Soda Ash trouble shooting

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Gentsbar

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Alright, I'm new to this forum but I was told this is where I could get an answer to something that has just occured. My 4 most recent batches have been tarnished by the less appealing effect of it. Everything is sealed in a mold with an almost air tight lid, wrapped in towels, and put in a trunk.

I have had minor ash before but nothing like this. It seems my ash runs deep within the soap itself. And is repairable on a surface level only.

I want to solve this problem!!! These recipe have never reacted this way before so I do not know what I am doing wrong that could be causing it.

I superfat at 5% run everything through soap calc and my measurements are exact. I even double check on the last batch with another digital scale that I bought.

Here are the only things I know that could be causing it....

Outside temperature is well over 100 so I have the air conditioner running constantly inside..

Drafty while mixing?

My stick blender burnt up recently so I am mixing with a wisk attached to a cordless drill.

Different mix time compared to before?

I started spatula poring with a new spatula made out of plastic instead of Silicon.

Chemical Reaction?

I also changed the distributor of the micas that I use. But the micas are the same according to the ingredients.

Chemical make up?


Please can someone help me.
 

Arimara

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Post the recipe(s) used for the soap batches. That's the best way to get some troubleshooting done.
 

Kamahido

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It won't help this current batch but I started adding 2% beeswax to my recipe and the ash is all but nonexistent. I do not cover, wrap, spray, or insulate it either.
 

TeresaT

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It won't help this current batch but I started adding 2% beeswax to my recipe and the ash is all but nonexistent. I do not cover, wrap, spray, or insulate it either.
A couple of others have mentioned adding beeswax to reduce ash. How does that work? What does the beeswax do to prevent the ash? Which type of oil do you reduce to make up for the beeswax? A hard oil, a soft oil or a butter? Does it matter?
 

Arimara

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A couple of others have mentioned adding beeswax to reduce ash. How does that work? What does the beeswax do to prevent the ash? Which type of oil do you reduce to make up for the beeswax? A hard oil, a soft oil or a butter? Does it matter?
Beeswax is said to lend to hardness and increase trace so I'd take away from a hard oil if you have, even though a little goes a long way.
 

ngian

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Soda ash can be minimised by encouraging saponification to be completed sooner so no lye would be available to get carried away with the evaporation of the recipe's water.

This maybe be done by reaching thick trace instead of thin prior pouring the soap paste in the mold, using more saturated instead of unsaturated fats, using a water discount (eg. 38-40% lye concentration), mixing lye and oils at a higher temperature where saponification happens faster (beeswax needs a hotter temperature so as to remain in liquid form), using the CPOP method and lastly covering the top of the mold so carbon dioxide will not come in contact with any available lye on the soap's surface.
 

TeresaT

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Soda ash can be minimised by encouraging saponification to be completed sooner so no lye would be available to get carried away with the evaporation of the recipe's water.

This maybe be done by reaching thick trace instead of thin prior pouring the soap paste in the mold, using more saturated instead of unsaturated fats, using a water discount (eg. 38-40% lye concentration), mixing lye and oils at a higher temperature where saponification happens faster (beeswax needs a hotter temperature so as to remain in liquid form), using the CPOP method and lastly covering the top of the mold so carbon dioxide will not come in contact with any available lye on the soap's surface.
OK. Since I do the majority of those things, using beeswax in my recipe isn't going to help with the occasional ash I develop. Thanks for the info.

The absolutely worst case of soda ash I had was with my beer soap. I didn't CPOP or wrap it because I didn't want it to over heat. I did put a cover on it, though. In retrospect, I should have left it in the mold for a couple of days. I unmolded it the day after I made it and sliced it. (Which is the normal thing for me.) It had a partial gel center (which wasn't bad looking) and ended up with a thick hard coating of soda ash (which was bad looking).

Since I had never made beer soap before, I just thought that was the color of the soap. But when I really took a look at it, I realized what it was and tried to steam it off. That didn't work. I tried to wash it off. That didn't work. I ended up shaving about half of each bar away. Lesson learned for the next batch of beer soap: leave it in the mold a couple of days to completely saponify and don't cut it until day three.
 

ngian

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You may not be afraid of the overheating phenomenon as long as you follow IrishLass' advice when additives with reducing sugars are used (maltose, fructose, lactose - beer, honey, milk).

And the advice is that the above sugars shouldn't be used at trace (and nothing generally) but only at the lye creation. When the lye solution with the reducing sugars is at room temperature then when mixing it with oils there will be no overheating at all because the sugars have already reacted.

