Help - Soap Seized Immediately After Adding The Lye

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Newbie H

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Hello everyone, I just tried my first batch of soap, cold processed with the following ratios of oils and lye:

NaOH: 6.9 oz
Water: 16 oz
Olive Oil: 40 oz
Coconut Oil: 10 oz

Well, the instant the lye touched the oil it became like mashed potatoes, I couldn’t even mix it with a stick blender. And when I was done mixing as much as I could, there was a bit of a puddle of liquid at the bottom of the bowl that would not mix in with the rest of the batch regardless of my mixing enthusiasm.

Does anyone know exactly what happened to this batch, could it have seized or saponified too quickly?
I tried this twice, first time with a temp of 115 F, and second time with a room temp. Same thing happened…
 

DeeAnna

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Recipe looks reasonable. It shouldn't sieze as you describe unless there's something else going on. Did you include any other ingredients besides what you listed? Anything?
 

Newbie H

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@DeeAnna : Nothing at all! The lye is Sodium Hydroxide 99%, and the olive oil is a little bit old - maybe 2 or 3 years old. I don’t know if these elements could’ve caused the seizing, though I doubt it… Also, the lye couldn’t totally dissolve in the water. I’ve read somewhere that it happens, so the first time I decided to strain it, and the second time I didn’t, and the same thing happened for both of times.

@glendam : No fragrance, nothing! I just poured the lye water into the oils and the second they touched each other it became like mashed potatoes.
 

Newbie H

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@TheGecko First time they were about 115 F, and second time was at room temp, so around 75-85 F. For the lye, I tried to fully dissolve it, but no matter how much I stirred, it couldn’t dissolve. I’ve read somewhere that it can happen since it’s not 100% NaOH, that probably the 1% couldn’t dissolve, and some people who experienced that were still able to make the soaps pretty well. So I don’t know…
 

Kafayat Adebowale oyeniyi

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What brand of lye did you use? Very unusual that your lye didn’t dissolve. You are not going to find a 100% pure lye.
I hope you didn't buy soo much ?You might have to try another little batch before you conclude. Remember to soap at room temperature or use ice to dissolve your lye.
 

Newbie H

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I hope you didn't buy soo much ?You might have to try another little batch before you conclude. Remember to soap at room temperature or use ice to dissolve your lye.

I bought 25 kg. I tried twice, and the second time it was at room temperature. I use tap water though, do you think it might be that? I don’t know..


I would try a small batch with all new oils, see if that changes anything. If it doesn't, try to source different lye to test.

I think that’s what I’m going to do. I will go buy some oils tomorrow and try again. Thanks a lot. I’ll keep you updated…
 

earlene

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Remember to soap at room temperature or use ice to dissolve your lye.

I have to disagree with this, particularly in this case with someone brand new to soapmaking. Using ice for making a lye solution is more difficult for a beginner, and creating a solid piece of frozen lye on the bottom of the vessel can be a real problem for a new soapmaker.

Hello everyone, I just tried my first batch of soap, cold processed with the following ratios of oils and lye:

NaOH: 6.9 oz
Water: 16 oz
Olive Oil: 40 oz
Coconut Oil: 10 oz

Well, the instant the lye touched the oil it became like mashed potatoes, I couldn’t even mix it with a stick blender. And when I was done mixing as much as I could, there was a bit of a puddle of liquid at the bottom of the bowl that would not mix in with the rest of the batch regardless of my mixing enthusiasm.

Does anyone know exactly what happened to this batch, could it have seized or saponified too quickly?
I tried this twice, first time with a temp of 115 F, and second time with a room temp. Same thing happened…

Newbie H, are you weighing each ingredient with a reliable scale? If you are, please indicate what scale you are using, just in case any of us have some experience with the scale. If you are not using a scale, how are you measuring?

Next, please walk us through every step of how you made your lye solution.

What is the temperature of your soap making area?
Did you first weigh the water in a lye safe container? What was the temperature of your water?
Did you then, separately weigh out your caustic soda on your scale?
THEN, did you slowly pour the lye into the water, mixing as you poured (rather than dumping it all in at once)?
(Dumping it all in at once can cause a clump on the bottom that doesn't easily dissolve.)
What did you use to stir your lye solution? You mention no matter how much stirring it didn't dissolve, so how long did you stir? Did you walk away and let it sit and wait for it to dissolve on it's own & it still did not?

