Rebatch Lye Crystals

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lenarenee

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If you have hundreds of dollars worth of soap with lye crystals, then there's a big problem here. For one, you've made multiple batches that ended up with this problem. The bar in the pic shows at least a partial gel; any signs of overheating like cracking, oozing liquid, strange texture?

Can you explain your process when mixing lye and water? Is the lye dissolving fully? Are there additives in the solution like salt, sugar, honey, citric acid, sodium citrate, etc? (solutions can only hold so many molecules before they fall out of solution) Any chance you're using the heat transfer method?
 

Green Mountain Farm

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If you have hundreds of dollars worth of soap with lye crystals, then there's a big problem here. For one, you've made multiple batches that ended up with this problem. The bar in the pic shows at least a partial gel; any signs of overheating like cracking, oozing liquid, strange texture?

Can you explain your process when mixing lye and water? Is the lye dissolving fully? Are there additives in the solution like salt, sugar, honey, citric acid, sodium citrate, etc? (solutions can only hold so many molecules before they fall out of solution) Any chance you're using the heat transfer method?
I know my mistake; I didn’t allow the lye to dissolve fully in the milk. Yes I added sugar and salt. No, I don’t do heat transfer since I use frozen goat milk. No oozing or anything.
 

lenarenee

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I know my mistake; I didn’t allow the lye to dissolve fully in the milk. Yes I added sugar and salt. No, I don’t do heat transfer since I use frozen goat milk. No oozing or anything.
Well good thing is you know how to prevent it in the future. I've never re-batch soap, or dealt with lye heavy soap so unfortunately and not certain how to do so, but I think it can be done. Try doing a search on the forum.
 

AliOop

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I have tried this before using the typically recommended method of finely shredding the soap, and then submerging and soaking the shreds overnight in water or vinegar.

Unfortunately, even after two rounds of rebatching, there were occasional lye crystals (albeit much smaller) in some pieces of the soap. This was so disappointing bc I thought after the second rebatch that the soap was going to be fine. Thankfully some of the crystals did show up when I beveled it later. Knowing the damage that lye could do to someone’s eye, nose or other tender bits, I could not bring myself to use it or give it away.

Bottom line, once those crystal bits are in the finished soap, there is just no way to be 100% sure that you have dissolved all of them. It is far better to lose the cost of ingredients than to be sued. Even worse, you don’t want the possibility of forever living with the guilt of knowing that you have injured someone, perhaps permanently - just because it might have cost you something to do the right thing.

Please know I am not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. As a lawyer, my general way of analyzing risks is always to ask, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Then consider whether you are willing to live with that.
 

ScentimentallyYours

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I would imagine this would be a candidate for salting out, at the very least? As I understand that process, it would definitely ensure all the lye was dissolved.
You won't end up with quite the same soap, but at least it wouldn't all be entirely wasted.
You beat me to the salting out suggestion! I salted out several batches of soap last month with good results. In the final step, you can add sodium lactate, glycerine, superfat, fragrance and color for a very nice soap. Note that the bars will contain more water, so expect them to shrink. I don’t know how to cross post threads, but in a recent thread @ResolvableOwl posted about salting out and I posted some pictures. For detailed info, check out @DeeAnna’s salting out scraps.
 

cmzaha

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Salting out may or may not get rid of the actual crystals and I personally think it makes for an awful soap, but that is my opinion and I find it simply not worth the trouble. I have lost very large expensive batches of lotions because of a stupid mistake but life moves on. I am sorry I would trash all the soaps and chalk it up for a very hard-learned lesson. I do have to wonder though why after one bad batch you continued on with the same process and made several more. It is certainly your call but I know what I would do to be on the safe side and yes I closed my eyes tossed the 6 lb batch of soap due to the same reason and I was a well-seasoned soap maker when this happened. I simply was very distracted the day it happened.

When do you add your salt and sugar if you are freezing your milk? Your additives need to be dissolved separately in water and added into your oils separate from your milk/lye solution. Also, this is the drawback with using frozen milks and purees you really cannot tell if all the lye is fully dissolved and risk this happening which is why many use the 50/50 method of dissolving their lye in 50% of the allotted liquid as water then dissolving your additives in the milk which is not frozen but very cold, or warm a portion of the milk to dissolve the additives and freeze the milk to slushy.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Many missed opportunities to pass the lye solution through a strainer before going on with the soap batter 😣.

