Another Lye Heavy/Zap Test Question

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tricia819

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I think I may have a lye heavy / lye pocketed soap. I had two lists of ingredients next to each other, one for an 8 pound batch and one for a 10 pound batch. I know I used the 8 pound oil measurements but, I am wondering whether I might have used the 10 pound lye or 10 pound lye and water measurements.

I made 4 2-pound "bars" out of the 8 pound batch. One bar is kind of crumbly, one may have lye pockets, and two seem fine. I don't know of anyone locally who can confirm or deny these things.

I have been reading lots of forum threads for info and, from those, my plan is this... wait a month, zap-test. If no reaction, yay. If reaction, wait another month. Repeat for a year. If still reacting, make into laundry soap.

My question is, is this a good plan? Any feedback? Something I may not know? I am new. These are my 6th - 9th "bars" of soap and my 4th attempt at soaping. My previous soap is fine.
 

navigator9

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I think I may have a lye heavy / lye pocketed soap. I had two lists of ingredients next to each other, one for an 8 pound batch and one for a 10 pound batch. I know I used the 8 pound oil measurements but, I am wondering whether I might have used the 10 pound lye or 10 pound lye and water measurements.

I made 4 2-pound "bars" out of the 8 pound batch. One bar is kind of crumbly, one may have lye pockets, and two seem fine. I don't know of anyone locally who can confirm or deny these things.

I have been reading lots of forum threads for info and, from those, my plan is this... wait a month, zap-test. If no reaction, yay. If reaction, wait another month. Repeat for a year. If still reacting, make into laundry soap.

My question is, is this a good plan? Any feedback? Something I may not know? I am new. These are my 6th - 9th "bars" of soap and my 4th attempt at soaping. My previous soap is fine.
Did your soap gel? If not, it's going to take longer to finish saponifying. I usually give it a week, just to be sure. If it didn't gel and it's been at least several days, zap test it. If it zaps, give it a few more days and zap test again. If it's still zappy after that much time, I think it's safe to assume that more time is not going to solve the problem. There's no point in testing for a year, it won't change. At that point, my guess would be that it's lye heavy. Did you double check your recipe?
 

DeeAnna

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It may take a few weeks before a slightly lye heavy soap becomes zap free. But if the soap is still zappy after 6-8 weeks, it's not likely the problem will go away with more time. If that ends up being the situation, I would probably look at rebatching or other options.
 

Susie

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It would be smarter if you made smaller batches, and not have the ingredients all measured out together. The "bars" you are talking about, we call loaves. And if yours are older than 24 hours, you probably need to cut them. Otherwise, you are not going to have very nice looking bars.
 

tricia819

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Yeah, the actual recipe is fine. I am just not sure whether I might have used the lye/lye-water measurements out of the wrong column. I know, Never have two recipes right together. In any event, I just don't know for sure whether what I am seeing is normal or not.

The reason I was gonna try for a year was because... the scientist lady... Deena... or something (sorry! don't hate me!) and the guy who wrote the Scientific Soaping book said that sometimes too much lye can cure itself out in time.
 

tricia819

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Ok, thank you DeAnna! (sorry for the name flub earlier)
I wasn't sure how long to wait.

I really don't want them to be bad because they are so pretty and they smell so good.
That said, I really don't want to burn people and that takes precedence over pretty.
 

DeeAnna

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No problem, Tricia. Just call me Dee.

What Kevin Dunn reported is a modest amount of lye heaviness will fade after several months. He looked at lye discounts as low as -5% (meaning 5% excess lye).

A bunch of us experimented with a very lye heavy castile a year or more ago. We found a whopping lye excess of up to -40% can fade in 6-8 weeks IF ... and I want to stress "IF" ... there is enough water in the batch. We were using a lye concentration of about 15%, which is very very low.

A few folks (I think Carolyn -- cmzaha) wanted to know if a super lye-heavy soap could be made with more typical amounts of water. These soaps did NOT become skin safe after months of cure. So there are limits to what a long cure can do.

I'm just doing a very rough mental estimate about your situation. You say you might have used lye for a 10 lb batch but used only 8 lb of fats. I assumed your lye is based on a 5% superfat. Allowing for the fact that lye is not 100% pure, the actual lye excess might be in the realm of about -10% to -15%. That's a fair amount of lye excess. If you don't absolutely know you mis-measured, however, I'd check for zap in a week or so. If it is pretty zappy, it's worth letting the soap cure 6-8 weeks and checking again for zap.

