Questions of a Newbie

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Aug 28, 2014
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Hello my name is jane and I'm a newbie. I watched soap making videos and reading a lot on how to make soaps for almost a year until i have decided to make my first batch. It was moringga soap btw I made 2lbs only since this is my first time. So i already finished making and my soap was on the curing stage now and it's been 3 days already. It was too late that i realized that i put too much liquid and too much coconut oil (35%) because i have read it after i was done cutting it. So for my liquid i used 7.26 oz of water and 3.208 oz of lye, i put 4% superfat this was the result of brambleberry calculator and i also put moringga juice or extract idk what to call it sorry (I blender the leaves with small amount of distilled water, I use 1/2 cup of this juice btw i use silk stockings so i get rid of the leaves) I have combined it with my oils w/c are
40% Olive Oil - 8.80oz
35%Coconut Oil - 7.70oz
25% Palm Oil - 5.50oz

I know my coconut is high and i think it will become too drying with the skin but still i want to test the result but the next time i will reduce the coconut to 20% only and so this was my recipe and i think it come out okay but here are some of my question:

1.)Is it okay if i put too much liquid recommendations?
2.)Next time i will make papaya soap with goat's milk and natural papaya juice will be these two okay to substitute for water?If I can, do i need to cover it while in the mold and what is your best recommendation on the process of this recipe.?
3.)Is it normal for soaps to be too hard while curing?
4.) What are the signs that soaps are lye heavy?

Well, I think these was all my questions for now and Thanks for the people who will answer. I really want to make organic soaps so i can gift it to my family and friends since Christmas is coming. Thanks again!
1: I have put too much liquid in a couple soaps. I had to let them sit longer before cutting and I let them cure a little longer. They turned out great in the end though

2: I have never played with those ingredients. From things I have read they should work fine as a water substitute, or you can add some and discount water the same amount. Others who have used these ingredients might have better suggestions.

3: The harder the soap, the better IMO. Some of my soaps are really hard within a week or so, some are not until 6 weeks.

4: If it's extremely lye heavy you can have little deposits of lye that look kind of like salt. You can test if it's lye heavy by putting it to your tongue and if it "zaps" you it's lye heavy. If could see the lye deposits I wouldn't put that on my tongue.

I have used coconut oil at 35% and with my other oils it was not drying at all. Hope this helps some!
1 - it depends on how much more you put in. The water will evaporate out, but too much can make it a massive pain in general. I made a soap that I had to rebatch and I used far too much water which left it slightly soggy for a few days before I could even think of cutting it.

I would stick to the more usual amounts in general. What is the condition of your soap at the moment?

2 - For a second soap, considering the problems with the first batch, I would consider keeping it simple.

If you're going to ignore that, then yes you can substitute the water for those. I don't recall seeing anyone use both, but I know that people have used one or the other.

There are two options (may be others, but here are two) - use just the replacement liquids. With milk, for example, you freeze it and then add the lye slowly in to it, so that it doesn't over heat. If you dump the lye in to liquid milk, it can get very hot and mess up the milk. Adding it to frozen milk means that the reaction melts the milk, but going slowly keeps it all colder.

The other option is to make a lye/water solution with as little water as you feel comfortable using, then adding in the replacement liquid (milk, for example) to make up the difference. So if you need 100g lye, you could dissolve it in 150g of water and then add in 150g of milk to the recipe

3 - depends on what you did in question 1! Some can be softer than others in the curing stage, depending on the process and the recipe.

4 - a lye heavy soap will zap your tongue. After a few days, wet a bit of the soap, rub the mixture on to your finger - when it doesn't feel any different, dab it on your tongue. If it doesn't feel like you just put a 9volt battery on your tongue, then I would touch the soap on the tongue - again, looking for that zapping feel. When there is still nothing, you are not lye heavy.
I think your soap will be fine. If the info you gave us is correct, it won't be lye heavy.

Regarding the goat milk/papaya juice recipe: I have made milk soaps, but not soaps with juice, so this is an educated guess.

In soapcalc, I would increase my water from 38% to 40%. If the recipe (for example) calls for 10 ounces of liquid, I would chill (or maybe even freeze) 5 ounces of juice and dissolve my lye in that. When my lye and oils had cooled to 90F or so, I would add 5 ounces of canned goat milk to my oils, then add the lye/juice mixture to the oils.

