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overheating and cracking

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sarahjane

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I cannot figure out WTH is going on with my soap! It's driving me insane. The last 4 batches I have made have overheated and cracked. The last two had goats milk in them and I know that it heats things up. I tried not putting the top on and it still overheated and cracked.

The only thing I have changed is using canola instead of olive to experiment with different oils, and I had crackage using both.

Are there any tricks of the trade that I should know about to prevent this? Should I put it in the fridge or outside? I want my soap to gel, I just don't want it to crack! Aaaarg. My first couple of batches went so perfectly. And now...sigh :cry:
 

Barb

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hey we live in michigan, stick it in a snowbank. :lol: i do.

ok seriously it can be a combo of things.

soap cooler temps, less sb'ing ( i hand stir most of my milk soaps), sb helps heat er up, some fragrance oils are super heaters ( some florals, those with cinnamon notes for example), combine that with the milk and hot hot hot.

put soap mold under a fan, or set it up on a cake rack, or soup cans so it can breath underneath. use frig, freezer or snowbank to help stop gel.
barb
 

sarahjane

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Hmmmm it could be the FO. I have no idea why I didn't even think of that! I do RTCP so everything was pretty cool. Thanks for the reply! I will try the fridge next time and go on from there. I like my soap to gel though so I don't want to prevent it. But if it's getting that hot maybe it will still gel in the fridge???

I guess I will have experiment! I have said that I wish I were a scientist before but lately I feel that I AM one!! A mad scientist at that!! Hahahahahahahahahahaha :twisted:
 

NEASoapWorks

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Cracks

I have a TOG Mold — my soap will gel in Antarctica, I believe. That mold insulates SO darn good, that it's hard to prevent gel, especially with milk/honey batters. Even when I put mine in the fridge, it'll gel — maybe not a real, good hot gel, but it'll gel.

I agree that handstirring at lower temps can control heat. I just did a honey/coconut milk powder soap. I did use the stick blender. I used 2 tbsp of honey, for 32 ounces of soap batter (I LOVE honey!). It got pretty hot, and it started to crack. I just lifted the lid for a bit, and monitored it, cuz I wanted a full gel to the ends. I would rather it gel, or not gel — but no "partial" gels. I hate that, cuz the color/texture is not even throughout, when it's done.

I don't mind imperfections in handmade soap — matter of fact, I prefer something that makes it look homemade/handmade.

I think my soap looks good enough to not frighten somebody. I can appreciate the "perfect" look of other soaper's soaps, but I don't aspire to that, for myself. I can take, "almost perfect", when it comes to looks.

I'm probably most worried about hot, hot gels burning off the fragrance, than making the soap look bad.
 

sarahjane

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You are right NEA, it doesn't really matter. I am a little bit of a perfectionist and it's hard to let go!

I DO want my soap to gel. Just not crack. I did get a partial gel on my last batch & a crack. But I stuck it in the oven the next day with the top on my TOG and it finished gelling. Pretty cool.
 
G

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I'm surprised to hear that you can tell a difference in the amount of heat you get when hand blending vs stick blending since the heat is produced by the chemical reaction when lye mixes with oils.

I soap cold a lot. As in ice for liquids and oils at room temp. Still get more than enough heat to gel. I have given into the gel process because nothing I have tried will stop it.
 

NEASoapWorks

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Marr said:
I'm surprised to hear that you can tell a difference in the amount of heat you get when hand blending vs stick blending since the heat is produced by the chemical reaction when lye mixes with oils.

I soap cold a lot. As in ice for liquids and oils at room temp. Still get more than enough heat to gel. I have given into the gel process because nothing I have tried will stop it.
Yeah, but there are other variables that affect how hot it actually gets. If honey and milk cause things to get hotter, then I would guess there's a way to control things, so there's no volcano.
 

