Super quick trace...am I doing something wrong?

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Hi there! I'm new to CP soap making (3 batches under my belt) and with every recipe I've tried my batch moves REALLY quickly. I don't know, maybe it's not that fast (2 minutes or less) but from the books I have it seems like I should reach a light trace in closer to 5-10 minutes. Is that right?

I stick blend at first for 5-10 seconds, then hand stir and switch back and forth and I seem to blaze right past "light trace" and into heavy trace no matter what. It doesn't particularly bother me except I tried to experiment with some easy swirling today and ended up having to just spoon the second color right on top of the first :(

What gives? I'm generally following recipes that are 5-6% superfatted. Can I just add more water to my lye mixture? Or is this normal and I'm just not ready for swirling yet? :oops:
 

danahuff

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Hi there! I'm new to CP soap making (3 batches under my belt) and with every recipe I've tried my batch moves REALLY quickly. I don't know, maybe it's not that fast (2 minutes or less) but from the books I have it seems like I should reach a light trace in closer to 5-10 minutes. Is that right?

I stick blend at first for 5-10 seconds, then hand stir and switch back and forth and I seem to blaze right past "light trace" and into heavy trace no matter what. It doesn't particularly bother me except I tried to experiment with some easy swirling today and ended up having to just spoon the second color right on top of the first :(

What gives? I'm generally following recipes that are 5-6% superfatted. Can I just add more water to my lye mixture? Or is this normal and I'm just not ready for swirling yet? :oops:
Some questions:


  1. Are you using fragrance oils? Some of them accelerate trace.
  2. Are you discounting water? If you use 38% (full amount), you may have more time to play before it reaches trace, but water discount can make you reach trace faster. It took me forever to figure this out until someone on the forum pointed this out to me. :roll:
  3. What oils are you using? Some oils, such as palm, cause you to reach trace more quickly.
  4. What temp are you soaping at? Higher temps can also contribute to quicker trace.
I had the same thing happen with colors once, and I learned how to do a Celine Swirl. Check it out:



[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CepZH1ZWmg[/ame]
 
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Thank you, Dana, that was really helpful- and the video is awesome! I can totally do that.

To answer your questions:

Are you using fragrance oils?
This last one I did used a Karma type fragrance oil and Orange EO, but I've had the same results with Tea Tree EO / Peppermint EO as well as Lavender EO / Spearmint EO / Peppermint EO in my previous tries.

Are you discounting water?
I don't think so, in fact this last time I added an extra ounce of water to avoid a speedy trace. I've been using 38%. Is it okay to just add extra water on top of that? I'm fine with a longer cure time if it gives me a chance to make a nicer looking soap.

What oils are you using?
This last one was an experimental (and somewhat embarrassing) scrap oil recipe I cobbled together on soapcalc.net. All of the fatty acids were within the suggested range.

The last two batches were veggie shortening, olive oil and coconut oil.

What temp are you soaping at?
Between 100-110. Is that too high? I did one at 98-100 and the same thing happened. Am I correct in assuming that I could potentially go down to as low as 90 for a slower trace?

Barring all of that, I think I'll try hand stirring if it gets to that ;)

Thanks again!
 

melstan775

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Okay, I am new here, so I am no expert by any means. Other members have said again and again some fragrance oils may cause quick trace. And I notice all your oils you have tried are mentholated. I'm guessing that's the culprit. Purely speculation, but it seems to go together for me.
 

danahuff

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Well, I have used some of those oils and not had a problem with quick trace.

Your temp is fine. I usually go at about 100 degrees unless I'm using milk, when I soap at about 90 degrees. You could certainly try soaping at 90 degrees to see if it gives you more time.

Adding water is fine. All that should happen is it takes longer to cure/evaporate. I should think.

Even if oils are in suggested range, they could still contribute to a fast trace. The numbers tell you more about how the finished bar will turn out than anything else. Some vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, has palm, but not a lot, I don't think.

I'm stumped. Of course, swirling took me a few months to get. I would suggest maybe trying more soft oils, like olive, and seeing if it helps. I know I have to stick blend forever when I have high olive oil soaps.
 

Kansas Farm Girl

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I'm in the mood to make some soap today (so, what's new?) and if you post your recipe I would try it, providing I have the same oils on hand and let you know my results. I got into soap making by trying to help my daughter troubleshoot a recipe she was working on.
 
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Thanks for the replies everyone! I have to run to work right now so I don't have time to reply in full to everyone, but I'll be home later this evening to update and let you know how a 90-100F straight castile soap goes. Thanks again!!
 

new12soap

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Your temps look fine, that shouldn't be causing a problem. You can soap cooler, but sometimes that can lead to a hardening of your solids and give you false trace. Are any of your soaps separating in the mold? or are they curing well?

You are using 38% of your oils in water weight, I would not suggest using any more than that. It isn't just a matter of more drying time, your soap will take longer to fully saponify, longer to harden, and your bars will probably warp from losing a larger percentage of water as it cures. As for your oils, I am not a fan of crisco or shortening myself, but yes more liquid oils fewer solid fats and butters will help slow trace.

I agree w melstan that your essential oils could easily be the culprit. Are you purchasing from a reputable supplier? are you sure they are not adulteradted or contain alcohol? I would say to make unscented until you are a little more comfortable with soaping.

And now that I have said all that... I don't think it has ever taken me 10 minutes to get to trace... Maybe you aren't recognizing the different stages until it gets really thick? It isn't always easy to do!

Keep practicing, and for more help troubleshooting, you can always post recipes and/or pics!
 
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Update:

On Wednesday after I posted this, I tried a recipe using what I had on hand (even though it sounds like Olive Oil Pomace traces more quickly!) which was this:
Coconut Oil 20%
Olive Pomace 65%
Palm 15%
(I actually added a tiny bit of Castor too, I think 1.5 oz in my 2 lb batch)

I was concerned about the quick trace issue, and after taking everyone's advice into consideration I used the standard 38% water and used no mentholated EOs. What I think made the most difference is changing my soaping temp to 92 degrees F instead of 100-110.

HUGE DIFFERENCE. I had all the time in the world to play with it, I actually thought I may have done something wrong because it was such a different experience- no mad rush to get my goodies in and slop it in the mold. It was amazing :)

I had planned on a goats milk and honey batch and an activated charcoal batch, no fancy swirling or anything just because I didn't know how the soap would behave with the pomace oil. Next time I soap I'm definitely going to bust out some fancy soapy art with my low temps :) I've been watching so many youtube tutorials, I'm itching to try something PRETTY!

Thank you so much!
 

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