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HP soap & chest ache

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MasterMonster

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Hello- I've been lurking for a while and am new here. Forgive this being my first post but it's something immediately on my mind and didn't see it elsewhere!

I've been making cold process soap most of my life; I used to help my mother make it as a boy and I've made it on my own since I was about sixteen. I'd never tried hot process, though, and I did it today for the first time, in the crock pot.

It went flawlessly, and I'm very pleased with it, but about halfway through the cooking, my throat and chest started feeling a bit 'tickly' and now they're both sore and irritated. Not horribly so, but enough to make me wonder. I am 100% sure it's not lye inhalation. I didn't inhale any of the lye, and I'm very well aware of what that feels like. I did it once by mistake years and will never forget that sensation and the hacking fit!

I'm just wondering if this sort of reaction is "normal" with hot process soap? I did use a FO. It's one I've used before in CP with no issues, in the exact recipe I usually use in CP, but I have noticed the smell of it is lingering very heavily in my home- I can still smell it strongly even though I finished cooking the batch about five hours ago. I do have some mild lung problems as well. I'm basically wondering if the fumes from the HP soap, or maybe the oil, or something could cause this reaction, as I was fine beforehand-- ie, perhaps HP is simply not for me.
 

MorpheusPA

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It certainly sounds possible that you're sensitive to the fumes, either from the cooking soap or the FO. And since you have lung problems, that makes it sound even more possible.

Can you open the windows and air out whatever it is you're reacting to? That might help. And of course, if it becomes severe, call for help immediately!
 

MasterMonster

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Thanks for replying. I already opened up all the windows and holed myself up in the office (furthest room of the place) with the door shut. I promise I wouldn't hesitate to go for medical help if it gets bad!

I'm relieved but a little sad to hear I could be having a reaction. I was so enamoured with the quicker turnaround time of the HP, eheh.
 

JBot

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Did you add the FO before you started cooking the soap, or after?
 

MasterMonster

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Mid-way, per the instructions a friend of mine who's done HP provided me. The soap had been cooking for a bit and was in the sort of 'mashed potatoes' state.
 

JBot

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I do HP almost exclusively, and I've never added the FO mid-way through, nor have I EVER seen instructions where that's recommended or suggested. It's a terrible idea, for several reasons.

And I suspect that's your problem. Try it again, adding the FO at the end of the cook, right before you put the soap in the mold. It's usually best if it's the last thing you add, after any post-cook superfatting oils/butters.
 

JBot

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Additional thoughts: I don't know if the cooking soap by itself (without FO) can give off "fumes," exactly. I've certainly never noticed any. But I have definitely experienced "fumes" from FO added to hot soap. One time I dumped the FO in the hot finished soap, put the lid on the pot while I attended to something else, then got a face full of FO fumes when I took the lid back off. I think heat intensifies ANY scent: food, FO, garbage, anything. I've found that the same amount of FO will be barely noticeable outside the kitchen when used in CP, but will make my whole house smell lovely when used in HP.

Also, I hope your friend told you to use LESS fragrance? In HP, especially if you add it after cooking, you should start at about half the amount of FO that you would use in CP. It's much stronger when it's not exposed to lye -- again, you need to make sure the soap is finished cooking first. Zap test it.

It might help to place the soap pot under your stove's exhaust fan, with the fan on, while you're adding the FO.
 

IrishLass

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Ditto all of the above. It sounds like a reaction of being exposed to the heating FO. I don't often do HP, but when I do, the FO does not get added until the soap is zap-less, off the heat for good, and has come down in temperature a little.

I hope you're feeling better!


IrishLass :)
 

Obsidian

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I had a bad experience once making HP. The FO must have had a low flash point becasue once I added it, it immediately put of a huge amount of fumes, enough to cloud the air. It bothered my lungs and made me paranoid about HP.

Now if I HP, I always scoop the cooked soap into a warm stainless bowl before adding the FO so it won't come in contact with the hot crock pot, no more FO fumes.
 

valerieinthegallery

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I do all my soap HP and I ditto the advice above - always add the FO at the end of the cook. Like Obsidian said, some people do remove the soap from its heating source (saucepan, crockpot, whatever) and mix in the colorants and FO in a different bowl. I tried that once and didn't really like it - it seemed to cool it off so fast that the top of the soap in the mold was dry and hard by the time I was able to scoop it all in. I leave mine in the crockpot but I turn the heat off and I wait a few minutes before adding the FO. I also make sure that I don't lean in to it as I stir, because the strong scent really does a number on me too - it hurts my throat if I accidentally breathe it in.

And yes, use less FO than you do with CP. I generally go with about 1/2 ounce per pound of oil. The scent may seem to fade as the soap cools in the mold, but it comes back once the soap has cooled and it is ready to cut. That is what I have found anyway.

Good luck! I hope you are able to continue doing HP!
 