Buttercupsoaps

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I just made a oatmeal, milk & honey this am.........I let it gel fully and now I have a puddle of oil all over the top! yikes :( I had this happen the last batch I did but not this much of a puddle! This is going to be interesting to get out of the mold to rebatch :roll:
 

Lane

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sarahjane said:
The only thing I have changed is using canola instead of olive to experiment with different oils, and I had crackage using both.
Canola makes my olive bars HARD very fast. Even at a 32% Canola usage I noticed a HUGE difference verses 100% Olive. The bars were actually glossy and shrank in the mold! And this was in only 10 hours.
 

soapgardener

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Sarahjane, when your soap cracked, was it because the bottom gelled and the top didn't? The oven seemed to have done the trick for you. Others have used a heat mat, like the kind used for starting seedlings indoors. Cover the mold, put it on the heat mat and put blankets over the top. This should keep enough heat in so the top gels and you won't get cracks.
 
G

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NEASoapWorks said:
Yeah, but there are other variables that affect how hot it actually gets. If honey and milk cause things to get hotter, then I would guess there's a way to control things, so there's no volcano.
Yes - but honey and milk are super heaters because of the chemical reaction. I am not saying you're wrong - I actually hadn't even thought about it before. We use stick blenders to bring to trace faster so stirring methods have some initial impact for sure.

Edited to add: This is taking FO's out of the equation because there are fragrances will volcano no matter what.
 

NEASoapWorks

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Marr said:
NEASoapWorks said:
Yeah, but there are other variables that affect how hot it actually gets. If honey and milk cause things to get hotter, then I would guess there's a way to control things, so there's no volcano.
Yes - but honey and milk are super heaters because of the chemical reaction. I am not saying you're wrong - I actually hadn't even thought about it before. We use stick blenders to bring to trace faster so stirring methods have some initial impact for sure.

Edited to add: This is taking FO's out of the equation because there are fragrances will volcano no matter what.
I understand that and agree. I guess I'm not understanding you.
Also, I don't have a problem with being wrong, btw (nor did I think you were saying I was wrong). I'm learning how to make soap, so I base what I say on limited experience/knowledge.
 
G

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Hi!

There was another person who posted that they thought they could slow the heating process by hand stirring. I didn't want ANYONE to think I was totally disregarding what they had to say. I am always open to new ideas and willing to experiment. That's why I love soaping so much. So many variables! :)
 

Barb

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here's my reason why i think when i hand stir to trace, i have a better chance of my soaps not over heating. sometimes no matter what tricks you use it just happens.

it plain takes me longer to get to trace. i start out mixing cool but i think the mixture is still cooling down due to the surrounding air, and all that stirring. not much i'm sure but enough to that when i put the finished product in the frig or snowbank ( i'm a milk, non gell kinda gal ), it is less likely to continue to get hot. it is still warm but not hot.

i can sb to trace in less then 3 minutes, hand stirring may take me 20 minutes.

barb
 

sarahjane

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soapgardener,

So in addition to the top that goes with my TOG I should also insulate it? Hmmm I will give this a try. I am only making my soaps for myself so it doesn't REALLY matter, it would just be nice to figure this out. I think the goats milk is a big factor, but I love it so much I won't stop using it. I made a salt bar batch yesterday without it and no overheating or cracking.

Thank you everyone so much for all the help you have been giving me and your patience with all the questions that I KNOW you have been asked a zillion times!
:oops:
SJ
 

soapgardener

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Hmmm. So eventhough you put the top on the mold the top still didn't gel. Did you put the mold in a cold place, like your basement, shed or garage? Milk will definitely cause the reaction to run way hotter - I had a CP milk soap get so hot on me that it separated. I had to put the whole thing in a big pot and heat and stir it unil it came back together as soap. So yes, keep the mold in a warmer place. Milk soaps are tricky. Make sure that after covering the soap, insulating it and maybe putting it on a heat mat you keep checking the soap to make sure the top does gel. Otherwise the whole thing underneath could get so hot so quickly that your soap will "volcano" and you'll have a huge mess of separated soap all over the place. Many people choose to keep milk soaps cold, and thus not gel at all, in order to avoid the danger of getting TOO hot. It's a fine line. I hot process all of my milk soaps (and most others, too) to avoid this possible catastrophe. With hot process, I'm just letting the soap go through it's gel phase right there in the pot (over low heat) where I can keep an eye on it and stir it so all parts get gelled. After about an hour of gelling in the pot I add a bit more water if the soap is on the dry side then I dump the whole thing into my mold. The soap is done at this point, it just needs to harden, so there will be no more chemical reaction surprises.
 

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