A Whole Bunch of Cosmetic Issues

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MellonFriend

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Well this soap that I made yesterday and cut this morning had pretty much every cosmetic issue that could go wrong, go wrong. I've got morphed colors, steric spots, and soda ash.

Let's address the steric spots first. My lye solution was 83* and my recipe had cocoa butter in it, and I think I might have been edging over the melting point of cocoa butter (oils were at 93* cocoa butter melting point is 95*) so if don't let my lye solution cool that much, I assume I will be better off. If It does cool too much, is there any way to heat it up safely?

Now lets talk about the soda ash. It's not horrible, but I do have little white crystals here and there on the top. I've heard that you can spray 99% isopropyl alcohol on the soap after it's in the mold. I have some 70%, can I use that or should I track down some 99%?

On to the color morphing. I'm figuring this is because I'm not using a real brand name mica. It's for cold process soap, but it's just a generic mica that I got off of amazon. Is there any possibility the colors will come back after curing further?

Well here's the culprit. The swirls were supposed to be brown, red, orange, and yellow, but I'm only seeing yellow and brown. On the bright side, I think my first in the pot swirl and first mica line look great and my new recipe behaved wonderfully. It smells amazing too. I used Rustic Woods and Rum from BB.
IMG_8668.JPG
 

earlene

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I am assuming that the purple I see on monitor is what you are seeing as brown? I like it as purple. The only brown I see is the wood grain of the table. But I also see yellow spots in the soap as well.

No one that I have seen has ever posted about a really reliable mica source for use in lye soapmaking, so I wouldn't recommend purchasing micas through Amazon suppliers for CP or HP soap making.

Spraying alcohol on top of wet raw soap, tends to create tiny round divots on the top of the soap, even though they can be planed off. But although some say it works to prevent soda ash, others report otherwise. I've stopped doing it myself, because I have better luck with a higher lye concentration (water discount) than I ever did with spraying alcohol on the surface of wet soap.

As to stearic spots, and safely reheating the raw soap batter to prevent them, you could try a hot water bath or you could try the microwave. IF you choose to try the microwave, I would caution you to use a reduced power setting, like one for defrosting frozen food, AND very short bursts of time, then check the temperature and repeat. I would not try this without extreme caution and only if you are have a microwave capable of reduced power settings (many of the older ones are very limited in the available settings.)

ETA: DO NOT HEAT LYE SOLUTION IN MICROWAVE. I thought you were talking about re-heating the soap batter. But in re-reading your post, that was not what you were asking.
 
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MellonFriend

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I am assuming that the purple I see o monitor is what you are seeing as brown? I like it as purple. The only brown I see is the wood grain of the table. But I also see yellow spots in the soap as well.
My camera appears to have made the soap look more purple than it is. In real life it is brown. The paler yellow swirl is what I'm referring to as having morphed. there should have been red and orange in the light colors, but it all turned out the same. I was assuming the yellow spots were steric spots, but maybe it's basically cocoa butter spots since I could see what I assume was the cocoa butter coming out of solution even in the oils alone before I had my lye solution added in.

I'm thinking about omitting the cocoa butter next time and seeing if I have less trouble without it. Microwaving caustic solutions sounds a bit too scary for me.
 

DeeAnna

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Rather than heat up the lye solution, just make your fats a little warmer. IMO that's safer than heating lye solution. And, since you're already heating the fats to melt them, just add a few more degrees while you're at it if that's what you want to do.

There's no real benefit to getting each starting ingredient to a certain temperature. It's the temperature of the soap batter that's the important temp -- the temp when you first mix the fats and lye solution.
 

cmzaha

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Not knowing your recipe and percentages it is really hard to help. I soap with high palm recipes and use cocoa butter or shea in my recipes and room temperature or cooler, by cooler I mean my oils can still be cloudy. I do not get stearic spots in my soaps and I think it may be because I melt my oils over the melting point of my butter, lard, and tallow, then let them cool down. Actually, I usually heat my oils twice because I batch several buckets of oils at a time in soaping buckets so I reheat my oils just to clear. My point is it is necessary to heat your oils past the melting point of your butters, I think it might even help to heat the oils twice when high palmitic and stearic acid oils are used. At least this is the way I do it and I seldom get stearic spots.

I do agree with DeeAnna and my lye is always cool, most of the time around 70ºF, and my oils are usually warmer than my lye solution since I normally reheat the oils until they just turn clean.

When it comes to soda ash I find alcohol does not help but I agree a higher lye concentration of at least 33% helps and I find gelling is crucial. I gel by putting my molds in shallow plastic crates in which I can stretch a towel across the top then cover with the lid to making sure the towel does not fall and touch the soap. I then use heating blankets and/or pads to force gel then leave the soaps covered until they cool. Most do not get ash but if they do I do not stress about it.

