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Soap Making Forum > The Soap Making & Craft Forum > Lye-Based Soap Forum > Worried about the texture of curing soaps
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:41 PM   #11
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I'm sure that would help, but I'm not generally in a rush. Particularly with a Castile that will spend eighteen months curing no matter what I do.


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Old 12-16-2017, 04:48 AM   #12
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Wow... thank you all SO, SO much for the responses! So many things to think about. It all just re-confirms that this 'hobby' has a lot of science behind it, and there's loads to learn.

So... I went back and looked through my notebook. The two batches that I'm pretty sure are not going to recover from this weird spongy thing they've got going on were both made in early October so they're about 9-10 weeks old. They're both from the same mixture, which was one I tried out early on -- weirdly, it did work beautifully with another batch but more on that in a second. Here's the mix:
55% Olive oil
20% Coconut oil (76*)
15% Shea butter
10% PKO
6% super fat
And... I may have found part of the issue. I hadn't yet learned about soaping at a 2:1 water:lye ratio. I was using water % of oil weight (I know, I know) and my lye concentration was 2.37:1, or 29.6%. Now I soap at 2:1, ~33%, which is much different.

I looked through the notes and whacked my forehead. One of the batches is a 2lb (oil weight) batch, and has eight separate colours -- I was feeling ambitious and wanted to make a fun, colourful, swirly soap. BUT... I have noted that, like a dolt, I mixed *each* little cup of colourant with a little oil, adding a total additional ~0.75-1oz of olive oil to the batch. Now I would take that from the batch, but then I didn't know it mattered.

The batch I have that used this mixture that did work out was a larger batch -- for some reason I felt possessed to double the batch size, probably so I could play with a new mold that holds just over 4lb of soap. Because I a) added clay, oatmeal *and* cocoa (all dry, water/oil-absorbing things) to that larger batch, b) used quite a bit of TD, c) didn't add extra oil, and d) soaped hotter, that batch gelled. The little batches didn't. The bigger one WAS somewhat funky-textured, but has hardened and smoothed out to something I'd call acceptable. It's nothing I'd write home about, but it's decent soap with an even texture.

So the two small batches are higher water, probably have slightly too much oil (especially considering the initial 6% superfat), but they ARE improving over time so I'm not giving up yet. A while ago I basically tossed them in a corner with some over-clayed soap that I don't yet know if I can rebatch into something useable and told them 'you have six months to become decent soap, or hit the garbage can'. I'll visit and turn them periodically.

Other soaps that were/are *slightly* soft (to my very hard-bar loving touch) that were made a few weeks ago seem to be sorting themselves out. Those ones are much more balanced recipes, with more hard oils and a better overall recipe profile. They were also made using a 2:1 ratio, so they have far less water to lose, and I know now to premix micas/colours with oils from the batch or be *very* sparing with oils I add in.

You guys are all awesome. In the end I think threads like this are rather like going to a therapist - half the time we ask a question, and then solve our own problem (or part of it) but couldn't have done it without the more experienced help looking on


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Old 12-16-2017, 07:38 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoapEh View Post
And... I may have found part of the issue. I hadn't yet learned about soaping at a 2:1 water:lye ratio. I was using water % of oil weight (I know, I know) and my lye concentration was 2.37:1, or 29.6%. Now I soap at 2:1, ~33%, which is much different.
That would be just fine, actually; early on, I was using water as oil weight at 38%! Then add a bit more water for water-dispersable colorants.

It does take a bit longer to cure, but cure it does.

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noted that, like a dolt, I mixed *each* little cup of colourant with a little oil, adding a total additional ~0.75-1oz of olive oil to the batch. Now I would take that from the batch, but then I didn't know it mattered.
OK, that one might not cure so well. Even 6 oz of extra oil in 2 pounds is a super fat of nearly 19%.

However, all is still not lost. You could re-batch that 2 pounds, add in the requisite lye to saponify 6 oz of olive oil, and re-cure. It'll take a while, but it'll end up usable at home, at least!


