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Kburdette

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I have tested almost every temperature pour, from warm to room temperature to using ice. I've sprayed the tops of my soaps with 99% alcohol and I've not sprayed the tops. Is there a way to prevent soda ash? There has to be something out there that prevents it. A Ingredient I'm not using or something to put on top or the way I soap? Soap cooler, or something!? Please help, every single batch I do has soda ash. Sometimes so bad that you cant even see the color it's just complete soda ash
 

jcandleattic

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I have tested almost every temperature pour, from warm to room temperature to using ice. I've sprayed the tops of my soaps with 99% alcohol and I've not sprayed the tops. Is there a way to prevent soda ash? There has to be something out there that prevents it. A Ingredient I'm not using or something to put on top or the way I soap? Soap cooler, or something!? Please help, every single batch I do has soda ash. Sometimes so bad that you cant even see the color it's just complete soda ash
How much water are you using, or what's you lye concentration. Is it humid where you are? Do you gel? Do you also cover with saran wrap?

Using less water, covering the top with a wrap, and gelling can all help prevent ash. There are a few threads on it here in the forum you can search and see if any of those tips help you out.
 

Kburdette

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How much water are you using, or what's you lye concentration. Is it humid where you are? Do you gel? Do you also cover with saran wrap?

Using less water, covering the top with a wrap, and gelling can all help prevent ash. There are a few threads on it here in the forum you can search and see if any of those tips help you out.
I use a 13 or 14% water discount. I dont gel, I soap at room temperature and leave them uncovered. I've never had luck with soaping warm or covering my soap. I've always had my soap overheat when I soaped warm. And then it would only partial gel. I have a humidity reader in my soaping section and it's never over 50 for humidity.

I started using a water discount to prevent soda ash, but it has never helped. It just seems to be getting worse as I go along. I pretty much use the same recipe. I've had someone tell me there is no preventing soda ash no matter what but dang I figured I'd try here as a last ditch effort. If theres something I could try again I'm for it. I can definitely soap warmer and I would need to learn how to gel phase. I've never had a successful, full gel.
 

KiwiMoose

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You don't need to soap warmer to get gel - I soap just slightly above room temp and my soaps all gel with a 28% lye concentration. You should at least cover it if you don't want soda ash. Mine all get a little bit of ash, but not enough to be bothersome. I always cover mine until unmolding, and then spray again with IA after unmolding.
 

SaltedFig

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I have tested almost every temperature pour, from warm to room temperature to using ice. I've sprayed the tops of my soaps with 99% alcohol and I've not sprayed the tops. Is there a way to prevent soda ash? There has to be something out there that prevents it. A Ingredient I'm not using or something to put on top or the way I soap? Soap cooler, or something!? Please help, every single batch I do has soda ash. Sometimes so bad that you cant even see the color it's just complete soda ash
Are you happy to share your recipe, method and molds?

The reason I ask this is it might not be that there is an ingredient that you are not using, but perhaps something that you ARE using that is causing the extra ash.
A for instance - we've had a recent post where the silicone mold might be part of the cause.
Making a change, like using a different mold (or lining a silicone mold, if you are using a log mold) might change the outcome.

It makes it a lot easier to help, with the details (and a photo :)).
 

penelopejane

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To avoid ash:
use 30-33% lye concentration (not water as % of oils)
Gel your soap (use 30-33% lye concentration, soap warm -110*F, cover mold with cardboard box and a towel or 2 if very cold)
Pour at light to medium trace (pouring at emulsion can cause ash)
Spray lightly with IPA after the soap has set a bit and cover the mold with plastic wrap.
If using individual cavity molds I leave the soap covered in wrap in the mold for as long as I can - 5 days or more.

This works for me but I think all recipes are different. Worth a try.
 

Kburdette

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To avoid ash:
use 30-33% lye concentration (not water as % of oils)
Gel your soap (use 30-33% lye concentration, soap warm -110*F, cover mold with cardboard box and a towel or 2 if very cold)
Pour at light to medium trace (pouring at emulsion can cause ash)
Spray lightly with IPA after the soap has set a bit and cover the mold with plastic wrap.
If using individual cavity molds I leave the soap covered in wrap in the mold for as long as I can - 5 days or more.

This works for me but I think all recipes are different. Worth a try.
What's ipa?
 

Kburdette

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Are you happy to share your recipe, method and molds?

The reason I ask this is it might not be that there is an ingredient that you are not using, but perhaps something that you ARE using that is causing the extra ash.
A for instance - we've had a recent post where the silicone mold might be part of the cause.
Making a change, like using a different mold (or lining a silicone mold, if you are using a log mold) might change the outcome.

It makes it a lot easier to help, with the details (and a photo :)).
I most definitely can get pictures and my recipe. I use brambleberrys 5lb loaf mold with silicone liner, essential depots silicone mold with metal basket, and a hard type silicone 2lb loaf mold. Let me grab a photo of my soap and my recipe. Also wanted to state that I've tried different recipes and nothing seems to make the ash better. So the recipe I share is my most recent recipe but I have used lots of others with a ash top also. And some the ash is even on all sides of the soap
I dont cover my soap, maybe I should try that . Or leave it in the mold for few days. I unmold anywhere from 19 to 24 hours depending on my recipe.
 

