Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chemistry Thursday: All about acids!

What is an acid? From Wikipedia: An acid is a chemical substance whose aqueous solutions are characterized by a sour taste, the ability to turn blue litmus red, and the ability to react with bases and certain metals (like calcium) to form salts. Aqueous solutions of acids have a pH of less than 7. A lower pH means a higher acidity, and thus a higher concentration of positive hydrogen ions in the solution. 

An acid is something that registers as lower than 7 on the pH scale. There are a few different definitions of acids, but we'll go with the one that says that an acid is something that donates a proton or H+ to a base (Bronsted-Lowry definition). The strength of the acid depends upon its tendency to lose a proton. If it easily loses a proton, it's a strong acid. If it doesn't, it's a weak acid. Most of the acids we encounter in bath & body products and in life are weak acids. Vinegar, citric acid, salicylic acid, AHAs, and fatty acids, like stearic acid, are weak acids. Strong acids are things like gastric acid and sulfuric acid, things we don't want in on our hands or in our products! 

Some acids will lower pH in a significant way and others will not. It depends upon the strength of the acid and the concentration. For instance, a weak acid like citric acid could lower a product by 1 pH at 0.2% strength. If you use more, it'll reduce it more. If you use less, it'll reduce it less. Something like salicylic acid can reduce it as well, but a fatty acid like stearic acid or a humectant like hyaluronic acid will produce no change.*

*Attention soapmakers! There is a (former) reader of this blog who is trying to convince me that the fatty acid, lauric acid, will reduce the pH of a a liquid alkaline soap to pH 7 or neutral. I do not believe this is possible. If you have a video of you reducing the pH of your soap by using ONLY lauric acid or stearic acid, then please send me the link. I will accept no evidence of an anecdotal sort - because I've already been offered that - only a video of the process from start to finish with a pH meter will suffice. Thanks in advance!  

When you're considering changing the pH of something, make sure you have a good meter. Those strips are fine and dandy for soap, but they aren't as effective for lotions, body washes, and other liquid products as a pH meter might be. I know it's asking a lot for you to buy a pH meter if you're making products, but if you are using alkaline ingredients, like decyl glucoside, or very acidic ingredients, like AHAs, a pH meter is essential. 

To those in the know, I am aware the picture at the top is showing phenolphthalein, which is a base indicator for things that are above pH 7, but it is a such a pretty pink and I wanted to use it! The middle flask does contain an acid. I know because this is from an experiment we did in class! 

Related posts:
pH & our skin
Adjusting the pH of our products
How to measure pH


Margi said...

Susan, First let me say thank you ! I love your blog and appreciate you sharing your knowledge. This blog has been instrumental in changing my train of thought when it comes to formulating products. From an earlier post of yours that read, in terms of thinking, I think we started this journey at the same place. I remember that "conversation" very well, and if my memory serves me correctly- there were other people on different blogs that also told that person it was impossible. As a soap maker,and as a person who researches everything, I have never heard of it, and I do not think it is at all possible. Soap can not go below a certain PH or it will separate and no longer be soap. If it was possible- someone who have done it by now. There was a post by a long time liquid soap maker who did say she was able to lower the PH of her bar soap,but the lengths she had to go through didn't seem worth it. Plus she used citric acid and other ingredients that would then turn it into a sydnet bar. There wasn't a video. Margi

Anonymous said...

You're commentary about the former reader is very disrespectful to them. In fact, I know them personally, have seen them work, and they have been written about by a known soap chemist. Just because you don't believe it, doesn't make it not true. I enjoy your blog a lot. But taking a jab at a fellow crafter because you don't agree with their methods is pretty messed up.


Lisa said...

I truly appreciate your article and knowledge. In fact, I've learned and gleaned so many things from your work! However, it seems a bit petty and disrespectful to "call" out another soaper/crafter just to prove a point. I'd prefer to just read your own conclusions or give the other person a chance to either defend themselves or try an experiment together. Bad call, on your part to try to shame someone else. I will continue to admire and read your work, but my respect for you has dropped a notch.

