Complacency Leads to Soap on a Stick

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Michelle La

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“I got this soap making malarkey.” I told myself. And then it happened. A plug of “soap” so hard in my stick blender that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it out. I didn’t even break out into the expected (from me at least) colourful swears, to be heard across the land, because I was so stunned by what I saw before me. I just stood in silent horror, before attempting to push this mass of stodge into my mould. THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.
 
It’s lumpy and bumpy and craggy looking but it could’ve been worse. No swirls as planned but I don’t hate it.
 

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Looks good!

Question because I had an issue with it last month. Some of those lumps look like they are uncolored and un-blended batter. But is there any chance that that section might be lye heavy? Or light on lye? I have had this happen with soap on a stick when the ingredients did not have time to fully incorporate. Maybe check with zap test?

In my failed soap, the parts that were lye heavy were hard and shiny white. Yours don’t look like that so I think you’re safe, but check to be sure.
 
Looks good!

Question because I had an issue with it last month. Some of those lumps look like they are uncolored and un-blended batter. But is there any chance that that section might be lye heavy? Or light on lye? I have had this happen with soap on a stick when the ingredients did not have time to fully incorporate. Maybe check with zap test?

In my failed soap, the parts that were lye heavy were hard and shiny white. Yours don’t look like that so I think you’re safe, but check to be sure.
 
I’ll definitely check, thank you. Hopefully it’s okay because I’d reached emulsion before splitting it off into jugs with the micas in. Fingers firmly crossed.
 
Looks good!

Question because I had an issue with it last month. Some of those lumps look like they are uncolored and un-blended batter. But is there any chance that that section might be lye heavy? Or light on lye? I have had this happen with soap on a stick when the ingredients did not have time to fully incorporate. Maybe check with zap test?

In my failed soap, the parts that were lye heavy were hard and shiny white. Yours don’t look like that so I think you’re safe, but check to be sure.
Those uncolored lumps are most likely where the color did not mix. After cure her soap will be fine. Anytime soap batter goes soap on a stick just cover the container walk away for a while and wait for it to start saponification (gel phase) it will thin enough to stir quickly and pour into your mold. It will come out much like hp soap at this point. Do not stick blend at this point just stir and pour into your mold. It can take 10-30 minutes to heat enough to stir and pour.

Even a lye-heavy soap can fix itself with a long cure time.
 
Those uncolored lumps are most likely where the color did not mix. After cure her soap will be fine. Anytime soap batter goes soap on a stick just cover the container walk away for a while and wait for it to start saponification (gel phase) it will thin enough to stir quickly and pour into your mold. It will come out much like hp soap at this point. Do not stick blend at this point just stir and pour into your mold. It can take 10-30 minutes to heat enough to stir and pour.

Even a lye-heavy soap can fix itself with a long cure time.
Good tip, thank you. My stick blender also thanks you.
 
Here are two pics of a loaf that contained lye-heavy spots. 😩 They were hard and shiny bright white spots. They clearly stand out as being different from the white swirls in the soap. The problem was that I made a double batch in a very large pitcher, and some of the uncolored soap ended up not being stirred in as thoroughly as it should have been. After swirling the two colors together in the pot, I poured it and was thrilled with the results. Until I cut it. I believe what happened is the very bottom corners in the mixing pitcher had held onto the heavy lye solution and did not appear until I poured the last of it into the mold. Most of the soap was beautiful, but not safe to use. I believe this example is a cousin to not fully incorporating all of the color into the soap batter. Unfortunately, this time the part that wasn’t fully incorporated was also lye heavy.
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Here are two pics of a loaf that contained lye-heavy spots. 😩 They were hard and shiny bright white spots. They clearly stand out as being different from the white swirls in the soap. The problem was that I made a double batch in a very large pitcher, and some of the uncolored soap ended up not being stirred in as thoroughly as it should have been. After swirling the two colors together in the pot, I poured it and was thrilled with the results. Until I cut it. I believe what happened is the very bottom corners in the picture had held onto the heavy lye solution and did not appear until I poured the last of it into the mold. Most of the soap was beautiful, but not safe to use. I believe this example is a cousin to not fully incorporating all of the color into the soap batter. Unfortunately, this time the part that wasn’t fully incorporated was also lye heavy.
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Did you do the zap test on the spots?
 
