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Soap peeps,
For the first time I made soap with honey and beeswax and I am requesting your guidance. I've attached my recipe. My main question, is this safe?

I pre-made the oil solution and the lye solution. I first dissolved 168 grams lye in 320 grams of water. Days later, there was a thin crust of lye crystals floating on top of the water. I then added 45 more grams of water until it dissolved. In a separate container, I dissolved 2 Tbsp honey in 128 grams water -- and heated it up in the microwave. Once both the lye solution and the honey solution reached room temps, I mixed them. Pow! It all turned an intense orange -- think tomato juice.

When I added the lye solution to the oil mixture, at the bottom of the lye pitcher were crystals which I scraped into the batter. I don't know if they were lye crystals and/or sugar from the honey.

I hand stirred to medium emulsion. I poured into single cavity molds. They will sit there for several days to escape the danger of soda ash. While cooling, I checked on them repeatedly and there were never any signs of over-heating.

My question, did those crystals dissolve? Is it safe to use? Shout out to @IrishLass because I printed out her notes on temperatures and procedure.
Thank you!
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I'm no expert on your particular question, but I have a couple of thoughts.

First, was it really lye crystals (hard) on top of the water? Or lye lint (soft), aka soda ash? Because I've had lye crystals more than once in my solution, and they always sink to the bottom. Lye lint, on the other hand, floats to the top. If was the latter, it means that your lye solution wasn't quite as strong as it started out - meaning your super fat would be a little higher. No biggie either way since you redissolved whatever it was.

Second, my vote would be that your honey fell out of solution. Why? Well, I've had that happen to me when I've added honey to lye solution. Also, I'm hopefully quoting @DeeAnna correctly about how NaOH tends to "hog" the water and make it harder for other stuff to dissolve, or stay dissolved.

When I've had undissolved honey, it showed up as brown specks in my soap. They didn't zap, but were actually soapy-sweet and not hard to the touch.

I've only had undissolved lye crystals once in my soap. They were whitish, hard, and definitely zappy. That was a big batch of soap that I had to toss, so I no longer scrape anything undissolved into my soap.

I don't know if that helped you or left you with more questions. Hopefully a real expert will pick up the page now!
 

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Days later, there was a thin crust of lye crystals floating on top of the water.
Lint! (Thanks AliOop!)
Crystals on top of the solution are usually flat, not chunky-shaped like lye crystals.
When you leave a solution out for a few days, the surface can react with the carbon dioxide in the air to form sodium carbonate.
This isn't harmful (it makes no difference - sodium carbonate will show up in the soap, some people strain it out, others don't bother).

When I added the lye solution to the oil mixture, at the bottom of the lye pitcher were crystals which I scraped into the batter. I don't know if they were lye crystals and/or sugar from the honey.
Was the lye solution completely clear before you added the honey (including the bottom)?
If it was, then it was not lye crystals (*exception, refer cold precipitation, see DeeAnna's post below) :thumbs:.

Pow! It all turned an intense orange -- think tomato juice.
Bright orange is normal for honey in lye ... I add my honey in small amounts to avoid scorching (it's another exothermic reaction) and expect the colour change (when it gets too dark, it's scorching, but bright orange to burnt umber is ok). Tomato might mean it scorched a little, but then all that happens is the soap ends up tan to brown in the soap (and will have a nice caramel scent 😆 ).
Orange from unscorched honey in lye fades to cream in the finished soap.


Summary:
If your solution was clear, all the way to the bottom, before you added the honey mix, then it's not lye that you encountered at the bottom of your jug.
The colour your lye went, when you added the lye and honey solutions together at once, is normal and will fade in the finished soap.

*edited due to maths fail 😆
 
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DeeAnna

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If your pre-made lye solution stayed 65F or warmer -- A loose layer of white-ish sediment on the bottom of the jug is pretty normal. The sediment is tiny crystals of the impurities in the NaOH -- most likely sodium carbonate. Most people don't normally see this layer of sediment, because they're using the lye solution quickly enough so the crystals don't have time to settle into a layer on the bottom of the container.

IMO, it's best to stir this sediment into the liquid lye solution and use it as-is. By adding more water, you dissolved the sodium carbonate, but that unnecessarily complicated the soap making process. IMO, the original lye solution was fine to use without further dilution.

If your pre-made solution was chilled below 65F -- The material on the bottom might be a mixture of sodium carbonate sediment plus precipitated solid NaOH. If so, that's a real problem that needs to be solved before using the lye solution. You would definitely want to re-dissolve the NaOH before use.

The stuff on the top is very likely AliOop's "lye lint" -- sodium carbonate that forms on the surface when NaOH reacts with carbon dioxide in the air. These crystals of sodium carbonate float due to how they form. If the lye solution isn't stored properly in an air-tight container, this lint can build up enough to form a thicker crust. As long as there's just a light skim of lint, just use the lye solution as it is without trying to dilute or remove the lint.