Teresa said...

I agree with the ladies who said you need not disparage or mention another soaper to justify your own position. It's just not necessary and makes you look petty and small. If you can't prove your point on the facts and without taking jabs at others then it means you have gotten emotional on the subject.

Anonymous said...

As a master soap maker I have to agree with you, Susan, that simply adding a bit of lauric acid (a fatty acid found in common oils like coconut or palm among others) will NOT magically lower the pH of soap to neutral. Nor will adding stearic acid, another fatty acid. The person debating with you is mistaken.

People also need to better understand the relationship between vinegar (a weak acid) with lye. the molarity makes neutralization of the lye more difficult. This may be a good time to write a blog post about that?


robyn m said...

Seriously, where did Susan disparage or disrespect this person? All she did was ask for proof in the form of a video. This is a scientific based blog, all the info on here have scientific backing. So if someone is trying to prove something is true to the owner of this blog, then that person needs to come with more than just their word. It's that simple. Keep up the great work Susan.

Lisa said...

If this is a scientific blog, then I would suggest doing the said scientific experiment with the lauric acid and prove or disprove it. I'll read that post happily and without any undue commentary.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I don't know where I disparage or disrespect the former reader in the post. I'm not sure how noting her position and asking for evidence is "taking a jab" at someone. I am regularly asked to support my positions or opinions and I gladly do it, so why can't I ask that of other people. This is an evidence based blog, and I am asking for evidence.

I'm not sure why I should be the one to do an experiment of this nature. I don't think reducing the pH of liquid soap is possible with a fatty acid (and chemistry is on my side about this). I don't have the money or energy to spend on such an experiment. I'm not a soaper, so I don't have the soap or the supplies at hand. I don't know where to get lauric acid, and I don't know the process the other person undertook to get the pH lowered (although I did ask her for her process). Finally, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that means the person making the claim is responsible for proving it. This is why I've asked for video evidence from my wonderful readers. I figure if it is possible, then someone out there will have tried it successfully.

Theresa: Why is getting emotional about something a bad thing? I write this blog because I'm passionate about the topic! Why do anything if you aren't emotional about it? I'm afraid I don't understand this criticism.

And the reason I mentioned another human being- not by name - in the post is because her position is one of the main reasons I wrote the post today. I'm seeing a lot of misinformation on acids and bases lately, and I thought it would help if I wrote what I know.

Anonymous said...

Well Susan, from my understanding, they have proven it, and you just don't find it to your taste. If you have such a big issue with their findings, it's up to you to disprove. Not them to perform their work just for you. You're a very smart person and many people respect you for your work. But if you want to make a point, you don't need to underhandedly drag another under the bus to do so. That is where respect is lost. Plus, if you can find all these amazing ingredients you work with and blog about, you have the ability to find a fatty acid like stearic or lauric.


Anonymous said...

The reason why you are getting so many people sticking up for the person who you asked to provide evidence from is because that person is posting in soap groups on Facebook saying you "took a jab" at her and "Who'd be willing to pop in a help a lady out?" to comment on her behalf lol Pathetic!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

People disagree with me all the time, and those disagreements are documented on the blog. I even write posts about the disagreements with me - see this post on water soluble vs. oil soluble preservatives or this one on phase inversion where I admit I was wrong - and admit when I'm wrong. If I refused to admit I was wrong or deleted when people disagree with me, I could see how I was perpetuating a double standard. But saying that I'm being disrespectful or disparaging because I ask someone to prove an idea they put forth on my blog...well, I don't get it. I'm doing what I encourage you to do with my writing and words and with every other blogger out there. Question us and ask for evidence. If we can't provide it, then question us further.

