Brine soap gone nuts - totally cracked!!

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shmaria

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So, i've read so much good stuff about saltwater soaps that I went and made some last week. or at least I tried to, because what i've got is SO far from what it should be. From all reports and recipes, the bar hardens within hours of pouring, but mine has a soft talc-like feel and i can still press my finger into it after a week (took 48 hours to unmould and that was only after freezing the soap first). It looks very pale and matte, so i doubt it has gone through gel phase either. The surface has also completely cracked up in the past 2 days.
Tried some today and though it sort of crumbled onto my fingers, the lather was really lovely and it smells really good, so i'm hoping i can salvage this batch somehow.
Recipe;
water 380g (divided by 3; added lye to one part and salt to two parts, then mixed all together)
Lye 140.97g
coconut oil 300 g
Palm oil 500g
Sunflower oil 200 g
Salt 140.97g (same as lye)
EO - Lemongrass 20g, Eucalyptus 10g
Colour: 1 tsp indigo powder mixed in half the portion at traced and swirled in the pot.

Note1: Also added 1 tbsp sugar to the brine but i think most of it did not dissolve and i discarded it
Note2: Used iodised rock salt

Soapcalc recipe :

saltsoap_cracks.jpg


saltsoap_impression.jpg


View attachment soleseife_base recipe.pdf
 

cmzaha

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I am guessing the high palm caused some of the cracking. The powdery feel can be very heavy ash. When I make soleseif soap I make up a 25% salt solution ahead of time and use it for mixing my lye. In fact the bucket of salt water I have now was made from dissolving down a himalayan salt candle holder that I was tired of. So it got repurposed! I use 45% coconut oil, 5% castor, not over 25% palm shortening, fill in the rest with soft oils and a 10-12% superfat, 30% lye concentration. They turn out lovely can be cut in 8-12 hrs and do have a habit of acquiring heavy ash. Soleseif bars do not harden anywhere near as fast as full salt bars.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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If my maths is correct (it often isn't, so please bear that in mind!) you didn't have enough water to dissolve your lye. You need at least a 1:1 ratio for lye with water and you had about 126g of water for 140g of lye. The remainder would also struggle to dissolve in the brine solution. If I recall, you need about 26% salt as being the maximum -26% of what fails me at the moment, but there was a really great Soleseife thread which explains the amounts and process very well
 

shmaria

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If my maths is correct (it often isn't, so please bear that in mind!) you didn't have enough water to dissolve your lye. You need at least a 1:1 ratio for lye with water and you had about 126g of water for 140g of lye. The remainder would also struggle to dissolve in the brine solution. If I recall, you need about 26% salt as being the maximum -26% of what fails me at the moment, but there was a really great Soleseife thread which explains the amounts and process very well
Sorry, just went through my notes because it reminded me that i had changed the recipe a bit - I actually increased the water to 423g because of what you've mentioned (I read through a post on another site that said salt should be 25% of water, but I wanted to see if it applied to our rock salt too - it comes with impurities) . The lye was completely dissolved, but some salt did not, so I discarded the undissolved crystals before pouring the brine back into the lye mix.

I am guessing the high palm caused some of the cracking. The powdery feel can be very heavy ash. When I make soleseif soap I make up a 25% salt solution ahead of time and use it for mixing my lye. In fact the bucket of salt water I have now was made from dissolving down a himalayan salt candle holder that I was tired of. So it got repurposed!
Haha, I like that! :)
I use 45% coconut oil, 5% castor, not over 25% palm shortening, fill in the rest with soft oils and a 10-12% superfat, 30% lye concentration. They turn out lovely can be cut in 8-12 hrs and do have a habit of acquiring heavy ash. Soleseif bars do not harden anywhere near as fast as full salt bars.
I'll try your recipe next, or maybe 100% CO. Any suggestions as to what I can do with these? crumble them down and make a paste?
Also, would spraying the tops with alcohol help reduce the ash?
 

penelopejane

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Sorry, just went through my notes because it reminded me that i had changed the recipe a bit - I actually increased the water to 423g because of what you've mentioned (I read through a post on another site that said salt should be 25% of water, but I wanted to see if it applied to our rock salt too - it comes with impurities) . The lye was completely dissolved, but some salt did not, so I discarded the undissolved crystals before pouring the brine back into the lye mix.
I think this is part of your problem. The amount of water you add to a recipe is critical. Also the iodised salt could cause problems.
 
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Obsidian

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There is no reason to split your water, just dissolve your salt first then add in your lye. Try using some finer salt, it will dissolve better.

Salt bar are prone to ash, you can try covering your molds after you pour but I don't know how well that works. I just let mine ash, too much trouble to try and stop it. The pale matte colors are normal for brine soap, your salt/lye mix will turn quite white.