For micas as Earlene mentioned do not use micas from Amazon purchase from a reputable supplier that have soap stable colors, also be sure the colorants are high ph or cp soap stable. Here are two that specialize in micas and all the large soap companies have micas and other colorants.
Color Blender
Save On Soap Supplies! - Micas and More
 

earlene

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Oh, dear, I thought you meant heating up the already mixed soap batter, not the lye solution itself! I would definitely not even try putting a lye solution in my microwave oven. Far too risky as I'd have to lift up above my stove top above my shoulder height. I am too prone for accidents as it is!
 

Lin19687

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The spots look Yellow, maybe it is the pic, but not sure they are Stearic spots though 🤔

Also just so you know that some colors will Morph and then Morph back. I've had that happen a few times so see what it looks like after the 6 week cure
 

MellonFriend

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The spots are definitely yellow.

So, @cmzaha are you saying it doesn't really matter if your lye solution is within 10 degrees of the oils? I also must say that I did heat my oils to about 115* before letting them cool down to around 93*. Maybe they aren't steric spots after all though. Maybe it's more problems with my colorant. The soap also did gel, but it may not have gelled all the way to the top.

I can post my recipe if it helps.
Oil%Grams
Lard, Pig Tallow (Manteca)42225.58
Coconut Oil, 76 deg1896.68
Shea Butter1264.45
Almond Oil, sweet842.97
Cocoa Butter842.97
Castor Oil737.6
Olive Oil526.86

Liquid Required148.49 g
NaOH Weight74.23 g
Oil Weight537.1 g
Fragrance Oil Weight33.3 g
Superfat5%
Total Batch Weight793.13 g
Lye Concentration33.33%
Liquid : Lye Ratio2 :1
Saturated : Unsaturated44:56
 

lenarenee

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My camera appears to have made the soap look more purple than it is. In real life it is brown. The paler yellow swirl is what I'm referring to as having morphed. there should have been red and orange in the light colors, but it all turned out the same. I was assuming the yellow spots were steric spots, but maybe it's basically cocoa butter spots since I could see what I assume was the cocoa butter coming out of solution even in the oils alone before I had my lye solution added in.

I'm thinking about omitting the cocoa butter next time and seeing if I have less trouble without it. Microwaving caustic solutions sounds a bit too scary for me.
By the bolded phrase above, do you mean you thought the cocoa butter was re-solidifying? You hadn't poured anything into yet to make a solution, right? So you could tell something was happening before saponification was starting, which makes me think it's stearic acid from the cocoa butter. Can you feel the spots? Do they have a different texture than the soap?

Like Lin said above, the yellow may turn orange. Orange micas, even from reputable suppliers, can do some really weird things! I made a soap with 3 Nurture orange micas that partially gelled. The gelled micas did the opposite of they were supposed to....the dark orange turned pale yellow, and the lightest orange turned dark orange! It was weeks before the colors settled and obeyed their color "genes".
 

TheGecko

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Let's address the steric spots first. My lye solution was 83* and my recipe had cocoa butter in it, and I think I might have been edging over the melting point of cocoa butter (oils were at 93* cocoa butter melting point is 95*) so if don't let my lye solution cool that much, I assume I will be better off. If It does cool too much, is there any way to heat it up safely?
My recipe is Olive, Palm, Coconut and Castor Oils, and Cocoa and Shea Butters. I masterbatch (pre-mixed) both my oils/butters and lye solution. My Lye Solution is typically around 70F-80F and is 'ready-to-use'. Since I can't reheat my lye, I reheat my oils/butters to about 100F-110F.

Now lets talk about the soda ash. It's not horrible, but I do have little white crystals here and there on the top. I've heard that you can spray 99% isopropyl alcohol on the soap after it's in the mold. I have some 70%, can I use that or should I track down some 99%?
91% or 99%. You can also cover your soap or you can plane, steam or wash it off. I've use alcohol and sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't.

On to the color morphing. I'm figuring this is because I'm not using a real brand name mica. It's for cold process soap, but it's just a generic mica that I got off of amazon. Is there any possibility the colors will come back after curing further?
It's less about using a 'name brand' and more about using a colorant that you know that is meant to be used in soap. My sister bought me a name brand set of micas...absolutely gorgeous colors that I would love to use, but here is the thing. While the website says that it's "AP certified to be nontoxic and is cosmetic grade", it doesn't say that it can be used in bath and body products. And that is key.

And even when you purchase your micas from a soap supplier...doesn't matter if it's Brambleberry, Nurture Soap, Rustic Escentuals, Mad Micas and so on an so forth...sometimes they morph. I used some Caribbean Blue...a bright and brilliant blue. Now I knew that what goes in the pot isn't always what comes out of the pot. Some of this is due to the colors of your oils and butters, some of this is due to the lye, some of this is due to your scent. My Caribbean Blue...it's green.

And another consideration, companies who might identify as 'soap suppliers' also cater to other bath and body crafts and even candle making. So it's always best to double-check the description or you'll end up with a mica that is great for bath bombs and lotions, but doesn't work with soap. Even worse, you bought two of them because it was on sale.