The person in question showed up on my blog, repeatedly made her claims, then, when I asked her for evidence, insisted that I should prove her wrong. If you come to my blog and claim something, you should be prepared to back it up. If you go to other forums and claim something, you should be prepared to back it up. If I did this, you would expect me to provide evidence for my position. Is it fair to hold me to one standard and hold her to a completely different one?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Thanks for the information! That explains so much...

Anonymous said...

Not really. Doesn't explain anything more than soapers stick up for each other. And what you did is still uncalled for, whether she requested the support of her community or not. The fact that someone here is tattling on her speaks volumes as to that person's character as well.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I'm not sure how many times I can say this but she hasn't proven her statements. She claimed she had a video, but when I spent the hour required to watch the video, there was nothing about altering pH using lauric acid. She confirmed with me that she didn't video tape it - see this post if you want to see the whole debate - and that she didn't take notes on the process, so I'd be interested to see what proof she offered to you.

She has been told by many people she is wrong, yet this isn't enough to encourage her to prove her position with a video. What she is claiming is extraordinary because it makes no sense in chemical terms and goes against the experience of many soap makers. If she chooses not to prove her position with a video, I would ask her why? If she is so sure what she says is valid, why can't she provide a single shred of evidence to those of us who question her? Why wouldn't she spend an hour or two to video record this process she says she has done before? She has made many other videos, which she has posted to her YouTube account, so I know she has both the interest and technology to create a good video on the topic.

My request remains simple. Provide me with a video recording of the process of reducing the pH of her soap to pH 7 with lauric acid. It is not up to me to disprove her position. It is up to her to prove it.

Anonymous said...

I've seen her videos. In one she does use lauric in conjunction with Citric to achieve results for that video. In fact that, there is a noted decrease in pH when she used the lauric. I've also seen her blog, and she does annotate her quick process of using lauric. She was written about by a soap chemist with PhD, who while he did point out a flaw in some of her work, that to my understanding she's corrected and updated in her blog, he does not discredit her use of lauric to lower pH. He in fact said her work is easy to replicate. So it would seem that there is enough evidence to support her claims. And that you are not satisfied with it. If you want to discredit her, do the work yourself. Provide evidence that she is wrong, since you also claim to have in a previous comment. In all else, please don't throw others under the bus this way just to make a point. It still makes you look petty, regardless of your reasons. This is a scientific blog, to my understanding. And scientists work to disprove each other if there is a difference of opinion. Not do things like this. You however refuse to do the work. Which can say a lot about how insecure you may be about this topic. Maybe you're afraid it just might work, and prove yourself wrong? Or maybe you just can't be bothered. Who knows. Either way, you're overall intent here is pretty petty. You could have written this without mentioning any other parties and just stuck to basing your material on your research.


Elisabeth said...

I hesitate to pour oil on the fire here, but it doesn't seem to be entirely clear that even adding citric acid at trace would lower the pH. Just because the soap has traced doesn't mean saponification is complete. So some of the active lye will react with the citric acid, forming sodium citrate and water. Sodium citrate is a chelating agent, keeping the soap from reacting with hard water, making it feel kinder to the skin. But being a salt, it doesn't change the pH.

Another thing that seems to add to the confusion is that the pH scale isn't arithmetic but logarithmic.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about Citric Acid, Elizabeth. But the use of a fatty acid to lower pH. Which has been proven to work, though some are not satisfied with the evidence presented. You are however correct in everything you've said.

There's really no point even continuing this conversation. I'm fairly certain Susan will stick to hers guns and excuse her behavior, despite several soap makers here pointing out her mistake, regardless of whether they came to defend the former blog reader in question or not. As the one anonymous poster was so apt to point out. By the way, doesn't Susan have a rule about not posting anonymous without signing your name, else the post get deleted? Or does that not apply when someone is trying to, as you said Elizabeth, pour oil on fire, in an attempt to help Susan's cause? Oh well, you all have a nice weekend. Im personally done with this thread.


robyn m said...

