Oily Soap

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Active Member
Jan 4, 2020
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Colorado Springs
There are a lot of threads here with that same title but I haven't been able to find what I'm looking for so I'm starting a new "Oily Soap" thread.

Here's what I did: A couple weeks ago I made some soap that I didn't like the result of (in terms of color and swirl design, not actual quality of the soap) so I grated it with the intention of blending it in with a new batch of soap. I had roughly 31 ounces of grated soap and I read that to do a "partial rebatch" you should have a 2:1 ratio of new soap to grated soap. My 2:1 ratio was based on weight of oils in the new soap so I concocted a recipe using 62 ounces of oils, in the following proportions:

Coconut 30%
Palm 30
Olive 30
Castor 10

I used a 33.333% lye concentration (2:1 Water:lye), a 5% superfat, and 2.8 ounces of essential oils (lemongrass, sweet basil, cinnamon leaf, black pepper). I also added approximately 5.75 tsp of sodium lactate because I screwed up and looked at the total soap weight (5.737 lbs) instead of the weight of the oils (3.875 lbs) to get the 1 tsp ppo amount, so there's too much sodium lactate. And I added about 3 tsp of titanium dioxide mixed with 3 Tbsp of water to make it more white.

The grated soap was just under two weeks old (made 10/1, cut 10/2, looked at for three days and didn't like so grated 10/5) and consisted of...

Coconut 25%
Castor 5
Cocoa butter 10 (1/2 natural, 1/2 refined, if that matters)
Olive 40
Rice Bran 15
Avocado 5

Also in the grated soap was my usual 2:1 water:lye ratio, 5% superfat, and 1.3 ounces essential oils (tea tree, black pepper, cinnamon leaf). I don't think the colorants used are a factor but here they are: Indigo Dye and Gold Clay from Nurture Soap, and Celestial Blue and Adobe Orange mica from Crafter's Choice.

I combined my oils (with EOs added) and lye (with sodium lactate added) at about 98 degrees, hand stirred a bit then added the titanium dioxide and hand stirred some more. Not once did I use the stick blender. The stuff traced pretty quickly with just hand stirring--about one minute--and then I added the grated soap and mixed some more to integrate it. I put the large amount of soap into three loaf molds and I immediately saw pools of oil on top.

I began to think that maybe the soap hadn't actually traced but instead just cooled enough to thicken and make it look like it had--the so-called false trace. Instead of dumping it all back into the pot and stirring more, I just covered the tops of the molds with plastic and wrapped them in a cozy fleece blanket until this morning--not quite 24 hours later. There are still pools of oil all over the place. Here are some pictures:



It looks like a greasy mess. But other than that, I like this soap. It's also pretty hard, due, I presume, to the excess amount of sodium lactate. You can also see some tannish discoloration but I think that may just be some of the color from the grated soap bleeding into the new soap. But maybe not.

Any input would be most appreciated. My main question is: can this soap be saved, and if so, how? Should I rebatch my rebatch? Should I let it cure and see what happens? I know this is long but I also know that the expert soapmakers out there love to this kind of thing and love to analyze problems, so please...analyze away!
Your cinnamon leaf, black pepper, and Basil EO can all cause heating in your soap along with you covering it you may have overheated it. I would let it sit a few days and see if it all re-absorbs then de-mold and cut. If you have no craters inside from overheating you should be good to go otherwise you can then decide to chuck it or rebatch it. It will be usable soap if you rebatch but ugly. The downside of letting it sit is it's becoming too hard to cut with all the SL, I do not use SL so not much help in that department, but the oils should re-absorb quickly.
I've already unmolded and cut it, being one of those impatient types. There's oil all over the place. Does the excess oil mean there is free lye hanging out in the soap because I maybe didn't stir it long enough or does it mean there was just more fat than the lye needed to saponify?
It is hard to say. Let it cure out and do a zap test in a month. Soap takes patience. Were there craters or what we call alligator teeth where oil ran out of? A lot will depend on if it was fragrance oil and what your superfat percentage was. Curing fixes a lot of errors and can cure zapping even if it initially zaps curing for up to six months can cure the problem. As I said, "Patience," can be the key. When and I say when because it will probably happen again if you make enough soap, wait it out until the oil is re-absorbed, now you have to wait out curing to see if it fixes it or rebatch a very ugly soap. Honestly, you have no idea how much oil you lost or if it is fragrance oil or soaping oils, I personally would wait it out and make more soap.
Were there craters or what we call alligator teeth where oil ran out of?
Yeah, there were craters of oil. I was just going to take a picture of the cut bars and post it, but the craters and oil seem to have gone away. I did sop up some of the oil with a paper towel but some of the bars I just let be and they don't appear to have alligator teeth anymore. Hmmm. I guess I'll let them cure, as suggested, and see how they are in a month or two. I was hoping to give them away for Christmas but there may not be time.

EO blend sounds amazing! How does it smell?
It smells pretty good! It smells mostly like lemongrass because that by far is the highest amount of EO I used since you're not supposed to use too much basil or cinnamon at a time and I didn't have much black pepper left but I think in more even proportions, it would make a really nice scent. The tea tree, cinnamon, black pepper blend from the original (grated) soap smells pretty good, too. I think I got that from that EOCalc site. It's 7 parts tea tree to 4 parts black pepper to 2 parts cinnamon.