Misbehaving FOs in different types of recipes

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How much does the recipe matter when it comes to the effects of accelerating FOs on trace behavior? For example, if an FO misbehaves in a relatively balanced recipe, will it also misbehave (just as much) in a 100% lard or 100% olive oil recipe? I’m hoping that someone on the forum has done side-by-side comparisons. We know that temperature makes a difference when working with an accelerating FO and lye concentration has been highlighted by many (although it doesn’t seem to matter much for my recipes), but I can’t recall reading anything about how/if the base oils/fats influence acceleration due to FOs. I’m asking because I really should do something with the dozens of fragrance samples I have sitting around. The choices are to test them or to take my chances. I would rather test them, but I want it to be cheap and easy. I realize that I can do side-by-side comparisons of the behavior myself, but I thought I would ask first.

Edited to add:
Well, I guess I should have googled it first!

“If the fragrance accelerates slightly and you tweak the recipe to include more slow-moving oils, that can also counteract the acceleration. But if the acceleration is extreme enough, no recipe or method can prevent it.” (source)

As a sidebar, I stumbled across a new-to-me way to check for a stable emulsion/very light trace by layering batter in a spoon and checking for crisp edges around the top layer, as described here.
 
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I made a recipe that is strictly for doing swirls. It has a lot of slow moving oils and it does seem to help. One thing I’ve discovered recently is that if I see reviews saying it does accelerate and I use my regular recipe but I don’t stick blend the fragrance oil can behave better.
 
How much does the recipe matter when it comes to the effects of accelerating FOs on trace behavior? For example, if an FO misbehaves in a relatively balanced recipe, will it also misbehave (just as much) in a 100% lard or 100% olive oil recipe? I’m hoping that someone on the forum has done side-by-side comparisons. We know that temperature makes a difference when working with an accelerating FO and lye concentration has been highlighted by many (although it doesn’t seem to matter much for my recipes), but I can’t recall reading anything about how/if the base oils/fats influence acceleration due to FOs. I’m asking because I really should do something with the dozens of fragrance samples I have sitting around. The choices are to test them or to take my chances. I would rather test them, but I want it to be cheap and easy. I realize that I can do side-by-side comparisons of the behavior myself, but I thought I would ask first.

Edited to add:
Well, I guess I should have googled it first!

“If the fragrance accelerates slightly and you tweak the recipe to include more slow-moving oils, that can also counteract the acceleration. But if the acceleration is extreme enough, no recipe or method can prevent it.” (source)

As a sidebar, I stumbled across a new-to-me way to check for a stable emulsion/very light trace by layering batter in a spoon and checking for crisp edges around the top layer, as described here.
@Mobjack Bay , I just read that Micamomma article you linked to on tracing. It was really good. But, now, I have all these questions!!
On both my batches that I have made, I combined my oil and lye water when they were at 100 & 109 degrees.
It seems that the tutorials I watched said cool to between 90- 120 degrees (that's quite the range, so I picked a middle ground) but to not let the oil & lye be more than 10 degrees in temperature from each other.
This article on tracing recommended 21 degrees C or 69.8 F. That seems super low in temperature! But, I would love to have a slow tracing batch that would give me time to do something. At what temperature do you combine your oils & lye water?
One article I read says put ice cubes in your water so that it is really cold. I didn't do that.
I'm wondering, at what temperature do you combine your oils & lye water? Do you cool your water down with ice or anything?

The Micamomma article talked about false tracing. This past weekend, my batter traced REALLY fast. I didn't even have a chance to stick blend it. I was just stirring in the colorants with a spatula and boom! It was thick and left a pretty pronounced trail.
I thought the batter looked grainy. I was a little concerned that the lye water didn't mix well but I was afraid to stir it any more because it got thicker by the second. But, the next day, when I unmolded it and cut it, it seemed to look fine. Softer than my last batch which was really firm within about 5 hours, but this second recipe I used this weekend had more water.
Micamomma didn't say if the batter can leave a trail if it is a "false" trace. I couldn't tell from the picture if there was or wasn't a trail.
Do you know if a false trace could leave a trail?
Thanks in advance.
 
