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Oh y'all, my soap is just busted. I'm so bummed.

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jenny1271

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Any and all tough love and critiques are totally welcome here. I am desperate to start making some successful batches, and it just seems like every time I do a new batch, there are so many new techniques and new ingredients that I'm doing for the first time, that I can't diagnose what I did wrong to cause my soap to turn out the way it did.

RECIPE: 77% lard, 10 % coconut, 13% castor oil. Four pounds of oils for this batch.

COLOR: I used blue and green micas with jojoba oil as my carrier oil. I think the jojoba may have been part of the problem. Maybe I should have used something like olive oil to mix with the colorants? Is it possible to just use water or something else, rather than doing it kind of like a superfat?

FRAGRANCE: .6 oz of Eucalyptus essential oil. This was the whole bottle!!

ADDITIVES: I mixed my lye with the water and then added 4 TBS of sugar to the lye solution, because I thought I was supposed to add 1TBS per pound of oils. Right before I poured, I put in 3% Sodium Lactate, 1.44 oz (because this is .03*48oz of oil).

METHOD: CPOP. After pouring into my silicone mold, I put it in my oven at its lowest setting, 170 degrees. After thirty minutes, I wasn't seeing any gel happening, so I raised the temp to 190 for ten minutes. And, this was too high, because then it started to foam up on the top. I lowered the temp back to 170. After another ten minutes, I did start seeing gel around the edges, and it gradually gelled all the way through to the center. Then, I wrapped it up in a huge upside down shoebox and wrapped it up with towels. I unmolded this morning about 10am. It was in the mold from 3pm yesterday afternoon when it went into the oven until 10am this morning, so about 19 hours.

PROBLEMS TO TRY TO DIAGNOSE:
1) I expected the top to be all foamed out, but all of the edges of the loaf (where it was touching the mold) have that oily foam on them too. You can really see this in the bars that came out of the single bar mold that I used. It seems like the mold heated up and cooked the soap on the edges. So, will any of this improve as the bars cure? I think I was supposed to have just heated the soap at 170 degrees for five minutes then turn the oven off and let the soap sit in the residual heat until it entered the gel phase. So, why do you think it took so long to start gelling? Why do you think it gelled from the outside edge to the center, and not the other way around like I've seen on the instruction videos?

2) The inside part (that wasn't touching the mold) seems like the color didn't really swirl like I wanted it to, all the contrast seems to have blurred. Will this improve with cure?

3) Was some of this caused by the SL or the sugar? Did I do too much sugar? This was my first time doing the sugar.

4) Are there things you would tweak about the basic recipe?

5) I can't smell the Eucalyptus at all!! Do you think the heat made it go away? Is it possible to do CPOP without evaporating my essential oils?

I know this is a long post with a lot of questions. If you are pressed for time and just want to answer one question or something like that, please do!! Thank you in advance for any advice on how to get my soaps to turn out better. I'm so bummed and frustrated. I really had such high hopes for this soap. What should I do? Should I try this recipe again but with some adjustments, such as not turning the heat up to 190, etc.? Or, should I change the recipe, not use sugar, not use SL, not use jojoba as the carrier for my colorants? Please help!!!

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dixiedragon

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From the pic, it looks like some of the oil didn't saponify. I think that white stuff on the bars in your first pic is basically lard. Rub it between your fingers? Is it greasy?

I think what happened is a) you got impatient and b) it got too hot. 170 is pretty hot for soap, IMO. I think you should have turned the oven off before putting the soap in. The oven would have remained warm and given you a long, hard gel. The foaming was a "distress" signal and you DEFINITELY should have removed the soap from the oven at that point. I'm not a sugar using, but I think the "usual" amount is 1 tsp PPO (per pound oils) not 1 tablespoon.

Touch your tongue to the soap. Both the white part that I think is congealed oils, and also the blue or green part. If neither zaps, you are fine. If one of them zaps, give it a few days and try again. If it still zaps at that point, rebatch it or pitch it.

Yes, you burned / cooked away your EO.
 

jenny1271

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I was also wondering if maybe I should have used less water. I read somewhere that you're supposed to do 40% lye concentration, so that would have meant I should have reduced the water to about 20 oz, rather than 24.3 oz, based on the amount of lye that I used. If I reduce my water that low, is there going to be any problem with dissolving the sugar in the water plus dissolving the lye?
 

galaxyMLP

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I think you may have taken on too many changes at once. I will have more time to answer later though.

