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Soap thickening so quick - any ideas?

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LozSoaper

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Hey guys, looking for some help (again!) last time I posted on here you were super helpful so thanks for that.

Basically I'm trying to make some swirl soap. I've followed the instructions closely including temperatures etc. But this has happened twice now - once I pour my mixture into the four jugs (1 for each colour) the harden up so fast that I can't even mix all of the colours in (please see the image - it shows in the white well here).

The same thing has happened twice now. I'm a total noob so would really appreciate your thoughts. Could it be the fragrance oil? My recipe is also contains lot of solid oil ingredients. My recipe on soap calc checks out. Could using a less conc. lye help?

Many thanks for any advice, I really appreciate the help!
 

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shunt2011

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You'll need to post your recipe and process. I'm going to guess you are just overmixing it with the stick blender. Very common issue for new soapers. Bringing your soap to just emulsion and pouring into individual containers to color. Fragrance Oils can also be the culprit. Some move much faster than others. Florals, ocean type and spice seem to have more issues than others. Those I generally add after separating and coloring then just stir in quickly and well.
 

GemstonePony

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Beautiful colors! But we would need to see the recipe including additives and liquids, and knowing what fragrance you used and where you got it would help us immensely as well.
 

TheGecko

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Recipe would be helpful, but I'd say off-hand...put down the stick blender. One of the biggest mistakes I made when starting out was following what I was seeing on YouTube. Not saying that you can't learn, you just need to understand that most YT soapers are making 5 pounds or more of soap while I was sitting their making one and two pound batches.

Learn to blend to emulsion (search for "I Dream In Soap", Lisa has a great video on the subject). It's like the old adage of 'measure twice, cut once'...you can always trim off a little extra wood, but you can't put it back. Same with soaping...if your batter is a little thin, you can putter around waiting for it to thicken, but once it starts to thicken, it will continue to do so exponentially.
 

LozSoaper

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Hi guys,thanks for your responses!! And thank you gemstone for complimenting the colours <3

I've attached my soap recipe if anyone would like to take a look.

As for my method (making a 40 oz bar):

- I made my lye solution first and let it cool.

- Then I weighed out my solid oils (Cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil) and melted them over boiling water.

- I mixed my colours (1 tsp mica to 1 rsp olive olive) with a coffee frother so they were ready to pour in.

- Once my oils were melted down, I mixed with my room temp. liquid oils (olive, castor, rice bran) - I made sure the oils were at around 54 degrees C at this point.

- Then I added my lye, stick blended the mixture for around 10 seconds (TheGecko - looking at your comment I wonder if the stick blender IS too much for 40 oz!)

- Added in my fragrance oil and quickly stirred in with a spatula. The fragrance oil was floral so I wonder if you are right, shunt??

- Poured the mixture into 4 separate jugs and added colour. By the time I had added the colour to each jug it was already hardening :'( Tried to whisk in the colour best I could and poured into the mould. Beat it into submission, but I've just taken it out the mould and its unsurprisingly full of air bubbles. BUT not quite as lumpy as the first try haha.

There are lots of variables here so I understand that no one is able to give me an easy answer, but I really appreciate all your tips!!

Also I am a candle maker and soap making is on a whooooooooooole other level..... I'm so jealous of you seasoned soapers!! Thanks again :)
 

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shunt2011

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Looking at your recipe it's likely because of all the hard oils. You've got a lot of hard oils/butters (65%) which will move much faster. Plus a lot of water. I highly recommend using lye concentration when calculating. I like 29-33% depending on recipe. I also recommend smaller batches until you get the hang of it. 500g is fine when starting out. The other reason it moved so fast is florals are famous for moving fast and even seizing. With florals I mix my oils/butters/lye to emulsion or very very light trace. Separate out, color and then stir in my FO one at a time and move fast.
 

GemstonePony

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Hi guys,thanks for your responses!! And thank you gemstone for complimenting the colours <3

I've attached my soap recipe if anyone would like to take a look.

As for my method (making a 40 oz bar):

- I made my lye solution first and let it cool.

- Then I weighed out my solid oils (Cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil) and melted them over boiling water.

- I mixed my colours (1 tsp mica to 1 rsp olive olive) with a coffee frother so they were ready to pour in.

- Once my oils were melted down, I mixed with my room temp. liquid oils (olive, castor, rice bran) - I made sure the oils were at around 54 degrees C at this point.

- Then I added my lye, stick blended the mixture for around 10 seconds (TheGecko - looking at your comment I wonder if the stick blender IS too much for 40 oz!)

- Added in my fragrance oil and quickly stirred in with a spatula. The fragrance oil was floral so I wonder if you are right, shunt??

- Poured the mixture into 4 separate jugs and added colour. By the time I had added the colour to each jug it was already hardening :'( Tried to whisk in the colour best I could and poured into the mould. Beat it into submission, but I've just taken it out the mould and its unsurprisingly full of air bubbles. BUT not quite as lumpy as the first try haha.

