What are these white spots?

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Well-Known Member
Apr 10, 2023
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Seattle, Washington
I made this batch of soap on February 27. It is 31.99% OO, 31.99% CO, 31.99% red palm oil, and 4.02% Castor oil. I soaped at 108/109 degrees. I covered the soaps with a large plastic microwave oven bowl and then with some towels. After a couple days, it started to get serious soda ash. I sprayed it with alcohol 3-4x over a 4-5 days. The soda ash kept coming back. Finally, I steamed it with my iron on two different days and the soda ash stopped forming. I've kept it in a cool closet in a wooden wine box with some towels over it until a week or two ago (with other soap.)
Today, I took it out to separate out all the different batches and put in different boxes and it had these white spots. (It may have had like one or two little dots when I looked at it a week or two ago. This doesn't seem like soda ash. It's not powdery and it looks like what I think DOS would like like except that its not orange.
I'm pretty positive that the fork I used to stir the lye water was stainless steel. I'm wondering what these white spots might be. Anyone know?


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It’s possible that these are stearic spots. See this article https://classicbells.com/soap/ash.asp
@BWt , thank you. I looked at that stearic spot description on classicbells. These spots fit the description, which is = smooth, waxy spots on the surface of the bar. I googled for other articles on stearic acid and what causes them. Uniformly, articles seemed to say these are caused by 1) soaping at too low a temperature when using oils high in palmitic and/ or stearic acids, and 2) not melting oils high enough such that the hard oils didn't completely melt, so the hard oils get cold faster and form these spots.

In this case, I mixed by oil & lye water at 108/ 109 degrees. This did seem to be a particularly low temperature. I looked at my notes. I took the oils off the stove at 132 and the oils reached 145 degrees before starting to drop. All the hard oils had completely melted.

Most of the articles/ discussion said that the stearic spots were discovered upon cutting. This soap was poured in individual cavity molds. Although I got soda ash within a couple days, at one point, it was completely gone. I guess I don't know what else these spots could be. But, the soap doesn't smell bad or rancid. I'm not understanding why these spots took so long to develop.

Maybe I'll do the zap test on the soap to make sure its no lye pockets or something. Thanks again!
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