Same problem with every batch, would appreciate help

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Oldsoaper

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I have been making plain unscented soap for about eight years because my wife cannot use store bought soap do to sensitivity issues. The soap is usable but it is not consistent from the top of the mold to the bottom. By that I mean it is always softer and more transparent at the top and gradually gets harder and whiter towards the bottom of the mold. My molds are 2.5 inch ID PVC pipe eight inches tall.

I always use the same recipe which is coconut oil 30.37%, Mango Butter 11.19%, olive oil 34.81% and palm kernel oil 23.63%. A batch turns out to be a little over 10 pounds. The coconut oil is the 92 degree type.

I do not use a stick blender but stir by hand. When a trace occurs it is always mild, you can see where drips puddle on the top for a few seconds and I can write my name on the surface and it will stay for a couple of seconds. The oils do thicken a little but do not look near as thick as what I have seen shown on websites.

I once stirred a batch for three hours thinking maybe I was putting it in the molds to quickly but I had the same results.

[FONT=&quot]Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas? Is this normal?[/FONT]
 

Susie

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If you would post your entire recipe in weights, we can help troubleshoot much more quickly and effectively. Thanks!

However, off the top of my head, I would suggest you get a stick blender. It will speed trace tremendously. You may, after all, be getting false trace due to Coconut Oil 92 degrees and mango butter hardening up before trace is reached. Which is likely, because any soap that reaches a true trace can't be stirred 3 hours. It will set up and start gelling.

Another suggestion is that you are using coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Both serve the same purpose. You may want to drop one and add palm oil, lard, or tallow in its place.

And a question: you used a lye calculator and weighed all the ingredients? And you are using sodium hydroxide for lye?
 

shunt2011

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I agree with Susie. Post your recipe and we wold be happy to help. I think she may be right about false trace. Also, you most certainly should drop the amount of CO and PKO. Way too much for most folks. However, I use both and like the combination but don't exceed 22-25%
 

Oldsoaper

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Thanks for the replies,

Coconut oil 41 ounces
Mango butter 15.1 ounces
Olive Oil 47 ounces
Palm kernel oil 31.9 ounces
Sodium Hydroxide 20.15 ounces
Water 47 ounces

I do use a very good quality electronic scale.
Also I combine the lye solution with the oils when they are between 115 and 120 degrees. I normally have them within 1 or 2 degrees of each other.
 
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Misschief

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Here's the SoapCalc profile (as close as I could make it). Personally, I'd use less water. I often use a 1.5:1 water/lye ratio.

Capture.jpg
 

shunt2011

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I would drop the PKO/cO and add lard or Palm. Your cleansing is way too high.
 

Oldsoaper

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Shunt2011, are you saying to drop both the PKO and CO and add palm or lard at the same percentage of the two? Sorry but I am old and slow and don't catch on too quick.
 

DeeAnna

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I agree with the false trace theory. If you are hand stirring and you're starting at a batter temperature of 110 to 120 F, it is very possible that your batter temp is dropping enough for the solid fats to begin to solidify while you are hand stirring. You say you keep stirring for a long time and "...When a trace occurs it is always mild..." That is pretty solid evidence that the "trace" you are seeing really isn't what you think it is.

In the tests I've done, the batter temp can drop quite a bit if saponification does not kick in fast enough . If you can't maintain a reasonable temperature, saponification can slow to a crawl. That is very likely to happen when hand stirring your soap batter. My grandmother had to hand stir her soap too, but she ALSO heated her soap gently while she stirred. When the soap hit a clear trace that was definitely heading into pudding thickness, she poured the soap into a peach crate mold and got good results.

You should consider heating your soap batter while stirring ... or you should increase your starting temperatures ... if you are unwilling to switch to a stick blender.
 

Oldsoaper

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I think I definitely need to get a stick blender.
Ok, I think I finally understand what everyone is trying to tell me. Since I would like to use up my existing supplies (social security doesn’t go very far) what do you all think of the following recipe?

15% or 20.25 oz. - Coconut oil
10% or 13.5 oz. – Palm kernel oil
10% or 13.5 oz. – Mango butter
35% or 47.25 oz. – Olive oil
30% or 40.5 oz. – Palm oil

The only things I would need to buy is palm oil and a stick blender.
 
