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First batch not tracing

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bassgirl

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Hi,

I just made my first soap batch today and I've been stirring for the last hour and a half and it hasn't traced. Here's my recipe:

1.5 oz cocoa butter
7.5 oz coconut oil
11 oz. olive oil
3.5 oz. sweet almond oil
3.5 oz palm oil
10.25 oz. water
3.65 oz lye

This recipe looked good at soapcalc...the only thing I changed was halving it.

I bought the $20 HB stick blender that someone mentioned in another thread, and was about to use it, and realized it only had two speeds, so I was afraid to try it. So I've been stirring by hand. Does it matter how fast you stir, or whether you take breaks?

I'm really getting tired! :(
 

beachgurl

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LMAO. Here's an excerpt from my soap diary .. it's the first batch that I ever attempted :)

"Now for the most un-fun part; stirring until saponification. Holy #%$&, but how long and "briskly" are you supposed to stir for the love of Pete?! I think that my forearm will be sore tomorrow. It got to the point where it was tingling and kind of numbish. I stirred by hand – continuously, for an hour and a half without the soap getting anything but (and this is being wishful) a light trace. Finally I decided, what the hay, I'm busting out the blender. The worst that could happen is that my soap gets air bubbles, or even turns out ok. The alternative is to throw it out. I used the blender for 40 seconds and my recipe traced. I then added the apricot and fragrance oils and incorporated them into the pot manually. Mental note to self .. no soap making without the hand blender, Cavitch is full of crap."

Try the blender :D
 

SimplyE

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LMAO too :lol:

Beachgurl, that sounds about EXACTLY how my first batch went! Yes, I finally broke out the blender, as well.

Bassgirl, go for the stick! You will kick yourself otherwise! :wink:
 

cdwinsby

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I mostly stir by hand with a whisk and get trace in about 5 - 15 minutes BUT (and it's a big one) I use Grapefruit Seed Extract (1/2 tsp ppo) in most of my batches and it speeds up the trace considerably.

When I don't use GSE......out comes the SB......otherwise I'm having one hell of a bad arm day!! :lol:
 

bassgirl

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OK, I busted out the blender. After about 15 minutes of that, I got a barely discernible trace, so I just went ahead and poured. I don't feel real confident about it, so we'll see how it looks on Friday.

I hadn't realized the blender only had two speeds and I was so afraid the low speed would be too fast and would splatter everything. But it was OK. I didn't even try the high speed. I don't like the fact that I have to hold the button down while I mix, but I can't take it back now!

I have one other question. I know I can't use any soap making utensils for food, but is it OK to use the same bowl, spoons, etc. for making body & lip balms? After they've been thoroughly washed, of course.

Thanks!
 

SimplyE

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cdwinsby said:
I use Grapefruit Seed Extract (1/2 tsp ppo) in most of my batches and it speeds up the trace considerably.
Any other reason you use GSE? I have read about using it, but I can't recall why. To help with FO?
 

beachgurl

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GSE is a natural preservative .. it contains antioxidants which help prevent rancidity. I'd check your measurements; when you're making a small batch of soap you have to be careful because smaller discrepencies in ingredients are amplified when making small batches. Go through and write down what you did and see if you there's something blatantly wrong. Run your recipe through a couple lye calculators to make sure you had the appropriate amount in your batch.

EDIT: Just ran the recipe through Snowdrift's calculator (it's never taken me down the wrong path). For the entire recipe (not the one cut in half) I did an 8% lye discount and it told me to use 3.77 oz of lye and 9.72 oz of H20.
 

bassgirl

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I just ran the halved recipe (as above) through soapcalc and it came out exactly as I did it. I had figured a 10% lye discount.

Then I checked snowdrift's calculator and it did show I should have used more lye and less water.

If the different calculators give different results, how can you ever know it's right? :?
 

MikeInPdx

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My supplier recently stopped carrying GSE because new research is saying it really does very little as an antioxidant. I've switched to ROE

Edited to add: [rant]Susan Miller Cavitch's books are nice but soapmaking has come a long way. IMHO, her suggestions about GSE are not valid, her mixing methods are dated, and she superfats WAY TOO MUCH.

[/rant] :)
 

digit

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For the most part, I use the stick blender and note how long trace takes. A slow to trace formula will serve you well for learning to do swirls. :lol:

Digit
 

bassgirl

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MikeInPdx said:
My supplier recently stopped carrying GSE because new research is saying it really does very little as an antioxidant. I've switched to ROE
I also read that it can have an estrogenic effect on the body, so I don't want to use it.

Edited to add: [rant]Susan Miller Cavitch's books are nice but soapmaking has come a long way. IMHO, her suggestions about GSE are not valid, her mixing methods are dated, and she superfats WAY TOO MUCH.

[/rant] :)
And why is she against hand-milling?
 

Martin

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I hand stirred a batch once for about six hours on and off thought it was never going to happen and went ahead and poured. Turned out fine. Now I just use the SB for the first 30 sec and use a whisk till trace.

Sonja
 

beachgurl

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I agree on Cavitch; her book was a good starting point, but there's a lot I don't agree with (temps, stirring, preservatives, superfatting, etc). The other bad thing about her book is that if you're a beginner, here recipes are WAAAAAYYYY too big and expensive.
 

MikeInPdx

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I agree beachgurl, and will add: way too complex....no one needs that much stuff to make decent soap. :)
 

bassgirl

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Well, it worked...I think! Pulled it out last night and it's pretty firm to the touch, smells good (even though I haven't added fragrance yet). It's oddly shaped because I had to switch to a smaller tupperware at the last minute, but I plan to hand mill most of it anyway.

Also, we tested the pH and it was about 7 already. Does that mean I don't have to let it cure very long? I'm in a very dry climate as well.

Anyway, I feel encouraged now after all the stirring problems! :D
 

cdwinsby

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You still should to let it cure for about 4 weeks but you could go ahead and handmill it right away. It is usually easier to work with when the soap is fresh.

A long cure results in a milder bar of soap. Some people will use their soap right away but most will find it drying to their skin until it has cured.
 

cambree

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beachgurl said:
I agree on Cavitch; her book was a good starting point, but there's a lot I don't agree with (temps, stirring, preservatives, superfatting, etc). The other bad thing about her book is that if you're a beginner, here recipes are WAAAAAYYYY too big and expensive.
I agree with beachgurl. I also read Cavitch's book. She made me NOT want to make soap. But then I found other soapmaking books with less ingredients and much simpler methods. After you get the base recipe, you can get creative on your own.

bassgirl said:
Well, it worked...I think! Pulled it out last night and it's pretty firm to the touch, smells good (even though I haven't added fragrance yet).

Anyway, I feel encouraged now after all the stirring problems! :D
bassgirl, you soap color looks nice. Congrats on a successful batch. :)
 

bassgirl

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So today I grated some of this soap to hand mill, added 75% water, and had it on the double boiler for about a half hour. All I got was a goopy paste. Put it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes at 50% power and got a big expanded goopy paste. Now it's back in the double boiler.

Is it hopeless? :(
 
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