Me vs DOS (and more)...the epic battle

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Well-Known Member
May 16, 2017
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South Florida
Some of you may remember my attempts to figure out what caused a round of DOS'ing in my soaps. I decided to post the battle in case it helps anyone else! It all starts a few months ago....

Same recipe I've been using pretty much since I started, hundreds of bars and a ton of batches successful. I do HP mostly, with the occasional CP thrown in when I'm testing FO's or doing a high coconut soap (learned that the hard way). Suddenly I was getting quickly forming DOS on 90% of my bars out of nowhere! The only unaffected bars were the spicy/incensy scents (dragons blood, pumpkin, etc). Turns out I was also having FO discoloring issues (lemongrass I see you) that looked a lot like DOS....lesson one, yellow orange spots may not be DOS so trust the nose.

It was not a good time for this to happen, I had holiday sales to stock up for and was dealing with other life issues leading to very little patience. I had not changed much as far as my processes, and the fact that it wasn't 100% of the bars was throwing me. So, rather than go piece by piece with my limited patience, I went whole hog on a redo.

I started with my oils-I eliminated olive oil completely and subbed it with rice bran oil. I had noticed the last couple of bottles of olive I purchased from Sam's seemed , hrm, "different". I can't say how, just a different consistency/color? Olive wasn't a main focus in my line and another local soaper had switched over to rice bran oil a year before with no issues -so I tried it. (I recently did a 100% olive bar and it DOS within 2 that helps cement it).

Then I looked at where the DOS was-starting mostly around the edges in wrapped and unwrapped soaps (shrink wrapped after cure). Someone suggested my molds may be contaminated with a bad oil-I use the silicone molds because try as I might I just don't like lining wooden ones. I dragged them outside and hrm, there was a film on them I hadn't noticed! Every mold was scrubbed twice in very very hot water with a lot of dawn. I rinsed like crazy until they squeaked! I even took a toothpick, chewed the end soft, and used it to poke in the corners and scrub. One mold still had a slight sticky feeling so it went out the door. Now, I usually soak them overnight after using and scrub once in hot soapy water and rinse till they squeak, so I'm not sure where the film came from.

I then treated all crockpots and lids were treated the same way, soak scrub rinse repeat. I noticed a couple of lids may have had some residue between the metal rim and the glass, so I hit those with the toothpicks. (Note: I'm now trying the plastic wrap method with good success to eliminate the lids)

Then I read that someone mentioned their stickblender seems to get oils trapped in it and they start getting DOS after a while. I looked close at mine and there is an area where the shaft turns that could def trap oils-so a new stickblender was purchased. Worth the $20 (sales!). Next up will be looking for a one piece shaft/bell type.

I also noticed that it seemed to be one side of the curing rack doing it worse/faster...I pulled the plastic needlepoint canvas off and some of it was sticky. Confession, I never washed/changed it between batches because by the time I put the soap on it it was usually a few days old and I just never thought of it! Took it all down, tossed it in the recycle bin, and put new out. Cheap enough not to worry about it.

I then made several unscented/uncolored test batches in case it was a FO/mica issue, even going so far as trying 0% superfat-ended up lye heavy , not sure why, but I won't do that again. My poor tongue! Blech. The "normal" superfatted batches were doing ok, so I then made regular batches with FO and micas. It had seemed most of the green ones were doing it, but then I realized most of mine were colored green so that was an unfair comparison....which has now led to a coloring redo LOL. So far so good on the normal productions!

So, I suspect bad olive oil-contaminated the molds-contaminated the curing shelf-got into the crevices of the stick blender-made my soaping life miserable. Possibly some issues with FO (I cannot find a lavender that doesn't DOS within six months) but those I can deal with on a case by case basis.

In the meantime, I also realized the humidity was higher than it had been due to not needing to run the a/c-with a/c its around 65, without it was closer to 80% (I'm in south Florida). A room in the house suddenly became available, so I moved the curing rack in there and invested in a window a/c and a deumidifer. I tried a portable a/c first (already had it) but it heated up the room more than the dehumidifier I swear! Now the soaps are more comfortable than I am! I only run both half the day (daytime when I'm home) due to being slightly paranoid on leaving equipment running, but according to the device I have the humidity is between 35-50 and the temp is 70-75 doing this so far.

During all this, I started re-evaluating my packaging. Over time, I had gone from hand wrapping in wax paper to shrink wrap, and even though plenty of shrink wrapped bars were fine I was thinking that applying the high heat might've sped up the spoiling process. Now, don't go attacking this, it's just my theory based on my climate and soaps. Plus where I'm selling is a "crunchy" type area, and plastic isn't very eco friendly. My most recent change is waiting for an order of boxes to come, and I'll be switching over to window boxes as packaging to eliminate the heating up stage.

And, to add insult to injury, I realized the strings on my new cutter were rusting! Now, very few of the bars DOS'd on the flat edges, and the end edges didn't even touch the strings in some cases because I hand cut them, but that can't help. I replaced the strings and have started using beeswax after a cutting session to coat them against any corrosives after a good wash.

I'm hoping this is the end of the epic battle until I try some exotic oils or etc......I've given enough donations to the soap gremlins for a while! So if you are dealing with DOS, maybe what I've gone through would help.
Great detail. I sure hope your luck changes! I do surely identify with the high heat and humidity thing. For me the two combined at once were an issue one summer.

And although I really love those plastic mesh for keeping the soap off a solid surface, I do not enjoy waiting for them to dry after each wash. Even though I hang them up (just like my Dad hung up his photos) to dry, it takes forever for the water to evaporate out of those little holes in the needlepoint mesh! But I tried something new with one yesterday that really sped up the drying process. I shook it vigorously over the bathtub to get as much of the water out of the little holes as possible and that puppy was dry in record time.

And I have also been re-thinking the shrink wrap idea (except for MP) and recently packaged some soaps in plain raw looking window boxes. I don't really like the the look of these boxes, though, so will wait and see; maybe they will grow on me. Thing is I ordered double last order of shrink wrap, so it will last me a log time, and I don't really do a lot of MP.
I was going to do the plastic mesh but I couldn't find them big enough.
I decided on thick Craft paper in a Huge roll. Cost like $25 for like 900'
This way I can change out the paper after a batch or when it needs to be changed.
My shelves are 18" deep on 2 of them so this works out easy.

I have to say that I think your conclusion of the OO may be the issue. But the other things are also something that make you say "hmmm" ;)

Let us know of any other updates as I am always curious why some get DOS and other not.
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The only time in 10 years I've gotten DOS was when I used 40/42 lavender. There must be a reason for this as I've heard others say the same thing, but I don't know why it is so for me.
I use fairly open weave cotton tea-towels to line my shelves and change them regularly.
I also use disposable gloves when handling my soap.
I wrap some of my soap in real cellophane (made from wood) as it is supposed to breath and it is eco friendly but only do that just before they go out. Cellophane (made from wood) can't be shrink wrapped.

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