Hot Process Not Hot Enough?

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BeesKnees

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There are many posts with many temps given as ideals or guidelines, but it seems like the majority might refer to CP so I need to be sure. The outdoor temps here have recently changed and I can see a big difference in the texture of my batch. Fortunately I have been using the same recipe I began with so I can attribute the difference to the temp change rather than wondering. I use a crock pot.

I use a recipe of approximately
olive oil 21.5 oz
palm oil 8 oz
coconut oil 9 oz
stearic acid 3 oz
lye apprx 6 oz
water 15.x oz
38% is that ratio it comes to, I left my notes outside. The oils are exact.

I soap in an outdoor building.
1) First I soaped with all doors open for ventilation.
Let the lye cool a long time, didn't check with thermometer before adding it to oils.
No reaction when I added the lye water solution while stirring. After a few minutes of hand whisking and no change I got out the stick blender for its first use. It thickened pretty quickly after that and went to what I suspect might have been false trace, turning to the approximate consistency of butter. Real butter, not margarine. Kept going and it eventually reached vaseline and I started spooning it out to do different samples. It hardened quickly, no doubt helped by the cold temp. I didn't time the cooking.

2) Then I tried it with all doors closed.
Let the lye cool to about 134 degrees F, and the oils were at about 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
Again no reaction when I added the lye water while stirring. This time I pretty quickly went to the stick blender and wasn't surprised when it quickly went to (false?) trace and then butter consistency.
After 24 minutes it looked to be at vaseline so I began scooping it into smaller portions for scenting.

The first time I did this recipe it was in a class. The next 2 times were at my house outside but the temps were still quite warm and humid then. Now it is cooler.

The bars I did this weekend seem to be done. I can't tell a significant difference between them and the ones done previously.

My questions are:
1) Does anything jump out at you that I could/should do differently?

2) is this just the new normal for me since I don't have any heat out there? Or is there a part of the process that I need to tweak?

3) Re cold process: how will the outdoor temp affect it when I try CP? I'm concerned that the ingredients will cool too much as I carry them from the house (kitchen) to the building to work with. How do you, for those of you who may work outdoors, compensate for that?
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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1 - I wouldn't worry too much about splitting out to scent with multiple scents per batch personally. Although over here in Austria there isn't quite the smorgasbord of scents as the American folks have so I don't have to worry. I test scents in 500g batches if I am unsure of it.

Regarding 1, 2, and 3 I would heat my oils in the slow cooker out there rather than in the kitchen and then go out. Or, if you have no water out there, just do it all in the kitchen - that is perfectly safe and most people here do that, although some add scents outside due to being prone to headaches from strong smells.
 

BeesKnees

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1 - I wouldn't worry too much about splitting out to scent with multiple scents per batch personally. Although over here in Austria there isn't quite the smorgasbord of scents as the American folks have so I don't have to worry. I test scents in 500g batches if I am unsure of it.

Regarding 1, 2, and 3 I would heat my oils in the slow cooker out there rather than in the kitchen and then go out. Or, if you have no water out there, just do it all in the kitchen - that is perfectly safe and most people here do that, although some add scents outside due to being prone to headaches from strong smells.
Thank you. To clarify, the crock pot was in the outdoor building for 1 and 2. For 3 I will heat them in the crock pot. Thankfully there is water in the building, recently added.

Making soap in the kitchen isn't an option if I'm interested in marital harmony and I'm okay with that. I prefer being outdoors anyway.
 

shunt2011

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I would say that as long as it doesn't zap you are good whatever way you do your HP. CP outdoors you may want to get a hotplate or microwave to at least make sure your oils are melted enough and stay so. I've never made soap outdoors where it's cold so not much help. You can soap room temp as long as yo don't have a lot of hard oils. And I wouldn't use stearic in CP unless you can be sure it's melted and you are soaping warm enough.
 

dixiedragon

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What makes you think you got false trace? You say you see a difference - what is that difference?

False trace is when the soap batter cools enough that the oils start to harden again - so for my soap that has coconut and lard as the highest melting temp oils, false trace would start to occur below 80 degrees. I don't think you had false trace.

