trouble with liquid soap. didn't seem to work

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Sep 21, 2015
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I mixed KOH and Corn Oil in what seemed like an exess KOH and got seemingly unsaponified soap, I don't have a mixer for soap or a pH meter.
possibly the clumps, that formed and sat were oil and did not get mixed enough to react?
this was the process
I added 108.678g KOH to ~326ml H2O and added it to 517ml Corn oil.
I also crushed up some menthol crystals and added some lavender from the garden.
there were clumps and the next night (tonight)I began mixing it and adding more KOH that was left over from the night before and had absorbed water.
there was tiny oily beads on the top (maybe menthol?) so I kept adding drops out of the liquid KOH that was 3.407g and while I though it might be dissolving it, I didn't add all of the rest of the KOH, maybe 2/3 or more.
I added about 6ounces of lemon juice to neutralize exess KOH
after putting my hand in it to squish up the clumps which did not disperse,I found it feel burning and after went to the sink and washed it off.
it was oily I have a feeling the KOH did not saponify the Corn Oil and was not nearly neutralized by the lemon juice.
I do not have a pH meter or test strips.
will someone tell me what they think happened, what I did wrong, and if maybe the menthol did something to stop the reaction (which seems unlikely)?

possibly adding more KOH will saponify the rest?
Your recipe is partly in ml while the KOH is in grams. That's one no-no.
What did you use to calculate your recipe?
I'm not really sure what menthol adds to soap, but fresh lavender will turn yucky in contact with lye. Another no-no.
But, I think the biggest no-no was when you started eyeballing ingredients and just adding them at different stages. That's what the soap recipes are for, you calculate everything properly, measure once, and don't add lye or oils afterward, because people lose track of what went in.
I would say, put everything in the bin, save yourself time and back to the drawing board. Maybe watch few liquid soap making videos. And read through really long thread in LS section started by Irishlass, It is excellent start for LS beginners, as well as her recipe.
And don't forget to use proper soap calculator.
"...will someone tell me what they think happened, what I did wrong..."

To be blunt, what you did wrong was you don't know what you're doing, and you just kind of winged it all as you went along. And now you want us to fix a problem for you that is far beyond being fixable.

"...what seemed like an exess KOH..."

How did you calculate your KOH and why did you decide to use an excess of KOH?

"got seemingly unsaponified soap ... I don't have a mixer for soap .... possibly the clumps, that formed and sat were oil and did not get mixed enough to react?..."

I agree -- the soap didn't saponify properly. If you didn't mix the soap ingredients, how do you think the lye solution and the oil, which form separate immiscible layers, are ever going to be able to saponify?

"...I added about 6ounces of lemon juice to neutralize exess KOH..."

So ... your soap didn't saponify and now you're taking away the lye needed to saponify. Why?

"...possibly adding more KOH will saponify the rest?..."

NO. Stop this foolishness. You don't know what you're doing. You need to learn the right way to do this FIRST and THEN try again.

Put non-clumping clay-based kitty litter into the mess you've got. Keep adding kitty litter until there is no free liquid left. Put the mess into a plastic garbage bag and tie securely. Put the bagged mess into a second garbage bag and again tie securely. Dispose of the mess in the trash.

Next, read these no-neutralization Liquid Soap Tutorials:
Irish Lass: see posts 8 and 9

Once you have read and understood the tutorials, then start to do your soaping the right way --

Get a stick blender and a gram scale and learn how to use both.

Learn proper safety when working with any lye and get the proper safety equipment -- lye proof gloves and eye protection at a minimum.

Formulate a proper recipe based on WEIGHT not volume measurements.

Post the recipe here BEFORE you make the soap so we can review it and give you any suggestions for improvement or how to make the soap.

After all that, you should be ready to make a safe, good batch of soap.
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i forgot to mention i used a density of corn oil conversion (i didn't find this myself experimentally).

i got the data from a soap making how to on a forum or site i lost the link to (which has the link to the KOH/NaOH amounts per oil from a soap supplier)

the author of the page i read had recommended a percent excess calculation they use for hydroxides to account for water absorbtion. i wrote everything down on something i threw out after mixing.

i left a bucket secured on a magnetic stirrer to magnetically stir it for 36hrs. it got goopy like a medium/thick trace but it's KOH soap so thats weird/cool/i don't know what.

if lemon juice is 0.3M citric acid and
6ounces is 177.441ml
mols =Molarity * Liters
0.3*.177441 =
KOH= 56.11 g mol-1
56.11 g/mol

56.11*0.0532323= 2.986864353g

so if not accounting for water absorption, 2.987g KOH was used.

about that was added while stirring (the 2/3 bit).

so if there is no significant pH buffer effect, or something, the soap might saponify.

the gloop and soapy feel seems like it has.

it is like a goo/gel whip which is cool because i didn't think KOH would make a gloopy/solidish trace.

there's still a caustic effect to the underlying water and i turned off the stir bar for now.

the cake of gloopyness floats on the clear caustic water.
Take DeeAnna's advice. Read the threads she posted and start over. Best starting point for liquid soap.
I stand behind my advice to safely get rid of the "soap", get better educated about what you're doing, make a sensible plan based on your literature review, and follow the plan. If you know as much about chemistry as it appears you do, then you most likely know enough about good lab technique and proper experimental protocol to do this right.
I am going to second what DeeAnna said. Get rid of that mess and start over using proper calculations and reliable numbers. Buy KOH from a reliable source that you know has not been exposed to air to absorb moisture. Get proper tools and use a good lye calculator without having to neutralize. Read the tutorials and go from there.

But I must say that you need to understand that your first post read like you just added things willy-nilly without a clue in your head. Since I/we had no other posts to judge your experience(or lack thereof), I assumed that you did exactly that. You need to forgive me for that. I do apologize. I really did not even know where to start to answer you, it read so badly.

A few pointers for you:
1. You won't read many liquid soap recipes that call for corn oil. There is a reason for that. It does not make good soap.
2. When you mix KOH and water, it will get HOT. If it does not, your KOH is not good. You need this heat to help saponification.
3. You really do need some sort of immersion blender. KOH takes quite a while to get to trace even with the high speeds of a SB.
4. Use this calculator: It is very user friendly and will save your recipes for you.
5. Don't hesitate to ask for us to review a recipe, explain something, or help troubleshooting.
left it to sit a day after, and it was more thick
stir bar only swirled the lesser liquid layer underneath.

added a bit of detergent to homogenize it.
had planned to add the detergent to help it sudz as i read corn oil isn't a great sudzer, but palm is.

ran the stir bar the day after and it didn't seem to do alot more.

made some tea on the hot plate and manually swirled the bucket like a washing machine by the handle.

it glopped up real quick and looks a cool tan that is lighter and is a sludgy (medium but not quite thick?) trace.


thanks for the calculator link
I hope you read the threads DeeAnna posted. They are long, but there is so much good information in the first few pages of each that I think it will save you a lot of time/trouble.

I have to agree w/Susie, when I read your first post, I thought "Lord have mercy!", it really did seem like you were throwing things in willy nilly, like in some kind of soapy sitcom :) I was a bit worried for you.