Help and opinion! 100% Olive oil soap

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Skybluesky

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Hello,
First, congratulations on your forum that has so much information!
I´m new here and though I don´t usually have much time for forums, I signed up because I had to try and request an opinion from people that have more experience at making soap than I.

I´m writing this thread to request your help and opinion on a cold process 100% olive oil soap that I tried.

I have made several 100% olive oil soaps in the last few years. Some where fairly sucessful but most weren´t. And this is bothering me: why some go well and some don´t. So I´m trying to figure out why?
I had so many ruined batches lately that it really bothers me. I usually have to save the soap by reheating and this shouldn´t happen, besides it doesn´t always help.

Here are the photos of my last batch:
Soap_b.jpg Soap_c.jpg

Olive oil - 920 grams
Water - 920 grams
Lye - 124 grams

I made it on Friday and it hasn´t set yet since then. It looks like it kind of gelled but there is liquid at the bottom and it never reached real trace.

The oil was at room temperature and the lye solution cooled for more than an hour before adding it, I´m guessing it should be at room temperature. The water for the lye solution was slightly warm at about 82F. In that day, temps where in the 75F.
The only possible mistakes I see of what could have gone wrong is that I may have added the lye solution a bit more faster than I should but I tried to add it slowly. I hand stirred.

I know you´re going to tell me it has too much water but in my experience, 100% or 90% result in soap.
A few weeks before, I made a soap that was the best I ever made with olive oil and reached trace in 4 hours, then gelled in the mold. It had 100% water and same recipe only a smaller batch.

Why one worked and the other didn´t? That´s what bothers me. I hate to fail more than half the batches I make, that´s alot of oil wasted!

I also rechecked the recipe, even made the calculations with the saponification values too just to be sure, and always get the same solution: 124 grams of lye.

Do you know how I can save this one? I suppose reheating? I´m not sure it will reintegrate all this caustic water that separated.
This type of separation happens to me alot.

I know this is alot of info but if anyone has any idea why this always happens alot it would be a big help!
 

DeeAnna

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I'm puzzled. You say this is cold process, but it should be in a mold during gel, not being stirred in a bowl. It looks more like hot process bar (NaOH) soap or liquid (KOH) soap paste.

Assuming your "lye" is NaOH, not KOH, the weight of 124 grams looks about right.

And that is a LOT of water, even for a hot process method. Based on past experience, that may be why you're not getting a stable emulsion (aka trace). It takes very, very little to "break" an emulsion with this much water, so that's probably why one batch works okay and the next one doesn't.

A lot of soapers nowadays use a stick blender. If you want to hand stir your soap and you want to make olive oil soap, you might want to use less water. I know there are recipes out there that use an abundance of water and olive oil, but they will require long hours of slow hand stirring even if you reduce the water content.
 
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Skybluesky

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Thanks for your replies.
Deanna, you say that soap should gel in the mold? I see, I wasn´t sure, it did seem a bit more gelled than usual... this one got like this on the day it was made, just a few hours later. It is NaOH.
I waited an hour and a bit more before adding the lye solution to the oils to be sure they cooled enough, but since I didn´t use a thermometer (I have to get one) I´m really not sure. The lye solution could have been too hot. But I see people saying they make soap with a bit hot solution anyway.

As you say, it is a lot of water. I did run it again through several soap calculaters then made the calculation myself and all gave the same number. So the NaOH amount seems right.

What I have here more available is olive oil. I have been trying soap in the last, maybe, 4 years, usually only in the summer months.
My first soap was olive oil soap using a recipe I found on the net. I used a stick blender, and it traced really fast, but I could tell it didn´t saponify completely before it hardened. This first soap wasn´t going well and showed signs pf separation untill I used the stick blender.

Since then, I made many experiments with small quantities; cold water, warm water, hot water, mix of different oils, only one oil, warm oils (once they were even too hot), with a stick blender, stirring by hand, with the 33% water, very small amounts of water and then with more water untill full water.
All of these experiments had, most of the times, separation problems.

The conclusion I arrived is that I tend to forget to let the lye solution cool a bit and I use it too hot, but then some people make hot process soap using it too hot anyway and you still get soap.
Also, that hot oils and hot NaOH solution is not a good mix, and gave me the worst case of separation, but if I kept boiling, it probably would get hot procees soap and I´d have soap, but I never risked a complete hot process soap because I don´t have a crockpot.

I like to use more water because I get the feeling the olive oil doesn´t saponify completely when I don´t. Full water usually gives me a slight shrinkage on the final soap, after curing.

I had to rebacth or reheat practically all soap I made since the first one and probably is the excess water, but this worries me because I think it shouldn´t happen. All recipes I use are made using popular soap calculators.