As unwilling as I am to say this, I'm with @cmzaha and @AliOop: part from it for good. You would have to put a lot of effort into rebatching (be it in the pot or in the oven) or salting-out, but the results will never meet the expectations you had in the CP soap.
Also (assuming your original recipe was meant for a reasonable lye balance), when the lye hadn't fully dissolved, you haven't enough lye in the soap matrix to saponify all oils, i. e. you have an unknown amount of excess superfat, with all its risks (rancidity/DOS, bad lather, oily skin feel). Rebatching can only partially fix this issue.

Not even sure if it would make sense to give it a chance as laundry soap (where a small lye excess isn't the end of the world) – but you would want to have as little fuss as possible there (no colours, no “moisturising” components, no superfat).
 

earlene

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How many pounds of soap are you talking about that have these lye crystals?

Really, it's hard to picture hundreds of dollars worth of soap, all with lye crystals! In my estimations, if I had invested HUNDREDS of dollars in making soap, I'd have hundreds of pounds of soap to show for it.

And I can guarantee you I would have stopped making soap which produced lye crystals long before I ended up with hundreds of pounds of soap.

So I'm thinking your 'hundreds of dollars worth of soap' might be a slight exaggeration. Am I wrong?

Maybe you value your soap at a much higher price than I do mine, or maybe you are thinking 'this soap is worth this much if I were to sell it' versus "I spent this much money on the materials".

Either way, the bottom line is, HOW MUCH SOAP are we talking about? A single batch of soap? 4 pounds of soap? More?

I looked at your 6 posts, and found your thread about 4 pounds of soap: Lumpy Soap Dough

4 pounds is not hundreds of dollars worth of soap, unless you put some gold in there!

Or are you talking about the soap from this thread: White spot in HP? ? That soap looks fine, no crystals.

Those are the only two threads you have at SMF about soap you have made and neither of them looks like lye crystals was discussed, so I am not understanding your statement below:
Yes. I posted a thread on here and decided they are lye crystals. This is just one. They zap. View attachment 61225


Anyway, re-batching with heavy lye crystals present just isn't worth the effort. I once made soap with lye rocks (when I was new and had NOT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE to be doing what I was doing) and tried re-batching it. I actually ended up re-batching it something like 3 times before I was sure the soap was safe. But it takes so darned much time and energy so much figuring and deciphering and thinking and problem solving and in the end, that soap wasn't really very good anyway. I probably spent more theoretical dollars in "woman hours" and electricity, etc. than that soap would have been worth if I had made it correctly in the first place. I don't sell and don't plan to do so, so realize my perspective is not coming from a business point of view, simply as a person who values how I spend my time. I did learn from it, though, so not a total waste of time. Still, it's a lesson I don't need to learn again.

BUT, if you want to go that route, there are many threads here at SMF about re-batching. Here are just a few:

But, again I say, it's really not worth the effort. Even salting out soap is very time-intensive and requires a lot of work and in the end it's not worth it for this particular soap, IMO. But if you want to go for it, it is a good learning experience. However, I think a better learning experience is to make soap successfully for at least 3 batches in a row before you start trying to rescue your failures. You can save the failures and come back to them later, but for now, I really encourage you to make the simplest recipe possible and succeed at it 3 times in a row before you try anything new and different.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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I would imagine this would be a candidate for salting out, at the very least? As I understand that process, it would definitely ensure all the lye was dissolved.
You won't end up with quite the same soap, but at least it wouldn't all be entirely wasted.
I am not familiar with this, could you share some info please?
 

ResolvableOwl

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dibbles

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I am not familiar with this, could you share some info please?
@ScentimentallyYours gave you this link Salting-out soap | Soapy Stuff

I have a feeling that you have a lot of soap with this problem because you do sell and want to save your inventory. If this is the case, please don't sell it. If this is not the case, I'm sorry for reading something between the lines that isn't there.

I don't sell, but even if I did I would still get rid of this soap.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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Salting out may or may not get rid of the actual crystals and I personally think it makes for an awful soap, but that is my opinion and I find it simply not worth the trouble. I have lost very large expensive batches of lotions because of a stupid mistake but life moves on. I am sorry I would trash all the soaps and chalk it up for a very hard-learned lesson. I do have to wonder though why after one bad batch you continued on with the same process and made several more. It is certainly your call but I know what I would do to be on the safe side and yes I closed my eyes tossed the 6 lb batch of soap due to the same reason and I was a well-seasoned soap maker when this happened. I simply was very distracted the day it happened.