Still waiting on someone to tell me where and when Susan disparaged this person. Clearly people need to read with better understanding because asking for evidence is not disparaging or disrespectful. Oh well.

Martha B. said...

Since you asked Robyn M:

From Google:
dis·par·age / dəˈsperij/
verb: disparage; 3rd person present: disparages; past tense: disparaged; past participle: disparaged; gerund or present participle: disparaging

-regard or represent as being of little worth.
"he never missed an opportunity to disparage his competitors" synonyms: belittle, denigrate, deprecate, trivialize, make light of, undervalue, underrate, play down; ridicule, deride, mock, scorn, scoff at, sneer at;run down, defame, discredit, speak badly of, cast aspersions on, impugn, vilify, traduce, criticize, slur;
informal pick holes in, knock, slam, pan, badmouth, dis, pooh-pooh; formalcalumniate, derogate
"they disparage Lawrence and his achievements"
derogatory, deprecatory, denigratory, belittling;
critical, scathing, negative, unfavorable, uncomplimentary, uncharitable;contemptuous, scornful, snide, disdainful;
informal bitchy, catty;
"disparaging remarks"
antonyms: praise, overrate, complimentary

verb (used with object), disparaged, disparaging. speak of or treat slightingly; depreciate; belittle:
Do not disparage good manners. bring reproach or discredit upon; lower the estimation of:
Your behavior will disparage the whole family.

Cambridge Dictionary Online-American English:
-to criticize someone or something in a way that shows a lack of respect

I think you get it.

Guess you can tell I don't agree with what Susan has done here either.

Birgit said...

Holy cow! Susan, you probably already know by now that the moment you mention soap, all hell breaks loose. If I had some spare time and lauric acid, I would run this test myself and try to lower the pH of castile soap with it, just so that I would have clear evidence (of it presumably not working). But I have already wasted too much of my time researching what the problem is, and I'm done for now.
To all the haters out there, Susan did not put anyone down, just voiced her opinion, and I had no idea who she was referring to until I read the myriad of fanatic comments. Has any of you actually used the described method and gotten successful results? So much anger over such a simple post. Sheesh!
And just FYI, in science, the burden of proof is with the scientist, not the other way around. We live on the 21st century, so no alchemy, please. Otherwise I could just claim anything I want and unless you proved me wrong, I would be right. And that is just nonsense.

Cheers, Susan, and do not get discouraged to voice your opinion,

Paige B said...

This argument is ridiculous. First, I don't think Susan disparaged anyone. Nor is she out of line to ask this person to produce proof. As a scientist, you can't publish papers without proof of your conclusions. It's not up to the readers or reviewers of journals to disprove someone's work. This is HER blog, she is entitled to express her opinion and respond to people who post on HER blog. It is unfortunate that someone feels slighted, but I am sure that was not Susan's intent. It seems more likely that she just likes people to have solid, scientific information.

Second, even a modicum of chemistry education should lend credence to Susan's stance. Lauric acid, and fatty acids in general, are called acids, but not only are they very weak acids, but being largely insoluble in water, contribute almost nothing to the pH because pH is a measure of H+ ions in an aqueous solution. You mention this person used citric acid in the video, which would explain the drop in pH. Citric acid is also a weak acid, but not only is it stronger than fatty acids, it is water soluble and hence, could reduce the pH.

I too would be interested in proof that a fatty acid lowers pH in any significant way - without the use of another acid in conjunction. I would note as well, that if you were to try to publish a scientific paper on the subject, you could not just state your conclusion and some before and after pH measurements. You would have to at least propose a (sound) hypothesis of the mechanism causing the result. So, scientifically, how would a fatty acid reduce a solution's pH?

Finally, it's not that Susan "doesn't believe" the result. All the scientific evidence she has worked so hard to study would indicate that lauric acid alone would not lower pH in any meaningful way. Believing in something doesn't make it true. The converse is also true. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says - "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it".

Paige B said...

