Ugh, can’t seem to get it right.

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Katie68121

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Hey soapers
I’m struggling to nail down my recipes and techniques. I keep coming up with cosmetic issues. This time I think is my first experiencing stearic spots... I also struggle with soda ash on almost every batch :( maybe someone can help inform me what I’m doing wrong? This batch I wanted to CPOP for the first time, so I soaped with lye solution and oils around 88F my recipe is as follows
Olive oil 40%
Coconut oil 25%
Sunflower oil 15%
Cocoa butter 10%
Shea butter 5%
Castor oil 5%
Lye concentration at 33%
 

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AliOop

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The soap looks very pretty! FWIW, I don't think those are stearic spots. They look more like ash to me. I get that on the sides of some bars, more frequently when I've used AC for black. Also, looking at your edges and some of the dings in the soap, it looks pretty soft to me. Cutting while the soap is still pretty soft means that there is more unsaponified lye making contact with the air and creating soda ash.

The other possibility is that you have some colorant, possibly TD, that wasn't thoroughly mixed. The third pic in particular shows that the white stuff is following the color lines of the soap. But again, that could just be ash that is following along with the AC swirls.

To avoid ash, I've had to raise my lye concentration (usually to 40%), cover immediately after pouring, and wait longer than I'd like to cut it. Even after cutting, I cover the soap for a few days if it contains AC, since that ashes like crazy if I don't keep it covered for a few days at least. You can also try raising your soaping temp, which increases the rate of saponification so there is less unreacted lye to create ash.

The good news is that you can usually steam the ash away after curing, although it is not my favorite use of time.
 

Katie68121

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The soap looks very pretty! FWIW, I don't think those are stearic spots. They look more like ash to me. I get that on the sides of some bars, more frequently when I've used AC for black. Also, looking at your edges and some of the dings in the soap, it looks pretty soft to me. Cutting while the soap is still pretty soft means that there is more unsaponified lye making contact with the air and creating soda ash.

The other possibility is that you have some colorant, possibly TD, that wasn't thoroughly mixed. The third pic in particular shows that the white stuff is following the color lines of the soap. But again, that could just be ash that is following along with the AC swirls.

To avoid ash, I've had to raise my lye concentration (usually to 40%), cover immediately after pouring, and wait longer than I'd like to cut it. Even after cutting, I cover the soap for a few days if it contains AC, since that ashes like crazy if I don't keep it covered for a few days at least. You can also try raising your soaping temp, which increases the rate of saponification so there is less unreacted lye to create ash.

The good news is that you can usually steam the ash away after curing, although it is not my favorite use of time.
Thank you!! I did not use TD but did use AC... what’s weird is I left this in the mold for almost 4 days until I cut it! I’ll have to invest in a steamer I think, and I’ll try soaping at warmer temps. I always worry about over heating when I soap at higher temps because I’ve had some batches crack on me too :(
 

amd

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I steam off soda ash for wholesale accounts, but for my own selling/use I embrace it. It has not stopped anyone from buying the soap and they rarely ask.
I have found that some FO's will cause soda ash - same recipe, same soap method, even made on the same day, and that.one.FO will always ash. I just learned to embrace it when I have to. I have a few FO's that if I can spritz periodically with isopropyl alcohol the first 6 hours or so after making, it won't ash after being cut. Others are a bit more stubborn and will continue ashing after cut regardless of how long I wait.
 

cmzaha

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I agree with amd, I have some FO's that will ash no matter what I do, and of course they were some of my best-selling soaps, so I found it best to go with the flow. Ash never stopped my sales, customers never even questioned what was on the top of the soap.
 

