Any tips for changing lye concentration

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You can take many of the previous posts about soda ash with a grain of salt. For instance, it is not accurate to say that lye concentration, covering, and gelling don’t ever matter. All of those can and do make a huge difference for me, because I tend to soap with cool ingredients, and I only blend to emulsion.

Those who posted about never getting soda ash may be doing any of the following, alone or in combination:

~soaping at a higher temperature
~blending to a thicker trace
~making HP instead of CP
~using different recipes than someone who is getting ash
~soaping in a drier climate
~soaping with a higher lye concentration
~soaping at a higher elevation

All of those things affect whether ash may or may not develop. Remember, making soap involves a series of chemical reactions, so each change of conditions and processes can have an effect on any of the chemical reactions involved. That's why it is disingenuous for any soaper to claim that certain techniques “don’t matter” when it comes to preventing ash.

Maybe it doesn't matter for their recipe, or under their conditions - but it could and often does matter to someone else. Many of the other suggestions (higher lye concentration, covering, spraying with alcohol, gelling) can and absolutely do help those of us who do tend to get ash on our soaps because we soap cool and only blend to emulsion.
Thank you for this. You are very insightful!! I've done all of these things on your list except HP and higher elevation and only gotten ash once or twice during my first soaping efforts. I think the cause may have been either soaping too hot or the recipe. I was throwing the kitchen sink into my recipes but am now using less ingredients to achieve the desired effects. And I'm soaping cooler. But come to think of it, I got good results by having the lye solution melt my oil. :cool: I think I'll just thank the gods and keep soaping.
 
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I used to do a lot of heat-transfer soaping, as well, until I started masterbatching my lye solution.

And just to confirm, soaping hotter, and blending to a thicker trace, both help to prevent ash, not cause it. ;) Ash happens when the still-active lye solution reacts with the air, before the soap is fully saponified.

Since more heat and thicker trace both hasten saponification, one generally experiences less ash under those circumstances.
 
I used to do a lot of heat-transfer soaping, as well, until I started masterbatching my lye solution.

And just to confirm, soaping hotter, and blending to a thicker trace, both help to prevent ash, not cause it. ;) Ash happens when the still-active lye solution reacts with the air, before the soap is fully saponified.

Since more heat and thicker trace both hasten saponification, one generally experiences less ash under those circumstances.
Another piece of the puzzle added, thank you! I started getting ash and could not figure out why….because I am a stick blender abuser on the road to recovery I’ve been blending to emulsion, and I soap at 110.
 
I used to do a lot of heat-transfer soaping, as well, until I started masterbatching my lye solution.

And just to confirm, soaping hotter, and blending to a thicker trace, both help to prevent ash, not cause it. ;) Ash happens when the still-active lye solution reacts with the air, before the soap is fully saponified.

Since more heat and thicker trace both hasten saponification, one generally experiences less ash under those circumstances.
Not arguing with you, just curious. I tend to get ash when I soap over 100 and under 85. I just started soaping and live it in the Central Valley of California. It’s have central air but it’s still hot here. I wonder if the ambient temperature has anything to do with ash formation. Wonder what will happen n the winter 🤔
 
I’m not far from you, @ewhitake - out in the East Bay. I’ll be curious as to your testing. I’ve solved for ash no matter my LC or soaping temps by covering my soap in the mold once it sets up and freshly cut bars for the first 3-5 days with plastic wrap. Nothing I’ve tried has been as reliable as doing this for me. 😊
 
I’m not far from you, @ewhitake - out in the East Bay. I’ll be curious as to your testing. I’ve solved for ash no matter my LC or soaping temps by covering my soap in the mold once it sets up and freshly cut bars for the first 3-5 days with plastic wrap. Nothing I’ve tried has been as reliable as doing this for me. 😊
Hello Neighbor 👋🏼 when I first started soaping I was very impatient and I normally soaped around 110°. And would almost always get Ash. I cover my molds with either plastic wrap or the little wooden cover that came with some of them. As I read an experimented, I started to soap cooler by that I mean, under 100° but above 90. Those bars don’t have any ash. They were also covered with saran wrap or that little wooden cover. I just made a ghost swirl and got distracted and soaked lower than 87°. Those bars got a little ash. I have oven processed. I have wrapped in blankets. I have left on the counter. The only thing that I can see that gives me ash is soaping over 100 or under 87. And just watched I’ll do something tomorrow to totally negate what I just said! 😏
 
I wonder if the ambient temperature has anything to do with ash formation.
Sure does, along with your humidity level. 😊

I only listed the most common things related to development of ash, not every single possibility. As noted, any change to your process (which includes ambient temp and humidity) has the potential to change the chemical reactions involved in making soap.

Are you 100% sure you didn’t change a single thing except the temperature on the batches that had ash, vs those that didn’t? No different ingredients, different mold, new FOs or EOs, zero difference in emulsion or trace?
 
Sure does, along with your humidity level. 😊

I only listed the most common things related to development of ash, not every single possibility. As noted, any change to your process (which includes ambient temp and humidity) has the potential to change the chemical reactions involved in making soap.

Are you 100% sure you didn’t change a single thing except the temperature on the batches that had ash, vs those that didn’t? No different ingredients, different mold, new FOs or EOs, zero difference in emulsion or trace?
I’ve probably changed everything!! I’ve never made the same thing twice!! I’ll keep praying to the ash gods!!
 
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