Hand Stirring vs. SB

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gsc

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Has anyone mixed their CP soap batch my hand to bring it to light trace rather than using a SB? I thought about trying this and thought my batches might not trace as quickly. I know it would depend on other various things - such as oils, FO, etc. but I'd just like to hear from everyone about this.
 

Susie

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I stirred my first batch by hand. I never did get to what I could call a trace.

I know there are at least a couple of people on here that hand stir at least part of the time.
 

CTAnton

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I've been hand stirring probably the last 6 batches of soap I've made. And while I'm no authority I'm thinking back and depending on the recipe I can get a light trace in a reasonable amount of time. There are times I see even the emulsion stage taking a long time and if that's the case I pulse the SB. But in the majority of my recipes lately with tallow and a higher temperature going into the process I can get full emulsion in a few minutes.I use a whisk.
 

DeeAnna

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People hand stirred soap for centuries -- I remember watching my grandmother stir her kettle of lard laundry soap when I was a little girl. But it definitely takes longer than using a stick blender. The only soap that I don't SB after adding lye is pine tar. A high coconut oil soap might work okay. For a lard or olive soap, I'd probably use a higher lye concentration (less water) to encourage saponification to move along a bit faster without the SB.
 

IrishLass

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Right here, silly!
There are some batches that I only hand-stir- i.e., the ones where I'm using an accelerating FO- but with well-behaved FOs I use a combination of hand-stirring and stick-blending.

How much of each that I do is based on either the swirls I'm trying to achieve, or on my level of patience at the time, i.e., if things are taking too long to come to trace for my patience, I'll use my stick-blender a lot more than I hand-stir.


IrishLass :)
 

SheLion

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As it happens, I am currently sans a stick blender so am soaping by hand. It can be rather meditative but you can't be in a hurry, that's for sure. The high % olive soap I made the other night took forever but I was also splitting the batch and mixing in FOs so it wasn't getting stirred the entire time.

Heat helps things along. Soap hotter to speed trace. Also, ditch the spatula and get a whisk and a big bowl. If you've ever seen chefs whip egg whites for meringue or make whipped cream, then you know how effective whisks can be.

Also, this may be helpful:
http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/controlling-trace-in-cold-process-soapmaking/
 
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BattleGnome

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I'm too scared to mix by hand right now but eventually I might. I have used a hand mixer (like for baking) and it does help me slow/control trace a bit.
 

bumbleklutz

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I whisk all of mine by hand. I used to stick blend, but I felt like I didn't have as much control of tracing as I do whisking by hand. Plus I tend to get a little happy with the stick blender and over do it. :) My regular recipe has a lot of hard oils in it though so it rarely takes me more than 3-5 minutes of hand whisking to get to medium-ish trace. On the other hand its nice to keep a stick blender handy just in case of unexpected issues like ricing or separation.
 
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cherrycoke216

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But in the majority of my recipes lately with tallow and a higher temperature going into the process I can get full emulsion in a few minutes.I use a whisk.


My regular recipe has a lot of hard oils in it though so it rarely takes me more than 3-5 minutes of hand whisking to get to medium-ish trace. On the other hand its nice to keep a stick blender handy just in case of unexpected issues like ricing or separation.

Do both of you melt your oils? Or just using heat transfer method and let the lye melt the oils, and it just took a few minutes to get emulsions?
 

bumbleklutz

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Cherrycoke, the method I use is:

1. Mix lye water and allow to cool to room temperature or just above. (70-90 degrees F usually closer to 70)

2. Heat solid oils until completely clear.

3. Add liquid oils to the melted solid oils and combine well.

4. Allow combined oils to cool to 90-110 F. Usually, I like to soap with the combined oils right around 100 F. If the combined oils are looking cloudy and not completely clear at this point I'll VERY gently warm them until the cloudiness just disappears. (It isn't strictly necessary to reheat the oils if they are cloudy, but it does help to avoid false trace.)

5. Add lye water and hand whisk to emulsification or level of trace desired based on the design I'm planning.

That's what works for me, but my recipe has cocoa butter, shea butter, palm oil, PKO, coconut, castor, and pomace olive oil all of which can accelerate trace. Additionally, I work with "full water" amounts which works out to about a 27% lye concentration. If I need extra time to do an intricate swirl or design I'll even go with a 25% lye concentration to slow things down a bit. Even with a 25% lye solution I don't think I've ever had to whisk more than five minutes to reach light trace.
 

cherrycoke216

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Very detail oriented answer, wow! Thank you very much for the well written reply!!! ;) thanks again, bumbleklutz!
 
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earlene

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Yes, I have a few times. It depends on the recipe and the oils used. I prefer to pre-melt my oils if I am using hard oils, which I don't always.

I have hand stirred Castile soap without difficulty. Using half pomace, it actually comes to trace much faster than expected.
 
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