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Well-Known Member
Feb 22, 2014
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New Zealand
my last batch of soap took ages to trace(it was castille and eventually did) so before this batch i had a good look at my tools and lye...I have read that Lye gets clumps in it and is then gone bad due to moisture. My container has remained sealed but i fear the distributor uses bad packaging and it has somehow retained moisture through the plastic. When i opened it there were a few tiny clumps, so i went to put it into a large airtight glass jar and there was another very large clump in the center.

how do i test the lye for effectiveness? i hate to waste things! i tiny bit got on my leg and started to burn immediately so i got some vinegar out, but i know there is some strength left in it. that may mean nothing. So what do i do now?

Not saying something isn't wrong with your lye, but castille soap (100% OO) does take forever to trace, especially if you use full water.

Someone more experienced with lye will know better if it has gone bad or if you can test for effectiveness.
how long did it take to trace? castile can take forever. half an hour or more is pretty normal.
how long did it take to trace? castile can take forever. half an hour or more is pretty normal.

my castile was a disaster, it took hours to trace. i made a baby soap with buttermilk and carrots from soapqueen. i think i cooled my lye mixture down too much in the ice bath as she suggests in it was unable to react. as i stopped mixing and heated the mixture back up after hours and trace began! so i didn't blame the lye entirely. the soap is still curing tho and is slightly crumbly with a few white spots... im approaching 4 weeks cure time on that. so im pretty nervous to how it will end up. im not sure what went wrong there. i'll give er 6 weeks and test it out... maybe ill be lucky and i'll have the softest soap ever. or maybe it is total crap! i had never used buttermilk, ice bath or a water discount. so any of those things could of been the culprits rather then chunky lye.
NEVER put vinegar on Lye on the skin. Vinegar and Lye react together in an exothermic reaction, meaning it releases lots of heat. If you apply it to Lye burns you'll end up with both a chemical burn from the Lye and heat burn from the vinegar.

Castile takes much longer to cure than the normal 4-8 weeks.
My lye will get clumps in the jar, but they are loose lumps and will break apart. I have seen some hard lye in the bottom of my lye/water pitcher when I didn't rinse it out after using it. I would think that if too much moisture got into your lye it would be hard lumps. But I have not seen lye that I know got too moist, so this is speculation.

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