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mx6inpenn

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I never got ash until this past fall. Now I seem to get it on every batch. This morning I went back through all the batches I've made starting in August 2017 and comparing. It seems it almost coincides with another change I made. I started adding avocado oil to every batch in August. The 1# test batch I made with it in June had no problems with ash. The first soap I made with it in mid-August had no ash. From late August on, every single batch has ash except 1. It is in varying degrees, some very light, others very heavy. The 1 batch that didn't ash was the only cpop batch I did, but I also left it in the mold for an extra day due to non-soapy life interference. I know removing too early can contribute to ash, but I only ever get it on the tops, which are the 1 part not ever in direct contact with a surface. I do cover my molds with cardboard normally, but the cpop one wasn't covered at all for the first 14 hours and with cardboard following that.

Just wondering if people have noticed ash more with some oils, or less with certain processes, like cpop, or that temp/humidity affect it? I would like to eliminate it, because let's face it, who really wants to spend time steaming, when that time could be spent making more soap!? I've searched, but only found someone that always had problems with hemp and ash.

I will be doing a test tonight making a batch cpop using the same recipe I used for my most recent batch and see how that goes. I like soaping cool, so don't want to have to add beeswax!
 

Susie

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I get ash every batch. Every single batch. I either live with it, or I wash the loaf off (while still in the mold) about an hour before cutting. Either way, it is easier to get rid of than prevent.
 

BattleGnome

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I've recently started CPOP which helps but I've gotten ash on all but one or two batches and those were CPOP. From my meager experience (I soap maybe 1-2x a month) high water + long CPOP = less ash. Lower water/shorter CPOP/lower temp in general seems to contribute to more ash forming. I also cure in a warmer room because coincidentally that's where I have the space, I don't know if that contributes to ash.
 

mx6inpenn

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Thanks for the commiseration, I don't wish it on y'all, but I'm glad I'm not the only one. Just stumped on why since it never used to happen.

Susie, sometimes washing before the cut works for me and others it doesn't. I've had several loaves that re-ashed. That's where I get really confused. Once saponified, there isn't any NaOH left to react, so how?? My swap soaps didn't zap at the 32 hour mark when I checked them. I gave the loaf a quick bath and removed what was there. Two weeks after cutting, they got another bath. They really should have gotten another before wrapping but I didn't have time to let them dry, so they just got wiped. I've had 2 others that somehow created more ash, but those ones stayed away after a 2nd bath.

My experiment last night shows the cpop batch in January to be a fluke. It had ash when I pulled it out of the oven this morning.
 

topofmurrayhill

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I never got ash until this past fall. Now I seem to get it on every batch. This morning I went back through all the batches I've made starting in August 2017 and comparing.
Was there any other change to your recipes besides starting to use avocado oil? What about the balance between the oils -- hard versus soft or anything like that?

I haven't had ash for some time but pretty sure I've noticed re-ashing at some point. Even if there's no more sodium hydroxide, there's still the sodium carbonate that formed. If water gets sucked to the surface by capillary action as the soap dries, ash will accumulate.
 

mx6inpenn

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Was there any other change to your recipes besides starting to use avocado oil? What about the balance between the oils -- hard versus soft or anything like that?
No other changes, just started subbing 15% avocado for some of the olive in all my recipes. I'm tempted to make a couple batches using an old recipe and a new one side by side, otherwise identical, to see what happens. It will have to wait until at least Wednesday tho.

I haven't had ash for some time but pretty sure I've noticed re-ashing at some point. Even if there's no more sodium hydroxide, there's still the sodium carbonate that formed. If water gets sucked to the surface by capillary action as the soap dries, ash will accumulate.
Good to know, thanks!




Try lightly spraying your batch with isopropyl alcohol when it's set enough to do a spoon swirl on the top. Also cover your soap as it cures.
I have tried alcohol and noticed no difference. I cover my soaps until cut, but covering during cure is not a good option, they need the airflow. Unless you are talking about tulle or cheesecloth or something?
 

