Stinky cooked butter

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Dawni

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Has anyone experienced having an awful smell.... Like something inorganic burning... When HPing soap with a high percentage of butters?

My recent soap, that had 40% total of cocoa, shea and mango butters started stinking up in the pot when it was almost done. It's the second time it happened to this recipe. The first time, I used only cocoa and shea.

I also got this smell in another soap, I'm sure it had butters but probably not as much as these other two had. I left that unscented and 2mos after curing it's still faintly there. I'm worried that when the EOs fade I'll be left with that smell.

Both butters are unrefined btw. They also both smelled fine until around the time it was 80% done. Should I switch to refined butters? Maybe the ones I got weren't of very good quality? They smell fine in lower heat, like when I used all three butters in my lotion bars.

The soap isn't overcooked, but I was wondering if I overcooked the butters? Is that possible? Could it possibly be the other oils? Avocado, coconut and castor? The only other difference in both batches aside from the mango butter, was I used castor in the second one.

I had no choice but to scent these. Didn't want to initially coz it was a test, and I lost a little fluidity taking it off the heat and only then measuring out the EOs. I was worried it'll stink up more if I left it on the base, even if it was off.

I know most here don't HP much but I'd appreciate any theories, and advice on how to prevent it from happening again.
 

Obsidian

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I would guess they got way too hot. Can you HP at a lower temp?
Its worth trying refined but in the end, you might have to CP that recipe.
 

IrishLass

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As far as unrefined butters go, I've only ever soaped with unrefined cocoa butter (both in CP and also in HP), and it's never smelled burnt. Slightly chocolaty, yes, but never burnt. All the other butters that I soap with -mango, shea, kokum, and illipe- are of the refined type and soap wonderfully in both CP and HP without any weird smells.

In my beginning soaping days, I once bought a small tub of unrefined shea butter to use in body butter, and I just couldn't get over the rather distinctive raw shea smell (a strong earthy/smokey smell to my nose). It clashed badly with every FO I owned at the time except for one. Although that particular FO was never able to cover it up, it somehow complemented it so that it didn't smell so........distinctive. lol If I remember right, I think the FO was Vaniglia del Madagascar..... either that or Musk FO. It was one of the two for sure.

I'm kinda leaning towards the unrefined shea as being the culprit, but having never soaped with it myself (only used it body butter), I can't say for sure.


IrishLass :)
 

Mobjack Bay

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I have some unrefined Shea from ED and it smells a little earthy, but I wouldn’t call it smoky. I haven’t noticed it imparting any odor to my CP soaps, including one that has a nice floral scent from Monoi de Tahiti oil. The unrefined cocoa butter smell (strong cocoa) pre-soap does come through in my CP’d soap (CB also from ED). I do recall reading a lot of reviews for the various butters on Amazon that were horrifying. I think the qualities and impurities can vary a lot depending on source and how they are processed, since even the unrefined versions are somewhat processed. Have you been using up big batches of the butters or buying smaller quantities? It sounds like you might need to do single butter soaps to figure it out.
 

Dawni

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Thanks guys.... Looks like I'm alone in this haha

@Mobjack Bay I will probably first try n see if it's either the shea or the cocoa, because together I'm getting stinky soap. Mind you, it's only when I'm using this much of it.

@Obsidian I've always soaped on high for the first several minutes then turn it low and I've not gotten the stinks when I use less butter.. My low setting is still pretty high anyhow. I think I will try n CP the same recipe as a test, thanks.

@IrishLass I'm actually with you on suspecting the shea rather than the cocoa but I have no explanation why, other than it doesn't smell as nice as the cocoa out of the bottle hahaha.

If all testing fails I think it's time I switched to refined butters and/or changed suppliers.
 

Arimara

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What are you using to HP and how hot does it get?
 

Arimara

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Different slow cookers can get insanely hot, even on the low setting. There's a real possibility your slow cooker could be running warmer than you'd like for your oils. maybe you should try the recipe again but use a microwave or your stove, heat the oils slowly at a medium low temperature and try soaping that way.

Also, I know many soapers may not be in the habit of checking temperatures when soaping but I'm leaning on this experience as being one example as to why the practice may be worthwhile.
 

geniash

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Dawni, have you used any of the cocoa, shea, or mango butters from this package/batch before in soap? I am thinking one of them might be adulterated. Long shot - but you may want to make a smallest possible batch from each to see if it smells.
 

earlene

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I don't recall such odors with HP, but I haven't HP'd in about 2 years now. I never HP'd with mango butter, but did with Cocoa Butter and Shea many times. I wonder if you can use a lower setting? Some crockpots have hot spots and maybe yours has a hot spot and it's overheating in just one area as opposed to the whole pot? Do you have a thermometer to test the temperatures you are reaching with this crockpot when making this recipe?

