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Soap still soft after 1 week

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spenny92

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I made a honey and beer soap last week, and it's still very soft to touch. It looks and feels like fudge. I haven't had this happen with any other batches where the recipe has been the same. I used:

Castor @ 8%
SAO @ 8%
Coconut @ 20%
Cocoa butter @ 10%
Olive pomace @ 24%
RBO @ 20%
Shea butter @ 10%

SF 5%, lye solution strength 26.4% (will be changing this to 33% now that I know what it means. I'd been using Soapcalc's default number.)

I added manuka honey, manuka beer as full water replacement (simmered off carbonation and alcohol, frozen into cubes before mixing with lye) and also added some wild manuka tonic (non alcoholic). It partially gelled as I just left it out at room temperature. It was very soft when I unmoulded, but I did manage to get it out and cut. It's now been cut and curing for around a week, and it's still veeeery soft to touch. I trimmed the edges of the bars to make them more square, and it was so difficult as it was still very fudgey and didn't cut cleanly.

I've used this recipe before and haven't had this issue. Could it be too much sugars, or the beer? I thought it might be the lye solution strength, but I've always kept that the same as it defaulted to that with SoapCalc and now that I'm using SM3, I have to input it manually and finally understand what it means!

My batch size was also teeny, as I didn't have as much NaOH left as I thought, so I had to reduce the oil weight from my usual 750g to 450g. Could the smaller batch size have affected the hardness? My scales only go down to 1g, and I realise that it's even more important to be super accurate with smaller batches. I might have over weighed some of my oils (I just typed owls by accident :shifty:) by 1-2 grams...

I want to make this soap again soon when I get more lye, so I'm hoping to iron out the hardness issue. I'll be increasing the lye solution strength to 33% in future anyway, as I don't need extra time for swirling etc.
 

not_ally

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Spenny, hopefully the mavens will chip in, actually I'm sure they will. My non- maven thoughts - I don't understand why it is taking so long for this batch to set up/harden, you have enough hard oils in there that it should have by now. Maybe the size of the batch and weighing issues, as you mentioned? Also, have you checked your scale?

A couple of other random thoughts, how much honey did you use, and what is manuka tonic? Just woolgathering b/c your recipe looks good and interesting so curious about what went wrong.
 

spenny92

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Haven't had an issue with the scale for other batches, and they're accurate to the gram but I think I'll have to pick up new ones soon that go below that! I know that I went over with a couple of the liquid oils, but only by 1-2 grams each and wouldn't that just increase the SF a little?

Yeah, it's frustrating as I made another batch on the same day using the exact same recipe with same SF and lye strength and it's much, much harder. I'm wondering if it's the different additives in this batch.

I used a tbsp of manuka honey. I was actually gifted the manuka tonic recently, but I'm not a fan of anything honey-related (don't ask why I'm making this soap hah...) so the smell really put me off, but I thought I'd experiment with soaping it and thought maybe it would enhance the manuka-y scent a little. I'm not entirely sure what its ingredients are, which I'm sure is a straight-up big mistake! It has no labelling and is made locally in the town I live, so I might pop them an email and ask... I know it has honey and ginger in it, it's apparently good for clearing colds. It's very strong smelling, but no alcohol.
 

snappyllama

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I'm going to go out on a limb and think that the last bits of your lye had been exposed a bit to air resulting in over superfatting of your batch. It could have been worsened by the small batch size and overpour of your oil. I lost a couple of batches that just refused to harden up when that happened to me. That, combined with the high water amount...

You could try waiting out that batch... it might cure out fine.
 

not_ally

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The amount of honey seems ok. I am curious about what is in the tonic, though, glad you are checking. I would write it off to gremlins, but a week is a long time ...
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I was thinking the same as snappy - it might have been a touch over sf with the last of the lye and over pour. Sugar is well known for heating things up, but I don't know it as a softener.

If you aren't fighting to get lather, try adding 2% (of your oil weight) of salt in to the lye water before the lye, making the sure it is dissolved before adding the lye. It's enough to add some hardness when unmoulding, but doesn't really impact the lather
 

Susie

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I would re-think adding mystery ingredients to your soap. I like to know exactly what is in my soap. If something funky happens, then I immediately know what the culprit is.
 

lionprincess00

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If I buy lye from the hardware store (roebic), and I use the last bit, something always goes awry. Too much exposure in the bottles I suppose. The lye guy and bb lye never did that to me. I am guessing it was the lye.
 

nsmar4211

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My 20% superfatted ooops soap was fudge for a long time...but it did finally harden some. If you're overfatted maybe it'll still harden :)
 

spenny92

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Does it look like your soap separated at all maybe from all the heat of the beer and honey together?
I don't think so. I'll attach a photo. It actually didn't get as hot as I expected it to, and it looks as though it didn't even completely gel. It looks a little grainy?


