Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dove's beauty bar...just a few thoughts

I'm really frustrated right now by the Dove commercial in which they show a bar of soap looking all wizened and dried out, then imply this is what said bar will do to your skin. My skin is not like soap, and the appearance of the product I use to clean it has nothing to do with how it will make my skin feel. To compare cold process soap to a Dove bar is disingenuous at best - the Dove bar is a syndet bar made from synthetic detergents (like SCI) and is generally acidic, while cold process soap is made from saponifying fats with sodium hydroxide (lye) and is generally alkaline.

What you see in the picture is Dove's unscented, sensitive skin beauty bar, all wizened and dried out. I use this on a daily basis, and you can see the cracks and drying out happening on this bar. Yes, the picture is altered slightly because the bad kitchen lighting made it all yellowy, but I didn't add the cracks to it. Dear Dove...don't write cheques your syndet beauty bar can't cash.

I love this post on the Alabu Skin Care Blog concerning experiments on Dove Soap to see if it lives up to its claims! Chemistry is awesome! 

Yes, I'm out of cold process soap right now. I don't make CP soap myself, and I don't know any soapmakers locally. I think part of my plans for 2012 will include making CP soap for the first time!


Tara said...

You're a science-loving woman - you should attempt soapmaking at least once. It's way easier than making syndets, and you've mastered that!!

TygerMae said...

Oh I am so glad I'm not the only one to be annoyed with Dove for that commercial! I make cp soap and even in the desert it takes a long time for the water to evaporate out of soap.

Miss E. said...

Although I don't like sound of synthetic detergents, and I like what CP soapers say about their ingredients - I don't like alkaline products on the skin. I want to preserve the acid mantle, so I tend to want slightly acidic to neutral products. Just saying that because the acid/alkaline difference would actually make me more inclined towards Dove, although nothing else about it would!

Kathy said...

I would love love love a series on CP soapmaking. I have never attempted soapmaking, but would like to try it with some guidance. Susan, that would be awesome.

funwithsoap said...

susan-you will become addicted!
get to know soapcalc and invest in some nice safety goggles!

Tara said...

You should also attempt liquid soap-making. I have a super-duper easy method for that, if you are ever interested!

Beehive Alchemy / Petra Ahnert said...

Can I send you soap? It is the least I could do to help repay the invaluable knowledge you dispense on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Maple Ridge, Swift. I can pass you on a bar or two any time you like. You're responsible for my happy hair, and I am eternally grateful.

Littlebird said...

I'm in Maple Ridge, Swift. I can send you along a bar or two any time you want. You are responsible for my happy hair, and I am eternally grateful.

Lise M Andersen said...

Oooh yes please do a series on soapmaking!!

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Susan that is an interesting video, and an interesting blog.

@ Tara:
Tara I'm interested too! Please share that "super-duper easy method" of liquid soap making that you have. If you want to share individually please email me.

Pam said...

OMG tell me I read this correctly? You are going to start posting on soaps? YESSSSSSSSSS

Mountain Farms Soap said...

I make cold process soap, and in Abbotsford. I would be happy to send you some. Soapmaking can become addictive. Ask me how I know :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Wow, I didn't realize I had so many readers within driving distance - and so many soapmakers!

I think I'll document the process from start to finish from doing my research to making the soap. I think it's going to be great fun, and I'll take any ideas you can give me!

Hi Tara! I'd love to learn that easy soap making method! Can you send it to me?

And soapmakers - can I offer you something in return? Perhaps a swap of something I've made?

chibilightangel said...

If you'd like some across-the-country (possibly french speaking??) soap, I'd happily mail some your way. You have the most amazing information on here. All the wonderful information that you share with us is what allowed me to start making lotions and not be scared of trying.

Soapmaking is a lot of fun and very satisfying.

Starfire said...

Ivory also has a commercial very blatantly disparaging handmade soaps. Are the commercial companies feeling threatened?

Pam said...

I have died and gone to heaven. The Queen (and I mean this so affectionately) of bath and body products is now going to be a resource to soapmaking. I am SO excited. I have only made a few bars of melt and pour as a way to get my feet wet. I have found a lot of strands of information on how to make soap but nothing that I felt was what I needed. I live in MD and cannot find ONE classes that teaches the cold process method. I am actually flying to Boston to take a class. Anyway once I learn some of the basics I will now have a resource to fill in the gaps....wowow..Merry Christmas another gift as arrived. (Can you tell that I am excited)?

