Newbie question on first ever batch with pics

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GMN

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Hello! I just joined this forum today and have spent lots of time reading all the wonderful information here... especially the pictures of failures! I was hoping to get the answer to my question there but my first ever batch is a little different. I'm suspecting perhaps lye pockets/heavy batch but I did every step by the brand new scale so not sure what could have gone wrong on that end.

Anyway, I used the first recipe in the book Pure Soapmaking. It's a Comfrey & Spirulina CP recipe with PO, CO, OO, Castor Oil, rice bran oil, and avocado butter. I tried to follow the recipe exactly and only know of one thing I did wrong. I added the fragrance oils before dividing the batch into 3 containers for different colorants. Could that have made a difference? My problem is that when I unmolded, the bottoms and in some cases the outter sides of the bars turned whitish with crystals and some "rice" looking spots as well. The batter was smooth and no ricing at all. It went in to the molds like icing, but I might not have gotten it in to every single corner as I should have. I also see that some of the bars have gaps at the very bottom where I guess I did not get it all the way down and evened out. I am attaching photos for your thoughts on what went wrong as I need to learn from this but do not know where to start.

My thoughts initially were either lye heavy or perhaps because I was unable to come up with the exact measurement I needed to calibrate my scale that perhaps it might be off just a tad somehow. It's brand new but could be off I guess. It's funny though... the tops and most of the sides look wonderful! It's just the bottoms and some of the outter edges. Any tips or thoughts? Thanks so much!!!:headbanging:

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dixiedragon

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The tops look good! Congrats! To see if it is lye heavy, touch the tip of your tongue to the bar. If it doesn't zap, it is not lye heavy. If it does zap, wait a week and tongue test again. I am not making this up to mess with the n00b...the tongue test is a real thing!

I am not familiar with the recipe - try running it through a lye calculator like soap calc or soapee and see how it looks.
 

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It is difficult to tell, it could be weights if you scale does not measure to the gram. You have to be very accurate with measurement especially with small mixes.

Otherwise it could be the your PO, CO and butter were not adequately melted. They have to be warm enough to be completely clear. Your lye and other oils can be cool. When everything is ready to go at the right temps, mix all the oils together well THEN add the lye and mix that together well.

Adding the FO to the oils before the lye is a good idea so you don't forget it and so if it does accelerate you can deal with it.

Did you hear the mold one the batter was in it?

Don't put soap on a metal tray. It can react with metal and cause DOS - a technical term meaning dreaded orange spots which is an early sign of rancidity.
 
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GMN

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It is difficult to tell, it could be weights if you scale does not measure to the gram. You have to be very accurate with measurement especially with small mixes.

Otherwise it could be the your PO, CO and butter were not adequately melted. They have to be warm enough to be completely clear. Your lye and other oils can be cool. When everything is ready to go at the right temps, mix all the oils together well THEN add the lye and mix that together well.

Adding the FO to the oils before the lye is a good idea so you don't forget it and so if it does accelerate you can deal with it.

Did you hear the mold one the batter was in it?

Don't put soap on a metal tray. It can react with metal and cause DOS - a technical term meaning dreaded orange spots which is an early sign of rancidity.
I think you were asking if I heated the mold once the batter was in it? Yes, the recipe called for putting it on a heating pad for 30 minutes, then leaving it on but turning the heat off so that's what I did. Instead of a cloth covered heating pad, I did use an old keep warm tray I had that should hold at that medium heat referenced in the recipe. The recipe BTW is from the Soap Queen's book so I'm sure it is right on and it must have been my error but just can't guess what I did so I don't repeat it.

I also sprayed the top with alcohol (91% as I could not find 99% as recommended). Thanks for your thoughts!!!

The tops look good! Congrats! To see if it is lye heavy, touch the tip of your tongue to the bar. If it doesn't zap, it is not lye heavy. If it does zap, wait a week and tongue test again. I am not making this up to mess with the n00b...the tongue test is a real thing!

I am not familiar with the recipe - try running it through a lye calculator like soap calc or soapee and see how it looks.
OK I did the tongue test and no zap. This is the 3rd day from making this so I'm guessing it's not lye heavy?

The recipe is from Brambleberry's Anne Marie so I'm sure the recipe is well formulated and that this is newbie user error. I do think I could shave off the ugliness and salvage the bars since it's only the very outter sides and bottoms affected. I will try that after curing just to be sure this doesn't correct itself at some point, though since some of it is clear crystal looking substance, I doubt it at this point. Fooey... it looked so good on top I was excited, but I guess back to the basics again.

