ashy and crumbly embeds

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lica

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hi soapers!
so i bought some silicone tubes for embeds, my first try was a success, it hardens nicely and evenly colored (yay!)
then i tried to make more and the other 3 batches turned out super ugly.
the embeds from tubes has this ashy white layer on the outside, completely washed out the color and crumbly.
rasberries molds has the same ashy white layer on top, and i can't take it out without breaking it coz the bottom part is still soft and it's been in the mold for a week.
is this partial gel? soda ash? why crumbly? why the rasberries mold doesn't harden? so many questions!
i use same recipe for all of them:
100 gr oil: 40% olive pomace , 30% coconut, 30% palm.
33% lye concentration : water 29gr lye 14gr
SF 5% no other additive
thank you so much in advance :)
 

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earlene

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Ash forms more easily with more water in the soap formula AND without gel. In smaller size molds, gel is less likely. Perhaps try a higher lye concentration next time, like 35% and see if it helps set up faster and decreases ash. But also try to encourage gel by adding more heat: heating pads under the individual molds and cover them with towels or cardboard or an inverted box to hold in the heat.

No, it does not look like partial gel to me, and unless you CPOP'd you likely don't have gel anyway.

Soap in silicone molds tends to take longer to set up, especially without salt or Sodium lactate and without gel. Also individual molds don't gel as easily as larger blocks of soap (like a loaf mold) because the heat escapes quickly.

Keep the raspberries in the mold another day or so, or heat & insulate now (you can still speed up the process with heat, I think.) Prior to removing from the mold, wrap well and put into a freezer for about 15 minutes, then attempt to remove one. If it comes out smoothly, you're good to go.
 

lica

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Thank you @earlene for your kind reply.
I thought soda ash is just a thin layer on the outside part of soap. Turns out it can be this bad 😟
I'll definitely try 35% lye concentration and add more heat next time.
Is there anything that i can do to make them looks like how it's supposed to be? Or it's doomed to be ugly looking soap and the only way to make it looks better is rebatch?
 
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I get ashy soap like that in cavity molds if the batter is thin when poured and then left alone to do its thing. Lt-Medium trace batter seems less prone to problems. I use a highish lye concentration, typically 35 to 37%, and then either cpop or put my mold(s) on a heating pad to ensure gel.
 

lica

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Thanks all for your replies, really appreciate it.
I'll try again later on and post an update 😁
 

lica

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Hi hi, sorry for late update as i haven't make soap again (i think i have enough for years to come)😂
I tried to make embeds again, same recipe, this time with 35% lye concentration, poured at medium trace and i wrapped the silicon mold with a towel (i live in tropical climate so i don't have heating pad)
The outside color is even but when i cut it, the inside color still looks patchy ugly... what should i do? 😭0
 

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It looks like some type of partial gel again :confused:. When you'll eventually embed it into a soap loaf, and you get lively gelling in there, the uneven patchy look might mellow out, or doesn't look ugly at all. I hope you're wrapping the embeds, so that they don't shrink & harden up until you sink them into the final mould?

When your oven is large enough that the whole heart column mould fits in it, you could try this: Put the heart column into the mould again, and conduct “emergency CPOP” that is, several hours at the lowest setting (about 50°C). Let it cool in the oven overnight, and judge with a fresh cut if it has improved.

what should i do? 😭0
More soap. What a stupid question. 😂
 

lica

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@ResolvableOwl HAHAHA my family were like 'dont you have enough soap already??' My so called curing rack is filling up so fast..... 😂
Ah, thanks for the emergency cpop advice, will definitely try it tonight.
Also, i didn't know that I'm supposed to wrap the embeds... what will happen if it dries out?
 
