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Grapefruit Seed Extract

We are often asked why we do not recommend GSE (grapefruit seed extract).

GSE will cause an accelerated trace. This may or may not be a good thing. If your usage is for the accelerated trace then please read Using a Stick Blender.

GSE can also react with some fragrances and cause a trace to happen so fast we call it seizing. Seizing is when you get 3 stirs around the pot and instantly have mashed potatoes. Soap which has seized will never be good soap. It is best to discard the batch and begin again.

If you use GSE to preserve your soap we have one question: what is in your soap you feel the need to preserve? We hear so often \'I don't want xyz product because of the preservatives.\' Even though we see some great advantages in the use of preservatives soap just isn't one of those products we feel REQUIRES a preservative.

Susan Miller Cavitch recommends GSE in her soapmaking books. We feel this is entirely because she leaves so much excess fat in the soap something must be done to protect the oil from going rancid. Rancid soap smells just like rancid oil. In all the years we have been making soap only one batch has actually gone rancid. It became tacky, then over about a week showed yellowish \'sweat\' like beads on the surface. At this time it was no longer tacky but down right sticky! And the smell was bad enough to send the city's packing for another town!

In Susan's first book she has excess fat ranging from 13 to 16 percent. Use the Lye Calculator and reduce this to 5 to 8 percent. Eight is really the high limit because it is borderline too heavy in excess fat. Personally, we always use 5 percent.

A few hints to keep your soap in good condition:

  • Use oils that have a long shelf life. If the oil only has a shelf life of 30 days you can't expect your soap to last 1 year.
  • Store the soap in a cool dry place. Exposure to the sun will accelerate decomposition of the oils.
  • When superfatting still keep the excess fat between 5 & 8 percent.
One last thought on preservatives. If strawberries will not last 3 days on the counter and remain mold free why do you want to add them to your soap? The organic material will become moldy with no regard as to whether it is in your soap or on the counter.

Save your money and forget the GSE. Get a new scenting oil instead!

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