Soap setting up too fast.

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Several(6ūüôĄ) batches of soap accomplished with varying degrees of success. They may been an unintended color, ugly, honey threw a curve ball, or just a plain old OMG but‚Ķall of it turned into decent if not really nice soaps. Using first batch daily now and no itching so far. Made some liquid hand soap for poops and grins and hands are actually better. Spent a bit but saved on lotion (what I tell my wife). All in all my daughter and I (add daughter in law) are having fun making something we use with common stuff.

All of that to for this…every batch I have done has put me in a frantic state between getting to trace and molding. Outside of that time things are almost textbook and i could almost do a reputable video. After trace the pucker potential is high for anything other than just enough to do a loaf mold full of goo.

I watch videos and that nice creamy saponifying goo flows so effortlessly into molds with plenty of time to do swirls of multiple colors and other neat techniques to make soap look like it should hang in an art gallery instead of foaming someone’s armpits.

I get two or three bar molds poured and the soap gods start laughing. Loafs are no problem if I just make enough for one. It glops up(technical term) and will not flow at all and I end up scooping and scraping.

Our water here is somewhat hard and pH as high as 7.8 so I tried distilled water from the store, no difference. Though temp may be problem so I heat oil and lye water to 125f before mixing. Checked temp after molding the last time and it was 107f, should I start at higher temp? Would increasing water extend the time between trace and setting up. Using soap calc with 3:1 ratio. It defaults to 5% superfats. All of the recipes I have done use basic oils I have on hand or inexpensive like lard, olive, castor, coconut, grapeseed, or avacado. The only butter I have used so far is Shea and only small amounts.

The problem is a constant across recipes raw material so I think it has to be process related and something stupidly simple.

Thoughts?
 
Glad to hear you are having fun, all the whle convincing your spouse that homemade soap saves money - well done on THAT one! ūüėĀ

Some suggestions:

1. Soap cooler. Anything above 100¬ļF will usually accelerate my recipe.

2. Use the stickblender very, very sparingly. When you watch YT videos, they are either making HUGE batches which need tons more blending, or they aren't actually blending the whole time. Instead, they are using the SB more like a stirring spoon, without turning it on. Even soaping cool (under 100F) with a high-lard recipe, I can't exceed three, 1-second bursts with my stickblender, or I'm way beyond emulsion and into tracing. Once the SB brings the soap to trace, the batter will keep thickening. Speaking of which...

3. Learn to stop at a stable emulsion, before you reach trace. Here is a good video on that.

4. What scents and additives are you using? Many of them are known to accelerate trace.
 
In addition to what @AliOop mentions, a couple of others:

Use slow tracing oil mix (eg, lard, olive, avocado, high oleic sunflower - maybe not grapeseed because it has a short shelf life); avoid large amounts of fast ones (eg, CO, palm, butters, castor above 5% or so);

Increase water/liquid in lye/water mix (ie; decrease lye concentration);

Avoid colorants (TD/Oxides, marines, A/C, clays) that speed trace;

Avoid additives (sugars/honey, milks) that speed trace.
 
A 3:1 water:lye ratio is already a LOT of water for a cold process recipe. You're risking more soda ash, "glycerin" rivers, and possible separation in the mold with that much water.

I normally use more like 2:1 water:lye ratio (33% lye concentration.) That works well for almost all the recipes I make with a CP method.

I agree with the consensus of the judge and jury's opinion so far. :) I think you're going to see a lot of improvement if you shift to cooler temps and stick blending less.

The use of distilled water in bar (NaOH) soap is more to reduce the chance of rancidity (aka DOS) than it is to solve a too-fast trace problem.
 
Are you using any fragrance oils in your soap? They can affect trace.
At the ball field cheering on my little slugger. I don’t remember the scent brands but they are made specifically for soap, doesn’t seem to make a difference which one, same results though. Now honey threw me a cuve big time, that was was a whole nother set of oh s(!?. I think the temp and using the stick blender to much for the batch size is the culprit.

