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Tea causes boiling when adding lye?

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KimW

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A post from today got me thinking. Sometime ago I made a soap with with earl gray tea as the water for the lye solution. Tea was a well-known brand, Ahmad teas. Tea was well strained so there were no tea leaves, or bits. Tea was made the day before and so was completely cool. When I added the lye to the tea it immediately boiled and spit. Thankfully, I always add my lye very slowly, so I was able to quickly step back and avoided any real trouble. Once the initial boil had settled I was able to add the remaining lye with no noticeable reaction other than the typical steam from heat. I often add teas for a darker brown color to do swirls or layering in my typical off-white soap (so pretty), a darker bar (what can I say - I like brown), or just for giggles. I've never seen this with other teas. Surprisingly, this soap has the ever so faintest smell of bergamot when lathering even after over a year, so I'd like to do it again but without the drama. LOL Has anyone else experienced this boiling and spitting when using tea as your lye water?
 

amd

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I haven't used tea in many years, but I have experienced this with beer. I think it has to do with the rate that the temperature increases and if it gets to boiling point. Water boils at 100°C or 212°F, so if dissolving lye creates enough heat it could get to a boiling temp.
 

earlene

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I have used tea on many occasions and never had this happen, except when it was Kombucha tea, which has a lot of sugar content. I can't understand why cooled Earl Grey tea would cause your solution to boil.

However, I did find this soaper's experience with making her lye solution with Earl Grey tea (here):

Instead of using water in my lye solution, I made very strong Earl Grey tea (around double-triple strength) and chilled it overnight. It’s important to use very cold tea, or your soap can overheat and get all messy.
She included a link to more detail, but that link is no longer working, so I can't find her explanation as to why she says that.

Also, I looked up the ingredient list for Ahmad's Earl Grey tea (here) and found these flavors listed:
Bergamot, Citrusy, Floral, Raisins, Red Apple, Soap, Sweet, Citrus, Malt

Okay then, Raisins, apple, (SOAP?), Sweet (what does that mean?), Malt... Some of that might be the cause.

Citrus EOs are not supposed to accelerate trace, therefore I wouldn't think it would cause a lye solution to boil up, either, but I've never tried it with Earl Grey tea myself, so I don't really know. BTW, bergamot EO is from Bergamot oranges, which are more like a lemon than an orange, so it is a citrus EO.
 

KimW

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I have used tea on many occasions and never had this happen, except when it was Kombucha tea, which has a lot of sugar content. I can't understand why cooled Earl Grey tea would cause your solution to boil.

However, I did find this soaper's experience with making her lye solution with Earl Grey tea (here):



She included a link to more detail, but that link is no longer working, so I can't find her explanation as to why she says that.

Also, I looked up the ingredient list for Ahmad's Earl Grey tea (here) and found these flavors listed:
Bergamot, Citrusy, Floral, Raisins, Red Apple, Soap, Sweet, Citrus, Malt

Okay then, Raisins, apple, (SOAP?), Sweet (what does that mean?), Malt... Some of that might be the cause.

Citrus EOs are not supposed to accelerate trace, therefore I wouldn't think it would cause a lye solution to boil up, either, but I've never tried it with Earl Grey tea myself, so I don't really know. BTW, bergamot EO is from Bergamot oranges, which are more like a lemon than an orange, so it is a citrus EO.
Thanks, earlene. I searched, but had not found that post - probably because I stopped looking at the hits too soon. That she says she chilled her tea is the only thing that's been coming to my mind. I was soaping outside so perhaps the tea was up to 80 or so degrees, instead of room temp 76, and that was just enough? I think the flavors listed for their Earl Grey include the notes, not just ingredients, at least I would hope the package ingredients listing is accurate and that there's no soap in my tea...LOL Now that it's much cooler here, perhaps I'll try it again this afternoon after work.
 

peachymoon

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I forgot where, but I recently read that tea made for soaps shouldn't be steeped for too long because it'll either heat up more or darken the soap too much. Maybe this is a bit useless because I'm forgetting where I read this and exactly what was said, but the point was that steeping it for too long could cause issues.

I recently made a soap with tea and steeped it for a long while because I wanted to see if the color would be infused in the cured bar (it was not, lol), but I remember it getting very hot and dark when I added the lye so the post or comment about steeping resonated with me. Maybe someone here will know more about this steeping aspect, if it makes a difference or not.
 

