cold process soap not coming to trace even after half an hour

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leahjo534

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I made this recipe. I took out 2.5 oz. from the water amount and then added the rosehip oil and rose water when it started becoming opaque. also I used up some extra virgin olive oil that I had and then used pomace olive oil for the rest of the olive oil amount.
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I need help...
I stick blended internmently for about 10 min in all. let it sit and 30 min later I came back and... its still not thickened. it's opaque ish... maybe just a tinge of light trace.
 

TheGecko

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Many, many, many years ago I used to build computers. Had this one computer…could not get it to work. All the parts tested fine, even swapper components with my own computer…nothing. I gave up. Took everything back, full refund to the client. Mind you, I was working for a computer wholesaler and our techs couldn’t figure out what the problem was. So the warehouse guy is getting ready to ship all the parts back and as he is slipping the case back in the box, he notices that the tiny little wattage switch on the back of the case is in the middle. So he calls the techs, they take all the parts out of the boxes, stick them in the case and it fires right up.

A tiny little switch…stumped us all.
 

Babyshoes

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Oh goodness! That must have been frustrating. Did you manage to salvage it? I imagine you could hand whisk for a few minutes at a time, over some hours and bring it to a very light trace that way?
 

earlene

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When I soap with pomace OO, my soap traces very quickly. But some others say it doesn't happen for them, so even minimal whisking might not help. But for me and the pomace I buy, it would trace quickly even if I left it and walked away for half an hour.
 

DianaMoon

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But - my understanding is that stick blending doesn't cause emulsion, it accelerates "trace" but doesn't cause emulsion. That is simply chemical.
 

DeeAnna

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But - my understanding is that stick blending doesn't cause emulsion, it accelerates "trace" but doesn't cause emulsion. That is simply chemical.

There are two types of emulsions -- mechanical and chemical. Stirring, whisking, stick blending, or any other form of mixing will create a mechanical emulsion. It's temporary, meaning you have to keep mixing to keep the mixture emulsified. A a vinaigrette dressing is emulsified by mechanical mixing just like soap batter is at first -- in either case, you have to keep mixing or the ingredients will separate.

When enough soap forms in soap batter, the soap acts as a chemical emulsifier in the batter. You can stop the mechanical mixing at that point, because mixing is no longer required to keep the ingredients emulsified. This chemical emulsion is more stable than a mechanical emulsion, but even it can fail as well if the soap batter overheats. Generally, however, the chemical emulsion lasts long enough until the soap batter becomes actual soap.

edit: I have to say -- The stick blender not blending is a new one for me. I'll have to remember this when troubleshooting from now on. Good thing to know!
 
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TheGecko

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But - my understanding is that stick blending doesn't cause emulsion, it accelerates "trace" but doesn't cause emulsion. That is simply chemical.

A stick blender is simply a tool that speeds up the emulsification process; the first time I ever made soap I used a whisk...took a crap load of time, but eventually I got there. It's no different than making mayonnaise which is an emulsion of egg, oil and acid. It's a lot easier if you have a blender, but you can whisk.

"Trace" is just a physical description of the thickness of your batter. You don't need to reach 'trace' to make soap, you just need to emulsify your oils/butters and lye solution. Trace is really only necessary for design purposes and you don't really need to do anything other than let your emulsified batter sit for a time for it to thicken on its own. When I make a single color or uncolored soap, I'll blend to a 'medium trace' just to make it easier to carry the molds out to the garage because I need the space to make more soap. If I don't, I can just let the soap sit on the counter while I clean up and it will thicken on its own.

"Trace" can also be caused by a chemical reaction (which is what soap making is), but there are certain ingredients that when added can cause the batter to thicken. These can be colorants, these can be scents (either FOs or EOs), these can be other ingredients.
 

DianaMoon

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A stick blender is simply a tool that speeds up the emulsification process; the first time I ever made soap I used a whisk...took a crap load of time, but eventually I got there. It's no different than making mayonnaise which is an emulsion of egg, oil and acid. It's a lot easier if you have a blender, but you can whisk.

