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Separating 2.0

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Silver

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Dear soap makers,
I am still a very beginner soap maker and appreciate your help greatly. My 4th batch of soap separated again, just like the 2nd one (with the third batch being never spoken of again). At this point I am flabbergasted that the first batch turned out without a hitch. I think I will end up calling that batch the 'beginners luck soap'.
Here is my question: When mixing up the ingredients, I was fairly sure that it has reached a trace. The soap was thick enough that once I poured it into a mold, I was able to do an inverse stamping of a simple lattice pattern. 8 hours later, I took a peak at the soap in the mold and it had a thick layer of oil on the surface and the soap below was hard, telltale sign of separation. (I immediately threw it in a pot and re-batched.) But if the soap was thick enough to hold an inverted stamp, does that not imply that I reached a good trace? My temperature was at 110 for both oil and lye water, the measurements were accurate as far as I can tell and I ran the entire thing through a lye calculator. Was it a tricky false trace or perhaps a faulty recipe? How can you tell the difference between a false trace and true trace?
Many thanks,
Silver
 

JayJay

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What oils are you using? You can get a false trace of your temp is too low for certain oils.

Also there could be an issue with your lye.
 

shunt2011

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110 should be a good temp. If you post your entire recipe as well as any additives we can certainly try to help you trouble shoot.
 

Silver

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I used roughly the same quantities of coconut oil, olive and tallow (roughly 200 g of each) with a small addition of shea, coconut butter and jojoba (60 g in total). I used half and half water and coconut milk with the addition of a teaspoon of honey, 3 egg yolks and a little less then 1 oz of henna powder. (shampoo bar!) The essential oils were rosemary, teatree, cedarwood and a bit of peppermint, 30 g of those in total.
 

Obsidian

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If soap overheats, it can separate even if it was at a nice thick trace. How big are your batches? what kind of mold are you using and do you insulate to gel?
I would suggest trying to prevent gel, bet that solves your problem.
 

Silver

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My batch is roughly 3lb, 660 g of oil and 250 g of water. I mold it in a silicone mold that is held together in a wooden box and I insulated it with a towel and a thin blanket. The mixture didn't seem to be overly hot when it was in the mold. I also put a plastic wrap on top of the soap, I heard that it is supposed to prevent the EO's from evaporating and keep the soda ash at bay.
 

not_ally

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Obsidian is right about trying not gelling (temps too high) and JayJay is right about not letting temps get too low w/certain oil mixes. Which is *so* irritating and confusing, I know.

Unfortunately, I think it is hard to figure out if you are getting false trace unless you already know what to expect to some degree, which is hard when you are new, or even new w/a given recipe. Eg, I had it happen a few months in, but I had been using the same recipe (or v. close) for so many batches that I knew something was up, and that the trace was much too fast (I use a high lard mix that is slow to trace, so it was even more obvious.) I'm not really sure how to tell otherwise, I would be happy to hear insights here as well.

Is there anything else about your process/environment that could be at play here, ie: do you CPOP/wrap your soaps after pour/is it humid or hot out? The only other thing I would say is that you have a *lot* going on for a beginning bar. W/ 6 oils, plus milk, honey, egg yolks, henna plus e.o's, it is harder to tweak/troubleshoot.
 

Obsidian

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Plastic wrap over the top is supposed to help reduce ash but it won't do a thing to hold in scent. Once the soap is cut and on the drying rack, any scent that is going to evaporate will.

I think you are simply over wrapping you soap and its overheating. Doesn't matter what temp it is when you wrap it up, soap gets hot as it saponifies and with that much insulation, all that heat is being held in.

When giving batch size, only include the oil weight, not to finishes soap weight. 660 grams is right around 1 and half pounds. I suggest trying another batch but this time, don't cover it with anything except the plastic wrap.
 

kchaystack

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batch 2 and 4 seperated. What happened with 3? Did cooking them fix the problem?

It might be your lye is bad. If it got damp or something, so it is not as pure as you expect that could cause separating
 

Obsidian

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NA, the OP is soaping around 110*, there is no way they are getting false trace at those temps. I soap my high lard recipe around 80* and don't get false.
 

not_ally

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No, rereading the OP you are right, Obsidian. Silver, you already know this, I bet, but for others reading who maybe don't, false trace happens when hard oils that have been melted start to re-solidify before saponification happens, that doesn't seem to be likely here based on the melting point of those oils and your soaping temp. Although I rarely use butters, so don't know how the shea/CB would play into the mix there (or what the total amounts were, it is not clear from your post.)

