Frustrated and looking for direction

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

Faubush Farms

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2019
Messages
5
Reaction score
8
Location
Arkansas
I have been using a po/co/oo recipe with powdered GM added to the warm oils that my friends and family have absolutely loved. My only issue had been soda ash and some partial gelling. I stopped making it for a while, as I had no outlet for it.
I finally scraped up the money to buy enough ingredients to make and sell on a small scale. Now, my soap is having a million issues. My po is no-stir, and has gone soupy with tons of stearic lumps. I stir it, then melt to 150* and add my other oils and heat just until it isn't cloudy. I let everything cool to about 110*. I guess this where I should add that I'm in Arkansas, and the temps and humidity in my studio have been very high for the last month or so.
Now, the soda ash isn't a thick layer and I can actually steam it off, but I have a new host of other issues. I'm getting stearic spots, partial gel, tops cracking (even when put in the freezer), and one batch with oil seeping out of tiny spots.
I'm starting to hate the palm. I'm also starting to hate the GM.
So, if you've read this far, would you spend the time trying to figure out the issues and work with what you have (knowing so many people dislike palm) or switch up your recipe? My mind keeps going to lard, which I'm sure will also be disliked by many potential customers.
 

LynetteO

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2021
Messages
770
Reaction score
1,290
Location
Spokane, Washington
I found this website helpful for many things but this link talks about Goat Milk as an additive so might not have much useful information.
Might be helpful to post recipe &/or how your using the goat milk in the recipe?
 

Faubush Farms

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2019
Messages
5
Reaction score
8
Location
Arkansas
Thank you for posting that. It didn't necessarily answer these questions, but it was really interesting to see, and did answer some other questions.

My recipe is

45% OO
30% PO
25% CO

I use a 15% water discount to avoid my original soda ash problem.
I add the GM powder (0.5 oz ppo) into the warm oils with the stick blender. Once everything has cooled to ~120° I add the lye into my oils. My mica is added to .5 oz of my OO then added at trace, as well as my fragrance.
Using the GM for the lye solution made things worse.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
8,436
Reaction score
15,138
Location
US
Welcome back! I recently experienced the same issues you described, also with some no-stir palm that was a bit older. Could not get those darn stearic bits to melt and stay melted, and ended up with tons of stearic spots in my soap. Frustrating! But back to your soap:

1. I wouldn't put the soap in the freezer. In my experience, GMP doesn't require the same careful handling that raw goat milk does. Just stick-blend the dry powder into the oils very well before adding your lye solution.

2. Most folks who object to lard will also object to palm and GM. Since you are already offending everyone 😁 why not give lard a try? My lard + GM soap is a huge favorite with friends and family (and me!). My fave is 75% lard, 20% CO, 5% castor. You could sub in 20% OO for some of the lard if you prefer - that's also a big fave.

3. I soap with my oils around 100F. I also MB my lye solution so that it is always ready to use at room temp, which is 65F to 75F for me. Even if yours is 85F, that's still a lot cooler than freshly-made lye solution. A recycled laundry detergent jug makes the perfect storage container for MB lye solution.

4. To keep the ash down (assuming you aren't trying to do amazing designs), try using a 40% lye concentration. I find that trace actually slows down again around 39% lye concentration. And if you are using lard, that will be slower than palm, as well.

5. For soaps that are getting too hot, raise them up on racks or soup cans, don't cover them, and set a fan to blow on them. This will do a better job of dissipating the heat than the still air in the freezer.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
3,407
Reaction score
6,451
Location
Oregon
So what exactly has changed since you stopped with just some minor issues and now?

But until then...your PO is soupy and lumpy because of the heat. Though you're not supposed to have to stir 'no-stir' PO, that's if it's fully solid. Since yours is partial melting because of the heat you have two choice...melt and mix the entire batch and then weigh off what you need, of if it came in a bucket, get a commercial paint stirrer and give it a really good whiz (making sure to touch the bottom and sides) before weighing.

Soda ash is caused by the Sodium Hydroxide reacting with the carbon dioxide in the air. Using a higher Lye Concentration (less water) is NOT going to change that. You can often mitigate this by covering your mold during saponification and even up to 48 to 96 hours after the initial 24. In my personal experience, there is simply no rhyme or reason to soda ash...I've made two batches of the same recipe, same scent, same colorant, same mold...one got ash and the other didn't.