Whenever changing something in a recipe, only change one thing. Otherwise if you change multiple variables you wont know what truly caused the change and/or problem.

I also think you added too much sugar. I think this recipe probably wouldve gelled given enough time even w/o the oven. It may have even still overheated w/o even being covered but the oven certainly did not help.

I bet the soap is still going to be great though.

You may find that the eucalyptus scent comes back. However, I notice that eucalyptus is particularly sensitive to heat
 

dixiedragon

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The blue and white one - what is the problem? it looks good to me. Is that middle photo the end piece? Some times my end piece when using my silicone mold can look a bit weird like that - I think some bits of soap stuck to the mold.
 

Stacyspy

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If I read correctly, you mixed your lye water, then added sugar... I think that may have contributed to the graininess. I've always dissolved the sugar in the water before adding the lye. Keep in mind sugar can make lye water heat up quickly.
I use 38% water even with the sugar, at 1 tbls. sugar ppo. It keeps it fluid enough to swirl, without warping during cure.
 

lionprincess00

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Everything seems ok. If you didn't predissolve the sugar in water before adding lye, that's part of the problem. I always use one tablespoon of sugar per pound of oil as well, so 4 tablespoons is perfectly fine. Jojoba oil is fine, I'm sure. I dump micas directly into the batter to cut out that extra step, oxides you can't do that with though. .5 oz ppo is standard for eo's, and eucalyptus I think needs less. Even at .3 oz ppo that should've been 1.2 oz double what you did...soap gels from the center outwards, and you said you noticed a gelling on the sides and went to the center. What it sounds like to me is you over heated it and the outside for getting too hot because of it. Next time turn on your oven 170 degrees, put your soap into the oven, and turn off the oven and let it sit there to gel. That's how I have found cpop works the best. Tweeks, I'd reduce castor down to 5-8% and add a soft oil. Castor doesn't create bubbles but rather stabilizes lather. So that much could make for a sticky bar potentially.
 
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Dorymae

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Two things jump out at me. First is the amount of castor oil. That is a lot of castor. High amounts of castor oil make soap softer, alone it makes a very rubbery type of bar. Usually higher amounts are used in shampoo bars.

Keep in mind that castor can help to stabilize the lather of other oils but by itself does not lather well.

Second the amount of sugar is high. This can lead to overheating, which can lead to separation, which carries it's own set of problems.

I am imagining that you were trying to make a nice bubbly lather, and trying at the same time to keep the coconut oil low.

If you are not overly sensitive to coconut oil I would try this:

80% lard
15% coconut
5% castor

With the addition of 1 teaspoon of sugar PPO.

Personally I would not CPOP, but if you do, preheat then shut off the oven and add the soap. Keep the light on and keep checking for gel. As soon as it reaches the corners remove the soap.

Edited to add: Do not insulate your soap after CPOP. There is no benefit to doing this and it can cause more overheating.

Also definitely pre-dissolve your sugar. Jojoba oil is not a problem, however it is very expensive for soap and the benefits are minimal in soap.

IMHO the problem was definitely overheating.
 
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not_ally

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Jenny, just some thoughts about your questions. Off the top of my head, so take them for what they are worth :) I bolded your comments/questions and added my thoughts afterwards.

RECIPE: 77% lard, 10 % coconut, 13% castor oil. Four pounds of oils for this batch.

That seems like a lot of castor, high percentages of it is supposed to make your soaps gooier. Lard and coconut both make pretty hard soaps, though, so not sure if that is the issue. Maybe reduce the percentage of castor and see?

COLOR: I used blue and green micas with jojoba oil as my carrier oil.

Jojoba is actually a wax, not an oil, although it can be used in cp at low amounts (supposedly it creates a soft soap if used at more than 10%, I don’t know b/c I don’t use it in soap, too expensive.) Don't know if that would effect the pre-mixing effect. Anyway, if it might be worth trying to mix your micas in another light oil, eg, almond. Or just mix them into the batter, micas mix pretty well even without pre-mixing although like you I usually do.