@akseattle
I did one room temperature (73-75 F) soaping experiment a few years ago to compare results using a lard-based recipe and a palm and shea-based recipe. In both cases the hard fats were melted absolutely clear (likely reached at least 150 F) and allowed to cool overnight and in both cases the fats were cloudy/almost sludgy when I added the room temperature split water and lye. Both batches started out in what looked like false trace and thinned out as they warmed up after a little stick blending. The room temp lard base made what I would call perfect soap, but the palm and shea soap was full of stearic spots.

At this point, and for my typical recipes and batch sizes of 500-1500 g of fats, I don't have any issues with stearic spots when I let the melted fats cool to around 90-95 F, but can start at 85 F and get good results using my lard recipe and methods. The water and lye additions will initially drop the batter temp in the range of 2-4 degrees F, but the temp starts to climb as soon as I start stirring (by hand). When I use soy wax (GW 415) as the longevity fat (for palmitic and stearic), I start with the melted fats in the 115-120 F range. I can drop the fat temp by 5 degrees F for any of my recipes if I know a fragrance, essential oil or an additive is going to accelerate or heat up the soap. I haven't had false trace in a long time. My recipes are typically 20% or less coconut oil, 29-30% palmitic+stearic, include sugar at 1.5% of fat weight and are made at 40% lye concentration.

I would never chill a 40% lye solution because it would likely cause the lye to precipitate.

I can't recall if false trace can leave a trail, but I imagine it could given how thick the soap gets.

As a bit of a side bar, I started experimenting with slow soaping, which to me means hand stirring to a very, very light trace after a couple of split second bursts with the stick blender (think "on-off", that quickly). I've made two batches so far (tallow-based) and the texture of the finished soap is absolutely gorgeous. I'm mentioning it now because there was a very visible grainy stage for both batches that transitioned to lovely smooth creaminess while I was hand stirring.

HTH!
 
As a bit of a side bar, I started experimenting with slow soaping, which to me means hand stirring to a very, very light trace after a couple of split second bursts with the stick blender (think "on-off", that quickly). I've made two batches so far (tallow-based) and the texture of the finished soap is absolutely gorgeous. I'm mentioning it now because there was a very visible grainy stage for both batches that transitioned to lovely smooth creaminess while I was hand stirring.
@ Mobjack Bay, my normal recipe is a lard heavy one (60% lard, 20% CO, 15% avocado, 5% castor) and while I think it helps slow trace with fast tracing FOs, it does not eliminate it or avoid SOS with FOs that insist on it (eg, Sweetcakes True Rose, a great rose which is impossible to use with more than one color or any design, I get SOS on that even with my recipe if I try anything other than the most simple process.)

Regarding the slow soaping you're talking about above, do you pour at that very light trace or can you hand stir to it to that very light trace and then let it sit for a while before you pour? The texture sounds great but if you need to wait for a thicker trace for designs or need to hand stir in colors do you think it would still maintain that texture? I am practicing waiting for my desired trace (rather than stickblending too much), but I almost always wait until a good bit after emulsion/light trace to pour to avoid muddiness.
 
@not_ally Once I had the consistency where I wanted it to be, I split the batter into cups and added and stirred in the micas and FO, which took a little time, maybe 5 minutes? I used very friendly FOs (Bonsai from Oregon Trails and Karma from BeScented). Then I had to pour the batter from the paper cups into a split cup (the kind used for acrylic pours) 2+ times for each batch. As far as I can recall, the batter consistency didn’t change much over the time I was pouring. Out of habit, I’m sure I must have given the batter in the cups an occasional stir, scraped soap off the sides of the cup, etc.

I was surprised that the consistency of the last of the batter in the cups didn’t go all sludgy/grainy on me. In fact, I was able to pour the leftovers from both batches into finely detailed molds.

Here are two of the bars as examples. You’re looking at the top, unplaned face of a 2” x 3” bar, a close up of that one and the octopus soap made from the leftover batter. Looking at the photo of the full bar, I can see that the soap didn’t gel flawlessly at the outer edge, but my eye can barely make that out when I look at the actual soap. I’m very happy with the line definition. The octopus soap is straight out of the mold with no clean up at all. The batter for the second batch (not shown) may have been a tad thinner and I used complimentary colors, but I still managed to achieve good definition throughout most of the soap. Will post more photos when I have a chance!

