Help please - soft soap

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Cwilso16

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Hi I'm just starting my journey with soap making. I've adapted my recipe and the way I do things a few times so far. My bars are still so incredibly soft 24-48 hours after making it. Which makes cutting a huge mess. From everyones videos that I've watched mine shouldn't be like that. I was wondering if you can tell me what I'm doing wrong by looking at my recipe? I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks so much.
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ResolvableOwl

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Welcome to SMF, @Cwilso16 !

That recipe looks fine so far, it should give you an appreciably hard bar that should be easy to cut after 48 hours, if not much earlier. But that depends on your protocol. Is 1 kg oils the absolute batch size, or do you scale it? Do you ensure good trace with your stick blender? Do you do something to the mould to avoid (fridge) or force gel (insulate and/or CPOP in the oven)?
Have you tried to make a batch without fragrance? Specific FOs can cause the weirdest issues, and might make working with actually well-behaved base batter a pain.

When you have softness issues, you might reduce the amount of water. 33% (271 g) should be alright, but you could go as low as 200 g (40% lye concentratin), which means that there is less water in the soap that might make it softer.

Some additives can help increase the initial hardness to make unmoulding and cutting easier: sodium lactate (most popular), acetate (vinegar), or table salt.

In any case, give the soap more time. As said, 48 hours should be plenty, but when your soap decides to need longer, don't fight it. As long as you have worked with proper lye solution and emulsion, the outcome will be lovely soap! :)
 

kagey

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agree that your recipe seems fine.

when I put it all in a soap calculator - it recommends a bit more lye (probably because you changed the formula to add more palm oil than olive oil) but this shouldn't affect how hard or soft your soap loaf is.

As Owl said - you're using a 2:1 water to lye ratio - which means your soap has a lot of water in it once saponification is complete. This only means that you'll have to wait longer for your bars to harden. (This is called the "water discount.")

it doesn't look as if you're doing anything wrong, but I'd advise you to learn more about soap-making so you can understand better what you're doing. For example, every oil requires a different amount of lye to create soap (which is why you should always run every revised recipe through a soap calculator). Some "soft oils" like olive oil produce a very malleable bar of soap once unmolded. And how much water you use affects how long it takes your soap bars to cure.

Welcome to your soaping journey. Give your soap some time to cure before you start to use them, and you'll really enjoy this experience.
 

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It looks ok - but it does have quite a lot of OO in it, so that can take longer to harden. It will harden though, so just be patient. Also - citrus scents can slow trace, so that could be something to consider. Again, just be patient.
I see you melt your hard oils with lye solution. I recommend not doing that for now - but only because I'm personally not comfortable with that technique. I think you should meet all your hard oils first ( on stove top or in micro), then add your liquid oils, then proceed from there with your lye solution. I also recommend as a new soaper to use 33% lye concentration. I think your is about 30%?
I echo @kagey 's recommendation to always use a soap calculator.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I see you melt your hard oils with lye solution. I recommend not doing that for now - but only because I'm personally not comfortable with that technique.
:thumbs: Me too. ;)

ETA: @Cwilso16 I hadn't heard of watermelon oil so I looked it up. It's a VERY soft oil. That, paired with Castor oil at 5% each = 10%. That may be one of the reasons your recipe is resulting in a soft bar. Not sure... :smallshrug:
 
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ResolvableOwl

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Not so sure. Some soaps with 24% poppy seed oil (+5% castor) are about the hardest I've made so far, at roughly the same “hardness” number as @Cwilso16 's recipe.

Another point is the quality of the lye. If it is old/has pulled water and CO₂ from the air, it might not be as pure (neither as caustic) as thought. Slower/incomplete saponification and higher-than-planned superfat can also delay the time until a soap hardens up.
 
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The experts have weighed in already so ditto. Also, welcome to the forum! Best of luck to ya, it's a fun addiction hobby! It's so hard to wait, wait to unmold, then wait for the cure. I've used recipes similar to yours except for, wicky wicky what, watermelon oil! Who knew? Also, FYI, heavy olive oil soaps lather better after a loooong cure, like 6 months.

