Rebatch Lye Crystals

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Green Mountain Farm

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@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.
About 100 bars. It’s a big disappointment but I have decided to throw them away. Thank you for the reply!
 

Green Mountain Farm

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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.
Through my research (which is extensive) the lye crystals do not form but they float to the outside of the bars. They are not present until at least a few days into the cure. And I was not checking my soap every day as it cured, unfortunately.
They are also hard to spot, so it really wasn’t intentional. I would not waste money on purpose, haha!
 

cmzaha

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I would agree with DeeAnna and suspect they are soap crystals. When I had lye crystals I knew for a fact they were lye crystals because I saw the darn undissolved lye when I dumped in the lye solution which had no other additives in my solution. After I de-molded there they were, for me to see immediately. If these crystals were not there when you first poured your soap appearing after curing I would wash them off and see if the soap still zaps, if so I would rebatch some bars adding in a little extra oil, not knowing your superfat, and see how the rebatch comes out. I do stick with my first opinion I would Not salt out it just is not worth the effort, in my humble opinion. Salt crystals can look like lye crystals.
 

DeeAnna

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Through my research (which is extensive) the lye crystals do not form but they float to the outside of the bars....
First time I've heard of this. I have not yet come across a technical reference or research study that supports this idea. Kindly provide more information about this mechanism of lye crystals floating through soap bars, please.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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First time I've heard of this. I have not yet come across a technical reference or research study that supports this idea. Kindly provide more information about this mechanism of lye crystals floating through soap bars, please.
“48 hours after unmolding”
 

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Green Mountain Farm

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I am new to the forum, this was one of my first posts, and to get snarky replies that make me feel like a failure has tempted me to leave this group. I was so excited to have a soap making community but y’all did not welcome me in a kind way. Please consider your words before posting. I asked one innocent question. I never should have said anything other than that question but assumed I could share some of my sadness with you all. I got ONE “I’m sorry” the rest of your messages made me feel dumb.

Next time simply answer the question. Do not launch into asking why I made a stupid mistake. It honestly made me feel like a failure. You could really harm someone’s soap making journey by doing that. If you had stopped and thought, you would have realized that nobody would ruin a batch of soap and then continue making more the same way ON PURPOSE.

I thought that I would get some sympathy because YALL I ruined a lot of soap on ACCIDENT and it has cost me quite a bit of money but a LOT of time and effort! I was super excited about these soaps as well! I mean, I’ve got 60 bars of rose patchouli soap that has lye crystals on it and I have to throw it out! Another 60 bars of sweet orange soap that took me an hour JUST TO POUR that is going in the trash. Not to mention a soap I spent hours on to donate to the breast cancer foundation… ruined. That’s just a few.

Thank you for trying to help. Next time do it in a supportive way. I will consider staying but if this continues I will have to leave.
 

lenarenee

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Don't throw out your soaps yet. First, wait and see what feedback you get on the picture of the Curbstone Valley soap. Why? Because I'm not at all sure those are lye crystals. That's a lot of undissolved lye for a soap that looks as good as her pictures on the website show. With that much undissolved lye - there should be excess oil...and none of her pictures show that.

Plus, in her comments she talks about USING the "lye crusted soaps" and that they left her hands feeling better than store bought soap. This isn't adding up. If she used "lye crusted soap" - her hands wouldn't have felt fine! DeeAnna is a chemist and understands soap. CMZHA is probably the most experienced soap maker and seller on the forum (20 years I believe?) and I usually default to their perspective.

Secondly, if my comments sounded snarky to you, I'm sorry. There was no such negativity or judgment in my feelings or thought process.
Please understand that there's a lot of chemistry that goes into soap making, and your situation of having multiple batches of solid, cut soaps with that many lye crystals just didn't seem....possible. Troubleshooting problems in soap takes a lot of detective work....therefore, a lot of questions needed to be asked in order for us to understand where the process went long. It takes a lot of questions to find info to answer a poster's questions. I can't speak for any others, but since you didn't have any emotional words in your post, I didn't offer any emotional support such as "Oh, that's terrible, I'm sorry that happened" and focused on problem solving.

