A few questions from a budding soap maker

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Oct 30, 2023
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I made several soaps, some succeeded, some less so. I'd like to know why so that it can be better next time...

1) The mold colored my soap. I didn't take a picture of the soap, but it was red from the mold. I cut off the colored parts and cut up the soap to add to a future batch. Can I try to use the mold again or is it bad and it will happen again? I don't want to waste another bar of soap. I mixed the lye with the oils at a low temperature, about 38 degrees Celsius.

2) I used turmeric for coloring. This is one dose of soap in different forms. Pink form, color normal. The soap from the white silicone mold developed a white coating, but only where the soap touched the silicone. What is it and how to prevent it? With another batch of uncolored soap, everything was fine.

3)The soap breaks when cut. 4 doses ok, it happened on the last one. Same recipe, same amount of soap. Same time for demolding and cutting. The soap is 85% tallow. The only thing that was different was that I bought the lard elsewhere. Can tallow affect the crumbliness of the soap?

I used red and pink clay for the color. It is very similar, therefore the color looks the same. The soap has gone through the gel phase. A heart from a small mold without a gel phase, that's why it's lighter. But it's the same soap.

I can still think of soap that crumbles at the bottom has red clay at the bottom and good soap has pink clay at the bottom.

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1. I have a dark red coloured mold that stains my soap in the same way as you describe. I've only used it once for that reason - someone else on here said they'd had the same issue and it doesn't go away. I've got another mold the same colour that doesn't stain my soap, so it must be to do with the type/quality of silicone, not the colour per se.
2. The little piggy one didn't gel, so it got soda ash. Also the turmeric has a stronger colour when gelled ( it does fade in time though).
3. Too much stearic can make your soap crumbly. I usually find they tend to crumble more if they're not gelled, so yours is the opposite. Maybe the clay? But then your other one didn't crumble with the clay? So that's a strange one.
4. I don't see the surface as being too bad? Handmade/handcut soap will never be perfect, certainly not like store-bought, machine processed soap. Some people plane their surfaces and then bevel the edges to make it look more professional - you can buy specific tools for this for a better finish, or you can repurpose regular kitchen tools.
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1) Someone else had this problem earlier in the year, I believe.

Since I saw that post, I have avoided buying / using red molds, even the silicone ones, because obviously the dye is bleeding out of the silicone & into the soap. Personally, I would get rid of that mold or use it only for things such as plaster crafting which you end up painting over. Definitely would NOT use it for food.

2) You've newly unmolded, so I would give the soap a chance to cure. Many things about your soap will change in the next few weeks. That 'white' color may disappear. Relax.

3) I can't answer this as I don't make tallow soap. I have never had clays cause my bars to crumble along the edges like that, so I am doubting the issue is the clay....although it could be an issue of the tallow / clay combined. ??

4) Depends on what kind of knife you are using. Try a simple wire cheese cutter & see if that gives you a better result. Compare.

Ah right, forgot to mention, if you want to smooth your bars out, I find that once they have cured for a few weeks, spritz a rag with alcohol & 'polish' your soaps for a smooth finish if you wish to keep using the knife you have been using so far.
@KiwiMoose, @QuasiQuadrant

Thank you very much for your time and advice

1)Ok, I won't be using this mold to make soap anymore

2) The soap was made on 13.11.2023, so I'll wait...

3)I also used lard from a different manufacturer, the consistency seemed more stiff compared to the lard I used for previous soaps. So I wonder if the quality of lard can have an effect on this.

This is my very first soap I made.. 100% tallow, very pleasant to use and no cracking.

4)I use a knife like this to cut the soap and I saw that some people use a wire instead of a knife? A string? I thought that was why they had a better cut on the soap.


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To answer your question #2, that's soda ash. For single cavity molds, I have learned to leave the soap in for 5-7 days before unmolding to prevent getting soda ash.
Oh, thanks for the info, I just got the soap in the little molds so I'll try that and leave them in there longer... Admittedly, I'm curious about the soap and took them out early...

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