In my hot process shaving soap with high stearic acid, I'm eager to use the stick blender but get instant lumps, sometimes much more dense than mashed potatoes. Should I hold off awhile and stir? Not use the blender at all?
I melt the stearic in a separate container and set it aside in its warm water bath until I need it. In my main soaping bowl, I put all of the fats and any secondary ingredients I want to add, and pour in the lye. I use my SB to bring this mixture to a medium trace just like any regular type of soap. I then add the melted stearic all in one pour and switch to hand stirring with a (sturdy!) spatula.
My method probably doesn't make a hill o' beans difference in the final result, but I like how I can get everything else nicely blended together before the stearic steps in to complicate matters. Since I don't like heating my fats up to the temp that stearic melts at, I always melt the stearic in a separate hot water bath anyway. That means it's not a big deal to use this 2-step method vs. the "put it all in the soap pot at once" method.
I think this has been my problem? Yesterday, I stick blended right away and got a cold butter consistency I had to deal with. After a two hour cook it was still too stiff to try and stir in a FO. Thinking I could thin it out, I added more water and kept cooking. And repeated, and repeated. After 6 hours!!!!! I said screw it and packed it unscented into PVC pipe molds.
Today, using the same recipe (with extra water) but no stick blending, it's looking nice and fluid in the crock pot. We'll see what I got in two hours!
Success! Today, no stick blending and two hours later the consistency was perfect.
For some reason I chose my full sized crock pot instead of the little 1.5qt I had been using. Glad I did. Even though the recipe was only about two inches worth in the crock pot, at the 45 minute mark, it bubbled to the top and over a little? I had been stirring about every fifteen minutes up to that point, and the overflow happened about five minutes after a stir. When I stirred it all down and scraped up what I could salvage, it stayed down for the rest of the cook. Was this 45 minute reaction the gelling? It did look like Vaseline, and then eventually cooked into a mashed potato look.
For my shaving soap formula, I use a stick blender (KitchenAid, 2 speed) to get everything into emulsion. By the time I'm done w/ the SB it's about the consistency of a thick pudding. Unlike bath soap, the stick blending has to be done in short (< 5sec) bursts, and the blender has to be moved around the pot because the amount of churn produced isn't sufficient.
I did a small batch and the oils weren't really deep enough in the crock for the SB, and I used a medium sized silicon covered whisk. That worked pretty well, too.