Hi folks! How do I speed up trace in olive oil soap?

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Rune

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This is my second attempt of making soap. I made a batch two days ago, that failed completely, in every way possible. That was not olive oil, but canola/rapeseed. So today I decided to make an olive oil soap, because I have read that rapeseed is not a good oil to use. I have also seen on Youtube that olive oil is very slow to come to trace. It's not any better that I don't have a stick blender (yet).

So I made my batch with 50 ml water discount to 1 liter of oil with 4% superfatting, and mixed the water and oil when the oil was about 50 degrees celsius and the lye around 70 (I am a norwegian, and we don't use fahrenheit). I dumped it in the stand mixer and let it go for ages and ages, and ages and some more ages. I added sugar, since I have read that that could speed up trace. No. I added a hot sugar syrup as well, but no. And fragrance, but nothing happened. So I eventually took the soap out of the stand mixer and gave it a gentle heating on the stove, before I threw it back in the mixer again. But still nothing.

Well, the batch was emulsified, and I guess that was fine, but I wanted a thick trace, so that I could make some swirls. That never happened, but I was able to make a sort of swirl in the pot before i dumped it in the more than perfect little moulds I found in the supermarket today. I don't think, at least I hope, nothing will go wrong this time. But I don't know until tomorrow.

But anyway. I want to make some more soap, not today but maybe tomorrow, and will be very glad if someone know of a trick to get olive oil soap to come to a thick trace, without a stick blender?
 

kchaystack

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What lye concentration were you using? I usually use a 40% concentration on my castile soaps.
 

Susie

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Did you run that recipe through a lye calculator? And did you weigh all your ingredients? I ask because all of soapmaking is done in weights, and your ingredients are in volume. Also, how much NaOH did you use?
 

Rune

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Lye concentration, hmm, I think I don't know what that is. But I used a lye calculator (Brambleberry). So I used 116 grams of lye to 250 grams of water. 50 ml, yes, sorry I wrote that, I mean 50 grams (which also is 50 ml). I did weigh everything except from the oil. I should have made sure it actually was 909 grams. But I used a calculator that said 1 liter of olive oil should weigh 909 grams, so I just dumped my whole 1 liter bottle of oil in there. But the next time, I will weigh the oil as well.

Aha, now I remember what a lye concentration is. The calculator from Brambleberry doesn't let you choose that. I must find another calculator, because I have seen other calculators let you choose lye concentration. I will try to find out what the actual lye concentration I used was.
 

DeeAnna

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Try http://soapee.com -- many people like this calc much better than soapcalc.

Try anywhere between 33% to 40% lye concentration for olive oil soap -- whatever you are comfortable with. I'd agree with KC and think 40% is a good choice, but not everyone is comfortable with that idea. Increasing the lye concentration would also have been a good choice for the canola/rapeseed batch.
 
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kchaystack

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That is about a 31% concentration. Basically you can use less water to make a stronger lye solution, and it will cause the soap to trace faster.

I do not like the brambleberry calculator, as it does not let you change the lye concentration. I use Soapee.com. Under box 3, you can choose the middle Lye Concentration option and set that to 35% - 40%.
 

DeeAnna

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Problem with assuming 1 L of oil = 909 grams is that you do not know you put exactly 1 L of oil in your soap making bowl. There is always some oil left behind when pouring out of a container. For best results, always weigh what goes into your soap making bowl.
 

Seawolfe

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Stick blender - your stand mixer doesn't go fast enough to really mix the molecules up.
I've also had luck with just leaving the darn batter alone for ~ 10 min while I do something else :)
 

Rune

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Now I tried a ton of lye calculators just now, and none gave me the lye concentration AND the amount of water you should use. It was actually Soapee I used to find out it was between a 31% and 32% lye concentration. I really, really like Soapee. So I think I will use that from now on.

The next time I will use a 40% concentration and no less. That should help a lot. Thanks!