IrishLass

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Except for the few soaps that I purposely don't gel, it's very rare that I ever get any ash, other than the occasional, very light dusting on top that happens if I unmold too soon (which easily wipes right off).

For what it's worth, I don't use either the beeswax or the alcohol tricks. Instead, I use a 33% lye concentration, I soap warm (anywhere between 110-120F), and I encourage full gel via a low temp CPOP whereby I heat my oven only as high as 110F before putting my insulated soap mold inside and immediately turning it off as soon as I shut the oven door. Then I let it sit there undisturbed for at least 18 hours before unmolding and cutting. The times when I unmold and cut any sooner than that are the times that I'll get the light dusting of ash forming on my tops that I mentioned above.


IrishLass :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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By the time I developed recipes I thought were really good, I stopped getting ash. These tend to be recipes that are usable quickly out of the mold, so I think speed of saponification is a main factor here.

That said, I don't know what's up with the avocado oil. Maybe it's a coincidence, but the first time I made a soap featuring avocado oil (about 10 years ago, maybe a year after I started soaping) I got the ashing visible here in the photo. Obviously that's on cut surfaces, probably after I cleaned it up.

As far as cleaning up ash, I have a thought that I haven't been able to explore because I'd need to create an ashy batch on purpose, which I never get around to. Maybe someone else could run with this and see if it's useful.

It's based on the fact that ash is very soluble in glycerin, more so than anything people usually use. I wonder what could be accomplished with glycerin (or a glycerin/water solution) and a paintbrush, especially for those of you who like the rustic tops and might sometimes get ash on them.

IMG_0118.jpg
 

penelopejane

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I have tried alcohol and noticed no difference. I cover my soaps until cut, but covering during cure is not a good option, they need the airflow. Unless you are talking about tulle or cheesecloth or something?
No I was talking about covering until cut.
So sorry Isopropyl alcohol does not work for you it works for me.
Could be a climate thing (room/outside temperature) maybe?
I CPOP in 100* oven turned off so mine are consistent and not weather dependant. How are you CPOPing? There are many different methods.

I do exactly as Irish Lass does but soap a little cooler.
I use avocado oil in 80% of my batches.
 
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earlene

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As far as cleaning up ash, I have a thought that I haven't been able to explore because I'd need to create an ashy batch on purpose, which I never get around to. Maybe someone else could run with this and see if it's useful.

It's based on the fact that ash is very soluble in glycerin, more so than anything people usually use. I wonder what could be accomplished with glycerin (or a glycerin/water solution) and a paintbrush, especially for those of you who like the rustic tops and might sometimes get ash on them.
Sounds like a worthy experiment. The Andalusian style Castile produces a lot of ash. Seems like a place to start. I have some bars of it covered in ash. And I have some glycerin, and a paintbrush. I'm out of distilled water, do you think tap water would do or should I just us the glycerin?

It just occurred to me you probably meant as an experiment while the soap is new or freshly made. My Andalusain style Castile is about 6 or 7 weeks old. So probably not the most useful subject.

In any case, I've not cleaned up any of the ash as yet, so I went ahead and did this:

100% vegetable glycerin wash (using a paintbrush) on two bars
91% alcohol spray and rub off on two other bars

I wonder if I should also do a plain water wash with tap water as a control, or just leave a bar untouched as a control? Or both.
 
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mx6inpenn

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By the time I developed recipes I thought were really good, I stopped getting ash. These tend to be recipes that are usable quickly out of the mold, so I think speed of saponification is a main factor here.

That said, I don't know what's up with the avocado oil. Maybe it's a coincidence, but the first time I made a soap featuring avocado oil (about 10 years ago, maybe a year after I started soaping) I got the ashing visible here in the photo. Obviously that's on cut surfaces, probably after I cleaned it up.

As far as cleaning up ash, I have a thought that I haven't been able to explore because I'd need to create an ashy batch on purpose, which I never get around to. Maybe someone else could run with this and see if it's useful.