I was truly puzzled how so much of your soap could have lye crystals without other symptoms, like holes or craters in your soap, and excess unsaponified oil, and why the bar your showed looked fine, despite the crystals. I'm still not convinced those are lye crystals, but also not dismissing the possibility. I've had long cured bars of soap end up with crystals, but that didn't mean it was undissolved lye.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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Don't throw out your soaps yet. First, wait and see what feedback you get on the picture of the Curbstone Valley soap. Why? Because I'm not at all sure those are lye crystals. That's a lot of undissolved lye for a soap that looks as good as her pictures on the website show. With that much undissolved lye - there should be excess oil...and none of her pictures show that.

Plus, in her comments she talks about USING the "lye crusted soaps" and that they left her hands feeling better than store bought soap. This isn't adding up. If she used "lye crusted soap" - her hands wouldn't have felt fine! DeeAnna is a chemist and understands soap. CMZHA is probably the most experienced soap maker and seller on the forum (20 years I believe?) and I usually default to their perspective.

Secondly, if my comments sounded snarky to you, I'm sorry. There was no such negativity or judgment in my feelings or thought process.
Please understand that there's a lot of chemistry that goes into soap making, and your situation of having multiple batches of solid, cut soaps with that many lye crystals just didn't seem....possible. Troubleshooting problems in soap takes a lot of detective work....therefore, a lot of questions needed to be asked in order for us to understand where the process went long. It takes a lot of questions to find info to answer a poster's questions. I can't speak for any others, but since you didn't have any emotional words in your post, I didn't offer any emotional support such as "Oh, that's terrible, I'm sorry that happened" and focused on problem solving.

I was truly puzzled how so much of your soap could have lye crystals without other symptoms, like holes or craters in your soap, and excess unsaponified oil, and why the bar your showed looked fine, despite the crystals. I'm still not convinced those are lye crystals, but also not dismissing the possibility. I've had long cured bars of soap end up with crystals, but that didn't mean it was undissolved lye.
What is the difference between lye crystals and lye crust?
42FA12F6-E5F0-4D59-9101-B257DF3CFD87.jpeg
A6B2AB00-E836-42A5-BEE4-E9BA00C9F64F.jpeg
4057B142-EFC5-4D5E-AF92-9ED450244F36.jpeg
3D1EBB9A-77CD-48AC-B0CF-A023093DFD05.jpeg
 

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Peachy Clean Soap

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The only word of advise I can give' " I'm sorry you had to throw out so much of your soap! please know your not alone " we all have had so many mishaps in creating soap' let me just say if I didnt love soaping so much I would of quit, cause of my soap failures. As painful as it it' you've learned & you'll be very careful next time. Ive had lye heavy soap many times that I tossed in the trash... Your not alone Dear' & understand 🤗🧼💫❤.Thx for reaching out for advise I too learned a few things from your post. 🤗🧼

Update:
I can give a little advise. Try measuring in Grams opposed to ounces. My help from @DeeAnna over a year ago' this was a game changer for me. 😉🧼🤗💫
 
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lenarenee

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And why would it zap if it isn’t lye?
The woman from the website is the one who used the phrase lye crust; I've never heard it before. I strongly question her knowledge of soap because:
1) Like I mentioned...she USED the lye crusted soap and didn't have any problems with it - and that just shouldn't be the case if those are really lye.
2) The rugged appearance of her soap isn't from holes caused by lye or oil seepage - they're the result of what she called "seized" soap....where the soap suddenly solidifies. However, a seized soap isn't moldable enough to mold into the individual molds like she did with that batch. Those soaps were at a very thick trace - but that was not a seized batter! A seized batter is SOLID.
3) It's worth mentioning again....she USED what she thought was a lye heavy soap on her skin and LIKED it!

Zap is a very difficult thing for me to advise about because I'm not certain I've had a true Zap. It's supposed to be like touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery - a fate I've avoided because I learned to never trust my big brother! To me, all of my soaps "sting" ....that's probably because soap is a salt of fatty acids. Also, ash can cause a zap-like sensation, or sting. Many people aren't sure if they experienced a true zap on some of their questionable soaps either for the same reasons I mentioned.