A question about your colors: Did you use TD, by any chance? Sometimes too much of it makes the soap grainy/creates glycerin rivers, wondering if that is at play here.

FRAGRANCE: .6 oz of Eucalyptus essential oil. This was the whole bottle!!

That doesn’t look like much eo for a four lb batch of oils, was that the amt recommended by the mftr? I would try checking and upping if you can go higher. Also, see the thoughts on flashpoints and CPOP/heat below.

ADDITIVES: I mixed my lye with the water and then added 4 TBS of sugar to the lye solution, because I thought I was supposed to add 1TBS per pound of oils. Right before I poured, I put in 3% Sodium Lactate, 1.44 oz (because this is .03*48oz of oil).

I use a 50/50 sugar syrup, just put distilled water and sugar in a pan and heat on low until the sugar melts. I usually make 16 oz of it at time and put it in a squeeze bottle that I keep in the fridge so I can just add it to my batches easily. I use 1TB of this ppo, has always been fine. I usually add it at emulsification or light trace just in case it speeds things up. LS I add to the cool lye water, based on my research that is when most people add it, although I have forgotten and added it to the batter and it has been fine. I use the same amount as you do, 3%, has always been fine.

METHOD: CPOP. After pouring into my silicone mold, I put it in my oven at its lowest setting, 170 degrees

I usually CPOP in my little convection oven. The lowest setting is 150, so that is where I set it. I do leave it on for about an hour b/c I think there is a lot of heat seepage/the oven is not well insulated like a regular one. Then I just take it out, leave it, and can usually cut the next day. In your case I think I would do what others suggest, ie; turn the heat off and let it sit.

Is it possible to do CPOP without evaporating my essential oils?

I’ve read that CPOP is supposed to dampen the effect of EO’s/FOs, I would think that would be even more the case with low FP oils, not sure what that the FP is for eucalyptus? I like CPOPing anyway though, and use a pretty high amount of (usually) FO’s – 1 oz/ppo. I am also pretty careful about using FOs that are supposed to stick well, I hate to waste money on ones that don’t (they are expensive, especially if you use a lot like I do!) I also check FPs and don’t CPOP if they are low.

You didn’t add this to your post, but I see from your post you are from Raleigh, so have to say: GO HEELS!! Sorry, went to undergrad at UNC :)

ETA: I see a lot of people posted while I was, so some of this is duplicative, sorry! Also apologize for the messed up fonts, I cut and pasted, did not mean to alternately shout and whisper.
 
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I think in some respects you answered your own questions. You are trying too many new things at once before you've even gotten the hang of soaping and then you can't figure out which part is causing which problem. Your comment about wanting a successful batch makes me think you haven't had any/many success(es) yet, so start simple and DEFINITELY start smaller. Making 4 pound batches uses a lot of your supplies and if you have a botch, it feels like a waste, which will get you down.

Start with 1-2 pound batches and make a couple batches of 1 or maybe 2 color soaps. Don't add sugar or any other extras (except fragrance) yet until you get the feel for your recipe. Try just wrapping the mold in a blanket or towel and leave it be overnight instead of trying CPOP right away.

Start very simple, simple, simple and then once you feel confident in how your recipe works and acts, then add a new factor, one only, and see what happens with it. Don't get discouraged about not being fancy right away because you will definitely get there as you get more experience.

ETA: your signature line cracks me up, given your post. Your line reads "Begin with one step" and in your first sentence of your post you say, "there are so many new techniques and new ingredients that I'm doing for the first time"!!!
 
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jenny1271

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I'm amazed again and again by the amazing wealth of knowledge on this forum. My kids are home and my grandparents are in the house so I don't really have the time to write right now, but I am thinking that the CPOP method is probably part of the problem and my failure to do it correctly is the rest of the problem. The slimy foam on the outside may very well be just the super fat (which was 5%) separating out, perhaps because of the sugar? Maybe with lard in a CPOP situation, I need to reduce the super fat to 2% or even 2%?? I'm pretty sure the saponification should have occurred because I blended it thoroughly. There's no zap at all either on the slimy foam around the edges or in the center part that actually looks like soap. It's weird though. It doesn't smell like Eucalyptus at all, and it smells like lard... Maybe instead of trying to do another batch, I could rebatch this. I need to keep thinking about this. Maybe I could CPOP just the basic recipe and then rebatch with color. The problem is that rebatching requires heat too, and neither fragrance nor essential oils do well with heat. Grrr...
 