Katie68121

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I steam off soda ash for wholesale accounts, but for my own selling/use I embrace it. It has not stopped anyone from buying the soap and they rarely ask.
I have found that some FO's will cause soda ash - same recipe, same soap method, even made on the same day, and that.one.FO will always ash. I just learned to embrace it when I have to. I have a few FO's that if I can spritz periodically with isopropyl alcohol the first 6 hours or so after making, it won't ash after being cut. Others are a bit more stubborn and will continue ashing after cut regardless of how long I wait.
Thank you for the input! May I ask, do you have an Etsy shop or website? I’d love to support it, as well as anyone else! ❤
 

KiwiMoose

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Gorgeous soap!
I used to get soda ash a lot, but now I don't much at all. Yours looks mostly like a soda ash issue to me. I started out with 28% lye concentration and since moving to 30-33% and CPOPping/gelling, I seem to have beaten the ash. I don't cover my soaps anymore (except with the mould wooden lid), or spray with alcohol. Another change which i think has helped is the move to soy wax. It can be recipe dependent, and I did used to use cocoa butter before switching to soy wax - so maybe that could have contributed? Who would know really with so many other variables. I soap about 40 degrees celsius BTW.
 

Catscankim

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I have used an iron set to steam instead of a steamer.

If they are non decorative tops, then I plane it off. If they are soaps that cannot be planed, then I just leave it or wash them in distilled water and let them sit for a day or so before packaging.

My charcoal bars are the worst offenders. Ash will build up over time...like you can literally roll it off the top with a finger. I usually plane or wash them. My non charcoal bars get it but not as bad, and whatever they had by the time I cut is all I get.

I don't stress about it. And nobody has ever asked me about it.
 

Katie68121

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Gorgeous soap!
I used to get soda ash a lot, but now I don't much at all. Yours looks mostly like a soda ash issue to me. I started out with 28% lye concentration and since moving to 30-33% and CPOPping/gelling, I seem to have beaten the ash. I don't cover my soaps anymore (except with the mould wooden lid), or spray with alcohol. Another change which i think has helped is the move to soy wax. It can be recipe dependent, and I did used to use cocoa butter before switching to soy wax - so maybe that could have contributed? Who would know really with so many other variables. I soap about 40 degrees celsius BTW.
Thank you 😊 I actually ordered some soy wax last night! I’ll be giving that a try.
 

Zing

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Pur-tee!
For my loaf molds, right after pouring I spray with alcohol and cover with plastic wrap. I have not gotten soda ash ever since.
 

SPowers

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Before I got a steamer, I used to 'wash' my soap under warm water. Can't do that if you have botanicals, etc but for plain tops, it works fine.
 

Katie68121

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Pur-tee!
For my loaf molds, right after pouring I spray with alcohol and cover with plastic wrap. I have not gotten soda ash ever since.
Thank you! Do you CPOP? Is your alcohol 99 percent? I still can't seem to find the 99...
 

Zing

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Thank you! Do you CPOP? Is your alcohol 99 percent? I still can't seem to find the 99...
I have been using the 70-something alcohol because I can't find the 90-something. I have used both and did not have soda ash.
I have CPOPed a few times (when the house and the oils and lye solution are particularly cold) and then only the mold of soap goes into the oven without covers, sleeping au naturale for the night.
 

earlene

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Thank you! Do you CPOP? Is your alcohol 99 percent? I still can't seem to find the 99...
Try stores that specialize in electronics parts, especially who sell computer parts. Not saying they will necessarily have a huge (or even any supply, depending on size of store & your area), but it's what's recommended for cleaning electronics (fast evaporation due to low water) .

Also tattoo parlors use 99% for skin sanitizing prior to tattooing, so you could ask if the can share where they source it.

I know in my travels, some stores don't even stock 70% IPA, but only 50%, and never 91% or 99%. I don't really know why (never asked, because I doubt most employees would have no idea why.)

Yet, I can find almost all of those in my area, if I shop around.

Funny how odd it is that the same national chain doesn't carry the same products in all regions/states/counties across the nation. It's frustrating for the traveling consumer.
 

TheGecko

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It could be Stearic spots given your low soaping temperature of 88F. Even though you are only using 5% Shea Butter, it has eight times the Stearic than Palm Oil (according to SoapCalc) and the melting point of Shea Butter is 89F to 100F.

I would try increasing the temperature of your oils and Lye Solution to around 100F-110F because even if you are doing a plain Jane soap...no color, no scent...the temperature of your batter will start dropping once you start mixing your oils and lye and if you drop below the melting point, the oil or butter will start to re-solidify. That may not make a lot of sense since the saponification process heats up the batter and you are CPOPing so it shouldn't be an issue, but I know that there is a lot science in soap making that is way above my current pay grade.
 
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