I guess a regular blender will do a better job than a stand mixer. I found an old blender in a shed outside, so I will try that one next (if I can't find a stick blender before the next batch of soap will be made). Gasoline is very, very expensive in Norway, and they have put up some cameras you have to drive tru on the way to the town, I don't know the english word for it, but you get a bill afterwards. It costs a total of 10.25 dollar just to drive thru them on the way to town and back! So I don't feel driving extra to town just for a stick blender. It will be an expensive one. Since I work only 40%, I can't afford too much expences.

In this country, where everything is very expensive, we do have cheaper lye than in America. 50% cheaper. And we can buy lye in the supermarkets, so it's easily available. Oil is very cheap too, without knowing american prices for oil.

My olive oil was by the way a strange one. A blend between virgin or extra virgin and a low grade, which I guess it's called pomace or something.
 

Rune

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Yes, you are right, I will weight the oil the next time. Companies do always cheat, so maybe it was not even a liter of oil.

I did leave the soap alone for a while, maybe 20-30 minutes, but nothing happened. Yes, stick blender is the number one thing that works. I think I shall find one online and and order today, then it will arrive in a couple of days and I don't have to drive anywhere.
 

DeeAnna

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"...Companies do always cheat, so maybe it was not even a liter of oil...."

Or maybe the calibration of the filling machine was off and the container held MORE than one liter. That is the problem -- you do not know.
 

TeresaT

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Gasoline is very, very expensive in Norway, and they have put up some cameras you have to drive tru on the way to the town, I don't know the english word for it, but you get a bill afterwards. It costs a total of 10.25 dollar just to drive thru them on the way to town and back! So I don't feel driving extra to town just for a stick blender. It will be an expensive one. Since I work only 40%, I can't afford too much expences.
Is the word you are looking for TOLL? Do you have to pay a toll to travel to and from town where you live? Is there another road you can take to get to where you want to go, or do all of the roads have this camera system? We have toll roads in some areas of the country, but those are voluntary roads; there are always alternate routs to take. The toll roads usually have booths to pay your tolls. We also have camera operated stop lights. If you speed through a stop light (not stop when you should), it takes a photo of your car tag and you get a fine in the mail. Where I live, people complained and stopped driving in the cities that used them. Those cities lost revenue for their businesses as well as tax dollars. They eventually took the cameras out. Maybe something like that could happen where you live? If enough people complain about the high price it will go away?
 

earlene

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Besides using a higher lye concentration, using more pomace olive oil also speeds trace. You said your OO was a mix of both, but do you know what percentage was pomace? I like to use regular OO as half the recipe and then the other half is pomace. It comes to trace pretty quickly by hand stirring with only a spoon. I'd say less than 15 minutes.

Another trick to speed trace, is to use Titanium Dioxide as a colorant. It speeds trace, too.

I guess a regular blender will do a better job than a stand mixer. I found an old blender in a shed outside, so I will try that one next (if I can't find a stick blender before the next batch of soap will be made). Gasoline is very, very expensive in Norway, and they have put up some cameras you have to drive tru on the way to the town, I don't know the english word for it, but you get a bill afterwards. It costs a total of 10.25 dollar just to drive thru them on the way to town and back! So I don't feel driving extra to town just for a stick blender. It will be an expensive one. Since I work only 40%, I can't afford too much expences.

In this country, where everything is very expensive, we do have cheaper lye than in America. 50% cheaper. And we can buy lye in the supermarkets, so it's easily available. Oil is very cheap too, without knowing american prices for oil.

My olive oil was by the way a strange one. A blend between virgin or extra virgin and a low grade, which I guess it's called pomace or something.
I'd like to caution you about using a regular blender, if the kind you are talking about is sort of like this:



The problems you can run into are:
1. Deterioration of the gasket surrounding the blade (this can happen over time as it ages, due to drying out, shrinkage and cracking) can cause leaks
2. The lids of the older blenders (the ones I used when they first came out) were not secure and therefore leakage from the top can occur when blending. In fact, the lids have been known to 'fly off' in the presence of too much internal pressure.
3. In older blenders (not sure how old yours actually is) the blade is not removable, making cleaning very difficult.
4. If you over-blend, you can burn out the motor (just like you can with a stick blender.)
5. If the soap gets too thick too fast, you could end up with solid soap stuck inside your blender, which would be extremely difficult to remove.

