Am I doing something wrong, no stick blender for emulsion

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stephswan

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Hi All,

I have finally made 2 batches (but have not taken them out of the mould yet), but I think I might be doing something wrong.
I've been scared to use the stick blender, so I have just been using a spatula and mixing it until it's creamy and what I think is a super light trace. there is no oil sitting on top, and when i spin it around to get it on the sides, it leaves an even film. I am only making really small batches (16 oz of oil to start, 4 oz of distilled water, and 2.2 of lye solution per the soap calc), so I'm mixing it maybe 1-3 minutes top.
After I add the fragrance oil and mica and mix a little more, I pour it into the silicone moulds. Why I think I'm doing something wrong -
The both times after I've poured the batter into the moulds, it is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. isn't the batter supposed to get hotter as the time goes on?
I typically pour the lye into the oils when it is 85 degrees and oil is 95 degrees.
The first batch will take a few more days (i'm assuming) to take out of the mould (INS 143 and after 48 hours, the sides were still tearing. This second batch, I added SL so I'm hoping it'll be faster to unmould. Will I know if I did something wrong? I'm worried that I didn't get it to emulsify. I know I have to let it cure for at least 4-6 weeks, so I want to double check to see if I'll know I missed up before waiting all those weeks.

Thanks for all your feedback!
xx
 

jcandleattic

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As long as it's mixed and hasn't separated in the mold you should be fine. You will know if it separates as there will be an oily oozy mess in the mold.
It will only get much hotter in the mold if it goes through gel stage.

Depending on your oils and the fact that it's thinly traced it could take up to 72 hours for full saponification, and to be hard enough to remove from the molds.

A way to tell if it got fully emulified, and mixed properly is to do a zap test on the bars once they are cut. (search zap test here and it will bring up a ton of information on it)
 

Quanta

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What is your exact recipe? Some ingredients will speed up trace, others will slow it down. Certain combinations of oils take a loooong time to firm up enough to unmold.

1-3 minutes of stirring doesn't sound like nearly enough time if you're not stick blending. That's about how long it takes me if I stick blend the living daylights out of it. The only way you could get away with only stirring it that long is if you're using a fragrance that really accelerates. What fragrance did you use?
 

jcandleattic

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The only way you could get away with only stirring it that long is if you're using a fragrance that really accelerates.
Not necessarily true.
If I hand stir my oils/lye with no FO it takes about 4-5 minutes only to reach a stable emulsion using my whisk. When I stick blend it usually is blended to a thin trace in about 30-45 seconds.
It's really going to depend on the oils and temp of soaping. I soap at RT.
 

GemstonePony

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In general, the larger the batch, the more heat it will generate. Tiny batches like what you're describing don't have enough mass to hold the heat they generate, and tend to cool to room temperature.
Also, IME smaller batches saponify more slowly, and thus take longer to harden. Precisely what is in your blend of oils would also impact how quickly I would expect your soap to harden as well.
Also, FWIW, the longest I've hand-stirred soap to reach trace is 10 minutes. 2-3 minutes may well be on the light side, depending on the oils in question.
 

stephswan

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What is your exact recipe? Some ingredients will speed up trace, others will slow it down. Certain combinations of oils take a loooong time to firm up enough to unmold.

1-3 minutes of stirring doesn't sound like nearly enough time if you're not stick blending. That's about how long it takes me if I stick blend the living daylights out of it. The only way you could get away with only stirring it that long is if you're using a fragrance that really accelerates. What fragrance did you use?
My first batch using awaken fragrance oil from Nurture Soap.
Screen Shot 2021-04-20 at 4.26.21 PM.png


My 2nd batch - with Pear and Lilly FO from nature garden candles
Screen Shot 2021-04-20 at 4.26.38 PM.png


I don't think these fragrance oils accelerated the batter much...
My first batch, after 24 hours, the top looked a little slimy but after 48 hours, it looked more matte.
My 2nd batch, it doesn't really look like the oils are separating but I'm also worried that I can't even tell (just poured 30 mins ago).
 

amd

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When working with accelerating fragrances I will use a whisk to blend my batter to emulsion which takes about 30 seconds (without the fragrance added), I can whisk my recipe to light trace in about 2 minutes (again without fragrance). So depending on your recipe, the time it takes to hand stir to trace may vary. I agree with JC, if your soap hasn't separated in the mold, you probably had a good emulsion/trace in place.

Using a stick blender isn't as scary as it sounds. Make sure you know how it functions (which button does what speed and which button you want to use), Insert it into your mixture, give it a good burp to release air bubbles (that's usually the first thing that gives people trouble is air will come shooting out of the bell causing batter to go everywhere), and then start to run the stickblender. You don't need to do a lot of vigourous movement of the stick blender, just gently around your bowl, and not too close to the surface. Make sure that your bowl has head room for mixing if the mixture does try to rise up and splash out the bowl.

