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Soap breaking and crumbling,please help!

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harveybw

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Hi

I'm hoping someone can tell me where I am going wrong:-? I have been making soap for a few years with no problems. I usually make honey soap as it's just for my family and that's our favourite. Anyway we moved house just over a year ago and since then I can't seem to make soap! Every time I make a batch it just breaks and crumbles when I try to cut it and I can't seem to figure out what I'm doing wrong! I haven't changed the recipe and I've even bought new oils to make sure it wasn't that. I also use filtered water

Here is my recipe, any advice would be most welcome:D

Olive oil 300g
Palm oil 300g
Coconut oil 250g
Castor oil 50g
Sunflower oil 50g
Shea butter 50g
2 tablespoons honey

Lye 138g
Water 320g

I usually mix lye and oils at approx 120 degrees

I also insulate the soap with towels and usually achieve full gel but for some reason I'm only getting partial gel now which makes me wonder if temps are the problem? I've also tried leaving it for a few days before cutting and it's made no difference. Please help it's so frustrating and expensive! Thanks in advance
 

Dorymae

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How soon are you trying to cut? Crumbling is usually a sign of waiting too long. A trick that can sometimes save a loaf is to stick it in the oven to heat it up, then cut immediately. Only try this if your first slice is crumbling.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I would say that you need to babysit it again - in the old house it was left a certain way and it gelled and then cut after so many hours. In the new house, you need to work these out again - it's one reason why the questions about gelling and cutting times can be so vague is that each place will be slightly different.

As it's just for you and yours, I imagine that a partial gel is no issue, more just the cutting issue. Make a batch and keep on poking it with a knife until it seems firm enough to cut.
 

Seawolfe

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Mine do that if I dont gel - cut kind of like crumbly cheese?
Now I insulate AND put on a dog whelping mat, haven't had a problem since. A heating pad would work too, or a warm cupboard, or the back of a stove that uses a pilot light...
Some people swear by using the oven - heat it up to 170 deg, turn it off, put the soap in for an hour or so. But I've had soaps overheat that way.
 

harveybw

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Thanks for the quick replies

Dorymae - I usually try to cut within 24 - 48 hours. The thing is the first slice always seems to be ok, it's the slices after that which are breaking and crumbling.

The Efficacious Gentleman - You're right, i'm not bothered about the partial gel I just need a bar of soap that doesn't disintegrate when cut:sad:
 

Dorymae

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Thanks for the quick replies

Dorymae - I usually try to cut within 24 - 48 hours. The thing is the first slice always seems to be ok, it's the slices after that which are breaking and crumbling.

The Efficacious Gentleman - You're right, i'm not bothered about the partial gel I just need a bar of soap that doesn't disintegrate when cut:sad:
Try cutting earlier. I have recipes that I cut within 12 hours and they are not salt bars or high in coconut oil, they just firm up quickly. When you get crumbling stop cutting. Turn on the oven at 200 degrees and put your soap on a non reactive pan ( not aluminum or iron) or even a silicone (made for the oven) sheet and heat it up for about 1/2 hour. Take it out and cut immediately. Don't forget the soap will be hot so thick gloves are handy.
 

not_ally

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What is the soap like as you progress internally in the cutting? Agree w/Dory, if the first/exterior slice is cutting Ok and the others are crumbling it seems like it is getting harder, faster, in the middle, and it might work better to cut earlier.
 

jenneelk

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wow - I've never had this happen before and made a good amount in the last few years... it's interesting how that could happen. I have a few I've forgotten and they have ended up super firm to where my wire cutter won't go through them but none are ever close to crumbling. No clue which were gelled or not as I go back and forth with allowing gel.
But then again.. my salt bars are 75% salt and a normal oil recipe, yet they take a while to set up. Like I can do swirls and all sorts of stuff with them. lol No idea why.
 

Jstar

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I agree on cutting sooner. A new house has new variables like Effy said..gotta get those figured out again.

My higher percentage CO soaps usually can be cut within 12 hrs..my high tallow bars however need to be cut no later than 4 hrs after pouring or Im gonna have bricks :lol:
 

harveybw

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Try cutting earlier. I have recipes that I cut within 12 hours and they are not salt bars or high in coconut oil, they just firm up quickly. When you get crumbling stop cutting. Turn on the oven at 200 degrees and put your soap on a non reactive pan ( not aluminum or iron) or even a silicone (made for the oven) sheet and heat it up for about 1/2 hour. Take it out and cut immediately. Don't forget the soap will be hot so thick gloves are handy.
Thanks I'm going to try this now with the rest of the loaf, will let you know how it turns out :)
 

harveybw

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Thanks I'm going to try this now with the rest of the loaf, will let you know how it turns out :)
Well I tried this and it did work, some of it was still crumbly but at least I managed to save a fair bit :smile:

Anyway I decided to make a batch without the honey just in case the honey was a problem(I think I'm grasping at straws now:crazy:) I did add some fragrance oil that I've used loads of times before, it's very well behaved.