I've looked at the pics you've added. Really nice beveling, btw. Wish I could do it that well but mine are so uneven! I still want to have others like @cmzaha give their input. But right now I'm wondering if your soap is suffering from air bubbles. Did you use a wire cutter? Some stick blenders can really pull a lot of air into the batter. Have you heard of "burping" a stick blender? If not we can explain that later. But a wire cutter makes the bubbles look like white specks.

You said you didn't fully dissolve the lye in the milk - why do you think that? You saw undissolved bits? Or are you assuming that's what happened because of what you read on the website?
 

earlene

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I apologize if my previous post made you feel bad. That was not my intent. Please forgive me.

Additionally, I'd like to say that the photos you are showing do not convince me you have lye crystals. But only you can know if you are getting a true zap and not a bad taste from soda ash or a fragrance (they often taste pretty bad, too).

When I had lye rocks (the size of real crystal rocks) they were about as obvious as if I had purposely placed clear rock crystals in my soap, And it did happen as a result of using frozen liquid to make my lye solution and never getting it all to melt. I KNEW it wasn't all dissolved when I mixed it in with the soap; I knew I had solid frozen crystallized pieces of NaOH when I added it to the oils; I was so inexperienced that I thought the soapmaking process would make those solid 'crystalized' pieces of lye melt/dissolve. That did not happen. Here's what they looked like (this is blurry, but it's the only picture I seem to have anymore):
1632804684295.png

If the photo alone was all I had to show for that soap, one may not think it was a lye 'rock'; it doesn't look like lye. It looks like fat. But it definitely was solid lye, and it wasn't the only one, there were others. I made the stupid mistake of touching that to my tongue. It took my tongue weeks to heal from the lye burn!

Anyway, I'd give some thought to trying out a bar of your suspect soap, wearing gloves and washing your gloved hands with it. Then let it dry and see if those flakes of whatever appear again. From what you are saying, it sounds to me like it took a longish time (how long?) before they appeared. It would be interesting to see if they do re-appear and how long it takes. And then also if you do the ZAP test per these instructions, if you get a zap again.

Chemically and physically, the way solid undissolved lye interacts within a solid bar of soap, it just really does not make sense to me scientifically that it can work its way out as a solid. So I am going to have to think that that is not what you meant to say, nor what curbstonevalley meant to infer in that blogpost.

Stuff does happen inside a solid bar of soap, though. I have seen certain colorants migrate within bars of soap (over time - not a fast process), so it's pretty obvious that the colors had to have a path to follow. So what is that path that carries either an invasive colorant or a component of the chemicals (sodium, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.) to the outer surface? Well, it requires the components to be broken down into their atomic sizes and some sort of chemical movement (water evaporation, perhaps?, something more?). Not large chunks like my lye rocks, obviously. Soap is too solid for large things to come to the surface on their own. But once those atomic sized molecules follow that pathway out to the surface what do they do then? Well, since they are in their atomic parts (or atoms), they can form polar alliances and recombine with others on the surface or with the air or components of the air, such as with water in the air (humidity), etc. That's actually how soda ash is formed. But solid flakes of lye would not remain solid on the surface of a bar of soap, any more than it would if you put a few flakes or beads of NaOH from your dry lye container onto a table in your kitchen. The ambient water in the air in your home would combine with the sodium hydroxide molecules and turn it into a liquid. It simply would not remain solid. I think you'd have to live in an extremely arid climate and even then in a vaccum to prevent dry lye from absorbing moisture from the air.

There is another thread here on SMF that has many photos of what soda ash looks like when it forms on the surface of lye-heavy soap, and maybe you might get a different perspective of what soda ash can look like. It's a very very long thread, but some of the photos are very interesting of the growths that can form on lye heavy soap. The thread: Deanna, I have a question...