Thanks for your help!

Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any pics.
Yes sorry... you must have caught me while I was resizing my photos because they did not upload the first time.... were too big. Now I know better. :)
 

dixiedragon

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Did you take the temperature? I have a feeling you didn't stir enough and the batter was too cool, giving you false trace. False trace is when the soap thickens up because the oils are getting cool and hardening, vs thickening because saponification is happening and the oils + lye water are becoming soap.
 

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Not that I distrust a book from Anne Marie, but I distrust all recipes that I have not run through a lye calculator for myself. Typos happen, you see. And I would rather not waste my ingredients on a bad recipe that I can fix in two minutes on a calculator.

I don't want you to publish her recipe here, but if you could just list the oils, we might be able to narrow down the options to help you troubleshoot.

The tops look great, but what did you use for a mold? If it was silicone, you might have "mold rash" that soaps get when heated in silicone molds. It happens to me when using a heating pad as well as when I do CPOP.

Also, as stated above, do not ever allow your soap to touch any metal you are not positive is stainless steel. You will get DOS.

Welcome to soapmaking, and welcome to the forum!
 

earlene

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That bottom purplish part of the soap, sort of reminds me of HP soap that wasn't sufficiently tapped down to get out the air bubbles. But it also looks like it wasn't sufficiently stirred as well.

Is it likely that you stirred more the tops than you did the bottoms because you had them in the containers longer? I always tend to stir more whatever ends up going into the mold last if I am doing multiple colors. That could explain why the tops are smoother.

And did you tap down the soap each time you added a new layer to facilitate the removal of air bubbles?

Then there's one other thing I see and that is that even on the bottom of the more brownish soap it looks well mixed and smooth, but the soaps with the purplish color are the ones with the least homogenous look. So besides mixing it perhaps less than necessary, what was the colorant you used? Some colorants act differently than others in the batter. For example, I noticed that some green micas thicken batter much quicker than some other colors. Titanium Dioxide always thickens up faster than any of the others in my experience.

And then one more thought. You said you used a warming tray, but did not say what the temperature of it was. Did you put the filled mold onto the warming tray while it was still turned on and if, yes, for how long? And what was your mold made of and was it lined & with what was it lined?
 

BattleGnome

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I have "Pure Soap Making," in descending order the oils are

Olive (pure)
Coconut
Palm
Rice bran
Avocado
Castor


To me the pics look like overheating. Was a silicone mold used?
 

GMN

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Did you take the temperature? I have a feeling you didn't stir enough and the batter was too cool, giving you false trace. False trace is when the soap thickens up because the oils are getting cool and hardening, vs thickening because saponification is happening and the oils + lye water are becoming soap.

Oh my! Never heard of false trace but I did check the temps. Because this was my first batch I was a bit clumsy with getting everything measured in a timely way so my PO had started to solidify by the time I was ready to add all the other oils, so I heated it til clear, as well as the CO. I then added the rest of the oils and stirred until the temp was about 114. My lye water was about 105 or so. I got a couple different readings on it for some reason with my infared heat gun but in that range when I added them together. I mixed with a stick blender in spurts until I had a light trace, and then just to be sure I did it a couple spurts more so might have actually been at medium trace when I divided and added colorants. I also believe I had gel stage after pouring in to the silicon mold but can't say for sure but definitely had a lighter ring around a darker more firm middle.

Thanks for your comment because I never heard of false trace so I know another thing to watch out for now. Any suggestions on what I can do with it now? I am going to try shaving it but not 100% sure how far in the messy stuff goes. :( At least I know it went through saponification and did not zap me! :)
 

dixiedragon

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Well, if it doesn't zap, you can just use it if you want. Or you can make confetti soap. Shred it - i like to use a salad shooter - and mix it roughly half-and-half with new soap. Stir it so the shreds are thoroughly coated. It helps to gel confetti soap - it melts the shreds a bit so the blend with the new soap.
 

GMN

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I have "Pure Soap Making," in descending order the oils are
Olive (pure)
Coconut
Palm
Rice bran
Avocado
Castor
To me the pics look like overheating. Was a silicone mold used?
Yes on both counts. I was just about to add the oils and saw you did it! Thank you!

