Three problem batches in a row! Help please :)

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canoecove

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Hi All! I have just made three batches in a row, each with their own problems. Based on reading other forums I think I have identified what the problems are and possibly why, but would love some confirmation and ideas on what I might be doing wrong. Picture below.

My recipe is: Coconut Oil 29%, Palm Oil 29.00%, Olive Oil 29.00%, Shea butter 4.83%, Castor 4.83%, Sweet Almond Oil 3.33%. Lye 4.29 Oz, Water 11.40oz. I added micas and 2oz fragrance oil. My ingredients are new and not expired.

These are my first batches with Shea, so I am wondering if that is the problem. I have made palm/olive/coconut batches in the past with success, and have successfully included mango butter. But suddenly I am having problems.

Batch 1
: Noticed stearic spots. I soaped around 120F (lye and oils), but I think I didnt heat my oils enough before mixing, they may have only been around 120. I also mixed hard and soft oils together. I read that the melt point of stearic acid is about 170F so if the oils don't get hot enough it will solidify. So I resolved to heat them more next time. I have used the FO in this batch before, no issues.
Batch 2: Heated hard oils first and made sure I exceeded 180F. Added in soft oils and soaped when temps reached 130F for oils and lye. Insulated in a towel. I am not surprised about the glycerin rivers as I was told that can happen at high temps with TD. Have never experienced oil leaking before. Used a new FO I havent used before.
Batch 3: Same process as batch 2, my FO accelerated trace and made it gross and clumpy to pour. I think I mixed my TD poorly as well since I see some flecks of white.

So my question is... how would you suggest improvement? Do I just have to find the "sweet spot" with temperature? Is it bad technique? Do I give up on Shea (but it feels so nice!!).

bad.png
 

Putzii

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Hi Canoecove,

Could you perhaps blend the hard oils within the soft oils straight before mixing with lye? I had these issues too with Shea but since I started doing this it became almost non existent. My temps are around 100F

M new to soaping so please don’t take my answer for granted but perhaps perhaps?

Your soaps
Looks nice though! A little bit of that river pattern but not at all a bad look❣️
🫧🪬🫧
 

canoecove

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Hi Canoecove,

Could you perhaps blend the hard oils within the soft oils straight before mixing with lye? I had these issues too with Shea but since I started doing this it became almost non existent. My temps are around 100F

M new to soaping so please don’t take my answer for granted but perhaps perhaps?

Your soaps
Looks nice though! A little bit of that river pattern but not at all a bad look❣️
🫧🪬🫧

Hi Putzii, thanks for the reply! By this do you mean blending all the oils together with the stick blender? I do stir them all up with a spatula while waiting to cool, but I can definitely try stick blending straight oil before the lye to see if that helps.

Appreciate the feedback and kind comments :)
 
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Well I was hoping someone else would come along here and really tackle the details because I've soaped for about 8 years, used all sorts of butters, and yet never bothered to measure oil temperature. The only time I had stearic spots was when I used actual stearic acid in the recipe. I'm not sure how much help my process will be to you because I can't explain why it hasn't been a problem for me.

I simply melt the oils until completely clear, stirring occasionally. Now, I soap cool....and I mean cool to the point that my finger can't detect any warmth when I touch the oil! But I do always stick blend my oils to make sure they are cohesively blended before adding my lye....so maybe that diffuses the fatty acids enough that they it alters the melting/solidifying point....that's my best guess.

Any chance you're using a wire cutter? Air bubbles cut with wire can look like stearic spots.

As for glycerin rivers; reducing your water percentage can be very helpful. Glycerine Rivers: Secret Revealed

Oil leaking? Fragrance oil? Other signs off oil other than that one spot....because there's a couple of things that could be going on.

TD spot? Not stearic spot or air bubble? What made you think it was td? Do you use water or oil soluble td, and what is your mixing process?
 

canoecove

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Well I was hoping someone else would come along here and really tackle the details because I've soaped for about 8 years, used all sorts of butters, and yet never bothered to measure oil temperature. The only time I had stearic spots was when I used actual stearic acid in the recipe. I'm not sure how much help my process will be to you because I can't explain why it hasn't been a problem for me.

I simply melt the oils until completely clear, stirring occasionally. Now, I soap cool....and I mean cool to the point that my finger can't detect any warmth when I touch the oil! But I do always stick blend my oils to make sure they are cohesively blended before adding my lye....so maybe that diffuses the fatty acids enough that they it alters the melting/solidifying point....that's my best guess.

Any chance you're using a wire cutter? Air bubbles cut with wire can look like stearic spots.

