Soap Sweating & Probably Not Enough Lye - Help Please?

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Ravenscourt Apothecary

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
47
Reaction score
21
Location
London, UK
Please help me figure out how to fix this:

I made a batch last night using my old (unscented) recipe, measuring it all out and doing everything the usual way (or so I thought). I noticed right away that the batter took its sweet time reaching a trace - much longer than normal I'd say. When it has reached a relatively light trace I poured it into the molds and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, something was clearly wrong as the soap started sweating fairly soon. I checked on it this morning and sure enough, the soap is very soft with oozed oil on the top and on the sides. It's way, way too soft, nowhere near hard enough, and the oil can't just be blotted out.

I'm fairly sure that I made a mistake with the amount of lye I used. Once again, this is an unscented soap, so it's definitely not FO or EO misbehaving. Now, it's probably something that can be fixed fairly easily since the soap is so soft, I would just need to add more lye solution to it. Question is, how do I figure out how much of it was left out and needs to be added? Obviously I don't want to rebatch and make it lye-heavy instead. For the life of me, I don't know how I managed to put less lye than the recipe called for, but all my experience and research points to the lack of lye being the problem.

Anyone ever tackled a problem like this before? Any help would be so greatly appreciated, it's a big batch and I would hate to lose it.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
"...Question is, how do I figure out how much of it was left out and needs to be added?..."

I'd say the first thing is to do your best to figure out the error in your measuring. Otherwise, I don't see how you can make a reasonably accurate correction to the soap. If you can't figure it out, I'd say you're stuck making a guess about the lye and rebatching.

Another alternative is finishing the saponification of the soap using a "boiled and salted out" method, but it's not something everyone will want to leap into doing. You'll lose all of the color, fragrance, glycerin, and other additives with this method. Here's a thread with more info about this process: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?p=495801
 

Ravenscourt Apothecary

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
47
Reaction score
21
Location
London, UK
Thank you DeeAnna; this is the common sense advice I would give myself in this situation but it was good to hear it from another person.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
I know it wasn't particularly happy advice, but I'm glad it helped. :-(
 

newbie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
6,117
Reaction score
5,377
Another thought is if you have a bad batch of lye. If that were the case, you'd have other bad batches, of course, but if you just started a new bottle (or equivalent) of lye for this batch, it is a possibility. It's happened before that people got lye that was only 60% pure/active and there was many a ruined batch.

Hopefully it was a measurement error. Much easier in the long run.
 

Ravenscourt Apothecary

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
47
Reaction score
21
Location
London, UK
Another thought is if you have a bad batch of lye. If that were the case, you'd have other bad batches, of course, but if you just started a new bottle (or equivalent) of lye for this batch, it is a possibility. It's happened before that people got lye that was only 60% pure/active and there was many a ruined batch.

Hopefully it was a measurement error. Much easier in the long run.
It was definitely my error, not a problem with the lye - I have a trusted supplier of lab grade sodium hydroxide and I've bought a whole 25kg of it from them! :shock: However, it's a valid thought - so thank you!

I'm rebatching my ruined batch as I type this. What I did was (not in any way a scientific approach but it was all I got and could think of): measure out the amount of lye that the recipe called for and just estimate it visually against the amount I remember using in the ruined batch. It was definitely more than I had used! I still don't know just how I managed to be so off with my measurements, I'm usually incredibly precise. My crock pot will only take one third of that big batch at a time, and right now I'm on part two out of three. The first part came out nice and not lye heavy at all, I was able to stickblend the batter in the crockpot and that made it really nice and smooth and POURABLE.
So what I learned from this experience:

1) Soap that does not have enough lye in it is much, much easier to rebatch than the lye-heavy soap. It's much softer, it melts better and has a way better texture.

2) Only make soap earlier in the day, when you're completely uninterrupted and are fully focused on what you're doing. It's easier for the mistakes to creep up on you when you're tired and/or most distracted, which for me is in the evening.

I think I'll take these two lessons from it and move on. Thank you guys for offering advice and ideas, it was really appreciated!
 
Top