One post in that thread with the most unusual crystal formations growing on soap I have ever seen: Deanna, I have a question...
and again more pictures here Deanna, I have a question...
In this photo, what I'm more used to seeing with extensive soda ash: Deanna, I have a question...
Sadly, the links to most of the images in that thread seem to be broken, but I the ones I linked above still show images.
 
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ResolvableOwl

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What is the difference between lye crystals and lye crust?
Except for the photo you had posted earlier, I don't see any “crystals” on your soaps that would give me sleepless nights (I have to believe you that they are all zappy, but from the optics, I'd rather bet on stearic spots and/or air bubbles). But I do see some DOS in the fourth photo, and maybe in the first as well. DOS is not only a cosmetic issue, and cannot be salvaged with any means known to the indie soapmaking community.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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The woman from the website is the one who used the phrase lye crust; I've never heard it before. I strongly question her knowledge of soap because:
1) Like I mentioned...she USED the lye crusted soap and didn't have any problems with it - and that just shouldn't be the case if those are really lye.
2) The rugged appearance of her soap isn't from holes caused by lye or oil seepage - they're the result of what she called "seized" soap....where the soap suddenly solidifies. However, a seized soap isn't moldable enough to mold into the individual molds like she did with that batch. Those soaps were at a very thick trace - but that was not a seized batter! A seized batter is SOLID.
3) It's worth mentioning again....she USED what she thought was a lye heavy soap on her skin and LIKED it!

Zap is a very difficult thing for me to advise about because I'm not certain I've had a true Zap. It's supposed to be like touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery - a fate I've avoided because I learned to never trust my big brother! To me, all of my soaps "sting" ....that's probably because soap is a salt of fatty acids. Also, ash can cause a zap-like sensation, or sting. Many people aren't sure if they experienced a true zap on some of their questionable soaps either for the same reasons I mentioned.

I've looked at the pics you've added. Really nice beveling, btw. Wish I could do it that well but mine are so uneven! I still want to have others like @cmzaha give their input. But right now I'm wondering if your soap is suffering from air bubbles. Did you use a wire cutter? Some stick blenders can really pull a lot of air into the batter. Have you heard of "burping" a stick blender? If not we can explain that later. But a wire cutter makes the bubbles look like white specks.

You said you didn't fully dissolve the lye in the milk - why do you think that? You saw undissolved bits? Or are you assuming that's what happened because of what you read on the website?
I do burp my blender and use a wire cutter. And thank you! I use the beveler that is built into my soap cutter.

Since I use frozen milk, I keep it below 90 degrees in an ice bath, then I strain it into my oils. I’ve never had these crusty white bits show up until I started using salt and sugar but the fact that they hurt my tongue made me think that was a zap. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a true zap either. I tested with ph strips which tested normal, like an 8.5, but I’ve heard they won’t pick up lye bits?

I’m wondering if the lye I use is not good. I made some soap dough using water and it took FOREVER for the lye to dissolve and even after that I strained it through a (clean) pantyhose.
 

Green Mountain Farm

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Except for the photo you had posted earlier, I don't see any “crystals” on your soaps that would give me sleepless nights (I have to believe you that they are all zappy, but from the optics, I'd rather bet on stearic spots and/or air bubbles). But I do see some DOS in the fourth photo, and maybe in the first as well. DOS is not only a cosmetic issue, and cannot be salvaged with any means known to the indie soapmaking community.
They aren’t dreaded orange spots, they are turmeric colored piping. They were meant to look like oranges but now kinda look like… well, DOS!
 

Green Mountain Farm

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I apologize if my previous post made you feel bad. That was not my intent. Please forgive me.

Additionally, I'd like to say that the photos you are showing do not convince me you have lye crystals. But only you can know if you are getting a true zap and not a bad taste from soda ash or a fragrance (they often taste pretty bad, too).

