Newbie-ish questions?

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MrsZ

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I have a few questions I was hoping to get y'alls ideas on. You've been so helpful with my questions so far!

First of all, at what point is someone no longer a newbie? 😁😂

Could I please hear your opinions on when to add FO? I've always added it just before my pour, after any colorants. On a video from a well known soaper, she said that with a well known good behaved FO, it works well to add the FO to the oils before the lye. I did that today, and the soap accelerated terribly. I know lots of people go either way. I'd like to hear your experiences!

Also, my soaps are all getting REALLY bad soda ash right lately. I've tried covering the soap right away, CPOPing it both covered and uncovered, and letting it set up at room temperature. It is really stubborn soda ash, it takes quite a bit of scrubbing to remove.

ETA: all my soaps are made with a 35% lye concentration.

I did several searches on these subjects before making a new post, I'm sorry if I missed the answers somewhere already.

Thanks, everyone!
 
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Adding FO to the oils only works for me with a decelerating fragrance, soaping at 90F or less), and only blending just barely to emulsion. Otherwise, I add it right before pouring.

Soda ash 😫 The main culprits for me are high water, activated charcoal, certain FOs, and uncovering the soap in the first few days. That's the main reason I use a 45% lye concentration - but that isn't great for more intricate designs. The extra ash is quite noticeable when I drop down to 33%.

Other things that help for me are: covering the soap immediately after pouring; gelling on a heating pad; and after cutting, covering everything again with plastic wrap for another 48 hours. That way, I can cut before the loaf gets too hard, and then protect it from further exposure to the air while it finishes saponifying.
 
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I swing all kinds of ways when it comes to adding fragrance. I recently used a fragrance that I thought might accelerate ( freesia) and I added it to the oils before adding the lye solution. I had everything ready to go in terms of colours and mold etc - in case it ended up as plop and drop, but it went fine. I don't know why I decided to do it that way, but it worked.
Other times if I've used a fragrance before and I know it rices for example, I will also add that to the oils before add lye too - mainly because I'm convinced that a temperature difference between FO and the soap batter can exacerbate ricing.
Sometimes I add the FO near the end of the process like you do.

Call me whimsical?

Soap ash - I usually use 30% lye solution and don't have much of a problem but I always gel. Then again - sometimes I get a case of ash for no known reason. Perhaps it's fragrance dependent? Climate dependent? Who knows? Soap do what soap do. Can you think of anything you've changed to cause more soda ash recently? A new ingredient?
 
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I was surprised to see you refer to yourself as a newbie, old friend! I only got soda ash one time. Now I successfully avoid it. After pouring, I spray with alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, then cardboard, then a pile of towels to gel for 24 hours. After 24 hours, I unmold and cut.

The exception is I leave soap in single cavity molds for several days before unmolding. If I unmold after 24 hours, then it develops soda ash on all surfaces. Good luck!
 

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I usually add my FO at the emulsion stage. Soaping at a slightly higher temperature and adding a small amount of beeswax may help solve the problem of soda ash.

 

TheGecko

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First of all, at what point is someone no longer a newbie? 😁😂
When you know your recipe well enough to know to be able to figure out 'the why' when something goes wrong. It's not absolute of course because there are so many variable that go into making soap, but if you can diagnose a good 75% of your issue, you're good to go.
Could I please hear your opinions on when to add FO? I've always added it just before my pour, after any colorants. On a video from a well known soaper, she said that with a well known good behaved FO, it works well to add the FO to the oils before the lye. I did that today, and the soap accelerated terribly. I know lots of people go either way. I'd like to hear your experiences!
It all starts with the FO itself...which is why one should test a new scent (FO or EO); and of course, your recipe and your soaping temperature. There is really no hard and fast rule...hence the reason you should test. I don't use colorants in my GMS, so I add my scent and Lye Solution at the same time and give it a whiz and pour. For my Regular Soap, a lot depends on whether the FO is known to accelerate/rice/discolor and what my design is.

Also, my soaps are all getting REALLY bad soda ash right lately. I've tried covering the soap right away, CPOPing it both covered and uncovered, and letting it set up at room temperature. It is really stubborn soda ash, it takes quite a bit of scrubbing to remove.
I think that it is just that time of the year. I made a batch of Lemon Verbena over the weekend and got soda ash on it and it cracked a little for the first time. Some of my other soaps ended up with soda ash as well.

Spraying the soap with 99% IPA after the pour can often help, sometimes it takes a second and third application within the hour. Covering with plastic wrap can also help. I once had a batch of soap that literally turned into [soda] ash...not sure why since it never happened again.
 
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I usually add my FO at the emulsion stage. Soaping at a slightly higher temperature and adding a small amount of beeswax may help solve the problem of soda ash.

Hmm - there's a thought. I never soap at room temperature - mine is always 36 - 45 degrees when I mix the oils and lye ( approx your 94 - 110 degrees). AND I use soy wax at 20%. I recently went back to using 5% cocoa butter and have had more problems with soda ash since ( but not always).
 