There are lots of variables here so I understand that no one is able to give me an easy answer, but I really appreciate all your tips!!

Also I am a candle maker and soap making is on a whooooooooooole other level..... I'm so jealous of you seasoned soapers!! Thanks again :)
Shunt is right, 40 oz is a really large batch. Mine are just over 24oz, and I make them sparingly, with 100gram trial batches and 300 gram mini batches being the bulk of my soap.
Even so, 10 seconds is way too much stick-blending time. Stick-blend for as long as it takes to say Bz, then turn it off.... Stir, stir, stir.... One more Bz than off again. And that's all the stick blending I'd advise to jump-start the saponification process, given your recipe. Your batter will emulsify with just stirring, so blending isn't necessary to create soap. Blend additives your oils all you want, and the mini mixer for Mica and oils is great. The more you blend batter though, the faster your batter will accelerate. Turning off the stick blender does not slow it down, your batter will continue to accelerate at that pace plus the pace it would accelerate at without blending. And since acceleration is exponential not additional, you can get it moving faster than you bargained for without realizing it until it's way too late.
Also, if you're planning to use a fragrance that might accelerate (read all the reviews, most sellers have trial notes but don't rely on those) I would leave the stick blender out of it. Keep it on hand for if and only if it rices, and if you're using a FO that doesn't have notes or is known to misbehave even sometimes, do a tiny trial batch with all the additives you would use for your planned batch and don't SB at all (unless it rices). Once you've seen how it behaves in miniature, you can better judge how best to use your SB-if at all- for a slightly larger batch.
 

LozSoaper

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Thanks so much for your advice everyone. This has taught me I definitely need to run a lot more tests with my recipe 😅 I will take all your advice on board about the lye, SB and temperature and practice with MUCH smaller batches. On the plus side I have a lot of strange looking soap to give to my friends and family haha! Thanks for sharing your expertise 👍
 

Kafayat Adebowale oyeniyi

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Hey guys, looking for some help (again!) last time I posted on here you were super helpful so thanks for that.

Basically I'm trying to make some swirl soap. I've followed the instructions closely including temperatures etc. But this has happened twice now - once I pour my mixture into the four jugs (1 for each colour) the harden up so fast that I can't even mix all of the colours in (please see the image - it shows in the white well here).

The same thing has happened twice now. I'm a total noob so would really appreciate your thoughts. Could it be the fragrance oil? My recipe is also contains lot of solid oil ingredients. My recipe on soap calc checks out. Could using a less conc. lye help?

Many thanks for any advice, I really appreciate the help!
Did you add a fragrance oil that might accelerate your trace just before it right after dividing your better? Maybe you should try mixing your colours in just a little oil before you hand stir it into your divided batter....not stick blend.Also you might want to check your percentages of hard oils to soft oils.....
 

LozSoaper

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I added the FO just before dividing it into 4, and I did mix the colours with a tsp of olive oil before adding to the batter. Do you think there are too many hard oils? I'm not sure what a good ratio is! I was just focusing on the different numbers on soapcalc 🤔
 

GemstonePony

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I added the FO just before dividing it into 4, and I did mix the colours with a tsp of olive oil before adding to the batter. Do you think there are too many hard oils? I'm not sure what a good ratio is! I was just focusing on the different numbers on soapcalc 🤔
Your ratios are perfectly fine. I might drop the coconut by 10% in favor of the rice bran oil so it's not as stripping, but that's irrelevant unsolicited advice.
I say make the soap with the qualities you want, using the materials that give you those things. I personally don't see the point of changing my recipe for workability or whatnot and sacrificing the qualities I want in the final bar. Yes, your recipe has a lot of oils that saponify quickly, so it will move a bit faster than others. You'll just have to mix gently and move quickly. Your recipe should give you a bar that doesn't disappear very quickly and should set up enough to unmold in relatively short order as well. But, these are attributes I value as well, so my recipes are similar to yours.
Once you get comfortable with spotting emulsion, you can start splitting the batter when it's most of the way there, mixing your colors to get it past emulsion, and adding FO after that for even more time to swirl.
 

linne1gi

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Hi guys,thanks for your responses!! And thank you gemstone for complimenting the colours <3

I've attached my soap recipe if anyone would like to take a look.

As for my method (making a 40 oz bar):

- I made my lye solution first and let it cool.

- Then I weighed out my solid oils (Cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil) and melted them over boiling water.

- I mixed my colours (1 tsp mica to 1 rsp olive olive) with a coffee frother so they were ready to pour in.

- Once my oils were melted down, I mixed with my room temp. liquid oils (olive, castor, rice bran) - I made sure the oils were at around 54 degrees C at this point.

- Then I added my lye, stick blended the mixture for around 10 seconds (TheGecko - looking at your comment I wonder if the stick blender IS too much for 40 oz!)

- Added in my fragrance oil and quickly stirred in with a spatula. The fragrance oil was floral so I wonder if you are right, shunt??