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The oiliness on the outside is because of overheating, which you could have gotten just from too hot an oven if you hadn't used sugar. The addition of the sugar contributed to the overheating though. Soaps with sugars in them usually get pretty hot on their own so just wrapping and watching should get it to gel. No real need to decrease your SF. If your soap didn't overheat, it wouldn't be oily! You said you were okay with tough love, so my tough love comment would be to stop overthinking this and have your next batch be smaller and simpler. ;)
 

Seawolfe

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Woah slow down - theres a LOT of techniques and additives here.

The three things that jump out at me:
1) Too much castor oil - try Dorymae's recipe 70% lard, 15% CO, 5% castor
2) Sugar doesn't dissolve well in lye water - dissolve the sugar in the water first otherwise you get weird reaction and grainyness.
3) CPOP doesnt work for everyone - certainly not well for me. Just insulate well if you want to gel
4) Colors - I would even avoid color right now, but if you need color do one color and disperse in a tiny bit of olive oil - some will even disperse in a bit of batter.

and yep, the lye monster means we use crazy amounts of EO compared to other methods like M&P HP or body and bath products. Was your EO a good quality one for soaping or a random one from the health food shop? I've had problems with what I thought were EO's but weren't really pure EO's.

5% superfat sounds fine for right now.
 

jenny1271

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And, yes, I'm a Carolina grad too!! Bless our hearts!!! We just cannot catch a break! I can't even figure out what the situation is with the NCAA and the accreditation folks putting us on probation.
 

Jstar

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Start with 1-2 pound batches and make a couple batches of 1 or maybe 2 color soaps. Don't add sugar or any other extras (except fragrance) yet until you get the feel for your recipe. Try just wrapping the mold in a blanket or towel and leave it be overnight instead of trying CPOP right away.

Start very simple, simple, simple and then once you feel confident in how your recipe works and acts, then add a new factor, one only, and see what happens with it. Don't get discouraged about not being fancy right away because you will definitely get there as you get more experience.
^^ This

Also, I personally wouldn't worry about the colorants or FO's/EO's either..further, I wouldn't mix the colorants with any 'extra' oils..use a bit of oil out of your batch oils before you add the lye mixture.

Once you get familiar with your base recipe, and how it performs, then as was said, add one {1} 'new' thing.

That being said, the blue one looks very pretty...let it sit for a few weeks and then test it and see how it works :)
 

hmlove1218

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I am desperate to start making some successful batches, and it just seems like every time I do a new batch, there are so many new techniques and new ingredients that I'm doing for the first time, that I can't diagnose what I did wrong to cause my soap to turn out the way it did.
First off, slow down and try to not make so many changes at once. If you try a new recipe, use a fragrance you've used before. If you're trying a new fragrance, use a recipe you've used before. This will give you a sense of how each affects the soap. And dont forget, KEEP GOOD NOTES! Also, don't do such large batches. Try sticking to 1 or 2 pounds until you get the hang of it. This lessens the waste if something goes wrong.

RECIPE: 77% lard, 10 % coconut, 13% castor oil. Four pounds of oils for this batch.
Normally, I would agree with everyone else and say that that is a lot of castor oil. However, you're recipe is mostly hard oils and there have been several members here that say they can use a higher castor oil amount with more hard oils without the softening/slimy factor of the castor oil affecting their soap. I say if you like this recipe let it be.

COLOR: I used blue and green micas with jojoba oil as my carrier oil. I think the jojoba may have been part of the problem. Maybe I should have used something like olive oil to mix with the colorants? Is it possible to just use water or something else, rather than doing it kind of like a superfat?
You don't need to mix it with water or extra oil. Just pull a little from your melted oils and mix your colors. This way, you're not adding anything extra to your soap.

FRAGRANCE: .6 oz of Eucalyptus essential oil. This was the whole bottle!!
Just my opinion, but that is not nearly enough for the size batch. I usually use 1.1 oz. to a 36 oz. batch (3%).