I'll save @DeeAnna a minute and repost her post that I bookmarked as a beginner, When to cut .

Keep us posted!
 

Cwilso16

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Welcome to SMF, @Cwilso16 !

That recipe looks fine so far, it should give you an appreciably hard bar that should be easy to cut after 48 hours, if not much earlier. But that depends on your protocol. Is 1 kg oils the absolute batch size, or do you scale it? Do you ensure good trace with your stick blender? Do you do something to the mould to avoid (fridge) or force gel (insulate and/or CPOP in the oven)?
Have you tried to make a batch without fragrance? Specific FOs can cause the weirdest issues, and might make working with actually well-behaved base batter a pain.

When you have softness issues, you might reduce the amount of water. 33% (271 g) should be alright, but you could go as low as 200 g (40% lye concentratin), which means that there is less water in the soap that might make it softer.

Some additives can help increase the initial hardness to make unmoulding and cutting easier: sodium lactate (most popular), acetate (vinegar), or table salt.

In any case, give the soap more time. As said, 48 hours should be plenty, but when your soap decides to need longer, don't fight it. As long as you have worked with proper lye solution and emulsion, the outcome will be lovely soap! :)
Thank you so very much for all of that!!😁
 

Cwilso16

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agree that your recipe seems fine.

when I put it all in a soap calculator - it recommends a bit more lye (probably because you changed the formula to add more palm oil than olive oil) but this shouldn't affect how hard or soft your soap loaf is.

As Owl said - you're using a 2:1 water to lye ratio - which means your soap has a lot of water in it once saponification is complete. This only means that you'll have to wait longer for your bars to harden. (This is called the "water discount.")

it doesn't look as if you're doing anything wrong, but I'd advise you to learn more about soap-making so you can understand better what you're doing. For example, every oil requires a different amount of lye to create soap (which is why you should always run every revised recipe through a soap calculator). Some "soft oils" like olive oil produce a very malleable bar of soap once unmolded. And how much water you use affects how long it takes your soap bars to cure.

Welcome to your soaping journey. Give your soap some time to cure before you start to use them, and you'll really enjoy this experience.
Thank you I will do some more research🙂
 

Cwilso16

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It looks ok - but it does have quite a lot of OO in it, so that can take longer to harden. It will harden though, so just be patient. Also - citrus scents can slow trace, so that could be something to consider. Again, just be patient.
I see you melt your hard oils with lye solution. I recommend not doing that for now - but only because I'm personally not comfortable with that technique. I think you should meet all your hard oils first ( on stove top or in micro), then add your liquid oils, then proceed from there with your lye solution. I also recommend as a new soaper to use 33% lye concentration. I think your is about 30%?
I echo @kagey 's recommendation to always use a soap calculator.
Thanks so much🙂
 

Cwilso16

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:thumbs: Me too. ;)

ETA: @Cwilso16 I hadn't heard of watermelon oil so I looked it up. It's a VERY soft oil. That, paired with Castor oil at 5% each = 10%. That may be one of the reasons your recipe is resulting in a soft bar. Not sure... :smallshrug:
Thanks I did tbink about reducing the amount of castor pil as I did read that also. Thank you🙂
 

Cwilso16

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Not so sure. Some soaps with 24% poppy seed oil (+5% castor) are about the hardest I've made so far, at roughly the same “hardness” number as @Cwilso16 's recipe.

Another point is the quality of the lye. If it is old/has pulled water and CO₂ from the air, it might not be as pure (neither as caustic) as thought. Slower/incomplete saponification and higher-than-planned superfat can also delay the time until a soap hardens up.
Thanks for the tips🙂
 

Cwilso16

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The experts have weighed in already so ditto. Also, welcome to the forum! Best of luck to ya, it's a fun addiction hobby! It's so hard to wait, wait to unmold, then wait for the cure. I've used recipes similar to yours except for, wicky wicky what, watermelon oil! Who knew? Also, FYI, heavy olive oil soaps lather better after a loooong cure, like 6 months.

I'll save @DeeAnna a minute and repost her post that I bookmarked as a beginner, When to cut .

Keep us posted!
Thank you 😁
 

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