Is it possible for sodium lactate to cause out-of-control quick trace?

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Oct 28, 2019
Reaction score
United States
Man, I'm disappointed! Last night I made a batch of pure white unscented soap to use as soap curls. It turned out great and I had carefully placed intricate soap curls in my mold after curling them all up on a pencil. I was then creating a second batch of soap to fill in around the curls to create a circular embed pattern.

All was going great. I had the batter dialed in to the thinnest trace possible. I brought it upstairs, started pouring carefully... carefully... everything was holding up perfectly and I could keep it in place and looking beautiful, awesome.

Until I grabbed my batter to pour again aaaaand.... in literally less than a minute it had turned from perfect light trace to heavy soupy custard.

I tried REALLY hard to get the batter in my mold but it was a disaster as far as my soap curl embeds were concerned. Every time I poured, my pretty soap curls were falling over and coming apart. Things were going SO well before! Aaaaaargh. I ended up with a Domino effect of soap curls. 2/3 of the loaf looks like an utter disaster and 1/3 somehow held up. Lol.

Looking on the bright side it wasn't a wasted batch, but I'm so bummed out that the pattern got ruined.

I have been thinking of where I went wrong... it was a 50% lard, 25% olive, 20% coconut and 5% castor recipe (my favorite). I put in the maximum water recommended on soap calc. Scent was Turkish Mocha which apparently behaves well in CP. Only other additives were Kaolin and sodium lactate. I soaped at 110.

I think it might be the freaking sodium lactate. Could that be? I ordered some off Amazon that was supposedly CP safe, 60% solution. I used one tsp PPO in the cooled lye water. I've previously ordered sodium lactate from BB but I thought well, I have Prime anyway and this is more cost effective and sodium lactate is sodium lactate... right? Or wrong?

I have used this SL in a couple of other batches but I wasn't doing a pattern so I just mixed the heck out of it. I did notice it thickened up pretty quickly but I thought that was due to me not caring about getting a thin trace.

Has anyone else experienced this with SL or am I going wrong somewhere else? With the recipe? Temp?
I use SL in every batch I make and I've never had it be the cause of super fast trace. I use more than 1 tsp ppo also, and my SL is also a 60% solution, plus I also use faster tracing oils than your recipe as well, so I think it's probably the clay, FO, or the temp that is causing the thickness, or it could be a combo of all 3, and not the SL.
Id be interested in this too. I used sodium lactate in a batch yesterday and I thought I had it at emulsion (but it might have been light trace because I always figure a few more seconds with the stick blender won't hurt anything, right?)

I thought it thickened up pretty quickly, though I was able to do the column pour but I had assumed that the problem was that last few indulgent seconds with the stick blender ....I hadn't thought the sodium lactate could be the culprit.
I use the same amount of SL in all my recipes and didn't notice it escalated trace in all. Clay can speed up trace, and also maybe try to use cooler lye solution (I've made lye once with distilled ice cubes to really keep it cold). I never used the scent you've used but that might also speed up trace.
You would have to order the SL that you used previously and split a batch of soap to compare the two. I would have said of could have been your soap temperature but I have soaped warmer than that by slight with the same recipe and have not traced as quickly as you have, without SL.
I use a 60% sodium lactate solution in almost all my formulas... and at a higher usage rate, too (1 tablespoon ppo) and it has never caused fast trace for me, not even in my formula with lots of hydrogenated PKO and butters that I soap between 110F - 120F.

I'm suspecting the clay or the FO.

Rachael said:
Scent was Turkish Mocha which apparently behaves well in CP

Even though FO reviewers can report a particular FO didn't cause acceleration for them, that doesn't always mean it will play nice in everyone's formula. That's something I had to learn the hard way.

After you grabbed your soap batter to pour again the second time, did you stir it just before pouring? I ask, because when I'm doing intricate, multi-layered swirls that can take a bit of extra time to execute, and the swirling batter has thickened up some before its turn to be poured, I've found that a quick stir with a spoon or spatula thins it out again to pour-able consistency.

IrishLass :)
I was just going to mention the stir before pouring as IL mentions above, it can do wonders for loosening up your batter. I do not use SL so I am useless there, but temp can make a huge difference with fo's. I have one fo that 2 degrees in temp will mean my batter seizes or stays fluid enough to pour. Sometimes it takes a tiny difference to make a huge difference in soap batter, but only time and keeping records can help with such knowledge. That is why reviews only help so much.
I use sodium lactate and kaolin clay in all my recipes and I never have issues with them. I add my kaolin directly to my oils and blend it in before adding my lye water. Other clays need prepping. I would look at your soap temperatures but I'm leaning toward it being the fo. I worked with a fast moving fo yesterday but knew ahead of time and planned for it and worked in layers, one color at a time. :)
It's probably the kaolin clay that caused it. You can help by soaking your clay in oil for an hour or so before you add it so that the clay fully absorbs the oil.
Do you soak your clay in oil that is deducted from the total oil or do you use additional oil to soak your clay?