Learning More the Hard Way

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Kathymzr, Aug 1, 2019.

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  1. Aug 17, 2019 #21

    Marilyn Norgart

    Marilyn Norgart

    Marilyn Norgart

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    that was the first soap that riced on me :) I can smile about it now and I have another bottle waiting for me to get up the nerve to try again
     
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  2. Aug 18, 2019 #22

    Mobjack Bay

    Mobjack Bay

    Mobjack Bay

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    These things happen to all of us at the beginning, so hang in there! If you think about it, the number of ways to make soap is infinite (or close :)) when you consider the oils, liquids, additives and techniques. You just need to find the ways that work for you. Here are some tips this newbie can share, in case you haven’t tried them:

    I was sometimes forgetting an additive, so I started using a worksheet that has spaces for writing down key things you plan to add or want to record for a recipe.

    I also have a soapmaking notebook that I use to plan out my soaps. I use pages at the back of the notebook to record the standard information I want to keep handy, like how much of a particular additive to use ppo. I write in pencil so I can change the numbers if I revise my thinking or find better information. It might be easier to keep everything in a spreadsheet or text file, but I don’t because I already spend too many hours a day at a computer.

    Are you using the liquid sodium lactate from BB? The entry is my notebook says to add it to the lye water once it has cooled down below 120F. I checked the BB site and here’s what it says, exactly: “For cold and hot process soap, add 1 tsp. per pound of oils to the cooled lye water.”

    I didn’t go back to check on any methods you mentioned, so if this is not adding anything, just skip it! At the top of my list of important variables that affect how fast a recipe moves are recipe type, soaping temperature and stick blending.* I didn’t realize at the beginning just how important it is to have a feel for how these variables affect the behavior of a particular recipe. I now know that I have “slow” recipes and “fast” recipes for the methods I generally use. I’m only just now, after about 40 batches of soap, really learning how to tweak these variables in order to speed up or slow down a recipe in a way that works for me. I may change how much I SB, change the starting temperature, or add a mildly accelerating FO. I have learned to be a stick blender minimalist with any new recipe until I get a sense of how it behaves. I just give it a couple of short pulses to mix the lye water and then hand stir it a bit to see what it does. How cool I can start is harder to predict with new recipes (IMHO) because some recipes with palm and butters will form steric acid crystals if the batter is too cool and hard oils in general are prone to false trace. Sometimes I start a bit warmer because I want a slow recipe to move faster, or because I know the batter temperature will drop quickly when I divide it into smaller containers for coloring. Generally, if I want to do swirls or thin layers by pouring, I am using a slow moving recipe, starting at 85-90F, SB’ing to a very stable emulsion (or very, very light trace) and using a non-accelerating FO or EO.

    * I have been using a 33% or higher lye concentration almost since the beginning and have been gradually upping most of my recipes to 35-37% over the last few months. I haven’t noticed any change in how the recipes are behaving. I mention this because others have found water discounting/lye concentration to be an important variable for the speed of trace. The only place I notice a difference is for Castile, where I now use a lye concentration of 40% or higher.
     
  3. Aug 18, 2019 #23

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

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    Thanks! Making soap is like a live musical performance. After all the preparation and practice, putting it all together is the thrill! That’s why I like to make soap.

    I’ve learned a ton from everyone on the Forum. I do put the SL in my lye water normally, so I don’t forget it, but I was letting the lye water cool down naturally. So the lye water was thickening by the time it went into the oils. Now I set my lye water pan on a Tupperware of ice that I keep in the freezer and it cools quickly. Then I can add the SL just before pouring into batter. That one time I poured it into the colors, because I had forgotten it, fortunately worked just fine.
     
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  4. Aug 18, 2019 #24

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

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    I’m going back to the mainland soon, and have resolutions. Thankful for the notebooks I’ve been keeping. Will make worksheets for performance logs with photos. No internet here, just phone. Trying to use up the oils I have. Less to pack. And it won’t be so hot there. Looking forward to setting up a new soaping station!
     
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  5. Aug 18, 2019 #25

    earlene

    earlene

    earlene

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    Kathy, where are you going on the mainland and for how long? My husband had a friend who lived in Hawaii a few months out of every year, during the off season of his job. Sounded like an ideal situation to me.
     
  6. Aug 22, 2019 #26

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

    Kathymzr

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    I was there from May till yesterday. Hawaii Island temps in summer are up to 90 but the humidity is 500%. AC is a must. I loved the long stay as living there is different than being a one-week tourist. I recommend Sept-May — a bit cooler, but still warm. Supplies shipped are expensive. I brought half of my soap supplies home, and paid $170 in heavy luggage fees. But it would have cost that much to mail! It was a grand experiment.
     

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