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Is this brine soap a bust?

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peachymoon

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Hi all,

I've posted about an issue with brine soap previously. I had some spots on my first batch that looked like undissolved fine pink himalayan salt, and some of the bars eventually developed DOS so I trashed the batch out of precaution. When I tested the soap (before DOS), I loved the lather, so I decided I'd have another go, but I'd use a different salt.

This is the post about the first soap: Undissolved Salt? Spots in soap.

For batch #2, I used fine sea salt. I mixed it into the lye solution right after dissolving the lye. I hoped it would dissolve with the heat, but, again, there was some undissolved salt left on the bottom. I stirred and stirred and stirred, and it just wouldn't all dissolve. Last time, I mixed it all into the batter anyway (not knowing how sharp pink himalayan salt feels), but this time I ran it through a strainer and hoped for the best. The photos are the resulting soaps. They look even crazier! o: Those are the bottoms of the soaps. The tops don't have these splotches.

The recipe for batch #2 is: 50% Coconut Oil, 30% Rice Bran Oil, 10% Shea Butter, 5% Apricot Kernel Oil, and 5% Castor Oil. I tried dissolving 1 oz. of salt in the solution. Maybe it's too much?

Is this undissolved salt, is it normal? It looks like so much, and the even distribution makes me think maybe it's something else other than the salt? Has anyone else had this experience? How can I better incorporate salt into future batches? I have all the questions! It's not pretty, so I wanna know how to improve it, but I also wanna make sure it's safe to use.

Thank you for your time and I appreciate any feedback!
 

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GemstonePony

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If you looked at your trace before pouring- did the drizzle disappear into the batter, make an outline in the batter, or float on top before sinking in?
 

peachymoon

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If you looked at your trace before pouring- did the drizzle disappear into the batter, make an outline in the batter, or float on top before sinking in?
Hmm. I believe I got it to a light trace before adding anything and this actually started to accelerate once I got the colors and fragrance in. I think it accelerated because I soaped without a thermometer & it may have been a little hot still (oops!), but I also had never soaped with that fragrance before (Blackberry from Aztec Candles). It was like pudding by the time I finished getting it into the mold.
 

GemstonePony

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Hmm. I believe I got it to a light trace before adding anything and this actually started to accelerate once I got the colors and fragrance in. I think it accelerated because I soaped without a thermometer & it may have been a little hot still (oops!), but I also had never soaped with that fragrance before (Blackberry from Aztec Candles). It was like pudding by the time I finished getting it into the mold.
My 2 cents is a Good news/Bad news/good news:
The salt wouldn't have had a chance to settle out of suspension, so you're not looking at deposits/that's no longer strictly a brine bar/Congratulations! You've made a salt bar! Not what you were going for maybe, but not a bust, and I've seen a number of salt bars with lighter colors on the edges as the water evaporates out, leaving behind more salt in some places than others.
Since it's a fairly low amount of additional salt, you could probably follow brine bar cure times instead of salt bar curing guidelines.
 

Obsidian

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I see some bubbles, a lot of ash and maybe some stearic spots. All are just cosmetic and won't make the soap unsafe.
Try gelling your soap next time, it could help with the ash and stearic.

When making brine soap, you dissolve the salt first then the lye.
 

peachymoon

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My 2 cents is a Good news/Bad news/good news:
The salt wouldn't have had a chance to settle out of suspension, so you're not looking at deposits/that's no longer strictly a brine bar/Congratulations! You've made a salt bar! Not what you were going for maybe, but not a bust, and I've seen a number of salt bars with lighter colors on the edges as the water evaporates out, leaving behind more salt in some places than others.
Since it's a fairly low amount of additional salt, you could probably follow brine bar cure times instead of salt bar curing guidelines.
Lol! Okay, I can totally see that, appearance-wise. As long as it's safe, I'm happy! 😂
 

peachymoon

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I see some bubbles, a lot of ash and maybe some stearic spots. All are just cosmetic and won't make the soap unsafe.
Try gelling your soap next time, it could help with the ash and stearic.

When making brine soap, you dissolve the salt first then the lye.
Thank you! I tried to CPOP this batch, but it may not have worked because these were in a silicone mold and I turned the oven off as soon as I put them in.

Do you have any pointers for dissolving the salt? I'm guessing I dissolve it in hot water and then cool it down before making the lye solution?
 

Obsidian

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I just use room temp water, the salt always dissolves just fine. You could always strain your brine if there are bits left you don't want in the soap.
Really, a few undissolved grains of salt isn't going to hurt anything.

Did you unmold these quickly? Were the lighter parts visible at unmolding or did it develop over time?
I'd try washing the ash off the little puck, see how much is ash, how much if any, is stearic spots.
 

peachymoon

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I just use room temp water, the salt always dissolves just fine. You could always strain your brine if there are bits left you don't want in the soap.
Really, a few undissolved grains of salt isn't going to hurt anything.

Did you unmold these quickly? Were the lighter parts visible at unmolding or did it develop over time?
I'd try washing the ash off the little puck, see how much is ash, how much if any, is stearic spots.
I think I unmolded these a few days after making them. I'd usually unmold the day after, but I made them on a weeknight at my boyfriend's and had work early the next day, so I didn't see them again til the weekend. It was already like this when I unmolded. I think the bars have gotten slightly paler since then, but I'll have to take a closer look.
 