If there's a thick crust of lint, the NaOH concentration might be quite a bit lower than it should be. If this is the case, it might be best to discard the lye solution and start fresh. And keep the container of lye solution tightly capped when not actively using the lye solution.

I don't use honey in my soap, but I know other additives cause the lye solution to blush a bright orange-y color The darker the blush, the more likely the color will persist in the finished soap. I don't recommend adding add any type of sugar to lye solution. Dissolve the honey (or any type of sugar or sugary syrup) in plain water first, then SLOWLY add the NaOH, stirring constantly, to control the heat build up and the color change due to the reaction of NaOH with the sugars.
 

Marsi

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If your pre-made solution was chilled below 65F -- The material on the bottom might be a mixture of sodium carbonate sediment plus precipitated solid NaOH.

Confirming ... NaOH precipitates at 18C (65F)?
 
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Thanks, all of you for weighing in -- especially @DeeAnna ! I have decided that I will not give away any bars from this batch -- I'll toss most and try 1 or 2 bars.

I am definitely wanting to try this again and incorporate your all's advice. BUT I will not pre-mix anything. I had pre-mixed the lye several days prior. My main lye solution pitcher which has a tight lid was unavailable. So for this batch, the lye solution was in an open pitcher inside of a cupboard. I'd rather mix the lye solution and use it after cooling so that I don't have to wonder if particles are soda ash or lye or sugar.

I so want this to work! Our Noah is a beekeeper and I'm using his honey. If it's successful, I'd like to use his beeswax as well.
 
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Confirming ... NaOH precipitates at 18C (65F)?
Yes, NaOH can precipitate out if the temp of your solution gets too low as stated above. Also, any time Lye is masterbatched you will usually end up with sediment in the bottom of the jug if it has sat for a while. I always lightly shook my gallon jug of masterbatch before using my lye solution, even then when the gallon jug was finished I would usually have a thin layer of sediment on the bottom.

Zing, when I use honey I just heat it in some reserved batch water and add the warm honey water directly into my oils. I always found this way I would not get the flash of orange or at least not as badly. Depending on your soaping temps your batter may or may not pick up an orange tint. As for using beeswax I really only used it a couple of times and I remember melting it down with my oils and soaping it warmer than my normal 75-95º F. When soaping warmer be mindful that if you are using sugars they are going to heat up your batter and I always found honey heated up the batter faster and seemed to get hotter than sugar. I would go on the lowest end of the temp for using beeswax if also using Honey.
 
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Marsi

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Yes, NaOH can precipitate out if the temp of your solution gets too low as stated above. Also, any time Lye is masterbatched you will usually end up with sediment in the bottom of the jug if it has sat for a while. I always lightly shook my gallon jug of masterbatch before using my lye solution, even then when the gallon jug was finished I would usually have a thin layer of sediment on the bottom.
It can recipitate out at 18C (75F)?

Precipitating at freezing/cold temperatures makes sense, but I've not seen precipitation that close to room temperature (18C/65F vs room 21C).

I will have to wait for cooler weather to test this!
(sorry Zing ... apologies for the slight diversion from your query)
 

DeeAnna

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Confirming ... NaOH precipitates at 18C (65F)?

Science-y answer -- Not exactly. The temperature at which the NaOH will crystallize (precipitate) out of solution depends on the concentration of the NaOH solution. NaOH will crystallize out of a 50% NaOH solution at a warmer temperature than a 25% NaOH solution. This is roughly the same idea as making "rock candy." Sugar crystals won't form if you try to make rock candy using a dilute solution of sugar in water. But if you make a highly concentrated sugar solution (super saturated), the solid sugar crystals will form fairly easily. See -- How to Make Homemade Rock Candy and Make Your Own Rock Candy

Simpler soapy answer -- For soap makers, I simplify the information to this -- For any lye solution that is 33% NaOH or more concentrated, keep the lye solution at or above 65F / 18C. That's a fairly safe minimum temperature for the NaOH solutions that we typically use.

edit:
"...Precipitating at freezing/cold temperatures makes sense, but I've not seen precipitation that close to room temperature (18C/65F vs room 21C)...."

When talking about dilute solutions of a chemical in water, it's likely the freeze temp of the solution will be close to the freeze temp of water. But we're not talking about dilute solutions here. The NaOH solutions we use for soap making are highly concentrated. You cannot assume a concentrated solution will behave similar to plain water.
 
