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Hard, Brittle, Weeping CP Soap Issue

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Homesteading

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I am new to making soap. I have about 6 batches under my belt, but two of those recipes behaved badly. They recipes a variation of the following recipe, using milk in place of water (I use the frozen milk cubes and add dry lye crystals to the cubes, the milk stayed nice and white the whole process):

5% Super Fat
40% Lye Concentration

50% Lard - 226.8g
25% Coconut Oil - 113.4g
20% Olive Oil - 90.72g
5% Castor - 22.68g
Lye - 64.6g
Water - 96.9g


The original version of this recipe had 15% Olive and 10% Castor, which siezed up, creating dry chunks, I blended in the mint E.O., and it required spooning into the mold. I was unsure of how well the soap mixed so I melted it down, mixed with water, stired with a spoon until smooth, and remolded. I did not show this batch here.

The listed recipe, 5% Castor, came to a light trace (I kept the oil temp low, around room temp, and the lye/milk solution was cool), I added the mint E.O., stick blended and poured it into the mold without issues. I waited 24hrs, like all my other soaps, and when I tried cutting the bars, the simply broke into jagged bars. Now that the soap has sat out for curing, I niticed a wet feel to the inner face of the bars and little beads of moisture forming. All of these reactions are new and odd to me. Can you tell me if the castor oil is to blame, my mixing temps, oil ratios, or anything that might explain this?

I added pictures of my goat milk soap, which I made with a variation on the lye solution by subing in 25% water to disolve the lye crystals and added 75% of the frozen milk cubes once the lye solution had cooled down. That recipe had the lye crystals (which I thought was ice) create a ring around the bottom of the container which I had to stir for a while to disolve. I thought my frozen milk cubes had caused the lye water solution to begin freezing. I also had the lye solution sitting in ice water while stirring and disolving the lye crystals. This batch scortched the initial frozen milk cubes slightly turning the milk's colour orange. This goat milk soap batch is pictured below, its the larger bars, next to the hard, brittle, weeping, smaller castor oil soap bars.
 

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AliOop

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Thank you for providing such good details and pics. Here are some initial thoughts:

First, 25% water for this batch was not enough to dissolve your lye. If you want to premix the lye with water before adding milk, you must always use an equal weight of water to the weight of the lye. That is why you had a big lye chunk form.

Second, please provide more information about the "mint EO" that you mentioned, including:

~Brand of EO?
~Does it say that it is skin-safe?
~What type of mint: spearmint, peppermint?
~Amount of EO added?

Many EOs bought on Amazon and in retail stores are highly adulterated, even if they say "pure" or "natural." They are well-known for causing soap to seize, or otherwise misbehave. Also, hopefully you either checked the IRFA skin-safe usage rate for that EO, or ran it through EOCalc.com to make sure that the amount used was skin-safe.

Look forward to hearing more when you get the chance to respond.
 

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Thank you for providing such good details and pics. Here are some initial thoughts:

First, 25% water for this batch was not enough to dissolve your lye. If you want to premix the lye with water before adding milk, you must always use an equal weight of water to the weight of the lye. That is why you had a big lye chunk form.

Second, please provide more information about the "mint EO" that you mentioned, including:

~Brand of EO?
~Does it say that it is skin-safe?
~What type of mint: spearmint, peppermint?
~Amount of EO added?

Many EOs bought on Amazon and in retail stores are highly adulterated, even if they say "pure" or "natural." They are well-known for causing soap to seize, or otherwise misbehave. Also, hopefully you either checked the IRFA skin-safe usage rate for that EO, or ran it through EOCalc.com to make sure that the amount used was skin-safe.

Look forward to hearing more when you get the chance to respond.
Now that finally makes sense. The batch of soap where the lye caked was the batch that scorched the milk, but made that other soap in the pictures that turned out normal looking and saponified properly and well. I was concerned though. I had read somewhere to use a reduced rate of water, a percentage of the overall amount (no other info was given, ablog I believe), to mix with the lye crystals and add the remainder of the liquid as milk once the lye solution had cooled. The reduced amount of water, with all of the lye crystals in it, simply appeared oversaturated and a certain amount of lye did not disolve until the frozen milk cubes were added. There is not way of disolving the lye, in a minimal amount of water, to still end up using the majority of liquid as milk (over half at least)?