TheGecko

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I've never made a brine soap (yet), but I have made regular salt soaps and they look like that. They also accelerated once everything got mixed in and I was doing a little bit of plopping towards the end.

@Obsidian beat me to it, but I was going to suggest taking part of your water and dissolving your salt into it and then adding in the rest of the water and your lye. Or maybe making both separately and then adding to your oils/butters.
 

DeeAnna

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If you try to dissolve table salt in a solution of NaOH + water, you will only be able to dissolve about 6 grams of salt in 100 grams of lye solution (speaking from memory here so my number might be off, but it's somewhere around 6%). Any extra salt will not dissolve and will remain as larger crystals.

If you dissolve salt in plain water, you can dissolve roughly 30 grams of salt in 100 grams of water (again speaking from memory, so I'm probably a bit off on the number, but it's close.) Quite a bit more salt can dissolve in plain water than in lye solution.

If you make a salt-water brine first and then add NaOH to the mixture, the liquid will turn white and look like milk. That's some of the salt precipitating (solidifying) out of the lye solution and forming tiny crystals. These small crystals won't be scratchy in the soap, unlike regular size salt crystals.

This is how many people make a salt brine for this type of soap -- they don't worry about the milky mixture if it happens. If these tiny salt crystals settle out, just mix them back into the liquid and go ahead to make soap.

Others prefer to add only enough salt that will dissolve in the lye solution. In that case, if they've measured the right amounts, their lye-salt-water mixture should remain clear or only slightly cloudy.

Regardless of your preference, I'd say it's going to be easier to dissolve salt in plain water and then add the lye, rather than the other way 'round. If for no other reason than you ensure you don't have any scratchy salt crystals in your brine soap. And if you ever decide to add sugar, you'll have the right method for doing that too -- add sugar to water before adding lye.
 

peachymoon

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I've never made a brine soap (yet), but I have made regular salt soaps and they look like that. They also accelerated once everything got mixed in and I was doing a little bit of plopping towards the end.

@Obsidian beat me to it, but I was going to suggest taking part of your water and dissolving your salt into it and then adding in the rest of the water and your lye. Or maybe making both separately and then adding to your oils/butters.
Ok, it's good to get more confirmation they're looking like salt bars. Thank you. ^^
 

peachymoon

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If you try to dissolve table salt in a solution of NaOH + water, you will only be able to dissolve about 6 grams of salt in 100 grams of lye solution (speaking from memory here so my number might be off, but it's somewhere around 6%). Any extra salt will not dissolve and will remain as larger crystals.

If you dissolve salt in plain water, you can dissolve roughly 30 grams of salt in 100 grams of water (again speaking from memory, so I'm probably a bit off on the number, but it's close.) Quite a bit more salt can dissolve in plain water than in lye solution.

If you make a salt-water brine first and then add NaOH to the mixture, the liquid will turn white and look like milk. That's some of the salt precipitating (solidifying) out of the lye solution and forming tiny crystals. These small crystals won't be scratchy in the soap, unlike regular size salt crystals.

This is how many people make a salt brine for this type of soap -- they don't worry about the milky mixture if it happens. If these tiny salt crystals settle out, just mix them back into the liquid and go ahead to make soap.

Others prefer to add only enough salt that will dissolve in the lye solution. In that case, if they've measured the right amounts, their lye-salt-water mixture should remain clear or only slightly cloudy.

Regardless of your preference, I'd say it's going to be easier to dissolve salt in plain water and then add the lye, rather than the other way 'round. If for no other reason than you ensure you don't have any scratchy salt crystals in your brine soap. And if you ever decide to add sugar, you'll have the right method for doing that too -- add sugar to water before adding lye.
This clarifies a lot, thank you. I'll do some research to figure out the number, next time I'll dissolve it in water first and use just enough to fully dissolve.
 

DeeAnna

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This clarifies a lot, thank you. I'll do some research to figure out the number, next time I'll dissolve it in water first and use just enough to fully dissolve.
The amount of salt you can dissolve in a lye solution depends on temperature and the lye concentration, so there's no one single answer to this problem. I finally found the info I was looking for, so I now have better numbers to give you.

For lye solutions at typical room temperatures, only about 1.5% to 5% by weight of salt (NaCl) will fully dissolve in the lye solution.

The lower amount is dissolving the salt in a 35% lye concentration and the larger amount is at 30% lye concentration. In other words as the NaOH becomes stronger, the less salt can dissolve.
 

atiz

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I love brine bars and agree with DeeAnna's advice.
I use the split water method for dissolving the salt and lye; it's very fool-proof. Mix the lye with equal amount of water, and then in the remaining water (I have it usually lukewarm) mix as much salt as it dissolves (in my experience it's around 25-27%, but I don't measure it just make a saturated solution then strain). You can then either mix the two jugs of water together, or, what I do, is stick blend the salt water into the oils before adding the lye.
Never had any problems with precipitating salt, and it's super easy :).
 

DeeAnna

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I suspect the salt still precipitates, but the effect is disguised. The precipitation will happen only after you mix in the lye, and by that time the whole thing has turned into opaque soap batter so you can't see the milky effect of the precipitated salt anymore. I'm sure it works fine this way!

I add EDTA to the fats rather than to the lye solution for similar reasons.
 
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