The soap did a partial gel again but it was firm enough to cut after about 6 hours, still a bit warm. As soon as I cut the first slice I could see it was starting to crumble! So I put it in the oven on 200 for about 25 mins then cut it as soon as it had cooled for a few minutes. Although it was a little soft I was able to slice it all, hurrah!!

I'm still not sure what the answer is or why it's crumbling and breaking?? Will I have to keep putting my soap in the oven?

Thank you to everyone for the helpful tips much appreciated.
 

Jstar

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Something is up if its crumbling just after 6 hrs...:Kitten Love:

Are you doing any water reduction? What about zap testing after 24 hrs...does it zap?
 

Dorymae

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I'm not sure why your soap is crumbling. Heat works and it is a quick fix, but you should try to find the culprit.

Have you zap tested your soap? Not immediately but after 2-3 days? Lye heavy soap will also cause crumbling, just one extra thing to double check.
 

not_ally

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Dory, it is weird, if I am understanding Harvey correctly this is a tried-and-true (over years) recipe, the only thing that has changed is the fact that he has moved house. Harvey, you have managed to collectively stump us :)
 

Jstar

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I ran it thru Soapcalc, {omitted the honey} here is what I see..it appears as tho its about 60 gms short on water so that could be some of it....but Im also leaning towards something going on with the lye.

Your recipe:

Olive oil 300g
Palm oil 300g
Coconut oil 250g
Castor oil 50g
Sunflower oil 50g
Shea butter 50g
2 tablespoons honey

Lye 138g
Water 320g

Is there a different mold being used as well perhaps? Maybe try cutting at 4 hrs?

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kchaystack

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I ran it thru Soapcalc, {omitted the honey} here is what I see..it appears as tho its about 60 gms short on water so that could be some of it....but Im also leaning towards something going on with the lye.
I do not see why a water discount (or using a greater concentration of lye) would be a problem at all.

I sometimes get crumbling if I cut too early using a knife. Something about the big plane of the blade I guess. But if I use my wire cutter, it does not do this.
 

Jstar

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Well if its discounted and then lye heavy...that would cause crumbling. However the bit about the plane of the blade is correct and one I hadn't thought of. If its a wide blade, then as the knife goes down, the top of the knife would naturally push the top of the soap bar outwards causing the bottom to basically rip lose before the actual blade got to it.

Harvey, are you using a knife to cut with? Is it the same one you have used or have you recently switched? Do the bars crumble at the bottom, or are they crumbling in different areas?

Got some pictures?
 

navigator9

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The only time I've ever had a problem with soft/crumbly soap is when it didn't gel, wasn't completely saponified, but I didn't realize that, and tried to cut anyway. Does the crumbly part zap? If it does, wait until there's no zap left and try cutting then. Good luck!
 

harveybw

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Hi

Thanks to everyone for trying to help me.

To answer a few questions,
I am still using the same knife to cut so I don't think that's the problem
I tested the soap I made approx 2 days ago and it's not zapping. The batch I made yesterday maybe has a slight zap to it.
I don't think the water discount is the problem as I've added the same amount of water for years but who knows? I might add full water to see if that helps.
I haven't taken any pics but will do in the morning as it's nearly bedtime in the UK;)

I read through all my soap making stuff today(went on a soap making course a few years ago) just to make sure I hadn't forgot an important step or something! Anyway it mentioned about the hardness of water and how it can affect soap. It said if water is too hard it can cause a scum on the top of the lye and cause problems with the soap.

Now I have noticed when I mixed the lye with the oils that a sort of film/scum is forming around the mixer which I never noticed in the last house. The lye also has a film on top before I mix it.

Anyway since nothing else has been changed I decided to buy bottled spring water and try that. I'll make a batch tomorrow and let you know how I get on, wish me luck! Thanks again.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Hi



Thanks to everyone for trying to help me.



To answer a few questions,

I am still using the same knife to cut so I don't think that's the problem

I tested the soap I made approx 2 days ago and it's not zapping. The batch I made yesterday maybe has a slight zap to it.

I don't think the water discount is the problem as I've added the same amount of water for years but who knows? I might add full water to see if that helps.

I haven't taken any pics but will do in the morning as it's nearly bedtime in the UK;)



I read through all my soap making stuff today(went on a soap making course a few years ago) just to make sure I hadn't forgot an important step or something! Anyway it mentioned about the hardness of water and how it can affect soap. It said if water is too hard it can cause a scum on the top of the lye and cause problems with the soap.



Now I have noticed when I mixed the lye with the oils that a sort of film/scum is forming around the mixer which I never noticed in the last house. The lye also has a film on top before I mix it.



Anyway since nothing else has been changed I decided to buy bottled spring water and try that. I'll make a batch tomorrow and let you know how I get on, wish me luck! Thanks again.

Go for distilled instead of spring water - will be a much better water to use for soaping in general
 

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