The brand of Peppermint Oil is Thursday Plantation. Here is the info from Walmart's website:

100% Pure Peppermint (mentha x piperita) essential oil is both invigorating and calming. Used in aromatherapy for cough & cold, aches & pains, as muscle rub, headaches and indigestion relief.
A 100% pure, invigorating naturally sourced essential oil used in aromatherapy for:
Soothing cough & cold
For relief of digestive discomfort, upset stomach or nausea
Nervine/Calmative to relax and destress
Relieve joint & muscle pain associated with sprain, strain and rheumatoid arthritis
Can be used topically, as inhalant, in bath or diffuser
All natural, plant-based medicine
GC/MS tested

Does this translate into a skin-safe E.O.?

I had added a very basic amount of peppermint oil, (again based on website info), 15ml for my 3Lb loaf, and 5ml for my 1Lb loaf.

The batch of soap that siezed, siezed up prior to adding peppermint oil. I had to scramble to get that oil mixed into the batter with a spoon. The Thursday Plantation peppermint oil was used for all of my other batches except this last problem batch. The problem batch, the pictured 1Lb batch that went hard, brittle, and weepy within 24hrs, actually used about 3/4 (3.5ml) Thursday Plantation pepermint oil and the remaining 1/4 (1.4ml) was a cheap brand from Walmart (read: they do not carry it anymore) called Simply Essentials:

All Natural. Each essential oil is thoroughly GC/MS tested. Energize your mind with the warming and cooling effects of peppermint.
• Essential Oil with Coconut Oil;
• Aromatherapy Attributes;
• Add drops of your favourite essential oil to your Simply Essentials Diffuser;
• 15 mL (0.5 fl oz)

There are no ingredients listed at Walmart's site, but the bottle states:

"Natural Coconut Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil (Mentha Peperita)", with no ratios or amounts listed.

Could it be that simple that this small amount of unpure E.O. made the batch behave that poorly?

I found it very coincindental that both batches that caused problems, had the same Castor Oil in it. The other soap batches, the same recipe without castor oil, which was replaced with olive oil, used the same Thursday Plantation E.O. without an issue or problem at all. The castor oil I used is this:

Life brand Castor Oil USP, cathartic, medical ingredient: Castor oil 100% v/v, no other ingredients listed.

This is made for ingestion (adults, children over 12 15-60ml), (children 2-12, 5-25ml)

Is this helpful? I hope I answered everything.
 

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"...There is not way of disolving the lye, in a minimal amount of water, to still end up using the majority of liquid as milk (over half at least)? ..."

Nope. If you want to do a "split method" where you make the lye solution with water and use milk as the rest of the "water" needed, you have to dissolve NaOH in an equal weight (or more) of water.

But why are you using 40% lye concentration for this recipe if your goal is to use as much milk as possible? You could reduce the concentration to, say, 30%. That will increase the total amount of water-based liquid for the batch.
 

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1. I have been soaping for a while, and have used mint EOs from the start. I have bought various mint EOs from various reputable providers within the last two years that have uniformly seized my soaps. I have yet to buy more because I am now convinced that they are all buying from the same place. Having said that, NEVER, EVER buy "EOs" from Walmart. They are always adulterated. Period.
2. Did you use a soaping calculator to figure out how much NaOH to use? If not, there's one of your issues. If so, ignore this.
3. Where did your NaOH come from?

I know these seem like super stupid questions, but they are quite important.
 

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"...There is not way of disolving the lye, in a minimal amount of water, to still end up using the majority of liquid as milk (over half at least)? ..."

Nope. If you want to do a "split method" where you make the lye solution with water and use milk as the rest of the "water" needed, you have to dissolve NaOH in an equal weight (or more) of water.

But why are you using 40% lye concentration for this recipe if your goal is to use as much milk as possible? You could reduce the concentration to, say, 30%. That will increase the total amount of water-based liquid for the batch.
Ah, I like this suggestion a lot. Thank you. My reasoning is actually a lack there of, I watched a video where the soap maker claimed to use 40% Lye concentration. I had not argument against it since I know nothing about soap making and the calculator wanted to use 38% which seemed very close. I would like to try your suggestion.

Just to be clear, you want me to try a 30% lye concentration, which will up my water/liquid content, which will allow me to sub in more milk since I will only be using equal parts by weight water/lye?