There are solutions to these issues. You can replace the gasket. You can hold the lid on tight with your gloved hand and a rag covering the lid when running the blender. Cleaning is possible, but needs to be thorough because the lye is not friendly to the gasket. And of, course, not over-blending.


~ ~ ~ ~
Oh, and we call those toll cameras. I hate the toll billing. I'd rather have a national toll tag system, but we don't have that here. Maybe some day. Now I have two toll systems that work in some states, but not all states.
 

Catastrophe

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Chicago's toll system irritated the crap out of me. I know I owe it money. Hopefully I will never be there again
 

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I went to Florida in early October and rented a car to drive to the Florida Keys. My credit card is ~still~ getting charges from the Miami toll system. I called the rental company in December to ask. The lady there sighed and said, "Let me guess -- you went to Florida." I told her yes, we rented a car in Miami. She sighed and said, "That's just how the Florida toll system works. We don't like it, customers don't like it, but we can't get it changed." It's FEBRUARY fer cryin' out loud -- four whole months.
 

cherrycoke216

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If your old blender won't work, maybe try dig something up in tool shed? Like a paint mixer, a drill...? You just have to make sure it's very clean for you soap.
I've seen people reinvent a drill into a stick blender. Maybe try search that on YouTube. ;)
And I have used a juice blender for soap, too. You just use caution like Earlene mentioned. Pour it out at EMULSION. Not trace. If you're not using colorant and fragrance oils, you'll be fine to use it for juice, too. Just clean it well with warm water and dish detergent.
 

navigator9

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I don't know if this might be a cheaper option for you...to order a stick blender from amazon.uk. If you find out what a stick blender would cost in Norway, and added your cost of gas to drive where you would need to purchase it, maybe this would be cheaper. A stick blender makes soapmaking SO much easier. :) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017MNIPMW/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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Susie

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If you are ordering a stick blender, get one with a stainless steel, removable wand. It makes clean up so very much easier! The plastic bells will soften if making liquid soap as the temperatures are much higher.
 

Rune

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Yes, toll road, exactly, thanks!

There is only one road, so there is no ways around. That is actually illegal, because it should be an alternative route, according to the EU. But the norwegian government have got a special permition from the EU to have toll roads everywhere. This toll station will never go away, because they are about to build a very expensive bridge to shorten the distance to Narvik, and the old road must finance the new bridge. So now we don't have a bridge, but have to pay anyway.

The costs to build and maintain roads are extreme in this country. We don't have a single spot that is flat, mountains everywhere. So I guess that is one of the reasons this toll barriers are put up everywhere.

The cameras is a modern type of toll booth. So they take a picture of the number plates, and the registered owner of the car will get a bill every month. It's an automatic system. I guess it's to cut costs of administration.

Yes, maybe the bottle of oil was more than a liter. I am starting to suspect that. My soap will not set! It's still quite soft. But it's gone about 20 hours since i poured it. Maybe that's too short time? I will check on them tomorrow, and see if there is any improvement.

Since I was whipping the soap with my stand mixer for a long time (whip attachment), the mixture cooled down quite fast. That's maybe the reason for why it doesn't go solid faster. Not that I know how long time it should take, but I remember from Youtube videos that they cut the soap the next day.
 
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navigator9

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If you are ordering a stick blender, get one with a stainless steel, removable wand. It makes clean up so very much easier! The plastic bells will soften if making liquid soap as the temperatures are much higher.
Susie, sorry but I have to disagree there. I have a more expensive stainless steel Cuisinart blender that I used for years after I burned out the motor on my first SB. After I had it for a while, I thought it would be a good idea to get a back up SB, just in case the Cuisinart ever died in the middle of a batch. So I bought the cheapest plastic SB that I could find, and I actually like it better than the more expensive one, which sucked air into the soap batter and caused tiny bubbles in the finished soap. I've had it for many years now, and I've yet to have a problem with it, and I don't find it any more difficult to clean, and there are some cheap ones that do have removable wands. I use it as my main SB now, and the Cuisinart is my back up. That being said, I don't make liquid soap, so I don't know how it would hold up to higher temps, so I can't comment on that. For that purpose, it might not be the best choice.
 
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