Troubleshooting: Too Hard or Too Soft

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BrewerGeorge

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This is crumbling like crazy when I try to cut it. Has been curing for 2 days, but the first day was in the freezer. Feels pretty hard, no zap. This is a milk soap with cocoa butter, castor, and avocado each at 5%, CO and OO at 20%, and GV tallow shortening at 45%.



Do I wait for it to harden more or keep cutting and make the best of it?
 

lenarenee

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What did you use to cut? My guess is too soft, but see what other feedback you get.
 

houseofwool

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How long do you leave it in the freezer?

Then how long do you let it sit after removing it from the freezer before cutting?
 

BrewerGeorge

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Tried both the wavy cutter and a chef's knife. I tried spraying both with Pam also.

It was in the freezer for 24 hours and out for 24 hours before I tried to cut it.

Also, I can sort of smooth down those crumbles with my fingers and make them go "away" except for the missing mass that's been lifted off. I can smooth the corners round with my fingers, though it resists. That means too soft, right?
 

Obsidian

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Yeah, looks too soft. A really thin knife or wire cheese cutter really helps.
 

houseofwool

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It looks too soft to me as well. What happens if you wait another 12-24 hours.

Next time, cut just one bar. If it crumbles, wait a bit longer. Then cut another until you find the sweet spot for this recipe.
 

IrishLass

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So, it sounds like you had it in the freezer to prevent gel? If so- I would say that from the look of things, you should wait until the soap is firmer before cutting it.

Un-gelled soap typically has somewhat the texture of soft cream cheese for the first few days after pour, and can crumble like that if cut too soon. I know of lots of soapers that don't like to unmold or cut their un-gelled batches until about 3 days have gone by.


IrishLass :)
 

BrewerGeorge

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Awesome, I'll wait. Was in the freezer to keep the milk from turning brown. Come to think of it, this is the first soap I've made that wasn't gelled on purpose, so it's my first time until this cheesecake stuff. Thanks, All!
 

CaraBou

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It's such pretty soap -- what a drag! I'd think you could tell if it is either too hard or too soft, just by comparing it to your "normal" soaps.

I'm wondering if you had pockets that froze as near-pure water, and the ice crystals essentially sheared the soap and caused problems when they melted and you cut. Is it possible your batter wasn't fully emulsified, or that it broke emulsion after putting it in the freezer? This might have happened, for example, if you poured at a thin trace.

I'm on a limb here, just thinking through possibilities with a crumbly soap that is not lye heavy.
 

penelopejane

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George
What I've been using to cut my soap with lately is a paint scraper and a mitre box and it has worked really well. It is thin and sharp and doesn't cleaver the soap apart.

I thought I would mention it as you might have one lying around! Like this but mine is 150mm wide:

http://www.bunnings.com.au/100mm-sharp-edge-paint-scraper-_p1670156

Good swirls by the way.
 
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kchaystack

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I also would avoid using a chef's knife. The shearing of the v shaped blade makes soap crumble.

If you do not have a wire cheese cutter, a bench scraper or wide putty knife will work
 
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Wish I'd read this before. Did a whipped soap yesterday in a slab. It's a recipe I've used before in a loaf without a problem but today it's like dried out playdoh crumbling everywhere. I stopped after cutting four bars. This gives me hope it'll be better in a day or two. Fingers crossed.
 
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BrewerGeorge

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It's such pretty soap -- what a drag! I'd think you could tell if it is either too hard or too soft, just by comparing it to your "normal" soaps.

I'm wondering if you had pockets that froze as near-pure water, and the ice crystals essentially sheared the soap and caused problems when they melted and you cut. Is it possible your batter wasn't fully emulsified, or that it broke emulsion after putting it in the freezer? This might have happened, for example, if you poured at a thin trace.

I'm on a limb here, just thinking through possibilities with a crumbly soap that is not lye heavy.
I don't think so, it wasn't just emulsified, but at the barest hint of trace. And the top stayed absolutely gorgeous (if I do say so...) I think it is just my inexperience with lack of gel, trying to cut too soon.
 

mymy

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George, if you don't mind to share, may I know how did you do the swirl? :)
 

BrewerGeorge

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George, if you don't mind to share, may I know how did you do the swirl? :)
It's a wall pour - the first I tried. I was going to make the soap purely natural-colored to go with its lack of scent, but seeing the post the other day about the wall pour had me putting charcoal in half the batter just to try it. The first end cut looked fantastic, but the other four were less striking. We'll see how the rest of the loaf goes when I can cut it. I'll post pics. Saturday, maybe?
 

mymy

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Thank you George! Feels like trying this technique but still I haven't accomplish November challenge due to hectic busy schedule. Can't wait to see your end results soon!
 
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