# Lye/water solution has precipitation in it - can I still use it or should I start over?

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#### Bari b

Supporting Member
I am attempting to make a batch of soap this morning, a trial of a new recipe. Here is the recipe in SoapCalc. It is based on a Lavender soap recipe from LovinSoap, but I didn't have Rice Bran Oil so I substituted Lard and messed with the percentages of oils very slightly, but kept the SF and water:lye ratio the same as the LovinSoap recipe. I also decided I would try some sugar in this batch to help with the lather as some have said in other posts. I dissolved the sugar, 1 tablespoon, in the distilled water, then let it cool.

I added the lye to the water as normal. I noticed it took longer to dissolve and I stirred for about 5 minutes. Now, a half hour later, I still have some white particles floating around in the solution when I stir. Should I go ahead and use it or toss this and try again?

Some thoughts -
• I did open a new bottle of lye. Could the lye have been bad?
• Does the sugar ever cause this? (It was totally dissolved prior to adding the lye to the water.)
• None of my other soaps have had a water:lye ratio this close to 1:1. Is that the problem? (Made worse by adding the sugar?)
So, can I salvage this? I am going to calculate what happens if I add a little more water to see if that will dissolve it, but am running it through soap calc first and waiting to hear back from you much more experienced soapers!

Thanks!

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#### Bari b

Supporting Member
I just ran this through SoapCalc again and the water:lye ratio is closer to 2:1, not 1:1. I am not sure why SoapCalc is showing this recipe like that as 162 grams of water is almost twice 85 grams of NaOH.

A ratio of 2.5:1 would call for a total of 211 g water with no other changes in the recipe that I can see.
A ratio of 2.8:1 would call for a total of 237 grams of water.

So I think I could add another 50-75 grams of water and see if those specks will dissolve. Otherwise I might toss this and start with a new bottle of lye and no sugar.

If I toss the lye solution, what is the best/safest way to dispose of it?

EDITED TO ADD: I added the additional 50 g of water and could still see some "floaties". After adding another 25 g (to make up the total 75 g) they are all gone.

I am going ahead and trying the soap but would really like to know everyone's thoughts on this!
Thanks!
Bari

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#### Mobjack Bay

Supporting Member
When lye solution is made it sometimes forms sodium carbonate flecks that float on the surface. If they're big you can strain them out, but more likely they're just little flecks and they won't be a problem in the soap. Did the temperature change in your house? NaOH could take longer to dissolve if the room got cooler. 2:1 water to NaOH is a fine lye concentration. If you increase the water/decrease the lye concentration you run the risk of getting "rivers" in the soap, especially if you use titanium dioxide.

eta: lye is drain cleaner and you can flush it down the drain with running water (and it may help to clean your pipes).

#### shunt2011

##### Moderator Emeritus
Supporting Member
I would just strain it as your adding it to the oils. It should be fine.

#### DeeAnna

##### Well-Known Member
Noooooo . . . . . . . don't do that! You have plenty enough water and your NaOH is fine.

I have no explanation for why the water:lye ratio in Soapcalc is 1:1 -- that's definitely not calculated correctly.

Given 2.98 oz NaOH and 5.7 oz water, the Soapcalc lye concentration is correct at 34%. The water:lye ratio should be about 1.94.

Sometimes NaOH reacts with carbon dioxide in the air to form sodium carbonate. That makes white specks like you describe. Lye granules are heavy; they don't float.

#### Bari b

Supporting Member
@Mobjack Bay - I mixed the solution outside, which was slightly cooler than here in the house. The specks were there outside and also still visible inside. Some of the solids would precipitate to the bottom. It is cool today, but no cooler than other days I have made soap. I didn't use titanium dioxide, so even though I did add the water hopefully it won't matter. Thanks on the lye disposal if I ever need it. Do you know if it affects septic tanks?

@shunt2011 How do you strain your lye solution? Any tips if it comes to that again?

@DeeAnna That is good to know about the sodium carbonate, and I would say that is what most of it was. I did initially have some particles that settled out to the bottom. When I added the extra water I didn't have the floaters or anything settled out on the bottom.

Thank you all so much for the help! I am learning so much here!

My daughter wanted a lavender soap, so I was experimenting. Probably too many changes at once for a new soaper! LOL. We did an ITPS with Purple Vibrance Mica and White Kaolin Clay, both from Nurture Soap. Here is the batch in the mold before I put it to bed.

#### Attachments

• Lavendar Trial.jpg
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#### shunt2011

##### Moderator Emeritus
Supporting Member
You can use a stainless strainer. I have a small one I use just for soap.

#### Bari b

Supporting Member
@shunt2011 Thanks! I will look for a stainless steel strainer for the future!

I took the soap out of the mold yesterday, but it was still too soft to cut. I was able to cut it today and here is how it came out - the different sizes of soap were because I wanted to see what cuts of the soap would look like from different angles - instead of just cutting the loaf vertically, I made a couple of cuts horizontally into the loaf (hope that makes sense!). My daughter and I were very pleased with this!

Thanks for all the help!

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