What are these spots from?

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WeLoveWabiSabi

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So I’ve been making soap for a really long time and have always been happy with my recipe, for use it works great, but I’m also always trying to make it look better. I pretty much always have these spots. But sometimes worse than others. I’m pretty sure it’s not soda ash. I do get that on top sometimes, not always, seems to happen more when I use essential oils. (Just an observation, could be coincidence). And I'd like to correct that too, if possible.

The thing I’m concerned about right now though is the white specks on the soap. There’s no additives like salt or oatmeal, and it’s smooth on the silicone side. But the cut side always gets these specks all over it. It’s not as bad and sometimes non existent with my activated charcoal soaps (no other colorant). It also doesn’t happen with my lard based pine tar soap (no colorant). But pretty much all my others to one extent or the other. I’m using a 40% tallow recipe with olive, coconut, grapeseed, castor, Shea butter, either fragrance or EO blend, kaolin clay, and mica to color. I use 1% citric acid (recipe calculated to adjust for lye) and I use 33% lye. And the temperature I soap at anywhere from 80 to 115°. I do a 3% superfat. And I put it in the oven to saponify with the light on. Not cpop but it does stay on the warm side.

I think that's about it lol. But if anyone has any thoughts, is really appreciate it.

The two pics below are two different batches of of two bars of each soap. One is the cut side, one is the silicone side.
 

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Babyshoes

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I'm no expert so someone correct me if I've missed something here, but from what I've read, these types of spots are most likely to be one of 3 things:

1.Stearic spots from soaping too cool with specific oils,
2. Unincorporated TD, or
3. bubbles in the batter.

My guess is 3, because I've had similar and it looked a lot like this, but I think they all look pretty similar.

If you take a clean cloth or piece of kitchen paper and gently rub on an area of spots, what happens? I can sometimes 'polish' out the worst of the bubbles in mine.
 
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I’m guessing you use a wire cutter? Using a knife to cut the soap will probably take care of most of this.
If you still prefer to use the wire cutter, timing your cut differently might help as well. I find I get worse wire rash when I cut too soon.
 
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Bubbles??? Stick blending is not the only way to add air. I never pour directly into anything. Always over a spatula or down the side of the bowl. If you listen, there is a different tone. between a burped and unburped stick blender.
 
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When I have had spots like those they were stearic spots from palm oil. I found that I had to melt my oils until they were completely clear (like 130°F at least) to fully incorporate the palm oil. You aren’t using palm, but maybe it’s from the tallow or shea? You say you soap anywhere from 80-120 - 80 is pretty cool - do you notice any difference based on soaping temp?
Here is an example of my stearic spots. Doesn’t hurt the soap, and I don’t mind the look, but it was not intentional.
E266DBFF-C622-4C7C-83A1-82E5603A3196.jpeg
 

Becky1024

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How do you dissolve your citric acid? If your citric acid is not completely dissolved, your spots could be citric acid bubbles. I always make sure that my citric acid is thoroughly dissolved in water and then add lye to the solution.
 
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Shea butter, has a stearic acid content of 28–45%, and animal fat (tallow) up to 30%. Straric acid has a melting point of 69.3 °C (156.7 °F). Soaping at 80 to 120°F, I could see where stearic acid might recrystallizing out and causing the spots.
 

WeLoveWabiSabi

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I finally got back to the post. Been really busy the last several days. Thank you all for responding.

From reading all of your comments, I'm going to guess that it is actually stearic spots or air bubbles. I don't always soap at the same temps and sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't. So I will be noting what temp I'm soaping on each recipe for a while to see what happens. I was thinking it could very well be the tallow (I don't use palm) hardening again when it's cooling but before mixing it with the lye solution.

The other thing I thought it could be was the wire cutting. I have started noticing it a lot more since I got a new wire cutter (used to cut with a knife) but I'm not 100% sure. If any of you know, what exactly is it that causes this wire rash? (if that's what it is) From the comments, I'm guessing bubbles?

I fully dissolve my citric acid in some of the water, then after making the lye/water solution, I dump that in and stir frequently. So I don't think it's that. But I could be wrong. I just recently started using citric acid, and I do remember a few times when it was having a hard time dissolving (when I dumped the CA right into the lye solution) But I don't remember which specific batches that happened in. And it's happened before I started using CA. I won't rule it out, but I don't think that's what it is.