GemstonePony

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I forgot where, but I recently read that tea made for soaps shouldn't be steeped for too long because it'll either heat up more or darken the soap too much. Maybe this is a bit useless because I'm forgetting where I read this and exactly what was said, but the point was that steeping it for too long could cause issues.

I recently made a soap with tea and steeped it for a long while because I wanted to see if the color would be infused in the cured bar (it was not, lol), but I remember it getting very hot and dark when I added the lye so the post or comment about steeping resonated with me. Maybe someone here will know more about this steeping aspect, if it makes a difference or not.
I'm not by any means an expert, but the brown stuff in tea is caused by tannins, which are acidic. So, the longer you steep the tea, the more acidic the liquid becomes. The bigger the pH difference, the stronger the reaction, so NaOH is going to react more severely to the strongly brewed, acidic tea than it would to lightly brewed tea.
 

peachymoon

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I'm not by any means an expert, but the brown stuff in tea is caused by tannins, which are acidic. So, the longer you steep the tea, the more acidic the liquid becomes. The bigger the pH difference, the stronger the reaction, so NaOH is going to react more severely to the strongly brewed, acidic tea than it would to lightly brewed tea.
Oh hey! That makes a lot of sense. I remember that soap heating up a lot after I poured it into the mold too. This is good to know!
 

earlene

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I forgot where, but I recently read that tea made for soaps shouldn't be steeped for too long because it'll either heat up more or darken the soap too much. Maybe this is a bit useless because I'm forgetting where I read this and exactly what was said, but the point was that steeping it for too long could cause issues.

I recently made a soap with tea and steeped it for a long while because I wanted to see if the color would be infused in the cured bar (it was not, lol), but I remember it getting very hot and dark when I added the lye so the post or comment about steeping resonated with me. Maybe someone here will know more about this steeping aspect, if it makes a difference or not.
Hmmm; interesting. I wonder if the added tannin from long steeping is the culprit. The molecules in tannins do interact with other molecules, so that seems to me the likely cause.
 

Arimara

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I have used tea on many occasions and never had this happen, except when it was Kombucha tea, which has a lot of sugar content. I can't understand why cooled Earl Grey tea would cause your solution to boil.

However, I did find this soaper's experience with making her lye solution with Earl Grey tea (here):



She included a link to more detail, but that link is no longer working, so I can't find her explanation as to why she says that.

Also, I looked up the ingredient list for Ahmad's Earl Grey tea (here) and found these flavors listed:
Bergamot, Citrusy, Floral, Raisins, Red Apple, Soap, Sweet, Citrus, Malt


Okay then, Raisins, apple, (SOAP?), Sweet (what does that mean?), Malt... Some of that might be the cause.

Citrus EOs are not supposed to accelerate trace, therefore I wouldn't think it would cause a lye solution to boil up, either, but I've never tried it with Earl Grey tea myself, so I don't really know. BTW, bergamot EO is from Bergamot oranges, which are more like a lemon than an orange, so it is a citrus EO.
Those are the flavor notes of that particular tea. There is a bit of assam mixed in which is common in malty flavored teas (less in English Breakfast but prominent in Irish and Scottish Breakfast Teas). It's not so much that they added those flavors to the tea; it's more the result of the tea's blend (the only flavoring in earl greys tend to be bergamot oil).

For the record, Ahmad's Earl Grey is delicious, if you haven't tried it.
 

earlene

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Those are the flavor notes of that particular tea. There is a bit of assam mixed in which is common in malty flavored teas (less in English Breakfast but prominent in Irish and Scottish Breakfast Teas). It's not so much that they added those flavors to the tea; it's more the result of the tea's blend (the only flavoring in earl greys tend to be bergamot oil).

For the record, Ahmad's Earl Grey is delicious, if you haven't tried it.
Thank you, Arimara. Than makes sense to me, whereas my initial impression when I read that section did not.

Later upon revisiting my impressions, it occurred to me that maybe they were just trying to describe what it tasted like to them, the way wine tasters do (don't ask me, I don't get any of that wine tasting stuff.) So many things can impact the taste buds, and just like we don't all see or hear everything exactly the same, we don't all taste everything exactly the same.