Yes I used a silicon mold bought from BB. It's a 12 bar mold and I heated it on a warming tray made for food instead of a cloth heating pad. I'm thinking you might be right... that that might have been warmer than a heating pad would be. Do you all use your "sore back" cloth covered heating pad or do you use something specifically for soap? Thanks so much for your help!
 

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I am using a "sore back" heating pad. I have never used it for a human, so the foam liner is still in it, in addition, I have a paper towel between the mold and it. Then I cover my mold with a plastic shoe box, then two folded bath towels. I have the heating pad on a towel to protect the table under it.
 
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GMN

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That bottom purplish part of the soap, sort of reminds me of HP soap that wasn't sufficiently tapped down to get out the air bubbles. But it also looks like it wasn't sufficiently stirred as well.

Is it likely that you stirred more the tops than you did the bottoms because you had them in the containers longer? I always tend to stir more whatever ends up going into the mold last if I am doing multiple colors. That could explain why the tops are smoother.

And did you tap down the soap each time you added a new layer to facilitate the removal of air bubbles?

In answer to this .... I only have a couple that are layered in color because I had just a little bit left in 2 of the colors so I used them that way. Other than that they are each one color. I didn't really stir them much at all in the mold, but did try to pick up the mold and plunk it down on the table a few times but I agree I did not get it sufficiently in to the corners of all the bars. some are fine but some are not. So that's one thing for sure!

Then there's one other thing I see and that is that even on the bottom of the more brownish soap it looks well mixed and smooth, but the soaps with the purplish color are the ones with the least homogenous look. So besides mixing it perhaps less than necessary, what was the colorant you used? Some colorants act differently than others in the batter. For example, I noticed that some green micas thicken batter much quicker than some other colors. Titanium Dioxide always thickens up faster than any of the others in my experience.

The colorants used were comfrey powder and spirulina in one container, rose clay in one, and alkanet root powder in the third. It seems like my rose clay was the least completely mixed in the finished bars after looking closely at this question. That was the one color that was mixed in distilled water instead of oil, and it seemed very thick to me, not as blendable as the others that were in the oil.

And then one more thought. You said you used a warming tray, but did not say what the temperature of it was. Did you put the filled mold onto the warming tray while it was still turned on and if, yes, for how long? And what was your mold made of and was it lined & with what was it lined?
The recipe just said to put heating pad on med. heat for 30 minutes, so that's what I did. I only had low, med. and high as options on this warming tray. Yes I did have the heat on for 30 minutes while the mold was on it, then I turned it off, but left the mold on it.

I think the tray might have been hotter than the soap would have needed after reading all these thoughts, and that might be my biggest problem, along with that maybe the pink did not get fully mixed in, especially since it seemed so thick to me and harder to stir in. I thought I had it but I guess not.

I had just put the bars on that rack so I could move the rack to a sunny spot for the pics so I have taken them off it now so hopefully they weren't there long enough to cause DOS! :???:

Thanks for all your input!!!! I so appreciate it! I was expecting these to come out as pretty as the tops were and was so disappointed but I believe we can still use them. Still need to shave them to see. Is there a length of time I need to leave them alone before trying to pretty them up? If they did not zap me, they are not caustic any more, right?

That bottom purplish part of the soap, sort of reminds me of HP soap that wasn't sufficiently tapped down to get out the air bubbles. But it also looks like it wasn't sufficiently stirred as well.

Is it likely that you stirred more the tops than you did the bottoms because you had them in the containers longer? I always tend to stir more whatever ends up going into the mold last if I am doing multiple colors. That could explain why the tops are smoother.

And did you tap down the soap each time you added a new layer to facilitate the removal of air bubbles?

In answer to this .... I only have a couple that are layered in color because I had just a little bit left in 2 of the colors so I used them that way. Other than that they are each one color. I didn't really stir them much at all in the mold, but did try to pick up the mold and plunk it down on the table a few times but I agree I did not get it sufficiently in to the corners of all the bars. some are fine but some are not. So that's one thing for sure!

Then there's one other thing I see and that is that even on the bottom of the more brownish soap it looks well mixed and smooth, but the soaps with the purplish color are the ones with the least homogenous look. So besides mixing it perhaps less than necessary, what was the colorant you used? Some colorants act differently than others in the batter. For example, I noticed that some green micas thicken batter much quicker than some other colors. Titanium Dioxide always thickens up faster than any of the others in my experience.

The colorants used were comfrey powder and spirulina in one container, rose clay in one, and alkanet root powder in the third. It seems like my rose clay was the least completely mixed in the finished bars after looking closely at this question. That was the one color that was mixed in distilled water instead of oil, and it seemed very thick to me, not as blendable as the others that were in the oil.

