Fruits, Vegetables and Milks

Bananas, carrots and goat milk may sound like a delightful afternoon snack but they are also brilliant soap additives containing natural sugars. Fruits, vegetables and milks do not have the same level of sugar content as pure sugars or sweeteners but they do impart a level of which soap makers should take note.

Have you ever added lye to a container of room temperature milk? Almost instantaneously your milk turned bright orange and emitted an awful smell. This was the lye reacting with the sugars in the milk cause them to crystallize, or burn. Something very similar would occur if you added lye to a cup of fruit juice. Be sure to take care when incorporating as additives in your soap recipes.

The easiest way I have found to work with milk is to freeze it into cube then add the lye a little at a time stirring constantly. Working slowly and steadily will keep your milk sugars from burning. Similarly this process can also be utilized for fruit or vegetable juice. Alternatively, you could include the additives when your soap batter begins to reach trace.

Using various sugary ingredients is not only a great way to add a natural element to your soaps, but you just might fall in love with the super bubbly goodness. I highlighted just a small sampling of sugars that you can adapt to your soap making formulas. Enjoy experimenting and taking advantage of the abundance of natural edibles that nature has to offer.

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