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Melting Oils with Lye Solution Help!

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GraceDarlingSoaps

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Dear Fellow Soapers,
I decided to try and melt my solid oils with the warm lye solution for the first time today. My solid oils consisted of 43% Palm, 20% Coconut and 6% Shea butter. The solid oils did not all melt this way and the mixture became quite cool with lumps of solid oils, I suspect mainly the Shea and Coconut were the problem oils. I tried squashing them with 2 spoons, then put the bowl in a warm water bath, finally stick blended even before I added the liquid oils. This seems to have worked. However, I had a little ricing after I added Vanilla FO. I suspect this was from the FO, but wonder if maybe this occurred because the solution was too cold? Should I have microwaved the caustic and solid oils when I saw that they were not going to dissolve? Up till now I have always microwaved the solid oils to melt them before mixing with liquid oils. Thank you to all the experienced soapers out there for your advice,
GraceDarlingSoaps
 

DeeAnna

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It's part of the learning process, I'm afraid. In your recipe, you are using all solid fats -- palm, CO, shea. If I made this recipe, I would have at least softened the fats in the microwave first so I know the fats will be melted or at least very goopy soft after stirring in the lye solution.

Here's my thought process to help me decide whether to pre-soften or not:

The lye solution in any soap recipe is only about 1/3 of the fats by weight, so even if the lye is very hot, it can only do so much to melt the solid fats in a recipe high in solid fats. If the fats are at cool room temp (70 F or 20 C) and the lye is, say, 180 F (80 C), the lye cannot supply enough heat to melt -- or even fully soften -- all the fats.

The problem is that the lye must not only to raise the temperature of the fats, but must also supply enough energy to force the phase change from solid to liquid. That's a lot to ask of a little bit of lye solution!

If I want to add my hot lye to help with the melting (and I do this a fair amount), I think about the temperature of my fats and the type of fats before adding the lye. If I think the hot lye is enough to really soften up all of the solid fats, I go ahead.

But if I'm soaping a high lard recipe (and I do this a lot) and my lard is straight from my refrigerator or cool pantry, I make sure the solid fats are at least softened first before adding the lye. Then I know the lye can do the rest of the job.
 
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GraceDarlingSoaps

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Thank you so much for your comments, after a few hours the soap had masses of oil on the top as you will see in the photo, so I SB'd and microwaved and ended up with lumpy mash potato! I had split the batch and the other part which had EO not FO had formed sunken pockets so this is currently in the slow cooker. This is all a learning curve! ImageUploadedBySoap Making1444490395.067796.jpgtImageUploadedBySoap Making1444490412.638405.jpgImageUploadedBySoap Making1444490426.151829.jpgImageUploadedBySoap Making1444490435.933628.jpgImageUploadedBySoap Making1444490435.933628.jpg
 

DeeAnna

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I would say you're doing the right thing to get this batch to turn into soap. Good thinking! Next time you will have this experience to guide you and I hope it goes MUCH better!!!!
 

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