Yes, all of my recipes came from playing around on soapcalc.

My NaOH is a Homehardware branded, 100% Lye, Home Lye Crystals:

1. I have been soaping for a while, and have used mint EOs from the start. I have bought various mint EOs from various reputable providers within the last two years that have uniformly seized my soaps. I have yet to buy more because I am now convinced that they are all buying from the same place. Having said that, NEVER, EVER buy "EOs" from Walmart. They are always adulterated. Period.
2. Did you use a soaping calculator to figure out how much NaOH to use? If not, there's one of your issues. If so, ignore this.
3. Where did your NaOH come from?

I know these seem like super stupid questions, but they are quite important.
The Thursday Plantation peppermint oil claims 100% pure, but not the other brand, it is clearly stated to be cut with coconut oil.

I use soapcalc for all of my recipes, I even run them through more than once to triple check.

My lye is 100% pure NaOH from Homehardware, their Home branded lye crystals.
 

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TheGecko

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I make GMS. My first batch made angels weep...in utter anguish. I had used Evaporated Goat Milk mixed 50/50 with Distilled Water and frozen. I then carefully mixed my lye, made my soap and put it to bed. Checked it about 12 hours later and the top had gone from smooth to rough and it was a medium brown. At 24 hours I went to unmold it and I had mess. It wasn’t a lot of oil, but it was enough to cause concern (and how I found this group). My soap had overheated...turning it poop brown, a rough surface from steam being release and the oil was from the separation. I put it back in the mold and left it for a week hopping the oil would reabsorb...and it did. Until I cut it and then beads of oil formed. I tossed the soap and further researched making GMS.

My second batch made the angels weep again, this time in joy. In addition to freezing my goat milk, I used an ice bath with bit of salt to keep my solution below 70F at all times. I also lowered the temp of my oils/butters to about 80-85. Once everything was mixed and poured into the mold, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the frig. Perfect

During the Spring/Summer I use a 33% Lye Concentration, during the Fall Winter I go up to 35%. I reduce my liquid during the Fall/Winter because I live in the Pacific Northwest in the US and we get a lot of rain and I cure in my garage. That 2% is the difference between an 8 week cure and a 12 week cure.

ONLY purchase EOs and FOs from reliable suppliers...specifically those who sell to the “bath and body” community. You can pretty much count on anything you get from WalMart, Hobby Lobby and other ‘craft’ stores is going to be crap. And I’ll include a lot of stuff you’ll find on Amazon. I recommend that the first time you try a new EO or FO you do two things: 1) Buy a small amount...0,5 oz of 1 oz bottle. 2) Make a test batch...8 to 16 oz of oils/butters. The reason for this is that no two people soap the same and everyone’s recipe is different. I gave a friend a bottle of FO that I had good luck with...his luck wasn’t as good. To make it even worse...it was a 5lb batch.

IMHO...a 40% Lye Concentration is more appropriate for a recipe with 75%+ Soft Oils...like a Castile or Bastille Soap. And one that doesn’t use milk.

The soap with the spots and weeping...I’d wait a few weeks and toss in the trash. The other soap looks like you have a partial gel.
 

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"...I watched a video where the soap maker claimed to use 40% Lye concentration. I had not argument against it since I know nothing about soap making and the calculator wanted to use 38% which seemed very close. ..."

You might want to recheck your recipe and the video. The 38% default that Soapcalc uses as a default is not 38% lye concentration, it's 38% water as % of oils. Two entirely different things. Unfortunately, since both are in percentages and are often similar numbers, these different settings can easily be confused.

Since a lot of soapers use the calc defaults, they are usually talking about water as % of oils, not lye concentration. What's more confusing is many will even say it's "lye concentration" when they really should be saying "water as % of oils".

More info in one of my articles -- Soapy Stuff: Water in soap
 

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I've never made goat milk soap - not very accessible where I am, the milk.. But I've read several times in this forum that others dissolve their lye in equal amount of water - so if 50g lye it'll be in 50g water, then use liquid milk for the rest of it, and then add powdered goat milk to maximize the milk factor. That's if you want to do the split way.