ADDITIVES: I mixed my lye with the water and then added 4 TBS of sugar to the lye solution, because I thought I was supposed to add 1TBS per pound of oils. Right before I poured, I put in 3% Sodium Lactate, 1.44 oz (because this is .03*48oz of oil).
That amount of sugar is perfectly fine. Most people seem to use between 1 tsp and 1 tbsp PPO.

METHOD: CPOP. After pouring into my silicone mold, I put it in my oven at its lowest setting, 170 degrees. After thirty minutes, I wasn't seeing any gel happening, so I raised the temp to 190 for ten minutes. And, this was too high, because then it started to foam up on the top. I lowered the temp back to 170. After another ten minutes, I did start seeing gel around the edges, and it gradually gelled all the way through to the center.[/QUOTE]

You should have pulled it out when it foamed up. I think that perhaps you blinked and missed the gel and you saw it go from the outside in because it was overheating. You're lucky that it didn't volcano.

Then, I wrapped it up in a huge upside down shoebox and wrapped it up with towels.
There was no reason for this step. If you CPOP, you eliminate the need to insulate your soap because you've already done that with the oven. People insulate soaps to encourage gel. When you CPOP, the oven replaces the towels and boxes to ensure gel.

PROBLEMS TO TRY TO DIAGNOSE:
1) I expected the top to be all foamed out, but all of the edges of the loaf (where it was touching the mold) have that oily foam on them too. You can really see this in the bars that came out of the single bar mold that I used. It seems like the mold heated up and cooked the soap on the edges. So, will any of this improve as the bars cure?
The oily feel is most likely from the soap overheating (which is why it foamed up). Give it a few days and it should reabsorb. You'll want to zap test it to be sure it's safe after this time.

2) The inside part (that wasn't touching the mold) seems like the color didn't really swirl like I wanted it to, all the contrast seems to have blurred. Will this improve with cure?
No, this won't change. Most likely, it's blurry because it overheated, but it could also be the way you poured.

3) Was some of this caused by the SL or the sugar?[/QUOTE]

Yes, sugar can cause a soap to heat up. Couple that with the hot oven and it could have helped it overheat.
 

jenny1271

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You guys are by far the best part of my soap hobby! It was almost worth it having my soap turn out all foamed out and slimy, just because I so enjoyed reading all of your great comments! Thank you so much. I still have not decided what I'm going to do about this batch. Since the soap doesn't stink, I think I'm going to let it continue to cure and learn about how it will change over time. I might throw away those ones that came out of the single bar mold.

Before this, I had a batch that had DOS and it STANK!! TOO MUCH COCOA BUTTER, and I think the cocoa butter had gone bad, because a few weeks ago, there was an accidental flood when my daughter left the bathroom sink upstairs on, and it soaked through the floor into the basement where my workshop is. I was trying to dry out the carpet and the ceiling to avoid mold, so I turned up the heat and turned on the fireplace and closed all the doors, so it heated up to about 90 some degrees in there overnight. It worked to dry everything out, but unfortunately, and I didn't realize this until after I had done the first batch and it turned out with DOS and smelled awful, t think the heat ruined all of the oils that I was saving to use in my future soaps.

:thumbdown::sick:
 

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"it just seems like every time I do a new batch, there are so many new techniques and new ingredients that I'm doing for the first time, that I can't diagnose what I did wrong to cause my soap to turn out the way it did."

You just diagnosed your own problem. Make small batches at first. Make soap without color or fragrance until you're able to do it successfully every time. Then add something. ONE thing! Color or fragrance for starters. Any problems? Then you know what caused it, and you can work from there. For CPOP, be patient. Soap has it's own time schedule. Preheat the mold in the warm oven. Put the soap in, turn the oven off. Leave it there. Don't open the door until the next morning. Give it time to do it's thing. CPOP doesn't have to involve "cooking" the soap. The kind of CPOP I do, is gentle, and just insures that the soap gels all the way to the edges.

Too many newbies jump into the deep end of the pool and then realize they can't swim, get discouraged and quit. Go easy on yourself, start in the shallow end and work your way up. You'll learn a lot along the way. But don't ever give up.....that's why we're here, to talk you back from the edge. Soapmaking isn't magic. (Well, it is, kind of.) But if we all learned to do it, so can you! :smile: Just make it easier on yourself, and start simple, until you get the hang of things, then go for the more complicated stuff. You'll get there!
 

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