Can someone help diagnose my soap? I'm confused!

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saddigilmore

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Hello all

I have a question about this batch, I hope someone can help me diagnose the problem..

It was mostly soft oils, so I had what I suspect was false trace. I poured it into the mold, it separated, so I poured it back into the pot, stick blended it more, and poured it back into the mold. I thought all went fine.

A 14 hour unmold, it unmolded cleanly, but it was soft in the center, like a brie cheese.
I let it sit another 8 hours after unmolding before I cut it, cutting @ ~ 22 hours after pouring.

When I cut it, it crumbled a bit in the 2nd half of the cut. Does this mean I cut too soon?

But the stamp, and how the stuff flakes off the edges of the stamp, tells me that it was cut too late? I'm very confused.

Was this crumbling because of the air bubbles introduced during the 2nd round of stickblending? or is this crumbing the "tell tale sign" of lye heavy soap??

It 'looks' like lye heavy, the way the texture looks at the cut? but it wasn't burning my hands, and when it was still "brie cheese" it was VERY soft and malleable, I played with it like clay, and no pain...

Did I unmold too soon? or did I cut too soon? or did I cut too late?? Or is everything fine, and my cutting and stamping technique just sloppy, and I need to invest in a wire cutter?

Thank you all
 

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It looks like you may have cut too late - 18 hours and then another 8 hours is quite a long time (for my recipe anyway). I had a crumbly soap similar to that once - it didn't gel. When i gel it rarely crumbles. Did you use any additives? Best to post the recipe (in %) for troubleshooting.
 

saddigilmore

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it was still soft like brie cheese, at 18 hours :( I didn't think it would have been ready in 4 hours from that! (unmolding and cutting @ 24 hrs was the plan)


Edit; just checked my notes i forgot that I took. I poured it at 12:00 PM on May 20, unmolded 14 hours later at 2:00 AM on May 21, and cut at 10:00 AM on May 21.

The above pictures were a 14 hour unmold, and cutting 8 hours later @ 22 hours. sorry for the mistake!


I would not have felt comfortable cutting it when it was still in that cheese state... it felt like it went from soft to hard in an instant, sometime during that window after unmolding.... :( Is the window of time for getting both clean stamping on the surface, and clean cuts through the center, relatively short?

Maybe next time I should be aiming at a strict 24 hour unmold and cut? The way the stamp behaved, and the way the center felt, and how it cut and crumbles is confusing me, but then again I didn't unmold and cut at the same time @ 24 hours like planned.. :(

it was 85 rapeseed, 10% coconut oil, and 5% castor oil @ a 0% percent superfat (ala zany's no slime) , and I added 1 tsp salt PPO rather than using the seawater
 
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ResolvableOwl

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Unless you're working outside in Siberian winter, you can't get false trace from that recipe. False trace is caused by hard oils (palm, tallow, lard, soy wax etc.), of which you had none.

Some random ideas/questions that might help in narrowing down:
How (with which tool) do you cut? I myself have some priority to eventually switch to a wire cutter, knives just (excuse the pun) don't cut it, they work reasonably at first, but when you're at the bottom of the loaf, they really can ruin the cut.

What was your lye concentration? Zany's recipe calls for 37% which sounds reasonable.

How long/far did you stickblend the batter/by which criterion did you decide that your batter was SBed enough? The bottom of the bars (upper side when pouring) has a crumbly look that might be due to a bit of ricing/separation, like marginally unstable emulsion.

An annoying issue with very soft recipes is that they harden up unevenly in the mould, so while at the top they are between “fine to cut” and “already too hard”, at the bottom it might still be very soft. Wouldn't be the first time someone has accidentally reinvented soap dough this way. :rolleyes: Was the mould open or covered during the

Regarding lye-heavy appearance: Has it soda ash? Is it zappy (it still might be, since it is mostly slow-moving oils and no superfat reserves)?
 
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For the best help, you should provide the full recipe, with the water and lye amounts.