Well here's the culprit. The swirls were supposed to be brown, red, orange, and yellow, but I'm only seeing yellow and brown. On the bright side, I think my first in the pot swirl and first mica line look great and my new recipe behaved wonderfully. It smells amazing too. I used Rustic Woods and Rum from BB.
Looks really good.
 

Zing

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You still got great looking soap!
I have had only good experience with alcohol and preventing soda ash. Now just after pouring soap in my mold, I spray with alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, and a piece of cardboard. I also pile on the towels to gel. I haven't gotten soda ash ever since.
Good luck,
 

MellonFriend

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do you mean you thought the cocoa butter was re-solidifying? You hadn't poured anything into yet to make a solution, right?
Yes, I think the cocoa butter was resolidifying, but that's just a guess. It was after I had melted all of my oils together that I could see in the pot little light specks in the oils. I can't say for certain that it was the cocoa butter.

My Lye Solution is typically around 70F-80F and is 'ready-to-use'. Since I can't reheat my lye, I reheat my oils/butters to about 100F-110F.
That's really good to know, thanks for the info.

It's less about using a 'name brand' and more about using a colorant that you know that is meant to be used in soap.
This company does say that their micas can be used for CP soap and they even had recommended usage rates, and reviewers said that they worked in CP soap. I had good luck with three other batches before, but I had never used these colors specific colors so maybe I guess there are way too many factors to know if it was these colors, my new recipe, or the fragrance oil.

You still got great looking soap!
Thank you, @Zing ! I sincerely appreciate your optimism! 😊
 
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AliOop

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I agree the soap looks pretty -- and purple!

The yellow spots do not look like stearic spots to me; they look like unmixed micas. Let's just say that I have a lot of experience with those. ;)
 

MellonFriend

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The yellow spots do not look like stearic spots to me; they look like unmixed micas. Let's just say that I have a lot of experience with those. ;)
How do you avoid that? I did disperse them in oils, but maybe I didn't use enough oil. I'm making such small batches and my stick blender is so powerful that there is no way I can really stick blend them in. Maybe I should get one of those mini stick-blender/coffee foamers. 🤔
 

Lin19687

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How do you avoid that? I did disperse them in oils, but maybe I didn't use enough oil. I'm making such small batches and my stick blender is so powerful that there is no way I can really stick blend them in. Maybe I should get one of those mini stick-blender/coffee foamers. 🤔
Mix the colorant in a small cup of oils or in the large bowl of oils if just one color then SB the crap outta it. I still sometimes get a few streaks from mica if I didn't mix it well enough.
 

lenarenee

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How do you avoid that? I did disperse them in oils, but maybe I didn't use enough oil. I'm making such small batches and my stick blender is so powerful that there is no way I can really stick blend them in. Maybe I should get one of those mini stick-blender/coffee foamers. 🤔
On my screen they look like chunks of solids, most are whitish, not yellow. There's also holes which could be air bubbles, or stearic spots that were dragged out of the bar. Are any of those spots harder than the rest of the soap; can you dig them out? Mica blobs are usually color saturated and sparkly.

Another option for mixing micas is using removing small amounts of soap batter in a cup, mixing in the mica. That way you have more "liquid" for the micas to mix with.
 

AliOop

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I prefer the mini-stickblender for pre-dispersing the mica in a T or so of oil. You can watch some Tree Marie videos to see how she mixes hers with a palette knife. Some folks even put the mica and oil in a plastic bag and smush* it all around till all the lumps are gone.

*not smooch, lol
 

MellonFriend

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Another option for mixing micas is using removing small amounts of soap batter in a cup, mixing in the mica. That way you have more "liquid" for the micas to mix with.
This is funny because I actually did put some soap batter into my mica cups to help get more of the mica out, however I didn't stir it very well.

Are any of those spots harder than the rest of the soap; can you dig them out? Mica blobs are usually color saturated and sparkly.
I couldn't really dig them out. I tried to with a tooth pick, but they just seemed like the same consistency as the soap. Also didn't notice any burst of color like I would have expected if they were undissolved mica spots. Maybe they are actually spots of uncolored batter?

I think I have to just try again and make sure I mix everything in very well and see what happens next time. I made three batches of soap before this and didn't have a problem, so maybe it was just a fluke. 🤷‍♀️
 

earlene

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Here's a good video on mixing colorants:


I have also found that some colorant mixtures (the basic components within a specific colorant) do require more mixing than others, so uneven colors or streaks can happen even when the colorants all come from the same vendor, if I don't diligently mix them into the batter.
 

MellonFriend

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Here's a good video on mixing colorants:


I have also found that some colorant mixtures (the basic components within a specific colorant) do require more mixing than others, so uneven colors or streaks can happen even when the colorants all come from the same vendor, if I don't diligently mix them into the batter.
Thank you so much for that video, it was very helpful!
 

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