I made two small soaps of about 200 grams each before this one bigger batch from the pictures.
The 1st had 90% water, seemed like it was tracing then separated slightly, then hardened unevenly - but ended soap in the mold with gelled parts inside and others almost white and hard. Took one-two days to harden. Maybe the lye solution was a bit hot.
The 2nd had 100% water, traced perfectly, in 4 hours was ready to put in the mold and gelled during the night - best soap I ever made. So I know I can make it. Sorry the photo is a bit out of focus.
Soap_d.jpg

Then the one you see in the photos above, that separated and is uneven with a gelled appearance. All made the same way. I now heated only the caustic water to maybe 122Fº and added again to the solid bits of soap - it seemed like it stayed the same, maybe more gelled than before but 2-3 days later is is looking like it´s hardening below the surface and I put it in the mold today.
It doesn´t seem even (like bonded together), though it´s gelly-like. I had to press the parts of soap in the mold to make them stick together. I´m waiting to see what it will turn.

All this to explain that I made many researches on the Internet and can never find a good answer. Reheating doesn´t necessarily resolve the problem though it most times makes the mix harden to soap - it just "fixes" it.
I´ve tried searching for info on why this "separation" ocurrs so frequently or why it happens at all.
I always hate when I make soap and this happens, and I really never know what to do. The separation happens alot but the "symptoms" vary.

Anyone understands alot about separation in soap? I´d very much like to hear from your experience.
I will try with less water.

I´m sorry for the big post. It´s so much information...
 
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penelopejane

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Hi skybluesky
Your recipe is way off - you have far too much water. I make pure Castile all the time. I don’t understand your process, sorry.

Follow this video exactly, including the temperatures and cover and wrap your soap to avoid partial gel. There is no need to add clay or EO as this recipe suggests but just follow the instructions.

If you don’t have a thermometer wait till the oil and lye are at room temperature. Let us know how it goes.
Sorry I can’t post a copy of the recipe on the soapcalc page but I’m on my phone. But, I think your process is off as well as the recipe so I think the video might help you.
 
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shunt2011

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I agree with the others, your recipe is way off on water. Use the amount called for on the soap calculator. If you follow the recipe you will have soap. Unfortunately, I'm one who really dislikes 100% OO soaps. Even after a year or two cure.
 

amd

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Deanna, you say that soap should gel in the mold?
Not DeeAnna, but I'll answer: yes, soap should gel in the mold. Sometimes an FO (fragrance oil) will cause a soap to get to gel stage in the bowl, but most of the time gel occurs in the mold. You should be mixing your soap to emulsion or trace and pouring into the mold. It may or may not gel in the mold, if it isn't geling (getting hot and translucent) then you can add more heat by putting it on a heating pad, or even preheating an oven to the lowest temp possible, turning off the oven, and then putting your soap in the oven.

The lye solution could have been too hot. But I see people saying they make soap with a bit hot solution anyway.
Because this is olive oil, and it's already liquid, you really don't need to heat up the oils at all. You could add freshly made lye to room temp olive oil and it would still make soap.

but I could tell it didn´t saponify completely before it hardened.
Most soap won't completely saponify before it hardens. Saponification is a process that can take up to 24 hours (or more depending on your oils). Hardening is just part of the saponification process, but even a hard soap could still have unsaponified lye in it (again depending on your oils). If your formula is calculated and measured correctly, the most it should take to fully saponify is 36 hours. During this time you could still cut it if it's hard, it will continue to do the saponification.

I like to use more water because I get the feeling the olive oil doesn´t saponify completely when I don´t. Full water usually gives me a slight shrinkage on the final soap, after curing.
Water doesn't really add to the saponification - other than making sure the lye is completely dissolved and "carrying" the lye to the oils. The shrinkage that you're experiencing is the excess water evaporating and warping the remaining soap.

The 1st had 90% water,
What the heck is 90% water? If you're talking about 90% lye concentration, that's not enough water. If you mean that you reduced the amount of water from your original lye concentration by 10% then you would simply recalculate the lye concentration.

The 2nd had 100% water,
See above: I'm not sure what 100% water means.

I get the feeling from reading your posts that you are not completely understanding the soapmaking process. Possibly using different meanings for terms that we commonly use, and having different expectations than how soap really behaves. I recommend watching the video penelopejane posted above, it should clarify the situation for you.
 

Obsidian

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Boiling it? Just exactly how are you making your soap? If you are cooking it over heat then you are doing HP.

CP is made without heat besides what is initially used to melt oil which isn't something you'd be doing with olive oil.

The separation is from using too much water. The warping you get in your cured bars is from too much water.
 

Nanette

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The famous Aleppo soap is made from "cooking" the olive oil--olives, stems and all- and laurel branches and leaves in lye water for several days, until the olive pieces, leaves, branches have dissolved..its poured and left to cure for 9 months after cutting. This is a specific and ancient way of making olive oil soap that we arent really going to duplicate. You should follow soapcalc calculations for making your olive oil soap, you will have great results!
 

DeeAnna

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"...I like to use more water because I get the feeling the olive oil doesn´t saponify completely when I don´t. Full water usually gives me a slight shrinkage on the final soap, after curing. I had to rebacth or reheat practically all soap I made since the first one and probably is the excess water, but this worries me because I think it shouldn´t happen...."

It's painfully clear you're guessing, and your results do not match up with your guesses, because your guesses are wrong. Stop with the guessing already!

There are experienced soap makers who are are trying to teach you a method that will work to make this soap. Slow down, stop guessing, and listen to them.