False trace is produced when hard fats, like tallow or palm, start to solidify in the batter due to low temperature. I doubt you had false trace with those oil percentages.

My high olive oil and my goat milk soaps are slow to firm up if they don’t gel. They stay soft in the mold for at least a couple of days and if I try to remove them from the mold too early, soap will “stick” in the bottom corners.

You probably just need to wait longer, or make sure the soap gels, or both.
 
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saddigilmore

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How (with which tool) do you cut?

Sadly, a regular 20cm chef's knife. Tried both pressing down firmly with even pressure with the flat base of the blade, as well as "rocking" the blade from the tip down to the flat part... Both kinda messed up this softer soap.

I think it's time for an upgrade... Maybe could get into some woodworking and DIY a wire cutter.

How long/far did you stickblend the batter/by which criterion did you decide that your batter was SBed enough?

I could have sworn I reached emulsion with the sb, when there's no oil floating on top, and just judging it based on my other soap batters. But this was def. the highest % to date I have used of soft oils. I would have bet my life that I reached emulsion/VERY light trace, when I poured the FIRST time.

After sitting in the mold, it looked like some oil floated to the top, which made me think false trace (guess I can't get that without hard oils! I guess I just underblended?) But I was going at it for a while before I poured the first time. Should I have just left it alone at this stage? Did repouring introduce air bubbles, and I "fixed" what wasn't broken?

I poured from the mold, back into the pot, stick blended to what I'd consider light/medium trace (no mistaking trace the 2nd time around, I was SURE)

An annoying issue with very soft recipes is that they harden up unevenly in the mould, so while at the top they are between “fine to cut” and “already too hard”, at the bottom it might still be very soft. Was the mould open or covered?

It was in a silicone mold, in a wooden box, with the top covered with plastic wrap, with a book on top of it... :/ It looked ready to unmold and cut! but it was soft inside. Maybe taking it out of the mold before it was ready made everything even worse. Unmolding and cutting without a delay seems ideal, given the uneven hardening

Regarding lye-heavy appearance: Has it soda ash? Is it zappy

No visibile soda ash to my eye, and it wasn't zappy, I was playing with it even like dough. Bubbles/ricing is my suspicion, more than lye-heaviness. Lye heaviness is pretty unmistakable against bare skin, right?

you should provide the full recipe, with the water and lye amounts.

365g oil, 85 g water, 50g lye, @ 37% lye concentration and 0% superfat like Zany suggested (I always round my decimals to the whole number skewed towards superfatting rather than being lye heavy, to be safe, and my lye probably isn't pure. )

Thanks guys!! I appreciate the expertise, truly!
 
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ResolvableOwl

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Oils setting and false trace are two very different things. When oils solidify too early by themselves (false trace), they don't look like “oil”, but more like butter or, like the name suggests, traced soap batter. Telling the difference between just barely emulsion and stable emulsion is more difficult than it sounds (don't ask me where I know that from), and your low percentage (15%) of oils that support early saponification doesn't exactly help.
The lesson you learned with your recipe that is initially slower than you thought, is that you SB it shortly to the onset of emulsion, let it sit for quite a while (at least several minutes), and only then cautiously do the main SB work to get to medium trace. Filling batter back from the mould into the mixing pot is tedious and avoidable.

Air bubbles might be another issue increasing with every SB shot (unless properly burped). Didn't think of it, but of course they are places where the rough cracking can happen.

For now, be happy that your soapmaking has succeeded! It'll take some time until you can fully enjoy it, but you won't remember all the worries then. For cosmetic reasons, you might plane the soap bars in 1 or 2 days to get rid of that crumbling look, and have smooth and even surfaces.
 

saddigilmore

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ou probably just need to wait longer, or make sure the soap gels, or both.

cpop is looking more and more attractive everyday...

you SB it shortly to the onset of emulsion, let it sit for quite a while (at least several minutes), and only then cautiously do the main SB work to get to medium trace. Filling batter back from the mould into the mixing pot is tedious and avoidable.

lesson learned.. I will definitely be applying this advice to my next slow movers!! thank you :)
 

earlene

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Was this crumbling because of the air bubbles introduced during the 2nd round of stickblending? or is this crumbing the "tell tale sign" of lye heavy soap??