Personally when I reduce my water to be mixed with lye I do it with 60-75% of my water, coz I'm chicken. Lol
 
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Homesteading

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I make GMS. My first batch made angels weep...in utter anguish. I had used Evaporated Goat Milk mixed 50/50 with Distilled Water and frozen. I then carefully mixed my lye, made my soap and put it to bed. Checked it about 12 hours later and the top had gone from smooth to rough and it was a medium brown. At 24 hours I went to unmold it and I had mess. It wasn’t a lot of oil, but it was enough to cause concern (and how I found this group). My soap had overheated...turning it poop brown, a rough surface from steam being release and the oil was from the separation. I put it back in the mold and left it for a week hopping the oil would reabsorb...and it did. Until I cut it and then beads of oil formed. I tossed the soap and further researched making GMS.

My second batch made the angels weep again, this time in joy. In addition to freezing my goat milk, I used an ice bath with bit of salt to keep my solution below 70F at all times. I also lowered the temp of my oils/butters to about 80-85. Once everything was mixed and poured into the mold, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the frig. Perfect

During the Spring/Summer I use a 33% Lye Concentration, during the Fall Winter I go up to 35%. I reduce my liquid during the Fall/Winter because I live in the Pacific Northwest in the US and we get a lot of rain and I cure in my garage. That 2% is the difference between an 8 week cure and a 12 week cure.

ONLY purchase EOs and FOs from reliable suppliers...specifically those who sell to the “bath and body” community. You can pretty much count on anything you get from WalMart, Hobby Lobby and other ‘craft’ stores is going to be crap. And I’ll include a lot of stuff you’ll find on Amazon. I recommend that the first time you try a new EO or FO you do two things: 1) Buy a small amount...0,5 oz of 1 oz bottle. 2) Make a test batch...8 to 16 oz of oils/butters. The reason for this is that no two people soap the same and everyone’s recipe is different. I gave a friend a bottle of FO that I had good luck with...his luck wasn’t as good. To make it even worse...it was a 5lb batch.

IMHO...a 40% Lye Concentration is more appropriate for a recipe with 75%+ Soft Oils...like a Castile or Bastille Soap. And one that doesn’t use milk.

The soap with the spots and weeping...I’d wait a few weeks and toss in the trash. The other soap looks like you have a partial gel.
This is the first explanation that I have heard for a lower lye concentration. I appreciate that. I did watch that video again, and the soap maker states that they use 40% lye concentration, a medium to low water amount for all recipes. The example recipe used:

80% olive oil,
10% coconut oil
5% castor oil
5% cocoa butter

40% Lye Concentration
4% Super Fat

Again, I was and am new to this and tend to try recipes, mothods and ingredients based on what more experienced soap makers use. I am always glad to hear why my soap failed, or what I can improve on.

Can the dry, brittle soap be salvaged in any way or is it beyond usefulness?

"...I watched a video where the soap maker claimed to use 40% Lye concentration. I had not argument against it since I know nothing about soap making and the calculator wanted to use 38% which seemed very close. ..."

You might want to recheck your recipe and the video. The 38% default that Soapcalc uses as a default is not 38% lye concentration, it's 38% water as % of oils. Two entirely different things. Unfortunately, since both are in percentages and are often similar numbers, these different settings can easily be confused.

Since a lot of soapers use the calc defaults, they are usually talking about water as % of oils, not lye concentration. What's more confusing is many will even say it's "lye concentration" when they really should be saying "water as % of oils".

More info in one of my articles -- Soapy Stuff: Water in soap
I rechecked the video and yes, they use 40% lye concentration in all their soaps. Apparently a CP and room temp oils. I have not watched much else of their videos.

I did run my recipe, the same as the failed soap's recipe, through the calculator again. This time using the default 38% water as % of oils, I recieved an amount almost double to what I actually used. The same recipe now calls for 172.36g of water to 64.6g lye, compared to 96.9g water to 64.6g lye that I actually used (40% LC).

I've never made goat milk soap - not very accessible where I am, the milk.. But I've read several times in this forum that others dissolve their lye in equal amount of water - so if 50g lye it'll be in 50g water, then use liquid milk for the rest of it, and then add powdered goat milk to maximize the milk factor. That's if you want to do the split way.

Personally when I reduce my water to be mixed with lye I do it with 60-75% of my water, coz I'm chicken. Lol
Thank you. I appreciate that. I am curious about using powdered milk to offset the water in the recipe. I used goats milk since I have a lot on hand, otherwise, I would not use it particularly. I do enjoy the goats milk soap a lot.
 

