pomegranate CP bar soap acting STRANGE! Help needed!

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Oct 31, 2021
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Korazim, Israel
Hello everyone!
I hope you are having an amazing day!
About myself..Im fairly new to this world of soap. my dream is to come up with my own recipes!
I wanted to make an OO soap with some CO.
I read that high % of Olive takes a long time to trace. And the higher lye concentration % is, the faster is comes to trace. - I could be wrong, but this is what I understood from Elly's Everyday soap making YouTube channel .
I wanted to color it too, so I mixed some red clay\water mix. (1 Tablespoon per pound soap).
So after researching, I came up with this:
Superfat: 6%
lye concentration: 42%
OO 90%
CO 10%

1) I mixed my oils and warmed them.
2) Mixed my water+ pomegranate ice cubes and my lye - the mixture turned green, then a nice tangerine color.
3) Once everything is room temp, I mix my lye into the oils and started TB and added my clay .
4) I came to trace after just under 20 Sec. which got me thinking.. why???
5) I poured into mold, covered with heavy towels and waited
I felt the towels and they were nice and worm, I thought it was going through gel phase.
checked the next morning it was as hard as a rock. I tried to cut it and it crumbled!

I know that OO soap needs time to harden before unmolding, but this one hardens in no time...

I made another bar the same way just got ride of the clay - thinking that was the problem.
But it too has crumbled.

I would love for some help!
Im here to learn!!
Jul 1, 2018
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I've never had olive oil soap take very long to trace except when doing it by hand. Depending on what kind of olive oil you have especially, some of them trace very fast. My castille soap had to be cut under 12 hours or it would break my wire cutter. It can get very hard very fast, especially when gelled. Just cut sooner next time. (after making sure your soap that you made before is not lye heavy, as this can also cause a hard crumbly soap, but what you are seeing is not out of the ordinary for a high olive soap either.)


Notorious Lyear
Jan 14, 2021
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I read that high % of Olive takes a long time to trace. And the higher lye concentration % is, the faster is comes to trace.
🤔 That's contradicting. High % of olive oil indeed is (in)famous for slow tracing. But it depends. EVOO and “light” (refined) cold-pressed oil is indeed very slow-moving. But that is not always the case for “lower” qualities (pomace, solvent-extracted), some are just as difficult to convince to trace, but others react very quickly.
Usually, the higher the olive oil % (or, with caveats, soft oils in general), the slower a soap batter comes to trace.

Then, the pomegranate. Juice I guess? Fruit juices contain acids (heating up the lye solution, but not so relevant for you because you waited until it had cooled down), and sugars (can accelerate the saponification reaction).

I can't comment on the clay, though you have ruled that out by yourself already.

Then, lye concentration. 42% is quite high, higher than most recipes. Not sure what it'd do to a OO/CO recipe like yours. Somewhat unexpected, the longest working time with batter is somewhere in the low 30s of percentage. Lower as well as higher % can speed up how fast things happen. I can only guess that 42%, plus the sugar and salt (neutralised fruit acids = salts!).

Good news: as long as the soap is not zappy, it is good soap. Too bad you can't cut it into your desired size. 🙁 In the worst case, grate it down and use it as embeds in a confetti soap.

To add another aspect to the proverbial slowness of high-OO recipes: There is the famous ZNSC approach to castile soaps, that involves addition of salts to the lye (the original recipe uses 37% lye concentration). One of the successes of ZNSC is that the waiting time until unmoulding/cutting is much shorter than for unmodified castile recipes. Sometimes too short for the makers to hit the right time for cutting – just like with you! This is annoying, but not unheard of from high-oleic soaps.
Nov 15, 2018
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I agree with the previous responses. It does sound like perhaps you have pomace OO, which can be very fast to trace.

Can you explain why you were so concerned about the soap taking awhile to trace? If you have a stick-blender, getting to trace is not a big problem for most any recipe. Perhaps if we know why you needed or wanted a fast trace, we could help a bit more.

