Help with CP soap and acceleration

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I'm fairly new to soapmaking and have made a several successful recipes, but today's soap was most likely a failure. I was trying out a recipe using coffee. I've read many of the current blog posts about substituting coffee for the water in the lye solution and thought I would give it a try. I'll tell you what I did, and then I'll tell you what happened.

My base recipe:
Avocado oil 8 %
Castor Oil 5 %
Coconut oil 76 22%
Mango butter 20%
Olive oil 45%
1.5:1 coffee water/lye ratio (probably my first mistake for this particular recipe)
2 tsp titanium dioxide dispersed in water
2 tsp cocoa powder dispersed in oil from the recipe
30g peppermint essential oil added at trace

My lye solution was approx. 93°f and the oils were approx 95°f. I mixed until trace then separated out about one cup of batter for the cocoa powder and one cup for the titanium dioxide. I was going for a 3 color swirl.

This is what happened. All the batters accelerated. After adding the cocoa powder, the batter got nearly solid really fast. The one with titanium dioxide became like butter cream. The rest of the batter that was left in the main bowl was very heavy and creamy (no additives). I scooped this one into the mold first, glopped the cocoa mixture on top, which was impossible to smooth out, and then threw the titanium dioxide mixture on top and scraped a design into it with a fork.

I put it away to dry overnight and I'll see what becomes of it when I take it out of the mold tomorrow, but I think I'll chalk this one up to being failed ugly soap.

Please tell me what I did wrong. Why did my batter accelerate?
 
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I see several things going on here. I mention the two lesser issues first:

1. You used some fast-moving oils: coconut, mango butter, and castor. Try using some palm or lard to make a slower-moving recipe.

2. You used TD and cocoa powder, both of which will thicken your batter quickly.

But most importantly, you mixed to trace instead of emulsion. When you want to keep the batter fluid, it is important to stop at emulsion. There are some good YT videos about how to spot emulsion, including one by Lisa of I Dream in Soap. For most smaller batches, you will only need a few short bursts of the stick-blender, with some hand-stirring in between, to reach a stable emulsion. The folks you see stick-blending on and on are usually making much, much bigger batches.

The big take-away is that once you bring a batter to trace, especially by stick-blending, it is going to continue thickening on its own. Emulsion is much more forgiving, and the batter takes much longer to thicken up... unless of course it is too warm, or you use an accelerating EO, FO, or additive.

When you do end up with a glop and plop, be sure to bang down the mold to release air pockets and pack the soap down into the corners. No matter, your soap is probably going to be prettier than you think - and it will smell great with that peppermint.
 
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Absolutely...I'm always learning, but have forgotten to delete failure from my soap making dictionary ;).

But another question about the oils. I have a vegan in the house who won't use anything with animal products or palm oil, no matter if it's sustainable. I've fiddled with other oils on Soap Calc but really like this recipe. If I up the water ratio to 2:1, will that give me more time?
 
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Do you think if I increase my water ratio, the batter will hold on a little longer?

I didn't know the TD and cocoa accelerate.
I don't know if TD and cocoa actually accelerate the trace, or just mechanically thicken the batter, if you will. Someone with more science knowledge than I can chime in about that.

You can try upping the water to get a bit more working time, as well as lowering your starting temps. But really, the biggest issue is going to be mixing to just emulsion, not trace. If you ignore this and keep mixing to trace, it doesn't matter how much water you use or how cool your batter was to start with. Once you reach trace, the chemical reaction will keep going, and the batter will thicken fairly quickly.
 
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But another question about the oils. I have a vegan in the house who won't use anything with animal products or palm oil, no matter if it's sustainable. I've fiddled with other oils on Soap Calc but really like this recipe. If I up the water ratio to 2:1, will that give me more time?
I have a recipe that is shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and olive oil and it traces really slowly! It's definitely possible to create a recipe that traces slowly without any animal fats or palm. There are also essential oils that slow down trace as well.
 
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I really like my recipe and have used it several times without any problems. This is first time using my recipe that I experienced acceleration. I did one other swirl recipe that came out beautifully. I wonder if the coffee water had something to do with it.
 

TheGecko

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I have a vegan in the house who won't use anything with animal products or palm oil, no matter if it's sustainable. I've fiddled with other oils on Soap Calc but really like this recipe.

Their loss.

I've had a few folks "question" my use of Goat Milk, Lard and Palm Oil (RSPO)...I told them, "So don't buy it. It's just that simple."
 