The jury rules excessive use of stickblender. You are sentenced to cooler soaping temps and minimal use of blender until you get it right. Court adjourned.
I accept the jury‚Äôs decision‚Ķlike I have a choice. ūüė≥ Somewhere I got in my head 120f to 130f was optimum saponification temp, maybe so but sounds like may not be the ideal soap making temp. On the stick blender I hit it pretty good until I get emulsification, then stir with occasional bursts. Think I‚Äôll switch to a spoontula instead. At the ball field but will look at the ratios out of the calc later. 3:1 is what sticks in my head but 2.7 seems like the lowest. I still don‚Äôt have a good grip on this superfats/lye discount/water discount thingy. Haven‚Äôt seen a explanation I can wrap my head around yet for some reason. In a previous life I developed refractory and high density alloys, kinda similar. I guess this is one of those things where prior knowledge may be a detriment. Explosives are easier but can‚Äôt do those with my 5 year old.ūüôĄ
 
I'm just gonna add that I don't SB my soaps as my SB is for food and I don't wanna buy another. That said, I hand whisk all my soaps and so far so good. I use my OP that is known to accelerate to help balance out the slower trace due to non-SB. Even with hand whisking, this particular fast tracing OP can help me reach emulsion in 2 minutes.
I learnt it is important to let the batter sit for like 30 secs and observe to see if it's separating. Then mix some more. I have achieved soap on a stick with hand whisking before!
 
I'm just gonna add that I don't SB my soaps as my SB is for food and I don't wanna buy another. That said, I hand whisk all my soaps and so far so good. I use my OP that is known to accelerate to help balance out the slower trace due to non-SB. Even with hand whisking, this particular fast tracing OP can help me reach emulsion in 2 minutes.
I learnt it is important to let the batter sit for like 30 secs and observe to see if it's separating. Then mix some more. I have achieved soap on a stick with hand whisking before!
Do you let it rest 30 seconds before you get emulsion? Maybe not 30 seconds but once I reach a good emulsion (or what I think it’s a good emulsion) I will let it set a little bit, bump the SB (whixh I will stop doing), stir, and let set again.

Kind of a sidebar…There’s a light directly over that part of the counter and it’s easy to see how the surface is reacting. Not saying I have a full grasp of what’s taking place but hitting emulsion is pretty noticeable and approaching trace even more so. Up to then the behavior is pretty consistent other than time. That part of the process never longer that say 10 minutes, average roughly 5-7 minutes. What kind of times do you and anyone else that wants to chime in experience? Lowering my temps will lengthen that time but trying to get an idea what kinda times I should see. Those examples may have been in things I’ve read but apparently didn’t register.
 
At the ball field cheering on my little slugger. I don’t remember the scent brands but they are made specifically for soap, doesn’t seem to make a difference which one, same results though. Now honey threw me a cuve big time, that was was a whole nother set of oh s(!?. I think the temp and using the stick blender to much for the batch size is the culprit.
Make sure to read the reviews if you are ordering from an online supplier. The reviews will usually state if the FO accelerates trace.
 
I'm just gonna add that I don't SB my soaps as my SB is for food and I don't wanna buy another. That said, I hand whisk all my soaps and so far so good. I use my OP that is known to accelerate to help balance out the slower trace due to non-SB. Even with hand whisking, this particular fast tracing OP can help me reach emulsion in 2 minutes.
I learnt it is important to let the batter sit for like 30 secs and observe to see if it's separating. Then mix some more. I have achieved soap on a stick with hand whisking before!
Oh, and I never owned a SB before making soap. Got a killer KitchenAid setup with meat grinder, grain mill, and a driveshaft to run my wondermill.ūü§ď
 
On the stick blender I hit it pretty good until I get emulsification, then stir with occasional bursts. Think I’ll switch to a spoontula instead.
Skip the hit it pretty good until emulsion part. Just stir with occasional bursts. And by occasional I mean 2-5 seconds at a time until you know your recipe and can see if you are able to increase the length of the beginning bursts.
 
Do you let it rest 30 seconds before you get emulsion? Maybe not 30 seconds but once I reach a good emulsion (or what I think it’s a good emulsion) I will let it set a little bit, bump the SB (whixh I will stop doing), stir, and let set again.
Yeah.. I whisk a bit, let it rest maybe 10-20 secs? Then check how thick it is and continue. Especially with this OP, I find that gentle whisking gets it to emulsion quickly. Even just sitting there it sets up pretty fast. If I want a slower tracing batter, I use half of this OP with half Canola.

I am tempted to get a SB, but I loathe the thought of 1 more thing to wash!
 