Dawn said...

Can't wait to accompany you on a soapmaking mission! I'm beginning the journey myself. Hoping to make my fourth batch this weekend!

goodgirl said...

Oh definitely, go and make some real soap! I can only speak for myself and my mum whose hands never got dried out sore and even bloody anymore after she started using my CP soaps 4 years ago.

Too bad you are too far away for me to show you. And if you could speak German, I'd recommend you one or two books on that topic ;). I haven't really checked out any newer English books on soapmaking...

Artisan Soaps said...

Add me to the list of appreciative readers happy to send you some CPS .. It's the least I can do for all the knowledge and inspiration you've shared with me!

Deirdre Garza said...

Susan, did you ever try making cold process soap? I'm a relatively new reader of your site, but browsing through, I haven't seen any posts about it in the last couple of years. As a soap-making addict, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The Lady Marah said...

Wow... Even as cosmetic chemist, not even you see the obvious soap related ingredients in most of Dove's beauty bars, that I see as a soap maker myself.
I woul provide my take on this, however, it'd be easier, and use fewer characters, as there's a character linit, to just link to my blog post on the subject. I hope you don't mind, and if so, you're more than welcome to delete this.


I really do hope that folks will actually take something away from my comment in the form of education. It irks me to no end that as soap and cosmetic formulators, we take the time to resarch each individual ingredient we use on our products to ensure we get the best out of them, and yet, the majority don't take the time to educate themselves on what they feel to be "competition'. Dove knows all aobut what old fashioned soap is about, which is why it makes it's claims. Very few soap makers know what goes into Dove beauty bars, and yet constantly turn their noses up to it.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lady Marah. I'm not a cosmetic chemist; I'm an aspiring cosmetic chemist. (Just wanted to clarify that.) I think what you're referring to is a combination bar - click here more information. I've never heard the term "hybrid soap" before.

There are two soaps in there - sodium tallowate and the cocoate/kernalate - as you note, but this doesn't mean that the overall product is necessarily a soap as we think of them. Soaps are a generic term in chemistry. A soap is the salt of a fatty acid. Stearic acid and TEA create a soap when they are combined, but you wouldn't call the emulsifier they create and the lotion in which they are placed soaps. (Lush uses this combination a lot in their lotions and creams.)

Stearic acid and lauric acid are thickeners for lotions and other water soluble creations. They aren't going to lower the pH of anything as they aren't acids in that sense. You can test this at home by adding some to an alkaline creation and watching the pH. (I see you did this with your post on cream soap.)

Sodium lauroyl isethionate is a surfactant. I use a version of it - sodium cocoyl isethionate - in all my syndet bars and shampoo bars, and it's one of my favourites Sodium isethionate is a similar thing. Cocamidopropyl betaine is also a surfactant.

We have three surfactants in this product with an acidic pH. I would call this a syndet bar or a combination bar. Thanks for the interesting post.

The Lady Marah said...

It would seem that we are both aspiring, only our focuses are different. I focus on soap, and you cosmetics.
I think it's best in this case to think about how these ingredients are used in soap, not lotions and other cosmetics. They're not emulsifiers when used in soap, they're hardeners and pH modifiers. And yes, they do actually lower ph, just not as readily as a stronger acid such as citric or acetic. They are more fatty than acid yes, but they are still an acid, and just require more to use compared to stronger acids. I use Lauric quite readily to acidify my soap actually, as it does not disrupt the actual soap content in the way that using citric Acid does when it releases fatty acids to bond with sodium or potassium hydroxide. In fact one of the ingredients I use in my conditioner, called Clean Locks from Ingredients To Die For, calls for either citric or lauric acid for adjusting pH when that particular ingredient is used. Plus, I find it odd to say that ingredients that are not buffers nor acids, could have effect on overall pH, yet a actual fatty acids, which do have acidic capabilities, would play no role in this. I kind of see how they can contribute, but it's hard to grasp.

