First ever soap batch went wrong

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Debrutherford1

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Hi all,
I'm Debbie, from Wollongong in Australia, and this is my first post here and also I have just made my first ever batch of soap. Something went wrong and I'm not sure what, so I was hoping someone may be able to help me troubleshoot.
I used Olive Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Coconut Oil and Sunflower oil. I mixed the lye with bottled spring water. I did not use any colours or fragrances, I wanted to keep it simple the first time.
When I mixed the lye and oils, some large white lumps appeared in the mix. I tried to mix them out and thought I had done so but I may have missed some. I then poured it into the mould - I just used a kitchen loaf pan lined with clingfilm.
It has dried out a brown colour (unsure if this is normal with no colourings) and big white lumps. I have added photos.
What may have caused this and is it safe to use?
The only thing I can think of is that the oils and lye were not the same temperature when I mixed them. Could this cause this to happen?

Thanks so much in advance :)
Cheers
Debbie

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lenarenee

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The color of your soap doesn't look like a problem given the oils that you used. Rice bran and olive oils can be very yellowing oils We need to see your recipe to know for sure: weights of oils and any other additives. And if that is a metal baking rack, it would be wise to cover it with wax/parchment/plastic as many metals can cause orange spots on your soap. Would you describe the oil and lye solution as cool, warm or hot? (I'll wait to see your recipe before theorizing what the white chunks are)

Congratulations on your first batch!
 

dixiedragon

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Is this hot process (HP) or cold process (CP)? In cold process, you mix the oils and lye water, stick blend (or stir if you've got an hour or two to spare) until trace, then pour in the mold. In HP, you mix the lye water and oils and cook (usually in a slow cooker) through the gel phase. (Soaping 101 on YouTube has a good video of HP). I ask b/c in HP you can get some over-cooked soap chunks, which would account for the whitish chunks in your soap.

If you try again, perhaps try distilled water or even just tap water? Spring water can have all sorts of minerals or impurities. And at least here in the US, "spring water" isn't a term regulated by the FDA so it doesn't have to come from a spring.
 

shunt2011

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Congratulations on your first batch. Did you melt your coconut oil first. It looks like chunks of CO possibly. And as stated if you post your whole recipe as well as your lye/water amounts. Did you run your recipe through a lye calculator? Sorry for all the questions but the information will help us troubleshoot.

Welcome to the forum. Stop by the introduction thread and tell is a bit about yourself.
 

Debrutherford1

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Thanks so much guys!
Sorry I didn't know how much detail to put in my post initially :)
So it was a Cold Process soap that I made, and I stick blended it.
The recipe was:
300gm Olive Oil
300gm Rice Bran Oil
300gm Coconut Oil
100gm Sunflower Oil
140gm Sodium Hydroxide (lye/caustic soda)
380gm water

I heated the oils to about 60degCelcius but by the time I got the lye ready it would have cooled down to probably below 50Cel. The lye/water would have been around 65-70Cel.
I poured it into the mould and I would say within 15-20 mins the mixture starting changing to a brown colour and the white chunks. I have a photo of that moment too, so I'll attach it here.

Thank you so very much for your time and help, it's hugely appreciated :)

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Debrutherford1

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Hi Shunt2011,
Yes I did melt the coconut oil first, I thought the same thing and wondered if it had somehow hardened too quickly when I added the lye (unsure if that's even possible).
I got the recipe from a place here in Australia who run soap making courses and use this recipe in their workshops as their basic mix. I also ran it through a calculator to double check and I think it was ok - but not having used the calc before I may have got it wrong.
No problems at all with questions - I am more than happy to answer as I am very grateful for your help :)
 

Obsidian

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can you dig a chunk of the white out and see what it is? Is it oily or is it more like soap? Does it zap? Does it lather?

It shouldn't be the coconut oil solidifying, your temps were high enough to prevent that. When it got hot and turned dark, it was going through gel stage. Thats when the soap batter is undergoing saponification, if it produces enough heat it will turn liquidy/gel like until it cools back down. Perfectly normal behavior for soap.

Congrats on your first batch. I wouldn't say it went wrong, its still soap and still usable. thats a awesome thing:)
 

Debrutherford1

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Thanks Obsidian for the tips,
I'll try and dig out the chunk and see if I can get a better description (I'm at work now so it will be later tonight). I only made the soap about 4 days ago, will it lather this soon?

I wondered about doing the zap test but I'm too chicken as I don't like the idea of an electric shock on my tongue lol. I will try it tonight as well. If it zaps does that mean I can't use the soap?

It did occur to me that I could try grating the soap and then mixing with a bit of water and re-moulding as a way to save it. I read that somewhere on google.
 

Susie

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If it zaps, you can't use the soap YET. This will fix itself over the next couple of days as long as your basic recipe is sound and you weighed correctly.

I certainly had a rebatch on my first batch of soap, as did many of us, so you are in good company.

Welcome to the soaping addiction!
 

BattleGnome

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Since you did ask about the color and it hasn't been directly mentioned yet - you probably achieved gel phase without realizing it. Gel is safe and many people warm their soap to "force" gel which can harden the soap faster and make certain colors pop. To gel or not to gel is a personal decision and in no way affects the fact that you've made useable soap.

If my math and number memory are correct... 60C is roughly 140F. Soap needs to sit above 170F (or possibly higher, I don't remember the exacts) for a few hours to fully gel. Coconut oil can commonly push the temps higher and ambient temperature of the room can help influence gel. When you have more experience you can play with the temperature of your oils/lye or even different lye concentrations to get different designs with gel.
 

dixiedragon

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60C = 140F. So the oils should have DEFINITELY been melted! I'm thinking with those high temps, you accidentally did a partial hot process, and the white chunks are the bits that didn't go through that process for some reason? watch this video - did the soap look like this?

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scokYOkLcQo[/ame]

Here are some pics.

https://ridgewaysoapworks.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/perfectinghotprocess/
 

shunt2011

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I agree that may just be it. Over cooking and mixing in the cooked bits from the sides. Totally forgot about that with HP.
 

Soapmaker145

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While I don't think you have undissolved lye, I would make sure the lye is fully dissolved and the lye water is clear before you mix it with the oil. I think your had too much free fatty acids in your oils coupled with unsaponifiables from the rice bran which created the instant hard lumps. If you used a stick blender, you should have broken them up. I use refined rice bran and I still get some small spots in the soap no matter what temp I use for cp from the leftover waxes in the oil. If your rice bran oil is less refined, you would have a lot of unsaponifiables in your mix. You can rebatch or leave the soaps to cure and test it in a few weeks.

Also, make sure to stir the oils well right before you add the lye water. Oil mixtures will form gradients when left alone even for few minutes. If you don't mind using tallow or lard, they are easier to learn the cp process with. There are a number of nice basic recipes to try.
 
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