"Trace" is just a physical description of the thickness of your batter. You don't need to reach 'trace' to make soap, you just need to emulsify your oils/butters and lye solution. Trace is really only necessary for design purposes and you don't really need to do anything other than let your emulsified batter sit for a time for it to thicken on its own. When I make a single color or uncolored soap, I'll blend to a 'medium trace' just to make it easier to carry the molds out to the garage because I need the space to make more soap. If I don't, I can just let the soap sit on the counter while I clean up and it will thicken on its own.

"Trace" can also be caused by a chemical reaction (which is what soap making is), but there are certain ingredients that when added can cause the batter to thicken. These can be colorants, these can be scents (either FOs or EOs), these can be other ingredients.

Which is why I use the word "emulsion" when that's what I mean. It took me a while to figure out what you just said. It was so confusing. That was a major light-bulb moment, and it cleared up so much with respect to adding micas, making designs, etc.
 

TheGecko

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Which is why I use the word "emulsion" when that's what I mean. It took me a while to figure out what you just said. It was so confusing. That was a major light-bulb moment, and it cleared up so much with respect to adding micas, making designs, etc.

Yeah, it can be when you are first starting out. I mean...it's just soap, how hard can it be? So many things to learn, so many things that can affect your soap...trying to figure out what went wrong when you are sure you did everything right. And it certainly doesn't help when there is so much conflicting information out there.

I did a LOT of research before I started making soap. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of what I was doing and did pretty well the first few months...and then I found this place and realized how much I didn't know and how many assumptions that I had made. I still have a bar of soap from my first batch...uh...second batch since I royally screwed the first one up...of Goat Milk Soap. I also have a few odd soaps from some of the soaps I made those first few months. When I compare them to soap I made just a year later and the soap I made last week...HUGE difference. It was still good soap back them...I'm still using the same recipe, but it's such a better bar of soap.

And...I still screw up on occasion. I'll sometimes get in a hurry or not pay attention...that's on me. And then something unexpected comes along...something that I haven't dealt with before. Like this last month...24 Wedding Soaps that I can't put on table because the unprecedented amount of rain we were having grossly affected my soaps. Put me two weeks behind schedule even after I allowed extra time and then I still had to cheat a little on the last batch. The first batch was the only one that came out 100% expected. I went from being able to unmold after 18 hours to having to wait four days and then I still had some soaps that weren't 'perfect'.
 

DianaMoon

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Yeah, it can be when you are first starting out. I mean...it's just soap, how hard can it be? So many things to learn, so many things that can affect your soap...trying to figure out what went wrong when you are sure you did everything right. And it certainly doesn't help when there is so much conflicting information out there.

I did a LOT of research before I started making soap. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of what I was doing and did pretty well the first few months...and then I found this place and realized how much I didn't know and how many assumptions that I had made.

Same here. My first batch caused me no end of worry because it never came to trace. But as I look back, it was w/out doubt emulsified. If I had known then what I know now, I'd have stopped the frantic stick blending, poured it into a mold, and let the process unfold. But no... I babied it, fussed over it, checked on it every five minutes... in the end it turned out quite usable.

And at the end of the day, it's just soap.
 

leahjo534

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reading all y'alls comments was quite interesting! thank you for all the thinking it lead me to in my head. I've been making soap for over a year now and have recently been making alot of adjustments to my recipes and getting not as particular as I was in the beginning and right now I'm at a place were the last 3 batches of soaps I've made have made me so stressed out and it's teaching me to have patience... ugh... anyway I ended up using my mom's Müeller SmartStick immersion blender. it doesn't have holes on the head like I've been told is the key feature for making soap tho. my dad tinkered with mine and it seems that the stick that supposed to turn the blade isn't in far enough and he was able to push it in enough to work but it keeps coming out. it's Ovente brand. does anyone have one you'd recommend?
 

TheGecko

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leahjo534

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I bought this one (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018ELIYA4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1) off of Amazon in July 2019...paid $16.92 and it still works just fine. I like that the blade is detachable...I only use the whisk for whip cream, not soap making

Bought this one (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XY8NMZG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1) for my DIL for Xmas 2019 and she still uses it though she doesn't make soap; it's 39.97

thank you @TheGecko ! do y'all think the holes in the head matter or is that just a myth?
 
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