The FDA defines soap as the bulk of non volatile portion consists principally of an alkali salt of fatty acids, and gains it's detergency from that. In Marie Gale's book, 'Soap and Cosmetic Labelling', she notes importantly that the addition of extra ingredients such as "color, scent, foam enhancers, stabilizers, fillers or other ingredients to a soap and it would still fall within definition of soap, provided it is still principally soap". That last part is tricky, because depending on the home crafter, they can have a single Oil soap recipe, like Castile, with TONS of additives, such as the typical superfat for moisture, stearic acid or salt for Hardness, sodium lactate for fluid pours and Hardness, sugar for more bubbles, colors, scents, botanicals and even food puree (I still don't understand that last one). However no one will argue that those are still soaps. However in the case of Dove, we have a few soaps and a few syndets, with other Additives, for their respective purposes as I described. Since we can't reverse engineer commercial products, we can't really say at what percentages these ingredients are used, let alone actual amounts, to do a true comparison of soap vs syndet amounts. For all we know, the 2-3 listed soap ingredients, could total more than the syndet, despite their placement on the list. Which could then make the product fall under FDA guidelines for soap. We also don't truly know if it's the soaps doing the Cleansing, or the syndets.

All this together, as I said in my blog, is why it would behoove people to call Dove a hybrid soap, though combination bar would most certainly do. It's not a full syndet, and it's not a full soap, and we don't have all the information as to its actual components aside from what's on the label. The old saying, " we shouldn't judge a book by its cover" comes to mind. And just to be clear, the only reason why I commented is because in your post, you were quite quick to call it a full syndet, which we both know very well is not true, rather than a combination bar as you noted in your reply. Your post actually irked me, considering the high regard you have in the hand crafted cosmetic community, and the fact that that people all over look to you for accurate information.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Soap is alkaline. A Dove bar is acidic. Is it a syndet? Yes, it contains synthetic detergents. Is it a soap? Maybe. Can a soap be acidic? (I mean pH of 6 or below.)

I didn't say anything about buffers. Just wanted to clarify that...

I didn't say lauric acid changed the pH of a Dove bar (because it won't). The pH is acidic because the surfactants used are acidic. (I encourage you to read the post I wrote on SCI that I linked to previously as it'll give you more information on those surfactants.) Most anionic and amphoteric surfactants are acidic.

As a note, Ingredients to Die For calls for lactic acid, not lauric acid. "CleanLocks is typically neutralized in situ with an organic acid such as citric, or lactic, to form a cation salt." (As an aside, in chemistry, citric acid and lactic acid are considered weak acids.) Lauric acid simply isn't strong enough to adjust the pH of something like a lotion or a syndet bar. It is included in the bar to be a hardener and moisturizer, not a pH adjuster. (Stearic acid is included for those reasons as well as it won't adjust pH either.)

I'm wondering if you meant to write this sentence this way? "However no one will argue that those are still soaps." If this is what you meant to say, then you are saying that a Dove bar cannot be considered a soap bar because it has additives in it. Which is the opposite of what you're arguing.

Can I be honest here? I'm not sure why we're having this debate. It seems like you are very passionate about this topic, and I'm not really invested in it. My post was about how Dove was putting down cold process bars in their ads, and I was contradicting the company's marketing. It wasn't about Dove being a syndet or a soap or anything in between. Dove is considered a syndet because it has synthetic detergents in it. If you want to call it a hybrid bar or a combination bar, then have at it. I competely understand the desire to have things labelled correctly. (See my posts on the idea of "chemical free" to see what I mean.)

I'm not sure why you would make a dig at me in the end of this comment. I'm honoured that people come to me for accurate information, and I'm happy to correct my work when I've written something incorrect.

The Lady Marah said...

I did misread lactic vs lauric, my apologies. However as I stated, lauric, or any other MCT for that matter, can acidify, when used in appropriate quantities. For example, my last batch of liquid soap. I used 3oz of sodium lactate and 4oz of lauric acid to lower the pH to around 7.5, from its baseline of 9.4. Next go round I'll be making small adjustments to those amount due to the considerable amount of sodium lactate needed to lower pH compared to lauric. No, these ingredients aren't going to adjust pH in something that's already acidic, like lotion and syndet. But they will in something that is alkaline, ie soap, which Dove does contain alkaline salts. And if I remember correctly, Dove is roughly neutral, not acidic. But, again, I don't understand how a syndet itself can lower ph, since as I said, they aren't buffers nor acids. I truly would love that to be explained cause I can tell I'm missing something in that aspect.

I think there is some slight error of miscommunication present and I apologize if you're offended. When I brought up the FDA reg, I used castile soap as an example of what the FDA considers primarily, and to go along with Marie Gale's explanation of the fact that Additives of any sort does not negate the title labeling of soap.