Oh, and I never owned a SB before making soap. Got a killer KitchenAid setup with meat grinder, grain mill, and a driveshaft to run my wondermill.ūü§ď
Well, that might be the issue there... too much horsepower... as if there is such a thing ūüėā But there can be in soap making. I started my soapy journey with a lowly lil' $11 Hamilton Beach I got at the supermarket, and it was the best durn SB I ever used. Only drawback, they don't last. I went through Kitchenaid and Braun, but hated them. Ended up with the one BB sells, and its really grand, but I make sure to use the lowest setting for my quick moving recipe. So --burst-burst-- stir stir stir stir stir --burst-burst-- stir stir stir stir stir stir. I soap at ~110¬į because I'm impatient, water discount so I can unmold and cut in 8 hours, and I flirt with all the naughtiest FOs that move like greased lightening. My batter moves durn quick, so I was glad to finally have a SB I could dial back to "Saturday night on quaaludes" mode. Gosh I miss my lil' Hammi.
 
Glad to hear you are having fun, all the whle convincing your spouse that homemade soap saves money - well done on THAT one! ūüėĀ

Some suggestions:

1. Soap cooler. Anything above 100¬ļF will usually accelerate my recipe.

2. Use the stickblender very, very sparingly. When you watch YT videos, they are either making HUGE batches which need tons more blending, or they aren't actually blending the whole time. Instead, they are using the SB more like a stirring spoon, without turning it on. Even soaping cool (under 100F) with a high-lard recipe, I can't exceed three, 1-second bursts with my stickblender, or I'm way beyond emulsion and into tracing. Once the SB brings the soap to trace, the batter will keep thickening. Speaking of which...

3. Learn to stop at a stable emulsion, before you reach trace. Here is a good video on that.

4. What scents and additives are you using? Many of them are known to accelerate trace.
Watched the video and I wish I had seen it at the beginning. Thank you! Let me back everything up a bit, I’ve been good up to emulsion and off at identifying trace level. What I thought was a light trace was closer to medium and definitely to much stick time. Kind of a couldn’t see the forest for the trees thing. Game changer!

Well, that might be the issue there... too much horsepower... as if there is such a thing ūüėā But there can be in soap making. I started my soapy journey with a lowly lil' $11 Hamilton Beach I got at the supermarket, and it was the best durn SB I ever used. Only drawback, they don't last. I went through Kitchenaid and Braun, but hated them. Ended up with the one BB sells, and its really grand, but I make sure to use the lowest setting for my quick moving recipe. So --burst-burst-- stir stir stir stir stir --burst-burst-- stir stir stir stir stir stir. I soap at ~110¬į because I'm impatient, water discount so I can unmold and cut in 8 hours, and I flirt with all the naughtiest FOs that move like greased lightening. My batter moves durn quick, so I was glad to finally have a SB I could dial back to "Saturday night on quaaludes" mode. Gosh I miss my lil' Hammi.
Wrote a response then the digital gods sent it to la-la land so if it shows up somewhere. The SB I got is a Meuler and it has a speed adjustment and low/high buttons, even on low it really churns. On high I would be wiping the batter off the walls. Saturday night on quaaludes mode, haven‚Äôt heard that in a long time.ūüėā
 
So Judge @KiwiMoose and her jury ruled in favor of truth! ūüėĀ

Yeah it’s a great video for sure. I try to stick-blend to just before stable emulsion, and then hand-stir after that. I’m not saying I always succeed, but shooting for less seems to prevent me from going past it.

PS -I had a Mueller as well, and loved it until the inner shaft broke after less than two years. Hubby splurged on an AllClad as a gift for me, and it is amazing. Low speed is actually low, it creates no bubbles, it works in shallow amounts of batter, and it is quiet. Now if it lasts, it will be my forever fave.
 
Be careful with the fancy stick blenders because they often have a flexible gasket or seal around the impeller shaft. Flexible seals aren't usually used on cheaper stick blenders. These flexible seals are rated for exposure to food, not concentrated alkali, so they will eventually fail if you use them in soap batter. Better to use a cheapo stick blender that only has a less expensive metal-to-metal seal around the shaft.

I learned this the hard way -- dear husband got me a fancy Bamix once-upon-a-time. I use it only for food nowadays.
 

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