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bubbles1970

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Hello,
I made a 1 lb batch of soap from a recipe in a book. After letting it set and gel and harden, I unmolded and cut it. I notice opaque, white swirls throughout the soap and on top. The soap traced and was evenly mixed when i put it in the mold. The white parts are not crystalized. I don't know if this soap is lye heavy or not? Now, after looking at the ingredients in the book and doing the calculations, it seemed like there was no lye discount built into the recipe. There was one T of Castor added to superfat, but I know without adequate lye discount that is not enough. Can these white 'chunks" throughout and on top be ash or is this just a lye heavy batch. I used olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil.
Thank you for your advice
 

SimplyE

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Hi and welcome!

Please post your recipe that you used, which may help determine if it is lye heavy.
 

bubbles1970

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10.5 oz olive
5.25 coconut
1 T castor
6 oz h2o
2.4 oz lye

Too Heavy???
thanks
 

SimplyE

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I am pretty new to this as well, but I ran it through a calc and it seemed a tiny bit high. The other thing that you can do is a "zap" test where you stick your tongue on the bar and if it zaps you (like a 9 V battery), it is lye heavy. The pockets could be pockets of lye, but you said that you had mixed it all very well, so this does not make sense.

With me being so new, someone else may be along to better answer your question as to the opaque swirls/chunks. Was your soap covered? which may contribute to ash if it was not covered. Wish I could be of more help, but I am sure someone with more experience will have a much more definitive answer :?
 

Deda

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Yep, assuming that 1 Tablespoon of Castor oil by weight is 1 oz or 25 grams then your lye discount/superfat level is only a shade over 2%.

Unless you have ACTUAL SAP values clinically tested and a digital scale with a resolution of .001 its not safe to go so low.

What kind of scale are you using? Do you mind telling us which book had the recipe?

Don't fret. I've been making soap for years and still I have a loopy batch every now and again. We all do.
 

pinkduchon

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My first batch of soap did the same thing - lovely white swirls throughout. The soap was fine, better than I expected with the first batch. As long as there are no shiny and cyrstally pieces in it, it should be okay. What was your temperature? That could be the culprit.
 

bubbles1970

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Temps were about 105. Can you explain why temps make such a big difference? I covered it with saran and the container had a lid and a towel. I did not place the film directly on top of the soap
 

SimplyE

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Covering with Saran directly on top will eliminate the ash, which forms because the soap is exposed to air.

You cover and insulate to get to gel. From what I understand, IF you have a lot of sugars, you just don't want it to get too hot, otherwise, you could burn the sugars. I am sure there are other reasons.

The other thing is that your soap might have a partial gel, which would give the soap an inconsistent look. A partial gel is only aesthetic. There are some situations/people that don't want to gel.

Did you try the zap?
 

pinkduchon

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Temps were about 105. Can you explain why temps make such a big difference?

The make up of your soap has different characteristics. Lower temps won't hurt nutrients, less likely to separate. Higher temps may saponify more in the pot. But your 105 seems right on. That is usually what I use. Was just a thought.
 

bubbles1970

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it might be a partial gel, b/c when I looked at it a few hours later, I could see the gel happening throught the middle of soap. I used a clear mold, so i could see it through the bottom. Than, the next day as it cooled, it got kind of swirly patterns as I speak of.
By the way, what is the benefit of gel or not gel? If you don't want it to gel, do you not insulate and cover it, so it stays cooler?
thanks all for your help
 

SimplyE

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I can't give you a good answer as to why not to gel, but some people would rather not gel. It apparently gives you a different texture to your soap. Gel will help with the curing and give it a good start. Some people don't want the heat because of tempermental herbs, sugars, etc. Somebody that has much more experience would be able to give you a better reason and hopefully can step in! :D

So yes, if you don't want it to gel, then you would not insulate it.