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corner with some over-clayed soap that I don't yet know if I can rebatch into something useable and told them 'you have six months to become decent soap, or hit the garbage can'. I'll visit and turn them periodically.
One rebatch that I did, I added way too much water to. It was actually wet. Very wet.

It took more than six months to become decent soap, but it did.

And for Castile, six months is just the starting point. So very high olive recipes might require a full year...

Really, there's an incredibly wide range of acceptable and arguments of lye concentration are...well, not all that significant in terms of normal ranges. I don't hesitate to increase water if I need to slow down the recipe, or I want it to gel thoroughly. Nor do I hesitate to water discount a lot if I want a faster moving recipe, want to suppress out gel phase, or am going to use a lot of water-soluble colorants and know I'll end up with water there.

I do wish DeeAnne would weigh in here as she's done a lot of testing and measuring with curing times of various water levels.
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Old 12-16-2017, 11:17 PM   #14
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Ack, I wasn't clear (surprise) -- I only added a TOTAL extra ~1oz, not 6oz extra oils. That *would* be a lot of extra oil, holy cow!

That swirly, oily batch is so bizarre; it may fix itself yet. I have no hope at all for its funky little curing partner, which just seems to be getting... spongy-er as time passes... but the swirly ones, some of the bars seem moderately okay. Who knows, we'll see - maybe, like the person who posted about their super-aged salt bars being fantastic after a long, long cure, I'll post in a year or three and say 'hey! check out the previously weird soap that's now the best thing I've ever made!'

Hope springs eternal.
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Old 12-17-2017, 08:07 AM   #15
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I would rebatch the too much oil batch sooner rather than later. Soap with too much oil gets more difficult to grate and melt down the older it gets. I know this from personal experience. If you are wanting to save it, that is. I might would even make confetti soap to donate to a shelter or something with some new soap batter with a lower superfat to balance it out. Maybe a 1-2% superfat, depending on how much extra oil you think you added.
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Old 12-17-2017, 04:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by penelopejane View Post
This is not normal. There is something wrong with the recipe or method both of you and Soap EH are using. I make heaps of 100% OO and it is ready to cut in 24 hours and hard all the way through in 48 hours. I also always use high percentages of OO.

When they talk about OO soap taking a long time to cure it doesn't mean it takes a long time to get hard. It gets hard almost straight away but if you use it in the shower before it has had a long cure it will get soft quickly.

These problems can definitely be fixed. You just have to tweek your recipe or your method. If you give us your recipes and method we will be able to help both you and Soapeh.
Soap that has overheated but not quite seperated (alligator teeth) or eruption into a volcano can leave a very soft spot in the middle of soap that can takes months to harden up. I have had it happen and the soap is fine after 4-6 months of curing. Using high water/low lye concentration is many times the culprit
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmzaha View Post
Soap that has overheated but not quite seperated (alligator teeth) or eruption into a volcano can leave a very soft spot in the middle of soap that can takes months to harden up. I have had it happen and the soap is fine after 4-6 months of curing. Using high water/low lye concentration is many times the culprit
Ok, thanks, I haven't experienced that yet.

I have lots of early soaps that I used too much water in all or part of the mix (to mix colours etc) and they got hard eventually but when you start using them the parts with too much water get soft quickly. Even 2 years old. So the soap usage is effected.

Also, I hate partially gelled soaps. That centre part cures at a different rate and leaves a dip in the soap. When you use it it dissolves at a different rate so you get part of the soap softer than the rest. So to me it's not just "cosmetic" as it also effects the soap usage.

For my recipes accurate measurements, equal portions of water (or oil) in all parts, a sensible water ratio and properly gelled soap makes a hard bar that lasts longer.

But I'm not one of those artistic people who slap a bit of oil in with a bit of lye and chuck in a bit of colour and lo and behold the most superb soap is produced.
I have to work at it.


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