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Is this soda ash??

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peachymoon

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Hi everybody!

Yesterday I checked on some soaps I made over the weekend. I have been having this issue lately, with the tops of my soaps looking like this. I did try looking through older posts to see if I could find something similar to this, but I couldn't find anything. The tops of my soaps have these little white balls on them, it doesn't look like other photos of soda ash I've seen. It has a very grainy texture on top, but another loaf with the same issue was very smooth on the inside when I cut it.

I tried taking a steamer (well, an iron with a steam mode) to that other loaf last week and it didn't do anything. I also wasn't sure how much/how long to steam the tops for, so I may have not done enough. (Is getting the tops of the soaps wet bad? Should I use distilled water to do it?) I ended up cutting the tops off because it's very unsightly, but I really like these swirls and would like to salvage them! Send help!

More relevant info on these:

I soaped at ~90* F and CPOP'ed these. I turned the oven on at 170* F, then left it on for a while once the loaves were in. The green & white one was in with the oven on for about 25-30 minutes and the red loaf was in for about 15 minutes before I turned the oven off, then they stayed in there for a few days.

My recipe for these was: 25% Coconut, 25% Palm, 14% Rice Bran, 10% Safflower, 8% Olive Oil, 8% Shea, 7% Cocoa, 3% Castor. It's a lot, I know! This is me trying to use up my remaining Safflower & Olive Oils and trying to keep all the stuff in Soap Calc in the green. 😅
 

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MegaSoap

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Yes this is soda ash, but it's not too bad actually! Your CPOPing and steaming probably helped that.

ETA: When you cut it, of course make sure the dots do not continue down through the soap. If so, it could possibly be lye heavy. But to me from these pics it looks like minor soda ash, and hopefully when you cut in it will be smooth and beautiful.

ETA: I don't have a steamer, but yes I'd suggest steaming for longer to see if that helps.
I'm not sure about distilled water for the steamer, but I can't imagine tap or hard water doing anything just to the tops, it will mostly evaporate.

I tend to get ash no matter what I do, but it I either plane the tops, or you can take a paper towel and hold the bars or loaf under the faucet and rub the top with a paper towel gently under the water for 30 sec or so until it rubs off. Then I let it dry out (don't put the wet bars on paper towels cause they will stick and leave a texture. Parchment (or I just put them on the countertop or table). This usually removes it.

It's okay for the tops to get wet, they'll dry out. Try not to touch any wet parts so as to minimize imprints, as soon as it's wet it is more fragile of course. When they dry the surface will have more sheen because it's been exposed to water, no big deal just wanted to mention that.

These are really beautiful, btw! What scents did you use? :)
 
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peachymoon

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@MegaSoap Thank you so much for the advice!! I will try steaming & the paper towel method this weekend. 🤗

And thank you so much! They are both scents from WSP: Lime Mint and Black Magic Sangria. They are both smell super yummy, I have no regrets!
 

peachymoon

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@Zing Ah yes! Rubbing alcohol. I have some I can try too. For insulation, I have to try to pour the soaps shorter so when I cover them, they can be more airtight. 😅 Thank you!
 

linne1gi

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After pouring, I spray with rubbing alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, cover with cardboard, then towels. I don't get soda ash ever since I started this.
I’m guessing the alcohol isn’t doing much if anything here. Save your money. What you are doing is covering your mold which keeps the carbon dioxide in the air from reacting with the unreacted lye in your soap. That’s the sure thing. When carbon dioxide reacts with unreacted lye (in the soap), the reaction produces soda ash or sodium carbonate. Keeping the soap covered until it has fully saponified, up to 48 hours.
 
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