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Tried and true recipe/Too soft soap

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Chach

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Hello. I have searched a lot of answers that kind of address this issue, but none discuss what might have happened with a recipe that has worked well in the past. Basic 3-oil soap. 9.4 oz Crisco, 6 oz olive, 6 oz coconut. 7 oz h2O, 3 oz lye, 1 oz fragrance. I have made this recipe a bunch of times. Reliable product. Produces not a super hard soap, but not super soft, either. I made the soap and was careful to get it to thin trace, because in the past, I have had it get too thick too fast. So thin trace. Loaf mold for 36 hours. It comes out of the mold, but it is pretty soft. Will it harden as the weeks go by? Is the thinner trace to blame here? I did add in a teaspoon of natural pigment mixed into a Tablespoon of Avocado oil, at the very end, to swirl. Did that cause this? Will this soap harden up? Thank you thank you for your help.
 

lenarenee

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It’s quite possible it’s the thin trace. And then I would expect it to firm up.
But I’m also wondering if you’re using a new brand of olive oil. Many olive oils are adulterated, and a different batch or brand might contain soybean instead of canola, or a different percentage of oils which would mess up the sap point on a lye calc.

As for a Tablespoon of avocado oil, do you usually add that with your color, or is this first time? If you made a small batch of soap with an already healthy super fat, I do think it’s possible that extra oil could explain the softer soap, but should firm up during cure.

The fragrance can do it too; some can speed up or slow trace.
 

KimW

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Hello. I have searched a lot of answers that kind of address this issue, but none discuss what might have happened with a recipe that has worked well in the past. Basic 3-oil soap. 9.4 oz Crisco, 6 oz olive, 6 oz coconut. 7 oz h2O, 3 oz lye, 1 oz fragrance. I have made this recipe a bunch of times. Reliable product. Produces not a super hard soap, but not super soft, either. I made the soap and was careful to get it to thin trace, because in the past, I have had it get too thick too fast. So thin trace. Loaf mold for 36 hours. It comes out of the mold, but it is pretty soft. Will it harden as the weeks go by? Is the thinner trace to blame here? I did add in a teaspoon of natural pigment mixed into a Tablespoon of Avocado oil, at the very end, to swirl. Did that cause this? Will this soap harden up? Thank you thank you for your help.
I make this recipe, which I'd call a "common" recipe, for our yearly family soap supply. I once had this recipe take 7 full days to harden up, and my notes say I had reached thick trace because it was hot outside that day. What I now do to avoid this with this high crisco recipe, is I cover the batter and then wrap the whole thing in thick blankets. It still takes this recipe about 24-36 hours to cool, but it consistently reaches the proper hardness/softness for cutting within that time, regardless of the level of trace and/or additives. :) I don't have to wrap other recipes.
 

Chach

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Thank you for the responses and encouragement. So it sounds like I can expect this recipe to harden up during cure?
In order to avoid this in future, do I need to get it to thicker trace?
And, if it does still come out soft, wrap it as Kim recommends.
 

KimW

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Thank you for the responses and encouragement. So it sounds like I can expect this recipe to harden up during cure?
In order to avoid this in future, do I need to get it to thicker trace?
And, if it does still come out soft, wrap it as Kim recommends.
Yes, I would expect it to harden with time. Not sure about thicker or thinner trace.
 

earlene

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You could try adding Sodium Lactate. It helps harden soap sooner so you can get it out of the mold earlier. Some soapers use it in every batch of soap they make. You could also just use table salt instead. See the links below.

If you have never used SL, these two links may help:


PS. Yes, it will harden up over time.
 

TheGecko

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I honestly don't believe the level of 'trace'...how thick or thin your batter is...has an effect on how soft or hard your soap is when you go to unmold it. Logic says if it did, then 'trace' would take on a different aspect in soap making. As it is...achieving a 'thin trace', especially for those just starting out in soap making or who only make soap infrequently, is a an important benchmark to ensure that your oils/butter and lye solution are fully emulsified. After that, is the design aspect of soap making...swirls, layers, sculpting, etc of which how thick or thin your batter is can play an important part. But if you are just making a natural or single color soap, the density of your batter is less important...unless you are trying to carry your mold to the garage and trying to keep the cat out and turn on the light so you don't break your neck. Been there, done that, only have the single T-shirt.

What can and does affect the degree of softness/hardness of your soap (IMHO) is accurate measurements, the amount of water, the amount of SuperFat, temperature, and humidity. I live in the Pacific Northwest; while it doesn't get super cold during the winter, it does rain a lot. For me, that means reducing my water, leaving my soap in the mold for an extra few days, waiting another day before cutting and then curing an additional two to four weeks...not a huge deal. A bigger deal was when I made some Goat Milk Soap a few weeks ago and got lazy when it came to my frozen cubes. And it might not have been as big of a deal as it became, except we had storms blow in (badly needed), the temperature dropped, I was still using my 33% Lye Concentration and I forgot about the extra fat. The end result was a fairly soft soap, even after sitting in the molds for a week. I now have a small fan blowing across my GMS.