I am still curious about your lye content of your original question, though and if you have tested it to be sure that it does not give you the lovely ol' zap. :wink:
 

cdwinsby

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Not getting 'zapped' is definately a good sign! :D

Gelled soap has a slightly darker look to it...a more translucent look. Ungelled soap has a more chaulk like or opaque look to it. If you get a partial gel, it will usually be a gelled center with the rest being ungelled around it. It just means that the heat didn't rise enough to get the whole block of soap. This doesn't usually happen in a swirled pattern. At least not in my experience.

I'm curious...did you use a fragrance oil at all? Sometimes fragrances can give a swirl type design to your soap. Did you add anything else to the recipe? Color, botanicals, sugar, etc.

Also, was the castor oil warm or cold when you added it? Adding a cold product could cause some discolorization as well.

As for the lye heavy...

One thing to remember when making small batches....the smaller the batch the more accurate the measuring needs to be.

ie:
5% superfat = 2.326 ounces or 65.947 grams
2% superfat = 2.4 ounces or 68.03 grams
0% superfat = 2.449 ounces or 69.418 grams

That means there is only 0.123 ounces or 3.471 grams difference between a 0% percent superfat and a 5% superfat. Throw in some rounding and you end up with only 0.1 ounces difference. Never mind the oil that gets measured but doesn't quite make it off the spatula or measuring bowl etc. It's pretty hard to get an accurate amount of superfat in small batches....I figure a little more is better than too little and I always run a recipe through a soap calculator before trying it.

Let your soap cure for the month and if, at that time, it feels too harsh on your skin you could always use it for laundry soap.
 

bubbles1970

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Hi There and thank you for the advice. The more I read about the wonderful world of soap, I am starting to understand the chemistry involved and I believe you are right. The 1 lb batch did not gel all the way through. The outer edges and top are mostly opaque and the rest of the soap is translucent. It is on the shelf and a week old. I made another batch with different oils and I wrapped it in a towel just like the first batch, when I unmolded it, only the center gelled, the rest of the soap was opaque white. I realize there was not enough heat present to gel the whole batch. So,,,,, is gelling important? If so, why? and how do you retain enough heat? I am starting to think that 1 lb batches are not big enough to produce enough heat.!!!!Is this the case and do the batches need to be bigger to produce more heat? Makes sense huh? Also, would putting it in a deeper mold help retain heat?
To answer your ???? the castor oil was actually put in with all the other oils in the mixture.


thanks so much
 

cdwinsby

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To gel or not to gel....doesn't matter which you choose. It's really a matter of personal preference. I prefer to gel but some like to have the whiter look of ungelled soap.

When I first started making soap, I had a few batches that had a partial gel. What I found was that when I placed the soap (even wrapped up in wool blankets) next to an exterior wall in the colder months I didn't get a full gel. It differs for everyone but I find that putting a lid on the soap and wrapping the soap up in a wool blanket then placing it in a draft free area assures me a full gel every time....even 1 lb batches. One thing to watch for with small batches though....use a stick blender to get to trace quickly so the mix doesn't cool too much and put it to bed right away. This will help it get a gel. I've heard of some people putting a heating pad set to low under the wrapped mold to help the soap gel.
 

carebear

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Deda said:
Yep, assuming that 1 Tablespoon of Castor oil by weight is 1 oz or 25 grams then your lye discount/superfat level is only a shade over 2%.
Well a tablespoon is actually half an ounce by volume - or about 15mls which you can VERY ROUGHLY estimate as grams so you'd have even less of of a superfat than that.
 

Deda

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carebear said:
Deda said:
Yep, assuming that 1 Tablespoon of Castor oil by weight is 1 oz or 25 grams then your lye discount/superfat level is only a shade over 2%.
Well a tablespoon is actually half an ounce by volume - or about 15mls which you can VERY ROUGHLY estimate as grams so you'd have even less of of a superfat than that.
You are so right! :oops: Thanks

Best reason to never soap by volume, always by weight!
 

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