It's based on the fact that ash is very soluble in glycerin, more so than anything people usually use. I wonder what could be accomplished with glycerin (or a glycerin/water solution) and a paintbrush, especially for those of you who like the rustic tops and might sometimes get ash on them.
Oh poo. I just read this, about 15 minutes after giving the loaf I made Saturday a pre-cut bath. I will try it sometime in the next few days on some curing/cured bars. Will the soap absorb the extra glycerin and would be better tried on new bars?

The saponification time may play a factor. I usually can unmold and cut in under 24 hours with no zap with my favorite recipe. I stopped doing it months ago tho trying to curtail the ash.




No I was talking about covering until cut.
So sorry Isopropyl alcohol does not work for you it works for me.
Could be a climate thing (room/outside temperature) maybe?
I CPOP in 100* oven turned off so mine are consistent and not weather dependant. How are you CPOPing? There are many different methods.

I do exactly as Irish Lass does but soap a little cooler.
I use avocado oil in 80% of my batches.
I tend to soap quite cool, so I preheat the oven to 140-150. I turn it off as soon as the soap goes in and leave it there with the light on for 12-18 hours, depending on if/when it is needed for something else. I keep the house at about 72 and heating makes it fairly dry. Outside it ranges this year from 0 F to 80 F in the timeframe I'm concerned with.
 

gdawgs

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I get it sometimes. I use Susie's recipe fairly often, and from what I've noticed, it tends to be FO related. Once I made a four pound batch that I split into four, one pound batches. I used a different FO in each one pound batch. Two of them got heavy ash, two had no ash. Two of them also heated up more than the other two, and two of them released very easy from the liner paper, while the other two stuck pretty good to the paper. So all those differences I attribute to the FOs used.
 

penelopejane

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I tend to soap quite cool, so I preheat the oven to 140-150. I turn it off as soon as the soap goes in and leave it there with the light on for 12-18 hours, depending on if/when it is needed for something else. I keep the house at about 72 and heating makes it fairly dry. Outside it ranges this year from 0 F to 80 F in the timeframe I'm concerned with.
I get it sometimes. I use Susie's recipe fairly often, and from what I've noticed, it tends to be FO related. Once I made a four pound batch that I split into four, one pound batches. I used a different FO in each one pound batch. Two of them got heavy ash, two had no ash. Two of them also heated up more than the other two, and two of them released very easy from the liner paper, while the other two stuck pretty good to the paper. So all those differences I attribute to the FOs used.

I think there is a pattern here, maybe. Heat.
I only CPOP at 100*F max (Irish lass goes to 110* F) and turn it off straight away as soon as the soap goes in.
gdawgs gets ash when the FO heats the soap batter.

Maybe try CPOPing at a cooler temp?
 

mx6inpenn

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I think there is a pattern here, maybe. Heat.
I only CPOP at 100*F max (Irish lass goes to 110* F) and turn it off straight away as soon as the soap goes in.
gdawgs gets ash when the FO heats the soap batter.

Maybe try CPOPing at a cooler temp?
I don't usually cpop. I'd never intentionally gelled a batch, so I did as an experiment with one batch in January. It was the only one that didn't ash in months. I hadn't done the second cpop batch yet when I created this thread. The other night I cpop again to see if it was the difference. That one did ash. So for me, cpop does not make a difference. Neither does the type of mold. I have used a couple fo that didn't ash in a previous soap, but did recently.

The only difference between then and now other than possibly temp/humidity that I can't control, is the avocado oil. I will be doing side by side comparisons with and without avocado, all other things identical, down to the molds, sometime in the next week or so.
 

topofmurrayhill

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In any case, I've not cleaned up any of the ash as yet, so I went ahead and did this:

100% vegetable glycerin wash (using a paintbrush) on two bars
91% alcohol spray and rub off on two other bars

I wonder if I should also do a plain water wash with tap water as a control, or just leave a bar untouched as a control? Or both.
I'd love to hear the results of this. For purposes of the experiment you could try glycerin/water even if its just tap water, in addition to 100% glycerin. I'm wondering how it might work as well as how much residue there is and how it affects the surface -- because the glycerin isn't going to evaporate.
 