It 'looks' like lye heavy, the way the texture looks at the cut? but it wasn't burning my hands, and when it was still "brie cheese" it was VERY soft and malleable, I played with it like clay, and no pain...

Whenever you wonder if a soap is lye heavy, you should not guess at it. You should do the Zap test as described in the link @ResolvableOwl included in her post above.
Regarding lye-heavy appearance: Has it soda ash? Is it zappy (it still might be, since it is mostly slow-moving oils and no superfat reserves)?


Also the only soap that I have ever test positive for a Zap Test based on looks was when I had visible Lye Rocks in soap (for a photo of what that looked like, see this thread). Crumbly soap does not equate lye heavy. There can be a variety of reasons for crumbly soap.

Again, also you should wear gloves when you handle new soap, even when it is 22 hours of age. Saponification may still be going on for the first 48 hours according to many reports, however according to Dr. Kevin Dunn, chemistry professor and Cold Process soap researcher and author of Scientific Soapmaking: The Chemistry of Cold Process, soap (made properly) should be zap-free within a day. The caveat is of course, that errors can happen and soap can be lye heavy for many reasons. Sometimes even purposefully. So until you are sure your methods and practice never produces lye heavy soap, you should always wear gloves while handling new soap.

Here is the link to how to zap test soap for excess lye, in case you missed it before: How To Properly/Safely Conduct The Zap/Tongue Test
 

saddigilmore

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Jeez, I should definitely stop pressing my fresh soap scraps info funny shapes with my bare hands.... that's how I planned on keeping an eye on how it behaves in a bathroom :/ on second thought... my hand is a bit dry :0
 

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saddigilmore

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I cut them like all the other soaps I do.... the bar usually sticks to the knife- this time, the top of the bar would be stuck to the knife, and the bottom looks how it does... I'm suspecting that I wasn't holding the knife at a perfect 90 degrees, and that how my knife edge is beveled might be playing a role...
 
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marie1964

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Hello all

I have a question about this batch, I hope someone can help me diagnose the problem..

It was mostly soft oils, so I had what I suspect was false trace. I poured it into the mold, it separated, so I poured it back into the pot, stick blended it more, and poured it back into the mold. I thought all went fine.

A 14 hour unmold, it unmolded cleanly, but it was soft in the center, like a brie cheese.
I let it sit another 8 hours after unmolding before I cut it, cutting @ ~ 22 hours after pouring.

When I cut it, it crumbled a bit in the 2nd half of the cut. Does this mean I cut too soon?

But the stamp, and how the stuff flakes off the edges of the stamp, tells me that it was cut too late? I'm very confused.

Was this crumbling because of the air bubbles introduced during the 2nd round of stickblending? or is this crumbing the "tell tale sign" of lye heavy soap??

It 'looks' like lye heavy, the way the texture looks at the cut? but it wasn't burning my hands, and when it was still "brie cheese" it was VERY soft and malleable, I played with it like clay, and no pain...

Did I unmold too soon? or did I cut too soon? or did I cut too late?? Or is everything fine, and my cutting and stamping technique just sloppy, and I need to invest in a wire cutter?

Thank you all
Hi it looks a bit lye heavy to me from the pics even though it feels soft, I usually leave my soap in the mould for 24 hrs or some soaps need 48hrs so i dont think that will make it look crumbly, id imagine lye being the possible culprit.
 
A

amd

To me it looks like you cut too soon, that's also why the stamp looks the way it does. I unmold at around 18 hours and stamp at 18-24 hours, but I have a hard oil heavy recipe. I always thought that with a soft oil recipe you would need to wait longer to unmold, the exception being 100% (or high) OO recipes.
 

saddigilmore

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It was briesoft when I unmolded it, but not when I cut it 8 hours later. Def. looking @ wire cutters! I think my sloppy cutting technique and improv tools aren't helping
 

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