Yes, your soap will eventually harden and the extra curing time won't hurt it in the least...in fact, the longer your soap cures before using it can be very beneficial.
 

DeeAnna

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"...I honestly don't believe the level of 'trace'...how thick or thin your batter is...has an effect on how soft or hard your soap is when you go to unmold it. ..."

+1 -- I agree. That's a good observation!

One other thing that can affect softness is whether the soap gets sufficiently hot during saponification. If I have a batch that is unusually soft and the recipe is the same as previous batches that are nicely hard, I start questioning whether this particular batch got sufficiently hot during saponification.

Soap higher in water usually shows signs of gel when it gets hot enough -- you see a darker oval or ring on the top of the soap that feels pasty or jelly-like to the touch. Soap lower in water might or might not show signs of obvious gel, but it will still get firm if it gets hot enough. Soap that doesn't get hot enough will stay soft, almost clay like in texture. If this is the problem, a person can heat the finished soap in the oven to firm it up.
 

Chach

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Such great insights. Thank you. I hope I get to the point at which I can be of help to a neophyte as you all have done with me.
 

lenarenee

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I honestly don't believe the level of 'trace'...how thick or thin your batter is...has an effect on how soft or hard your soap is when you go to unmold it. Logic says if it did, then 'trace' would take on a different aspect in soap making. As it is...achieving a 'thin trace', especially for those just starting out in soap making or who only make soap infrequently, is a an important benchmark to ensure that your oils/butter and lye solution are fully emulsified. After that, is the design aspect of soap making...swirls, layers, sculpting, etc of which how thick or thin your batter is can play an important part. But if you are just making a natural or single color soap, the density of your batter is less important...unless you are trying to carry your mold to the garage and trying to keep the cat out and turn on the light so you don't break your neck. Been there, done that, only have the single T-shirt.
As for level of trace affecting hardness during unmolding, that may be true for most recipes - I've never noticed. But I have a "waste not want not" variable recipe I use to use up soft oils before they get too old. (olive, safflower, sunflower, etc) with a touch of premium oils like argan, meadowfoam, rosehip, babassu, not color or scent, that that unmolds about 2 days earlier if I pour it a thick trace rather than emulsion. It's never exactly the same recipe twice, but that's how it works out regardless. With my normal soap making that includes hard oils, color, and scent - it was all about the swirl so never even thought about whether any connection between trace and unmolding.

That's a very vivid image you painted with your trip to the garage! Is the cat one who constantly wraps around your ankles as you walk? And - was there any soap left when you reached the garage?
 
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TheGecko

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That's a very vivid image you painted with your trip to the garage! Is the cat one who constantly wraps around your ankles as you walk? And - was there any soap left when you reached the garage?
I have two cats...Pino and Sophie. Sophie is a good girl, except when I’m wearing while. She is a black cat. Pino is the problem child. He’ll look you in the eye and then jump on the counter. He is under the impression that the garage in Narnia...that there is some special out there that he NEEDS to get too. And there is some on top of the frig...he’ll squeak and paw at it. And he’s my bestest friend in the whole world when I wear black or navy. He’s a white cat.

D667BBD8-EE4A-4F3F-B5A6-3C749B117548.jpeg
 

lenarenee

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I have two cats...Pino and Sophie. Sophie is a good girl, except when I’m wearing while. She is a black cat. Pino is the problem child. He’ll look you in the eye and then jump on the counter. He is under the impression that the garage in Narnia...that there is some special out there that he NEEDS to get too. And there is some on top of the frig...he’ll squeak and paw at it. And he’s my bestest friend in the whole world when I wear black or navy. He’s a white cat.

View attachment 50087

They are gorgeous! The smartest cat I ever owned was jet black - super smart! The most challenging cat I ever owned looks a lot like your white one - with a touch of siamese....Cleo. She was a stinker. Sat on a butterfly I was trying to keep her from catching. Yes, there's no doubt those two keep your life interesting!

Thanks so much for sharing that - made my day (after ignoring the fact it was presidential debate day)
 

TheGecko

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They are gorgeous! The smartest cat I ever owned was jet black - super smart! The most challenging cat I ever owned looks a lot like your white one - with a touch of siamese....Cleo. She was a stinker. Sat on a butterfly I was trying to keep her from catching. Yes, there's no doubt those two keep your life interesting!
Thank you. We got them both a kittens from our local humane society...we weren't looking for kittens. They were both VERY...uh...challenging the first several months as they proceeded to destroy everything in sight. To be honest the sheers and drapes needed to be replaced as did the shower liner. LOL And they will need to be replaced again now they are teenagers instead of kittens and no longer climb then. We're still having issues with Pino using the office chair as a scratching post...he's not as bad as he was, but still bad enough that it will be a while yet before we replace it. And he brought a bird into the house for the first time. Gross.
 
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