Oh Boy! I goofed up!

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Hi All,

I made a batch with the following recipe:

40% Lard
35% Olive Oil
20% Coconut Oil
5% Castor Oil
2.25% FO (Temptation by Nurture Soap)
33.3% Lye Concentration
2% SF

Both Lye and Oils were about 90 degrees F when I mixed. I think my mistake is that initially I didn't SB long enough. It seemed like it was going to quickly trace and was thickening up, so I poured batter into my individual containers for colorant (3 - from Mad Mica). I had some remaining batter with no colorant and did a small initial pour into the mold. I then added the different colored batters into the mold. I was about 3/4 done pouring when I noticed that the batter wasn't really near trace. All I had left was the remaining non-colored batter which I then SB'd some more and saw that it was then truly going to trace. I poured it in to top off the mold and hoped for the best, but as you can see from the picture the natural uncolored batter seems to have done okay, but the colored batters came out very very chalky (Unmolded about 20 hours after pour). It seems that I didn't get the colored batters to trace when I poured them into the mold. Will re-batching save this? Any advice welcomed! Thanks!

Also, after pouring into the molds I placed them onto a heat pat at 108 degrees F and covered them with towels overnight.
 

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So initially, you had thick batter, but after coloring and pouring, you said that you could tell it wasn't at trace, right? What did you see that made you think you didn't have trace?

When soap thickens up without being at trace, it's called "false trace,".....meaning the fats solidified due to being too cool. I'm not an expert, but this soap doesn't look like one that didn't reach trace because when that happens, the soap separates into oil and water. Did you see excess water or oils?
 
@Zing, It's definitely a 'still needs more experience' situation. I swore it was a thin trace and getting thick fast. It was sticking to the SB but after doing some pouring I realized I must have been seeing things! I think I got thick trace shy from having a batch turn to potato mash consistency real quick once.🙄 Still learning, still lots of fun! Just don't know if this batch is rebatchable? Thanks @Zing
 
@lenarenee, no excess water or oils noticed actually. Both lye and oils were at just 90 degrees though... What made me think that I might not have been at trace is that the thin trace didn't seem to be going to a medium trace while I was working with the batter. That, and when I SB'd again for the non-colorant batter which remained as my final pour into the mold, it actually became a nice trace (about a medium trace). Again, still learning here! Thanks @lenarenee
 
@AliensrReal thanks for the compliment! I'm a bit concerned about doing a zap test so soon as it's just over 24 hours since I poured it. I'm thinking I may have got the batter to trace (or at least most of it?), but just a very very thin trace as I did not see any separation of liquids. The non-colored batter appears normal, it's the colored batter that didn't get as much mixing that is chalky and flaky.
 
Both Lye and Oils were about 90 degrees F when I mixed. I think my mistake is that initially I didn't SB long enough. It seemed like it was going to quickly trace and was thickening up, so I poured batter into my individual containers for colorant (3 - from Mad Mica). I had some remaining batter with no colorant and did a small initial pour into the mold. I then added the different colored batters into the mold. I was about 3/4 done pouring when I noticed that the batter wasn't really near trace. All I had left was the remaining non-colored batter which I then SB'd some more and saw that it was then truly going to trace. I poured it in to top off the mold and hoped for the best, but as you can see from the picture the natural uncolored batter seems to have done okay, but the colored batters came out very very chalky (Unmolded about 20 hours after pour). It seems that I didn't get the colored batters to trace when I poured them into the mold. Will re-batching save this? Any advice welcomed! Thanks!

Also, after pouring into the molds I placed them onto a heat pat at 108 degrees F and covered them with towels overnight.
"Trace" refers to the thickness of the batter and only matters when you're trying to do various designs. What is most important, is whether your batter has reached a stable emulsion...which looking at your photos, it did since I see no separation. I think what you are seeing is that because you panicked a bit, is that you didn't get your colorants mixed in all that well.
 
Thank you everyone for your comments. It does look as though I did reach a stable emulsion "Trace" as many of you have pointed out that there was no separation of liquids. I originally had thought that my colorants had not reached trace so that is great intel. I am still left with wondering why the colorants are chalky though. @TheGecko, are you suggesting that I didn't mix my individual colorants well into their perspective batters and this is leading towards the chalky disposition? I'm not sure that this is reason, only because I wasn't that quick with the mixing of the colorants. I used a mini mixer and a spatula to mix my batters and colorants.

Mystery Continues

OK, just checked a few minutes ago and we are at around 40 hours after pouring and there is something interesting to note. The picture shows from my main pour, but I had a little left over of the colored batters and poured them into some small circular molds. They looked more chalky and I took one and was able to break it apart. It had the consistency of a soft cookie. Being further curious, I took it in my hand and was able to crush it into a ball. Again, it has the consistency very close to a soft cookie. I just pinched the uncolored batter portion on one of the pieces I posted and it is firm and solid. So what ever the problem is, it is not from the uncolored soap portion, but from one or all of the colored soaps... This has me thinking... When I looked up usage on the colorants (from Mad Micas) it gave one of the dosages in teaspoons. I usually weigh everything and that is my preference, but I used the teaspoon recommendation (1 teaspoon/ pound oil). It seemed like a lot of colorant to me... wondering if it was actually too much colorant that is the issue? I will go back and look at my numbers to make sure I didn't goof. I'll also do a weight calculation and compare to 1 teaspoon.

@ScentimentallyYours, thank you for the compliment. I think if the soap wasn't chalky it might have been some decent looking soap. Oh well! ...I did read up on glycerin rivers based on your suggestion. I'm not sure if that's it though. Anybody ever use too much colorant accidentally? If so, what happened to your soap?

Thanks for chiming in everyone!! Appreciate all the experience, insight and comments!!!
 
