Posted by on 1/21/2021 to Let's Talk Soaping
Sodium Lactate: What is it, & Why is it Used in Cold Process Soap and Other Bath and Beauty Products?
Sodium lactate, a staple and regularly used ingredient within the homemade soap making world. Why? What does it do? How is it used in soap making?
Description: Clear Liquid (also available in powder form)
Solubility: Soluble in water
Storage: Room temperature, in an air tight container
Shelf life: May depend on manufacturer, usually around 1-year
Recommended usage rate in CP soap: 1 tsp per pound of oils
How to use: add the sodium lactate to your cooled lye solution
What is Sodium Lactate?
Sodium Lactate is a natural ingredient that is derived from purified lactic acid and carbohydrate sugars. It is used often times as a preservative, and has some moisturizing properties that makes it useful in cleaners and body wash.
It is actually made from a fermentation process of sugar, most often from corn or beets.
Sodium lactate is a natural humectant, and helps to retain moisture and has superior water holding capacity. Sodium lactate also helps balance out Ph in the skin. This is crucial for skin health. Ph needs to be maintained to a certain level, which helps your skin stay healthy and protected from contaminants and environmental toxins and pollutants.
So why in the world is it talked about so often in soap making?
What is Sodium Lactate in Cold Process Soap and Other Bath and Beauty Products?
Why exactly is sodium lactate used in soaps and other types of bath and beauty products? Mainly, this is a result of sodium lactate’s ability to hold moisture.
Sodium lactate should be a mainstay if you're a soap maker. When we first started soaping, one of the hardest parts of the process was waiting. You spend all this time coming up with a recipe or following a recipe you found online. You feel like you did a spot on job and now you have to wait. Wait to unmold, then wait to cut, then wait to use!
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Well, with sodium lactate your wait is much shorter as sodium lactate adds to the firmness of soap. Many soapers know that "salt" soaps harden much quicker then making cold process soap without it. Well, sodium lactate is basically a liquid salt.
Not only can you unmold a bar of soap much faster, but it will provide you with a harder, longer lasting bar of soap.
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Recommendations for Cold Process Soap
When/How to Add
It's recommended to add sodium lactate to your "cooled lye solution." We soap around 80-90 degrees F, but we usually add our sodium lactate to our lye around 115 degrees F.
Whether or not you add the sodium lactate at higher temperature is up to you, but we like to wait for a but until the lye has cooled significantly, being that it can heat up to upwards of 200F.
When added correctly and if you also force your soap through gel many of times you can unmold in 24 hours, although we always suggest given it at least 36-48 hours if not a salt soap.
Suggested Usage Rate
Fairly easy to remember, but you should add you sodium lactate at 1tsp. per pound of oils.
Use you measuring spoon to measure out the sodium lactate, and add to your cooled lye solution before adding the lye into your soap batter/oils.
What if you Add to Much?
Probably why measuring is so important in soap making, because once you place your additives in your lye solution and/or your soap batter, there is little you can do if you over-measured.
Most likely if it was just a few drops (sodium lactate), you won't notice, but if you add to much, it could lead to a crumbly bar of soap!
Tip: If using a high amount or particular high percentage of softer oils in your soap, like sweet almond oil, olive oils, or rice bran oil, or a palm-free soap recipe it may also be useful in unmolding.
Whether you are or want to make your own soap(s), you have to give sodium lactate a try. It will integrate seamlessly in your recipes and not only cut down on your wait time, but also make unmolding easier without changing the final look and feel to you soap (unless you add too much of course)
As always, share your thoughts and experiences with using sodium lactate in your soaps on our blog!