How To Read the Lye Calculator Printout
In the upper, left-hand corner will be listed your information of the Recipe Title/Created by box. In our sample recipe this will read "MMS Sample Recipe, Created by MMS Education Staff".
Directly below the Recipe Title box you will find the Liquids box. In the sample recipe water is listed as the liquid of choice. The Lye Calculator has done a quick analysis of your recipe and recommend a liquid amount. This amount is listed in the Liquids box as well. Please note the amount is in a volume measurement, while everything else you do in soap is by weight. We have done this amount by volume so it can be quickly measured while the scale is in use. If you choose, you may weigh the amount listed instead of doing it by volume measure. If you need help understanding specific gravity then please read "Understanding Specific Gravity". This will also help you understand why we use volume here instead of weight.
Directly to the right of the Liquids box, and approximately in the center of the page, you will find a box titled Fats & Oils. This middle section will list each oil, the appropriate weight and the percent of that oil in the total recipe. Our sample recipe lists coconut, olive, palm and shea butter as the oils used. At the bottom of the oils column you will find a total weight of all the oils. To the right of each oil name is a column listing the amount, by weight, of each oil to be used in the recipe. Under "amount" you will see a reference to the unit of measure you have chosen. In our sample recipe it will read "oz wt". The percentage column is to help you trouble shoot a recipe that may be too soft, too hard, not enough lather, short shelf life, etc. When we trouble shoot we most often look at these numbers to determine if they appear to be in line with our most successful batches of soap. In our sample recipe you will find coconut oil is 25% of the recipe, while olive is 31.25%, palm is 37.5% and shea butter is 6.25%.
To the right of the Fats & Oils box is the Lye Table. The Lye Table will reference the type of lye you wish to use. Our sample recipe will list (NaOH) as the type of lye. NaOH is nomenclature to define sodium hydroxide. KOH is potassium hydroxide. A liquid solution lye will also list the percent of w/w.
Directly under the Lye Table, and in color coordination with the Lye table, you will see a recommended percent of excess fat. The most important issue to remember is the color difference when reading the Lye Table. In our sample recipe the Lye Table lists 2.25 ounces of sodium hydroxide needed for our recipe to give a 6% excess fat amount. This area on the Lye table is green and corresponds with the listing below stating that 5 to 8% excess fat is the area we use most often. Please note that most scales will not have readability of 1/100th of an ounce and we strongly recommend you choose an amount which is easy to weigh yet also is considered to be safe. If we were to release this recipe in full written form we would suggest using 2.2 ounces of sodium hydroxide. Almost always our staff will choose the lye amount in the 5 or 6% excess fat rows. We feel this allows for a firm bar with just enough excess fat to have a good feel. Greater amounts of excess fat are not desirable as it will shorten the shelf life of the soap and make the soap very soft. Soft bars of soap will be consumed in the shower far faster than a firm bar.
The Notes section will list any notes you have entered for the recipe. In our sample recipe you will find a reference to the amount of Honey Almond fragrance, oatmeal and colorant used.
At the very bottom is a listing of the Basic Soapmaking Instructions. Above all, please remember to wear your goggles.
Best wishes to you and your soapmaking venture!