Problem with Castile soap

Discussion in 'Recipe Feedback' started by Eepa, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Apr 11, 2018 #1

    Eepa

    Eepa

    Eepa

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    I've been soaping on and off for years now and decided to try Castile soap this time. I did some research to get a good recipe and tips for success but I'm pretty sure I still failed as my bar has not hardened and it's been about 20 hours since I poured it into the mould. =P

    My recipe was
    100% extra virgin olive oil (from grocery store)
    52,58 g NaOH (45% lye concentration)
    64,30 g water
    Rosemary EO
    Lavender EO
    3% superfat


    I used soapcalc for the calculations and I had 400 g of OO so total batch size was about 517 grams. I did this in chemistry lab so I can reliable weigh with 2 decimals. I'm sure it's not necessary but the recipe said that so I did exactly what it wanted. x)

    I made my lye solution and let it cool down to 50 degrees Celsius and heated my oil to the same temperature. Added good splash of EOs (I didn't weigh them, something like 20 drops of each) and then mixed lye with oils. I used stick mixer in bursts and then used it like a spoon to save the motor in between.

    It took me probably 20-30 minutes to get even close to trace and at that point I had heated two stick mixers and lost my patients so I stop there and poured it into a mould. The mix was just starting to thicken and I could see a faint pattern when I lifted the stick mixer from the soap. I hoped I'd achieved trace but as the soap is still more like thick curd rather than solid I think I did something wrong. It was on the table over night if that makes a difference.
     
  2. Apr 11, 2018 #2

    SaltedFig

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    Hi Eepa,

    If you could see a faint pattern, then you had trace before you poured.

    The amounts for the essential oils bother me ... but I've done an incredibly rough calculation and I suspect that you may have increased your superfat by about 2%, to 5% in total, which is not enough to stop your olive soap from forming. For such a small batch, the amount of essential oil does make a difference, so (for future reference) this might be better weighed as well.

    20-30 minutes to trace is a long time, but well within normal for a castile.

    So, basically you have an ungelled castile that is very slowly getting thicker. That tells me that it will eventually turn into soap, given enough warmth and time.

    If you are short on time, warm it up (CPOP would work). You might want to warm it up a little anyway, the soap could be a bit cold :)

    Unmolding might also take a while (2-5 days is normal for castile). Cutting might take another day. This is where your judgement will need to come into play - if you poke it and it's still soft enough to dint easily, then don't cut it yet :)

    (All of the above advice is based on the assumption that there were no significant errors, that your olive is pure olive and your caustic is not clumpy)
     
  3. Apr 11, 2018 #3

    lsg

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    Members have consistently reported that it takes longer for Castile soap to harden and cure than other cp soaps. As suggested, you might want to try putting the soap in a warm oven for a few hours.
     
  4. Apr 11, 2018 #4

    DeeAnna

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    Essential oils do not saponify although they can react to some degree with NaOH. But it's impossible to know if this happens and to what degree. In any case, treat them like any other kind of additive that does not saponify.

    About 40 drops total of rosemary and lavender EO is about 1 mL. That was added to 400 grams of fat. Most EOs are less dense than water, but assuming the same density as water, that's 0.25% EO by weight, based on the weight of fat. That's not very much, so your soap may have only a faint scent. I would use a total of 3% of the safer EOs in a batch of soap, again based on weight of fat.

    I think Salted Fig has given you some good advice -- I also think you got the soap to trace and it should be fine with a little patience.

    If you want to warm the soap in the oven to encourage saponification, preheat the empty oven to the lowest temperature it will go to. Most ovens will do 140-170 F (60-75 C). Turn the oven off, and put the soap into the oven. Let the soap stay in the turned-off oven until the oven is cool.

    Next time you make this soap, try running your stick blender for maybe 5 seconds, then walk away for 5-10 minutes, stick blend 5 sec, walk away, etc. It might take just as long (20-30 minutes), but you and your stick blender will be much happier. You don't need to run a stick blender to death to get soap to (eventually) do what you want it to do.
     
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  5. Apr 11, 2018 #5

    DianaMoon

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    That particular piece of advice is a godsend. A lot of beginner soapers are just SCARED. I speak from personal experience. They think that it's all got to be done quickly or the whole thing will mysteriously destroy itself. I know I did.