Good luck!
Hello again. There are some questions in my mind that bothers me all the time.
If can someone helps me and enlighten me. Thanks!

1.) What will happen to soap if water used to dissolve the lye is less than the supposedly needed amount of water/liquid? Is the soap still safe to use?
2.) I am confused with my oils, do i still need to heat them all together even though I bought them already melted? I have Pure Olive,Palm and Coconut.
3.) Is zap testing your soap poisonous?
4.) If soap had false trace would there be a possibility that there's unsaponified lye left? If yes, should i throw the soaps away or should i still wait for a month to cure?
1. If you use less water to dissolve the lye it shouldn't be a problem as long as they lye is completely dissolved. It would be a water discount. I personally never go less than 2:1 water/lye.

2. I'm not sure how to answer as I've never had all my oils come melted to me. I always measure my own oils/butters and then melt the butters/hard oils and then add my liquid oils. I do soap at room temp so one everything is combined I let it sit until it's cooled. Since you are new to soapmaking I would recommend having your oils/butters just warm and your lye/liquid warm to touch as well then go from there.

3. No zap testing is not poisonous. Your's just touching your tongue to it to see if it's lye heavy. Should just taste like soap. I dont' zap test until after 24 hours. I gel all my soaps. I know non gelled soaps can remain zappy for 3 days or so.

4. If you had false trace and it's separated you can put it in a crockpot or on the stovetop on very low heat and try to bring it back together. If it's solid I would just let it sit until it can be cut. Don't throw it away, most problems can be solved.
You do not need to heat your oils if they are already liquid. Be sure to stir the palm though before you pour. If it is in a bottle, I give it a quick shake.

As you are new to soaping, I would let your lye water cool a bit before mixing everything together. If the oils and the lye solution are both very warm, the soap will come to trace more quickly. If you let them cool to room temperature, you will have a bit more time to work.

Good luck and have fun.
1.) What will happen to soap if water used to dissolve the lye is less than the supposedly needed amount of water/liquid? Is the soap still safe to use?

I think you need a minimum of a 1:1 water/lye ratio to be able to dissolve all the lye. However, most soapers use more than that. The lye dissolves more easily in more water. For example, when I try to steeply discount my water, some of my lye forms a hard crust at the bottom of the pitcher, and I have to pour the lye water into another container, chisel out the lye crust with a butter knife, put the crust pieces back in the lye water, then pour the lye water back and forth between the two containers to create enough agitation for the lye crust to dissolve. I, personally, do not discount water.

Another benefit to using the full amount of water is that trace will be slower, so you will have time to add fragrance, do swirls, etc. Also, a thinner soap batter will go into your mold more evenly.

Some soapers discount their water so their soap will be harder in a shorter amount of time.

2.) I am confused with my oils, do i still need to heat them all together even though I bought them already melted? I have Pure Olive,Palm and Coconut.

I combine the oils and the lye water when both are between 90-100F. There are several benefits to this. 1) The warmth speeds up the reaction. If you made a soap with all-liquid oils and your lye water and oils were both at room temperature when you combined, you would be stirring for a looong time to get trace. 2) If your oils are very cool, your may experience false trace, which is when your solid oils (in this case, coconut and palm) cool enough to solidify and thicken the soap mixture.

3.) Is zap testing your soap poisonous?

No. if you ate a whole bar of soap you would probably regret it, but licking it isn't going to hurt you.

4.) If soap had false trace would there be a possibility that there's unsaponified lye left? If yes, should i throw the soaps away or should i still wait for a month to cure?

What does the soap look like? Are their white pockets that could be lye? If so, tongue test them. Did the soap seperate? If the soap seperated, you need to pour all of the contents of the mold into a crockpot and cook them on low to combine them.

If there are no lye pockets and no seperation, your soap will probably be fine. It will just take longer to cure.
Thanks for answering! My soap had white spots, I think it's stearic acid, I rub it between my fingers it was like slimy and buttery. I mix lye and oils in room temperature and it had false trace. After 24 hrs I unmolded it and saw white spots It zaps when i lick it.
I have one small question but it is important to my time and progress.

after I melt and pour into my molds to make them harden quicker can i put the molds in the refrigerator? Would it be harmful and make them crack or would it cool them too quickly?

Pixar, are you using melt and pour? you can put it in the fridge to cool it. However, it may sweat some when you remove it. Shouldn't crack though.
Is it possible to put my melt and pour soaps in the fridge to cool so my processing can go faster?