Regarding the lye concentration, trace speeds up for me when the lye solution is somewhere around 34-36%, then slows down again around 37-40%. I regularly soap at 38-40%, and my batter moves just as slowly as it does at 33%. I've never gone above 40%. I can only theorize that with so little water, your batter would have thickened quite fast with just the heat generated from saponification.

Depending on the type, clay can really thicken the batter, and can make the bars crumbly if it absorbs a lot of the water. Bentonite clay, for instance, can be tricky that way. What type of red clay did you use? If it was rhassoul, that's normally pretty well-behaved, but again, any clay would have absorbed some of the already-low water in your recipe.

That all brings me back to wondering why you were concerned about getting to trace. A stick-blender is going to take care of that for you. If you don't have a stickblender, then soaping warmer will also speed trace. If you really must speed up trace (again, why?), then I recommend soaping a little warmer before using such a high lye (low water) concentration, which may leave you without enough water to have a fluid batter at all.
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Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2019
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(sigh) PLEASE take what I'm about to say as CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. I WANT you to love soap making. I WANT you to excel and be successful as a soap maker, whether as a hobby or a business. Probably even more so as a business because bad soap reflects badly on everyone else.

Put down the stick blender, grab a notebook and go see Soap Queen (you can also find her on YouTube). I also recommend Royalty Soaps; Katie has a series on beginning soap making and Lisa with I Dream In Soap also has great videos for beginners. Spend a couple couple of weeks reading and watching videos and taking notes and write down things you may not understand completely or questions you may have. You will find that the majority of us spent months and months, sometimes longer, researching soap making.

Your first batch of soap should be a simple recipe. NO colorants. NO scents. NO additives. Just oils, water and lye. I recommend starting with Basic Cold Process Recipe. And you can practice your Soap Calculator skills by entering the recipe and then "resize" it for a small batch of soap...maybe 16oz to 20oz total batch weight. In fact EVERY recipe, no matter where you get it from, should be run through a Soap Calculator. People are human and humans make mistakes.

The recipe: Olive, Coconut and Palm Oil are known as the "Holy Trinity" and make for a good basic bar of soap. I used BrambleBerry's (aka Soap Queen) Beginner's Cold Process Soap Kit my first time...same recipe with a little Castor Oil. By following a simple 'tried and true recipe', my first endeavor was a success (except for the scent...still don't like Apple Sage).

Once you make a successful batch or two of soap...now it's time to play around with a little bit of color and scent. I started with with a couple Mica Sampler packs from BrambleBerry and Rustic Escentals. BB also has a FO Sampler kit. Nurture Soap sells 5gram bags of Mica for $1.50. Whether you purchase a sample pack or individual colorants and scents...ALWAY read the descriptions and reviews. Because many soap suppliers cater to other crafts, you want to make sure that your colorant can be used in Cold Process Soap. You want to find out if anyone has had any problems with a scent...does it rice, discolor, accelerate, fade? And make sure your purchase your colorants and scents from a reputable soap supplier. My sister gave me a gorgeous set of Micas off Amazon from a reputable art supplier, but I can't use them because they aren't made to be used in soap.

Once you are successful using micas and FOs, then it's time to branch out. This is where you can start formulating your own recipe and trying different oils and butters. Clays can be tricky and should be dispersed (pre-mixed). Substituting another liquid for water can be very problematic depending on what you are using. Juices are VERY high in sugar. Milks can easily scorch and burn and you do NOT want to burn your milk (really gross and disgusting).

And the issue with high Olive Oil soaps isn't that they take a long to harden, it's that they take a long to cure. And curing your soap properly is probably one of the most important things to learn about soap making. And there are NO short cuts because there is more to curing soap than water evaporation. @DeeAnna calls it science...I call it magic. Okay...it's science, but the difference between fresh soap out of the mold and a properly cured bar of soap is the difference between drinking moonshine out of the still and 21 year-old Glenfiddlich.
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