CP soap looks off, help?

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May 29, 2020
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I'm a hobby soapmaker; I've made 15 or 20 batches and I've never had this happen to me before. I'm concerned about the fuzzy ring around the white parts, and the coloring looks uneven for the black parts. There's some faint white/grey spots throughout the black part of the soap too.

my recipe was

40% olive oil
20% coconut oil
10% shea butter
10% mango butter
10% cocoa butter
10% castor oil

5% superfat
lye concentration 31.3% / water as % of water weight 30%
total oil amount was 440g
added 1tsp sodium lactate

colors are TD (1/4tsp) to about 1/3 of the batter and activated charcoal (1/2tsp) to the rest
forced gel on a heating pad (this is normal for me in the colder months, but it doesn't look gelled?)
soaped at around 110F - 120F (this is also normal for me)

I've made this recipe a few times and it always came out fine. The only difference for this batch was that I hand stirred it to emulsion, separated the batch for colors, and hand stirred each color until light trace. I stick blended for the previous times I've used this recipe and it accelerated far too quickly for me to attempt a drop swirl, so my plan was to hand stir and use the stick blender very minimally, but I ended up not needing the stick blender at all.

(I still couldn't attempt the drop swirl I wanted, but that's another story lol)

Could this be from a false trace? That's the only thing I could think of. At first I thought this was glycerin rivers, but I've had that happen to me before and this looks nothing like it.

Thanks in advance!


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I had a recent batch turn out similar. I have increased the amount of higher-stearic fats/butters in my last few recipes and am having problems with the additional stearic acid causing stearic swirls that are quite chalky. I gelled one batch which did help considerably compared to one that wasn't gelled. I am using one of the non-gelled ones now and the stearic swirl chalkiness goes right through the bar.
Earlier in my soaping journey I had similar issues and I think it might be the cocoa butter? That's the one thing I cut out early in my soaping days - and the one thing I have added back in now that I am getting the same problems. Do you normally use that same recipe or is a new recipe? If it's new - does it contain more cocoa butter than usual?
Hmmm, I've heard of stearic spots before, but never swirls! I'll do a little more research about that later :)

I've tried this exact recipe with the exact colors with success before, just without the drop swirl cause it accelerated too fast. The activated charcoal parts turned out a nice uniform black-grey before, so I was pretty surprised when I cut into this bar.

Now that you mention the cocoa butter though, another thing I did differently was melting my hard oils and then added my liquid oils (in my case it was the olive and castor oils) to lower the temperature... maybe that could've re-solidified some of the higher melting point oils? I didn't notice any hard bits in the oils afterwards, but could be a possibility. Usually I just throw all the oils in a container and melt it all together.

Thanks for your insight, I appreciate it!
First of all, that is a great looking design! If you gave some to me, I'd be thrilled. My trick when I get an unexpected result is to call it 'rustic' and pretend it was intentional.

I've recently had a run with stearic problems so I feel your pain. I agree that you have stearic issues. Now, especially in winter, I make sure my oil mixture gets up to 180 degrees F. I'm grateful to this Forum that helped solve my problem.

I'm a geller and use a heating pad in the winter. I also bury the loaf under a pile of towels and check on it periodically. If the mold is warm, then it's gelling. Good luck!
Aww, thank you! I always feel the same way about other people's design "fails," we're always harsher on ourselves eh?

I'm glad I'm not the only one with this issue - I was getting worried when I was trying to troubleshoot on my own via Google and couldn't find anything similar.

I do the same for gelling in the winter. It's like a little heating pad-blanket burrito for my soap, except curiosity always gets the better of me and I peek multiple times haha. I'm guessing the stearic swirls got in the way of the colors popping.

Thank you for helping me solve my problem! :)

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