Seawolfe

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Yeah Valerie has a good point, remember HP does only need half as much scent as CP, if you are adding after the saponification reaction is done (its zap free). And if you add it as cool as you dare, you loose less to volatility. I've had a face full of mint and tea tree when HP-ing and whooooooo.
 

Chefmom

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I hot process most all of my soaps, and the very first time that I made a mint medley, with essential oils of spearmint and peppermint...I didn't know any better and poured them into the hot soap....just like I always did. WOW.....one breath and I was choking, my eyes were watering and I hurried to get fans running and windows and doors opened. I was able to get the soap in the mold as my kids started complaining about their eyes burning.

I opened more windows and gathered up the kids. I put the crock pot and bowls and the molded soap outside and we went out to dinner. The house was breathable when we got back home, but my kids complained the following morning that they thought their pancakes tasted like candy canes.

Mints are now all done outside, I take the cooked soap out onto my patio before adding the oils to it, and I am sure to cut and cure in the basement away from food. Tea Tree oil is another fill the house scent!!

If you are already having lung issues, take precautions beforehand. Have the kitchen vent fan running, a window cracked (even in the winter) for fresh air and if you need to, take the soap outside to mix in the fragrances. Concentrated fragrance can be very powerful!!
 

JBot

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Also, hp will need as much of a cure if not more than cp - while it will be safe to use, hp needs a long time to get to a stage where it doesn't get used up in one go
I've heard this before, once or twice, and I'm wondering if you know why? From a chemistry perspective, why would HP need a longer cure than CP? I don't think HP needs less, but I'm puzzled as to why it would need more. Unless the assumption is that most people use more water when doing HP? (I don't, but that's just me.)
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I've heard this before, once or twice, and I'm wondering if you know why? From a chemistry perspective, why would HP need a longer cure than CP? I don't think HP needs less, but I'm puzzled as to why it would need more. Unless the assumption is that most people use more water when doing HP? (I don't, but that's just me.)

Having used both 'full water' in hp and cp, I found that the hp bars take longer to get to the same level of hardness as cp, so much so that a hp bar at 4 weeks feels a lot softer in use to me than a cp bar at the same stage, even if both had the same water amount.
 

IrishLass

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Having used both 'full water' in hp and cp, I found that the hp bars take longer to get to the same level of hardness as cp, so much so that a hp bar at 4 weeks feels a lot softer in use to me than a cp bar at the same stage, even if both had the same water amount.
I have the same experience, too. It takes weeks longer for my HP to be as hard as my CP of the same age.


IrishLass :)
 

JBot

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Having used both 'full water' in hp and cp, I found that the hp bars take longer to get to the same level of hardness as cp, so much so that a hp bar at 4 weeks feels a lot softer in use to me than a cp bar at the same stage, even if both had the same water amount.
I have the same experience, too. It takes weeks longer for my HP to be as hard as my CP of the same age.
Interesting. Any theories about why? I do very little CP, so I don't have much to compare it to.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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My only (and admittedly, rather 'fuzzy') idea is that cp starts life out in the shape that we want - the batter sits in the mould to saponify and all that happens after trace happens in the mould, so it can start to form a solid structure sooner.

With hp, it goes through some of the stages in one pot and then we put it in to the mould afterwards. But instead of a saponifying batter sitting in the mould, it's finished soap already.

Is there a harder structure sooner when the batter saponifies in the mould, in the shape that it can also harden in, rather than saponifying in a pot and then going in to a mould to harden.
 

newbie

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I am very curious about this issue. I'm not certain if it has to do with saponifying in the mold or the transfer after saponification just because of a recent experience. I was reading about someone making CP slightly more transparent and one part of the technique is to keep it in gel for along period, for 3 or more hours. I did that and that soap is far far softer than any other soap I've made with the same recipe, with the same FO. It's still pliant after at least a week and I didn't add any extra water. If extended gel adds to translucency, it would seem it does so by changing something structural about the soap, maybe affecting the organization of the soap molecules (perhaps aligning them more, allowing for more light to pass through??) or would it cause some of the molecules to break down? I can get a pretty decent lather off any soap I've made after it has hardened enough to stand the water but this extended gel soap would simply not lather like usual. I have to test it again but even 2-3 days after making it, I could not work up anything, which is not at all like my recipe.

HP might well be in gel stage longer than in a gelled cp, or perhaps a hotter gel, and I wonder if the HP cure and what I've found in the extended gel soap are related.
 

hmlove1218

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Just my experience, but as a non-geller, I notice that the few soaps I do gel stay more pliable than my non-gelled soaps. I am able to unmold and cut gelled soaps sooner, but I can easily dent them longer than my non-gelled soaps.

Therefore, I would think it has something to do with the structure of gelled soap vs. non-gelled soap as Newbie was suggesting.
 

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