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First, an uncured soap surface is more likely to stick well to fresh batter than a dried out.
Then, the embeds will shrink a bit (which happens to all soap). BUT when you then use it as an embed, the surrounding soap batter shrinks in a different way, and mechanical tensions build up.
Finally, dried/cured soap is harder, and more difficult to cut, and the uneven pressure can also deform the young soap around.
When these effects (bad adhesion + different shrinkage + different hardness) come together, the embeds might fall out of the soap.
This is probably not that dangerous with a straight column embed like your circles & hearts, but it can be painful for, e. g., cubes. Don't ask.
 

lica

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Ahh alrighty thank you so much @ResolvableOwl !
I tried the emergency cpop, 50'c for 2 hours and let it cool overnight in the oven, but its still patchy... then i tried 120'c for 15 mins, still patchy. And out of curiosity, i put it in the oven for 1 more hour.
There were weird bubbles and waxy layer on the surface, but i can lightly scrap and wipe it off. It looks better overall, but it's still patchy when i cut it.
Maybe I'll just try my luck with M&P...😢
 

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Yes, it indeed looks much better 😍. Good enough, IMHO, that it might well be worth using! The difference between different process states (ungelled, gelled, with or without stearic spots, etc.) tends to diminish with time, so this might work in favour of you too.
What you did with your 120°C treatment was well beyond emergency CPOP, but rather already oven rebatch (just in one piece, without shredding the soap first). If even this violent action cannot iron out the patchy bits, then I suspect they're something else than the dull look of ungelled soap. Possibly air bubbles introduced by the stick-blender, or under SBing (unstable emulsion), or soda ash, or discolouration of the colourant. Things that cannot be fixed for this particular batch, but you can take care of with the next batch(es).
 
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You've already got expert advice but I'll weigh in too. When using cavity molds, like your berries, I used to unmold after 24 hours, same as my loaf molds. But then I discovered that soda ash would form on the sides that had previously been in contact with the mold (hope that made sense). Now I unmold my cavity molds after 5 days to prevent ash.

Also, after pouring into my molds, I spray with alcohol, cover with saran wrap, then cardboard. I'm a geller so I pile towels on top. I've successfully avoided ash ever since I started with the alcohol and wrap.

I've long used sodium lactate and I unmold my loaf molds after 24 hours. I do 3% of total oil weight -- others use less.

Good luck!
 

lica

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Ahh thank you so much @ResolvableOwl and @Zing for your advises and guidance. I'm super thankful i found this forum and got the opportunity to discuss soapy things with amazing people like you are. I'll definitely try again and give an update.
Prob not soon tho, i have too much ugly soap for personal use already.. 😂
Thank you, again 😁
 

lica

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Hi! Sorry it took so long to post an update, i had too much soaps and i had to use most of them before i can make soap again 😆
I tried to make rasberries again, twice: same recipe but 35% lye concentration, pour at medium trace, covered it with cling wrap, put it in the oven in 80'c for 1 hour (on and off), and waited for 3 days to unmold it
1st attempt: most rasberries were covered with soda ash but it disappear after i steamed it. Wasn't really happy with the result.
2nd attempt: i preheated the silicone mold in the oven before i pour, and Im super happy with the result! No soda ash, had no problem taking it out from the mold, and it's the right color too.
Thank you so much, everyone!
I'll try cylinder silicone molds next 😁

Another question tho:
Does preheating the silicone molds before i pour really helps with soda ash, or that was just luck?
 

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Hi! Sorry it took so long to post an update, i had too much soaps and i had to use most of them before i can make soap again 😆
I tried to make rasberries again, twice: same recipe but 35% lye concentration, pour at medium trace, covered it with cling wrap, put it in the oven in 80'c for 1 hour (on and off), and waited for 3 days to unmold it
1st attempt: most rasberries were covered with soda ash but it disappear after i steamed it. Wasn't really happy with the result.
2nd attempt: i preheated the silicone mold in the oven before i pour, and Im super happy with the result! No soda ash, had no problem taking it out from the mold, and it's the right color too.
Thank you so much, everyone!
I'll try cylinder silicone molds next 😁

Another question tho:
Does preheating the silicone molds before i pour really helps with soda ash, or that was just luck?
Nice job! Seems heating the mold might help to force gel, but it may be a little finicky depending on trace and temperature. I have found increasing the lye concentration above 35% and using CPOP to be most effective at avoiding soda ash.
 
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