I have started heating my hp at low in my crockpot vs high. It takes longer, but I think at high my soap was getting a bit overcooked - I had a lot of white, waxy bits. I leave my soap on low for a while, basically until I get impatient and then I put it on high, which quickly tips it into Vaseline stage. So the majority of the cook is done on low.
 

dixiedragon

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When I do hot process, I mix my lye and water, measure my oils, then dump it all in the crockpot. The lye water is still very hot - I don't wait for it to cool at all. The lard and coconut are still solid.

We're both in AL and I don't think it's been cold enough here for the outdoor temp to be leaching significant amounts of heat from your crockpot.

I am wondering if perhaps you are checking more recent batches more? I read someplace that when you are cooking, every time you open the crockpot you increase cooking time by 20 minutes, because you released that heat. I dont' know if that's true, that seems like a lot. But if you are lifting the lid and stirring a lot, that would probably slow things down. It also lets moisture escape, so it's possible that your soap is getting dry.
 

BeesKnees

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If you CP outdoors you may want to get a hotplate or microwave to at least make sure your oils are melted enough and stay so. I've never made soap outdoors where it's cold so not much help.
Thanks for the suggestion. A hotplate or microwave has been added to my list.
 
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BeesKnees

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What makes you think you got false trace? You say you see a difference - what is that difference?

False trace is when the soap batter cools enough that the oils start to harden again - so for my soap that has coconut and lard as the highest melting temp oils, false trace would start to occur below 80 degrees. I don't think you had false trace.

I have started heating my hp at low in my crockpot vs high. It takes longer, but I think at high my soap was getting a bit overcooked - I had a lot of white, waxy bits. I leave my soap on low for a while, basically until I get impatient and then I put it on high, which quickly tips it into Vaseline stage. So the majority of the cook is done on low.
When we made HP soap in the class, we heated the oils in the crock pot until everything had melted thoroughly and then added the lye water. The teacher was very specific about that so I guess I took it as gospel or a safety issue. When we added the cooled lye water, the mixture immediately began thickening visibly as we poured and then we hand-whisked it until trace. My recent batches have had no such immediate reaction to the introduction of the lye water, just maintained a liquid state. I have changed from hand whisking to using an immersion blender (so that has changed since class) and within maybe 20-30 seconds of starting that the mixture turns to the texture of cool butter (similar to palm oil that has melted and then hardened again) and then traces. It seemed so much faster than the class batch had that I was concerned something might be wrong, that the cold air was having an impact on the process and showing false trace. I'm glad to know it isn't. :)

The white, waxy bits you mention sound very familiar. I'll turn the crockpot to Low.

I am so relieved that I don't have to let all the oils melt to liquid form before adding the lye water! That step alone takes what feels like forever as I wait for the quite solid coconut oil to melt completely.

Thank you for the feedback.
 

mx6inpenn

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I am so relieved that I don't have to let all the oils melt to liquid form before adding the lye water! That step alone takes what feels like forever as I wait for the quite solid coconut oil to melt completely.
Are you using 92' coconut oil? Usually it is the hard oil that melts fastest for me. 76' works just fine in soap.
 

dixiedragon

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It can be a safety issue if you add hot lye water to hot oils - that's too much heat. There are folks here who regularly CP using the heat transfer method - adding hot lye water to room temp oils. I prefer to CP by letting my lye water cool and melt my oils, but that may be b/c I've always done it that way.
 

cmzaha

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It can be a safety issue if you add hot lye water to hot oils - that's too much heat. There are folks here who regularly CP using the heat transfer method - adding hot lye water to room temp oils. I prefer to CP by letting my lye water cool and melt my oils, but that may be b/c I've always done it that way.
Yep hot lye and hot oils can certainly case a volcano. I agree with Dixiedragon, I much prefer room temp cp
 

BeesKnees

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Are you using 92' coconut oil? Usually it is the hard oil that melts fastest for me. 76' works just fine in soap.
Honestly, I'm not sure which type coconut oil it is. It is organic coconut oil from Costco that I already had. The new coconut oil I purchased is the 76-degree type but I'm using up this stuff first. Or that was the original plan.It's so tough to scrape out of the container that I'm reconsidering that plan.:???:
 
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