@TheGecko, are you suggesting that I didn't mix my individual colorants well into their perspective batters and this is leading towards the chalky disposition? I'm not sure that this is reason, only because I wasn't that quick with the mixing of the colorants. I used a mini mixer and a spatula to mix my batters and colorants.
There are soooooooooooo many variables in soap making and not having been in the room with you when you made your soap, all we can do is make "suggestions" as to what could have caused what has happened based on what information you have relayed and our own experiences and knowledge. And there are a LOT of variables...from the growing season of the oils and butters we are using to what color of underwear we are wearing; even our moods can affect our soap making. In my day job I'm a Senior Staff Accountant with a CPA firm and there are days when I'm in the zone and 95% of my time is billable, and other days when I feel as those I am trying to pull teeth with tweezers. Soap making is the same way...some days when I am strong with the Force and put a half dozen five pound batches on the shelf in the garage and other times I'm done after two batches because it is clear that Murphy is in the room. Doesn't matter that it is a soap I have made time and time again...something has gone terribly wrong and four days later, it doesn't matter how great it smells if I'm having to scoop it out of the mold with a serving spoon.

But it's why I keep notes on every batch I make, so when something goes wrong I can compare it with notes from previous batches to see what the difference now and then.
 
@AliOop, no powders or clays added. @KiwiMoose, see answer below. I believe you got it!

@TheGecko, You are so right! there are many variables and Murphy was definitely in the room that day!!!

I believe I figured out the cause, and it was too much colorant. I went back and looked at my setup and what did I do? 🤦‍♂️ I used TABLESPOON instead of TEASPOON when I measured out my colorants!!!!:shakinghead: Serves me right for not actually weighing it out!!! I thought it seemed like too much!!!

Thank you everyone for advice, thoughts and chiming in on my dumb mistake. Lesson Learned!!! (I sure am learning a lot of lessons in soap making!! 🤣)

Hope everyone is having a good day, and happy soaping everyone!!!
 
The main issue may have been the colorants, but It does sound and look like you had false trace that led to a weak emulsion in at least some of the portions. It's the number one problem I've had in my soap making over the years. The emulsion doesn't separate, but it's just not going to make good soap in the end. Examples of my problems with weak emulsions are here (scroll down to look at the last two photos in the first post and the big patches of chalky-looking soap) and here (some of the soap in the upper layer has that chalky look). My fixes have been to 1) take the emulsion a little further (this gets easier with practice), and 2) use a heating pad to keep the soap warm and force gel. I also work a wee bit warmer with recipes that are prone to false trace, for example I would try 95F rather than 90F.
 
I believe I figured out the cause, and it was too much colorant. I went back and looked at my setup and what did I do? 🤦‍♂️ I used TABLESPOON instead of TEASPOON when I measured out my colorants!!!!
YAY! Mystery solved! On the plus side, I can assure you, you won't do that again. 😄 Lesson learned. On the down side, the only way I see to correct the situation is to figure a way to remove the excess mica from the colored soap. You might want to contact Mad Micas for advice. ?

If it were me, I'd cut out as much of the uncolored soap as possible and set it aside. Then I would use an Xacto knife to scrape out most of the mica powder. I would then grate up the soap and do an Oven Rebatch. Of course, you will lose your pretty swirl but those two colors look like they would blend together well.

The only other option would be to add enough soap to use up the excess micas.

1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons = 2 teaspoons mica overload.
At 1 teaspoon PPO, you would need 2 pounds of soap for each color.
I can see the chalkiness you describe when i zoom in to the coloured sections. Yes - maybe too much mica?
:winner:@KiwiMoose You win first prize for Best Guesser!
 
I would agree that you had a False trace in the beginning with the 40% lard and 90º lye temp, which could certainly lend to an unstable emulsion. The 35% olive oil should have slowed trace a bit so with it thickening so quickly it tells me your batter/lye was too cool for the lard in the beginning. Once the lye started reacting/saponification started it heated your uncolored batter and thinned it out allowing you to SB and reach normal trace. It also looks like maybe there is some ash starting in the colored areas which can happen in soap that is poured with a very thin emulsion if it is not fully gelled, even then I would find some colors and fragrances/eo's prone to ash. I still think it looks pretty and would just give it a long cure.

My go-to recipe was 40/20 tallow/lard and I soaped it with room-temperature lye. This recipe I knew would always false trace so I just knew to wait until my batter started to heat up and I would just stir it in the beginning then hit it for a few seconds with the SB. I usually preferred to pour at as thin a trace as possible, my preference was to pour at emulsion but that takes practice to recognize.
 
@Zany_in_CO, You are right! I sure won't make that mistake again!!! I'm going to try and do what you suggested and do the Oven Rebatch when I get a chance. That will be another interesting experience to have as well!!!

Thank you @Mobjack Bay and @cmzaha for your insights about false trace, unstable emulsion and my temperatures. This is very valuable information and I'm going to up my temps to 95 to ensure better stability. Even though I am new to soaping, of the batches that I've made thus far, I too like to pour at thin trace and I see that I am pushing that line between false trace/ unstable emulsion. Add that I added too much colorant into the mix and here I am.

Another thought that I have as well is that I don't actually know how well calibrated my infared temperature gun is. That is to say, it's reading 90 degrees but it could be a few degrees less (or more). I have a lab grade thermometer in a box somewhere and think I'll pull it out to see what temperatures I'm really at.

I am learning a lot from you experienced soapers and I really appreciate you taking the time to give advice and educate. Your experiences and insight are helping me immensely to understand and learn the nuances of soaping... I recently heard about Kevin Dunn's book 'Scientific Soapmaking' and it seems like a must read at this point!

Thank you again everyone!
 

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