I've never really noticed those listed flavors in any of the Earl Grey teas I drink. I have tasted a soapy taste in coffee one camping weekend, which was a real turn-off to me. I later watched the person who cleaned the coffee pot and learned why. After washing the coffee pot, the soap was not rinsed out of the pot prior to turning it over to air dry.

Incidentally, I went ahead and added Ahmad's loose leaf Earl Grey on my Amazon subscription on your recommendation, Arimara. Earl Grey tea is my original (although not exclusive) favorite. It will be nice to compare Ahmad's to other brands that I happen upon.
 

Arimara

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Thank you, Arimara. Than makes sense to me, whereas my initial impression when I read that section did not.

Later upon revisiting my impressions, it occurred to me that maybe they were just trying to describe what it tasted like to them, the way wine tasters do (don't ask me, I don't get any of that wine tasting stuff.) So many things can impact the taste buds, and just like we don't all see or hear everything exactly the same, we don't all taste everything exactly the same.

I've never really noticed those listed flavors in any of the Earl Grey teas I drink. I have tasted a soapy taste in coffee one camping weekend, which was a real turn-off to me. I later watched the person who cleaned the coffee pot and learned why. After washing the coffee pot, the soap was not rinsed out of the pot prior to turning it over to air dry.

Incidentally, I went ahead and added Ahmad's loose leaf Earl Grey on my Amazon subscription on your recommendation, Arimara. Earl Grey tea is my original (although not exclusive) favorite. It will be nice to compare Ahmad's to other brands that I happen upon.
If you find it in a store, get it from the store. I can't vouch for how fresh it is from amazon but loose or bagged, their tea is good.
 

Pixiewillow

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A post from today got me thinking. Sometime ago I made a soap with with earl gray tea as the water for the lye solution. Tea was a well-known brand, Ahmad teas. Tea was well strained so there were no tea leaves, or bits. Tea was made the day before and so was completely cool. When I added the lye to the tea it immediately boiled and spit. Thankfully, I always add my lye very slowly, so I was able to quickly step back and avoided any real trouble. Once the initial boil had settled I was able to add the remaining lye with no noticeable reaction other than the typical steam from heat. I often add teas for a darker brown color to do swirls or layering in my typical off-white soap (so pretty), a darker bar (what can I say - I like brown), or just for giggles. I've never seen this with other teas. Surprisingly, this soap has the ever so faintest smell of bergamot when lathering even after over a year, so I'd like to do it again but without the drama. LOL Has anyone else experienced this boiling and spitting when using tea as your lye water?
Strangely enough, I have just used Earl Grey Tea to make soap on Friday :) I had made it several days earlier, and frozen it, and had no problems whatsoever when adding the caustic soda. Produced a lovely colour, which I poured as the base, then further diluted it with TD twice, to produce two lighter shades to drop swirl into it. I'm still very new to all this so it's not perfect, but it worked out well.
 

earlene

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If you find it in a store, get it from the store. I can't vouch for how fresh it is from amazon but loose or bagged, their tea is good.
I'll look for it, but lately I've found that every store we go to has fewer and fewer options of tea. My husband has noticed the same thing about coffee. We were in Chicago last weekend for our anniversary and both were in shockingly short supply in ever store we checked. The hotel did not provide tea bags, so I had to find tea as I had not brought any with me, which was unusual for me. And he always likes to buy specialty brands of coffee when we go pretty much anywhere away from home.
 

KimW

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I'll look for it, but lately I've found that every store we go to has fewer and fewer options of tea. My husband has noticed the same thing about coffee. We were in Chicago last weekend for our anniversary and both were in shockingly short supply in ever store we checked. The hotel did not provide tea bags, so I had to find tea as I had not brought any with me, which was unusual for me. And he always likes to buy specialty brands of coffee when we go pretty much anywhere away from home.
I get my Ahmad from amazon and it has always been fresh. Not saying that's always true, but it has been for me. :)
Here's the link I use:
 

Arimara

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KimW

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That's good. Given this year's events, things hit the fan concerning some vendors, dumpster diving and Amazon. Maybe I can get the tea I want.
Sorry I sent you the link to smile.amazon.com - I just went to my order history and copied the link! If you take the "smile" off the front of the link it should take you there. Yes, this year has been a doozy...
 

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