Cracking is caused by soap heating up too much. Using milks (even powdered) and anything sugar based (sugar, honey, alcohol, pureed fruits) will cause soap to overheat. A low Lye Concentration can cause soap to overheat. And there are scents that can cause overheating. The problem with putting your molds in the freezer is that the soap is heating up from the inside out and the freezer is cooling from the outside in and the higher the inside temperature, the longer it takes the freezer to cool the soap down.

Now I make GMS, but I use fresh goat milk. Yeah it's a PITA cuz I can't MasterBatch it and it take me a good thirty minutes to make my GM Lye Solution because I don't allow it to get above 70F (I use frozen GM and an ice batch with salt). Because I MasterBatch my Oils/Butters, I don't have to heat them as high of a temperature to melt them back down...about 110F. I then add my 70F GM Lye Solution to100F Oils and my batter is around 80-85F when I pour into my mold. I then cover with Saran Wrap and pop it in the frig for a couple of days. Outside of the first batch of GMS I made, I have never had a problem with Soda Ash or overheating.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
8,436
Reaction score
15,138
Location
US
@TheGecko good point about the fragrances causing overheating - I totally missed that one! However, my experience is that a higher lye concentration is effective at reducing soda ash. It is one of the reasons I started doing that. But I do agree, it's not 100% effective, and soda ash is very unpredictable. I either embrace it, or if necessary to make the soap prettier, I steam it off. No biggie. :)
 

Zany_in_CO

Saponifier
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
8,629
Reaction score
9,584
Location
SE Denver CO
I have been using a po/co/oo recipe with powdered GM added to the warm oils
:thumbs: That's the way I do it.
I use a 15% water discount to avoid my original soda ash problem.
You need sufficient water to powder ratio to make it work. Check directions on the label.
My recipe is

45% OO
30% PO
25% CO
For a more "balanced" bar, try:
35% Olive Oil
40% Palm Oil ( I use Sustainable RBD from Soapers Choice)
25% Coconut Oil
My mind keeps going to lard, which I'm sure will also be disliked by many potential customers.
Then don't do that! 😁
My mica is added to .5 oz of my OO then added at trace, as well as my fragrance.
I add powder, colorant, fragrance to the warmed oils. SB for 1 full minute to get everything fully incorporated before adding the lye solution (straight from the fridge where it has been sitting overnight).
Using the GM for the lye solution made things worse.
I would expect so. :eek: Adding it to the oils is a much better option.

Once everything has cooled to ~120° I add the lye into my oils.
Oopsie! 120°F is too hot. GM soap is always soaped cool to prevent the issues you are experiencing.

Since it's hot & humid where you are, wait for the oils to cool to room temp before adding the cold lye solution. Bring to emulsion or medium trace before pouring. Do not cover or insulate the batch. Put it in the coolest part of the house out of direct sunlight. I use the washer in my laundry room. If you have a basement, that's another option.

HTH
 

lsg

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
Messages
16,045
Reaction score
7,050
Have you thought of doing your recipe as hot process and adding the powdered goat's milk at the end of the cook?
 

Faubush Farms

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2019
Messages
5
Reaction score
8
Location
Arkansas
I appreciate everyone's thoughts, so much!

@Zany_in_CO when I was soaping at a lower temp, I was getting terrible stearic spots. Other than that, I loved how everything was coming out. Any ideas on how to prevent them? I do make sure my palm reaches 150-160* when I'm melting it, and that there are no unmelted stearic specks left. I assumed (yep, I know better) that the palm was cooling too much and the stearic was re-solidifying.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
563
Reaction score
471
Location
Columbia, mo
:thumbs: That's the way I do it.

You need sufficient water to powder ratio to make it work. Check directions on the label.

For a more "balanced" bar, try:
35% Olive Oil
40% Palm Oil ( I use Sustainable RBD from Soapers Choice)
25% Coconut Oil

Then don't do that! 😁

I add powder, colorant, fragrance to the warmed oils. SB for 1 full minute to get everything fully incorporated before adding the lye solution (straight from the fridge where it has been sitting overnight).

