1st soap questions, questions, questions!

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Well-Known Member
Dec 1, 2014
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Vancouver Island Canada.
Made my first soap a few days ago and thought I aced it, but noooooo....
Used this recipe:
300 g lard (tenderflake)
270 g olive oil (extra virgin - all I had)
30 g castor oil
79 g lye
228 g distilled water
Also used about 6-8 drops of an essential oil I got in Paris a few years ago, called Amber - no idea what's in it.
Was very careful about temperature. Combined lye water and oil mixture when both were about 38c.
All seemed to go well. Poured into loaf mold and it started to set up pretty fast.
Next morning, about 16 hours later, it was rock hard. Unmolded and cut it, but it was very brittle and after inserting knive about 1/2 inch, a chunk would break off unevenly. No fragrance. 3 days later, it is still rock hard and a whitish bloom has appeared on the top. I washed my hands with a bar and it sucked every molecule of moisture out of my hands. Trepidatiously touched my tongue to it. No buzz. Ingredient amounts check out with soapcalc.
So, what went wrong? Only thing I can think of is that I wasn't sure about "trace" so I may have stick blended to much or too long.
I get why there is no fragrance but could the mystery essential oil have caused a problem?
Is the white bloom ash?
What happens during curing - will the soap get milder?
Is this soap worth saving or should/can I rebatch and if so, what do I add since the ingredient amounts check out with soapcalc?
Other thoughts?
I'd post a pic but can't figure out how to do that from my iPad.
Thanks for all your anticipated advice.
Mail order ingredients on the way. I'm hooked!
Shame about the problems - but my definition of a mistake is only an experience that we don't learn from, so let's make these in to experiences...............

Curing allows some moisture to leave the soap and for the structure of the soap to settle. Longer is always better, but at 4 weeks it'll be good - at 8 weeks even better. Some recipes need much much more.

The white bloom does sound like ash. It's not a problem, really, just looks a little odd.

I'd be interested to know what your thoughts are on why there is no fragrance, but I have my own - you used next to no EO. With a batch of 600g oils, many people would be looking to use (based on safe use amounts per EO) about 30g of EO in cold process. Unless the EO is very heavy, your 6-8 drops was next to nothing.

Your recipe checks out (sort of, you might want to add some coconut in there) so, regarding the hardness at 16 hours, I am not entirely sure, I'm afraid.

How was it left over night?
Yes, I realized I needed much more fragrance oil but there was hardly any in the bottle. I had purchased vanilla then realized that might not be a good idea.

Meant to mention that I put a cardboard top on my wood mold and then covered with about 4 thicknesses of towel. It was pretty warm. Peeked often.
Hmmmm... The word, 'brittle' is very telling to me as it is a typical symptom of lye heaviness. The way you describe it, i.e., 'rock hard', 'brittle', 'chunk would break off easily', 'sucked every molecule of moisture out of my hands', describes the very first batch of soap I ever made, which turned out to be lye-heavy (I has mis-weighed my ingredients).

Looking at your recipe on SoapCalc, I would not expect your freshly unmolded soap to be exhibiting these kinds of symptoms, especially since you used what is known as a 'full-water' amount. For this type of formula with that amount of water, I would have expected it to be on the soft, easily sliceable side upon unmolding.

Your method of soaping the batch looks fine to me, but if I were to guess, I think it's highly possible that your scale might be off and something got mis-weighed. Have you checked your scale for accuracy?

As for the amber essential oil you used, I personally don't think that played a factor. You used way below the regular amount that many use for your particular size of batch.

The first thing I would do is check your scale for accuracy.

IrishLass :)
I am always telling people to not throw soap away, because you can almost always fix them. However, you don't actually know how off your scale is, so it is not the easiest thing to fix. I think this once throwing it away is the only safe answer I can give.
Yeah, if after a decent cure its still too drying, grate it up for laundry or powdered household soap, it would be especially nice for woolens and hand washables I should think. But do let it cure for a good 6-8 weeks before you give up on it.

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