Batch no. 5 - A bit sticky

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Jennfromoz

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I made my 5th batch 2 days ago. The Shea butter I ordered turned up so I used it in this soap. The recipe was:
Coconut Oil - 30%, 180ml
Olive Oil - 30%, 180ml
Shea Butter - 20%, 120ml
Palm oil - 20%, 120ml
Water 183ml
Lye 86ml
I used a sawn down ice cream container for a mold, which I don't think I'll use again. The soap seemed to stick to the sides when removing it after 48 hours.
The soap is a bit soft and sticky. There seems to be some soap ash on the top.
Should I wait until I cut it up? Do you think it will stick to the knife?
Can I have some advice on this please? Thanks.
 

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I hope you mean g when you write ml? Only for water, you might interchange mass and volume numbers. For lye (solid NaOH), measuring the amount by volume makes zero sense. For oils, only if you melt up the hard oils in advance, and know about the densities at working temperatures. Better leave this to industrial process control engineers – there is a reason why in DIY soaping, everyone is weighing everything.

The recipe looks fine. Well balanced with enough hard oils to give a good hardness that should allow easy unmoulding & cutting after a reasonable time. 32% lye concentration is okay (aka not too low for this recipe). From the numbers and photos, my recommendation would have been to wait two days until unmoulding – but that is what you have already done 😲.
I'm occasionally using PP/PE plastic containers as soap moulds too, and I've found as well that they can have some issues with soap sticking to them. A few more days of patience helps – usually no issue since the mould is cheap.

Difficult to judge from the photos alone if now is a good time to cut it, or if you better should wait a day or two. If it feels anything sticky, wait. If it's like Emmental cheese or more firm, you can give it a try (if it's too sticky inside, you can stop and try again half a day later). If it's more like aged Parmesan, you should cut it soon, before it has become so brittle that it might chip.
 
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I use a bit of sodium lactate. In each batch. Salt works also. Several threads on subject. Try using freezer (butcher's) paper next time. To line ice cream tub. Slide it right out. Then peel paper from soap. Just like Christmas ⛄. Oh, yeah. Reuse tub for your next batch 😊
 
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You might try the freezer trick next time for easier unmolding. When the top of the soap feels like firm cold cheddar cheese, put the mold into the freezer for about an hour. Then take it out and set it on the countertop for 5-10 minutes. This will allow condensation to form, and the soap will release much more easily from the mold. Just be sure to let it defrost before cutting. :)
 

earlene

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Depending on if it's a plastic tub or a wax-coated paper tub, using an ice-cream tub as a soap mold can be frustrating or just plain annoying. With the plastic tub, I used to apply a release agent to the inside surface of the tub before making the soap. I used Vaseline or lanolin or you can also use mineral oil. Then the soap came out quite easily even without freezing as suggested above.

I used wax-coated milk cartons as well (not ice cream containers, though) and although some people did the 'tear the container off of the soap' method, I preferred to use the mold release agent instead, even with the milk cartons. Although with the milk cartons, because the shape is rectangular, lining with Freezer paper was quite easy and that's what I did in order to re-use the cartons.

The one drawback I found with using the plastic ice cream tubs was that soap seemed to stay soft longer inside of them, and I believe that is because the plastic is less permeable. I used to think it was related to being new and inexperienced soaper, but years later, I still find that when I use a plastic mold of any kind, the soap stays softer longer than the same recipe in a wooden, silicone, or even cardboard box mold lined with Freezer paper.

Sodium Lactate or dissolved table salt as an additive can facilitate a faster set-up and earlier removal from the mold, but it's another step not totally necessary.


I agree that it is best not be using liquid volume measurements for soapmaking, but rather actual weight (I prefer grams, but some prefer ounces.) Grams gives greater accuracy, which is why I prefer to use grams. Using liquid volume measurements for cooking and baking is common (look at many a cookbook in the US), but even chefs and bakers will use weight (mass) instead of volume measurements for more accurate and consistent results.
 

Jennfromoz

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I have cut it up and it actually turned out OK. I shaved the edges. They will be amongst my Christmas gifts to friends and family.
 

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TheGecko

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Grams or ounces...always use weight. The exception is that it is okay to use teaspoons and tablespoons for small amounts.

Issues aside...looks great. I'd buy it.
 

Relle

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I use a bit of sodium lactate. In each batch. Salt works also. Several threads on subject. Try using freezer (butcher's) paper next time. To line ice cream tub. Slide it right out. Then peel paper from soap. Just like Christmas ⛄. Oh, yeah. Reuse tub for your next batch 😊
This person is in Australia so freezer paper is not available and the butchers paper here is not the same as in the US, butchers paper is exactly that, it's paper and is of no use for lining moulds.

Although with the milk cartons, because the shape is rectangular, lining with Freezer paper was quite easy and that's what I did in order to re-use the cartons.
Earlene, this member is in Australia, freezer paper is not available here. I have to wait until a friend goes to the US and brings me some back.
 

earlene

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Earlene, this member is in Australia, freezer paper is not available here. I have to wait until a friend goes to the US and brings me some back.
I used wax-coated milk cartons as well (not ice cream containers, though) and although some people did the 'tear the container off of the soap' method, I preferred to use the mold release agent instead, even with the milk cartons. Although with the milk cartons....
@Jennfromoz, I was speaking from personal experience. If mentioning freezer paper confused you or was a reference unfamiliar to you, I am sorry. You will find that being an international community sometimes people are going to share information with which not everyone on the forum is familiar. Generally when that happens and I don't understand a reference, I ask (or search my browser to try to figure out what they are talking about.) For all I know milk cartons in Australia are not the same as here, either. And when I mentioned the ice cream tubs, I don't really know for sure that ours are the same as yours; I usually try to respond based on my personal experience, and if it seems a little confusing because of international or cultural differences, it's not because I (or anyone else here is) purposely try to confuse others.
 

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