I would expect so. :eek: Adding it to the oils is a much better option.


Oopsie! 120°F is too hot. GM soap is always soaped cool to prevent the issues you are experiencing.

Since it's hot & humid where you are, wait for the oils to cool to room temp before adding the cold lye solution. Bring to emulsion or medium trace before pouring. Do not cover or insulate the batch. Put it in the coolest part of the house out of direct sunlight. I use the washer in my laundry room. If you have a basement, that's another option.

HTH
I am in mid-Missouri and feel your pain; the humidity here is smothering! I make my goat milk soap using powdered goat milk added to my oils (cold) (palm, olive, grapeseed, and cocoa butter). I then mix lye (1.8:1) stir till clear, add to my oils and stir until all of the oils have melted. I then pulse/stir till I reach emulsion, add my fragrance, pulse/stir and then pour. I saponify it the same as I do my other soaps and have not yet gotten soda ash (of course, I will now!)
 

Zany_in_CO

Saponifier
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
8,629
Reaction score
9,584
Location
SE Denver CO
I saponify it the same as I do my other soaps and have not yet gotten soda ash
Oh WOW! I don't get soda ash either! I thought I was the only one! It's good to know that there's more than just one of us. Now if we could only figure out "why us" and "not them"? It seems to me that we must be doing something differently from all the others that if we could just figure it out there would be no more complaints about soda ash. Hmmm 🤔
 

earlene

Grandmother & Soaper
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
9,781
Reaction score
11,980
Location
Western Illinois, USA
Oh WOW! I don't get soda ash either! I thought I was the only one! It's good to know that there's more than just one of us. Now if we could only figure out "why us" and "not them"? It seems to me that we must be doing something differently from all the others that if we could just figure it out there would be no more complaints about soda ash. Hmmm 🤔
Well, Denver is the mile-high city, isn't it? You have less oxygen per surface area in Denver with such high elevation. Less oxygen per surface area of a person's lungs while breathing, could also equate to less oxygen per surface area of soap while sitting out on your countertop or curing area. (Basically it is about the pressure of the air at higher altitudes which increases the distance of the molecules in the air, even though the percentages of oxygen and other molecules remain the same.) The equivalent volume of air in Denver vs the equivalent volume of air at sea level means that my lungs (or my soap) get less oxygen to interact with my aveoli's surface area &/or my soap's surface area, were I to set a loaf out on the countertop in either location for the same period of time.

But not so with Columbia, MO, so perhaps that's not it, or perhaps something else is going on to make it possible for a soaper at a lower altitude to never have experienced soda ash. @melinda48 & I are both located within about 100 feet apart in terms of elevation, but it does not seem as though Columbia, MO's 115 feet higher elevation would make that much difference. I do sometimes experience soda ash, particularly with higher water amounts in soap made here at my 643 feet elevation, but not always. Soap I made at 1391 feet elevation did not develop soda ash, but I did not make a lot of soap there, so cannot say that it would not have happened.

Sorry, not on topic, but it was an interesting tangent my mind took.

@Faubush Farms, I also use no-stir palm, but have not had this occur. My house doesn't normally get above 85, maybe 95° in the height of the warmer seasons, so I have not had it 'go soupy' or partially melt like you have had happen. My Coconut oil melts, but not my palm shortening (no-stir palm).

My suggestion would be to do what @TheGecko recommended, to melt it all together, stir it up to fully integrate. THEN, I'd separate into reasonable sized-portions. Refrigerate if possible; if not, find an area in your house that is normally the coolest area & store it there, if possible. Dividing the palm into smaller portions in containers like peanut butter jars or cottage cheese containers (& the like) would make it so you can just grab one jar or tub of palm as needed and know you can easily heat it up and re-incorporate the fatty acids (if it does partially re-melt) with your stick blender at the same time you are making the fresh batch of soap.

I always break up larger orders this way (not necessarily the melting, though; it depends on the particular oil), thus making for less stressful prep on the day I make a batch of soap. I keep my palm in various recycled/repurposed plastic jars, tubs, whatever - on the bottom shelf of my cookbooks shelving unit or underneath the worktable in my soaping area.