- Poured the mixture into 4 separate jugs and added colour. By the time I had added the colour to each jug it was already hardening :'( Tried to whisk in the colour best I could and poured into the mould. Beat it into submission, but I've just taken it out the mould and its unsurprisingly full of air bubbles. BUT not quite as lumpy as the first try haha.

There are lots of variables here so I understand that no one is able to give me an easy answer, but I really appreciate all your tips!!

Also I am a candle maker and soap making is on a whooooooooooole other level..... I'm so jealous of you seasoned soapers!! Thanks again :)
As @shunt said, you have a lot of hard butters, ALSO you are using Pomace Olive Oil. There are three pressings of the olive. 1st is EVOO, extra virgin olive oil (great for salads, okay for soap, but does have a dark green tint), 2nd is regular, refined olive oil, best for soapmaking, IMO, pale yellow color, doesn't much impact colors and moves very slowly, 3rd is Pomace - it is extracted from the dregs of the olive, using chemicals, some chemicals remain in the oil, which means it traces very FAST. Also, your temperature is pretty high - 54C is equal to about 130F. I like to soap at between 85-100F (which would be 31-37C). Never higher because temperature does speed up trace. And I agree that 40 ounces of oils is just too much for a new soaper. 16 ounces is plenty - until you know what you like and don't like about your recipe. Lastly, put down your stick blender - soap was made for many many years before stick blenders were invented. My aunt taught me soapmaking when I was a child - she never used a stick blender - she whisked or hand stirred. Yes, it takes longer, but it also gives you time, lot of time - and you will get to trace with just a whisk, believe me.
 

Kafayat Adebowale oyeniyi

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As @shunt said, you have a lot of hard butters, ALSO you are using Pomace Olive Oil. There are three pressings of the olive. 1st is EVOO, extra virgin olive oil (great for salads, okay for soap, but does have a dark green tint), 2nd is regular, refined olive oil, best for soapmaking, IMO, pale yellow color, doesn't much impact colors and moves very slowly, 3rd is Pomace - it is extracted from the dregs of the olive, using chemicals, some chemicals remain in the oil, which means it traces very FAST. Also, your temperature is pretty high - 54C is equal to about 130F. I like to soap at between 85-100F (which would be 31-37C). Never higher because temperature does speed up trace. And I agree that 40 ounces of oils is just too much for a new soaper. 16 ounces is plenty - until you know what you like and don't like about your recipe. Lastly, put down your stick blender - soap was made for many many years before stick blenders were invented. My aunt taught me soapmaking when I was a child - she never used a stick blender - she whisked or hand stirred. Yes, it takes longer, but it also gives you time, lot of time - and you will get to trace with just a whisk, believe me.
Please can you tag any website that supplies the second category of olive oil
 

lenarenee

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Please can you tag any website that supplies the second category of olive oil
If you’re in the US, look for Kirkland (Costco) refined olive oil. It’s in clear plastic bottles and is a yellow color. The virgin Kirkland oil in the green plastic bottles is perfectly fine to use too BUT adds a darker color to your soap batter and makes it harder to judge how to color.

Grocery stores and Walmart carry olive oil. Some soapers prefer not to those as they are often adulterated with other oils.
There are also suppliers like Bulk Apothecary and Soapers Choice.
Amazon may sell it too.
 

Kafayat Adebowale oyeniyi

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If you’re in the US, look for Kirkland (Costco) refined olive oil. It’s in clear plastic bottles and is a yellow color. The virgin Kirkland oil in the green plastic bottles is perfectly fine to use too BUT adds a darker color to your soap batter and makes it harder to judge how to color.

Grocery stores and Walmart carry olive oil. Some soapers prefer not to those as they are often adulterated with other oils.
There are also suppliers like Bulk Apothecary and Soapers Choice.
Amazon may sell it too.
Thank you soo much...I got one in a store last week and my soap base was yellow even with tatinium dioxide..so I was like this isnt the quality I want
 

lenarenee

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Thank you soo much...I got one in a store last week and my soap base was yellow even with tatinium dioxide..so I was like this isnt the quality I want
I highly recommend using high oleic sunflower or high oleic safflower oil instead of olive oil to help naturally whiten your batter. Now, I’ve never used it over 30% in a recipe so I don’t know if it works well at higher percentages without getting dos. They’re less expensive than olive too.

Also, as it cures the olive oil soap does get lighter In time. But like I said, it can really make it challenging to color the batter because you don’t know exactly what you’re getting.
 

DeeAnna

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high oleic sunflower or high oleic safflower oil ... to help naturally whiten your batter. Now, I’ve never used it over 30% in a recipe so I don’t know if it works well at higher percentages without getting dos....
I've used up to 70% high oleic sunflower and the soap is white enough to suit me -- definitely not the yellow of a soap high in olive oil. The 70% HO sunflower soap does have the slimy nature of a high oleic soap, so that's something to keep in mind if you want to use that much HO sunflower. I don't think soap high in HO sunflower is any more likely to become rancid (DOS) than a soap high in olive oil.
 

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