I would say if you're having trouble with emulsion failure, you may want to back down on your batch size and focus on technique. Your comment "...One [loaf] is kind of crumbly, one may have lye pockets..." suggests you are having trouble with the physical process of making soap. Smaller batches will let you focus on skill building.
 

JayJay

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Ok, thank you DeAnna! (sorry for the name flub earlier)
I wasn't sure how long to wait.

I really don't want them to be bad because they are so pretty and they smell so good.
That said, I really don't want to burn people and that takes precedence over pretty.
I ditto Susie and Dee's advice of making smaller batches. I started out by making batches with 30 ounces of oil max. That way, it didn't hurt so badly when the soap didn't turn out as expected. But if it did turn out well, I had enough soap to enjoy until the next batch cured.

I'm just curious, why are you making so much soap at one time? Are you planning to sell or give the soap to lots of others? I ask because I was warned heavily about not doing that until I had lots of experience under my belt. You seem like a careful person, so I don't think you would be carelessly distributing "bad" soap. But I just wondered if you were planning to distribute. If not, it would same you money and frustration to make smaller batches until you have more practice.
 

tricia819

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I was making a larger batch because I am still nervous around the lye (it is really static-y) and I thought that if I made a larger batch, I wouldn't have to measure it out as often. I did use the dryer sheet this time and it helped but, it wasn't perfect. Plus, I am just really excited to try different techniques.

I am using loaf pans from the dollar store as molds and they hold just under 2 pounds of soap so, the first time, I made one loaf. The second and third times, I made 2 loaves and the fourth time, I made 4. I guess it is back down to 1 or 2 loaves tops.

I may also go ahead and just master batch my lye (50/50 mix then add remaining water at soap time) so I am not so nervous every time. If I do, is there anything I should know about storage of the lye water? Can I heat lye water in the microwave or will I blow up my house?

Oh, and yes, there was a 5% superfat and my oil and lye were at a relatively low temperature, high 70's-low 80's.
 

cmzaha

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I would not heat up lye water in the micro. If you think you need to heat it up put it in a pan of hot water. I do not know if it will blow up in the micro, but I do know ammonia solutions can blow up. Your 50/50 mix does not have to be warm to use. If your recipe calls for hard butters or tallow you may want to soap a little warmer to avoid what is called False Trace. It can happen if soaping too cool with a high lard, tallow or butter recipe, resulting in the hard oils re-solidifying. DeeAnna is correct I tried the lye heavy -30 with normal water and I ended up salting out the soap after a year, shredding it and adding it into my rebatch scrap bucket.

I assume you are using silicone loaf pans from the dollar store. Metal pans cannot be used
 

kchaystack

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There is no need to warm a master batch lye solution. It will heat up a little when you add the remaining water to the solution- not as much as when you first added the lye to make your 1:1 solution tho.
 

IrishLass

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I master-batch my lye as a matter of course (50% solution). Yes- you can heat it up if need be, but I would highly suggest only doing so in a hot water bath (that's how I do it). Of course, I do realize that if I heated my oils hotter, I wouldn't need to heat up my le solution, but that would mean that I'd have to jack with my 'system' that I've been using successfully for years (I confess that I can sometimes be lazy about changing things that work for me 'as-is'). lol

Make sure to store your lye solution in a container that is compatible with storing lye solutions, because some are not compatible. For what it's worth, high density polyethylene is perfect for this job (recycle code of HDPE #5, which you will find located in the triangle on the bottom of the container). I myself use a re-claimed laundry detergent bottle made out of HDPE #5 for my solution storage container. Works great. :thumbup:


IrishLass )
 

tricia819

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LOL, nuts! I just threw out about 3 empty laundry soap bottles to make room for more soaping supplies! The Magi strikes again!

That said, thanks for the lye info. I am off all next week for vacation so, if I can find an appropriate container (or two) I suppose I have no excuse for not dealing with the lye issue.

Also, after reading more forums, I am wondering whether my crumbly soap may just be a "too much TD" problem. I also spilled a bit of my TD/water mix in one of my molds before pouring in the batter. I wiped it out but, not too well, that may be part of the pocket issue since I really only see one pocket that I am really concerned about.

That said, I will still treat these soaps carefully and still test carefully. Better safe than sorry but, a girl can hope for the best, yes?
 

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