Grainy oils followed by spongy soap -- what's up?

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QuanahRose

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Last night I made soap batch from a recipe of 580 grams of coconut and palm and olive oils and 193 grams of apricot kernel oil. The lye amount was 270.5 grams in 735 grams of water. 8% superfat.

When I melted the oils, the liquid wasn't clear. It had what looked to me like tiny grains that made the oils cloudy even after the solid coconut and palm oils were melted.

I heated it and stirred a lot but the grains remained. Instead of continuing to heat it I went ahead with the recipe and soaped at 90 degrees. At trace, I added a tablespoon of jojoba oil and 2 ounces of Crafter's Choice Fresh Ginger Lime fragrance oil.

The batter was poured over 400 grams of soap ribbons in a 5lb mold and the excess went into a silicone tray mold of square cavities. Both were covered with towels

The loaf is still slightly warm (almost 24 hours later). The individual squares are cool but appear puffed up and when I tried to release one it came apart and seemed spongy. Photos attached.

Any thoughts about what went wrong will be appreciated. Is there any hope for the large loaf?

P.S. -- I've successfully made this recipe on several previous occasions this time doubled it. I've checked the amounts and they are correct. Used soapcalc.

Thanks in advance for any and all responses.

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commoncenz

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To me it looks like you may have unmolded too soon. Also, did you coat the silicone with anything? A thin layer of mineral oil or vaseline will usually help the soap release from silicone molds without breaking (assuming that the soap is not still soft).

Edit: Also, did you make sure your Palm Oil hadn't separated before melting it? I haven't used palm before, however I have read that it can separate over time (causing a "grainy" appearance in your melted oils) and that you should check it before using it. If it has separated and it's liquid, those who use Palm have suggested giving it a good stir to make sure it's blended as it should be.

Here's a link to a long ago discussion on the subject. http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=26804
 
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QuanahRose

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Thanks and another thought

The link about the palm oil was helpful. But, the palm oil I used for this recipe wasn't separated.

When attempting to remove other soaps from this mold, after letting them sit for a week, I encountered the same problem.

I have done more reading and seen posts that this sponginess, which hasn't improved with time, could be due to soaping at too low a temperature or using an insufficient amount of lye.

Is there any way to tell if that is the case? And, if so, would I be able to rebatch (i.e. grate and cook the soap in a crockpot?)

Or, does this fall in the "beyond repair" category?

Again, thanks for any and all information/suggestions.
 

snappyllama

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Are you towards the bottom of your lye container? It can absorb moisture over time and lose potency. That happened for me when I hit the bottom of a lye container. I ended up chunking the batch since I couldn't be sure how much additional lye to add in a rebatch.

If you think you might have just miss weighed your water, you can try just leaving it to eventually evaporate out. Do your bars look at all like they are sinking in the middle and starting to firm up on the edges? That would be evidence of too much water.

If they are still pudding-ish soft - I'd point my finger at the lye.

ETA: you might as well include your jojoba with the rest of your oils. Adding it at trace doesn't really help you in any way for CP. I don't think that's your issue... but thought I'd mention it so you don't forget it in future and then have to rebatch when your batch has the opposite problem as now. :)
 
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newbie

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I am not certain what happened but I don't think you can determine if you used too little lye, unless you have found that your scale is off and by exactly how much, but that seems unlikely.

I think rebatching would be worth it. Your soap is so white that you won't end up with a grungy color and if it improves the texture, you've saved the 6 bars. For disclosure, I hate rebatching and personally would be more likely to toss the off bars because I hate rebatching that much. However, many people would far rather save the soap than toss it. If your entire batch is spongy, including the loaf, I would definitely try to save that much.

I'm more suspicious that the graininess/fogginess of your oils indicated some stearic that didn't melt or there was something that didn't completely melt in your oils and that's the source of the problem.
 

navigator9

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Not sure about the grains, but have you tested to see if your soap is zappy? With individual molds, they probably didn't gel, and if the soap hasn't finished saponifying yet, it will be soft, crumbly, zappy, and will not release from the mold cleanly. When I use individual molds like that, I leave them for several days, if not longer, before trying to unmold. If it zaps, just leave it for several days and try again.
 

galaxyMLP

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It just looks like ungelled soap that was unmolded too early to me, like others have said.

However, it also sounds to me like you didnt heat your oils enough. Palm oil melts at 95 F. Those wouldve been the grains you saw in your oils before adding the lye. I live in florida and my house is always at 78 ish so my palm oil is always separated (I also dont buy homogenized palm because it gets too hot in shipping). I have little grains in my palm oil. When I use it to make soap, I weigh all my oils (even the liquid ones) then heat my oils up past the melt point of my highest melting oil and then let it cool back down. This ensures that I get an even mixture.

I'm honestly not sure if the oils not being fully melted would have the effect you're having. It just looks like it didnt gel. I would love to know if it zaps. Maybe the bits of palm oil did not get saponified because they were not melted?

I would say the large loaf is probably fine as you said it was still warm 24 hours later. That means it probably gelled so it will likely unmold just fine!
 

cgpeanut

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My guess is the Palm for the grainness. If you don't have non stir Palm the Stearic separates out. When I get my Palm (I buy in pails from Columbus Oils) I melt it all down stir stir stir and then re container the Palm in smaller pails that fit into my micro. Before using in a batch I melt down the whole pail, stir stir stir and then measure out my Palm I need for the batch.
 

QuanahRose

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Update on spongy soap

After reviewing my notes and reading all the input from everyone, it seems the palm oil is the most likely culprit. I failed to heat the palm oil completely and then soaped too cool. The saponification process slowed to the point of zero. Perhaps this would have been a suitable batch for the oven process.

Neither the squares from the silicone mold or the loaf is zappy. The texture has remained spongy and crumbly. The individual squares were a lost cause -- total spongy so I tossed them.

The interior of the loaf may be salvageable. I cut the borders off all four sides and am left with a small bar that, when used, produces lather and leaves the skin soft.

I've included photos of the results so can see where it ended up.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their ideas, experience and expertise.

Regards to all.

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