Dancing funnel with natural colorants

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josianeg

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Today, thanks to the “I Dream In Soap” video about emulsion, trace, false trace and acceleration, I was able to make a nice dancing funnel! I’m very happy about it, although it would have been better suited for a slab mold.

It’s sleeping right now, I hope it’ll go through gel phase so the colours stay nice and saturated. It’s very late here (3 am) but I’m way too excited to sleep right now! At least, no acceleration and no thick trace. Yay! I used a recipe with 33% lye concentration in the hopes I won’t have sofa ash.

48B2E5F3-F7DB-4C10-B47D-988371E0E286.jpeg

I had a little batter left over, so I played around with it. I never had this much time to work with my batter before! So fun!!!

81DBD8A2-9084-442B-8BD7-11FD04A9672D.jpeg
 

ShySoaper

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Today, thanks to the “I Dream In Soap” video about emulsion, trace, false trace and acceleration, I was able to make a nice dancing funnel! I’m very happy about it, although it would have been better suited for a slab mold.

It’s sleeping right now, I hope it’ll go through gel phase so the colours stay nice and saturated. It’s very late here (3 am) but I’m way too excited to sleep right now! At least, no acceleration and no thick trace. Yay! I used a recipe with 33% lye concentration in the hopes I won’t have sofa ash.

View attachment 46572

I had a little batter left over, so I played around with it. I never had this much time to work with my batter before! So fun!!!

View attachment 46573
Beautiful
 

josianeg

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Darn you, soda ash! 😤

I usually spray my finished soap with 99% alcohol, but I forgot yesterday. Could that explain why I got soda ash faster than usual? I had read here that with a 35% lye concentration a member never has sofa ash problems.

Does soaping at lower temperatures increase the chances for soda ash? What about pouring the soap at stable emulsion or very light trace?

I read covering your soap helps prevent the reaction, but my soap loaf mold WAS covered with a cardboard piece and unall night...

I’m a bit torn because (especially when I use natural colorants) I want my soap to reach gel phase and from what I understand, water discounting*, soaping at lower temperatures (I was at around 85F), using a slab mold... are all factors that decrease chances of your soap reaching gel phase.

The problem is... I think most of these conditions are necessary to be able to make intricate designs or swirls? Does that mean that it’s hard to reach gel for these soaps, unless you CPOP (the possibility of a soap volcano TERRIFIES me)?

I use the heating blanket method but I’m still not sure if my soaps reach gel phase or not. It might be a stupid question but... how do you know for sure you reached gel phase unless you actually SEE it happen?

Is there a temperature your soap has to reach for it to happen? I know that after one hour on the heating blanket my soap was around 39 Celsius.

I’ve seen those pictures of soap loaves where the center is darker (and kind of translucent) than the edges, but I’ve never actually SEEN it happen because I cover the soap and put it on a heating blanket.

I THINK my indigo ombré soap did because the blue got a lot deeper, but I’m far from sure.

I still have SO MUCH to learn! I’m a pharmacist and microbiologist (so I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to science), I hand spin yarn lace weight yarns, knit complicated lace patterns, make THE most delicious jams (according to my customers)... I have Aspergera syndrome so learning is my passion and I’m pretty fast at it... Yet, I find myself struggling when it comes to soap making.

My admiration goes out to you, experienced soap makers ; your craft is not an easy one to master!

* I read on the lovinsoap website that a 2:1 water:lye ratio is a water discount? I thought it was full water! 😂 Then which lye concentration or water:lye is considered full water? I keep seeing lye concentrations of 31%, 33%... Even Aunty Clara’s high water recipe in the Ghost swirl was 30% NaOH and 70% water (btw, is that what we mean by “30% lye concentration“?)...
 
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DeeAnna

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"...I read on the lovinsoap website that a 2:1 water:lye ratio is a water discount? I thought it was full water! 😂 Then which lye concentration or water:lye is considered full water? I keep seeing lye concentrations of 31%, 33%... Even Aunty Clara’s high water recipe in the Ghost swirl was 30% NaOH and 70% water (btw, is that what we mean by “30% lye concentration“?) ..."

There's no consensus on the precise meaning of "full water". That means there is no precise meaning to "water discount" either. And even if there was consensus on full water, the "fullness" of the water has no real meaning when it comes to the chemistry of saponification.

My advice? Just focus on lye concentration or water:lye ratio, whichever makes the most sense to you. They are mathematically the same thing, although they look different. Fugeddabout all the full water and water discount mumbo jumbo.

The way soap makers talk about lye concentration, yes, you have the definition correct -- lye concentration is the % of alkali by weight in a lye solution. So a 30% lye concentration is 30 grams of alkali plus sufficient water (70 grams) to make a total of 100 grams of lye solution.

At one extreme of lye concentration, the lye solution is fully saturated -- that's roughly 50% lye concentration at room temperature. That's a max limit.

At the other extreme, the soap batter may not be able to form a stable emulsion (aka trace) if there is "too much" water. But there's no absolute number at this end, because technique and experience has a lot to do with getting a soap batter to stable trace.

I talk about this more here -- Soapy Stuff: Water in soap -- and here -- Soapy Stuff: Lye conc vs water:lye ratio
 

josianeg

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Thanks a lot for the explanation!

Any advice on preventing sofa ash and still have a recipe that moves slow enough to do intricate designs?