I rarely use TD, so it's not that.

I am going to keep these comments in mind while I'm making my soap from now on and see if I can eliminate it. I'll keep you posted.

When I have had spots like those they were stearic spots from palm oil. I found that I had to melt my oils until they were completely clear (like 130°F at least) to fully incorporate the palm oil. You aren’t using palm, but maybe it’s from the tallow or shea? You say you soap anywhere from 80-120 - 80 is pretty cool - do you notice any difference based on soaping temp?
Here is an example of my stearic spots. Doesn’t hurt the soap, and I don’t mind the look, but it was not intentional.
View attachment 65676
That's a pretty color. what did you use in it for the color and the black spots?

Maybe I'll do a test batch (two) and soap at different temps to see what happens. This has peaked my curiosity. I used to always soap at 110 religiously. But lately I've just been soaping at whatever it happens to be under 120. It all depends on how long the lye takes to cool. I do always heat my tallow and shea pretty hot then mix in the liquid oils to bring the temp back down, but would it go back to solid as it's cooling back down? Another thing I've been doing is pre-mixing large batches of mixed oils and then just pouring what I need and heating it up to soap with. Definitely going to be paying more attention to this.
 

River

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I finally got back to the post. Been really busy the last several days. Thank you all for responding.

From reading all of your comments, I'm going to guess that it is actually stearic spots or air bubbles. I don't always soap at the same temps and sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't. So I will be noting what temp I'm soaping on each recipe for a while to see what happens. I was thinking it could very well be the tallow (I don't use palm) hardening again when it's cooling but before mixing it with the lye solution.

The other thing I thought it could be was the wire cutting. I have started noticing it a lot more since I got a new wire cutter (used to cut with a knife) but I'm not 100% sure. If any of you know, what exactly is it that causes this wire rash? (if that's what it is) From the comments, I'm guessing bubbles?

I fully dissolve my citric acid in some of the water, then after making the lye/water solution, I dump that in and stir frequently. So I don't think it's that. But I could be wrong. I just recently started using citric acid, and I do remember a few times when it was having a hard time dissolving (when I dumped the CA right into the lye solution) But I don't remember which specific batches that happened in. And it's happened before I started using CA. I won't rule it out, but I don't think that's what it is.

I rarely use TD, so it's not that.

I am going to keep these comments in mind while I'm making my soap from now on and see if I can eliminate it. I'll keep you posted.
I'm new to soaping, but from what I've experienced and read, wire rash is usually caused by tiny areas that have not yet saponified/crystalized and "smear" with pressure from the wire. You might try waiting a little longer before slicing your loaves to see if that helps.
 

WeLoveWabiSabi

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I'm new to soaping, but from what I've experienced and read, wire rash is usually caused by tiny areas that have not yet saponified/crystalized and "smear" with pressure from the wire. You might try waiting a little longer before slicing your loaves to see if that helps.
Thanks! well it's great you're learning quickly. :) 15 years and I still didn't know. Lol. I guess I never cared much till I started selling my soaps. I will definitely try that too.
 
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I'm new to soaping, but from what I've experienced and read, wire rash is usually caused by tiny areas that have not yet saponified/crystalized and "smear" with pressure from the wire. You might try waiting a little longer before slicing your loaves to see if that helps.
Actually, wire rash is caused most often from air bubbles (typically from stickblending). It can also happen when botanicals or other additives are dragged through the soap during cutting, or from not cleaning the wire between each cut.
 

WeLoveWabiSabi

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Actually, wire rash is caused most often from air bubbles (typically from stickblending). It can also happen when botanicals or other additives are dragged through the soap during cutting, or from not cleaning the wire between each cut.
The only additives were mica and fragrance. 🤔
 
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What does? Mica and fragrance?
Well, he was referring to my prior post where I said that along with air bubbles, some additives can cause drag marks when cutting the soap. He said his only additives were mica and fragrance. So clearly it wasn't his additives that caused the drag marks... which leaves only air bubbles as the cause of his drag marks. I've edited my post to make that more clear. Thanks! :)
 
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