Soap Wouldn't Trace

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ozziesgirl

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I made a batch of soap last night that would not come to trace. The only thing different from the last 2 batches I made was that I noticed my lye was clumpy, like moisture had gotten to it. (I live in very humid Iowa) Could that have caused my problem? Can I still use that container of lye? In the end I mixed up a little more lye and water, and it did finally come to a very thin trace, and the soap is looking good this morning.
 

shunt2011

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If you post your recipe and technique we would be more than happy to help you troubleshoot. Also, if there's only a bit of clump it should still be fine. We are extremely humid during the summer and my lye though a bit clumpy and almost 2 years old still works great. Maybe your scale is off for measuring.
 

dixiedragon

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I agree with shunt. I live in a very humid area and my lye is a bit clumpy. If you squeeze the clump gently in your gloved hand, does it easily break apart?

Check the bottom of your lye pitcher - is there a sheet of solid lye on the bottom?
 

ozziesgirl

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7.5 oz coconut oil
15 oz olive oil
2.5 oz grapeseed oil
8 oz water
3.52 oz lye

There was just one clump in the lye, and it broke apart easily.
The one thing I did different from usual was using a paint stirring attachment on a cordless drill, rather than a stick blender. I burn up a stick blender with every batch. Literally.
 
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dixiedragon

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Ran it through a lye calculator. Superfat 5% - that's normal.

Coconut 30%
Olive 60%
Grapeseed 10%

Soap calc recommends 9.5 oz water, so it's not too much water. I'm stumped. I've NEVER burned out a stick blender motor! Even on 100% olive oil recipes. This is definitely a slow-tracing recipe, but it should trace.
 

gdawgs

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The one thing I did different from usual was using a paint stirring attachment on a cordless drill, rather than a stick blender. I burn up a stick blender with every batch. Literally.
Pretty sure that's the issue. Stick blenders are whipping around at thousands of rpm, while the drill is in the hundreds. The blades of the stick blender are capable of creating an emulsion, while the drill with stirring attachment are just mixing, probably quicker than hand mixing, but not anywhere near a stick blender. I've never made a batch by just hand mixing, but from what I understand, it can take hours to reach trace. So I'm guessing that it would have reached trace eventually.

How long are you mixing with the stick blender? Shouldn't be burning those out.
 
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ozziesgirl

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Pretty sure that's the issue. Stick blenders are whipping around at thousands of rpm, while the drill is in the hundreds. The blades of the stick blender are capable of creating an emulsion, while the drill with stirring attachment are just mixing, probably quicker than hand mixing, but not anywhere near a stick blender. I've never made a batch by just hand mixing, but from what I understand, it can take hours to reach trace. So I'm guessing that it would have reached trace eventually.

How long are you mixing with the stick blender? Shouldn't be burning those out.
I just turn that baby on and blend until it traces! :)
 

Rusti

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I just turn that baby on and blend until it traces! :)
Well there's your problem. ;) I think we'd all burn out a stick blender a batch if we did it like that. I know I would! Just blend in 10-15 second bursts, hand stirring in between. Your stick blender will handle it much better than a constant on until trace.
 

dixiedragon

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What temps are you using? Those oils are liquid at room temp - so if you are mixing room temp lye water with room temp oils, that could take a long time.

It's not normal to burn out a stick blender - let alone multiple stick blenders! You say you blend until it traces - how long is that? With the stick blender?

I assume you like this recipe so I'm basing my recommendations on that. Keep the soap batter on the stove on gentle heat. Stick blending - it's not constant. So, for example, 3 second blast, stir, blast, stir.

Are you using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and not potassium hydroxide (KOH)?

Post a pic of the lye container, or find it on Amazon. Maybe it is not very pure?
 

Spice

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I made a batch of soap last night that would not come to trace. The only thing different from the last 2 batches I made was that I noticed my lye was clumpy, like moisture had gotten to it. (I live in very humid Iowa) Could that have caused my problem? Can I still use that container of lye? In the end I mixed up a little more lye and water, and it did finally come to a very thin trace, and the soap is looking good this morning.
Pretty sure that's the issue. Stick blenders are whipping around at thousands of rpm, while the drill is in the hundreds. The blades of the stick blender are capable of creating an emulsion, while the drill with stirring attachment are just mixing, probably quicker than hand mixing, but not anywhere near a stick blender. I've never made a batch by just hand mixing, but from what I understand, it can take hours to reach trace. So I'm guessing that it would have reached trace eventually.

