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I've been trying to imagine what people are talking about when they say their soap volcanoed. I think I know now. I've made a total of 8 or 10 batches of soap, most of them in a 4" mold. I started off trying not to gel my soaps because I use fresh goat milk in all of them, but after a lot of reading here I decided to try gelling. I've insulated the past couple batches, but haven't seen anything that looks like gel phase as far as color and opaque-ness goes. The last soap I insulated looks beautiful and smooth, so I decided to gel this coffee garden soap. I did several things different from my normal process. Recipe as follows:

Castor oil - 5%
Coconut oil - 25%
Olive oil- 35%
Goat tallow - 35%
Water : lye ratio - 2.7 : 1
Superfat - 5%

For a 4" mold (16 oz oils) I used 2.26 oz. of NaOH and 6.11 oz. liquid in the form of 3 oz distilled water and 3.1 oz. cold, raw goat milk. I added 1 1/2 tsp. fine coffee grounds to the water and dissolved the lye into the coffee water. I combined the cold goat milk with the oils before adding the lye/coffee water. Both the oils and lye solution were 97°F when I combined them.

The batter took a long time to come to trace. I am still inept at recognizing emulsion vs trace, and figured I was probably at light trace, so I added 1/2 oz. of a blend of rosemary, clary sage and lavender essential oil. I still stick blended and stirred for another 5-10 minutes before it reached what I now think was light trace and poured it into the mold. The batter was up to 114°F when I poured it. I spritzed it with alcohol, covered it with a cardboard box and a towel and tucked it away on the counter. Half an hour later I checked it and the temp was down to about 100°. I checked it again a couple hour later and it was over 135°, purple in the middle and had a little volcano in the center! 8 hours later it's still 105°.

So, to figure out what happened. I did two things different than I had before. First, I changed the water : lye ratio from my normal 2 : 1 to 2.7 : 1, hoping to slow down trace. That seemed to have worked, but I'm guessing it also contributed to overheating. Secondly, I had never brewed coffee in a lye solution before, always mixing my lye with 100% frozen goat milk cubes. Does coffee produce heat, too?

I assume volcanoed soap is fine to use, it'll just have a hole in the middle? I have been learning so much about soapmaking and realize I have barely made a dent in the possibilities! I'm dreaming soap dreams at night. This is so much fun!
 

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That's a wee blip - not really a volcano. If it continued to overheat you would have seen a proper volcano. It should be fine. We used to have sticky thread on here that showed all sorts of things - like volcanoes, alien brains, 'teeth', lye cavities, and soap on a stick. Not sure where that's gone. @Relle do you know?
 
That's a wee blip - not really a volcano. If it continued to overheat you would have seen a proper volcano. It should be fine. We used to have sticky thread on here that showed all sorts of things - like volcanoes, alien brains, 'teeth', lye cavities, and soap on a stick. Not sure where that's gone. @Relle do you know?

Is it this one?

Thread 'A picture of ricing, volcanos, separating, overheating' https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/a-picture-of-ricing-volcanos-separating-overheating.52097/
 
With a hole like that, you may have a heat tunnel with unreacted lye. When you cut the soap, please check it carefully for any wet liquid, chunky dry spots, or “teeth.”
 
Wow! I stand corrected. Yes, what I have here is a wee blip and nowhere near a kerblewy. Thank you for the "no longer a sticky" reference pictures, artemis.

This morning, the soap is still dark in the center. I'm hoping the color evens out as it it cures. My inexperienced mind concludes that if it heated enough to blip, it should have gelled completely. No matter if it's imperfect though. I made it for my 9-year-old who discovered that a different batch I made with coffee grounds added at trace takes pitch off his hands when he's helping his dad with the sawmill! I don't think my boy will care if the soap has a goofy color. He informed me that he washes his hands a lot more than he used to since I started making soap, because he likes it so much!

With a hole like that, you may have a heat tunnel with unreacted lye. When you cut the soap, please check it carefully for any wet liquid, chunky dry spots, or “teeth.”
Ooooh, I will check it carefully. I stirred the lye into the coffee water until the temp started coming back down, but maybe I didn't use enough water to both brew the coffee and dissolve the lye. I'm planning on cutting each big bar in half anyway, so I'll give it a good looking over. Thank you!
 

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Ooooh, I will check it carefully. I stirred the lye into the coffee water until the temp started coming back down, but maybe I didn't use enough water to both brew the coffee and dissolve the lye. I'm planning on cutting each big bar in half anyway, so I'll give it a good looking over. Thank you!

Wait-a-minute wait-a-minute
Maybe this is just new to me.
So, you used then heat of the lye solution to brew the coffee?

I brew the coffee, then dry out the spent grounds, then use the cooled coffee to make my lye solution.

Not saying you were wrong, or that it caused your problems, just trying to be clear about the details.
 
Wait-a-minute wait-a-minute
Maybe this is just new to me.
So, you used then heat of the lye solution to brew the coffee?

I brew the coffee, then dry out the spent grounds, then use the cooled coffee to make my lye solution.