IMG_0604.jpegIMG_0607.jpegIMG_0609.jpeg
 
Wow, those are absolutely dreamy. I can't believe the octopus was a "leftovers" pour. It is flawless with respect to, well, everything - colors, theme, definition. Your results with the bars really confirm what I now think is best, ie, using the SB as little as possible and using time and hand stirring to maximum advantage. It is just hard to do when you are impatient and you want to be able to start the swirl!

I love OT's Bansai, which is a good thing since it is probably the strongest/stickiest FO I have encountered. Are the bars from a slab swirl?
 
I like my oils to be around 100-115F before mixing my lye. I no longer use any ice and generally make lye a day or two ahead. I master batch my lye. I prefer my batter to be past light trace before pouring, but sometimes I’m impatient. If I have used a FO in the past and I know it can slow trace then I will use my stick blender in my regular recipe.
 
@not_ally Yes on slab molds for both batches. I made the blue batch in my 6" square test mold as 2" x 3" by approx. 1" thick bars. The second batch was poured like a slab into an unusual loaf style mold I have that is 5" x 10", which lets me cut into 6 bars that are 2.5" x 3.33"

@not_ally And, thank you! Yes, I may also be a convert to hand stirring.
 
@not_ally Once I had the consistency where I wanted it to be, I split the batter into cups and added and stirred in the micas and FO, which took a little time, maybe 5 minutes? I used very friendly FOs (Bonsai from Oregon Trails and Karma from BeScented). Then I had to pour the batter from the paper cups into a split cup (the kind used for acrylic pours) 2+ times for each batch. As far as I can recall, the batter consistency didn’t change much over the time I was pouring. Out of habit, I’m sure I must have given the batter in the cups an occasional stir, scraped soap off the sides of the cup, etc.

I was surprised that the consistency of the last of the batter in the cups didn’t go all sludgy/grainy on me. In fact, I was able to pour the leftovers from both batches into finely detailed molds.

Here are two of the bars as examples. You’re looking at the top, unplaned face of a 2” x 3” bar, a close up of that one and the octopus soap made from the leftover batter. Looking at the photo of the full bar, I can see that the soap didn’t gel flawlessly at the outer edge, but my eye can barely make that out when I look at the actual soap. I’m very happy with the line definition. The octopus soap is straight out of the mold with no clean up at all. The batter for the second batch (not shown) may have been a tad thinner and I used complimentary colors, but I still managed to achieve good definition throughout most of the soap. Will post more photos when I have a chance!

View attachment 76454View attachment 76455View attachment 76456

@Mobjack Bay Wow, those are beautiful and detailed swirls! I can't wait to see more of you photos!
Is that octopus a sweetmolds mold? What great colors you selected for that marine theme. I'm getting very inspired!
Thanks for all the information you shared about your experiment with room temperature soaping and slow soaping.
To be honest, I'm wondering why I even bought a stick blender. I had read that it could take 4-5 hours of stirring and beating without a stick blender to get to trace. I don't know what those authors were stirring with - like their baby finger or something?-- all I know is that my focus is going to be on slowing down tracing, not speeding it up.
One last question: Is your recipe for the above soaps lard based? Those are nice bright white swirls. Or, did you use titanium dioxide?
 
I like my oils to be around 100-115F before mixing my lye. I no longer use any ice and generally make lye a day or two ahead. I master batch my lye. I prefer my batter to be past light trace before pouring, but sometimes I’m impatient. If I have used a FO in the past and I know it can slow trace then I will use my stick blender in my regular recipe.
@AliensrReal , if you make your lye/water a couple days ahead of time, what temperature is it when you mix it with your oils? At most, wouldn't it only be room temperature? So, what is the temperature difference in your lye/water and your oils when you blend them?
 
@akseattle - thank you!

The mold came from gbhouse in Taiwan. I used a tallow-based recipe: 41% tallow, 25% high oleic sunflower, 17% rice bran, 14% coconut, 3% castor; 3% SF, 40% lye conc, with sugar and sodium citrate at 1.5% of total fat weight; I've also made this recipe with aloe juice (the kind from Walmart). The recipe is fairly white on its own, but I added a small amount of Winter White mica from Nurture to the white portion. Although the coconut oil is on the low side in this recipe, tallow contributes small amounts of the fatty acids that make big bubbles (lauric & myristic) and the resultant soap makes enough bubbles for me and many of my soapy people without being drying at all.

