Lye Mix and Oils Temperature- Does it really matter?

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Tais, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. Nov 18, 2017 #1

    Tais

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    Hi everyone!

    I am still not sure if mixing lye and oils at a certain temperature makes a big difference.

    I used to mix my lye and oil at around 40C, few weeks ago I try to just mix them and see if it would change anything on the soap.

    So far, I can't see much of a change, the colour looks different, but I did change the percentage of one of the oils....

    I would love to know what other soap makers think about that :)

    Have a great weekend!
     
  2. Nov 18, 2017 #2

    Susie

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    I only worry about temperature if I am swirling. If I am not, I soap as hot as possible to speed trace. Or I mix the lye and water and use that to melt my oils. So, no, you really need not worry about temperature.
     
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  3. Nov 18, 2017 #3

    SaltedFig

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    I did try using a thermometer once, a few years after I started soaping, just to see what the fuss was all about and promptly decided it was a waste of time.

    In winter I tend to soap a bit hotter, because I like working with the warm. In summer it's just as cool as the oils will go without setting. I masterbatch my lye, and I don't warm that at all.

    So I agree that you don't need to worry too much.
     
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  4. Nov 18, 2017 #4

    Kittish

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    About the only thing I make sure of, temperature wise, is that my lye solution is below 150*F. Other than that, as long as my oils are fully melted I don't worry about it.
     
  5. Nov 18, 2017 #5

    The Efficacious Gentleman

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    It's not such a big deal, unless you want to achieve something particular.

    I understand why the beginner guides suggest a temperature to aim for - if they didn't, there would be a huge question mark for many people. Better to have a safe, middle of the road figure in there than nothing at all
     
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  6. Nov 18, 2017 #6

    Susie

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    While I agree that the beginner guides need to say something, I think they could say, "don't go above X if you want to swirl" or, "be sure you stay above X if you are using solid at room temperature oils". This repeated emphasis on having it 110 F to 120 F is totally misleading, and I think it adds one more unnecessary confusion to the whole starting-to-soap process. I know it did for me.
     
  7. Nov 18, 2017 #7

    The Efficacious Gentleman

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    Aye, but then would others be over challenged by talk of swirling and the various options open when it comes to temps? Maybe something like "For this recipe as a starter, we suggest mixing your oils and lye at around 40 Celsius. While the temperature at which you should mix is not a set rule (we will post another guide for exploring the reasons for soaping at certain temperatures later) this temperature is a good point to aim for in this case."
     
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  8. Nov 18, 2017 #8

    penelopejane

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    If you soap too cool you might have problems with swirls of unmelted hard oils and stearic spots.
     
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  9. Nov 18, 2017 #9

    Susie

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    How many times have we answered the same question? Loads and loads. (Nor that it did not need to be answered again, there are new newbies reading the forum every day!) I think beginners who are intelligent enough to follow a recipe are intelligent enough to understand swirling and hard oils. Or hopefully so, anyway.
     
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  10. Nov 18, 2017 #10

    The Efficacious Gentleman

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    Hopefully!

    I totally agree that just stating a temperature with nothing more is often an issue, but temperature is such a deep topic that it can't be covered well as a side topic in some instructions for making soap. Either way, it's better than just saying "oils and lye have to be mixed at X degrees"
     
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  11. Nov 18, 2017 #11

    Arimara

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    I find that if you are making a milk soap or if you are using certain oils, like lard, temperature can make a difference. If I made a lard soap, I try to make sure that I only heat that oil enough to where it is completely melted, not much over 120F (the lye will be anywhere between room temperature to 100F). If I make milk soaps, the lye and the oils will be roughly between 100 and 110F. You may be able to work around that with milk powders but they still contain sugars in them.
     
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  12. Nov 18, 2017 #12

    Tais

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    Thanks for everyone that put the comments here.

    I know that temperature will be important depending on what you intend to design.

    What I wanted to know was the opinion regarding temperatures. Cause I've noticed there are lots of books where some people are really specific about temperature. One I read a while ago, the author was very specific in mixing lye and oils in the exact temperature.