I think the cracks look really cool, I would let them cure and see if they hold together during use. If not, then you can grind/shred them up and add to a 100% coconut soap for a neat confetti soap.
 

shmaria

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thanks, everyone!
lessons learnt-
use less palm oil, grind the salt before dissolving, expect lots of ash, muted colors. And make smaller batches :)

I'll wait 3 more weeks and see what happens...
 

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I leave my salt and solseife bars uncolored. It helps hide that inevitable heavy ash. I do not use iodized salt for solseife or salt bars, either.

I have, however, used Instant Ocean (used to make saltwater for reef aquariums), and that makes a lovely solseife that has some very unique qualities that are difficult to put into words, but my solseife made with "sea salt" I purchased from Walmart has not quite had time to cure for me to do some actual side by side tests. I am looking forward to our vacation that will allow me to get a 5 gallon bucket of actual sea water to soap with.
 

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Im worried about metal impurities in the rock salt - could they be responsible for those orangey spots?
I kinda like the cracks though.
 

shmaria

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Im worried about metal impurities in the rock salt - could they be responsible for those orangey spots?
I kinda like the cracks though.
Those are actually pink spots (took the pics at midnight so they've got a yellowish cast) - only one bar had them and the silicone mold i used is pink so I wonder if somehow a bit of the mold color transferred to the soap.
About the cracks- i'm worried the soaps are going to break into pieces with all those deep cracks. Also pretty sure i'll find no takers for these even if i'm giving them away, so I suppose i'll be using these for a loooong time! :)
 

Obsidian

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I would probably use the coarse for brine soap, the fine for salt bars. If you can smash the coarse a bit before adding it to water, it will dissolve a bit easier.
 

gsc

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Would it be necessary to purify the sea water you get on vacation?
 

lenarenee

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Oh yes, definitely. Quite frankly, I wouldn't use ocean water...there's more stuff in there than just bacteria. I mean....think of all the creatures that live, breathe, die... and other things... in the ocean.
 

Susie

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I filtered mine, but not purified. It worked fine. No yuckies yet.
 

lenarenee

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um...not to be indelicate, but I was thinking of the animal urine and microscopic pollution residue. Not something I want in soap - especially the soap needed to wash off with after a dip in the ocean.
 

TeresaT

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um...not to be indelicate, but I was thinking of the animal urine and microscopic pollution residue. Not something I want in soap - especially the soap needed to wash off with after a dip in the ocean.
Wouldn't the thermal reaction of the NaOH mixing with the ocean water take care of most of that, though?
 

cmzaha

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um...not to be indelicate, but I was thinking of the animal urine and microscopic pollution residue. Not something I want in soap - especially the soap needed to wash off with after a dip in the ocean.
I really would not be afraid of using sea water, since not much survives the lye monster. I do admit I would not use water from a harbor since there is very little water exchange. Granted our waters in some areas become polluted, but it is usually the result of a sewage leak and it is posted as dangerous. We swim in the ocean and do not get sick or die. Sea Water can also be de-desalinized for drinking, so I think we are safe to use it in soap. I think I remember you live near the ocean, do you not swim or wade in it?
 
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lenarenee

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Wouldn't the thermal reaction of the NaOH mixing with the ocean water take care of most of that, though?
In other words: does urine, decaying particles of garbage, dead cells and fecal matter saponify? No idea.

Sterilizing doesn't remove that.
 

lenarenee

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I really would not be afraid of using sea water, since not much survives the lye monster. I do admit I would not use water from a harbor since there is very little water exchange. Granted our waters in some areas become polluted, but it is usually the result of a sewage leak and it is posted as dangerous. We swim in the ocean and do not get sick or die. Sea Water can also be de-desalinized for drinking, so I think we are safe to use it in soap. I think I remember you live near the ocean, do you not swim or wade in it?
Water that is desaliated for drinking also goes through a molecular bonding process when electrical bonds are created to attract pollution and other impurities and then removed.

We had a desalination plant open up here recently. It's creates a great deal of waste and isn't an environmentmentally sound solution to the drought.

I think that using sterilized sea water in a soap is not going to be harmful. However since I passed chemistry and biology class last year, it has changed my perspective on things. Sea water contains more than salt and water since there are human, animal, and other pollutants. My preference is to not have that in my soap.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

Oh and I do not wade in the Pacific any more. I've lived here four years and every blooming time I went in the water I ended up in Urgent care with a bad skin infection. 6 times. Dr.said he sees it all the time. ( Maybe I have no immunity to west coast bacteria ??)

I do let our little in the ocean after checking for cuts and scratches and she is washed with soap and water ASAP. No problem for her yet.
 
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