Then, proceed perhaps following @Zany_in_CO 's advice.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
12,635
Reaction score
13,223
Location
Southern California
With my vegan recipe, I always used no-stir PO at 45% and 10% Shea Butter with no or super tiny stearic spots. I soaped with a 31% Lye concentration because that much PO made it a fast mover. Unlike my friend AliOop a 40%, lye concentration would not work for me. I always forced gel which made a considerable difference whether you would get stearic spots or not. I soaped very cool in fact usually my oils were still cloudy and I waited for the false trace to thin out once the batter started to heat up on its own, which solved most overheating issues unless I was using a very naughty fragrance.

My soaps were made to sell and it was the vegan recipe developed over a few years that my customers loved and could care less about tiny minute stearic spots. My soaps were made to use not artistic pieces. My non-vegan soaps were a high tallow lard combination at a 33% lye concentration which did not get stearic spots and actually outsold my vegan soaps. I live and sold in So Cal where you would expect more to want vegan but it did not happen with my clientele in 10+ yrs of selling. I always had vegan soaps available just in case someone preferred them.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
563
Reaction score
471
Location
Columbia, mo
Oh WOW! I don't get soda ash either! I thought I was the only one! It's good to know that there's more than just one of us. Now if we could only figure out "why us" and "not them"? It seems to me that we must be doing something differently from all the others that if we could just figure it out there would be no more complaints about soda ash. Hmmm 🤔
I generally stand with a bit more weight on my left side - do you think that might be it? ~ ; )
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
563
Reaction score
471
Location
Columbia, mo
Well, Denver is the mile-high city, isn't it? You have less oxygen per surface area in Denver with such high elevation. Less oxygen per surface area of a person's lungs while breathing, could also equate to less oxygen per surface area of soap while sitting out on your countertop or curing area. (Basically it is about the pressure of the air at higher altitudes which increases the distance of the molecules in the air, even though the percentages of oxygen and other molecules remain the same.) The equivalent volume of air in Denver vs the equivalent volume of air at sea level means that my lungs (or my soap) get less oxygen to interact with my aveoli's surface area &/or my soap's surface area, were I to set a loaf out on the countertop in either location for the same period of time.

But not so with Columbia, MO, so perhaps that's not it, or perhaps something else is going on to make it possible for a soaper at a lower altitude to never have experienced soda ash. @melinda48 & I are both located within about 100 feet apart in terms of elevation, but it does not seem as though Columbia, MO's 115 feet higher elevation would make that much difference. I do sometimes experience soda ash, particularly with higher water amounts in soap made here at my 643 feet elevation, but not always. Soap I made at 1391 feet elevation did not develop soda ash, but I did not make a lot of soap there, so cannot say that it would not have happened.

Sorry, not on topic, but it was an interesting tangent my mind took.

@Faubush Farms, I also use no-stir palm, but have not had this occur. My house doesn't normally get above 85, maybe 95° in the height of the warmer seasons, so I have not had it 'go soupy' or partially melt like you have had happen. My Coconut oil melts, but not my palm shortening (no-stir palm).

My suggestion would be to do what @TheGecko recommended, to melt it all together, stir it up to fully integrate. THEN, I'd separate into reasonable sized-portions. Refrigerate if possible; if not, find an area in your house that is normally the coolest area & store it there, if possible. Dividing the palm into smaller portions in containers like peanut butter jars or cottage cheese containers (& the like) would make it so you can just grab one jar or tub of palm as needed and know you can easily heat it up and re-incorporate the fatty acids (if it does partially re-melt) with your stick blender at the same time you are making the fresh batch of soap.

I always break up larger orders this way (not necessarily the melting, though; it depends on the particular oil), thus making for less stressful prep on the day I make a batch of soap. I keep my palm in various recycled/repurposed plastic jars, tubs, whatever - on the bottom shelf of my cookbooks shelving unit or underneath the worktable in my soaping area.

Then, proceed perhaps following @Zany_in_CO 's advice.
Our house is set at 78 during the hot summers. Interesting tidbit. When tornadoes/particularly strong thunderstorms are forecast, they most generally (90% of the time) sort of curve north and south of Columbia. It is odd but we rarely experience the severe weather that is forecast. Maybe there is a barometric anomaly in our area.; Perhaps it is a soda ash free zone ~ ; )
 

Latest posts

Top