Liquid Soap Separating During Cook

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annashelt

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Hi there! I am desperate for some insight... I have made liquid soap several times from existing recipes and they've usually turned out beautiful. I am hoping to make my own recipe so I did some research and made a recipe I am almost certain is sound but it keeps separating during the cook period. It creates a great, hard trace that looks like stiff mashed potatoes with no liquid at the bottom, but if I cook it it will separate and become mushy and runny again, almost a liquid.

The other caveat is that if I do have success cooking it and it becomes a semi-stiff (not always as stiff as I like though) translucent paste (vaseline in appearance), during the dilution phase it will ALWAYS be very cloudy, suggesting unsaponified oils. I have no clue what I am doing wrong!! I have made other recipes with similar ingredients, lye concentrations and everything. Recipe and method listed below if anyone has any insight! Let me know if you need more information as well.

Recipe:
Olive- 15oz (60%)
Coconut- 6.25oz (25%)
Castor- 3.75oz (15%)
Distilled Water- 17.1oz
KOH- 5.7oz

Lye Concentration- 25%
Water as % of Oils- 68.42
Water to Lye Ratio- 3:1

I usually make sure my oils and lye mixture are about 140* while stick blending in increments of several minutes with some 5 minute rests in between. It usually takes around 30 minutes to come to trace. I usually leave the heat of my crock pot on high after it traces to begin cooking right away, could this be a mistake? I attached a video of the soap just after trace (I am talking to leave myself notes, so you could ignore that) Thank you so much in advance for any and all guidance!!!!
 

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DeeAnna

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"...a great, hard trace that looks like stiff mashed potatoes with no liquid at the bottom, but if I cook it it will separate and become mushy and runny again, almost a liquid...."

I'm not sure I see what's wrong with that, if I'm understanding what's happened correctly. You said you had your crock pot on the high setting. For most newer crocks, that is at least 180 F and possibly even higher. I don't know if you realize this, but soap will change state as the temperature varies. It's entirely reasonable for the paste to go from a stiff paste when warmish to a stirrable gel when hotter. Maybe you've managed to do that.

There's no real point to cooking at that high of a temp, to be honest. When your paste had reached a thick stable trace, you could have stopped heating the paste, covered the pot, walked away, and allowed it to finish saponifying while it cools down. The times I've used this type of method, my paste is zap free in 30 minutes or less. Given my experience, I don't bother cooking at high temps and/or cooking for long periods of time.

That said, I do think it's best to let the last tiny bit of saponification to finish up rather than start diluting the paste immediately -- maybe give it a few days.

And sometimes there are solids in the fats that don't saponify. They need to settle to the bottom or float to the top even if the soap paste is otherwise perfectly saponified without excess superfat. So it's good to let the diluted soap sit for a week or so and then remove the unsaponifiable solids, if you want to ensure the soap has the best clarity.

This blend of fats normally makes a clear, amber colored liquid soap when I've made olive-coconut-castor liquid soap. It would be best if you posted a photo to show the result you get, however, because words aren't as precise as pictures in this kind of situation.

Your recipe checks out at 0% superfat assuming the KOH purity is 90%. But if the purity is other than 90%, it's possible the soap is overly superfatted and that's contributing to the cloudiness. Do you know the KOH purity?

Did you zap test the soap paste? If you did, does the paste zap or not? The zap test doesn't ensure the soap will be clear, but it is confirmation that the soap does or doesn't have excess lye. If the soap is cloudy but the zap test is zappy indicating there is excess lye present, then the soap isn't fully saponified or the cloudiness is not due to excess superfat.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I'm not sure I see what's wrong with that, if I'm understanding what's happened correctly.
:thumbs::thumbs:
There's no real point to cooking at that high of a temp, to be honest
:thumbs::thumbs:
Based on my early experiments, testing at every stage, the Magic Bullet temp for LS is 160°F. That's when it reaches trace, is fully saponified, and dilutes easily.
When your paste had reached a thick stable trace, you could have stopped heating the paste, covered the pot, walked away, and allowed it to finish saponifying while it cools down.
Once again, good advice!
This blend of fats normally makes a clear, amber colored liquid soap when I've made olive-coconut-castor liquid soap.
I agree. No problem there. It's hard to figure this one out.
oils and lye mixture are about 140*
That might be part of the problem. In general, it's best to combine when oils are 160°F and lye solution is 140°F. Maintain 160°F while bringing to trace.
Olive- 15oz (60%)
Coconut- 6.25oz (25%)
Castor- 3.75oz (15%)
Ah HAH!!! -- 25% coconut + 75% olive and castor = requires a longer than average trace and long cook. If you reformulate to 50% coconut + 50% liquid oils, I think you would be much happier with the result.

Also, your paste looks like it lost too much water during the cook. That's an easy fix. I would nuke it for 5 minutes at 5 (half power) to warm it up, then add it to the crock pot. Add about 5-6 oz boiling water, turn the heat to LOW or MED LOW, put the lid on and walk away.
during the dilution phase it will ALWAYS be very cloudy, suggesting unsaponified oils.
Correct. Spot on!

It's going to take some time to reach that 160°F temp -- Not the water; but the paste. Once it does, it should come together in a homogeneous mass.

Come back in an hour to give it a stir to break up any chunks, continue to cook on low for however long it takes to absorb the added water... AND passes the clarity test.


HTH
 

annashelt

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Thank you SO MUCH for your wealth of knowledge everyone, I have a new batch that looks (fingers crossed) pretty good and looked good when I diluted a bit of it in some water so I'm hoping this one will be better!!!
 

Zany_in_CO

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Thank you SO MUCH for your wealth of knowledge everyone,
You're welcome.
I have a new batch that looks (fingers crossed) pretty good and looked good when I diluted a bit of it in some water so I'm hoping this one will be better!!!
Don't throw out the old one. Take @AliOop 's advice and add enough water to dissolve until a film forms on the surface. Once that happens, you're there. Just add a bit more water to incorporate the film and call it done. :thumbs:
nd sometimes there are solids in the fats that don't saponify. They need to settle to the bottom or float to the top even if the soap paste is otherwise perfectly saponified without excess superfat. So it's good to let the diluted soap sit for a week or so and then remove the unsaponifiable solids, if you want to ensure the soap has the best clarity.
Good advice from @DeeAnna. Don't miss this step. Although many LS'ers don't do it, I've been making LS since I first joined the Liquid Soapers Yahoo Group in 2004 and I still "Sequester" my batches for two weeks.
 

annashelt

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This is after its been heated too much/too long? I have yet to let this batch sit for a while, but I've had similar batches that never left this consistency and were never good for soap. 😩 It's very 'gel'-y and has almost no harder chunks. This is the thing that frustrates me most and the last thing I think I'm stumped on!!! @Zany_in_CO
 

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Zany_in_CO

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It's very 'gel'-y and has almost no harder chunks. This is the thing that frustrates me most and the last thing I think I'm stumped on!!!
Hmmm. It looks good to me except it does look softer than what I'm used to seeing. I think we're missing a piece of information. 🤔 I would do a clarity test. If it passes, then go ahead with dilution. If not, wait until it does pass before diluting. It may take days or weeks -- 2 at the most.

PS: I hafta say, I want to dip my fingers in and wash my hands with it! 😁
 
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