When do you add your salt and sugar if you are freezing your milk? Your additives need to be dissolved separately in water and added into your oils separate from your milk/lye solution. Also, this is the drawback with using frozen milks and purees you really cannot tell if all the lye is fully dissolved and risk this happening which is why many use the 50/50 method of dissolving their lye in 50% of the allotted liquid as water then dissolving your additives in the milk which is not frozen but very cold, or warm a portion of the milk to dissolve the additives and freeze the milk to slushy.
The lye crystals started appearing during the cure, I would never make multiple batches knowing I was ruining them.

I add my sugar and salt to hot water and then add that to my milk and lye solution. I then strained it into my oils, with a lot of salt and sugar getting caught in the strainer.

I am going to start doing the milk in oil method from now on.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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How many pounds of soap are you talking about that have these lye crystals?

Really, it's hard to picture hundreds of dollars worth of soap, all with lye crystals! In my estimations, if I had invested HUNDREDS of dollars in making soap, I'd have hundreds of pounds of soap to show for it.

And I can guarantee you I would have stopped making soap which produced lye crystals long before I ended up with hundreds of pounds of soap.

So I'm thinking your 'hundreds of dollars worth of soap' might be a slight exaggeration. Am I wrong?

Maybe you value your soap at a much higher price than I do mine, or maybe you are thinking 'this soap is worth this much if I were to sell it' versus "I spent this much money on the materials".

Either way, the bottom line is, HOW MUCH SOAP are we talking about? A single batch of soap? 4 pounds of soap? More?

I looked at your 6 posts, and found your thread about 4 pounds of soap: Lumpy Soap Dough

4 pounds is not hundreds of dollars worth of soap, unless you put some gold in there!

Or are you talking about the soap from this thread: White spot in HP? ? That soap looks fine, no crystals.

Those are the only two threads you have at SMF about soap you have made and neither of them looks like lye crystals was discussed, so I am not understanding your statement below:




Anyway, re-batching with heavy lye crystals present just isn't worth the effort. I once made soap with lye rocks (when I was new and had NOT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE to be doing what I was doing) and tried re-batching it. I actually ended up re-batching it something like 3 times before I was sure the soap was safe. But it takes so darned much time and energy so much figuring and deciphering and thinking and problem solving and in the end, that soap wasn't really very good anyway. I probably spent more theoretical dollars in "woman hours" and electricity, etc. than that soap would have been worth if I had made it correctly in the first place. I don't sell and don't plan to do so, so realize my perspective is not coming from a business point of view, simply as a person who values how I spend my time. I did learn from it, though, so not a total waste of time. Still, it's a lesson I don't need to learn again.

BUT, if you want to go that route, there are many threads here at SMF about re-batching. Here are just a few:

But, again I say, it's really not worth the effort. Even salting out soap is very time-intensive and requires a lot of work and in the end it's not worth it for this particular soap, IMO. But if you want to go for it, it is a good learning experience. However, I think a better learning experience is to make soap successfully for at least 3 batches in a row before you start trying to rescue your failures. You can save the failures and come back to them later, but for now, I really encourage you to make the simplest recipe possible and succeed at it 3 times in a row before you try anything new and different.
I have been making soap since 2019, without any problems. I would say I am pretty experienced and have had many successes with different recipes.

The lye crystals don’t show up until partially into the cure, so there is no way I could have sensed them at the beginning when I cut my bars.

I did not exaggerate. I sell each bar for $8 and have roughly 100 bars. No I did not mean 100s of dollars invested. Maybe $100-$150 including lye, oils, milk, essential oils, herbs, colorants, etc. etc.

And no I am not talking about the HP or soap dough. Maybe I had posted it somewhere else but I have done a TON of research and am positive they are lye crystals.

I was simply asking if I could rebatch soap with lye crystals. Thank you for the information but I think I have decided to throw the soap away.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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@Green Mountain Farm It would be nice if you at least make an attempt to acknowledge the optimism others put into you, and effort put into your problem: at least faithfully read through the many good posts above.
I am sorry you think I am ungrateful! It is hard to sense others intentions through texts, so please don’t think me ungrateful. :)
 

DeeAnna

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I assume by your use of "lye" that you mean sodium hydroxide (NaOH)? If so, sodium hydroxide crystals absolutely cannot form in soap during cure. It's not chemically possible for this to happen -- it's like believing those old "perpetual motion" machines actually worked.

The soap might develop soda ash (sodium carbonate) crystals, which are slightly zappy. But not actual NaOH. It's not chemically possible.
 

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