 
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zolveria

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HOW much tonic. Manuka tonics are herbs steeped in water with added manuka honey in it.

How much tonic?

also it will get hard just take a little longer.
 

spenny92

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I'm still waiting on an email back from the manufacturers letting me know what the ingredients are. I used around 2 tablespoons.
 

spenny92

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The soap is still fudgey. I had an email back today from the manufacturers of the manuka tonic - finally! All they said was "sounds great - what is your soap recipe?"

...

So I replied with a vague answer about different oils and manuka honey/beer and asked again if they were able to tell me just the general ingredients, or at least tell me if it contained any manuka honey in case it meant I had basically doubled up on honey in the recipe.

Luckily, this was a teeny batch so I think I might just try it again with a bigger batch, and leave the tonic out of the recipe. I've also discovered that there's an issue with my scales! I'm not sure how long they've been like this. I was given another set of scales by a friend, and the difference is around 10-15g between each set of scales! I've weighed a bag of flour and the new scales are just over 1.5kg (bag of flour was 1.5kg) and the old scales were something like 1.43kg which is a pretty huge difference, especially with something as delicate as soap making.

I'm now going to have to go through all the batches I've made with the old scales and make sure they're at least safe to use. I'm hoping they should be okay, as it might be proportionate ie, the lye may have been 10g over, but so would the oils etc. They're just for personal use, and the ones I've been using so far have been fine.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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As everything would have been measured on the same set, it would all be out by that same amount - you used maybe x g more lye than planned, but also x g more of every oil, too
 

spenny92

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As everything would have been measured on the same set, it would all be out by that same amount - you used maybe x g more lye than planned, but also x g more of every oil, too
That's what I was thinking, so maybe not as much of a disaster as I thought at first. :shh:
 

Seawolfe

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spenny, I know we can use US coins to test scales here - like this: http://lifehacker.com/test-your-kitchen-scale-s-accuracy-with-pocket-change-1638466253 maybe see if you can find out the same for NZ coins? (I seem to remember youre in NZ, apologies if Im wrong).

Other things to think about - some scales are geared to larger amounts (like 1.5 KG bags of flour) and some are better working with less than 100's of grams - so a large weight like that might not be the best test. You need to test with a known good small amount - like 1 - 5 grams.

Lastly just to check - you are using digital scales, right?
 

spenny92

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spenny, I know we can use US coins to test scales here - like this: http://lifehacker.com/test-your-kitchen-scale-s-accuracy-with-pocket-change-1638466253 maybe see if you can find out the same for NZ coins? (I seem to remember youre in NZ, apologies if Im wrong).

Other things to think about - some scales are geared to larger amounts (like 1.5 KG bags of flour) and some are better working with less than 100's of grams - so a large weight like that might not be the best test. You need to test with a known good small amount - like 1 - 5 grams.

Lastly just to check - you are using digital scales, right?
Aaah, thank you - I didn't know you could use coins. You're correct with NZ - good memory!

I tried it with a 10 cent NZ coin, supposed to weigh 3.3 grams (the .3 is probably an issue...) and the scales which I thought were off are actually saying 3 whilst the ones I thought were accurate say 4. So I found a UK 10 pence (we moved here from UK last year), supposed to weigh 6.5g so I put them both together expecting to get 10 (9.8g). Now the first scales say 9, and the second say 10.

Gaaaah. I'm going to order new ones anyway this week, ones that go below a gram I think. And I'm all out of supplies for another week too, so I'll let it go for now!

Yes, digital scales.
 

Seawolfe

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Ah ok so your scale isnt *that* far off, and like EG said - if it over or underweighted anything it would do the same for all the ingredients. So maybe it was the tonic - sometimes you find things that just dont work in soap - I had a soap that went sticky and nasty after I used a tea tree oil from a health food store. Yours will probably dry out.

I only remembered NZ because I've been twice this year (Tauranga and Auckland), and should be going again in Sept or October.
 

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