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Dish Soap and More

Back in mid-January, I made a little something different- soap for cleaning dishes, and I'm loving it! So here I'm going to share my recipe for any fellow soap makers, and household applications for this cold process soap.

The first difference between making a soap for cleansing things vs people is the superfat. "Superfat" is the percentage of fatty acids left unsaponified in a bar of soap. As soap makers we calculate for specific percentages depending on what kind of soap we are making, the oils included, and the intended use. This is how handmade soaps can be so skin conditioning. When you wash, they leave some of those fatty acid emollients behind to moisturize your skin. Soap made without superfat will be cleansing without leaving anything behind.

The next difference is the inclusion of citric acid. When citric acid is combined with sodium hydroxide, it creates sodium citrate. Sodium citrate acts as a chelating agent, preventing any trace minerals in the water from being able to bind with the soap and leave residue behind.

I chose to make this soap using coconut oil as the only fat for the recipe. Coconut oil's fatty acids make for some highly cleansing soap molecules, a nice hard bar of soap, and doesn't need a long curing time before use. You can also add scent to your soap if you choose. I wanted to include orange oil since it has its own grease dissolving benefits along with the pleasing citrus smell.

Spotless and shiny!

I have been using this soap instead of a commercial liquid dish soap and very pleased with the results! It's cleaning crazy well, no smudges or streaks left behind, and not too drying on my hands. I'm happy to be ditching commercial liquid dish soap. Not just because I love to DIY, but it's nice to feel good knowing I'm not rinsing anything down the drain that contains phosphates or methylisothiazolinone or any of the other ingredients that have come under scrutiny for possible negative environmental impacts.

The other really cool thing is a soap like this can be multi-purpose. I whipped up a countertop spray by dissolving soap into hot distilled water at a 1:10 ratio, then added some denatured alcohol after it cooled, and a few extra drops of some essential oils I enjoy for additional scent. I'm thrilled by how well this is cleaning my countertops and sinks. It leaves them sparkling, and I get to customize the scent to suit the season or my mood.

I'm told this type of soap also makes for a great laundry stain stick, but have yet to test that out.

Here's my basic recipe for the soap

  • 100% coconut oil for total oil weight

  • 0.5% lye discount

  • 1.5% PPO citric acid, dissolve in water before dissolving lye

  • water discount is totally up to you.

A note about citric acid: I formulated this soap with a 0.5% superfat as a safety margin to ensure no residual lye could be left unsaponified. If your scale isn't going down to decimals of a gram, doing a zero lye discount runs that risk. However, the included citric acid does react with and "eat up" a small percentage of lye. I chose to leave the 0.5% margin plus the small amount from the citric acid, and feel it cleans well without leaving residue or stripping my hands. But if you want to calculate to adjust, 1g citric acid uses up 0.624g of sodium hydroxide by reacting with it and turning into sodium citrate if you want to do the math.

The above soap recipe is intended for experienced makers, and not a tutorial on soap making. If you are new to soap making, please follow safety precautions.

Happy soaping!

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