I see Dove from a soap making chemistry perspective, where the soap is paired with fatty acids to lower pH, and syndets used to compensate for any loss of cleaning and bubbling capabilities. You see it from a cosmetic chemistry perspective, where it's the syndet doing all the work in pH adjusting as well as detergency.

Dove has always been putting down regular soap, and for reasons you and I both know, and I believe you blogged about in a post on how pH of cleansers effects skin. Handcrafted soap of today, compared to soaps from days of old have 1 thing that is different, and that's superfatting and all the wonderful additives used today. Otherwise it's an overly efficient cleaner without those. But now, soap makers are doing exactly what Dove does, smear campaign, albeit a little bit uneducated. When I came across your post, that's all I saw, which coming from someone with the knowledge base you have, it seems really off, especially when you called Dove a syndet, which to me implied that it was 100% syndet, which is incorrect, rather than hybrid, or combination, as you indicated earlier. I think the correction would come in with labeling Dove properly, and explaining why. The link you gave on various bar soaps mislabels Dove, and shows once again, how uneducated many folks on are on this subject. It should have been placed under combination bars, rather than syndet.

Please believe me when I say this, I respect the heck out of your work and am always referencing your blog when the need arises. This is just one subject in soap making that grinds my gears.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

The synthetic detergents used in this product are acidic. Adding a bunch of a weak alkalines like soap isn't going to send the pH soaring to alkaline heights. It's going to stay in the acidic zone. I think this is where we're having a disconnect. You are insisting that adding stearic acid and lauric acid to the synthetic detergents will result in a lowering of the pH of the soap ingredients. My argument is that the syndets are already acidic, so there's no need to reduce it further. The fatty acids are added as hardeners and moisturizers. They are not reducing the pH in any way as the pH doesn't need to be reduced because the product starts in the slightly acidic to neutral zone and stays there.

I'm not sure why you keep mentioning buffers. Buffers don't lower or raise pH: They keep it the same when more acid or base is added. (Buffers on Wikipedia) There are no ingredients in this product that work together as a buffer, and one isn't necessary.

Although, if you're combining lactic acid and sodium lactate together, you'd get a buffer if used in the right quantities.

I think the inherent problem here is not that we're coming from different perspectives, but that the chemistry isn't making sense. Fatty acids will not appreciably reduce pH. I have looked for studies and there are none that support your position. I encourage you to do a search for fatty acids and reducing pH with them. In the end, what you are arguing goes against what I've learned and experienced. You are saying that adding lauric acid can bring the pH down more than 2 levels, and I'm arguing that it can't. (BTW: What is the pH of lauric acid? I can't find that information, either.) At this point, it's up to you to provide some proof that this can happen. I've done searches, and found nothing.

As an aside, I'm not sure why you're adding sodium lactate to your soap to lower the pH as it is a weak base and will increase the pH. (Reference) If you are managing to reduce the pH of your soap using sodium lactate and lauric acid, there must be another ingredient in the mix because this doesn't make any sense from a chemistry perspective. These two ingredients will not reduce the pH of your product.

As an aside, how are you measuring the pH? Are you using a meter or strips. Just curious...

Do you have evidence - a video perhaps? - of this entire process so we can see the pH dropping? (As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is why I'd love to see what you're telling me on video.) Right now, all the evidence shows that fatty acids (and sodium lactate) cannot appreciably drop pH the amount that you're claiming, so I think we're at the point of the debate to ask you to submit something to support your position. I've done my searches and can find nothing to explain how this works for you.

Continued in next comment...

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...


As for the idea of something continuing to be soap when something is added to it, I don't think this is soap with additives. My argument continues to be this: This is a syndet bar with some soap included. When we have three ingredients that are syndets, with the first ingredient being a syndet, where is the argument that this is soap? It may contain a soap, but it doesn't make it a soap. Combining stearic acid and TEA creates a soap used as an emulsifier - look at some Lush products - which is used in a lotion. The lotion may contain a soap, but it doesn't mean the lotion itself is a soap. (In the end, I think we're going to disagree because I don't think either one of us will move on this position.)

As for what to call a Dove bar? Call it what you wish. I've called it a syndet bar on the blog exactly once, and I consider it to be just that. (Around the house, I call it "the soap", which is wildly inaccurate!)

The Lady Marah said...

I'd almost forgotten about this.

