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This is a new one for me - anyone else have this happen?

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cerelife

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I made several batches of soap today using my usual recipes with some new FOs and micas. They behaved pretty much as I would expect (some accelerated - but after a while you can almost predict which FOs will acc from the OOB scent), so no big deal. But one batch drove me crazy....
Same recipe as three other batches today which behaved fine, so I know it's not an issue with the oils/lye, etc. The FO was WSP Market Peach (which has great reviews saying how easy it is to work with in CP), and I used orange oxide with Mad Oils Snow White (TD) and Pot O' Gold micas to get a creamy peach color. I'm pulsing the SB as usual and everything is looking good in the soap pot and then about 3 minutes in; right before I would normally hit light trace...separation?? I fought with this beast for about 10 minutes, beating the crap out of it and then leaving it alone for a minute to come back and battle it again. It finally looked somewhat homogenized so I poured it into the mold even though it hadn't hit light trace. When I checked on it about an hour later there was a layer of oil on top, pshhh!! I'm so over you; you silly batch of soap!
I just checked it again (5 hours later) and the oil is absorbing, so I guess I'll play the wait and see game.
But I'm curious as to why this happened. The Mad Oils micas are new to me, but I used several others of theirs today with no problems. Maybe the TD in the Snow White mica? But I've never had this issue with plain TD. And overheating wasn't an issue....
Anyone thoughts would be appreciated.
 

IrishLass

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In spite of the FO in question getting great reviews for being easy to work with, I vote for the FO being the culprit. If there's one thing I've learned when it comes to reading positive FO reviews, it's this: proceed with caution and prepare for the unexpected the first time you soap it yourself if the reviewer did not also happen to reveal what type of formula it was soaped in, and/or how much of the FO was used, and/or how much water was used in the soap, and/or what the soaping temps were, etc... All those things matter (ask me how I know!)


IrishLass :)
 

shunt2011

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I'm with IL that's i't likely the FO. I've even noticed a difference in how one FO reacts differently in different recipes. I have a couple that are fine in one recipe but use it in another it is a different beast. Hope it turns out for you! It's so frustrating.
 

cerelife

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What was your lye concentration?
My usual 38%.

Most of the oil has reabsorbed, leaving a somewhat greasy top to the log of soap. I cut a couple of bars today and it doesn't zap, but it's pretty soft - like I can take a bar and break it in half no problem. I'm counting this batch as a total loss, but I'm gonna keep it around to see what it does next just out of curiosity.
This FO smells great and the color was perfect, so I think I'll try another batch to see if I get the same results. If so, then I'll start deconstructing to find the culprit; it it turns out OK, then I'll blame the gremlins!
 

navigator9

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I had a batch behave like that many years ago, and it was a batch using Brambleberry's Cybilla Pear FO. It did everything you're describing, but the oil never reabsorbed. And to top it all off, it stunk! It smelled nothing like it did OOB, it was just awful. I never used that FO again. I hope your experience was just a fluke.
 

topofmurrayhill

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My usual 38%.

Most of the oil has reabsorbed, leaving a somewhat greasy top to the log of soap. I cut a couple of bars today and it doesn't zap, but it's pretty soft - like I can take a bar and break it in half no problem. I'm counting this batch as a total loss, but I'm gonna keep it around to see what it does next just out of curiosity.
This FO smells great and the color was perfect, so I think I'll try another batch to see if I get the same results. If so, then I'll start deconstructing to find the culprit; it it turns out OK, then I'll blame the gremlins!
I wondered if it might be high. It's unusual but possible for the lye concentration to be too high. Maybe the combination of the lye concentration and that particular FO does something weird.

The principle is the same as that of "salting out" soap. Sodium hydroxide is even more effective at graining soap than sodium chloride, and strong lye has traditionally been used for that purpose in certain stages of making "fully boiled" soap.

There are a few concrete examples where we encounter this in artisanal soapmaking, so that it's not totally abstract:

The "apple sauce stage" in the hot process is the soap separating from the liquid as it forms, until finally enough of the alkali is used up for the mixture to come together.

The difficulty everyone was having in the "lye-heavy castile" thread was probably caused by adding so much alkali at the beginning instead of very gradually as it was used up. This inhibited saponification because the soap grained out as it formed. It failed to create a stable emulsion and even with brute force blending tended to separate in the mold.

So if others were having no trouble with the FO, the likely difference besides maybe a faster recipe is the lye concentration they were using. You could test it with full water and see if that makes a difference.
 

fuzz-juzz

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Does the FO have floral notes? Florals are notorious for messing with the soap.
It probably is the culprit even if it doesn't, especially when all other batches have turned out fine.

What I can recommend is, testing FOs first. I've had so many failed batches because of the FOs I now always test new ones in mini sizes first. Then, if it smells nice and behaves nicely, it can go in a bigger batch. Some crazy florals like BB Plumeria will react weirdly even in a small batch so it's easy to see what FOs are actually OK. I've tested it (luckily) in a small mold, size of the batter was about 100mls. It turned into this greasy, spongy, spotty mess. It smelled lovely though, but I can't see it working out in a big batch. I've tried few times, changing temp etc. The only way to save it would probably be putting it into fridge to stop gelling.

Reviews aren't always trustworthy and many of them are subjective. Especially when it comes to how fragrances smell, for example, BB Energy makes me sick while it's loved by so many soapers at the same time.
 

newbie

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I've had issues with both peach and pear FO's ricing and separating, from various suppliers so I wonder if some of the scent elements in them are prone to that. Part of the issue may by how much you used as well. What usage rate did you use? THe higher, the more possibility for problems, when I've used them.

I used BB Plumeria for a batch in which I wanted the acceleration. Of course, it did nothing of the sort and in fact stayed fluid for forever. That will likely NEVER happen again. I just couldn't believe it! I kept adding a little more, then a little more and nothing!!!
 

snappyllama

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I've had similar problems with certain FO/mica combinations. I almost always add my FO directly to my oils before my lye. When I separated my batter for coloring, only some of my colors caused: separation, ricing, or massive acceleration. These are micas I use regularly without problems. This doesn't happen very often (maybe 3 batches since I've been soaping), but it is so surprising when it happens. Even weirder, once I had a batch that scent morphed on one color only - I noticed it while I was cleaning the containers.

I guess it helps explain the inconsistent reviews on sellers' sites. If I see that wildly different behavior for an FO when the only variable is mica... imagine all of the other variables (recipe, environment, process) that can make one person's "perfectly behaved FO" into another's "Get a torch, we need to kill it with fire" FO.
 
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