When I had lye rocks (the size of real crystal rocks) they were about as obvious as if I had purposely placed clear rock crystals in my soap, And it did happen as a result of using frozen liquid to make my lye solution and never getting it all to melt. I KNEW it wasn't all dissolved when I mixed it in with the soap; I knew I had solid frozen crystallized pieces of NaOH when I added it to the oils; I was so inexperienced that I thought the soapmaking process would make those solid 'crystalized' pieces of lye melt/dissolve. That did not happen. Here's what they looked like (this is blurry, but it's the only picture I seem to have anymore):
View attachment 61277

If the photo alone was all I had to show for that soap, one may not think it was a lye 'rock'; it doesn't look like lye. It looks like fat. But it definitely was solid lye, and it wasn't the only one, there were others. I made the stupid mistake of touching that to my tongue. It took my tongue weeks to heal from the lye burn!

Anyway, I'd give some thought to trying out a bar of your suspect soap, wearing gloves and washing your gloved hands with it. Then let it dry and see if those flakes of whatever appear again. From what you are saying, it sounds to me like it took a longish time (how long?) before they appeared. It would be interesting to see if they do re-appear and how long it takes. And then also if you do the ZAP test per these instructions, if you get a zap again.

Chemically and physically, the way solid undissolved lye interacts within a solid bar of soap, it just really does not make sense to me scientifically that it can work its way out as a solid. So I am going to have to think that that is not what you meant to say, nor what curbstonevalley meant to infer in that blogpost.

Stuff does happen inside a solid bar of soap, though. I have seen certain colorants migrate within bars of soap (over time - not a fast process), so it's pretty obvious that the colors had to have a path to follow. So what is that path that carries either an invasive colorant or a component of the chemicals (sodium, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.) to the outer surface? Well, it requires the components to be broken down into their atomic sizes and some sort of chemical movement (water evaporation, perhaps?, something more?). Not large chunks like my lye rocks, obviously. Soap is too solid for large things to come to the surface on their own. But once those atomic sized molecules follow that pathway out to the surface what do they do then? Well, since they are in their atomic parts (or atoms), they can form polar alliances and recombine with others on the surface or with the air or components of the air, such as with water in the air (humidity), etc. That's actually how soda ash is formed. But solid flakes of lye would not remain solid on the surface of a bar of soap, any more than it would if you put a few flakes or beads of NaOH from your dry lye container onto a table in your kitchen. The ambient water in the air in your home would combine with the sodium hydroxide molecules and turn it into a liquid. It simply would not remain solid. I think you'd have to live in an extremely arid climate and even then in a vaccum to prevent dry lye from absorbing moisture from the air.

There is another thread here on SMF that has many photos of what soda ash looks like when it forms on the surface of lye-heavy soap, and maybe you might get a different perspective of what soda ash can look like. It's a very very long thread, but some of the photos are very interesting of the growths that can form on lye heavy soap. The thread: Deanna, I have a question...

One post in that thread with the most unusual crystal formations growing on soap I have ever seen: Deanna, I have a question...
and again more pictures here Deanna, I have a question...
In this photo, what I'm more used to seeing with extensive soda ash: Deanna, I have a question...
Sadly, the links to most of the images in that thread seem to be broken, but I the ones I linked above still show images.
Thank you for all that info!

I am just concerned about selling them. I obviously don’t want to get sued!

I will look into those images but is soda ash ever hard and crusty? Also, our basement (where the soap is) flooded and so it’s super humid (and made some of my soap sweat!) so if lye does absorb water would that mean it’s absolutely not lye? Why did it hurt my tongue? Also, how would air bubbles be crusty?
 

ResolvableOwl

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They aren’t dreaded orange spots, they are turmeric colored piping. They were meant to look like oranges but now kinda look like… well, DOS!
Are you 100% sure about this? The ones I have marked here don't have the dark spots of turmeric powder, no well-defined border, and appear to me to have a more yellowish than reddish-brown hue.
turmeric_dos.jpg
 

Green Mountain Farm

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Are you 100% sure about this? The ones I have marked here don't have the dark spots of turmeric powder, no well-defined border, and appear to me to have a more yellowish than reddish-brown hue.
View attachment 61282
I also have dried orange peel in there that turned a little orange. Im not sure now that you say that! But I guess it doesn’t matter because it goes with the theme, right?
And actually there are only 3 turmeric spots in that picture, the rest are the orange peel.
 
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