Sorry, Silver, I just got caught up in that aspect of things b/c *I* am curious about about how to tell when it happens, when it happens and as it is happening, if you don't already know.
 

Silver

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Thank you all for your insight! It is fairly warm and slightly humid here this time of year, around 25 Celsius indoors. The next batch I will try putting in the fridge or will not wrap in towels like Obsidian suggested. not_ally the recipe did become rather elaborate, but since my first batch went fine I became a little more confident and decided to add all the good looking additives, but a simpler recipe will definitely follow for next time. I will definitely keep a closer eye on oils re-solidifying though, I thought for some reason that too hot of a temperature would be worse. kchaystack, Batch 2 and 4 are fine after re-batching and its the same lye that I used for batch 1 just last week so I think the lye should be alright, it was tightly sealed. But its good to know that even lye can go bad, will keep an eye on it for the future. Batch 3... I try to pretend never happened, everything that could have gone wrong did. Learned lots though of what not to do!
 
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Nevada

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Jojoba oil, eggs yokes, honey, henna powder? IMO Jojoba and butters are too precious to put in soap, save for leave on products.

Ae you really "Roughly" measuring?

Tallow 30%
Coconut 20%
Olive 45%
Castor 5%
SG 7%


I used roughly the same quantities of coconut oil, olive and tallow (roughly 200 g of each) with a small addition of shea, coconut butter and jojoba (60 g in total). I used half and half water and coconut milk with the addition of a teaspoon of honey, 3 egg yolks and a little less then 1 oz of henna powder. (shampoo bar!) The essential oils were rosemary, teatree, cedarwood and a bit of peppermint, 30 g of those in total.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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In all honesty, for someone with just 1 successful batch under their belt, I would make this:

60% lard
20% olive
15% co
5% castor

Plain water for the lye solution. No additives other than a well behaved EO.

Make that a few times and then add to it. Egg yolks, eye of newt, replacement liquids - these can all cause issues that you don't need right now. And until you make batches without them, you don't actually know if you need them or not.

Start simple and build up.
 

DeeAnna

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You say your recipe was 3 pounds, but your base recipe of 660 g fats, 250 g water, and an appropriate amount of lye all total to just over 2 pounds. Your basic water content is 38% "water as % of oils", but then you added 3 egg yolks, the jojoba (which doesn't saponify much), and honey -- all of which add to the non-saponifying liquid phase of the recipe. Based on the amount of liquid coupled with the other non-soap additives in the recipe, I'm betting on emulsion failure (aka separation).

Even if you can get the soap batter to what seems to be a stable trace immediately after stopping the mixing, the emulsion can still fail if the recipe has too much liquid that won't saponify. This is especially true if the batter warms up quickly (temperature affects emulsion stability), and that's also likely since you threw some honey into the soap.

I'm with the Gent -- with 3 failures out of 4 batches, it's time to reassess your approach to soaping. Use a basic recipe, develop good soaping techniques, KNOW you can soap with reliable success, and THEN experiment with additives and such. And when you do try the additives, you may want to use them with a lighter hand. I wouldn't have added so many non-soap ingredients to this soap -- 3 yolks, jojoba, honey, henna ... that's a LOT of additives for a 2 pound batch.
 
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cmzaha

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...and after all that, soap just is not good for hair :shock: Keep in mind higher liquid also means higher heat especially coupled with the additives. Do as suggested and start with a simple inexpensive recipe
 

froggybean37

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Believe me when I say I know how tempting it is to pull out all the stops for your first few batches - my first batch was a CPOP'd Beer soap that resulting in Alien Brains :shock: After that I went back to basics and I am happy I did. Without the prior knowledge of how a batch may behave and why and how to troubleshoot soap misbehaving, you may sadly be wasting more batches than not - especially with a batch as complicated as the one you've described.

My tip is to start from the beginning of just a few oils, and make some nice batches for friends and family. Once you've aced the plain jane, add some colour and fragrance, maybe a swirl. Have fun with it! THEN you can pull out the big guns and go crazy with additives :)
 

not_ally

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Silver, the recipe EG recommended is really good. It is simple, but don't underrate it b/c of that, the one I mostly make is v. similar to it b/c I just love those oils, at those amounts (or close) in my soap. Also, if you don't have lard you should be able to find it really easy in the grocery store. If that is all you have in it you should be OK w/r/t overheating, I would think, but if you want to be sure (or to prevent partial gel), just put it in the freezer/refrigerator as soon as you poor, and until it is cool. I really hope you try it, I think you will be delighted with the outcome.
 
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