TheGecko

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Again, I was and am new to this and tend to try recipes, mothods and ingredients based on what more experienced soap makers use. I am always glad to hear why my soap failed, or what I can improve on.
I have two recipes that I use all the time...one for Regular Soap and one for

Can the dry, brittle soap be salvaged in any way or is it beyond usefulness?
I just tossed mine.
 
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DeeAnna

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I want to make a point that the "water as % of oils" setting is a waste of time. It actively works against consistent results in your soap making.

Far better to use lye concentration or water:lye ratio -- it will be a step backward if you start using water as % of oils. Read my article if you want more nitty gritty -- see link in Post 9 -- or just take my word for it. ;)
 
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Now that finally makes sense. The batch of soap where the lye caked was the batch that scorched the milk, but made that other soap in the pictures that turned out normal looking and saponified properly and well. I was concerned though. I had read somewhere to use a reduced rate of water, a percentage of the overall amount (no other info was given, ablog I believe), to mix with the lye crystals and add the remainder of the liquid as milk once the lye solution had cooled. The reduced amount of water, with all of the lye crystals in it, simply appeared oversaturated and a certain amount of lye did not disolve until the frozen milk cubes were added. There is not way of disolving the lye, in a minimal amount of water, to still end up using the majority of liquid as milk (over half at least)?

The brand of Peppermint Oil is Thursday Plantation. Here is the info from Walmart's website:

100% Pure Peppermint (mentha x piperita) essential oil is both invigorating and calming. Used in aromatherapy for cough & cold, aches & pains, as muscle rub, headaches and indigestion relief.
A 100% pure, invigorating naturally sourced essential oil used in aromatherapy for:
Soothing cough & cold
For relief of digestive discomfort, upset stomach or nausea
Nervine/Calmative to relax and destress
Relieve joint & muscle pain associated with sprain, strain and rheumatoid arthritis
Can be used topically, as inhalant, in bath or diffuser
All natural, plant-based medicine
GC/MS tested

Does this translate into a skin-safe E.O.?

I had added a very basic amount of peppermint oil, (again based on website info), 15ml for my 3Lb loaf, and 5ml for my 1Lb loaf.

The batch of soap that siezed, siezed up prior to adding peppermint oil. I had to scramble to get that oil mixed into the batter with a spoon. The Thursday Plantation peppermint oil was used for all of my other batches except this last problem batch. The problem batch, the pictured 1Lb batch that went hard, brittle, and weepy within 24hrs, actually used about 3/4 (3.5ml) Thursday Plantation pepermint oil and the remaining 1/4 (1.4ml) was a cheap brand from Walmart (read: they do not carry it anymore) called Simply Essentials:

All Natural. Each essential oil is thoroughly GC/MS tested. Energize your mind with the warming and cooling effects of peppermint.
• Essential Oil with Coconut Oil;
• Aromatherapy Attributes;
• Add drops of your favourite essential oil to your Simply Essentials Diffuser;
• 15 mL (0.5 fl oz)

There are no ingredients listed at Walmart's site, but the bottle states:

"Natural Coconut Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil (Mentha Peperita)", with no ratios or amounts listed.

Could it be that simple that this small amount of unpure E.O. made the batch behave that poorly?

I found it very coincindental that both batches that caused problems, had the same Castor Oil in it. The other soap batches, the same recipe without castor oil, which was replaced with olive oil, used the same Thursday Plantation E.O. without an issue or problem at all. The castor oil I used is this:

Life brand Castor Oil USP, cathartic, medical ingredient: Castor oil 100% v/v, no other ingredients listed.

This is made for ingestion (adults, children over 12 15-60ml), (children 2-12, 5-25ml)

Is this helpful? I hope I answered everything.
here is just my 2 cents maybecit will help, the only batch of brittle soap is one nite when i was dead tierd i mixed myblyexand water and was goingvto make soap at room temp the next day, it was a very hot dayvthis summer and thexroom i madecthe lye in wasnt air cond. so i belive whst happened was some of the water evaporated into the air by the time i made my soap the next day ! it did dryboutvmy soap and when i wrnt to cut it it was very dry, do i now cover my lye solution with a cover of more that just a paper towel, we all live and learn..that perticular loaf of soap was also un sented so i decided to gratexitvupmand make a powder laundry detergent ! Walla !!!!
 