It’s lumpy and bumpy and craggy looking but it could’ve been worse. No swirls as planned but I don’t hate it.
@Michelle La , I have to agree with @justsomeguy - Rustic, Pretty, Nice Save!

Here are two pics of a loaf that contained lye-heavy spots. 😩 They were hard and shiny bright white spots.
@ScentimentallyYours , did you use titanium dioxide? I've gotten some white specs when I have used titantium dioxide. I assumed it was little lumps of TD because I was, in fact, having a hard time getting the TD really well disbursed. I hate to think now that these are specs of lye. Did you do a zap test? Most of my soaps have not yet finished curing, but, I guess I'll probably zap test anything with white specs now. Just to be sure.
 
Here are two pics of a loaf that contained lye-heavy spots. 😩 They were hard and shiny bright white spots. They clearly stand out as being different from the white swirls in the soap. The problem was that I made a double batch in a very large pitcher, and some of the uncolored soap ended up not being stirred in as thoroughly as it should have been. After swirling the two colors together in the pot, I poured it and was thrilled with the results. Until I cut it. I believe what happened is the very bottom corners in the picture had held onto the heavy lye solution and did not appear until I poured the last of it into the mold. Most of the soap was beautiful, but not safe to use. I believe this example is a cousin to not fully incorporating all of the color into the soap batter. Unfortunately, this time the part that wasn’t fully incorporated was also lye heavy.
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Interesting, thank you for sharing your experience. Can I just ask, how did you determine the spots were lye heavy? Is this something you did before or after the cure time, and is there any point me trying to work that out now rather than waiting four weeks or so?
 
I did not dare do a zap test because they were clearly different from the rest of the soap, very hard and very shiny. Notice, too, that the lumps are various sizes and not evenly mixed throughout the soap.

When I poured the lye solution in, it sank to the bottom of the pitcher. We all have experience with soap batter prior to emulsification of seeing oils at the top and the lye-heavy solution at the bottom. (Assuming one uses a translucent container.). I stirred by hand with a whisk, but should have occasionally used a spatula to get down into the corners.

I did not use any titanium dioxide. The white soap swirls are from the natural color. I have had titanium dioxide spots before, and the TD white spots will smear.

I did not bother to take time to cure the soap because the problem was so obvious. I immediately put the soap into a pot and tried to use a hot process method, crossing my fingers that the lye lumps would dissolve. No matter what I did, the lye/soap lumps stayed hard. I even added extra liquid and yogurt and stick blended it, to no avail. In a last ditch effort, I even put it through a strainer to get the lumps out, then tossed them. Again, the lumps were HARD and could not be squished (uncolored soap) or smeared (titanium dioxide).

I had blended Awapuhi fragrance with the oils prior to adding the lye solution. My Awapuhi can cause the batter to seize, which is why I think the lye solution didn’t have a chance to blend properly throughout the oils. Most of the batter was at emulsion, looked/acted right, and I worked extremely fast, not realizing a small area at the bottom of the pot had not incorporated the lye solution with the oils until pouring the last of the batter into the mold. (I was so proud that I had gotten swirls using that fragrance!)

I did let the hot process, strained soap cure for three weeks to see what would happen, but I am going to throw it out. I love the Awapuhi fragrance, but will only use it in hot process or M&P from now on. I hope others can learn from my experience and soap-fail pictures.
 
… how did you determine the spots were lye heavy? Is this something you did before or after the cure time, and is there any point me trying to work that out now rather than waiting four weeks or so?
see my post above. I’ve been making soap for 25 years, so when I saw the lumps come from the bottom of the pot, I suspected I had uncolored batter until I actually cut the loaf. The white spots are so different from the rest of the soap that it was easy to identify them as an issue with lye. Uncolored batter will have the same/identical texture as the rest of the soap.

Hard, shiny, irregular, bright white spots indicate an issue fully incorporating the lye solution. After reading my posts, if it ever happens to you, you will know it when you see it!!! I’m wishing I took more pictures to share.
 
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