    I've done four batches, all with very thin trace, and they've all saponified eventually and hardened. But in my next batch I want to layer and I need to exert more control over the consistency. So we'll see what happens.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2018 #6

    dixiedragon

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    Layering is tough. The soap has to be thick enough to not blend but thin enough to go in smoothly and not need to be thumped. Some folks recommend pouring over a spoon or a spatula. You hold the spoon or spatula in the mold, just over or just BARELY touching the bottom layer. Then when you pour the soap, it lands on the spoon and then onto the layer below. That way it's landing as softly as possible on the layer below.
     
  7. Apr 11, 2018 #7

    Eepa

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    SaltedFig: I'm with DeeAnne when it comes to the amount of EOs. 40 drops is about 2 ml so there is less than 2 grams of EO's in the whole batch. That shouldn't affect the saponification.

    I'm not in any hurry, not anymore, but I could pop it into a warming oven tomorrow when I'm back at work and see what happens. I don't have a regular oven there, it's a warming oven used in lab work meaning I can set the temperature pretty much where ever I want and the oven maintains that indefinitely. So just heating it up and then turning it off won't offer the same type of heating pattern as regular oven. So any idea how long and in what temperature I should keep my soap?


    DeeAnne: I know the amount of EOs is very low but I don't like smelly things so I use fragrances very sparingly. If I put too much I may not be able to use it at all until some of the smell dissipates. If it doesn't smell like anything anymore when it's all cured then that's too bad but better than too much fragrance. At the moment it has nice, if faint, smell. Enough for me at the moment.

    Yeah, that type of blending sounds much better option. I don't want to fry my stick blender and I will have more patience with the blending if I don't have to do it all the time. I'll write that to the recipe for the next time or I will forget about it...


    I know that Castile takes a long time to cure, it won't be ready for use for months or maybe even a year. But when I research old threads about Castile soap in this forum I came across several posts where their Castile had hardened quickly. There wasn't any info about how long it took to get trace but once it achieved trace it hardened very quickly and they had to unmould and cut it under 24 hours or it would crumble. So that's why I thought I had done something wrong and I didn't have soap. But I will be patient, warm up my soap tomorrow and see what I get in the end. =)
     
  8. Apr 11, 2018 #8

    DeeAnna

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    "...So just heating it up and then turning it off won't offer the same type of heating pattern as regular oven. So any idea how long and in what temperature I should keep my soap?..."

    I'd probably do the same thing with the lab oven as with a home oven -- preheat without soap, turn oven off, add soap, let cool in the oven. The point of this technique is not to heat the soap for a long time or to a high temperature -- that can cause problems. The goal is to gently warm the soap sufficiently to encourage the outer surface of the soap to saponify. The soap will warm internally from the heat of saponification.

    "...40 drops is about 2 ml..."

    That's true of water, and a lot of people use the same rule of thumb for EOs. Most EOs are less viscous than water, however, so they require more drops per mL. Lavender and rosemary are roughly 40 drops per mL.
     
  9. Apr 11, 2018 #9

    DianaMoon

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    Right - but it still has to be thick enough to create a true layer. I attempted to layer my last batch. I wanted to make an ice cream sandwich with chocolate layers on the top and bottom and vanilla in the middle. My trace was so thin, it was laughable, an utter failure. So I just mixed it all together and got chocolate bars. (Chocolate-ish, cocoa butter smell is faint.)

    But hope spring eternal and I'll try again, this time w/activated charcoal, but three equal layers, no ice cream sandwich.
     
  10. Apr 11, 2018 #10

    dixiedragon

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    TBH, you may want to look into vertical dividers vs layering. You can (of course) buy them, but you can also make them out of chip board or cardboard, like so:
    http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-b...oap/oatmeal-milk-and-honey-mantra-swirl-soap/

    Another option is to do multiple pours. For an ice-cream sandwich soap, do a log of black/brown soap. Cut with a wire chees slicer into long strips. Lay a strip down, pour white batter, lay another strip. Put in the oven and gel - this will melt the brown soap strips just a bit so they will bond with the white soap. BTW, most vanilla FOs will turn a soap milk chocolate to DARK brown. There are some non-discoloring vanillas but they aren't as good. Some vendors sell vanilla stabilizer- I see the one at Bittercreek North being recommended the most here. You may be able to use a vanilla FO for the dark brown part, and leave the middle unscented to keep it white.
     