All the fiddling and fussing about your current method is a waste of time. Slow down, read the advice being given to you, and you will learn a better way to do this.
 

Soulboy1973

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Castile soap is probably the simplest soap to make having just 3 ingredients. Water, Sodium Hydroxide and Olive Oil. You need to weigh your amounts acurately and you cannot go wrong. You will make a nice soap. Now you have two recipies and a video to watch. I'll add the video I learned from. Follow it and you will succeed in making Olive oil soap.
 

Deborah Long

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Castille-3-1Water.png

I did this on soapcalc.net with a 3:1 water:lye ration and these are the numbers that I got. You can see that even with that rather large ratio, the water required is much less than what you're using. Just so you know, I normally soap with a 2:1 water:lye ratio. I think that most of your issues - as every one else has stated here - can be narrowed down to the HUGE amount of water that you're using! :)

I'd also like to know what you mean by this:
I now heated only the caustic water to maybe 122Fº and added again to the solid bits of soap
You added more lye water to your already made soap? (sorry, I'm newer than most of the amazing soapers trying to help you and am easily confused...)

@Skybluesky - You may want to check out this article about water by our very own @DeeAnna! She's the chemistry whiz kid!

https://classicbells.com/soap/waterInSoap.asp
 
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Arimara

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I think everyone handled this thread already. Unless you are making a soap via hot process and even then, you will never be able to tell if a soap is fully saponified by just looking at it. You have to do the zap test or just wait a couple of weeks, test the soap and see observe what happens. The latter is not a very smart idea and can lead to potentially serious skin injury if the soap is lye heavy.
 

Skybluesky

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Thank you all for your opinions and input based on the long experience you have.

@amd
, 90% water and 100% water just means 90 or 100% of the weight of the oils - if oils 6 oz. then water would be 6 oz.

@Obsidian, I never boil my soap, or try not too. I just usually have to reheat it. I start with CP and then reheat it to fix it.
Does anyone know the best way to fix this kind of separation? I find few mentions to it.

@Deborah Long, what I mean is that I strained the dark liquid bit from the soap, which apparently is caustic and had separated, and heated just that and not the whole soap because I was afraid to overheat it. Then mixed it with the solid bits of soap. Two-three days later, it seemed to have been absorbed by the rest of the soap and I put it on the mold. It´s not even, but looks gelled and will probably take some time to dry due to the water.
I had just found that article about water yesterday.

Soulboy, thanks for the video, I checked it and will try to make another batch as soon as I get more olive oil.

Aleppo soap is interesting but looks more like the industrial processes, that I don´t know very well.

With all this info, I decided to try HP some day and see how it goes. Looks promising but very messy. I´ll be searching for books.
 

shunt2011

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90% water and 100% water just means 90 or 100% of the weight of the oils - if oils 6 oz. then water would be 6 oz.

That's where your error is. You're using almost 700g too much water. You're never going to get soap that way. Are you using a lye calculator? That will give the exact amount of water and lye to make soap. All you're going to do with using the same amount of water as oils is separation. For your recipe you should only be using 235 g of water with a 33% lye concentration.
 

Skybluesky

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Ok, thank you very much for that information - I will recheck the recipe with the lye calculators. As soon as I can get more olive oil, off course. I´m hoping I can take advantage of the heat wave we´re having here at this time of year!
I´m also thinking of trying other recipes, like old recipes and see how it goes and the difference.
And it´s giving Bond movies again in Fox Movies and I can´t see it!

Thank you all for your opinions and input - let´s see how it goes!
 

Becky1024

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When you use too much water, your soap will be very thin at trace. That is why it is separating. With less water, your soap should be as thick as pudding at trace or soon after. It should be a semisolid within an hour or two after trace. The thickness will keep it from separating.
 

cmzaha

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I agree with the others, your recipe is way off on water. Use the amount called for on the soap calculator. If you follow the recipe you will have soap. Unfortunately, I'm one who really dislikes 100% OO soaps. Even after a year or two cure.
I agree with Shunt on this one. I Hate OO soap but do make it once a year for customers that request it. BTW I will mention, I made Zany's no slime soap Exactly as her recipe called for and 6 months into curing it Dossed quite badly, which surprised me since I have never had a Castille soap DOS, and I have some laying around that are 5 yrs old. So now I have to make another yearly batch with my EDTA and BHT. No offense Zany, but it never lathered either and still had slime. I will mention I use a 40% Lye Concentration, and force gel by putting it on a heating pad. Light-colored pure OO is what I have always used when I do make it.
 

Lin19687

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I agree with Shunt on this one. I Hate OO soap but do make it once a year for customers that request it. BTW I will mention, I made Zany's no slime soap Exactly as her recipe called for and 6 months into curing it Dossed quite badly, which surprised me since I have never had a Castille soap DOS, and I have some laying around that are 5 yrs old. So now I have to make another yearly batch with my EDTA and BHT. No offense Zany, but it never lathered either and still had slime. I will mention I use a 40% Lye Concentration, and force gel by putting it on a heating pad. Light-colored pure OO is what I have always used when I do make it.
hmmm I wonder if your Oils were just too old to do this long cure bar ?
 
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