Not saying you were wrong, or that it caused your problems, just trying to be clear about the details.
Exactly. I found that method online, and my aunt also does it that way. I also read that you need to have at least an equal amount of water as lye for it to all dissolve properly. In this case, I used 2.26 oz of lye and 3 oz water and rounded out the rest of the liquid in the recipe with milk added to the oils. With the addition of dry coffee grounds, maybe it wasn't enough water to dissolve all the lye? The soap is still not ready to unmold, so I'll have to wait until this afternoon at least before I cut it and see what it looks like inside.

This is what it looks like right now, about 20 hours after I poured it. It is room temperature.
 

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Does adding extra liquid slow down trace?

Does adding extra liquid encourage gel phase or overheating?

Does adding extra liquid increase the time to unmolding and cutting?

Does coffee encourage gel phase or overheating?

I had a small amount of batter that didn't fit in the loaf mold, so I put it in a cavity mold, spritzed it with alcohol, covered it with plastic wrap and left it uninsulated on the counter. It didn't heat or gel, and the color is much creamier than the gelled loaf.
 

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made it for my 9-year-old who discovered that a different batch I made with coffee grounds added at trace takes pitch off his hands when he's helping his dad with the sawmill! I don't think my boy will care if the soap has a goofy color. He informed me that he washes his hands a lot more than he used to since I started making soap, because he likes it so much!
Very cool! What a great compliment! :)
 
Exactly. I found that method online, and my aunt also does it that way. I also read that you need to have at least an equal amount of water as lye for it to all dissolve properly. In this case, I used 2.26 oz of lye and 3 oz water and rounded out the rest of the liquid in the recipe with milk added to the oils. With the addition of dry coffee grounds, maybe it wasn't enough water to dissolve all the lye? The soap is still not ready to unmold, so I'll have to wait until this afternoon at least before I cut it and see what it looks like inside.

This is what it looks like right now, about 20 hours after I poured it. It is room temperature.
It sounds like the lye was dissolved before you added the coffee - so should be fine. However - if you mixed the coffee/lye solution at a high heat with your oils that would've helped to keep the temperature of the soap high. You should let it cool to room temp ( or at least to under 40 degrees) before mixing wiht oils.
 
It sounds like the lye was dissolved before you added the coffee - so should be fine. However - if you mixed the coffee/lye solution at a high heat with your oils that would've helped to keep the temperature of the soap high. You should let it cool to room temp ( or at least to under 40 degrees) before mixing wiht oils.
Actually, I added dry coffee grounds to distilled water and added the lye to that. It got very hot and brewed the coffee. I let it cool down to 97° F (36.1° C) before adding it to my oils, which were also at 97° F. So I guess maybe with this recipe and a 2.7 : 1 water : lye ratio, I don't need to insulate it much for it to gel?

I unmolded the soap this evening and the bottom is still pretty soft. It kind of slurped out of the mold, but I really want to make another batch tomorrow, and I only have one small loaf mold, so... I'll wait a while more to cut it. I am anxious to see the inside, whether or not the gel was complete and if there's a hole down the middle. There is no separation, just looks like it stuck to the bottom of the mold and rumpled the outside surface when it came out. There are a couple little pin-prick size holes along the sides, but other than that it looks good.

Very cool! What a great compliment! :)
Yes. When a little boy starts paying attention to soap, it's a good thing!🥰
 

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Actually, I added dry coffee grounds to distilled water and added the lye to that. It got very hot and brewed the coffee. I let it cool down to 97° F (36.1° C) before adding it to my oils, which were also at 97° F. So I guess maybe with this recipe and a 2.7 : 1 water : lye ratio, I don't need to insulate it much for it to gel?

I unmolded the soap this evening and the bottom is still pretty soft. It kind of slurped out of the mold, but I really want to make another batch tomorrow, and I only have one small loaf mold, so... I'll wait a while more to cut it. I am anxious to see the inside, whether or not the gel was complete and if there's a hole down the middle. There is no separation, just looks like it stuck to the bottom of the mold and rumpled the outside surface when it came out. There are a couple little pin-prick size holes along the sides, but other than that it looks good.


Yes. When a little boy starts paying attention to soap, it's a good thing!🥰
When I make my coffee soap, I add the lye to cooled brewed coffee. It heats up more than water alone. I would like to try your method of having the lye brew the coffee and skip the coffeemaker step!

As long as you allow the lye / coffee mixture to cool, it should not overheat your soap batter. I have not noticed a problem with my soap batter, and I usually mix my oils and lye solution together around 90 - 110F.
 
When I make my coffee soap, I add the lye to cooled brewed coffee. It heats up more than water alone. I would like to try your method of having the lye brew the coffee and skip the coffeemaker step!

As long as you allow the lye / coffee mixture to cool, it should not overheat your soap batter. I have not noticed a problem with my soap batter, and I usually mix my oils and lye solution together around 90 - 110F.
I didn't strain the coffee grounds out. They're very scratchy, which might help with getting the pitch off hands, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy that quality in a shower bar. But yes, that coffee brewed nice and dark, and in a hurry. Some people say lye mixed with coffee stinks, so I mixed it outside. I thought it smelled pretty good!

My coffee/lye was down to 97° when I mixed it with my oils which were also 97°. So I guess maybe just the extra water helped produce the gel heat.
 

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