Help! Soap has a weird consistency

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Greg Hartman

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I made a batch of honey soap using the recipe below. The soap came out great: It lathers up really well; it’s moisturizing and it smells wonderful.

The issue is that the soap isn’t very hard. If you squeeze a bar it’s the consistency of a room-temperature chunk of caramel.

Is that to be expected with this recipe? Or did I do something wrong?



  • Argan Oil: 1.8 oz.
  • Castor Oil: 1.8 oz.
  • Coconut Oil: 7 oz.
  • Olive Oil 76: 10.5 oz.
  • Lard: 7 oz.
  • Sunflower Oil: 7 oz.
  • Water: 11 oz.
  • Lye: 4.8 oz.
  • Honey: 1 tbsp.
  • 1 oz. honey fragrance oil
 
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Seems normal that it would be soft still, it hasn't been curing for long and it is made primarily of soft oils. See in six weeks if the hardness has improved. I bet that it will take at least that long if not longer.
 

Drew Ackerman

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Im sure others will chime in, but according to soap calc you have a soft bar. From what I have gathered you will need to let the bar rest another 3-4 weeks and probably even longer due to the olive oil / sunflower oil.

GregsRecipe.png


If you look at the Soap Bar Quality section in Dark Green above then you will notice that your hardness is low, the Iodine is high, and you INS is low. All 3 of those contribute to the Hardness of your soap.

I hope someone can come along and contribute to this discussion with how the acids of the different oils are playing out.
 

Obsidian

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It is a softer recipe but it shouldn't be that soft. Are all the bars that soft or just the one being used?

I agree that it is too soon to be used. It really should harden more with a proper cure.
 
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Im sure others will chime in, but according to soap calc you have a soft bar. From what I have gathered you will need to let the bar rest another 3-4 weeks and probably even longer due to the olive oil / sunflower oil.

View attachment 42819

If you look at the Soap Bar Quality section in Dark Green above then you will notice that your hardness is low, the Iodine is high, and you INS is low. All 3 of those contribute to the Hardness of your soap.

I hope someone can come along and contribute to this discussion with how the acids of the different oils are playing out.

Thanks for doing the calculator! So OP should also note this is very high in linoleic and will be prone to DOS.
 

Drew Ackerman

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Thanks for doing the calculator! So OP should also note this is very high in linoleic and will be prone to DOS.

Good point! I believe its best to keep the combination of Linoleic and Linolenic acids below 15% of your recipie, as an example you can have 8% Linoleic and 7% Linolenic. This is a recommendation though, and only to combat DOS.
 

Greg Hartman

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It is a softer recipe but it shouldn't be that soft. Are all the bars that soft or just the one being used?

I agree that it is too soon to be used. It really should harden more with a proper cure.

Near as I can tell, the bar I was testing and the other bars are all about the same hardness.
 

Dawni

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I second what Megan said.... And also, maybe you used a tad too much water, considering it's mostly soft oils with only about 20% lard.

What lye concentration did you use? When I tried your recipe with 2:1 it gave me 4.86 lye and 9.71 water. It's not too much extra, just enough to need longer than 4wks maybe. Great water stuff info here and here.

If you're open to suggestions, up your lard to 30-35%, discard the argan - 5% is too little for most to notice it and more than that is a waste of expensive oil since we aren't sure how much of the benefits get left behind after the lye monster is done with it - and if your sunflower isn't high oleic, decrease it to 10-15% or decrease the olive oil accordingly if your sunflower is high oleic. To figure that out, here's good info.

But yknow what? It's a nice recipe if you're patient to wait for it to harden. Otherwise you'll be needing more lard or something else to up the stearic/palmitic. More on that, and the calc numbers in general here.
 
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I make a similar soap with oatmeal, milk, and honey. It's a bastille type soap and it takes about 10 weeks to fully harden. I make if for specific customers that have requested it. One of my customers stocks up on it and takes about 40lbs of soap to Columbia every year because his mom loves my soap so much. The curing time is a pain but at least it's not a castille. You can help speed it a tiny bit faster by putting a fan on it.
 

TheGecko

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I made a batch of honey soap using the recipe below. The soap came out great: It lathers up really well; it’s moisturizing and it smells wonderful.

The issue is that the soap isn’t very hard. If you squeeze a bar it’s the consistency of a room-temperature chunk of caramel.

Is that to be expected with this recipe? Or did I do something wrong?

You haven't done anything 'wrong', you simply have a recipe high in soft oils and a lot of water so it's going to take at least twice as long to 'cure'.

My suggestion would be to drop your water as a % of oils down to 33% to 25%. And unless you have added the Argan Oil to counterbalance the Lard on your label, 5% is too little an amount AND it's best used for a leave-on product like a lotion. Simply add that 5% to Olive Oil or Lard and maybe add a couple of teaspoons of Sodium Lactate to your Lye Solution. Then give it another try and see what it's like. If it's still too soft for you, you might want to consider adding another 'hard' oil like Palm Oil or Cocoa Butter.
 
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Hi Greg - I found this to be informative when i was starting out: https://www.modernsoapmaking.com/the-most-popular-fatty-acid-profiles-in-soapmaking/.
I made a soap early on that had a similar fatty acid profile to yours (with the exception of the high linoleic/linolenic) and it is now reasonably hard at a year old, but still goes a little soft once it's in use. I would caution you against leaving yours as long as a year though because you may well get DOS in which case they will all be wasted.
 
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^^ lots of great advice already. I will only add my experience with a batch I made 6 months ago that is high in soft oils. I almost threw it away, but was encouraged here on the forum to let it be. I left it alone for a month and it got better. Six months later it is a wonderful soap. Even though the linoleic FA is above 15, it hasn’t developed DOS. It has turned out to be one of the most gentle and bubbly soaps I’ve made.
 
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