Ash & brittle soap problem

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Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2015
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Hey guys how are you all?!?

I've been busy soap making but have suddenly encountered a problem.My soaps been fine up to now until I've doubled my recipe.
Now my soap has a kind of mist on it, also when I go to stamp my business logo on to it it crumbles.I've tried leaving the lye to cool before I mix and still this happens.
Any suggestions?
I was thinking to add more oil but not sure?
I use
2/3 olive oil
1/3 coconut oil

Thank you

Liam ImageUploadedBySoap Making1445874741.871462.jpg
The white stuff is just soda ash. It is harmless, and can be washed off.

How long to you wait to stamp after you cut?
According to Dr. Kevin Dunn, ash on the surface of soap can be any of the following 3 things (or it may be something else entirely):

1) Harmless sodium carbonate. An easy way to test if the residue is sodium carbonate is to see if it dissolves in water. Sodium carbonate is soluble in water, but insoluble in ethanol.

2) Sodium hydroxide residue. This kind of residue will be soluble in ethanol and will test out as being more alkaline than the soap beneath it.

3) Soap crystals that have separated from the main body of soap. This kind of ash will be soluble in ethanol and have a similar alkalinity to the soap beneath it.

Or it could be some other kind of impurity making it's way to the surface such as silica, clays, talcs or any other kind of additive you may have used in the soap.

It will be very helpful if you posted your recipe and method.

In regards to the crumbling when you stamp the soap- I'm with Kchaystack- how long do you wait before you stamp? It might be something as simple as just waiting too long to stamp, but to be better able to help trouble-shoot, we'll need to know more about your recipe and procedure.

IrishLass :)
Or the difference in this soap vs the earlier batches may just be a result of doubling the batch size. If a larger batch goes through gel, it may be physically firmer at the time of unmolding than smaller batches that didn't gel. In which case, the soap needs to be cut and stamped earlier so it is at the same level of softness as the smaller batches.

But without more information from the OP, it's all a guess.
Thanks guys, I have the recipe writ down and I'll post it ASAP.

But if you take a look at the photo and check out the red bar, well the corner is misty but the whole corner is harder than the rest of the bar and crumbly. Also the yellow bars behind the red ones have expanded in the mould. I'm using the same recipe as my other bars that come out fine.
But I will get to posting the recipe I use ASAP.
Thank you again guys

I had something close to crumbling too. It was my sodium hydroxide; I had added to much. Will need to see recipe to be able to tell just what is happening.
It zaps a tiny bit but that goes after a day or 2....

The recipe is as follows

35oz olive oil
24.4oz coconut oil
6.28oz lye
13.66oz distilled water
60ml essential oil

Thanks :)

Did you not up your water when you doubled the recipe? I have had soap dry and crumble at the edges when I forgot to add in my extra liquid. I soap with a 50/50 lye concentration and always add in my extra to my lye. So I think not enough liquid
I have soaped with a 2:1 ratio but not with so much co - my recipe might have more hard than soft oils, but as we know co is one to get very hard very quickly.

I think it is that combination which means you missed the time to cut it
Hmm Very strange, as I said my other soaps come out fine. But CP Soap some times you can't always get it right and this I know.

I've used the lye calculator on and it says to use 19oz of water but I'm using 13oz so maybe I'll try to add more water next time.

Also I never insulated the mould as my house is pretty warm but I will insulate them next time.

I'll post my results in the post so you guys can see the result.


Liam :)
......................My soaps been fine up to now.........

Hmm Very strange, as I said my other soaps come out fine..................

All well and good, but...............

......... until I've doubled my recipe............

When you do this, you can't expect the same results doing exactly the same thing. That much soap will behave differently and you will need to babysit larger batches until you know how they will go.
I think a few things are going on:

1: You use a lot of coconut oil (41%!) Thats going to make a hard bar very quickly

2: You doubled your recipe. Whats your new mold made of? Whats your old mold made of?

3: You are getting partial gel. If its brittle on the edges and ashy, that's due to partial gel. Is it more translucent or deeper colored in the center? That's also a sign of partial gel.

If your new mold is made of silicone or HDPE plastic, its not going to hold in heat as well and it wont gel as easily. If your old mold was made of wood, that could explain a difference between the way these recipes/batches are acting compared to the old ones. Wood holds heat better and will cause soap to gel more easily. Plastic/silicone molds will not hold heat as well and will require more insulation to gel.

Your water amount is fine. I wouldn't up that. Its a 31% lye solution. When you go higher (use more water) you will gets get more opportunities for overheated, separated, and longer to unmold soap.

ETA: I just ran your recipe through soapee. You have a 32% superfat!! With a 10% superfat (I say 10 instead of 5 here because you have so much CO) you would need 8.29 oz of lye, not 6.28. That could be a major issue!
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Let me start by saying thanks for the help guys means a lot.


Today my soap came out fine.

I made sure I mixed at 110-120F

I also used more water and also more lye. I did it exactly as the Internet said for the amount of oils I was using.

35oz of olive oil
14.3 coconut oil
13oz of water
7oz lye

I also insulated the moulds...

I don't know what happened with the last batch, maybe I miss measured? I also never used a thermometer as I did this time and I never insulated the moulds.

Just goes to show how carful you have to be with your recipes.

I've typed it all down and printed it off so I'm sure this will never ever happen again ..

Thanks a lot