New soaper here – Question about oil temperature

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by SoapSisters, May 15, 2019.

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  1. May 15, 2019 #1

    SoapSisters

    SoapSisters

    SoapSisters

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    Hi Everyone, A friend and I are teaching ourselves to make cold process soap. I'm Cheryl. I'm so happy to have found this forum! You are all so kind and generous with your support!

    I have a question about oil temperature. I've been reading here on the forum that people soap at room temperature. In our last two batches, we included ingredients (beeswax in one and cocoa butter in another) that melt at pretty high temperatures. After melting, should we let the oil mixture cool down before adding our lye water? If I let the oils cool down, I am concerned we would get "false trace", the oils solidifying again before they actually saponify after the lye is added. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.
     
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  2. May 15, 2019 #2

    KristaY

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    Hi Cheryl and welcome! Soap making is pretty addictive so be prepared!

    Most people who soap at RT (room temp) use ingredients that are fine at lower temps. Lower temps give more time to do pretty swirls and play with design. It can also help if you use FO's (fragrance oils) that can be a bit naughty in accelerating trace (like some florals and water scents). If you're using beeswax, RT probably won't be a great idea but since I don't use it in CP, someone more experienced than me can advise you.

    I like to soap at about 110-115 F but I use palm oil so soap a bit higher to avoid stearic spots. Those who use high lard percentages soap at RT without a problem. False trace can be an issue if you aren't skilled enough to recognize the difference. Newbie did a great short video of stick blending and when to recognize trace. I'll just have to find it......
     
  3. May 15, 2019 #3

    SaltedFig

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    Hi Cheryl and welcome to SMF!

    I like using beeswax and cocoa butter in my soaps too, and I usually melt them together, but separately from my main (liquid oils), as they need a bit of extra heat to get them fully liquid.
    The (naturally) liquid oils I just warm a little, so they aren't cold when I add the beeswax/cocoa mix.
    I pour the melted beeswax/cocoa blend into the liquid oils (stir while you are doing this). The mixture should stay clear - if it goes slightly cloudy, that's ok, but if you get hard bits of wax/cocoa, the liquid oils were too cool and you will need to warm up the mixture just a little, until those are gone and the oils go clear again.

    So the main queue is visual - you can let the oil/fat/wax blend cool just until it starts to get a little cloudy (that is the coolest you want to let the oils get)
    The slight cloudiness will disappear with the extra heat from the exothermic (heat generating) saponification reaction.
    It is a little bit of a juggling act, to get the mixture warm enough to keep the beeswax melted, and cool enough that your saponification reaction doesn't get sped up too much from the extra heat, but it is possible to do (although some folk prefer to hot process their beeswax soaps, because of this fiddliness, I like the smooth finish that a CP beeswax soap gets - it's worth the cooling-to-cloudy wait! :)).

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  4. May 15, 2019 #4

    Relle

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    Welcome Cheryl :).
     
  5. May 15, 2019 #5

    KiwiMoose

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    Hi Cheryl,
    I use soy wax in all my recipes so I have to be careful not to get too cool. However, I like to keep my batter as fluid as possible to do swirls and things. I found it difficult when starting out, but with 6 months of soaping under my belt I seem to have the temps just right now. Unfortunately I don't use a thermometer so I cannot say exactly what temp I'm at - but I would estimate about 40 degrees celsius. My lye is probably about the same or a bit cooler when I add it.
     
  6. May 15, 2019 #6

    SoapSisters

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    Thanks for such a detailed reply! I really appreciate it - and I think this will really help me. I agree with you about the beeswax: the finish was very smooth!
     
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  7. May 15, 2019 #7

    SoapSisters

    SoapSisters

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    You've only been soaping for six months?! Wow! I see the pictures you post, and I can't see myself doing such complicated and beautiful things only a few months down the road.
     
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  8. May 15, 2019 #8

    atiz

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    Completely agree with SaltedFig. I also use a little beeswax in almost all my batches. Melt the hard oils (and beeswax), add it to the liquid oils, mix thoroughly, and make sure it doesn't solidify. Cool it down to just slightly warm, or whenever it barely starts getting cloudy.

    In my last few batches I used a lot of hard fats (beeswax, tallow, lard, shea butter, CO, 72% total), but I still got enough fluidity. You will see it gets much easier (and less stressful) with even a little practice! If your oils cool down too much before adding the lye, you can always reheat them too.
     
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