I would also point out, not only does Susan not refer to the person supposedly being "disparaged" by name, she doesn't call her a nasty name, say they don't know what they are talking about, or actually state anything about the person. She says she doesn't believe their assertion and would like proof. On the other hand, posters have accused Susan of "taking a jab" at and trying to shame someone (assuming her intent was malicious), called her disrespectful, petty, small, emotional (with a negative connotation). That all sounds pretty disparaging to me. If readers are so upset about this (IMO imaginary) slight, why is it ok for posters to do it to her...on her own blog no less?

Should we ignore erroneous information? Should we NOT call out people when we believe they are wrong and ask them to prove their statements? In this case, there may be little harm done, but if your doctor was about to surgically remove the wrong organ, would you NOT want someone to point out the error and ask why. Or would you prefer to say nothing because pointing out someone's mistake (especially if they are putting it out to others as fact, without real proof) might hurt their feelings?

The world has gotten ridiculous. Either people use anonymity on the internet be be incredibly hateful and cruel, or people get "offended" and their nose out of joint over the teeniest perceived slight when there was no ill intent.

I'll leave you with another favourite quote, this one from Stephen Fry - "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so f***ing what."

Ryan said...

I am joining this conversation, not to support either side, but to post my experiences formulating liquid soap for a cosmetics company.

Potassium hydroxide based liquid soaps maintain clarity above 9pH because the fatty acids stay reacted with the potassium, if temperature or other elements lower this pH, it will "break" the soap causing it to go cloudy as fatty acids become insolvent and unreacted with the lye.

A high pH liquid soap can have its pH lowered (neutralized more specifically) by adding any fatty acid or oil, because it will react with any superfluous lye, however, below 9pH it stops being soap, and it can never reach or go below 7 due to the nature of acids and bases.

Faith said...

The "non-named" soapmaker used both lauric acid AND citric acid and claims a lower pH and that the lauric acid is responsible for that? Um, no - citric acid is a known pH adjuster so it is the citric acid that reduced the pH NOT the lauric acid. Fatty acids can be used to neutralize a lye excess in liquid soap by giving that lye something to react with, but not lowering pH. Lowering pH and neutralizing a lye excess in liquid soap are not the same thing.

This so called "soapmaker" has had this explained to her many times that lowering the pH of your soap beyond the point of it being soap (alkaline by nature) causes it to fall out of solution giving you some soap, fatty acids and maybe potassium citrate (from the citric acid) and/or other things depending on what has been added to the base soap. In order to try to make it soap again or to function as a cleanser, you need to add a chemical surfactant (of which said user had to to with the addition of a hefty dose of polysorbate 20.) This combination is not 100% soap but some soap plus chemical surfactant (even if a mild one).

There is no disparaging here or throwing anyone under the bus, just emotional responses that are really quite unnecessary and unprofessional especially when they have been requested by another.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the entirely classy way that Susan is handling this situation. Susan is regarded by many industry formulators (trained many years in subjects such as chemical engineering, chemistry, and physics no less) to be the writer of a blog with fantastic, well researched industry information as well as her being a chemist in her own right.

This other woman was well regarded by ONE soap chemist allegedly. One. Susan's information is backed by YEARS of research by many other scientists. So why go with the dissenting voice that can be silenced by her sending a sample of this pH 7 product to an actual testing lab? I would be happy to run many a characterization test to disprove this notion. The implications of having soap exist at such a low pH is something that is against chemical structure theory, and makes for an ENTIRELY new behavior of a compound that has not been discovered before. Seriously? This is even a question?

Anonymous said...

People please read what Susan wrote on her blog PROPERLY before even commenting and it's simple she asked for the proof of something that's alll why all the bile. It's not healthy we should learn to call a spade a spade not a spoon ( as I like to put it). And honestly to me I see it as a challenge that should be taken up by scientists, not fighting and arguing about it.

Martha B. said...