Homesteading

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I have two recipes that I use all the time...one for Regular Soap and one for



I just tossed mine.
I will consider throwing it, but knowing my nature I will figure out how I can use it elsewhere. Thanks again.

here is just my 2 cents maybecit will help, the only batch of brittle soap is one nite when i was dead tierd i mixed myblyexand water and was goingvto make soap at room temp the next day, it was a very hot dayvthis summer and thexroom i madecthe lye in wasnt air cond. so i belive whst happened was some of the water evaporated into the air by the time i made my soap the next day ! it did dryboutvmy soap and when i wrnt to cut it it was very dry, do i now cover my lye solution with a cover of more that just a paper towel, we all live and learn..that perticular loaf of soap was also un sented so i decided to gratexitvupmand make a powder laundry detergent ! Walla !!!!
I did allow the soap to sit out and equalize in temperature. What I do not recall is if the windows where open, or if there was a breeze, or if the woodstove was burning. I did not consider evaporation. I like it. If I did not already use too little liquid, than the idea of evaporation would also cause a water reduction, which in turn causes a lye heavy soap. I appreciate your ideas, thanks.
 

DeeAnna

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"...some of the water evaporated into the air by the time i made my soap the next day..."
"...the idea of evaporation would also cause a water reduction, which in turn causes a lye heavy soap ..."


The only problem with this idea is that lye solution doesn't behave like that. Lye solution that is strong enough to make soap doesn't LOSE water if you leave it uncovered to the open air -- it will GAIN water by absorbing water vapor from the air. The air has to be Mojave Desert super dry for concentrated lye solution to actually evaporate. The only time lye solution would lose weight is when you've just made it and it is steaming hot.

Leaving cooled lye solution uncovered (or only covered with a paper towel) for a long time will cause two problems -- the solution will absorb water from the open air, and it will react with carbon dioxide in the air to convert some of the NaOH to Na2CO3, washing soda. Both things weaken the lye solution; they don't make it stronger.

Covering a lye container with a paper towel is okay only when the lye solution is steamy and hot. As an alternative when the lye is hot, you can cover the container with the regular lid left loose. You don't want to put the lid on tight when the solution is hot to avoid building pressure in the container.

After the lye cools, however, the lid needs to go on tight and stay that way until you're ready to make soap.
 

Dawni

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Can the dry, brittle soap be salvaged in any way or is it beyond usefulness?
I pulverize dry brittle soap - or used to lol - and mix it in with fresh soap batter. Like a rebatch of sorts. Could be the same recipe, could be something else if you feel like.

Calculate everything in the calc, and weight out max half the amount of oil as your powdered soap. I use less coz I'm chicken lol so if its 500g of total oil I'll use 250g or less of powdered soap. I stick blend the powder with the oils then only add lye. Soap as usual. I notice though that it traces really quick for me, not sure if it's the same for all.

If it's lye heavy you'll have to figure out how much excess oils to use though, increase your superfat in the new batch so to speak ....
 

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I pulverize dry brittle soap - or used to lol - and mix it in with fresh soap batter. Like a rebatch of sorts. Could be the same recipe, could be something else if you feel like.

Calculate everything in the calc, and weight out max half the amount of oil as your powdered soap. I use less coz I'm chicken lol so if its 500g of total oil I'll use 250g or less of powdered soap. I stick blend the powder with the oils then only add lye. Soap as usual. I notice though that it traces really quick for me, not sure if it's the same for all.

If it's lye heavy you'll have to figure out how much excess oils to use though, increase your superfat in the new batch so to speak ....
I like your idea. I may give this a run. Since rebatching seems to require reusing the failed soap within a 24hr window, your method would allow reuse after that time frame.

Thanks the great idea.
 

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Philippines
Since rebatching seems to require reusing the failed soap within a 24hr window
Not necessarily.
It's just easier and quicker to melt fresh soap coz there's still a lot of water in it. Sometimes you don't even need to add anything if it's fresh. If it's older you have to add water or milk or whatever and probably melt a but longer.

You're welcome :)
Search around the forum, I know there's several threads where others have posted about pulverized soap too.
 
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