Trouble with first batch

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Well-Known Member
Jan 19, 2016
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East Central Iowa
Hi, I am new as of today to making soap. My first batch was an epic fail, I was in tears as I chopped it out of the pan and laid it in the mold. I have been reading and researching for months and am so very sad that my first batch is a fail. I have a picture of it and would love to have help with troubleshooting. I am new to this forum as well and I have no idea how to post or what to do to get my questions answered so I am apologizing ahead of time if I did it wrong, please help!! anyone.... Thank you so much!
If you post your recipe in weights, including water and lye, and your process, I'm sure someone can help you troubleshoot!
I did not scent the soap, but as soon as I added the essential oils it thickened up and that was the end :( Here is my recipe, straight from Gregory White's book:

13 oz coconut oil
12 oz castor oil
2 oz cocoa butter
1 oz jojoba oil
16 oz olive oil
13.2 oz water
6.1 oz lye
1 oz lavender EO
2 oz rosemary EO
15 drops chamomile EO (optional) I did not add this
1 egg yolk

First I weighed everything, not measured, is this correct?
Added lye to the water, stirred. Melted oils, let them get close to the same temperature and added lye water to melted oils. Used the stick blender in short bursts and turned it off many times and just stirred with the blender off. All seemed to be going extremely well, I was at "trace" which is when my instructions say to add the EO and the botanicals, which I am assuming means the egg yolk, this was not specified. As soon as I added the EO's and the yolk, it got very thick so quickly and solidified in the pan. I chopped it with my scraper and managed to put it in the mold but trust me, it's solid. Any help would be greatly appreciated. At this point I am ready to hang it up and never try it again. I was so confident because I was using the recipe of an expert. Thank you
Hi and welcome. That's a pretty ambitious recipe for a first try. We've all had failures. I haven't run your recipe in a soap calc but I highly recommend that you use one and run it through every time. Especially with recipes from books. I like

Second, you need to try a basic recipe and no more than 2 lbs. a good starter recipe is 40% Lard or Palm, Coconut 20%, Olive 35% and Castor 5%.

No scent which includes essential oils.

Don't give up.
Welcome to the forum.

To the recipe:
Water is at 30% by weight of oil. SF is 5%.

"As soon as I added the EO's and the yolk, it got very thick so quickly and solidified in the pan."

What was the temperature when the yolk hit? Could have cooked the egg right now or Mr. lye could have eaten it. Either way I would blame the egg. The only way I would attempt to use the yoke would be to SB in to the oils before adding anything else.

I would regroup, shrink my second try and change recipes to something like:
Coconut @ 20%
Lard @ 50%
Olive Oil @ 23%
Castor @ 7%

I would plug those numbers in to and try that for a start.

Sounds like you already found out what "soap on a stick" is.
We've all been there at least once.
You shouldn't quit, it is the recipe not you! That is a Hugh amount of Castor oil, Coconut, and EO. It isn't the best recipe for a first time try, adding an egg would be better after you had done a real basic recipe. I know you will get a bunch of ideas from the people here. The EO is what scents the soap, and that was acceleration when it hit the batter.
I'm with Steve in that I'm going to blame that pesky egg yolk, at least for some of the problem. I imagine adding it all at once cooked the yolk. If you are determined to use a yolk sometime down the line, you will need to temper it first. Take a little batter, add it to the yolk, add a little more batter, to get them to the same temperature and incorporated better.

When my husband started soaping, he tried an egg yolk recipe only because we raise pet chickens and have tons of eggs. He determined it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. (Cracked up! Ha!)
One egg yolk in a batch that large shouldn't have caused the soap the seize that bad. But then again, I never add my yolk at trace. I always add the tempered yolk to the oils before adding the lye mix.
Where did you get your essential oils?
Thank you all for your responses, I really appreciate the time. I don't know technical terms, like SB? I really just wanted a recipe to try, I'm not a math major (I was just a banker for 8 years LOL) so all the calculations could make me quit before I even start. I thought this was an "easy" recipe, at least it seemed like it. Is there just a regular easy beginner recipe somewhere that I don't have to calculate? Thanks again everyone!
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I got my oils from Amazon. I use both Young Living and Spark Naturals but they are too expensive for me to use in soap, especially if the batches have to be thrown away. Do I have to throw this one away?
Thanks everyone!
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The reason I asked about the EO's is because if they are blended or adulterated in anyway, then they could have been the cause of your soap seize. or are a good places for EO/FO

Its possible your soap will be fine, sounds like it was at a nice trace before your additions. I would cure it for 6 weeks then test it.
For most of us, a simple recipe is is just a few oils and no additives like egg.

We can help with a simpler recipe but please let us know what oils you have on hand and what oils you are unwilling to use. You will get many suggestions for lard. Many, myself included, feel lard makes a superior soap but some people are unwilling to use animal fats in soap. It would also be useful to know what kind of skin you have (dry, oily, sensitive, etc..)

SB= stick blender
EO= essential oil
FO= Fragrance oil
CO= coconut oil
OO=olive oil
more here

when beginning, you should make smaller batches. I generally stick to 2 lbs, thats the amount of oils used not the total weight. This is my favorite recipe, makes a nice hard bar with creamy lather. The high amount of lard will slow trace so don't freak out if it takes awhile to get there.

lard 16 oz
Olive oil 8 oz
coconut oil 6.40 oz
castor 1.60

water 8.90 oz
lye 4.45
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You don't really have to do math. Soapcalc (and other soaping calculators) will figure out your math for you. You just plug in the oils you want to use in percentages. There were a few recipe suggestions upthread.

I'm realizing your batch was much bigger than I originally thought, so no, one little yolk shouldn't do that to your whole batch.

Could you link or take a pic of the essential oils you used?
I'm going to attempt to attach pictures, bear with me :) I'm pretty picky about my EO's, but I didn't want to spend the $ for my soap, I don't really care much about scents, I did buy two fragrance oils from Brambleberry. My lavender oil was empty and is now in the bottom of the trash, but I have tried attaching a photo off of Amazon's website.



Personally, I would "rebatch" that soap. You want to get it to the point you can actually cut it into bars. Chop you soap up into small bits and add it to a crock pot on low, add a couple Tbs of water and start melting it down. Once its completely hot and the consistency of mashed potatoes, glob it back into your molds quickly.
If the soap isn't cooking down or seems dry/crumbly, add more water but not too much. Max I use is 1/2 cup per pound of shredded soap but thats for older, drier soap. You shouldn't need to add much liquid at all. There are a lot of rebatch videos on youtube is you need more help or visuals.

I'm not the best with EO's but I know some can cause seize like you experienced. Its happened to all of us so don't feel bad, you didn't do anything wrong.
EO's sold by soaping companies are just as high quality as those over priced little bottles sold as "medicinal" EO's. If you don't mind unscented soap, it might be a good idea to make a unscented batch at first.
I'm not trying to be a black cloud, but it's possible you won't get very good lather with this particular recipe because the amount of castor is so high. Over 10%, it tends to suppress lather rather than add to it. However, rebatching it will give you a bar (or many bars, as the case may be) to compare to when you are trying other recipes to find out what you like or don't.

For your next batch, I would target making a small batch with about 16 ounces total of oils and the recipes people mentioned are excellent places to start and will make a great bar of soap. You have a scale that weighs to at least 0.1 ounces, I hope? YOu want to be sure you have a very good scale, for sure.
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