I have not tried hand stirring recipes made with other fats, but I would expect some of them to be very slow, especially lard-based recipes, any recipe that is mostly olive oil and probably recipes that are low in coconut oil. More water/ a lye concentration lower than the 40% I used may slow things down even more. @not_ally uses lard (as mentioned above) and is minimizing stick blending and then waiting and watching for the batter to get to the right trace. If the process with your recipe turns out to be too slow for your level of patience, you can always give it another pulse of two with the stick blender and then wait and watch again.
 
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@AliensrReal , if you make your lye/water a couple days ahead of time, what temperature is it when you mix it with your oils? At most, wouldn't it only be room temperature? So, what is the temperature difference in your lye/water and your oils when you blend them?
Idk what my temperature difference is. I’ve never found it to interfere with soaping when my lye is at 70F and my oils are around 115F.
 
@AliensrReal , really? I can't tell you what great pain I have gone through to try to make sure my oils and lye water are within 10%. I just looked up one of SoapQueens tutorials. She says " For most soapers, the preferred temperature of soaping lye and oils are 120-130 ° F. In addition, many soapers and books believe it is helpful to have the lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other." Curiously, she doesn't say WHY it's helpful to have lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other. I'm going to have to post that question.
 
@AliensrReal , really? I can't tell you what great pain I have gone through to try to make sure my oils and lye water are within 10%. I just looked up one of SoapQueens tutorials. She says " For most soapers, the preferred temperature of soaping lye and oils are 120-130 ° F. In addition, many soapers and books believe it is helpful to have the lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other." Curiously, she doesn't say WHY it's helpful to have lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other. I'm going to have to post that question.
I just responded to this on your other thread. Basically, it's can be helpful to newbies so they avoid false trace. Other than that, waiting for those matching temps doesn't serve any purpose.
 
@AliensrReal , really? I can't tell you what great pain I have gone through to try to make sure my oils and lye water are within 10%. I just looked up one of SoapQueens tutorials. She says " For most soapers, the preferred temperature of soaping lye and oils are 120-130 ° F. In addition, many soapers and books believe it is helpful to have the lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other." Curiously, she doesn't say WHY it's helpful to have lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other. I'm going to have to post that question.
I stopped doing it years ago and have been much happier since.
 
How much does the recipe matter when it comes to the effects of accelerating FOs on trace behavior? For example, if an FO misbehaves in a relatively balanced recipe, will it also misbehave (just as much) in a 100% lard or 100% olive oil recipe? I’m hoping that someone on the forum has done side-by-side comparisons. We know that temperature makes a difference when working with an accelerating FO and lye concentration has been highlighted by many (although it doesn’t seem to matter much for my recipes), but I can’t recall reading anything about how/if the base oils/fats influence acceleration due to FOs. I’m asking because I really should do something with the dozens of fragrance samples I have sitting around. The choices are to test them or to take my chances. I would rather test them, but I want it to be cheap and easy. I realize that I can do side-by-side comparisons of the behavior myself, but I thought I would ask first.

Edited to add:
Well, I guess I should have googled it first!

“If the fragrance accelerates slightly and you tweak the recipe to include more slow-moving oils, that can also counteract the acceleration. But if the acceleration is extreme enough, no recipe or method can prevent it.” (source)