So I guess that this way beer, honey and milk can be used in a CPOP method...
 

Steve85569

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No
Yes
Possibly and
Possibly.
The air conditioner should not change the process as long as it's not blowing across your scale making your reading inaccurate.
Pick up a cheap SB and put the drill away in the shop where it belongs. The proper tool can save lots of headaches.
If the plastic is not marked with a 5 and I forget the other number do not use it with lye or raw soap batter. It could be PART of the problem.
If the mica does have a different chemical make up some part - usually the colorant - will react with the lye.

As has been mentioned there are several methods and ingredients that can help reduce ash problems. I have a few recipes that NEED bee's wax or they get filthy with soda ash. CPOP -Cold Process Oven Process - (covered) helps too. You may be able to CPOP in the trunk since it's so warm where you are right now.
 

topofmurrayhill

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The absolutely worst case of soda ash I had was with my beer soap. I didn't CPOP or wrap it because I didn't want it to over heat. I did put a cover on it, though. In retrospect, I should have left it in the mold for a couple of days. I unmolded it the day after I made it and sliced it. (Which is the normal thing for me.) It had a partial gel center (which wasn't bad looking) and ended up with a thick hard coating of soda ash (which was bad looking).
Carbon dioxide.

Carbonation.

Hmmm, I wonder...
 

TeresaT

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Carbon dioxide.

Carbonation.

Hmmm, I wonder...
:think:

Great point/observation; however, I don't think that's the case (although, it may be). It was completely flat and I had boiled the alcohol out of it. I had a quart bottle of oatmeal stout that I poured into a 1 gal jug and shook, the let the air out and shook again, let the air out... I did this until it was flat. It took me a couple of hours, off and on, doing this. (I'm sure there's a better way of doing that.) I boiled it for a few minutes (rolling boil) to make sure all of the alcohol was boiled off. Then I put the boiled flat beer in the fridge overnight to cool it enough to add the NaOH to it. So, if there was any carbon (-ation or dioxide) in that beer after all of that, then "stout" is the perfect name for that stuff. :problem:

I think I'll try again, using the same brand and type of beer. This time, I'll take the lid off the beer and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days to go flat. (I'm so glad I've got that extra fridge. I cannot stand the smell of beer!) I don't want to leave it on the counter top because it is hot and humid here. I don't want to introduce bacteria and mold spores into the beer. (Although, I guess boiling for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol will kill the majority of that. And what boiling doesn't, the NaOH will.)

You may not be afraid of the overheating phenomenon as long as you follow IrishLass' advice when additives with reducing sugars are used (maltose, fructose, lactose - beer, honey, milk).

And the advice is that the above sugars shouldn't be used at trace (and nothing generally) but only at the lye creation. When the lye solution with the reducing sugars is at room temperature then when mixing it with oils there will be no overheating at all because the sugars have already reacted.

So I guess that this way beer, honey and milk can be used in a CPOP method...
Where is this thread, please? I actually do that (or don't do that depending on your view). All of my additives (sugar, salt, CA, SC, milks, etc) are mixed with the water to dissolve them before the NaOH is added to the water. Most of the time, I use a pre-made lye solution. Sometimes I do make up fresh solution and don't wait around for it to reach room temperature. Is room temperature solution the key to not overheating?
 
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topofmurrayhill

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Great point/observation; however, I don't think that's the case (although, it may be). It was completely flat and I had boiled the alcohol out of it. I had a quart bottle of oatmeal stout that I poured into a 1 gal jug and shook, the let the air out and shook again, let the air out... I did this until it was flat. It took me a couple of hours, off and on, doing this. (I'm sure there's a better way of doing that.) I boiled it for a few minutes (rolling boil) to make sure all of the alcohol was boiled off. Then I put the boiled flat beer in the fridge overnight to cool it enough to add the NaOH to it. So, if there was any carbon (-ation or dioxide) in that beer after all of that, then "stout" is the perfect name for that stuff.
I literally was wondering -- I don't really know. Might be interesting to see if others reported ash with beer soap.

In terms of your procedure, the part I believe in for removing CO2 is the boiling. That will definitely remove dissolved gases. That's what the initial bubbles are when you heat up water to boiling. I'm not sure how long you have to do it and if it helps to stir or whatever. I know if you seal it while cooling it won't reabsorb air.

CO2 is more soluble in cold water. I've gone away for 3 days and came back to find a soda left open in the fridge. Yeah I drank it, so what? Anyway I could still detect a hint of fizz. So I suspect just leaving it open would take ages.
 

