The longer I soap.....

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CTAnton

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...the more i feel challenged...or is it the soap gremlins?Anyway...here's today's dilemma....
I'm making 1.5 pound test batches of vegan soaps to decide what I like....of course this is after rendering about 30 pounds of deer tallow.My first round of soaps from the Miller's website(cocanolive and the like) Im branching into using palm . Today's recipe:
25% coconut oil
30% palm oil
30% olive
10% sunflower
5% castor
The first 2 batches with a fragrance oil from a non traditional fragrance oil supplier (chemistry store...a dupe requested by a friend) met me with soap on a stick...a first for me.Amazing how the batter turned to a gel in seconds. OK...2 failed batches and I chalked it up to the fragrance oil. Jumped online and researched soaping temperatures. Decided to go up above 120F for the lye and the oils considering its winter and the house is cool. Added fragrance oil from Nature's Garden to the oils before adding the lye.Well while this batch wasn't soap on a stick it still came to trace in record time.So my question is this a product of a high palm percentage or am i simply soaping at the wrong temperature..I want to do at least 5 other variants on the above recipe to decide what I like. It would be nice to NOT see soap on a stick for at least a month.BTW...I didn't go stick blender happy...a couple of pulses and some whisking...even that was kept to a minimum...batch number 3 was barely pourable into the mold ...to say this isn't the recipe to do a Taiwan swirl with is putting it mildly!
On an aside, I've passed 2 years soaping last week. It's been a fascinating trip by and large due to the generosity of members of this forum. My friends love all the soap and my skin never felt better. My grab bag basket of soap and lotion bars for christmas last year was the most coveted entry. I owe my successes and continued interest in the hobby to all of you. Thank you.
 

toxikon

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I'm a newbie so take my advice with a grain of salt.

I'd probably add the fragrance last, definitely after mixing your lye, and immediately switch to a whisk.

I'd also only use well-reviewed FOs and order them from well known soaping sites. If the reviews mention acceleration, up your water as needed. And definitely soap at a lower temp than 120.
 

shunt2011

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I think you are soaping too hot. I melt my hard oils until just clear then add my liquid oils. What fragrance are you using? I always add my fragrance to my oils before the lye unless it's a known quick mover and I want to do multiple colors, then I add it after coloring and just stir it in.
 

bumbleklutz

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Actually, CT that looks like a really nice recipe. I make one very similar to that except I lower the olive and sunflower by 5% each and add in cocoa butter and shea butter at 5% each. Also I reduce the coconut to 15% and add in 10% PKO. Anyway, I've had the same issue, so I'll throw out some ideas; and hopefully there will something in there that helps.

I think it may be a temperature issue (too warm), or it could just be snotty FO's. I usually soap with lye around 80-90 degrees and oils around 110.

Also, it could be your palm oil. If your palm has melted, and then re-solidified then the stearic acid can drop out of suspension. If this has happened usually your palm oil will look gritty, but not always. If that's the case, then you may be getting more stearic in the portion of palm oil that you are scooping out for your recipe. That will definitely accelerate trace. It's best to melt the whole bucket of palm, stir it and then take out the amount you need for your recipe. It is an extra step though, and kind of a pain. So I only do it if I'm fairly certain that my palm has separated.

Also, on the advice of an old-time soaper; I've given up stick blending altogether. I find that I have far better control of the soap with just hand whisking; especially with small batches. Previously, when I used an SB I was lucky to be able to do a spoon plop before the soap got too hard to work with. Now with hand whisking, I have much better control of trace and am able to do swirls for the first time ever. :) It may be worth trying to see if this helps. It usually only takes about 3-5 minutes of whisking to get to light trace, so its not a lot of extra work. :)

Anyway, I hope you get it worked out, and happy soaping.
 

CTAnton

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thanks for all your suggestions...and Bumble I'll add in your recipe in my test batches....I USED to soap cooler until I had some issues with false trace...again,my thanks!
 

topofmurrayhill

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If that's the case, then you may be getting more stearic in the portion of palm oil that you are scooping out for your recipe. That will definitely accelerate trace. It's best to melt the whole bucket of palm, stir it and then take out the amount you need for your recipe. It is an extra step though, and kind of a pain. So I only do it if I'm fairly certain that my palm has separated.
I thought I might take this opportunity to clear up one point that can easily cause confusion -- the difference between stearic and stearin.

Stearic is a fatty acid. When we use it in a free form like the white stearic acid flakes that are sometimes used in bar soap and shaving soap recipes, it will dramatically speed up trace.

Free fatty acids of any kind react instantly with caustic soda compared to fatty acids that are part of oil molecules. Palm oil is almost entirely oil and doesn't contain an appreciable amount of free stearic or other free fatty acids.

The word stearin simply refers to the solid portion of a fat. The case of palm oil, which sometimes separates into distinct solid and liquid fractions, is a good example. The solid part is palm stearin, but it's not stearic acid and doesn't have that accelerating effect.

Those solid and liquid portions are not as different as they look, so you don't have to use any extraordinary means to combine them. Melting the palm oil multiple times is counterproductive and not necessary.
 

bumbleklutz

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Thanks for clearing that up TOMH. I was going by what I had always been told. You learn something new everyday. I am assuming that the chunky gritty bits you sometimes find in palm are actually stearin instead of stearic acid?
 

penelopejane

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I'd try soaping at a lower temp. Hard oils need to be clear when you melt them then I mix the with all the liquid oils before adding the lye. Then add the lye and carefully coax it to trace.
I'd also search your FO reviews and only use well behaved FOs and mix them in with the oils.

Scroll down to post 3 and watch the second an excellent video on "emulsion":
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=60959
 

topofmurrayhill

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Thanks for clearing that up TOMH. I was going by what I had always been told. You learn something new everyday. I am assuming that the chunky gritty bits you sometimes find in palm are actually stearin instead of stearic acid?
I don't think there's anyone who wasn't unclear about that at one time or another. It took me a while to sort out all the details, so I'm sharing.

Yes, your palm oil is nearly all oil, so any solid bits are simply solid oil a.k.a. stearin. The liquid part is called olein. Commercially, palm oil is fractionated by chilling and filtering it to separate the stearin and the olein. The palm olein is then sold as the standard cooking oil in some parts of the world.

As sold, stearic acid is actually roughly 50/50 stearic and palmitic acid, or preferably more like 55/45. It's created by breaking up the oil molecules and separating the fatty acids from the glycerin. The free fatty acids are separated into liquid "red oil" (oleic acid), and solid stearic and palmitic fatty acids. The latter are refined into what we call "stearic acid" but it's really both.

Animal-derived stearic acid is typically made from tallow. To make matters more confusing, vegetable-derived is made from palm oil and is often referred to as palm stearic, which is totally different from palm stearin. But how do they get a 50/50 stearic/palmitic mixture from palm oil, which has a lot more palmitic than stearic fatty acid? I assume they fully hydrogenate it, which changes oleic acid into stearic acid to create the right proportion.

I don't mean to hijack the thread with this, but I think the original question was answered. It's a perfectly reasonable recipe. Chemical effects from FO and such is a leading cause of acceleration, especially that instant effect of getting soap on a stick. Beyond that, the best way to move the process along is heat. CAnton appears to have gotten experience with both effects.
 
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