MrsZ

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Adding FO to the oils only works for me with a decelerating fragrance, soaping at 90F or less), and only blending just barely to emulsion. Otherwise, I add it right before pouring.

Soda ash 😫 The main culprits for me are high water, activated charcoal, certain FOs, and uncovering the soap in the first few days. That's the main reason I use a 45% lye concentration - but that isn't great for more intricate designs. The extra ash is quite noticeable when I drop down to 33%.

Other things that help for me are: covering the soap immediately after pouring; gelling on a heating pad; and after cutting, covering everything again with plastic wrap for another 48 hours. That way, I can cut before the loaf gets too hard, and then protect it from further exposure to the air while it finishes saponifying.
Thanks for your input. I'm going to try keeping my soap covered longer next time. It does seem like the ones I cover have slightly less ash, so I'm looking forward to trying that out.

I never thought of covering the whole time it's saponifying, I always uncover it once it's solid because I'm impatient and want to see it. :)

I swing all kinds of ways when it comes to adding fragrance. I recently used a fragrance that I thought might accelerate ( freesia) and I added it to the oils before adding the lye solution. I had everything ready to go in terms of colours and mold etc - in case it ended up as plop and drop, but it went fine. I don't know why I decided to do it that way, but it worked.
Other times if I've used a fragrance before and I know it rices for example, I will also add that to the oils before add lye too - mainly because I'm convinced that a temperature difference between FO and the soap batter can exacerbate ricing.
Sometimes I add the FO near the end of the process like you do.

Call me whimsical?

Soap ash - I usually use 30% lye solution and don't have much of a problem but I always gel. Then again - sometimes I get a case of ash for no known reason. Perhaps it's fragrance dependent? Climate dependent? Who knows? Soap do what soap do. Can you think of anything you've changed to cause more soda ash recently? A new ingredient?
I like that, it does what it does. :)

The only thing I have changed is I've been soaping with a much cooler lye solution. Maybe that has something to do with it?

I was surprised to see you refer to yourself as a newbie, old friend! I only got soda ash one time. Now I successfully avoid it. After pouring, I spray with alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, then cardboard, then a pile of towels to gel for 24 hours. After 24 hours, I unmold and cut.

The exception is I leave soap in single cavity molds for several days before unmolding. If I unmold after 24 hours, then it develops soda ash on all surfaces. Good luck!
Does the plastic wrap mess up the tops?

I'm afraid to call myself anything but a newbie, compared to many of you all I have almost no experience! :)

When you know your recipe well enough to know to be able to figure out 'the why' when something goes wrong. It's not absolute of course because there are so many variable that go into making soap, but if you can diagnose a good 75% of your issue, you're good to go.

It all starts with the FO itself...which is why one should test a new scent (FO or EO); and of course, your recipe and your soaping temperature. There is really no hard and fast rule...hence the reason you should test. I don't use colorants in my GMS, so I add my scent and Lye Solution at the same time and give it a whiz and pour. For my Regular Soap, a lot depends on whether the FO is known to accelerate/rice/discolor and what my design is.


I think that it is just that time of the year. I made a batch of Lemon Verbena over the weekend and got soda ash on it and it cracked a little for the first time. Some of my other soaps ended up with soda ash as well.

Spraying the soap with 99% IPA after the pour can often help, sometimes it takes a second and third application within the hour. Covering with plastic wrap can also help. I once had a batch of soap that literally turned into [soda] ash...not sure why since it never happened again.
Thanks for your advice! Happily, the batch I made with FO in oils was only a small test batch. I think I've learned my lesson there. (Maybe)

I think I'm getting close to 75% self diagnosis, that makes me happy!

I usually add my FO at the emulsion stage. Soaping at a slightly higher temperature and adding a small amount of beeswax may help solve the problem of soda ash.

That article looks very helpful, I will read it later today. Thanks!
 
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Does the plastic wrap mess up the tops?

I'm afraid to call myself anything but a newbie, compared to many of you all I have almost no experience! :)
LOL. I mess up the tops of each batch regardless of the plastic wrap!
Seriously, I try to keep the top of the batter 1/4" below the top of the mold. I'm not a brand-conscious consumer but I have to use Saran wrap. The generic or store brands do not behave well at all and I end up wasting more than I use. However, Mrs. Zing and I are trying to reduce the amount of single-serve or single-time use of plastic products that we consume. Yesterday I cut the plastic cover off of a notebook and then cut it to fit my mold.
 

MrsZ

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Agreed on the plastic wrap! If my top has any kind of design, I use a cardboard "tent" now - like Holly of the Kapia Mera YT channel. Then I put plastic wrap over that.
That makes sense. I put a flat piece of cardboard on top of mine, but that doesn't feel like it seals well enough to do the trick.
 

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