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Small sized Molds. Newbie needs some help

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Vickyn

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Hi guys. I'm new to soap making with CP. I've done melt and pour a lot, mainly because I have a really small apartment, but I want to control the ingredients and oils.

So my issue is small sized moulds and keeping the mixture liquid enough to pour. I've read A LOT of advice on various threads here, but can't find anything that works. Since I don't have much experience yet, I'm not wedded to any particular process, so any ideas would be very welcome.

All molds are silicone

1. My project was a recipe from Brambleberry for a simple charcoal cleanser.
I poured at a light trace, 110F. It was still too thick to get into the mold shape. I ended up pushing it in with a spatula, but as predicted, was patchy and had gaps.
I demolded after 16 hours. No insulation.
The result was ashy and with the gaps in the shape.

2. My second attempt, same recipe, I reduced the charcoal, just to see of that helped and poured at 128F, again light trace. Again no insulation. Demolded after 24hours.
The result was much easier to pour and less grainy. Obviously less gaps too.
It's still difficult to get it into small mold size though.

My next thought was pouring at emulsion, with videos I found here but not sure I'm experienced enough yet?

I basically want to find a way to make the soap as liquid as possible when I pour, so that it goes into small shapes. Any help would be amazing.

Thanks in advance.
 

shunt2011

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First, you need to post your recipe for us to help out. Charcoal will make your soap move faster, also depending on your lye concentration and if your soap is gelled or not can affect ash on the soaps. I've found charcoal soaps have a tendency to ash a bit regardless.
 

Vickyn

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First, you need to post your recipe for us to help out. Charcoal will make your soap move faster, also depending on your lye concentration and if your soap is gelled or not can affect ash on the soaps. I've found charcoal soaps have a tendency to ash a bit regardless.
Oh ok thanks for the reply. I actually downsized the charcoal and clay from the original recipe as it seemed way too much. The test recipe was:

Lye concentration 36%
Super fat 5%
Batch 280g

Coconut oil 112g
Castor oil 56g
Olive oil 112g
Fragrance 8g tea tree and lavender 4g each
Charcoal 5g (originally 9g)
Bentonite Clay 5g (originally 9g)

From my limited understanding, there are things I can do to help the gel process and I think this bit is my inexperience, but it still wouldn't be liquid enough to pour into small molds, which is the bit that I'm struggling with.
Noted on the charcoal part though. Maybe it wasn't the best recipe to start with. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Here is a picture, if it helps. I don't think it's just ash. As you can see, there are also loads of gaps as it was far to thick to pour.
 

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atiz

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I would start with a charcoal-free recipe. Also, your mold is really tiny; less than 500g of oils are difficult to measure. You can get quite nice 1 lb (~ 500g) molds both in a loaf shape and slab shape; I have found that easier than pouring into individual cavity molds. It sounds like you already blend to thin trace; at least when I started, I almost always over-blended so that's why my batter was usually around medium/thick trace by the time I got to pouring.

But they do look like good soaps :)
 

shunt2011

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Looks like way too much charcoal. I agree with the size of the molds. Too small. Especially when you don’t know how a batch will work. They look dry from the charcoal. I would also do a 33% lye concentration.
 

Vickyn

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Thanks @atiz and @shunt2011

I appreciate the help. The original recipe was for 1lb, so maybe I'll try doing bigger ones. Not sure where I'm going to store the oils in my tiny flat, but I'll figure something out 😱.
I definitely agree with the charcoal. The amount, even at reduced 5g, still seemed too big for the amount of oils.

I'll try increasing the water and run it through a calculator. Hopefully that will help too. I think I'll try another batch before I give up on the charcoal completely. Then I think I'll switch to something else for getting to grips with CP.

Thanks everyone. X
 

dibbles

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Bentonite clay also soaks up a lot of water. Combined with the charcoal, it probably contributed to the problem. Did you hydrate the clay and charcoal?
 

Vickyn

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Bentonite clay also soaks up a lot of water. Combined with the charcoal, it probably contributed to the problem. Did you hydrate the clay and charcoal?
I mixed it with a portion of the base oils before adding it back to the rest of the oils and then mixed in the lye, if that's what what you mean? (Sorry I'm not completely good with all of the lingo yet)
The recipe does say that it has a 15% water discount. Sounds big to me but as a newbie, I figured it was right.
 

dibbles

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I mixed it with a portion of the base oils before adding it back to the rest of the oils and then mixed in the lye, if that's what what you mean? (Sorry I'm not completely good with all of the lingo yet)
The recipe does say that it has a 15% water discount. Sounds big to me but as a newbie, I figured it was right.
That's what I meant.
 

Vickyn

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That's what I meant.
Ah ok. Yeah I warmed the oils, hard and soft, then took some out, mixed the powder and put it back in. I think the recipe isn't right. MP isn't the same, but the amount looked far too big for what ai would usually add to a MP soap and from the great tips here, clearly it's way too much.

