Lye Behaving Strangely – Splitting Liquid in Goat Milk Soap

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

DeborahH

Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I’ve been making CP soap for over 10 years, mostly for personal use and as gifts. I especially like goat milk soap, and over the years I’ve experimented with all the usual ways of making it with the least amount of fuss and labor. I eventually settled on a procedure that has generally worked for me:

I divide the liquid called for in my recipe into 2 parts (amounts based on a 33% lye solution):
  • Part I (50% of the total liquid for the recipe) is distilled water, which I use to dissolve the lye.
  • Part 2 (50% of the total liquid for the recipe) is goat milk concentrate, which I add to the cooled fats and blend well.
Then I add the cooled lye water to the fats/goat milk mixture and proceed as I would with any other recipe.

The result is usually excellent with this method. I’ve done it many times with total success.

Today, however, I ran into a snag. I mixed the lye (from Duda Energy, the product looks like beads) with the distilled water and it behaved as usual – fully dissolved, totally clear. I left it to cool and when I came back to retrieve it, it had lots of “debris” floating around – little white flakes of “stuff.” Could it be lye? If so, how could that happen? I’d already dissolved the lye completely.

I was concerned about using this batch of lye solution, so I made another, using a little more water than I had used in the first batch. I was very careful to confirm that the lye was fully dissolved and the solution perfectly clear.

Since everything was ready to mix except the lye solution, I used an ice bath to cool it down. When it got this second batch of lye solution down to around 130 degrees, I started to see bits of the same kind of stuff I saw in the first batch of lye solution.

Can anyone tell me what’s going on? Is that indeed lye, reconstituting itself? If so, why is it happening now? I have a call in to Duda, but no response from them yet.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
8,989
Reaction score
16,003
Location
US
What you are describing sounds like harmless soda ash, aka sodium carbonate (washing soda). It's produced from the interaction of the sodium hydroxide with the air. You can strain out the white flakes, or just blend them into your soap. Either way, your solution is fine to use.

You can prevent or at least limit this by covering your lye solution as it cools. That also helps prevent water loss from evaporation. :)
 

DeborahH

Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2013
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
What you are describing sounds like harmless soda ash, aka sodium carbonate (washing soda). It's produced from the interaction of the sodium hydroxide with the air. You can strain out the white flakes, or just blend them into your soap. Either way, your solution is fine to use.

You can prevent or at least limit this by covering your lye solution as it cools. That also helps prevent water loss from evaporation. :)
Thank you so much for this info, I had no idea. Will try covering and see if that helps!
 

soapme

New Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2023
Messages
4
Reaction score
2
Location
Indiana
What you are describing sounds like harmless soda ash, aka sodium carbonate (washing soda). It's produced from the interaction of the sodium hydroxide with the air. You can strain out the white flakes, or just blend them into your soap. Either way, your solution is fine to use.

You can prevent or at least limit this by covering your lye solution as it cools. That also helps prevent water loss from evaporation. :)
Thank you so much for this info, I had no idea. Will try covering and see if that helps!
I’ve experienced this as well and after making soap for roughly 8 years, I’ve decided that it’s a result of just needing a little extra water. It does mean just a little more drying time, however it seems to solve the problem of pellets/flakes settling in the bottom of the container that I’m dissolving my lye in. When I see the flakes/pellets in the bottom, I add just a little extra water and wait to see if that takes care of it. It doesn’t really take that much more water so I actually feel that don’t compromise the recipe.

Flakes vs pellets:
I also got flakes in the past, but the last time I ordered I didn’t realize there was such a thing as pellets and I find that I now need to measure my lye in the sink. Put my scale in there and the whole shot… in the kitchen sink. My children are all grown and have long since moved out, however I still worry about stray pellets/flakes flying around. Now I just wash them down the drain.
But the dryer sheet makes a lot of sense too.

I live learning from blogs. Lots of good suggestions! Keep ‘em coming!
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
8,989
Reaction score
16,003
Location
US
I’ve experienced this as well and after making soap for roughly 8 years, I’ve decided that it’s a result of just needing a little extra water.
If it looks like lint on top of the solution, it is harmless sodium carbonate (created from the reaction of NaOH with oxygen). In that case, you don’t need more water. You can just blend the lint into your soap batter.

However, if you are seeing grains or crystals at the bottom of your solution, then yes, you need to either add more water and hopefully dissolve them, or strain them out as you pour the lye solution into your oils. 😊
 
Last edited:

soapme

New Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2023
Messages
4
Reaction score
2
Location
Indiana
Yes it’s on the bottom. I had a feeling adding just enough water to dissolve it was the answer. Thank you for that confirmation!
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,266
Reaction score
21,795
Location
USA
Yes it’s on the bottom. I had a feeling adding just enough water to dissolve it was the answer. Thank you for that confirmation!

You should probably check your recipe to ensure it has enough water to begin with. Your recipe should never have a lye concentration of over 50%. If it does, that's your problem.
 
Top