  11. Apr 12, 2018 #11

    earlene

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  12. Apr 12, 2018 #12

    DianaMoon

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    Thank you Earlene. The Youtube video in the 1st link was very educational. I figured the process out after my own failure but it still helps to see it. Only I would probably do lightest first, and add color as I go along, because I don't have lots of equipment and I'll be pouring from the soaping pot into the mold.

    Plus I'm adding only activated charcoal - this time. It would be different if I would doing different colors, but for now I'm not. (Of course, I suppose that the charcoal will probably present trace issues of its own, but that's a different thread.)

    I really like those pitchers w/the long pouring spouts. Do you know of a source?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  13. Apr 12, 2018 #13

    dixiedragon

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    amd likes this.
  14. Apr 12, 2018 #14

    DianaMoon

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    They do look wonderful. Thank you!

    Anyway I think I get the point - the batter must be thin enough to pour, thick enough to support a layer on top. Another soaper spoons the layers on, rather than pouring over a spatula.
     
  15. Apr 13, 2018 #15

    Eepa

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    Okay, I put my soap into a preheated oven yesterday and left it there. After several hours, when the oven had cooled to near 30 degrees Celsius, it was still pretty liquidy on the top but firm enough that I could unmould it and leave it to firm further. This morning I took a look and it had ash (?) on the top and was totally solid. So solid in fact that I had problems cutting it as it just wanted to crumble. =D

    Is there a thread from where I could get ideas on what I could do with crumbly soap bits? I have a faint idea I could reuse them in a new soap but nothing solid.
     
  16. Apr 13, 2018 #16

    penelopejane

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    Crumbly soap: This sounds to me like you over heated the soap. What temp was the oven when you put it in?

    Ash: a photo would be good. Ash washes off.
    To prevent ash preheat the oven to no more than 110*F turn it off. Spray your soap with isopropyl alcohol and wrap the soap in plastic or put the soap in a close fitting cardboard box and wrap in a towel or blanket and put it in the oven and leave the soap undisturbed for 12 - and do not open the door.

    The idea is not to heat the soap but provide a little micro climate that holds the heat that the soap produces to saponify around it.

    When the soap is no more than room temp (at least 24 hrs for Castile) test to see if it is ready to cut. It should be firm like a block of tasty cheese.
    This combination should stop ash. Some people get ash some don’t so environment and weather have something to do with it too. You can also spray it with alcohol before you unmold (then leave it to dry off) it to be sure.

    You might be able to confetti the crumbly bits but personally I would throw them away. Overheated hear soap (if that is it) will never turn into nice soap.
     
  17. Apr 13, 2018 #17

    earlene

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    If you want to try the salted out method, you can save the crumbly bits with other soap shavings (from trimming and beveling). Then when you have enough, salt them out and see what you think of the resulting soap.

    I've only salted out soap twice, and what I learned is that
    1. It's a lot of work that takes a lot of time and uses a lot of resources
    2. The quality of what goes into the pot determines the quality of what comes out

    The first batch was wonderful soap. The second batch was not.

    Salting out soap: https://classicbells.com/soap/saltOutTut.html
     
  18. Apr 14, 2018 #18

    Eepa

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    penelopejane, I think the oven was about 63 degrees Celsius when I put it in there so it was within the limits DeeAnne said. If I over heated my soap, then what happened to it?

    earlene, Never heard of salted out method, but I'll read it through and see what it is. Thank you. =)
     
  19. Apr 14, 2018 #19

    penelopejane

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    Everyone has their own methods that work for them.
    For me the oven is preheated to no hotter than 110*F or 45*C
    It is turned off before the soap goes in.
    The mold is put in a cardboard box and wrapped in a blanket or towel.
    I do not open the oven for 12 hours.
    This holds the heat generated by saponification around the mold and the soap will gel and be ready to cut within 24 hrs. I do not get silicone rash. All of these things together enable me to only preheat the oven to 110*F and get predictable, consistent results.

    I have had castile turn hard like yours. It was because I overheated the soap with a heat pad. Only the bottom part was hard, coarse and unusable.

    I accidentally heated soap to 76*C or 170*F in the oven and it didn't cure the partial gel as some people experience but it turned the soap into a soft rubber and it smelt fusty forever.

    You will have to experiment with your own soap and see if you get the same results that I do.
     
  20. Apr 16, 2018 at 1:32 PM #20

    Eepa

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    I think I need to make another batch with all these wonderful advice in mind and see what the difference is between the two. =D

    Thank you everybody for you time and help, much appreciated.
     

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