Does the pot material make a difference? I don't have a microwave (😱 I know) so I'm using a stainless steel double boiler to melt the oils, then add the other bits before pouring. As far as I could tell, SS was fine to use.
 

dibbles

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Ah ok. Yeah I warmed the oils, hard and soft, then took some out, mixed the powder and put it back in. I think the recipe isn't right. MP isn't the same, but the amount looked far too big for what ai would usually add to a MP soap and from the great tips here, clearly it's way too much.

Does the pot material make a difference? I don't have a microwave (😱 I know) so I'm using a stainless steel double boiler to melt the oils, then add the other bits before pouring. As far as I could tell, SS was fine to use.
Stainless steel is perfect!
 

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I would also ( along with the reduction in charcoal and clay) tweak the amount of the ingredients. Aim for 20% - 25% coconut oil, 10% castor at most and then the rest as Olive oil. This might help to slow trace. I don't usually weigh my charcoal - I tend to use a teaspoon PPO. Not sure of the weight of one teaspoon of charcoal but I think you'll find it's only a gram or less.
Also don't use the hard oils to mix up your additives - I find they can re-harden in small amounts. Just reserve a bit of the soft oils and mix with those, then add it to the main batter that way.
 

Vickyn

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I would also ( along with the reduction in charcoal and clay) tweak the amount of the ingredients. Aim for 20% - 25% coconut oil, 10% castor at most and then the rest as Olive oil. This might help to slow trace. I don't usually weigh my charcoal - I tend to use a teaspoon PPO. Not sure of the weight of one teaspoon of charcoal but I think you'll find it's only a gram or less.
Also don't use the hard oils to mix up your additives - I find they can re-harden in small amounts. Just reserve a bit of the soft oils and mix with those, then add it to the main batter that way.
Thanks. I'm going to try a new version with all the great tips added today. The tsp is interesting. I usually do this too, but I had to convert to grams to resize the batch. Apparently 1 tsp is 2.5g or 3g depending on where you look and a tbsp is 15g. Still seems way too much in the recipe instructions, but I definitely will be reducing the amount.

Stainless steel is perfect!
Great. Thanks.
 

KiwiMoose

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Apparently 1 tsp is 2.5g or 3g depending on where you look and a tbsp is 15g. Still seems way too much in the recipe instructions, but I definitely will be reducing the amount.
It depends what you are weighing. A teaspoon of honey weighs a lot more than a teaspoon of charcoal for example. Charcoal is very lightweight.
 

shunt2011

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Just use a tsp to add it. I add about 1 tsp per pound of oils (PPO). I masterbatch my oils generally and just take a bit out of the measured out & warmed batch (Lard, Shea, CO, castor, liquid oil ) and mix my charcoal into it with no issues.
 

Vickyn

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It depends what you are weighing. A teaspoon of honey weighs a lot more than a teaspoon of charcoal for example. Charcoal is very lightweight.
This is true. I've reduced the amount to the same as I would for MP and it's much better.
 

Vickyn

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Just use a tsp to add it. I add about 1 tsp per pound of oils (PPO). I masterbatch my oils generally and just take a bit out of the measured out & warmed batch (Lard, Shea, CO, castor, liquid oil ) and mix my charcoal into it with no issues.
Thanks for the reply. That's how I did it the first and second attempt. My third I tried just the liquid oils on a previous suggestion. I didn't find that it made much of a difference to how well it mixed or dispersed if I'm honest, but definitely worth a try.
I used a recipe to follow, since I'm not ready to create my own, but I think there is something wrong with the qtys. I tried a different one today and had no problems at all. Still trying to figure out the best way to keep things fluid enough for small molds, but had a promising batch. Let's see what happens when I demold tomorrow...
 

shunt2011

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Thanks for the reply. That's how I did it the first and second attempt. My third I tried just the liquid oils on a previous suggestion. I didn't find that it made much of a difference to how well it mixed or dispersed if I'm honest, but definitely worth a try.
I used a recipe to follow, since I'm not ready to create my own, but I think there is something wrong with the qtys. I tried a different one today and had no problems at all. Still trying to figure out the best way to keep things fluid enough for small molds, but had a promising batch. Let's see what happens when I demold tomorrow...
Have you at least run the recipe through a soap calculator to make sure it's correct? That could be part of the problem as well.
 

Vickyn

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Have you at least run the recipe through a soap calculator to make sure it's correct? That could be part of the problem as well.
I did the calculations manually and then ran it through soap calc to double check. I had the same thought as you, so I checked it again yesterday after I took it out of the mold and saw the results. All correct. I figured I must have made a weighing mistake somewhere, but my second batch had the same problem.
 

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