Kburdette

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Are you happy to share your recipe, method and molds?

The reason I ask this is it might not be that there is an ingredient that you are not using, but perhaps something that you ARE using that is causing the extra ash.
A for instance - we've had a recent post where the silicone mold might be part of the cause.
Making a change, like using a different mold (or lining a silicone mold, if you are using a log mold) might change the outcome.

It makes it a lot easier to help, with the details (and a photo :)).
 

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SaltedFig

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Those photo's are fabulously detailed, thank you Kburdette!

The only thing I'm not clear on is what you meant by a water discount. Could you convert that to a lye concentration (or lye ratio) for me?
There also looks to be colours in your batches - are there fragrances or essential oils as well? Just one clear soap and recipe is good (face sides and top), but what you have already provided is excellent :)

While I still suspect the silicone (given that there's bubbles in the orange/red bar, and you say that the ash is on the sides contacting the silicone, as well as the top), I also note that you don't cover your soap at all.

There are a number of causes for ash, but effectively it's the lye in your soap batter reacting with something other than the fats and oils, like reacting with carbon dioxide from the air ... and this is why covering your soap can be so effective - it reduces the exposure of the reactive soap batter to an alternative (to react with).
If at all possible, it might be worth opening all of the windows (temporarily) in your soaping area, to let the cold and fresh air blast through (I don't know whether this is possible or reasonable to do where you are).

Perhaps try a small batch, after flushing the room and covering the soap, and see if it helps?
 

Kburdette

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Those photo's are fabulously detailed, thank you Kburdette!

The only thing I'm not clear on is what you meant by a water discount. Could you convert that to a lye concentration (or lye ratio) for me?
There also looks to be colours in your batches - are there fragrances or essential oils as well? Just one clear soap and recipe is good (face sides and top), but what you have already provided is excellent :)

While I still suspect the silicone (given that there's bubbles in the orange/red bar, and you say that the ash is on the sides contacting the silicone, as well as the top), I also note that you don't cover your soap at all.

There are a number of causes for ash, but effectively it's the lye in your soap batter reacting with something other than the fats and oils, like reacting with carbon dioxide from the air ... and this is why covering your soap can be so effective - it reduces the exposure of the reactive soap batter to an alternative (to react with).
If at all possible, it might be worth opening all of the windows (temporarily) in your soaping area, to let the cold and fresh air blast through (I don't know whether this is possible or reasonable to do where you are).

Perhaps try a small batch, after flushing the room and covering the soap, and see if it helps?
So when I speak of a water discount I take my water amount and multiply it by 13 to 14%. I got this from the soap queens blog. Where as I used to use the section in the soapcalc that was the water as % of oils. I used to take it to 33% until further reading into water discounts. I now use 33% lye concentration.

Yes I do use fragrance oils. I choose wisely and try to pick one that does not have vanilla in it. If they do I use stabilizer. I just recently started using stabilizer and looking at the vanilla content. I've never thought about it being my molds because I have used so many different molds and the soap will look gorgeous upon unmolding 20 24 hours later. Then 2 3 days later be covered in ash. Thank you for trying to troubleshoot with me. It is very appreciative
 

Amaress

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So when I speak of a water discount I take my water amount and multiply it by 13 to 14%. I got this from the soap queens blog. Where as I used to use the section in the soapcalc that was the water as % of oils. I used to take it to 33% until further reading into water discounts. I now use 33% lye concentration.

Yes I do use fragrance oils. I choose wisely and try to pick one that does not have vanilla in it. If they do I use stabilizer. I just recently started using stabilizer and looking at the vanilla content. I've never thought about it being my molds because I have used so many different molds and the soap will look gorgeous upon unmolding 20 24 hours later. Then 2 3 days later be covered in ash. Thank you for trying to troubleshoot with me. It is very appreciative
So just to be clear right you’re no longer using water as % of oils and are currently using a 33% lye concentration?
 

SaltedFig

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... I have used so many different molds and the soap will look gorgeous upon unmolding 20 24 hours later. Then 2 3 days later be covered in ash. Thank you for trying to troubleshoot with me. It is very appreciative...
This makes a difference - what you are describing is the ash developing on the soap after in comes out of the mold. While the silicone (and other inputs) might make a difference, that indicates that the hydroxide is coming to the surface, as the water evaporates from the soap, and reacting with carbon dioxide in your surrounds :)

Penelopejane's notes on gelling (above) might be helpful, if you want to move to gelling to minimise ashing (saponification is completed)
An alternative is to leave the soaps covered for longer (cut and cover to exclude air) for a few days until the soap is less reactive (separating saponification from evaporation).
 

Amaress

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What kind of water are you using? If you have acidic water then your soap will ash no matter what you do to it.

Also if you’re distilled water is old, or if it’s been left out. Distilled water reacts faster with the atmospheric carbon dioxide to create carbonic acid, which reacts with the lye to create soda ash.

You can also try putting 1% wax in your soap... since wax is less dense than water and doesn’t react with the lye or the carbon dioxide, it creates a bit of a protective layer on the surface of the soap.
 
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Amy78130

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Try spraying a light mist of purified water on the top of your soap, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then spray with alcohol as you normally would. I haven't had ash since I've done it this way!!
 
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