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I CPOP @170 for 1 hour then turn the oven off and leave overnight. And I seem to get ash more often than not. I've always assumed that it was the cocoa butter in my formula. And not being willing to adjust my formula, I've just learned to accept it of trim it off if it was really drastic. Worse though, is that about 35-40% of my batches also come out with sticky tops. No ash, just a thin-ish sticky layer on top of the loaf. Both the ash and the sticky layer randomly happen when I cover the loaf or don't. And when I spritz with alcohol or don't. And I have noticed with the ash, that certain FO's tend to bring it out more than others. The ash doesn't bother me that much. But this sticky layer makes me crazy :Kitten Love:
 

Ghost_Wytch

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In any case, I've not cleaned up any of the ash as yet, so I went ahead and did this:

100% vegetable glycerin wash (using a paintbrush) on two bars
91% alcohol spray and rub off on two other bars

I wonder if I should also do a plain water wash with tap water as a control, or just leave a bar untouched as a control? Or both.
I too am very curious to hear your results. I've tried spraying with alcohol and wiping off. Meh, it works just ok. But never tried the glycerin. And I'm wondering if it might help get rid of my sticky top layer issue. I may try this on the next batch that does that.
 

earlene

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Sounds like a worthy experiment. The Andalusian style Castile produces a lot of ash. Seems like a place to start. I have some bars of it covered in ash. And I have some glycerin, and a paintbrush. I'm out of distilled water, do you think tap water would do or should I just us the glycerin?

It just occurred to me you probably meant as an experiment while the soap is new or freshly made. My Andalusain style Castile is about 6 or 7 weeks old. So probably not the most useful subject.

In any case, I've not cleaned up any of the ash as yet, so I went ahead and did this:

100% vegetable glycerin wash (using a paintbrush) on two bars
91% alcohol spray and rub off on two other bars

I wonder if I should also do a plain water wash with tap water as a control, or just leave a bar untouched as a control? Or both.
I had enough bars to include the following:

Hot tap water wash
Untouched, no ash removal

I did each with 2 bars each.

Incidentally, there are 2 more bars in the batch that have no ash at all, so they are also untouched. (A total of 4 bars 'untouched'.)

Photos taken before wash & immediately after wash. I am currently uploading the photos.

I'd love to hear the results of this. For purposes of the experiment you could try glycerin/water even if its just tap water, in addition to 100% glycerin. I'm wondering how it might work as well as how much residue there is and how it affects the surface -- because the glycerin isn't going to evaporate.
I wish I had enough bars to do the 50/50 water/glycerin, but I don't.

I did two bars with each method and I'm really glad I did. You'll see why.

The batch of soap was colored using alkanet root, but I kept back enough for one bar without added color. The uncolored bar was covered in more visible ash than the colored bars, although some of them had copious ash as well.

Of the two bars I used the glycerin and paintbrush on for ash removal, the uncolored bar was one. Today, after drying overnight, the ash is not all gone. I looked like it was gone last night, but I think it has only absorbed the glycerin.
The second bar I use the glycerin and paintbrush for ash removal does appear to be mostly ash-free, but I had to manually dry off the glycerin today. It was still moist about 20 or so hours later.
Not sure what this means and if maybe I should try again with the uncolored bar with perhaps a more aggressive removal technique.


I too am very curious to hear your results. I've tried spraying with alcohol and wiping off. Meh, it works just ok. But never tried the glycerin. And I'm wondering if it might help get rid of my sticky top layer issue. I may try this on the next batch that does that.
The problem I have with using just alcohol is that it sometimes leaves little tiny pits or holes in my soap and that takes away from the desired smooth surface. So it would be nice to find a method that achieves the same purpose without the tiny craters.
 
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