Elizabeth, Susan hasn't put forth any evidence to supprot her claim. None. And yet, the person in question has the backing of a soap making chemist with a PhD, as you said. That should say a lot about what's going on here. Susan continues to say prove it, and yet, she provides nothing to support her rebuttal. Until then, I'd be one to side with the person who has the backing of a soap making chemist, not something who has no proof herself. But that's just me.

Paige B said...

Martha B, you're joking, right? First, Susan doesn't even make a claim except that she doesn't think it's possible given her knowledge of know, SCIENCE. She doesn't have to prove anything. Second, if you have ever actually read this blog, you would see TONS of scientific evidence of different chemical reactions and how ingredients interact. I don't know, maybe you don't have a science background or education and so don't understand some of the articles she's written (that's not a dig, if you have never learned it, why would you know it and understand it? I'm not making any allusion to intelligence here.) but if anyone gave Susan solid evidence, backed by real science, that this could work, I know she would be glad to have learned something new and would happily acknowledge that her chemistry repertoire was incomplete.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Martha, here's my first question. What do you think the PhD level chemist said about the unnamed soapmaker? Are you claiming that Kevin Dunn supports her use of lauric acid to reduce the pH of soap?

Let's take a look at her blog. Her words: "... he claims that it was because of my use of polysorbate 80 to solubilize the free fatty acids that were released during the whole process, it is questioned as to whether it was my soap that truly did the cleaning, or if it was just the polysorbate." There is no mention of him supporting the way she reduced the pH. Take note of this quote: "But to put it simply, Dr. Dunn gave me the proveribal (sic) pat on the head and "nice try but no, you're still wrong"." She continues on at the bottom of the post, “So no, Dr. Dunn, it's not an impossible dream, as your article was so wistfully titled. It's a reality. Maybe you could take the time to try out some of my experiments, or even try a few of your own? Or, in the least, share exactly why it's impossible rather than writing a rebuttal and giving the proverbial pat on the head to some unknown soap maker in a magazine she never knew existed until recently.”

Does this sound like someone who has the "backing of a soap chemist with a PhD?” that she can reduce the pH of her liquid soap using a fatty acid? No, this sounds like someone who has been challenged by a soap chemist with a PhD or has been told by a soap chemist with a PhD that she is wrong.

As an aside, in this very post she notes that she didn't take a video when she allegedly reduced the pH of her soap using lauric acid. "...and now wish I did pull out the camera for this." We all do!

I'm not going to entertain any more arguments any more that she has some kind of support from Kevin Dunn as I think it is abundantly clear in her own words found on her own blog that not only doesn't she have his support, what support she thinks she has isn't about reducing the pH of liquid soaps using a fatty acid like stearic acid or lauric acid.

On your second note - I'm not sure how many times we have to say this - I don't have to prove her wrong. The laws of chemistry says that what she is proposing won't work. It is up to the person making the claim to prove themselves right. If the world worked in the way you propose, companies could make all kinds of claims that this diet will make you lose 50 pounds in a week, this product will cure cellulite, or this lotion will make you look 20 years younger, and it’d be up to the public to prove that these claims weren’t true. I’m sure you can see that this isn’t the way the world works or should work!

Besides, if I did some kind of experiment and it failed - which I know it will because this isn’t possible - I will be accused of making some kind of mistake to make it fail. I didn't use the right kind of lauric acid, the right kind of stearic acid, the right kind of meter, the right kind of soap, etc. So I can't win.

If you believe her claims, why don’t you undertake the experiment for her? Get her to give you all the information on how she did it - I've asked for her notes, but she claims she doesn't have any as she didn't write it down - and video it from start to finish. Show up here with the link to the video and your notes in your next comment. If you complete this experiment successfully, then I would have no choice but to try it myself to try to replicate it!