The process of making the lye solution is important. And before adding lye solution to your oils, it MUST first be COMPLETELY dissolved. If it is not, you should not attempt to mix it with the oils at all. You should make a new lye solution and toss the old one out.

So once you walk us through HOW you made your lye solution, we can help you troubleshoot what went wrong.

ETA a Caveat: I do not recommend using the heat-transfer method for a beginner who has not mastered how to dissolve lye in water first.
 

artemis

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I use tap water though, do you think it might be that? I don’t know..

I don't know if that could cause seizing, but you are not supposed to used tap water due to the minerals etc that might be in the water.

Thought: maybe start a new thread aimed at Canadians on the forum to see if they have any experience with the lye you are using.
 

Newbie H

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I have to disagree with this, particularly in this case with someone brand new to soapmaking. Using ice for making a lye solution is more difficult for a beginner, and creating a solid piece of frozen lye on the bottom of the vessel can be a real problem for a new soapmaker.



Newbie H, are you weighing each ingredient with a reliable scale? If you are, please indicate what scale you are using, just in case any of us have some experience with the scale. If you are not using a scale, how are you measuring?

Next, please walk us through every step of how you made your lye solution.

What is the temperature of your soap making area?
Did you first weigh the water in a lye safe container? What was the temperature of your water?
Did you then, separately weigh out your caustic soda on your scale?
THEN, did you slowly pour the lye into the water, mixing as you poured (rather than dumping it all in at once)?
(Dumping it all in at once can cause a clump on the bottom that doesn't easily dissolve.)
What did you use to stir your lye solution? You mention no matter how much stirring it didn't dissolve, so how long did you stir? Did you walk away and let it sit and wait for it to dissolve on it's own & it still did not?

The process of making the lye solution is important. And before adding lye solution to your oils, it MUST first be COMPLETELY dissolved. If it is not, you should not attempt to mix it with the oils at all. You should make a new lye solution and toss the old one out.

So once you walk us through HOW you made your lye solution, we can help you troubleshoot what went wrong.

ETA a Caveat: I do not recommend using the heat-transfer method for a beginner who has not mastered how to dissolve lye in water first.

It was a ’Starfrit’ scale from Walmart, I don’t know if it’s reliable, but if it’s not, the ratio would still be the same, since I measured everything with it, am I wrong? It was ‘fl oz’ for everything.

The temperature of the area was around 75 F.
I measured the water and the lye separately. It was in a 5 PP plastic container. The first time, the water was at a normal temp, not too hot, not too cold. The second time, I did half ice, half water.

Then I slowly poured the lye into the water while mixing as I poured.
I stirred with a rubber spatula. I stirred for at least 30 mins.

Yesterday something came to my mind. The taste and smell of the olive oil is weird, rancid. I bought it from someone I knew that told me it was real olive oil from another country, there is no brand name on the container. Do you think it’s fake olive oil? I doubt it, but I don’t know?
Also, do you think the tap water could’ve caused this?
 

TheGecko

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I bought 25 kg. I tried twice, and the second time it was at room temperature. I use tap water though, do you think it might be that? I don’t know..

Using tap water is not a good idea. Cities treat their water, plus there can be minerals which don't react well with Sodium Hydroxide. Using Distilled Water is generally the best option.

It is entirely possible that you have a bad batch of Sodium Hydroxide or that you could have contaminated it? Sodium Hydroxide is hygroscopic, it will absorb moisture from the air. And it reacts with the carbon dioxide in air, to form sodium carbonate. This is why you always store your NaOH and/or Lye Solution (after it has cooled) in an air-tight container.

My suggestion would be to first purchase new oils and Sodium Hydroxide (flakes) and second, make a small batch. Something along the lines of:

11.2 oz Olive Oil
2.8 oz Coconut Oil (76 degrees)
3.92 oz Distilled Water
1.93 oz Sodium Hydroxide

Total Batch Weight - 19.85 oz
33% Lye Concentration
5% Super Fat

Make sure you have an accurate digital scale. Put a measuring cup on the scale, 'tare' (zero it out) it, pour 8 oz of water into the cup and then weigh it...it should weigh 8 oz as water is the only liquid that is the same by volume and weight.

