Friday, October 11, 2013

Thickening Liquid Soap with Hydroxyethel Cellulose (HEC) - Method 2

I had previously written about using Hydroxyethel Cellulose or HEC to consistently and successfully thicken my liquid soap after your soap was already diluted.  You can see that post here.  This tutorial will show you how to thicken your liquid soap with HEC at the same time you dilute and neutralize your soap.  This method can be a bit trickier as you need to know exactly what your dilution ratio is and how much citric acid or borax you will need to neutralize or lower the ph of your soap.  I only use this method on formulations in which I do not need to be neutralized or adjusted for pH.  Any formulations that need to be adjusted are diluted first, neutralized or adjusted for Ph, then thickened via Method 1.

You can get HEC at both Lotioncrafters and The Herbarie.  I use the one from the Herbarie so I cannot verify that these instructions will work with the Lotioncrafters HEC.

The most important thing to keep in mind when using this product is that the "gelling" process is accelerated by both heat and Ph of the liquid.  If it is added to warm or hot liquid or as it heats up, it will start to gel very quickly and not give you enough time to get it fully incorporated into your soap. The higher the Ph of the liquid, the faster the gelling process will be too. The last thing you want is your HEC to be in a gelled state before you add it to your soap paste - it is much easier to use when your solution of HEC/glycerin/water is in a fluid liquid state.

For this tutorial, I am using the paste that was created here.  It is a 100% soft oil paste created from 90% infused olive oil and 10% castor oil.  I know that I will need 4x the amount of paste in distilled water to dilute it.  I am taking 16 ounces of paste and will therefore use 64 ounces of water (16 x 4 = 64) for dilution.  This will give me approximately 80 ounces of finished soap.  I will actually have a bit more for the added glycerin used to initially mix my HEC but  the amount is inconsequential for this.  I am happy with the current Ph so I won't be adding any neutralizer.  It is really important that you know your dilution rate for your particular paste using this method to insure that you use enough water to fully dilute  your paste.  Otherwise, you will have chunks of undiluted paste in your thickened soap and by adding more water after, your resulting thickness will be affected.

I use HEC in at a 1 - 1.3% rate for this type of soap.  My total finished soap weight will be 80 ounces so I will need just over 1 ounce of HEC.  I like to mix that with at least 3 times it's weight in glycerin, so I will need 3 ounces of glycerin.  If I am adding glycerin to the finished soap at a rate of 1 - 1.5 ounces per finished pound of soap, I will use that amount of glycerin at this time as that may be more than the 3x HEC weight.

What you will need:

Soap paste
HEC - Hydroxyethel Cellulose
Distilled Water
Neutralizer (Borax or Citric Acid) in your predetermined amount needed (optional).  

16 ounces soap paste
68 ounces distilled water (16 x 4 + 4 - about 6% to account for evaporation)
1 ounce HEC (to thicken at 1.3%)
3 ounces Glycerin (1 x 3)

1.  Put your paste into your crock pot but do not turn it on.

2.  Measure out your distilled water plus an additional 2 - 4% (to allow for evaporation) and heat to boiling.  If you are adding a neutralizer, add it to the boiling water to dissolve.

3.  Measure out your glycerin and HEC into separate containers/mixing bowls.

4.  Add the HEC to the glycerin and mix well with a small whisk or even a dedicated fork.  You want to make sure that there are no lumps of HEC in this mixture.  Mix well for at least 5 minutes to make sure that the HEC is fully dispersed.  This is difficult to see as this mixture will be thick and slightly opaque.

5.  Pour the needed amount of room temperature water (80 ounces here) into another container/bowl/large measuring cup if necessary (you can use the same one if the amount is correct - but we did add additional to account for evaporation).

6.  Add the HEC/glycerin to the room temperature water and whisk well.  Again, we want to make sure that the HEC is fully incorporated.  I will whisk/mix this for at least 5 - 30 minutes until it starts clearing.  This can be a long process as some of these HEC products are designed to dissolve slowly - I assume that is so your mixture does not gel to fast before you get it incorporated into your product so that your end result is clear and smooth???  If you wait until it is completely cleared, it will start to gel on you.   If you let it set undisturbed and see a layer settling on the bottom and clear on the top, keep mixing.  Remember, once you add it to your paste, the higher the ph will accelerate this process but you don't want clumps.

7.  Add this HEC/Glycerin/Water mixture to your soap paste and turn on the crock pot to high.  It will be slightly opaque at this point - this depends on how long you mixed the HEC/Glycerin/Water mixture, the longer you spent mixing it, the clearer it will be.  Mix is around.  You will notice that it will start to thicken quickly as it starts to incorporate with the soap paste due to the higher Ph of the paste. This is continuing the hydration of the HEC.

8.  Allow the paste to fully dilute mixing it often to make sure the HEC is fully distributes throughout the soap.

9.  Optional - When fully diluted, stick blend the entire mixture while still hot for a few minutes to make sure there are no lumps and that the HEC is fully incorporated and distributed.  This will create a layer of foamy bubbles - but not to worry, they will settle out.  Oftentimes, my soap has no lumps (make sure you do not mistake undiluted soap for lumps of gelled soap) and stick blending is not necessary at all.

Diluted Hot Soap

After Stick Blending (Optional)

Once you have determined that your soap is fully diluted, remove a portion and allow it to come to room temperature to determine the thickness.  If it is too thick, you can add additional boiled distilled water a few ounces at a time.  If it is too thin, you will need to add additional HEC using method 1.  

11.  Allow soap to cool.

12.  Your soap is ready.  You can pour it into bottles as is or add fragrance or essential oils as you normally would - just make sure to mix well and know how these fragrance oils and essential oils affect your soap.  Some can be problematic and you need to know that beforehand.

Pouring the thickened soap into bottles

~ Faith
Alaiyna B. Bath and Body

The Herbarie - Hydroxyethel Cellulose (HEC)
BrambleBerry - Base Oils, Fragrance and Essential Oils, Potassium Hydroxide, Lye Calculator and a whole ton of great information on their blog.  
The Lye Guy - Potassium Hydroxide
Wholesale Supplies Plus - Packaging
Elements Bath and Body - Fragrance Oils
The Science Company - Phenolphthalein

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1 comment:

  1. Hello Faith,
    Your post has come as a relief to me. I have been trying to thicken my liquid soap for a long time and nothing seemed to work. But this method worked like magic. I have crystal clear liquid soap with just the right amount of thickness. But there is one problem, the lather in the final product is nil. I had used 1.3% HEC for a glycerine soap with 80% olive, 10% coconut and 10% castor oil. Any suggestion from your side would be highly appreciated.