How long are you mixing with the stick blender? Shouldn't be burning those out.
Ran it through a lye calculator. Superfat 5% - that's normal.

Coconut 30%
Olive 60%
Grapeseed 10%

Soap calc recommends 9.5 oz water, so it's not too much water. I'm stumped. I've NEVER burned out a stick blender motor! Even on 100% olive oil recipes. This is definitely a slow-tracing recipe, but it should trace.
So did you stick with the soapcalc's recommendation for lye and water? You mention that you added, "a little more lye and water"? Dixiedragon is usually right on the money and it should have traced. gdawgs is right, when not using a stick blender that batter takes hours to trace. At one time my soap batter was tracing to quickly and I up my water, at 40% lye, it didnt trace.
 

ozziesgirl

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What temps are you using? Those oils are liquid at room temp - so if you are mixing room temp lye water with room temp oils, that could take a long time.

It's not normal to burn out a stick blender - let alone multiple stick blenders! You say you blend until it traces - how long is that? With the stick blender?

I assume you like this recipe so I'm basing my recommendations on that. Keep the soap batter on the stove on gentle heat. Stick blending - it's not constant. So, for example, 3 second blast, stir, blast, stir.

Are you using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and not potassium hydroxide (KOH)?

Post a pic of the lye container, or find it on Amazon. Maybe it is not very pure?
I'm using Red Crown NaOH.

I started out making hot process soap, so maybe I overestimated how easily you could transition into cold soap. I probably should do a little more research before my next batch. Funny that the last one turned out just fine, though, while I burned through another stick blender!
 

gdawgs

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Someone recommended this video to me a while back. I think the video was made by newbie.??

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CytRNXh7-Xk&feature=youtu.be[/ame]

This shows how little you really need to stick blend to hit the emulsion state(starting at about 1:20), then she shows testing for light trace. Great video.
 

Arimara

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I'm using Red Crown NaOH.

I started out making hot process soap, so maybe I overestimated how easily you could transition into cold soap. I probably should do a little more research before my next batch. Funny that the last one turned out just fine, though, while I burned through another stick blender!
My first soap was via hot process. My second and third soaps were cold process. All you need to do is decrease the amount of water from 3:1 water to lye (for hot process) to about 2:1 water to lye. It was easier for me to use ratios until I transitioned to lye concentration %s hence my example.
 

newbie

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That mess sure looks like mine! Yes, it was my video, but my recipe is different and may trace faster than Ozzie's. I use tallow, olive, coconut and castor in descending order per percentage. Even so, it's not a super fast recipe by any means.

It's odd too, that soap seems to come to trace faster if there are short periods of rest during blending versus constant agitation. I've separated off batter and left one container to sit while I am stirring and coloring another and the one I was working on will be more fluid than the one that sat. Now I try to quickly stir each container every minute or two while I'm coloring one, just to keep them more even.

If you do bursts, Oz, instead of constant blending , you will definitely get more life out of your blender; I agree with the others.
 

ozziesgirl

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Newbie, that video was super helpful. I had watched another video where they just blended like mad until the batter was thick like pudding, so I was under the impression that was the goal. Now I understand why I was burning up my equipment. Also, after watching your video, I realize my trace was probably just fine the other night. Thanks so much!
 

newbie

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I am a big fan of emulsion if you want to do any separating for coloring. You can continue to work with your batter and get it to where you want it after you have all your colors done and then you aren't working like a madman to be ahead of your trace. If you need a heavier trace for what you plan, you can get there without all the worry of how you'll get your colors mixed in and all. IT sounds like you are newer to soaping, so one thing I would highly recommend, because I love my own and it's extremely useful (I use it almost every time i soap), is a Badger blender. It's perfect for mixing in your colors in smaller amounts of batter and mixes fast enough that you can bring your batter to trace faster than hand-stirring once you are ready to bring everything together. Doesn't cost much either. It's almost as important as a stick blender to me.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BROV02/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

You can find them for sale on a lot of other sites as well.

I'm glad you found the video helpful!
 
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