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Help diagnose an issue (chalky, crumbly)

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blucrsr

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2 months ago I made a batch of soap and divided it into 3 parts to make some scent samples. 27.5% coconut and palm, 25% olive, 10% mango butter and avocado oil. 33% lye concentration. 5% superfat. My notes show that my oils and lye were both at 85 degrees F. I usually soap closer to 100. I noticed that the soap mixture immediately seemed "grainy" and was setting much faster that I'd seen before. I split the batter into 3. I added 6% of Awaken from Nurture. Kept stirring since it looked real weird. Decided to just pour and moved onto the other 2 scents. They seemed to eventually become not so grainy looking. When I unmolded a few days later it was obvious something was wrong with the first soap. It looked patchy and chalky. The other 2 looked fine. Their cure time is up. The first soap breaks in half easily. And when you use it it leaves a very slimy feeling on my hand (almost like I just poured a little oil on my hands). I did a zap test and it seemed fine also. I've included a picture showing the 3 soaps and a close up of the weird one.

I'm asking because the soap a made 2 days ago looks the same coming out of the mold (but I had no issues with it while stirring). I hand stirred this one just to try not using the stick blender. I checked on the back of a spoon and it looked nicely emulsified.

So, could this issue be caused by the soap not actually coming together well enough? With the first one it seemed to be moving quickly so I stopped mixing and poured. With the 2nd and 3rd from the original batch I did keep stirring a bit to try and clear up the graininess.

I feel like I'm rambling a bit. I'll provide more details if needed.
Thanks!
 

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glendam

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I have had Something similar happen, it was either the low temperature for me or false trace. I will look up the thread as the advice I got there fixed the soaps for me
 

glendam

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Here:
 

blucrsr

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Thanks. It seems this might be caused by the soap not getting warm enough during saponification. I usually CPOP by loaf molds, but when I'm making these samples I don't. And it's been quite cold in the basement lately.
 

blucrsr

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OK, this is getting a bit annoying. I made the same recipe again, but this time I did everything upstairs where it is closer to 70 degrees. I even placed it in a 170 degree oven that was then turned off and left overnight. The soap after 48 hours can easily be snapped in half. I'm using the same oils, lye, water, sodium lactate, molds, etc. I didn't even add scent or color.
 

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Mobjack Bay

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I don’t know if this will help at all, but if you’re pouring at emulsion, maybe you need to work a little warmer or let your emulsion get a little thicker. I often had grainy or crumbly soap problems when I was soaping cool with batter poured at a thin emulsion, and even if I put it in a 170 oven. I wasn’t having issues if the soap went to trace (but watch for false trace). Over time, I have adjusted my method for working at emulsion. I work at a slightly higher temp (+5F) and let my batter get a bit thicker (so subjective, but maybe like light to heavy cream in the US, but with no evidence of trace on the surface, or possibly just a little “ghosting”). I also put my mold on a heating pad set to medium or high for a couple of hours, cover it with a blanket, and leave it until the next day. It was trial and error over a year to get it right for my diverse recipes. I have also found that individual and slab molds need more heat, and my new 2lb loaf mold with thick wood sides needs less added heat compared with the similar capacity molds with thin wood sides that I bought on Amazon. Additives and FOs can change things a bit, but the worst that will happen now is a little heat rash on the sides.
 

blucrsr

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I don’t know if this will help at all, but if you’re pouring at emulsion, maybe you need to work a little warmer or let your emulsion get a little thicker. I often had grainy or crumbly soap problems when I was soaping cool with batter poured at a thin emulsion, and even if I put it in a 170 oven. I wasn’t having issues if the soap went to trace (but watch for false trace). Over time, I have adjusted my method for working at emulsion. I work at a slightly higher temp (+5F) and let my batter get a bit thicker (so subjective, but maybe like light to heavy cream in the US, but with no evidence of trace on the surface, or possibly just a little “ghosting”). I also put my mold on a heating pad set to medium or high for a couple of hours, cover it with a blanket, and leave it until the next day. It was trial and error over a year to get it right for my diverse recipes. I have also found that individual and slab molds need more heat, and my new 2lb loaf mold with thick wood sides needs less added heat compared with the similar capacity molds with thin wood sides that I bought on Amazon. Additives and FOs can change things a bit, but the worst that will happen now is a little heat rash on the sides.
Thank you. This gives me some things to look into. I wonder if my hand-stirring is not enough. I have been pouring these samples thin so that the bottom is not lumpy. I hate using the stick blender for such a small, 12oz of oil, batch. I guess I'll just use it next time and see if I haven't been mixing enough. And I'll have to play around with some of the after pour warming options. Maybe this is just less blending and colder temps (although I did start mixing the lye and oils when they were 110 degrees last time).
 

Mobjack Bay

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Good luck with it. I‘ve been able to improve chalky soap enough to use it for confetti soap by heating the cut soap bars in the oven using the method referenced in post #2 in the thread @glendam linked above. I lay them flat on parchment paper on a tray that’s set on a pizza stone. I think the best temperature may depend a bit on the recipe. My low water (35% or higher lye concentration) soaps don’t melt very easily, but another person tried my method of heating individual bars and hers melted into puddles. Maybe try a bar at 170F and see what happens by the 15 minute mark and then adjust from there. I think I had bars in a 225 or 250F oven for almost an hour for one batch (37% lye concentration) I rescued.
 
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