As a sidebar, I stumbled across a new-to-me way to check for a stable emulsion/very light trace by layering batter in a spoon and checking for crisp edges around the top layer, as described here.
@AliensrReal , really? I can't tell you what great pain I have gone through to try to make sure my oils and lye water are within 10%. I just looked up one of SoapQueens tutorials. She says " For most soapers, the preferred temperature of soaping lye and oils are 120-130 ° F. In addition, many soapers and books believe it is helpful to have the lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other." Curiously, she doesn't say WHY it's helpful to have lye and oil within 10 degrees of each other. I'm going to have to post that question.
Hello. Been making castile soap, exclusively. Any variation is limited to 6 top comodegenic oils blended with the olive oil. (Olive, almond, hempseed, shea, avocado, jojoba). Number one reason, simplicity. Number two, does not have issue with known drying of the skin that can occur with palm and coconut oils. Careful research of these facts has enabled me to make literally over 500 batches with no fails. Not deviating from these steps seems to be the reason. I've had rebatches because of appearance but not total fails of the soap itself. Religiouly keeping my temps at about 120 degrees +- the temp between liquids (water or aloe vera). With goat milk keep temps around 95 degrees. Mix lye mixture first. When lye mix 1 temp nears 125 degree mark the oil(s) are heated in microwave in 1 minute increments until reach the desired temp. Trace always seems to take 4-7 minutes. Some essential oils seem to affect the time but have noticed if added at first appearance of a trace all goes well. If full trace, it starts to harden a bit more quickly. This may be a bit more info than desired but if a super simple way to make soap is of interest castile is the way to go and easy to manage temps. In the long run, taking the extra few minutes to monitor the temps save time overall. Good luck!
 
Hello. Been making castile soap, exclusively. Any variation is limited to 6 top comodegenic oils blended with the olive oil. (Olive, almond, hempseed, shea, avocado, jojoba). Number one reason, simplicity. Number two, does not have issue with known drying of the skin that can occur with palm and coconut oils. Careful research of these facts has enabled me to make literally over 500 batches with no fails. Not deviating from these steps seems to be the reason. I've had rebatches because of appearance but not total fails of the soap itself. Religiouly keeping my temps at about 120 degrees +- the temp between liquids (water or aloe vera). With goat milk keep temps around 95 degrees. Mix lye mixture first. When lye mix 1 temp nears 125 degree mark the oil(s) are heated in microwave in 1 minute increments until reach the desired temp. Trace always seems to take 4-7 minutes. Some essential oils seem to affect the time but have noticed if added at first appearance of a trace all goes well. If full trace, it starts to harden a bit more quickly. This may be a bit more info than desired but if a super simple way to make soap is of interest castile is the way to go and easy to manage temps. In the long run, taking the extra few minutes to monitor the temps save time overall. Good luck!
Thank you for sharing all that. It’s so interesting how practices differ among soapers. I’ve been soaping for well over a decade, and have never had a soap fail due to temperature mismatches.

My recipes are usually high in lard or tallow, with a bit of CO and a bit of a liquid oil. High OO soaps don’t agree with my skin, but it’s a favorite of my dear friend, so I make a bastile recipe for her on a regular basis. To speed up trace, my oils for the bastile are at least 130F (sometimes up to 150F) and my masterbatched lye is room temp. Never any issues or failed batches for me. 😀
 
Hello. Been making castile soap, exclusively. Any variation is limited to 6 top comodegenic oils blended with the olive oil. (Olive, almond, hempseed, shea, avocado, jojoba). Number one reason, simplicity. Number two, does not have issue with known drying of the skin that can occur with palm and coconut oils. Careful research of these facts has enabled me to make literally over 500 batches with no fails. Not deviating from these steps seems to be the reason. I've had rebatches because of appearance but not total fails of the soap itself. Religiouly keeping my temps at about 120 degrees +- the temp between liquids (water or aloe vera). With goat milk keep temps around 95 degrees. Mix lye mixture first. When lye mix 1 temp nears 125 degree mark the oil(s) are heated in microwave in 1 minute increments until reach the desired temp. Trace always seems to take 4-7 minutes. Some essential oils seem to affect the time but have noticed if added at first appearance of a trace all goes well. If full trace, it starts to harden a bit more quickly. This may be a bit more info than desired but if a super simple way to make soap is of interest castile is the way to go and easy to manage temps. In the long run, taking the extra few minutes to monitor the temps save time overall. Good luck!
Hello to all. Just read feedback describing trace. Single cream is perfect definition of my attempt to share when I add FO to my castile soaps. For what ever reason, as long as I hold to my 120 degree target and add at the single cream appearance my soap never gets too hard quickly. If I add at a thicker trace, I have gotten a gloppy pudding which doesn't pour well. Need to spoon into my molds. Thank you!
 
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