Bunny

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Hi! I'm Bunny. I'm old school soaper, been around about a hundred years, lol. I just haven't been in here in a very long time.
I'm a hard-core lard soapmaker. I have used virtually every basic (and some exotic) soaping oils/fats, and I always come back to me lard/coconut soaps. They are my faves to use and there are not surprises, even though I use a good bit of coconut. The lard helps with acceleration prevention, naturally. My only input here that might be of future help if you ever run into this problem again is throw that soap into the oven! Make HP out of your seized/riced/over-accelerated CP soap. It's a good easy save and HP is almost always fixable.
 
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Hi! I'm Bunny. I'm old school soaper, been around about a hundred years, lol. I just haven't been in here in a very long time.
I'm a hard-core lard soapmaker. I have used virtually every basic (and some exotic) soaping oils/fats, and I always come back to me lard/coconut soaps. They are my faves to use and there are not surprises, even though I use a good bit of coconut. The lard helps with acceleration prevention, naturally. My only input here that might be of future help if you ever run into this problem again is throw that soap into the oven! Make HP out of your seized/riced/over-accelerated CP soap. It's a good easy save and HP is almost always fixable.
Really? Just throw it in the oven? Will it melt into something that looks dedent? The batter was so firm when I put it in the mold and really didn't look good when I took it out of the mold the next day. But the bottom layer was super hard and difficult to cut.
 
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@AliOop has already covered it all but I'll pop in to say welcome! I've used recipes very similar to yours and I love to use cocoa powder and TD. I bet it's going to be beautiful -- post photos!

I love peppermint essential oil. I consult Find Free Essential Oil Blends - Essential Oil Calculator for usage rates. Peppermint is the only essential oil I use at low to medium rates. It can be tingly in, um, all the places. Some people may like that, so I've heard, from a friend, yeah, a friend.

I also use brewed coffee regularly made with distilled water and at least double strength.

I am curious how much you are using your stick blender. When I started, I used it A LOT and always got to thick trace quickly. Now I use it sparingly, just a few blasts of 5 seconds and use the stick blender mostly as a spoon. It took me a long time to master emulsion and I watched that video like a 100 times. I am just mentioning this because of my history of similar recipe, additives, and coffee -- and I easily get to emulsion or thin trace and have plenty of time for swirling.

Good luck and have fun!
 
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A few comments to add about ratios - 2tsp TD seems a lot for only one cup of batter, and 30g Peppermint EO also seems a lot assuming you are making 1 litre ( approx 2 pounds) soap. I've not soaped with peppermint EO - does it accelerate?
Definitely look up some videos on reaching emulsion though - stick blending too much is real rookie mistake and we've all been there.
 
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I think I'm realizing that I was going to long with the stick blender. The coffee batch did not come out well. But I made a different batch last night with TD, activated charcoal and coffee grounds and did the tiger stripe design. I upped the water:lye ratio to 1.8:1 to make sure it didn't reach trace too quickly, and I made sure to mix just to emulsion. I haven't taken it from the mold yet (it needs a few more hours), but the pour went well. I think this will be a good one.

As far as essential oils, I keep reading that they fade fast. Maybe I added a bit too much peppermint eo in the coffee batch because I don't want it to fade? I'm determined to make all natural soap, so I don't want to use fragrance oils. But yeah, I'm still learning and appreciate everyone's comments and advice. I will definitely check out that eo calculator.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Hi! I'm Bunny. I'm old school soaper, been around about a hundred years, lol. I just haven't been in here in a very long time.
Hey Bunny!!! You're alive!!! And still running with scissors!!! I'm so happy to see you! I hope you pop in often. We have a lot of Newbies who could benefit by your wisdom, experience and expertise as I did in 2004. Thanks to you and
KALEB'S HP OAT-N-HONEY CASTILE from Bunny June 17, 2004

This soap is butt-ugly, but we are not going for beauty here. Once you feel this on your skin, experience the faint yummy aroma, and goo-goo over the lather, the ugly won't matter!

This castile is made HP. Add the honey right before the soap is done cooking, so the honey can caramelize. No FOs or EOs are used.
...you put me on the road to formulating

ZANY'S NO SLIME CASTILE

I couldn't have done it without your guidance at the very beginning of my soapmaking journey! 🥰
 

missbipbip

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Their loss.

I've had a few folks "question" my use of Goat Milk, Lard and Palm Oil (RSPO)...I told them, "So don't buy it. It's just that simple."
I use goat milk in all of my soaps as well. I love the way it feels on my skin. I have wondered about some people not liking it, and I may try the Coconut milk as well, but I am kind of like you. It is hard to please everyone, and I just feel like it would definitely take something away from my soaps if I took the milk out. When I started, I didn't use the milk, and there was a difference. It was still good soap but didn't have that creamy, lux feel, so if you love it, keep it. :)
 
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