Need a little help with ricing (I think)

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Oct 21, 2021
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First off, I'm a noob, so be gentle. I'm already ticked and frustrated.

So I spent months researching the hot process method of making body soap and was sure I had my recipe down. I rendered the back fat into some beautiful snow white lard. My goal was to make good utilitarian unscented straight lard body soap with zero EO or FO. I used the MMS lye calculator, warmed the lard to about 100-110 deg mixed the lye and water, cooled it a bit, then mixed. Never got trace. After cooking on low about 4 hrs and never getting trace I have what I now know as ricing. Not wanting to lose the batch, and knowing all my weights and measures, I came across nature soap dot com. For the same weight of lard their recipe called for a bit more water and lye. I scaled it, mixed it, and got trace in about 5 min. I let it cook a bit and poured it to some molds to cure. They are still drying so I haven't tried them yet. Now that I have learned the zap test, I might try that.

So, next batch today, I started too late but the lard was warm. I only used the naturesoap dot com lye calculator for the recipe today. Did the same process as before and while stirring it got thick and gloopy, but never got trace. I stirred every 5 minutes for 2 hrs and it was basically turning out like my last batch. Like cottage cheese in grease. I had to go so I just dumped it into a steel bowl to dink with later and maybe I wont waste my products or time.

Of note, trying to be cheap and low tech, I am using a wooden paint stick to stir. I have more time and energy than money. But is my failure because of not using a stick blender? I mean honestly, how did humans make soap before the stick blender was invented? So I will go buy one if that is what it takes. I really need to find my way in this endeavor. I have alot of sheep tallow, beef tallow, and hog fat to render and 99% of it is destined for soap in one way or another.

For future batches I need to know what I am doing wrong. Then I need to find a basic recipe I can use to try to rebatch this second batch, or bring it back from death as it is now.

PS, I am using Rooto brand sodium hydroxide.

All help and advice appreciated.
First thing, what you have is separation, not ricing. Ricing is caused by FO and it looks like pudding with rice bits in it, not a oily oatmeal.
I've had issues with lard separating in HP, I do think a stick blender would help immensely. You can get a cheap one at walmart for around $20. I believe a stick blender is essential, especially if plan on making lots of soap.

It almost seems like the lard is finicky about the higher temps. Try soaping around 90 - 95 and keep your crock on low. Another option is to try CP.
When I make HP which isn't often, I bring it to trace in a bowl just like I would when making CP then add it to a warm crock pot. Lard traces slow but if its not traced within 10-15 minutes, something is wrong.

If you want to continue with hand stirring, ditch the wooden stick. The lye will break the wood down and you will eventually get splinters in the soap. A silicone or stainless steel spoon or even a stainless wisk is a better option.

I wouldn't add anything to the second batch. If its unsavable, you don't want to waste more supplies on it. You can try to warm it up and beat it into submission with a stick blender or even a wisk but a wisk probably won't be enough, Honestly, I would toss it. We've all had to toss a batch or two or three.

In order to really help, we need your whole recipe with the weights used. I suspect its a combo of no stick blender and cooking it too hot.
Thank you much.
I'll ditch the wood stick. I will look for a 1 piece silicone spatula. I'll see if I can scrounge up a stick blender too. I will heat up the lard on "warm" and see what the temp is on that one. "low" was about 110. That might be the ticket. The second batch that never got to trace was;
lard-1030 gr
lye-195 gr
distilled water-500 gr

In a few days when I get back to it, I might dump it back in the crockpot and warm it up and blend like mad and see what happens. looks like I need the practice.
Well I found a decent stick blender. So maybe Monday I will give it another shot. Keep in mind this is a 100% lard soap. Should I use the lye calculator from naturesoap dot com, MMS, or the calculator at the top of this forum?
I've only use for my recipes. The calculator on this forum would be my second choice.
Figure out which one you like and stick with it.
Because the calculators can have minor variations, it's best to stay with one calculator so that your results are consistent.

I looked for, but came up with nothing. Perhaps you meant If so, that's a good basic calculator that can be less confusing for beginners.

If I may make a suggestion... you will get more bubbles from your 100% lard soap if you dissolve 1-2 T sugar per pound of oils (PPO) in some of your water, before you add the lye. You could also use honey or molasses, but they can be a bit trickier since they heat up the batter. That may not matter to you, since you aren't doing colors or swirls. In fact, it may even help you trace faster (heat does that).

EDIT: Obsidian beat me to it, so you've heard it from two of us... pick one and use it consistently.
But is my failure because of not using a stick blender? I mean honestly, how did humans make soap before the stick blender was invented?;dr: They made soap by stirring boiling lye+fats with a wooden stick. And they afforded to be incredibly patient by today's standards.

lard-1030 gr
lye-195 gr
distilled water-500 gr
These 24% appear like a quite low lye concentration. It is so much easier to start with a higher lye concentration/less water (say, 35% or 360 gr water). Even if you do HP in the narrower sense (close to the boiling point of water/lye) and you lose quite some water through evaporation. Just expect to add a little water at a time when things become too difficult to be stirred easily.
“Cottage cheese in grease” sounds familiar – reverse emulsification of a slow-moving recipe. It will turn out just fine, it's a matter of patience (or a stick blender).
Just as an update, I turned the crockpot back on low a few days later. Once warmed it had a hard brick of hard soapy lye floating in a greasy moat. I started crushing and breaking it up to about where it was a few days prior. Then I hit it with the stick blender. It went from slop, to trace, to fluffy moist cornmeal in about 60 seconds flat. In hindsight I should have added some water to maybe slow it down but we packed it into molds and let it set overnight. It was too hard and brittle to cut with a knife but the usable bars I got out of the batch are quite decent. Constant use doesn't seem to make it wear at all.

I have made subsequent batches using the stick blender and it makes a world of difference. Once I stir in the lye/water combo into the lard, and stick blend it, everything is manageable and predictable from there. I pour mine into molds shortly after getting trace. The pucks and bars are solid white, and quite a hard density. I am quite happy with these results and appreciate all the help the forum provided.

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