Since you are new to soap making, weigh your Distilled Water and Sodium Hydroxide separately; make sure you put the lid back on as soon as your weigh the Lye and that it is tight. Then add your Lye to your water in small amounts making sure it is fully dissolved before adding more. I recommend purchasing flakes as opposed to pearls for a beginner as you can 'hear' the flakes as you stir them and when you no longer hear them, it means they are dissolved. Once you have made your Lye Solution, set it aside, cover lightly with a paper plate and let it cool down for about an hour.

When you are ready to make soap, make sure you Tare your mixing bowl. If you don't, you will end up with less Oils and will create a Lye Heavy soap. Don't rush, add ingredients slowly. When I started out, I weighed each ingredient into a separate container until I got used to accounting for the liquid oils that had left the container, but hadn't reached the bowl to be weighed resulting in many over pours.

Stir your two oils together, then stir in your Lye Solution...low and slow. Reduces air bubbles and potential splashing. You can now use your Stick Blender and blend to trace and then pour into your mold. Since you are making a small amount of soap, you only need a few 'bursts' of your SB.
 

Newbie H

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Your recipe is configured for weighing in Ounces by weight, Not Fluid Oz which is different. You cannot accurately weigh solids by fluid oz, so always weigh in oz or preferably grams when soaping or making in B&B products for accuracy. This may have been part of the problem.

Oh really? Oops. But if I measured everything with the same unit, wouldn’t it be the same ratio?
 

Newbie H

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No, 6.9 oz lye by weight will not be the same amount as 6.9 oz measured as fluid oz.

So even if I measured everything with ‘fl oz’ it’s not the same ratio/pourcentage as if I would’ve measured everything with ‘oz’? I didn’t know that. I will try again with grams, it would be better. Thank you so much.


Using tap water is not a good idea. Cities treat their water, plus there can be minerals which don't react well with Sodium Hydroxide. Using Distilled Water is generally the best option.

It is entirely possible that you have a bad batch of Sodium Hydroxide or that you could have contaminated it? Sodium Hydroxide is hygroscopic, it will absorb moisture from the air. And it reacts with the carbon dioxide in air, to form sodium carbonate. This is why you always store your NaOH and/or Lye Solution (after it has cooled) in an air-tight container.

My suggestion would be to first purchase new oils and Sodium Hydroxide (flakes) and second, make a small batch. Something along the lines of:

11.2 oz Olive Oil
2.8 oz Coconut Oil (76 degrees)
3.92 oz Distilled Water
1.93 oz Sodium Hydroxide

Total Batch Weight - 19.85 oz
33% Lye Concentration
5% Super Fat

Make sure you have an accurate digital scale. Put a measuring cup on the scale, 'tare' (zero it out) it, pour 8 oz of water into the cup and then weigh it...it should weigh 8 oz as water is the only liquid that is the same by volume and weight.

Since you are new to soap making, weigh your Distilled Water and Sodium Hydroxide separately; make sure you put the lid back on as soon as your weigh the Lye and that it is tight. Then add your Lye to your water in small amounts making sure it is fully dissolved before adding more. I recommend purchasing flakes as opposed to pearls for a beginner as you can 'hear' the flakes as you stir them and when you no longer hear them, it means they are dissolved. Once you have made your Lye Solution, set it aside, cover lightly with a paper plate and let it cool down for about an hour.

When you are ready to make soap, make sure you Tare your mixing bowl. If you don't, you will end up with less Oils and will create a Lye Heavy soap. Don't rush, add ingredients slowly. When I started out, I weighed each ingredient into a separate container until I got used to accounting for the liquid oils that had left the container, but hadn't reached the bowl to be weighed resulting in many over pours.

Stir your two oils together, then stir in your Lye Solution...low and slow. Reduces air bubbles and potential splashing. You can now use your Stick Blender and blend to trace and then pour into your mold. Since you are making a small amount of soap, you only need a few 'bursts' of your SB.

I will try everything you just said. I will go buy some new oils, lye and an air-tight container. Thank you so much for your time and help. I will keep you all updated.
 

TheGecko

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So even if I measured everything with ‘fl oz’ it’s not the same ratio/pourcentage as if I would’ve measured everything with ‘oz’? I didn’t know that. I will try again with grams, it would be better. Thank you so much.

The only thing that measures the same by weight and volume (fl oz) is water. You need a digital scale to weigh all your ingredients…oils, water, lye. Measuring cups are okay to separate your batter for color or to mix is, but you don’t “measure” your ingredients
 

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