Are my soap-making endeavors cursed?

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by misfities, Mar 1, 2015.

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  1. Mar 1, 2015 #1

    misfities

    misfities

    misfities

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    I grasp there's a bit of a learning curve to all this, but I've made five batches of soap so far... following each recipe from a variety of sources. Something seems to go wrong with each batch and, sure, I'm learning a little from my mistakes, but I'd like to pop off a nice, solid batch that I can be proud of. The only ones that I can do right are melt and pour, but I don't know what it is. Is cold process just not within my grasp?:problem:
     
  2. Mar 1, 2015 #2

    JayBird

    JayBird

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    If you have a desire to do it, please don't give up after five batches.

    My first two batches were wonderful. I had studied, studied, and studied more, and it worked great! Then came a series of batches that froze, cracked, made my house smell like death, or chapped my skin. I was very discouraged. Then I got into a groove that resulted in a few go-to recipes, and I can do no wrong with those.

    For a while, I only worked with my go-to recipes, but am trying new things, so I'm back in fail mode. It's more fun to fail this time because I have enough experience under my belt to know where it went wrong, and some of the mistakes turn into "ah-ha" moments.
     
  3. Mar 1, 2015 #3

    Obsidian

    Obsidian

    Obsidian

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    I would suggest you start with a basic, plain soap until you have the process down. No additives, especially ones that overheat like sugars and milks. You should also post any recipes you want to try on here so we can double check them for you, some thats are out on the net are quite terrible. For a basic recipe, try this.

    50% lard or palm or tallow (I prefer lard)
    20% coconut oil
    25% Olive oil
    5% castor

    Use the default water amount on soapcalc and leave the superfat at 5%. Make a small batch, 1-2 pounds at most. Don't give up, we've all stumbled especially at the beginning. I though all my early batches were failures because they weren't exactly what I was trying for but it was mainly me being hard on myself.
    If you post pictures of your batches and what kind of issues you had with each, we can help you figure out whats happening.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
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  4. Mar 1, 2015 #4

    misfities

    misfities

    misfities

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    Thank you. I'm attaching photos of some issues I've had. The chalky-looking ones are a batch of castille soap. The yellow soap pictured is an aloe, olive oil mix. All are cold process. The aloe soap seems to be firming up ok, but I can't figure out the nearly-microscopic black spots. I added a slight bit of green colorant after trace and blended it real well before pouring. I don't know if the black spots have to do with that, but I'm more confused by the 100% castille olive oil soap. I've included a pic of my cutting board which is apparently permanently stained from this soap?

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  5. Mar 1, 2015 #5

    Jaccart789

    Jaccart789

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    It just practice. You will get it. If you have a passion for it then you will get better. You need to really understand the science of soaping...read...read... and read...also watch a million videos. I am obsessed with everything soap/bath/beauty but it took a couple years to become good at it, and it was and still is an obsession. I think of myself as a beginner. However, when I have questions you will see me on here asking the pros, so you are in the right place. Give it time! Soaping is expensive but the feeling you have when people tell you they will never shower with anything else is when you found your hobby or maybe business. Good luck and don't give up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  6. Mar 1, 2015 #6

    KristaY

    KristaY

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    Can you post your recipes and procedures for both batches? That will really help troubleshoot any problems. Remember that Castile or any soap high in soft (liquid) oils will take much longer to unmold, cut and cure. For a good castile bar it should really cure up to a year. Yours looks like it has a lot of soda ash which is harmless. In the yellow batch did you use a powdered colorant? If so, did you mix it in a bit of oil before adding it? That might be the small, dark specks you're seeing.

    Don't give up if you've got a passion for soap making! We've all been there and felt just as you're feeling now. Consider Obsidian's advice on a good, basic recipe to get the feel of how it behaves. Those ingredients are easy to come by and not as costly as some.

    Lastly, play with Soap Calc. That's one of the best ways to learn what oils add what properties to your soap. They also have other areas at the top that give some really useful info. Good luck!
     
  7. Mar 1, 2015 #7

    Obsidian

    Obsidian

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    The castile looks fine, the chalky stuff is just soda ash. Its not great looking but harmless. You can wash it off or use a soap planer and shave it off.

    With the yellow soap, did you add the colorant dry? If so, the little specks are probably tiny bits of powder. I always wet my dry ingredients before adding. I used dry milk powder once and ended up with brown burnt milk specks. These are minor issues, we all have been there. You should be proud you made soap, even if there are slight cosmetic issues.

    The stuff on your cutting board could be either oil or FO's, was the castile scented? If its not scent, your board is still usable for food.
    Next time, lay down some freezer paper or even waxed paper before you cut your soap. Another option is to buy a plastic cutting board just for soap.

    You should have seen my first soap, I used a red mold and my loaf was stained bright orange, looked like cheese. My second batch went through gel so hot it flattened out the pretty top I made and my first castile cracked like the grand canyon.
     
  8. Mar 1, 2015 #8

    misfities

    misfities

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    Thanks. Your post was a big help. I realize now that my mistake on the yellow (Aloe) soap was adding the powder colorant without first mixing it with alcohol. And thanks for your talk about soda ash. I think that might be what this is. I will let this soap cure for a long, long time and just learn from watching how it hardens from week to week, month to month. Thank you all.
     
  9. Mar 1, 2015 #9

    Susie

    Susie

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    Here are a couple of videos that might be helpful:

    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9IHRkv0-f4[/ame]

    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFTm7Ynyatw[/ame]
     
  10. Mar 1, 2015 #10

    The Efficacious Gentleman

    The Efficacious Gentleman

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    I would make the recipe that obsidian posted. No colour, just an eo or fo that is known for behaving well.

    Here is an important tip - don't change too much! If you go from one 'failed' batch to another and change the whole recipe, you are then facing new challenges rather than being able to work on the issues from the last batch.

    Once you can consistently make the recipe above, make one change at a time. Once actually making soap becomes routine, those basic issues are covered and you can add new issues like additives that cause heating or scents that don't behave well
     
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  11. Mar 1, 2015 #11

    Obsidian

    Obsidian

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    Glad to help but don't even mix your colors with alcohol, that would be a disaster in soap. Mix them with water or oil, I use water for oxides and oil for mica.
     
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  12. Mar 1, 2015 #12

    navigator9

    navigator9

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    When there are so many tempting techniques and ingredients out there, the last thing newbies want to hear is to start simple and go slow, but it really is the best advice for anyone wanting to learn the art of soapmaking. Once you get that down pat, all the swirls and fragrance combos and exotic ingredients will still be there waiting for you. As suggested above, no color and no fragrance at first. It will still be fabulous soap!!! Trust me.

    Olive, coconut and palm oils are called the holy trinity of soapmaking oils for a reason, and they're a good place to start. I would make smaller batches, using these three oils, and vary the proportions, and observe what happens to the soap. By not using color or fragrance, you can relax a bit, and really concentrate on what's going on in the soap pot. Once you can consistently produce a successful batch of soap, then you can try adding things.......one at a time. By changing only one thing, if there's suddenly a problem, you can probably bet it's that one new additive. Much easier to troubleshoot. And by doing this, you'll have fewer failed batches, and so save yourself some money, too! Honestly, when newbies are advised to go slow, it's not that we're trying to be mean and don't want you to have fun with the fancy stuff. I think we all feel badly when newbies get in over their heads, get discouraged, and quit. Soapmaking isn't that hard if you get the basics down first. Hang in there, if we can do it, so can you!
     
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