Congrats on getting your first batches done! Usually mixing the lye is the scary first step.
 

stephswan

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Congrats on getting your first batches done! Usually mixing the lye is the scary first step.
Thanks! I was just trying to avoid the stick blender until I understood how emulsion looks (I'm just so scared of stick blending too much!).

I guess I should have whisked in the beginning, but I did after I added FO and micas - does this also help with emulsion or am I too late at this stage?
 

stephswan

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Here is how my first batch looked when I tried unmoulding it after 24 hours. It doesn't look like there's an oily film (but I also think I stirred this batch more than 3 minutes).
IMG_5328.jpg


My second batch, it does look like oil is separating on a few pieces?
IMG_5331.jpg
 

amd

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You'll know when you've stickblended too much. At the beginning if you're just doing a single color soap with no fancy designs, the worst that will happen is that you have a thick pudding like batter to put into your mold. One thing that I did when I first started was to run the stick blender and do a regular count to 20, stop and check where it's at. Not at trace? Stick blend for a count of 10, check again. I continued doing counts of 10 until I had the batter where I wanted it to be, kind of keeping track of how many counts of 10 I was doing. It's ok and not going to ruin your soap if you don't run the stickblender continuously.

I guess I should have whisked in the beginning, but I did after I added FO and micas - does this also help with emulsion or am I too late at this stage?
It doesn't matter. Typically I add my fragrance at the beginning so I don't forget it, and when doing a single color soap I'll add the color at the beginning as well. I use a few fragrances regularly that accelerate, so in those cases I add at the very end so that I can better control my designs. Some colors will thicken up your mixture as well - I have a yellow mica that will thicken more than any color (even if I hand stir it in), and TD is known for moving things along quicker as well.

Looking at your recipe, it's pretty similar to mine in the butter content, so I'm not surprised that you were able to get a good result with only hand stirring. Butters do tend to move things along. I've not used beeswax though, so that may have contributed as well.
 

SoapDaddy70

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Patience is the hardest thing to deal with at the beginning. Like someone above said, the smaller batches don't generate a lot of heat so they will take a lot longer to fully saponify and get hard enough to remove from those individual cavity molds. For one of my first batches in an individual mold I had to wait almost 5 days to remove it from the mold. Granted it was 75% Olive Oil Bastille style soap recipe but it took forever to get hard enough to remove from the mold and my impatience ruined 2 of the 3 bars. I know you are dying to see the finished bars of your first batch but just have the patience to wait. I think both batches look good but need a couple more days to harden up.
 

The_Phoenix

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For me, my favorite way of seeing if I’m at emulsion is to lift my sb or spatula out and observe the batter. If I can see the separation of oils and water, it is not yet emulsified. It will looks like tiny droplets muddled within the batter as it slides down the sub or spatula. The stainless steel of a sb is the best at showing this effect. When it is emulsified, there is no separation and it is consistently fluid. It can still not yet be emulsified yet look creamy and cling to the sides. Once you develop an eye for recognizing a fully emulsified batter, you’ll be good to go. It takes practice. And really observing the batter.

Don’t be afraid of your sb but get to know it’s capabilities. I personally prefer to use my spatula to get it started for a few minutes and then use short bursts with my sb. Your recipe has a decent amount of hard oils (25% CO, 15% SB, 5% CB,3% beeswax) so it will be very important to use your spatula and then your sb.
 

The_Phoenix

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Thanks! I was just trying to avoid the stick blender until I understood how emulsion looks (I'm just so scared of stick blending too much!).

I guess I should have whisked in the beginning, but I did after I added FO and micas - does this also help with emulsion or am I too late at this stage?
You can still work towards emulsion or trace after adding micas or fo. You’re on the right path. Be patient with yourself. 🥰
 

earlene

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Being patient is torture...
Impatience is the absence of peacefulness. Being impatient fosters anxiety & stress, in fact stress hormones, cortisol & adrenaline rise, which when puts the body & mind into a state of stress. As a prolonged state. impatience can lead to anger, rage, depression. Ask yourself - do you know anyone who is impatient most of the time and seems to be happy and healthy?

Learning peaceful patience is beneficial to the body, the mind and your soap. 😻

Whoever thought soapmaking could be Zen? (Actually, some have, but that's another topic.)

@stephswan , your soap looks quite nice. I hope you post the cut bars.
 

stephswan

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Impatience is the absence of peacefulness. Being impatient fosters anxiety & stress, in fact stress hormones, cortisol & adrenaline rise, which when puts the body & mind into a state of stress. As a prolonged state. impatience can lead to anger, rage, depression. Ask yourself - do you know anyone who is impatient most of the time and seems to be happy and healthy?

Learning peaceful patience is beneficial to the body, the mind and your soap. 😻

Whoever thought soapmaking could be Zen? (Actually, some have, but that's another topic.)

@stephswan , your soap looks quite nice. I hope you post the cut bars.
Thanks @earlene! I posted the unmoulded soaps here: Soda Ash and when to plane? (bc i have another question about soda ash :oops:).

I would like to think I have a lot of patience as my dad has drilled it in my head ever since I was little waiting in lines lol.
 
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