There really isn't much research on the use of fatty acids for pH adjustments. That you're absolutely correct on. The pH of lauric? I couldn't find that either but the best way to find out is to create a 5% solution with it and test. Lauric is water soluble since it has the shortest of fatty acid chains, compared to stearic. I basically had to put it to the test. Otherwise, a lot of my soap chemistry info comes from the book "Scientific Soapmaking" by Kevin Dunn.

Yes, in fact I do have several videos doing this exact thing as well as a blog post on this providing details of the results and my thoughts on why it works as such. Some of my work has also been, sadly without my permission, reviewed and published in a magazine. The best I can do is encourage you to read my blog particularly the last entry, which does include a link to my channel with (long,exhausting) videos on my research. I honestly recommend watching the latest upload, as that is a little shorter than the rest, and may answer your questions. I use a Hanna combination TDS/pH meter when I work. When it comes to science, nothing is impossible, IMO.

I don't wish to cause more of a stir on the topic of what to call Dove. I guess we can agree to disagree on that note. Though I will point out that the placement of an ingredient on the list doesn't say much about its exact quantities. It just means it's more of one thing and/or less of another. Keep in mind the FDA definition of soap in this case, as well as Marie Gale's information and interpretation of the regulations.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Your videos are really long, to be honest, so I could only skim through one of them to give the other one a little more attention. In this video, you mention around the 40 minute mark that you used citric acid and lauric acid to reduce the pH. We know citric acid reduces pH - this isn't at issue - so how can you extrapolate from this to say that lauric acid reduces pH when you have citric acid there as a confounding factor? Do you have a video - and can you tell me where in the video I can find it? - that shows that you are using lauric acid alone as the pH adjuster?

You must have heard about using fatty acids to reduce pH from someone, some book, some website. Can you please share that link or reference?

If you have tested the pH of lauric acid, do you mind sharing? (You must have documented that somewhere given your fantastic documenting skills!)

I really admire your commitment to experimenting and recording your work. I love that you are taking a scientific and evidence based approach to soap making! I'd love to see more of what you're doing in the future.

Having said this, if I might make a suggestion for future learning? There are a few mistakes you're making about acid-base chemistry. As I mentioned previously, you're using the term buffer incorrectly. (I noticed it on your blog and in your videos as well.) I'm happy to share the information from my classes as I thought my professor explained it really well! It was an a-ha moment for me!

As well, you seem to be mixing up acidic and alkaline ingredients. You mention using alkaline things to reduce pH. Sodium lactate is alkaline, so it will not reduce the pH of anything. Taking a look at your blog, you asked why potassium citrate didn't reduce the pH. Because it's alkaline, it won't reduce the pH. (Reference)

Again, I'm interested in what you're doing as it's great to see someone documenting so thoroughly your experiments!

The Lady Marah said...

Try this video. It's about 30 minutes.
Revisting Acidifying Liquid Soap (lowering pH to …: http://youtu.be/Xvbp4FLHuFE

Collaborating blog post is in the description.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I watched that one and read the blog post. There isn't a demonstration of using lauric acid on its own to reduce pH in that video. I am not arguing that you can't reduce the pH of a soap, which is what you're doing in both the blog post and the video. Could you please provide a link to the video that shows you reducing the pH of your liquid soap by using lauric acid on its own? And can you provide more information on your tests on the pH of lauric acid?

It looks like the answer to my question of where you got the idea that stearic acid might be a pH adjuster is Jackie Thompson? (Link to her powerpoint.)

I thought this post in this forum. says it the best. I quote: "Stearic acid will not affect pH - in fact it is used at up to 5% (some may use even higher percentages) with glycerin to superfat cream soap (this is what gives cream soap its pearlized look) - does not affect pH. Also, some cream soap recipes use up to 70% stearic acid with the base oils - pH is not affected. Again, it is a fatty acid."

From the forum again: "Neutralizing excess lye and adjusting pH are two different things. Yes, some ingredients may do both (citric acid as it is a pH adjuster) and others do not." Stearic acid - and by extension, other fatty acids - can neutralize excess lye, but this doesn't mean it lowers pH. I think this is an interesting distinction and one that really needs to be made here.

As an aside, I find it interesting that making mistakes and correcting them is seen as a weakness in that forum. Isn't that the whole idea of learning, debating, and experimenting? Make a mistake, learn you've done something wrong, learn the right information, don't make the mistake again. Too bad it's seen as a bad thing by some people.

The Lady Marah said...

Actually, the forum you metnioned; that was me.