It’s not very visible on this picture because I had sprayed alcohol on the soap not too long before, but you can see the soap ash in this picture:

FE7F653D-317E-4883-8800-D748E8C290EB.jpeg
 

shermluge

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Along with the 33% lye concentration, I cover in cling wrap and put cardboard then, put on a heating pad and cover with a couple of towels. (except for my Milk ones which go in the fridge). since then its worked great even when I forget to spray with alcohol.
also is that soda ash just on certain color? if so you may have mixed color with water and to much extra water will contribute to that.
 

DeeAnna

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I do not think the mottling on the top of your soap is soda ash. It's more likely to be what I'm calling "soap crystal ash", which I think is a kissing cousin to the "glycerin" rivers people sometimes get inside their soap, except it seems to form only on the top.

I don't have definitive advice to prevent this, but pouring at emulsion (or very thin trace) and higher water content are probably some of the factors that encourage this soap crystal ash to form.
 

josianeg

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Along with the 33% lye concentration, I cover in cling wrap and put cardboard then, put on a heating pad and cover with a couple of towels. (except for my Milk ones which go in the fridge). since then its worked great even when I forget to spray with alcohol.
also is that soda ash just on certain color? if so you may have mixed color with water and to much extra water will contribute to that.
No, all colours were mixed in 10 ml sunflower oil. Maybe it just shows more on certain colours? Unless certains colorants are more prone to soda ash, but I wouldn’t see why. I used annato, activated charcoal and chlorella.
 

josianeg

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I do not think the mottling on the top of your soap is soda ash. It's more likely to be what I'm calling "soap crystal ash", which I think is a kissing cousin to the "glycerin" rivers people sometimes get inside their soap, except it seems to form only on the top.

I don't have definitive advice to prevent this, but pouring at emulsion (or very thin trace) and higher water content are probably some of the factors that encourage this soap crystal ash to form.
Whoa 😮 you just blew my mind! I had never heard of that before. Gotta read about this. Could I discount the water more and still have a slow moving recipe?

I know my other soap with natural colorants (same I used yesterday + madder + indigo) initially developed soda ash on top but eventually all surfaces of the original soap loaf had the same ashy white on them. It wasn’t easy to wash off, either, but maybe I’m not doing it correctly.



Along with the 33% lye concentration, I cover in cling wrap and put cardboard then, put on a heating pad and cover with a couple of towels.
Do you mean you put the cling wrap on the mold over the soap (meaning there’s air trapped over the soap) or so you actually put it ON the soap surface? I’d be worried about damaging the design?
 

DeeAnna

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I know what you mean about the powdery ash that grows all over a bar. This soda ash washes or steams off pretty easily -- maybe try warm water or steam from a steam iron or a simmering pan of water?

The soap crystal ash, in my experience, appears on the top surface of the soap. It looks and feels exactly like the rest of the soap around it -- smooth and slightly waxy -- except it's really pale colored. It doesn't wash off like soda ash does. I mean once you use the bar a time or two in the shower, it will disappear, but it won't wash off with a quick rinse under the tap or a wipe with a damp towel.

I can't give you a black and white answer about reducing the water content and how that might affect the working time. A slow moving soap depends on technique, temperature, the blend of fats, etc. as well as the water content. I can routinely get 15 minutes of working time using 33% lye concentration, but I also use a high-lard recipe. Other blends of fats might not be so accommodating.
 
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shermluge

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Do you mean you put the cling wrap on the mold over the soap (meaning there’s air trapped over the soap) or so you actually put it ON the soap surface? I’d be worried about damaging the design?
I use 900 grams which leaves me a little gap to the top, which works perfect for stretching plastic wrap over it so it doesn't touch the soap (see photo below), then I put cardboard over that so when I put the towels on it doesn't push the cling wrap in. Its close to air tight. This is the method (after trying many) works for me. Humidity, temp all that can affect it.
20200517_134332.jpg
Avocado lemon
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SPowers

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I've only made 4 batches of soap to date - the first 3 were covered and insulated well with towels & heating pad. Batches 2 & 3 had serious issue with glycerin rivers (someone told me they weren't really called that but that seems to be the common vernacular). I was told it was was because it got too hot - so it almost seems to be a contradiction. You need the heat to force gel but too much heat perhaps is a bad thing. I think experimenting on what works for you is the way to go. I made the 4th batch yesterday - I covered with a pc of cardboard and wrapped it in a towel but did not do the heating pad so I'm waiting to see the results.
 

shermluge

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(someone told me they weren't really called that but that seems to be the common vernacular)
I don't remember who posted it, but I saved the link and I've learned a lot from it. I've even intentionally made "glycerin rivers" once but it did not to the whole bar. But here is a link to the Auntie Clara's article which I loved. I found once I tried to make it happen, I've learned a lot more.

Update: I found it, It was Dibbles who posted it.
 
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josianeg

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I know what you mean about the powdery ash that grows all over a bar. This soda ash washes or steams off pretty easily -- maybe try warm water or steam from a steam iron or a simmering pan of water?

The soap crystal ash, in my experience, appears on the top surface of the soap. It looks and feels exactly like the rest of the soap around it -- smooth and slightly waxy -- except it's really pale colored. It doesn't wash off like soda ash does. I mean once you use the bar a time or two in the shower, it will disappear, but it won't wash off with a quick rinse under the tap or a wipe with a damp towel.

I can't give you a black and white answer about reducing the water content and how that might affect the working time. A slow moving soap depends on technique, temperature, the blend of fats, etc. as well as the water content. I can routinely get 15 minutes of working time using 33% lye concentration, but I also use a high-lard recipe. Other blends of fats might not be so accommodating.
The thing is... I had a 33% lye concentration myself. I guess I’ll eventually solve the puzzle.
 
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