And then one more thought. You said you used a warming tray, but did not say what the temperature of it was. Did you put the filled mold onto the warming tray while it was still turned on and if, yes, for how long? And what was your mold made of and was it lined & with what was it lined?
The recipe just said to put heating pad on med. heat for 30 minutes, so that's what I did. I only had low, med. and high as options on this warming tray. Yes I did have the heat on for 30 minutes while the mold was on it, then I turned it off, but left the mold on it.

I think the tray might have been hotter than the soap would have needed after reading all these thoughts, and that might be my biggest problem, along with that maybe the pink did not get fully mixed in, especially since it seemed so thick to me and harder to stir in. I thought I had it but I guess not.

I had just put the bars on that rack so I could move the rack to a sunny spot for the pics so I have taken them off it now so hopefully they weren't there long enough to cause DOS! :???:

Thanks for all your input!!!! I so appreciate it! I was expecting these to come out as pretty as the tops were and was so disappointed but I believe we can still use them. Still need to shave them to see. Is there a length of time I need to leave them alone before trying to pretty them up? If they did not zap me, they are not caustic any more, right?
 

BattleGnome

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For your next batch I would mix the hating tray, just to see what the soap does in you environment. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you aren't in a soap warehouse in Washington, if it's warmer in your house you may not need excess heat or possibly just less heat.

It sounds like you're doing your homework and tying to learn the "correct" way of things. After a year and a half of soaping I'm only now attempting to gel or add any heat.
 
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penelopejane

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I think you were asking if I heated the mold once the batter was in it? Yes, the recipe called for putting it on a heating pad for 30 minutes, then leaving it on but turning the heat off so that's what I did. Instead of a cloth covered heating pad, I did use an old keep warm tray I had that should hold at that medium heat referenced in the recipe. The recipe BTW is from the Soap Queen's book so I'm sure it is right on and it must have been my error but just can't guess what I did so I don't repeat it.

I also sprayed the top with alcohol (91% as I could not find 99% as recommended). Thanks for your thoughts!!!
While a heating mat might work for a log mold it may be too hot for individual molds which are much thinner and do not need to be heated as much if at all.

Ideally the soap batter should be heated to about 100* F and then left for 24 hours. This can be achieved by keeping the heat that the soap batter itself generates in.
That means:
1)wrapping it in a blanket and not disturbing it for 24 hrs.
or
2)Heating an oven to 100* F then turning it OFF and placing the wrapped mold in it and not disturbing it for 24 hrs.

A heat pad could be warmed then turned off when the wrapped soap is placed on it.

100* F is only hand warm or the heat of a hot day. Not really hot at all.

Thanks for all your input!!!! I so appreciate it! I was expecting these to come out as pretty as the tops were and was so disappointed but I believe we can still use them. Still need to shave them to see. Is there a length of time I need to leave them alone before trying to pretty them up? If they did not zap me, they are not caustic any more, right?
As soon as there is no zap there is not caustic.

I don't test for zap (I am chicken) but I use gloves to touch my soap not just in case of caustic but for hygiene purposes too. 24 hours or so should be fine.

You will still be able to use the soap it will just be crumbly or maybe a bit softer than usual even after a 6 week cure.
 
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Soapprentice

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Wow..For the 1st time in a long time I am glad that I live in a warm climate... don't have to use anything except wrapping in a blanket to get gel... it's impossible to avoid gel unless I put it in the freezer immediately after moulding the soap.
You are good to pretty up the soap now.
 
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earlene

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GMN, you asked about when you can shave off the rough parts & clean up your soap. Depends on how soft or hard it is and what you are going to use.

With a high percentage of soft oils, sometimes the soap is still a bit soft to the touch. I'd probably leave it a few days undisturbed before trying to shave rough areas off.

When I first started I just used a stainless steel vegetable peeler (make sure it's stainless steel if that's what you plan to use) to bevel the corners. But a vegetable peeler isn't so good for the larger surface areas. I have also used a mandolin (the kind for slicing vegetables, not the musical instrument) for the larger flat surfaces.
 
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shunt2011

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I too think it looks like it overheated on the bottom. Did you use Avocado Butter or Avocado Oil? Which did the recipe call for? Also, as others stated, you must run all recipes throught a lye calculator regardless where you got it from. Errors can happend. Welcome to soapmaking!
 
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