Look, there's no other way I can explain this any further. So the best I can tell you is take the infromation from my blog post and try it out for yourself. I completely forgot that, at the time of writing that last post, I didn't video document the lauric acid portion. It was literally a spur of the moment thing, because the agressive debate that ensued in that forum actually got under my skin. So I literally got up from my comp in the middle of writing, and put it to the test. And that was after I'd finished video editing. It seems I'm conming acroos this issue a lot. Folks are firm to hold on to preconceived ideas that something can't be done, without putting it to the test thenmselves. It was said you couldn't make a soap with apple cider vinegar, or even citrus juices like lemon; that was proven wrong. I'd personally shown that yes, soap can be acidified to a more neutral pH. So, get a bottle of Dr Bronners, since that's a true liquid soap, test inital pH and start titrating with lauric or stearic acid to heated soap, checking pH after each addtion, when the sample is cooled. You can easily replicate the steps used in my blog. Other than that, again, I have nothing else to provide you. Call this my challenge to you, from one aspiring chemist to another.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Are you kidding me? After all of this, you expect me to spend one minute more on this ridiculous assertion you're making? You're the one making the claim - you're the one who has to prove it.

I don't care about taking soap to a neutral pH. It doesn't interest me. And wasting almost 90 minutes of my life watching your videos doesn't change that fact. The discussion at hand is whether or not a fatty acid can reduce the pH of anything. And it can't. You know it can't, but you stubbornly refuse to listen to anyone else's opinion, even though the only reference to reducing pH using fatty acids on the internet is you and people refuting you. (I'm not kidding about this! Do a search!)

You've been told this isn't possible, but you refuse to listen. You say you've done experiments, but you can't even provide the most basic information on the pH levels, which leads me to believe that you haven't tried it yourself. If you had, you would have made an hour long video about it and written every single piece of information down. You've painted yourself into a debating corner and refuse to admit you're wrong.

I'm not being hostile or aggressive - I'm frustrated as hell because you've wasted my time - and the people on the forum weren't being hostile or aggressive either. We're telling you you're wrong about this, but you won't listen. (Even the reference you quote doesn't back you up as she is talking about neutralizing lye, not reducing pH.) I think you secretly know you're wrong, but for some strange reason you won't back down. Steadfastly holding on to a misguided idea doesn't make you seem intelligent - it makes you stubborn, and that isn't the way to learn anything.

As you so rightly pointed out, I can be wrong about things, but I listen to others and do my research. When I'm wrong, I admit it, post about it, and move on. It's called learning. I'm not going to become a better formulator putting my fingers in my ears and humming loudly when someone offers a contrary opinion.

You know you're wrong. I saw it in your defensive reaction to the Saponifier article on your blog, I saw it on that forum, and I see it here. But it's hard to back down from a fight you've been waging with someone. Why not using this as a learning opportunity and listen to what the people in that forum were saying? Fatty acids cannot lower pH in a soap. They might neutralize lye, but that's something completely different.

As a final note, you use "it's" wrong. The apostrophe indicates a contraction, not possession. The one without the apostrophe is the possessive, the one with the apostrophe indicates "it has, it is, it was" and so on. Please take at least that away for the future as it's a very annoying practice when one is used in place of the other.

The Lady Marah said...

Wow, Susan. It's not stubborn, nor incorrect, if it's something I do on a regular basis. I might ask, if you feel this is a false assertion, explain why something with an acidic tail cannot lower ph in an alkaline material, and yet, something that is "just acidic" as you said about syndets, can. As it stands, I've instructed many soap makers on how to do this when they inquired about it, and have all reported back with positive results. The very first video you took the time to, watch, which I do appreciate, was featured on the Saponifier Magazine in an article written by Dr. Kevin Dunn, to which he not once refuted the fact that my use of lauric acid to lower pH actually worked. The only issue he saw, which I corrected later and I assume you read, and saw for yourself, was my use of a solubilizer that skewed my results.

The fact that that you are now playing on grammar shows that you lack any further justifiable argument. No madam, I haven't painted myself unto any corner. In fact, I specifically gave you information on a recent recipe which this method was used on, which according to my notes, was at around 10% of the completed batch. As it stands, you are vehemently calling someone a liar who has nothing to gain from it, and yet not providing solid reason as to why, whereas in my first video that you watched, I did in fact show that lauric can be used, but it would seem that that is not enough for you. And that, is no fault of my own. As it stands, I'm stepping away, because you seem to be getting a little aggressive over this and it really isn't called for, especially when your readers can see it. I am more than willing to continue this privately, when you are ready to discuss the questions I just presented. Take care.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You are wrong. You've been told this repeatedly by other people - take a look at this - and you won't listen. Fatty acids do not reduce pH.