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Zing, when I use honey I just heat it in some reserved batch water and add the warm honey water directly into my oils. I always found this way I would not get the flash of orange or at least not as badly. Depending on your soaping temps your batter may or may not pick up an orange tint. As for using beeswax I really only used it a couple of times and I remember melting it down with my oils and soaping it warmer than my normal 75-95º F. When soaping warmer be mindful that if you are using sugars they are going to heat up your batter and I always found honey heated up the batter faster and seemed to get hotter than sugar. I would go on the lowest end of the temp for using beeswax if also using Honey.
@Zing , I am a beekeeper and put honey in almost all of my soaps. I follow the same practice as @cmzaha. I warm it with a little of my reserved batch water and then add it to my oils.
I only use beeswax in my balms. For me, personally, I do not like the feel of the beeswax in soap and seem to often have issues with bull's eyes when I put it in.
 

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Science-y answer -- Not exactly. The temperature at which the NaOH will crystallize (precipitate) out of solution depends on the concentration of the NaOH solution. NaOH will crystallize out of a 50% NaOH solution at a warmer temperature than a 25% NaOH solution. This is roughly the same idea as making "rock candy." Sugar crystals won't form if you try to make rock candy using a dilute solution of sugar in water. But if you make a highly concentrated sugar solution (super saturated), the solid sugar crystals will form fairly easily. See -- How to Make Homemade Rock Candy and Make Your Own Rock Candy

Simpler soapy answer -- For soap makers, I simplify the information to this -- For any lye solution that is 33% NaOH or more concentrated, keep the lye solution at or above 65F / 18C. That's a fairly safe minimum temperature for the NaOH solutions that we typically use.

edit:
"...Precipitating at freezing/cold temperatures makes sense, but I've not seen precipitation that close to room temperature (18C/65F vs room 21C)...."

When talking about dilute solutions of a chemical in water, it's likely the freeze temp of the solution will be close to the freeze temp of water. But we're not talking about dilute solutions here. The NaOH solutions we use for soap making are highly concentrated. You cannot assume a concentrated solution will behave similar to plain water.
Thank you for the more comprehensive answer!

I will test this at 34.4% concentration (Zing's concentration) , at 18C (<65F) and some points below (Zing's room temperature is unknown), in a closed environment (to exclude carbon dioxide) when the weather cools - thank you.

(And come back to post the results, if I remember 😄)
 
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Peeps,
To recap, when I poured the dark lye/honey/water solution into my oils, I discovered several crystals at the bottom of the pitcher that I poured into the oil mixture. If the crystals were sugar, the soap is fine. But what if the crystals are lye? Do lye crystals stay crystals in the batter -- or in the 30 minutes of stirring, can they dissolve and/or bind with oil? And if I do a zap test, could a bar test negative on the outside -- but yet contain a lye crystal deep inside the middle that won't be discovered until later? What say you?

Mrs. Zing said that the batter was smooth when she poured into the molds and she did not see any lumps. She loves the end product and doesn't want to toss any. Mrs. Zing has excellent judgment -- but she's not a soaper either.

In any case, these bars will be for household use only -- I will not give any away.
 

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I've never had undissolved lye in my soap batter so I can't answer your question as to what the crystals were or if they could dissolve in the batter (I suspect not, but I truly don't know). As far as the soap passing the zap test, but have have a lye crystal somewhere in the bar, I believe that could happen. I think it is wise to not give them away, but if you and Mrs. Zing want to try using them I think you could. You are both aware to be on the lookout for anything suspicious and, worst case, you would discover it while in use and be right there with a water source to rinse if necessary. I would maybe use one bar strictly for hand washing before taking any into the shower or tub.

One tip: if I am using a lye solution that isn't clear enough to see through (like made with an alternative to water liquid), I pour the solution into my batter through a tea strainer kind of like this. I probably got mine at Target.
 

TheGecko

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Peeps,
Do lye crystals stay crystals in the batter -- or in the 30 minutes of stirring, can they dissolve and/or bind with oil? And if I do a zap test, could a bar test negative on the outside -- but yet contain a lye crystal deep inside the middle that won't be discovered until later? What say you?
Not sure if this is helpful, but when I make a Goat Milk Lye Solution I keep the temperature low...sometimes as low as 60F. Now I know quite a few folks who run their GMLS through a mess strainer...partly to break up any globules because the Lye has already started to bind with the fats in the milk, partly to strain out any possible undissolved NaOH. I've never seen a reason to do this because 1) I give my GMLS a whiz with the stick blender to homogenize it, and 2) my oils are around 120F. So while the 60F GMLS lowers the temp of my oils, the 120F oils, raises the temp of my GMLS. I've been doing this since the first unmitigated disaster that my first GMS was and still shudder to recall, and haven't had a single complaint...and I have a few really hard-core GMS customers. If something was wrong, they would not hesitate to tell me.