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CaraBou

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Welcome Oldsoaper. That recipe looks fine. Are you in the US? Palm oil is relatively expensive here and harder to find, so you might consider lard if those are issues for you. Walmart carries 4 lb tubs of lard for less than $7 I think.
 

lenarenee

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Hi Oldsoaper,

Coconut oil and palm kernel oil perform almost identical jobs - you can us the together, or use one or the other. They provide the big bubbles, and are high in "cleansing" - meaning they can strip your skin of it's natural oils so people find it drying in high amounts.

Your original recipe with both palm kernel and coconut is extremely high in cleansing. (I could not use that soap!) The second recipe you posted is still pretty high, but some soapers still like that percentage. I prefer no higher than a total of 20% coconut and/or palm kernel oil.

Instead of buying palm oil, would you be willing to try lard? Its fantastic for soap and you can make an inexpensive yet wonderful recipe with only 2 ingredients - 80% lard, 20% coconut or palm kernel (or half and half). You can also do 100% lard.

You can still use up all the ingredients you have on hand; let me share an example of a couple recipes I use.

70% lard, 15% coconut or palm kernel, 15% olive (or sunflower or safflower oil)

50% lard, 20% coconut or palm kernel, 20 olive, 10% mango.

Most importantly, since you're on a strict budget please let me offer to send you a couple bars of my lard soap for your wife to try before you commit your precious ingredients to a new recipe. We also have 4 stick blenders and I'd love to send you one of the extras. Send me a private message if you're interested!
 

shunt2011

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Shunt2011, are you saying to drop both the PKO and CO and add palm or lard at the same percentage of the two? Sorry but I am old and slow and don't catch on too quick.

Just drop the % of them. Say 10% CO and 13% PKO. Then add the difference to palm or lard.
 

Susie

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If you are having to buy more palm, and you aren't opposed to using animal fats, I am going to tell you to go buy some lard. It is much cheaper than palm, and makes wonderful soap. Here is the recipe I would use with your current ingredients and the addition of lard:

Coconut Oil 10%
Palm Kernel Oil 5%
Mango Butter 10%
Olive Oil 25%
Lard 50%

I would also suggest you look at your local thrift stores (Goodwill and the like) for stick blenders and a crock pot. They often have them, and they are usually cheap. I got my back ups there.
 

lionprincess00

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I agree. Her sensitive skin may be irritated by such high cleansing. Most keep co at 20% and some go below that when their skin is sensitive. You split your total co% with the pko, not add them together. Over 20% for sensitive skin is still just too high imo.

Susie has a great alternative recipe as do the others.
Lard is in big buckets in the baking aisle in walmart. Its the cheapest I've found, and so reasonably priced compared to other fats and oils you should really consider it. It's also so gentle on the skin compared to other hard fats.
 

Oldsoaper

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Thanks everyone. Lard it will be. As soon as I make new batch I will post how it turns out. The support on this forum has been great, Thanks again.
 

IrishLass

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How does your wife's skin react with your soap recipe 'as is'? I ask because everyone's skin is different in how much of the cleansing oils such as coconut and/or pko they can tolerate. Some people can only tolerate 10%, while others are quite happy with 30% or more (like me! :) ). If your wife is happy with the soap and her skin is doing fine with it, there's really no need to change your formula, although I would definitely get a stickblender.

But, if you want to try something different so she can compare, your re-vamped recipe below that you posted earlier in this thread looks great to me:

15% or 20.25 oz. - Coconut oil
10% or 13.5 oz. – Palm kernel oil
10% or 13.5 oz. – Mango butter
35% or 47.25 oz. – Olive oil
30% or 40.5 oz. – Palm oil

Believe it or not, it's actually very close to one of my keeper formulas, only I use more CO/PKO (31.5%) and a mixture of lard and tallow instead of palm, although lard itself would do very nicely for the palm.


IrishLass :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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Thanks everyone. Lard it will be. As soon as I make new batch I will post how it turns out. The support on this forum has been great, Thanks again.
Proceed cautiously if you get a stick blender, so it doesn't thicken up more than you expect. That gadget can save you a little labor, but if you just make this one recipe it should also trace pretty easily with just a plastic whisk and have no separation issues. Besides the good recipe advice, the key information you got here is that you need to increase your soaping temperatures so the oils don't start to congeal while you're working with the batter.
 

Oldsoaper

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What temperature should I combine oils and lye and what should temp should I try to maintain until trace occurs?
 

traderbren

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On my lard recipes, I try to combine the lye solution to my oils when both are about 110F. If the lard gets too cool, it starts to resolidify and starts to look like its tracing when it's really not.

Also, not sure if it's been mentioned but try not to let the lard get too hot, or it can smell a bit piggy...
 
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