I do find it interesting that claim someone is hostile if they disagree with you, even if they are very polite. I see you've said this on your blog, and I see you've used it on the Soap Making forum a few times. It's not hostile to disagree with someone. You've accused me of being wrong a few times, so couldn't I say you started off being hostile to me? No, because I recognize that people can disagree and still be polite.

Am I calling you a liar? I'm not sure. What I'm saying that it seems strange that I've asked you repeatedly to prove that you've used lauric acid to reduce the pH of your soap and you can't provide even the most basic information about how you do it, like the pH of lauric acid on its own, the pH when you make a "solution" of it, how you make a solution of it, and so on. Where do you get lauric acid? I've searched all the suppliers I know, and no one carries it. What state is it in? Liquid? Solid? Prill? How do you make a solution of it? What does it look like when a solution is made? The fact that you steadfastly refuse to answer one of those questions makes your claims even more suspect.

If you've had people successfully use your method to reduce pH with lauric acid, then pass my name on to five people who have used lauric acid and get them to contact me. I want to know how they did it, what the initial pH was, and the final pH.

Yeah, I guess I am saying I don't believe you. For someone who made an hour long video of an iPhone pointed at a few different batches of soap in crock pots with a pH meter stuck into it talking about every single thing you could think of about the soap, I find it very surprising you haven't documented using lauric acid in the soap, especially when you've been doubted repeatedly. (You mention in the video that you used a combination of citric acid and lauric acid to reduce pH, but you don't show it. And, as I've said before, the citric acid reduced the pH, not the lauric acid.) I've watched your YouTube videos, followed your posts on the soap making forum, and read your blog, and I find it highly dubious that you haven't documented reducing pH by the use of a fatty acid. Answer the questions above and I'll be one step closer to not doubting you. I won't believe you until I see one of your incredibly lengthy videos documenting it from start to finish, thought. (Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I've said this before...)


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Why don't I do the experiments? Because I know it won't work, and I don't feel like wasting my time. If I do it with stearic acid - because I can't find lauric acid - you'll find some reason why it didn't work for me instead of using as proof that you're wrong. Why waste the very limited time I have?

As an aside, for someone who hadn't even made a liquid soap at the end of February of this year - reference - you've set yourself up as quite the authority on the topic. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I don't think you realize what you don't know. (Dunning-Kruger effect in action? Perhaps.)

I would encourage you to learn more about acid-base chemistry as it's a wonderfully fascinating topic. You'll learn the differences between strong and weak and really weak acids, and why some reduce pH and some don't. And you'll learn why you are wrong in thinking that every acid has the same ability to reduce pH. I can send you some links to some great sites, if you want.

Please don't write back and protest again. It's tedious. Show me some proof that you can use lauric acid to reduce the pH of liquid soap. Answer all my questions in full, refer some people here, AND make a video of it. Otherwise, just go away.

The Lady Marah said...

I find it interesting that you swear that I am wrong, yet provide no solid proof, be it from your own experience, or from outside resources, to show why I am wrong. Yet I've provided sufficient evidence to coincide with my claims. If I remember correctly, neither of us can even find out what the pH of lauric acid is, let alone find info to show that it's acid tail actually can affect pH in an alkaline material. So as it stands, all I have to go by is my own personal experience, whilst you still affirm otherwise, again, with no sufficient evidence. I've even tried methods that are said to work in this case and found that they don't, and provided documentation for such, as in the use of potassium citrate. Just exactly what do I have to gain to lie about something like this? Nothing, that's what. For someone who calls herself and aspiring chemist, you're not acting like one by resisting possibilities, denying evidence presented to you and refusing to employ scientific method to truly prove me wrong. You are being aggressive. And that is not my problem. I find it funny that your using an Internet forum profile to discern my time as a soap maker. That's actually quite childish, considering not everyone jumps into a forum immediately when they start. That's like saying that a soap maker of 10 years is only a beginner just because he or she decides recently that they want to join a forum to communicate with like minded people, which I've seen quite a bit of. I've been soaping for almost 3 years and have put a lot of effort into researching soap making chemistry, rather than just taking the word of others as the only way to learn and do things. I encourage you use you're tenacity to pick up Kevin Dunn's "Scientific Soapmaking" so that you will have a better understanding of the chemistry of soap before you continue to call a fellow aspiring chemist, a liar, just because you can't, or chose not to, disprove something otherwise. You have a good Sunday, Madam. I have nothing more to provide to you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

How do I know you've only been making liquid soap for barely six months? This post in the Soap Making forum. (I can offer you more posts from that forum demonstrating your knowledge base, if you want.)

