trouble shooting soap

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trouble shooting soap

Post by riaan on Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:53 pm

I just had a disastrously gone wrong milk based soap...

been reading up a bit and found this from Kathy Miller...

might be of some help to someone...

a great site on soapmaking :


Troubleshooting your Botched batch PDF

Symptom Possible Cause Remedy
Soap has watery pockets Slight separation of lye solution If tiny, may be absorbed during cure. If
large, remelt the batch.
Soap has small oily pockets Is often associated with fragrance
or adding superfatting at
If tiny, may be absorbed during cure. If
large, remelt the batch... being sure to put
all liquids back in the pot and not tossing
anything out. You might consider putting
all of your special superfatting oils in the
soap at the beginning and not trying to stir
them in at trace.
Soap doesn't set upNot enough lye or inadequate
saponification during first 24
Troubleshoot recipe and procedures, make
any needed adjustments and remelt
Soap is brittle or has cracks Hard, dry and brittle at cutting
time is generally too much lye
in the recipe.
If determined that there was too much lye,
remelting is in order and adding in the
missing amount of needed oil. Some soaps
can seem brittle because of the types of
base oils used and the need for more water
in the recipe.
Soap has layer of water (lye
solution) underneath
This is full blown separation...
bad, bad! ;-)
Remelting is necessary! Double check your
recipe for lye to fat ratio before proceeding,
just in case. Be sure to save ALL liquids
from your original recipe for the
Soap is crumbly and DRY Crumbly and dry... looking
rather like laundry detergent
is usually the result of
a batch that is lye heavy.
Troubleshoot recipe, make needed adjustments,
address the issue of how much oil
was missing and add that back when
Soap is soft and crumbly Soft and crumbly... soap that
just wants to disintegrate when
you cut it but when rubbed between
the fingers produces an
is generally caused
from inadequate mixing and
saponification. There is usually
a factor of too much heat loss
during the stirring period. The
smaller the batch, the quicker it
will lose heat. With hand stirring,
it could be from heat loss
during stirring time and/or the
stirring was not vigorous
enough or until a real trace was
reached. With a stick blender, it
might be heat loss and too
much mixing without frequent
breaks, which created the illusion
of trace when the thickening
was really from hardening
fat particles or emulsification.
If the recipe you started with was quite
small, you should raise your initial mixing
temperatures. As an example, soap that
might have been blended at 110 degrees
would be mixed at 120 or 125 degrees.
People who make really huge batches will
often drop their temperature below 100
degrees since large batches retain and build
up more heat after pouring.
If the soap begins to look grainy right
away after mixing in the lye solution, it's a
good idea to apply some gentle bottom
heat to the pot for a minute or two... until
you see it smooth out and develop a satiny
texture on the surface. You will be doing
your stirring during this warming time.
Then turn the burner OFF. For those using
the stick blender, review the suggested
stick blending technique on the “Modern
Procedures Page” and be sure you mix in
short bursts and turn the blender off and
hand stir in between. This will ensure that
you are not fooled by a "false trace" and
pour your soap before it's really ready.

Soap separated before it ever
gets out of the pot!

This is really depressing! :-(
When soap separates or "rices"
in the pot it's usually from the
fragrance that was just added.
This is generally a fragrance oil problem.
Not all fragrances are tested and appropriate
for use in cold process soap. Be sure to
get your fragrances from a supplier that
assures they will work for you because
they have tested them. Most essential oils
will not pose this problem. The exception
would be clove essential oil which will accelerate
trace. Some fragrance oils that
qualify as being "okay" might still accelerate
trace and you can often alleviate some
of those issues by increasing the amount of
water in your recipe to the higher range of
what is recommended.
Soap has a pliable texture
during the first few weeks
I have no clue! I've only had a couple of batches do this in
my hand stirring days and for the life of me
I never knew what caused it. The soap had
the texture of modeling clay or soft taffy,
but in all other ways seemed to work just
Soap has developed "ash"... a
white powdery formation on
sides or most often the top
Inadequate mixing, not enough
heat retention (no gel phase)
I used to battle this all the time before I
started using a stick blender for mixing and
had my batches go through a gel phase.
Pouring into a mold that is deeper than one
inch will help the soap retain more heat
and gel. There could still be a tendency for
the top surface to develop some ash during
cure, even with a good gelled batch. I also
notice that if I don't trim off the "rind" that
is formed on the top at cutting time, that
rind part will often ooze what appears to be
glycerin during the curing period. My first
recommendation for ash problems is to
give the stick blender a try and be sure
your soap goes through a gel phase. Some
folks also have good luck with putting an
ounce or two of beeswax in their recipe or
covering their newly poured soap with a
sheet of mylar plastic or some freezer paper...
plastic side toward the soap. Sealing
out the air during the first day or two seems
to deter some of the ash formation on
batches that are prone to this.
"D.O.S." or "Dreaded Orange
Spots" have formed during
Hmmm... this is still a little bit
mysterious, but generally is going
to happen with batches that
are overly superfatted or sometimes
in conditions of high heat
and humidity where the soaps
are stored.
Keep your superfatting to a medium
range... I prefer from 4 to 5% superfat. Try
to keep the finished soaps in a cool environment
where the humidity is not too
Soap is lighter around the
edges than it is in the center
This happens when soap goes
through a gel phase but the part
that is in contact with the mold
doesn't get as hot and gel. It
will have a more opaque appearance
than the gelled center
and might be more flaky during
Be sure your soap gels all the way to the
edges before you uncover it. Also... if the
room temperature is cool and you're working
with a wooden mold, you can prewarm
the mold in a SLOW oven for about
10 minutes before pouring in your fresh
batch of soap. This will prevent the mold
from robbing too much heat from the outside
layer of the soap.


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Re: trouble shooting soap

Post by Kellie on Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:38 pm

I am sorry you had trouble Riaan, kathy's site is one of the best go to sites for soap making for many reasons, she has a wealth of information for sure.

Posts : 185
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Re: trouble shooting soap

Post by cwayneu on Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:17 am

Great info Riaan. Thanks.

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Join date : 2010-07-07
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Location : Indiana

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Re: trouble shooting soap

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