Soap smells bad, what gives?

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KudzuGoddess

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I need a judges ruling here, what on earth did I do? The whole batch has a vague chemical banana smell that is so bad that I had to put it outside. Also, it weirdly did a partial gel even though it was just sitting out on the counter with no insulation/heat. Recipe is as follows: Olive Oil 574 grams, Babassu Oil 362 grams, Shea Butter 255 grams, Castor Oil 42 grams, 10 grams Citric Acid added with the liquid, Pink Clay 1 tblspn added to oils, EO's blended for fragrance added at trace, Lemongrass 10 grams, Cedarwood 5 grams, Verbena 3 grams, Rose Absolute 3 grams, Magnolia Oil 9 grams, Lemon 5 Fold 3 grams. Oils and lye were about 110 degrees when I combined them. Everything was fresh except that I ran out of my regular olive oil and about 75 to 100 grams came from some cheap stuff I found in the back of the pantry. Several of the essential oils were from a new supplier so maybe that has something to do with it? New Directions Aromatics vs Eden's Garden? Also, my mold (the 4lb Nurture Soap loaf) has that plexi sliding lid, maybe things aren't getting enough air? Whatever it is it is vile and I have 15 bars of it. Anyone need a gift for the in-laws?
 

earlene

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Have you ever used this EO blend before in soap (and at the same percentage)? If you have, how was the soap - did you like the soap's fragrance? If you have not used this blend before, I'd think your blend is the issue regarding the offensive odor.

You could wait and see if it mellows and/or improves. I once made a soap with a blend of FO's I was using up and the result was so extremely horrible to my nose, that I could not tolerate it even after months of trying to see if it would mellow and rebatching to minimize the odor, etc. etc. I kept it far far away from where I generally hang out, but every time I went near it, I felt like gagging and it would also give me headaches. Nothing saved it. I tried giving a few bars away, but eventually I just tossed it all out. I figured if I hated it, I should not be gifting it to anyone else.

As for partial gel, that just means that the soap heated up (as soap is wont to do) on its own normally, but it did not get to the outer edges of the soap. It happens. If you intend to use the same recipe, and want to have even gelling, I'd suggest insulating with a lightweight towel. If you want to avoid gel altogether, I'd suggest reducing your babassu percentage and/or reduce your water amount by using a higher lye concentration (or lower water to lye ratio).
 

KudzuGoddess

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Have you ever used this EO blend before in soap (and at the same percentage)? If you have, how was the soap - did you like the soap's fragrance? If you have not used this blend before, I'd think your blend is the issue regarding the offensive odor.

You could wait and see if it mellows and/or improves. I once made a soap with a blend of FO's I was using up and the result was so extremely horrible to my nose, that I could not tolerate it even after months of trying to see if it would mellow and rebatching to minimize the odor, etc. etc. I kept it far far away from where I generally hang out, but every time I went near it, I felt like gagging and it would also give me headaches. Nothing saved it. I tried giving a few bars away, but eventually I just tossed it all out. I figured if I hated it, I should not be gifting it to anyone else.

As for partial gel, that just means that the soap heated up (as soap is wont to do) on its own normally, but it did not get to the outer edges of the soap. It happens. If you intend to use the same recipe, and want to have even gelling, I'd suggest insulating with a lightweight towel. If you want to avoid gel altogether, I'd suggest reducing your babassu percentage and/or reduce your water amount by using a higher lye concentration (or lower water to lye ratio).

I have used this blend before but not exactly in these proportions. The thing that is weird is that the smell doesn't smell anything like the oils. I am afraid that the trash is the road we are on!
 
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As for New Directions, I have never had a problem with their oils, but their oils could certainly vary from the oils you purchased from Eden's. Your Magnolia and Rose most likely caused the partial gel since they are both florals, I used to purchase my Cedarwood and Lemongrass from New Directions and they were both lovely, but cedarwoods do vary considerably depending on which cedarwood you purchased, and neither overheated but I am not sure if you were trying to gel or not. I wonder if you OO was rancid.

Overheating really does not cause the fragrance to evaporate, FP is the point the volatile oils can ignite, but it is not really the fragrance burning off.
 

ResolvableOwl

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I've had babaçu oil (unrefined) behave very weird, smell wise. In some batches, it was “invisible” for the nose and very well-behaved, but in others it added a really unpleasant, rotten and burnt and slightly goaty and urine-like odour. I have no theory why that happened; the oil itself has a distinct smell & taste (that not everyone loves, but alas, I do!), was well away from expiration date, showed no signs of decay or rancidity, and gave decent soaps afterwards too.
Good news is that it mellowed out over a few weeks.

The old olive oil might or might not™ add to the issue. I guess it didn't – would be the first time I heard from this type of off-smell with one of the most popular soaping oils.

Can't comment on the fragrances – except that your questionable odour must really be strong when you still smell it through this EO cloak.
 

IrishLass

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How old is your soap? If it is anywhere under 4 weeks old, don't throw it away! Give it some time. It's amazing what the chemical changes over time can do to a scent in soap that is loathsome-smelling at the beginning.


IrishLass :)
 
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You may have heard of my 'perm solution' scented soap. I made a joke about it on here once. It was a strange reaction between the heat of gelling, and the FO. It smelled just like perm solution ( maybe the same as your chemical banana?)after about 5 days curing the smell had gone and it was back to the FO fragrance that I used. I say give it time.
 
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KudzuGoddess

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Look who's allowed back in the house! Our chemical bananas!!! The smell has really calmed down and I think I found the culprit, I think it was the silicone liner to the mold. Even after a thorough cleaning the liner has that distinctive smell. I have since made other soap in that same mold but this time left the lid off and it still smelled like that but not as bad and it went away after a day or two. I am stumped. As far as I know, silicone shouldn't off gas or behave at all this way. But I welcome science perspectives! For those off you keeping score, yes, this was incedently the same mold that the hus-beast accidentally baked at 450 degrees. Coincidence?
 

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ResolvableOwl

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I think I found the culprit, I think it was the silicone liner to the mold. Even after a thorough cleaning the liner has that distinctive smell.
Oh dear. Yes, the fairytale of indifferent silicone!

Once I've got a shipment of a new silicone mould and some new oils. I made a soap with them, and wondered where this peculiar smell came from? Not unpleasant, but nothing I'd expected plain unscented soap to smell like. I even made test soaps with all the oils, separate of each other, but none smelled that way (of course in another mould…). Only to find that the scent reappeared in another soap batch! The only explanation was that the shop has stored the moulds too close to some FOs, and the silicone soaked some of the scent.
 

KudzuGoddess

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Oh dear. Yes, the fairytale of indifferent silicone!

Once I've got a shipment of a new silicone mould and some new oils. I made a soap with them, and wondered where this peculiar smell came from? Not unpleasant, but nothing I'd expected plain unscented soap to smell like. I even made test soaps with all the oils, separate of each other, but none smelled that way (of course in another mould…). Only to find that the scent reappeared in another soap batch! The only explanation was that the shop has stored the moulds too close to some FOs, and the silicone soaked some of the scent.

That is a very sad story! Please tell me it has a happy ending!
 

ResolvableOwl

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Well, I wouldn't call it “sad”, more like “lesson learned”. I used said moulds several times, for CP/CPOP and M&P soaps, and in between put them into the dishwasher* multiple times. They still have a very faint smell, but too weak to impart to soaps.

*Dishwasher is a double-edged sword. It is entirely possible to ruin silicone with the dishwasher (another “indifferent silicone” fairytale), but these turned out fine. Rarely enough that I'm using them nowadays, I usually wash them by hand.
 

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