As for the zap...if there was only a single lye crystal, most certainly it could end up in the middle. If you had two...the odds of both ending up the middle? If you have any concerns about your Lye Solution...don't use it. I will not hesitate to dump it down my bathtub drain...did that about a month ago before I figured out that the little floaties I had was because of the oil residue in the container. It wouldn't have hurt anything, but I am more careful about making sure my container is squeaky clean.
 
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HI @Zing I hope you don't give up masterbatching your lye solution because of this. I think the only things that went wrong were not tightly covering your container (an absolute must) and perhaps letting it get to cold.

I've had lye crystals in my soap one time because a fairly good-sized chunk of lye "ice" plopped into my batter. It was a 4lb batch of oils which had goat milk blended in, so I couldn't find the chunk to fish it out. Being a less experienced soaper at that time, I figured if I blended it very, very well, the lye would eventually connect with some water to activate it, and then connect with some lye to make soap.

Sadly, that didn't happen. Fortunately, there were enough smaller crystals (from stickblending the bigger crystal) that they were visible in a few of the cut bars. And yes, they zapped! I shredded and rebatched that darn soap 2x, even soaking the shreds first in water, and the second time in vinegar. Alas, there were still a few visible lye crystals in my soap. I ended up tossing the whole batch because it had too much SF to make a good laundry soap, and I couldn't risk potentially getting some in any of my mucous membranes, perhaps by touching my face after handwashing.

It was an expensive and sad lesson for me. Since then, I've always poured in my lye through a strainer, like @dibbles mentioned. I've never had any lye chunks since then, but I have had sugar and CA that have precipitated out and would have made my soap scratchy had I not used the strainer.

All that to say, it's up to you whether you feel safe using it as hand soap. The other option is to shred it and salt it out to make 0%SF laundry soap that can go into Mrs. Zing's laundry blend. HTH, friend.
 
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Thanks, I appreciate you all replying. @AliOop , clearly you gave it more than the college try!

I will continue to masterbatch lye solution and will make sure it remains covered from now on -- it's a great timesaver.

I had such a better experience the second time adding honey super slowly so the lye solution turned a light orange and was still transparent and it would have been easy to see crystals. But that first time, man!, It just went whoof and turned into this opaque tomato juice/soup liquid where I couldn't see a thing!
 
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if you could please check in over to the Zing Soap Shop!
Soap peeps,
For the first time I made soap with honey and beeswax and I am requesting your guidance. I've attached my recipe. My main question, is this safe?

I pre-made the oil solution and the lye solution. I first dissolved 168 grams lye in 320 grams of water. Days later, there was a thin crust of lye crystals floating on top of the water. I then added 45 more grams of water until it dissolved. In a separate container, I dissolved 2 Tbsp honey in 128 grams water -- and heated it up in the microwave. Once both the lye solution and the honey solution reached room temps, I mixed them. Pow! It all turned an intense orange -- think tomato juice.

When I added the lye solution to the oil mixture, at the bottom of the lye pitcher were crystals which I scraped into the batter. I don't know if they were lye crystals and/or sugar from the honey.

I hand stirred to medium emulsion. I poured into single cavity molds. They will sit there for several days to escape the danger of soda ash. While cooling, I checked on them repeatedly and there were never any signs of over-heating.

My question, did those crystals dissolve? Is it safe to use? Shout out to @IrishLass because I printed out her notes on temperatures and procedure.
Thank you!
View attachment 69369
I don’t know about what others do but I have begun using powdered honey as it behaves far better than raw honey in my soaps. I no longer have to cope with the color change or little “blobs” of honey in my batter. This has been working well for me for the last couple of months now so I thought I would offer it up for comment.
 
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I don’t know about what others do but I have begun using powdered honey as it behaves far better than raw honey in my soaps. I no longer have to cope with the color change or little “blobs” of honey in my batter. This has been working well for me for the last couple of months now so I thought I would offer it up for comment.
I do the same. I had a bad experience with honey the one time I used it. I also use powdered goats milk or powdered buttermilk for the same reason
 
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So despite all the drama when I made this, I am LOVING this soap! Because it may have lye crystals in it, it is for my household only. It is by far the hardest soap I've made so I may tweak my basic recipe to include beeswax. Every week it gets bubblier too. Such a nice shade of beige too. Another shout out to @IrishLass for her detailed notes.
 

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So despite all the drama when I made this, I am LOVING this soap! Because it may have lye crystals in it, it is for my household only. It is by far the hardest soap I've made so I may tweak my basic recipe to include beeswax. Every week it gets bubblier too. Such a nice shade of beige too. Another shout out to @IrishLass for her detailed notes.
Sometimes our mistakes turn into what I call an “ A-ha moment” where you learn something new and the mistake turns out beautifully. You had one!!
 

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