As for glycerin rivers; reducing your water percentage can be very helpful. Glycerine Rivers: Secret Revealed

Oil leaking? Fragrance oil? Other signs off oil other than that one spot....because there's a couple of things that could be going on.

TD spot? Not stearic spot or air bubble? What made you think it was td? Do you use water or oil soluble td, and what is your mixing process?

Thanks for your comments lenarenee!! That is interesting that you soap cool and have no issues with butters, maybe it really is the stick blending of the oils that helps. I will definitely try that next time :)

I cut these with a knife (just ordered my first wire cutter, its in the mail!) I also tried planing the soap to see if it opens up the air bubbles, but it still looks the same, thats why I thought it was stearic spots. Zap tested and no issues.

I agree with you on the water content for glycerin rivers. I have always used the default amount in soapcalc and BB, but having read through these forums I see that most experienced soapers use way less.

Re the oil leaking, it may be fragrance I am not sure! Batch 2 and Batch 3 are identical process but only batch 2 bad the issue, so I am wondering if it was just a bad fragrance. It was in multiple spots throughout the whole batch. It has mostly reabsorbed now, but I can tell where they were as it looks like small coloured indents.

TD spots - I think it was TD because I had a feeling I wasnt mixing it properly. It was my first time using TD and I didnt have a mini mixer. When mixing by hand I saw settling on the bottom of my mixing cup (mixed in sweet almond oil). I went ahead and put it in the batch anyway, to see if the stick blender would do the trick, I think this was my mistake.

Considering all this, I think my next batch I will try to: make sure my oils are melted well and mixed together with the stick blender the way you do before adding lye, use a water discount, and use a fragrance that I have tested before with no issues.

Really hope I can figure out how to fix the aesthetic issues in this recipe. I love the lather and feel of it vs my usual recipe that has never had any cosmetic issues.

Thank you very much :D
 

TheGecko

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Hi All! I have just made three batches in a row, each with their own problems. Based on reading other forums I think I have identified what the problems are and possibly why, but would love some confirmation and ideas on what I might be doing wrong. Picture below.

My recipe is: Coconut Oil 29%, Palm Oil 29.00%, Olive Oil 29.00%, Shea butter 4.83%, Castor 4.83%, Sweet Almond Oil 3.33%. Lye 4.29 Oz, Water 11.40oz. I added micas and 2oz fragrance oil. My ingredients are new and not expired.

These are my first batches with Shea, so I am wondering if that is the problem. I have made palm/olive/coconut batches in the past with success, and have successfully included mango butter. But suddenly I am having problems.

Batch 1: Noticed stearic spots. I soaped around 120F (lye and oils), but I think I didnt heat my oils enough before mixing, they may have only been around 120. I also mixed hard and soft oils together. I read that the melt point of stearic acid is about 170F so if the oils don't get hot enough it will solidify. So I resolved to heat them more next time. I have used the FO in this batch before, no issues.
Batch 2: Heated hard oils first and made sure I exceeded 180F. Added in soft oils and soaped when temps reached 130F for oils and lye. Insulated in a towel. I am not surprised about the glycerin rivers as I was told that can happen at high temps with TD. Have never experienced oil leaking before. Used a new FO I havent used before.
Batch 3: Same process as batch 2, my FO accelerated trace and made it gross and clumpy to pour. I think I mixed my TD poorly as well since I see some flecks of white.

So my question is... how would you suggest improvement? Do I just have to find the "sweet spot" with temperature? Is it bad technique? Do I give up on Shea (but it feels so nice!!).
Your recipe is similar to mine, but I also have Cocoa Butter. First thing I would recommend is increasing your Shea Butter to 10% as at your current amount, it adds nothing to your soap except label appeal. I would also increase your Castor to a flat 5%.

While it is true that Stearic Acid has a high melting point (around 157F), it should not be confusing with the melting point of Palm Oil (95F) or Shea Butter (90F) which contain Stearic Acid.

My recipe is 60% Hard Oils/Butters (Palm and Coconut Oils, Cocoa and Shea Butters) and I soap fairly low...around 85F-90F, sometimes lower without problems. Whether I'm making soap from scratch or Master Batching my Oils/Butters, I start with melting my Cocoa Butter about half way, then adding Palm Oil, then my Coconut Oil and then I take it off the heat and stir in my Shea Butter (allowing residual heat to melt it). Max temperature for me is 120F, but then I let it cool down to 100F before adding in my Lye Solution which is generally around 70F.

Given the high temps you are using, what you think are "stearic spots" are mostly either the result of overheating your Palm and Shea and it becoming grainy or air introduced during the stick blending process. And if you have air bubbles, using a wire cutter can make them more noticeable.