    So, thanks again for your comments :) And sorry if this question is being answered over and over again. I've searched in the forum before I post my question and I couldn't find it. I try to be more specific next time ;)

    Enjoy your Sunday! Is a lovely one here in South Australia!
     
  13. Nov 19, 2017 #13

    DeeAnna

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    There is one safety issue about temperatures I want to mention. I know it's an unlikely scenario, but someone posted on SMF about this exact issue not all that long ago. Apparently the soaper's crock pot was improperly heating the oils way too hot. I'd guess the temp of her fats at the time she started soaping was somewhere around 200 F (95 C) or more.

    The soaper slowly poured cooler lye solution into this very hot fat. The lye solution naturally dropped to the bottom of the container and rapidly heated and turned into steam. The resulting geyser of steam blew hot lye and fat all over the kitchen. It was a minor miracle no one was hurt!

    Moral of that experience -- do not add coolish lye to really hot fat! You'd be safer adding boiling hot lye to cool fat than the other way around, not that I'm recommending that either.

    I know this is not the situation y'all are talking about here, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Sometimes people try some extreme methods (the "fluid hot process" method comes to mind) and problems do happen (like malfunctioning crock pots) so I thought it was worth mentioning that there are some outer limits to keep in mind.
     
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  14. Nov 19, 2017 #14

    lenarenee

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    Recently I've soaped with lye water that had been sitting for a couple of days. The oils were warm enough to be pleasant on the skin. All of those soaps, at cutting,
    felt a little dry and powdery/gritty feeling instead of creamy. I normally use warm lye solution. However, I had also used sodium lactate (rarely use it) at 1 tsp per lb of oil. I've wondered if there is a connection in texture change.
     
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  15. Nov 19, 2017 #15

    Susie

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    Do not apologize! We are happy to repeat the information! And you asked it in a way that brought up more than a yes or no answer. There are new people lurking that are not going to ask this very important question. They need the information, also. Thank you for asking it!
     
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  16. Nov 19, 2017 #16

    Tais

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    Thank you, Susie :)

    Legend!
     
  17. Nov 19, 2017 #17

    SunRiseArts

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    I could be wrong, but the one time I soap too hot, if you dare to over mix, be ready for a huge big blob impossible to manage. I had to throw mine in the crockpot that particular time.
     
  18. Nov 19, 2017 #18

    Arimara

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    I know this was an accident but for future reference, if anyone finds that they over heated their oils, they are better off waiting however long it takes for the oils to cool down and removing the oils from the heat source. I try not to deviate from more than a 10 degree difference.

    By the way, I have added really hot lye (The temp stopped rising) to cooler oils before. Nothing happened outside of faster trace.
     
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  19. Nov 19, 2017 #19

    DeeAnna

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    I don't think the person realized there was a problem until it was too late. Yes, cooling down the fats would be the solution if you caught the problem in time to make a correction.

    Yes, that is exactly what I would expect. But it's still not a wise thing to do, if only to prevent the batter from tracing unexpectedly too fast.
     
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  20. Nov 19, 2017 #20

    psfred

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    As DeeAnna said, too high a temperature for the fat and the lye will cause the water to boil when you mix them, and a lye volcano is not a good thing! Just for safety, it's a good idea to have oils and lye at similar temps and to mix while adding the lye to the oil -- if for some reason it wan't to blow up, fast mixing and not adding any more lye until it settles down will keep the volume under control.

    Otherwise, unless you have the temps too low and solid fats start to precipitate out temperature probably only affects the rate at which you get trace (along with everything else that affect rate of trace).

    Safety first. Keep your oil temps below 200F, even for 'fluid HP' or similar things, and be prepared for a volcano if you insist on using hot oils. I've had one batch foam up, but that was because I was making shave soap at high temp -- the reaction of stearic acid and lye is exothermic. I stopped adding lye and stirred it down, not really an issue, but I was on the lookout for just that reaction due to the high initial temp. I use cooler oil now, I'm too old for excess excitement while making soap.
     
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