Crack In My Bars!

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Mestiza Girl

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My first batch had a successful gel phase which I was so stoked about. :)
Unfortunately, when cutting the bars, I noticed a few flaws-

1. A few bars had shallow cracks on the tops...Pictures below
2. Alot of the dried rose petals were falling off the bars
3. The sides of the bars had an uneven texture that wasn't nice and smooth. (I used a soap cutter that came with my silicone mold on Amazon).
88B4E797-1B1C-4947-A73E-FC3C97DF0A7B.jpeg 775DDAFF-1DC4-4D25-AEB9-4248A6CD8AEB.jpeg 3407B9CE-D4CE-4A6D-90C5-352FB47F8D82.jpeg
 

KiwiMoose

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Welcome to handmade soap! All the things you have mentioned happen all the time.
What type of cutter do you have? I use a kitchen knife for cutting mine, and you have to be careful about 'sliding' it off the soap rather than 'pulling' it off, which creates that stipple effect.
Rose petals will always fall off - ensure you push them into the soap batter a little before curing, even then they will still fall off.
Those 'cracks' look to me like stearic spots or swirls - is your recipe high in stearic fatty acids? I often get those because mine is very high in stearic. They don't bother me, but you can hep avoid them by not letting your recipe cool to quickly while pouring.
Incidentally i always get glycerin rivers in my soap and I don't mind them at all. Handmade soap has a lot of 'imperfections' - that's what makes it handmade and beautiful.
 

Obsidian

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Yes, the top cracks are from slight overheating. Can't help on how to prevent it since I don't gel due to overheating issues.

The sticky sides might have been from cutting a bit too soon while the soap was still a little soft.
Like mentioned above, slide the bar off your cutter will help prevent that. So will waiting until the soap is a bit harder.

Since you are new to soap making, thought I'd mention that your rose petals will turn brown where they touch soap.
They are pretty when the soap is new but in 3 or 4 months, they will probably look way different.
 

Mestiza Girl

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Welcome to handmade soap! All the things you have mentioned happen all the time.
What type of cutter do you have? I use a kitchen knife for cutting mine, and you have to be careful about 'sliding' it off the soap rather than 'pulling' it off, which creates that stipple effect.
Rose petals will always fall off - ensure you push them into the soap batter a little before curing, even then they will still fall off.
Those 'cracks' look to me like stearic spots or swirls - is your recipe high in stearic fatty acids? I often get those because mine is very high in stearic. They don't bother me, but you can hep avoid them by not letting your recipe cool to quickly while pouring.
Incidentally i always get glycerin rivers in my soap and I don't mind them at all. Handmade soap has a lot of 'imperfections' - that's what makes it handmade and beautiful.
I use the stainless steel cutter that came with the ZYTJ Silicone Mold on Amazon! Thanks for the advice- I should've known pulling it would pull out little soap crumbs. Maybe I'll try a veggie knife next time.
Might as well ask for future reference, hehe, where do stearic spots come from? Do certain oils contain a higher amount of stearic acid?

The cracks & uneven texture on the sides are probably due to a little overheating. How did you insulate to achieve gel?
I live in a fairly cool apartment so I cover the entire top of the mold with a flat piece of cardboard and wrap it entirely in a thick towel. I want to avoid partial gel but at the same time avoid over heating- how do I find the perfect balance? Lol

Yes, the top cracks are from slight overheating. Can't help on how to prevent it since I don't gel due to overheating issues.

The sticky sides might have been from cutting a bit too soon while the soap was still a little soft.
Like mentioned above, slide the bar off your cutter will help prevent that. So will waiting until the soap is a bit harder.

Since you are new to soap making, thought I'd mention that your rose petals will turn brown where they touch soap.
They are pretty when the soap is new but in 3 or 4 months, they will probably look way different.
Obsidian, I think that's exactly what happened. I gave it about 11-12 hours in fear that it would be too hard to cut but in fact it seemed a bit squishy still.

As for the rose petals turning brown- I understand this happens with lavender buds as well (although almost instantly). What do you recommend for a soap maker trying to incorporate botanicals into their craft?
 
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Obsidian

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Obsidian, I think that's exactly what happened. I gave it about 11-12 hours in fear that it would be too hard to cut but in fact it seemed a bit squishy still.

As for the rose petals turning brown- I understand this happens with lavender buds as well (although almost instantly). What do you recommend for a soap maker trying to incorporate botanicals into their craft?
The only botanicals I know of that doesn't turn brown is calendula petals.
 

Cellador

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I live in a fairly cool apartment so I cover the entire top of the mold with a flat piece of cardboard and wrap it entirely in a thick towel. I want to avoid partial gel but at the same time avoid over heating- how do I find the perfect balance? Lol
Lol, that's always a challenge! Many of us CPOP (cold process, oven process). Usually, I turn on the oven at 170-180 degrees about one hour before I will be finished pouring the soap. I put the soap in the oven, and turn it off. I leave the soap in the oven to do it's thing for about 12 hours. Everyone has their own method, so you might have some trial & error before you find what works for you.
 

Dawni

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Might as well ask for future reference, hehe, where do stearic spots come from? Do certain oils contain a higher amount of stearic acid?
Second question: Yes. The butters are all high on stearic acid. Soy wax also. Lard, tallow and neem oil have a bit more than the other liquid fats too.
First question: It usually happens when your soap too cool. The hard stuff is solidifying in bits as you work.
Both questions: Do a search, literally TONS of info in the forum ;)
What do you recommend for a soap maker trying to incorporate botanicals into their craft?
Don't use them? Haha kidding... But seriously though, they'll just turn brown and/or fall off and/or be picked out before using anyway. Except for calendula, about the turning brown.

Some infuse their oils with botanicals. There's no way of knowing how much of their properties are not eaten by the lye monster but they add label appeal. There's a greater chance of those properties staying if you HP but it's still no guarantee.

I've not tried botanicals on the tops of HP so I don't know if they'll still turn brown. Maybe not?

Of course, if you really want to use em, no one says you can't :)
 

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