I suggest heating either fat separately in a regular pan and see if you get that smell in a regular pan. By process of elimination you might be able to ID which fat (if indeed it is the fat) causing the offending odor.
 

Dawni

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Thanks guys :)

@earlene, I've been putting off investing in a thermometer but maybe it's high time I should.

@geniash that is a possibility.. First though, I'll try my slow cooker in the low setting, then I'll try the stove like @Arimara suggested.

My cooker is too big for small batches so I'll try to single out which butter on the stove. I've used this cocoa and shea before, and only got the stinks when combined they're above 30%. Less than that and I've not noticed any.

Butters speed up trace in CP right, so I'm assuming things get hotter than normal when I'm using a lot of em in one recipe

I melt my butters in the microwave til soft, not liquid, before they go in the pot with the other oils and they melt completely there while I'm measuring out my lye. No off smells there, not even when it's all mixed together, not at trace, not even til halfway into the cook. Both times I got the smell only when I lift the cover for one last mix before turning the power off.
 

earlene

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My cooker is too big for small batches so I'll try to single out which butter on the stove. I've used this cocoa and shea before, and only got the stinks when combined they're above 30%. Less than that and I've not noticed any.

Butters speed up trace in CP right, so I'm assuming things get hotter than normal when I'm using a lot of em in one recipe

I think it depends on the percentage and combination with other specific oils. I have used a surprisingly slow moving recipe (someone else's concoction) that has 12% shea, 6% cocoa butter & 2 % soy wax. I believe that it's the combination of all the oils that determines it's behavior. When I have used this recipe, it really does give me a lot of time to work on designs. But I was soaping fairly cool and not HP, so of course, that is a factor.
 

Becky1024

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I've used all those butters and oils HP and never had a smell like you describe. The most I get is a nuttiness with unrefined shea and chocolatey smell with unrefined cocoa butter. Another thought is maybe something is wrong with your crockpot - I thought of that when you said it had an inorganic smell. You might want to heat up some water in your crockpot and see if that is it.
 

Rune

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That smell sounds like when you heat red palm oil. An awful smell of old motor oil burning or something. You did not use a drop of red palm oil in your recipe?
 

Dawni

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That smell sounds like when you heat red palm oil. An awful smell of old motor oil burning or something. You did not use a drop of red palm oil in your recipe?
I missed this sorry, didn't mean to ignore you. I did not use palm oil, red or not hehehe
 

Dawni

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I made this triple butter soap of mine again last night and I'm happy to report no stink!

Here's what I did differently:
1. I melted cocoa first, poured in the pot
2. I melted mango second then poured with the cocoa
3. I melted shea last and dumped with the other three.
- oh btw, while these were melting I measured my other oils so all butters got dumped into the other oils in the pot
4. I soaped on the low setting. Still haven't bought a thermometer (maybe I'll gift it to myself for Christmas lol)
5. Turned the slow cooker off sooner than my usual. My usual is at 80% gel and this time maybe it was around 65% and I whisked like crazy

The rest of my procedure was the same. Yey!

In conclusion I think I used to overheat the shea, because I used to melt it with the cocoa and maybe it was too much for unrefined shea. And I usually soap on the high setting for other soaps so for this one, low n steady hehehe

Thanks for everyone's input!
 

Dawni

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Who are you getting your butters from?
Probably not anyone you know hehe.. They're local suppliers. The cocoa is local, the shea is imported from Ghana and the mango from India.

By local I mean the Philippines :D
 

TheGecko

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Probably not anyone you know hehe.. They're local suppliers. The cocoa is local, the shea is imported from Ghana and the mango from India.

By local I mean the Philippines :D
Our DIL is from the Philippines...we adore her.

Anyhoo...if you have had this problem before, I would first make a small batch of soap with the cocoa butter and another with the shea to figure which one it is. Then you could try a different supplier, buying a minimal amount, or going with refined/deordorized.
 

Dawni

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Our DIL is from the Philippines...we adore her.

Anyhoo...if you have had this problem before, I would first make a small batch of soap with the cocoa butter and another with the shea to figure which one it is. Then you could try a different supplier, buying a minimal amount, or going with refined/deordorized.
Yes, I'm switching suppliers soon as I finish this batch. I don't get the stink when I use both butters in lotion bars so I figured it's the heat but I do have testing to do.

Regards to DIL :)
 
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