Last time I say this - I don't need to prove anything. You are making the extraordinary claim, so you need to provide the extraordinary evidence. You have been told repeatedly by quite a few people now that fatty acids can't lower pH. You claim you've done the experiments. Prove us wrong by doing an experiment.

The Lady Marah said...

Again my Internet presence does not denote my actual experience, nor time as a soap maker. That is the most ignorant conclusion that I have ever heard in my time as a soap maker and I'm appalled that you could come to such a rash conclusion.

As of this date, I have only been told by you, and 2 individual forum members that fatty acids do not effect pH. Yet I do have a soap maker with a PhD in chemistry who not once questioned my use of the material. Maybe you should think about that for a second. I have provided enough evidence to support my statements. It is you who refuses to take the evidence presented to you. Again that is not my fault norms it my problem. And I most certainly have no need to prove anything more to you because of your refusal to accept what is presented. You are the one who has a strong problem with this, and therefore you should correct it. But it's also obvious that you refuse to do that. In the end, a have more than enough to back my claims, and you have nothing to either balance the scale or tip it to your favor. Maybe next time I make another batch of soap, I'll video document from the moment I pour lye to the moments I acidify my soap with lauric, so others can see how easy it is. You are more than welcome one to subscribe to my YouTube and blog so you'll get the update of when this occurs. But I don't feel the tenacity to break out my materials, just to unnecessarily prove something to you that has already been proven sufficiently, and accepted by many, just because you stomp you feet and call me a liar. Especially when I have never given in to the stompings of my own children.
Simply put, if the evidence presented is not sufficient for you, it is up to you to prove otherwise, or walk away.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You are deluded. You cannot call yourself an aspiring scientist when you have no idea about the scientific method. You have proved nothing. Your word isn't science. Your word is just your word, and I've already told you I don't believe you.

This discussion is over. I have blocked your name and IP from commenting again. This has been a colossal waste of my time.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lady Marah. I'm posting here because I think you've subscribed to this thread. I have been deleting your comments from the blog when you post because you aren't adding anything interesting to the conversation and I don't see any reason for you to engage anyone in debate given our last one on this very post was so frustrating. I can't think of a reason why you would be visiting my blog regularly since I'm so clearly wrong about so many things, other than to look for what you think are errors and comment on them because you don't seem to be enjoying yourself. I encourage you to post more often on your own blog; you're welcome to criticize me all you want there.

If you're all about the constructive criticism, may I offer two thoughts to you? One - you use "it's" when it is a contraction of "it is" or "it was", not when it is the possessive. "It's all about the dog and its bone!" When the dog owns the bone, there's no apostrophe, and when it's a contraction, there is! And two - look up comma splices. You are using commas all wrong. Both of these errors make it really hard to read what you write. (Want me to back up this criticism? How about a degree in English and years and years of writing?)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan

Saw a website recently sounding very much like a Dove commercial by making disparaging remarks about how cp soap has long been 'relegated' to the insignificance of the 'craft' sector and that syndet is where it's all at.

The implication was that there's something wrong with you if you're still using regular bars of soap because they're 'alkaline' and skin is acidic - as if to say, how dare you be so ignorant!

It annoys me when people do that because I believe there's a place for both in this world.

For example, I've been making cp soaps for years but even the pure, 100% Castille soap I've made (not Bastille, but actual Castille - 100% olive oil) still irritates some of my customers' skin conditions.

The only things that don't cause problems, it seems, are the syndets.

It's for this reason that I was hoping to find a comprehensive guide to making syndet bars but have only found a few small bubble or shampoo bar recipes here and there.

I'm not an expert, so I'm sorry for the immature-sounding question, but are ingredients in shampoo/bubble bars the same as other types of syndet bars, like Dove?

I'd dearly love to be able to make some to cater for customers with skin conditions - they enjoy the cocoa butter products I make, which their skins seems to find soothing, but it would be lovely if I could learn to make syndets, too.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gabrielle. Have you looked at the shampoo bars I have created on this blog? I have quite a few on here...