Shea Butter isn't going to cause "glycerin rivers"; these most often occur when the soap gets too hot during the saponification process and can occur with using any pigment, but are often more noticeable with TD. Several things that you can do to prevent them include using a higher Lye Concentration, mixing your pigments really, really well, and lowering the temperature that you soap at. Is also isn't going to cause 'oil leaking'...it could be that you didn't get your FO mixed in well and it separated during saponification.

And it's not going to cause your FO to accelerate.

I made some suggested changes to your recipe and to not heating your oils/butters so high. Another suggestion is to get a 4" Square Silicone Mold and test EVERY change. When I try a new recipe, or try a new additive, or try a new technique, or try a new colorant or scent...I ALWAYS make a test batch (20 oz total). It can suck when things turn out well and now you have to wait to purchase more of an additive or a colorant or a scent, but when it doesn't work out, I'm not stuck with unusable ingredients, nor have I wasted a regular ingredients.
 

canoecove

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Your recipe is similar to mine, but I also have Cocoa Butter. First thing I would recommend is increasing your Shea Butter to 10% as at your current amount, it adds nothing to your soap except label appeal. I would also increase your Castor to a flat 5%.

While it is true that Stearic Acid has a high melting point (around 157F), it should not be confusing with the melting point of Palm Oil (95F) or Shea Butter (90F) which contain Stearic Acid.

My recipe is 60% Hard Oils/Butters (Palm and Coconut Oils, Cocoa and Shea Butters) and I soap fairly low...around 85F-90F, sometimes lower without problems. Whether I'm making soap from scratch or Master Batching my Oils/Butters, I start with melting my Cocoa Butter about half way, then adding Palm Oil, then my Coconut Oil and then I take it off the heat and stir in my Shea Butter (allowing residual heat to melt it). Max temperature for me is 120F, but then I let it cool down to 100F before adding in my Lye Solution which is generally around 70F.

Given the high temps you are using, what you think are "stearic spots" are mostly either the result of overheating your Palm and Shea and it becoming grainy or air introduced during the stick blending process. And if you have air bubbles, using a wire cutter can make them more noticeable.

Shea Butter isn't going to cause "glycerin rivers"; these most often occur when the soap gets too hot during the saponification process and can occur with using any pigment, but are often more noticeable with TD. Several things that you can do to prevent them include using a higher Lye Concentration, mixing your pigments really, really well, and lowering the temperature that you soap at. Is also isn't going to cause 'oil leaking'...it could be that you didn't get your FO mixed in well and it separated during saponification.

And it's not going to cause your FO to accelerate.

I made some suggested changes to your recipe and to not heating your oils/butters so high. Another suggestion is to get a 4" Square Silicone Mold and test EVERY change. When I try a new recipe, or try a new additive, or try a new technique, or try a new colorant or scent...I ALWAYS make a test batch (20 oz total). It can suck when things turn out well and now you have to wait to purchase more of an additive or a colorant or a scent, but when it doesn't work out, I'm not stuck with unusable ingredients, nor have I wasted a regular ingredients.
Thank you so much, that is very helpful. I am going to take your suggestions and try a small test batch. I'll report back how it goes! :)
 
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I soap a high palm with 10% shea with no problems. I masterbatch several batches at one in individual soaping buckets melting all my hard oils and butter together in each bucket before adding in the liquid oils. By the time I get around to soaping many times my oils are thick and cloudy but I very seldom remelt them. I only stir the oils in the bucket and add in my room temp masterbatch lye solution which will create enough heat after a few minutes to clear up the oils. I use a 31% Lye Concentration for my Palm/Shea recipes and a 33% for my Tallow/Lard recipes whether they have shea added or not. High Palm tends to trace faster hence the reason why I use the slightly lower lye concentration, but I have no issues with glycerin rivers. I did give up using TD several years ago because I because tired of the hassles of mixing TD.
 

canoecove

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Hi everyone, I just wanted to come back with an update. I took your suggestions and tried again. I was careful that I didn't overheat my oils and instead just made sure the hard oils were super clear, soaped at a lower temp (95C), and used a water discount. I also took the suggestion to increase my shea. I first tested the changes with very small plain test batch with no colorants (and also used this batch to test all my fragrances in little samples). Then I tried two 42oz batches to really see the impact.

I think there is definitely improvement in the new soaps vs my original (picture attached, new soaps are the 2 on the bottom). Still seeing a few white spots in the darker bar, but its much less. Thanks for all the advice, I will keep practicing :)
 

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