I commend you for supporting your friend. Your loyalty is admirable. She is fortunate to have someone who believes so much in her and is willing to fight for her like this.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I wrote to Kevin Dunn of Scientific Soapmaking, whom it is alleged supports the unnamed soapmaker in her attempts to reduce the pH of her liquid soap to 7, based on his article in the issue of the Saponifier. (Click here for her post.) Here is what he has said on his Facebook page and in correspondence with me.

In the Sep/Oct 2014 issue of the, I discussed the prospect of lowering the pH of liquid soap to pH 7. I remain skeptical that such a thing can be done, but claims to the contrary persist. So I am issuing a friendly challenge to the handcrafted soap community. Send me an 8 oz bottle of your pH 7 liquid soap.

He goes on further, if you want to read the challenge. It's very cool and I can't wait to see the results!

I'm posting this here for two reasons. One, I'd like to see people undertake the challenge. And two, I think this demonstrates that she doesn't have the support of this soap chemist on reducing the pH of liquid soap to a pH of 7.

Anonymous said...

Ive lowered the PH of liquid soap...I played with it one was the consistency of water at PH7 and wasn't what I would call soap, just milky water.


Sânziene şi Mătrăgună said...

I noticed that quite often people jump at eachother's throat for stupid things. In this case, the claim that Susan has offended someone in her article. That is just rubbish! There is NO insult there, just a call out for proof. DOCUMENTED PROOF.

Also, people who yell at Susan telling her that SHE should do the experiment really have no idea how science works. If someone tells me that, against all current scientific evidence, they managed to do X,Y,Z, but have not documented that, for me to believe them I need to see the proof. This is how science works. You need to have repeat the same experiment and have the same results. The experiment needs to be reproducible. If that person wants credibility by all standards, she needs to redo the process (if she did it, it should be easy!!) and prove she is right.

For all the haters called by the soapmakers to "yell" at Susan: dear ladies and gents, Susan writes a blog based on facts and evidence. And when she is wrong, she accepts it and she writes about it. If you ever spent some time on her blog, like many of us do, reading DOZENS and more great articles AND hundreds of comments, you would have known that.

As Susan said: the loyalty is admirable but you should also be aware that even Hitler had loyal subjects, that did not mean automatically that he was right.

I'd also be MORE than happy to make a bar of handmade soap of pH 7. If someone discovered how it goes, I'd love to learn from that person!

Sânziene şi Mătrăgună said...

*** also apologies for my bad spelling and/or grammar. I did not recheck my comment and EN is not my first language

Nanette said...

I've learned a great deal from Susan and her scientifically fact based blogs over the past several months. I, too, see no disparaging remarks except from the soaping community represented here. It may be wise for them to review accepted scientific practices rather than demanding Susan prove someone else's theory that has no basis in scientific fact.
Susan, the calm demeanor you have retained throughout these posts is admirable despite your obvious passion for the subject. My respect for you has only increased. I could not have come as far as I have with my potions without your generous sharing of your knowledge. So glad I did not choose cold process soap crafting as a subject to study. The community seems to have a different approach.

Vidyut said...

This thing now has me intrigued. I am NOT a chemist, so the intrigue is likely part of some foolish imagination. The way I understand it, whatever is used to reduce the Ph reacts with the lye, which lets go of the oil, basically, therefore, it isn't soap. Just casually wondering what happens if what is added (lauric acid?) reacts less with the lye than the oils and thus remains itself lowering ph a bit. More like a buffer, because the lye is happier with the oils and the ph of the mix is somewhere in between. I suppose such a substance may not exist. I don't know how this works. Part of me thinks (only based on the stuff I've come across in use so far) anything with a low enough ph to be useful won't react less than the oils or rather have enough left over after neutralizing to make the soap acidic - not sure fatty acids are that strong.

Curiosity is probably going to waste this cat's money and time doing things done easier in other ways.

Regardless, I think it is fine to ask someone for proof or at least specific method if a claim is made. I fail to see how Susan could imagine the process someone used, replicate it and prove it doesn't work. That must depend on the person making the claim.