TeresaT

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I literally was wondering -- I don't really know. Might be interesting to see if others reported ash with beer soap.

In terms of your procedure, the part I believe in for removing CO2 is the boiling. That will definitely remove dissolved gases. That's what the initial bubbles are when you heat up water to boiling. I'm not sure how long you have to do it and if it helps to stir or whatever. I know if you seal it while cooling it won't reabsorb air.

CO2 is more soluble in cold water. I've gone away for 3 days and came back to find a soda left open in the fridge. Yeah I drank it, so what? Anyway I could still detect a hint of fizz. So I suspect just leaving it open would take ages.

Ha! I thought you were pointing me in the direction of... See, now you have me thinking all sciency.

I didn't cover it when I put it in the fridge after boiling it. I didn't want the container to warp or melt. Right there might be the answer to the horrible ash. I had no idea the boiling would get rid of the bubbles. I could have saved my arm a lot of trouble. I thought I needed to get the beer flat before I could boil it. (I was thinking of beer exploding all over the kitchen.) That's good information for the future. I won't have to leave it sit on the counter to go flat. I can just boil it with a lid on so I don't lose a lot of liquid to evaporation.

I drink flat soda more often than I should admit. In fact, I actually prefer my ginger ale flat. I think it dates back to when I was a kid and was sick. My mother always gave me flat room temperature ginger ale to settle my stomach. I still want ginger ale every time I'm sick. It always makes me feel better.
 

ngian

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Where is this thread, please? I actually do that (or don't do that depending on your view). All of my additives (sugar, salt, CA, SC, milks, etc) are mixed with the water to dissolve them before the NaOH is added to the water. Most of the time, I use a pre-made lye solution. Sometimes I do make up fresh solution and don't wait around for it to reach room temperature. Is room temperature solution the key to not overheating?
"Overheating" in water is not a problem, as there is one reaction (NaOH and reducing sugars).

Overheating is actually when you mix at the same time reducing sugars with NaOH and oils. That way the temperature can rise up much more than usual causing the soap paste to behave like a volcano...

Here is the thread you were also writing:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?p=604582
 

soapygoat

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I had no idea the boiling would get rid of the bubbles. I could have saved my arm a lot of trouble. I thought I needed to get the beer flat before I could boil it. (I was thinking of beer exploding all over the kitchen.) That's good information for the future. I won't have to leave it sit on the counter to go flat. I can just boil it with a lid on so I don't lose a lot of liquid to evaporation.
Not trying to beat a dead horse here, just hoping that my semesters of chemistry might provide a little something for a change. As topofmurrayhill hill mentioned, the solubility of gases in a liquid goes up as the temperature of the liquid goes down. This is why if you open a soda from the fridge, it will have more fizz than a soda that has been at room temperature when opened. If you ever want to make clear ice cubes, the trick is boiling the water before you pour it into your trays, because room temperature or cold water has lots of air bubbles in it that cause those white specks in your ice cubes (or even cause your cubes to appear opaque in some cases). The bubbles that erupt on the surface when you boil water is actually pockets of the gases trapped within the water being forced to vacate with the elevated temperature.

So yes. Boiling the beer should rid it of the carbonation in a timely fashion.
 
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Soapmaker145

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Chemical Reaction?

I also changed the distributor of the micas that I use. But the micas are the same according to the ingredients.
If you have used your recipe before without any problems, then you need to look for what changed. You may have a new batch of oil that has some additives that are causing problem. More likely, it is your mica or your FO. I have been testing a lot of FOs, pouring 30 to 50 different samples at a time using the same batter mixed to heavy trace. I can get anywhere from no ash to very heavy ash but it is only on the surface.

I think it is your new micas that are the problem. The ingredient list isn't going to be much help in figuring out how they behave in you recipe. You can run a simple test to find out. Make a small batch of soap and pour 1oz samples, unscented, with each mica you have by itself, with added FO, and with added FO and mica. Most likely the problem is cause by a single mica or a combination of your FO/EO and a mica. It is cheaper in the long run to test your ingredients before making big batches.

I can tell you from experience that all the rest of the parameters that you listed aren't going to cause ash.
 

Muskette

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Are you using any fragrances? Some fragrances are notorious for causing ash.
 

shunt2011

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I started to add 1% bees wax to my soap formula and I will post what I cut today
This post is two years old. Please read the forum rules. The OP hasn’t been her in quite some time
 

madison

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I love how the soap looks, great job!
May I ask please, how warm you soaped, and how you could do the swirls using beeswax since it requires higher temperatures to deal with?

Thank you.
 

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