What Causes Slow Trace?

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MrsZ

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A question I've been unable to find a straight answer to.

I know that high water content and low temperatures all contribute to a slower time to trace.

I've also read that a higher percentage of hard oils, and water discounting will cause soap to come to a trace faster.

And of course, certain FO/EO's and additives cause acceleration.

What other factors are there? Does Lard slow trace?

The last two soaps I've made take forever to emulsify, and come to a light trace. I will blend for a few seconds, then rest it a few or hand mix. Sometimes blend for about a minute. It has taken most of an hour just to reach light trace. They both have quite a bit of lard, and 35% lye concentration. I soaped at around 100 degrees the first soap, and 120 the second.

My first soaps ( aside from a castile) reached trace within minutes.

I've attached my last two recipes. (Both of which I found here on the forum)
Could I please get your input? I really want to learn as much as I can about why soap does what it does. I appreciate your advice, as I'm obviously full of questions. :)
 

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MrsZ

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Here is a recipe I made a couple times (also found on the forum) that I felt was similar, but reached trace in what I consider a reasonable amount of time.
 

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KimW

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Hey! Another Okie - how did I not notice this? :)

I agree that higher water amount and lower temperature often equal slower trace. As you say, certain EOs/FOs impact trace. Some can slow trace, some can quicken trace, some accelerate trace. Search on SMF and there are other additives that slow or quicken trace, like TD.

As to your question, the first two recipes are the slow to trace, yes? And the recipe posted alone is the "reasonable" trace, yes?

FYI - I generally soap at 90F-ish with a 1:1 lye:water concentration - so less water than what you and most others appear to use.

One other factor is the amount of stick blending. I can't really tell if you're using a stick blender? I've never had a soap, even one with 100% corn oil, take more than a few minutes to reach light trace....

IME, if I have at least 30% hard oils, my batter traces fairly quickly in that I only need a couple of hits with a stick-blender to reach emulsion and then it will come to light trace on its own within 5 minutes.

There are liquid oils, like RBO and Pomace Olive Oil, that trace fairly quickly, quickly being subjective. I found in experimenting with RBO and hard oil combinations that any hard oil added at 10% or more and the batter reached trace in the time I would have expected it to reach emulsification. I wouldn't say that RBO accelerates trace, but in my limited experience with RBO it is not a slow mover like most (but not all) other liquid oils.
 

MrsZ

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Hey! Another Okie - how did I not notice this? :)

I agree that higher water amount and lower temperature often equal slower trace. As you say, certain EOs/FOs impact trace. Some can slow trace, some can quicken trace, some accelerate trace. Search on SMF and there are other additives that slow or quicken trace, like TD.

As to your question, the first two recipes are the slow to trace, yes? And the recipe posted alone is the "reasonable" trace, yes?

FYI - I generally soap at 90F-ish with a 1:1 lye:water concentration - so less water than what you and most others appear to use.

One other factor is the amount of stick blending. I can't really tell if you're using a stick blender? I've never had a soap, even one with 100% corn oil, take more than a few minutes to reach light trace....

IME, if I have at least 30% hard oils, my batter traces fairly quickly in that I only need a couple of hits with a stick-blender to reach emulsion and then it will come to light trace on its own within 5 minutes.

There are liquid oils, like RBO and Pomace Olive Oil, that trace fairly quickly, quickly being subjective. I found in experimenting with RBO and hard oil combinations that any hard oil added at 10% or more and the batter reached trace in the time I would have expected it to reach emulsification. I wouldn't say that RBO accelerates trace, but in my limited experience with RBO it is not a slow mover like most (but not all) other liquid oils.
I'm not from Oklahoma originally, but it's been home for the last 7 years. :)

Yes, the first two took forever to trace, and the picture I put alone was not fast, but not slow. I still had plenty of time to work with it.

I do use a stick blender. It is pretty old, so I'm not sure if it's as powerful as a newer one. But it's worked well on other recipes.

Up to these last two batches, it's only taken a few minutes to get to trace. I just can't figure it out. :) I may try a 1:1 ratio, I was just afraid to since I'm still pretty new at Soaping.

That's interesting about RBO, I have been planning on trying it at some point but haven't yet.
 

MrsZ

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I should have also mentioned that I also used turmeric powder in the slow to trace batches. I have no idea if that would affect time to trace, but I hadn't even thought of it until but now.
 

KimW

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Ah - I grew up and lived in Oklahoma until my early 20s.

I use tumeric powder and I've never noticed it slowing trace.

As far as your water amount, since your lye concentration is the same in all three recipes perhaps try a higher lye concentration of say 40% on one of your slow moving recipes before going to the 1:1 ratio. Then go to the 50% lye concentration (1:1). Just remember to keep everything else the same and resist temptation to add another variable, like an EO.

I'm guessing it's just your % of liquid oils, but I really don't know why any of these would take more than a few minutes to come to trace.

Also - just noticed - 100F should be plenty hot enough, IMO. :)
 

KimW

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Had a thought during dinner. Keep some notes about your slower moving recipes. How they are after 4 wk cure, 8 wk cure and up to a year later. Also, keep them in your pocket, so to speak, for when you need a slower moving recipe for a particular design. Hope you keep us updated on your progress!
 

MrsZ

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Had a thought during dinner. Keep some notes about your slower moving recipes. How they are after 4 wk cure, 8 wk cure and up to a year later. Also, keep them in your pocket, so to speak, for when you need a slower moving recipe for a particular design. Hope you keep us updated on your progress!
Thanks! I will use your suggestions. Appreciate your help. :)
 

earlene

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Another variable can be the temperature of your soaping area. We've had a cold spell for about a week or two here, so I suspect you may have as well, although you are further South, so I am not really sure about that.

But a cooler room will cause your batter to cool off faster than a warmer room, so if that's a factor, it may also be the reason for slowing trace.

The only other thing I notice that could be a clue is the difference between using Almond Oil in the 'acceptable' versus Olive Oil in the 'Too Slow' tracing range recipes. It makes me suspect that Olive Oil is a contributing factor, as well.

OR

Lard is another slow moving oil, and the combination of OO + Lard is higher (75% and 70%) in the first two formulas, whereas the percentage of Lard + liquid oil (Almond) is lowest (65%) in the 'acceptable' speed of trace formula. So even if temperature fluctuations did not occur, the change in percentage of Lard+Soft oil probably did play a role.
 

Cheeky Goat

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I find that lard absolutely slows a recipe down. It changes a great deal of how the soap behaves to me, all for the better.
I find that using lard at a higher amount will also give me more working time despite the high amounts of other faster tracing ingredients I use (such as Shea and Cocoa butter)

Interestingly enough, we did a challenge not too long ago with water discounts, and I found that too much water actually sped up trace on me.
It blew my mind, and I experimented with it a few more times just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, (it wasn’t) so that’s something to consider.
 

MrsZ

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Another variable can be the temperature of your soaping area. We've had a cold spell for about a week or two here, so I suspect you may have as well, although you are further South, so I am not really sure about that.

But a cooler room will cause your batter to cool off faster than a warmer room, so if that's a factor, it may also be the reason for slowing trace.

The only other thing I notice that could be a clue is the difference between using Almond Oil in the 'acceptable' versus Olive Oil in the 'Too Slow' tracing range recipes. It makes me suspect that Olive Oil is a contributing factor, as well.

OR

Lard is another slow moving oil, and the combination of OO + Lard is higher (75% and 70%) in the first two formulas, whereas the percentage of Lard + liquid oil (Almond) is lowest (65%) in the 'acceptable' speed of trace formula. So even if temperature fluctuations did not occur, the change in percentage of Lard+Soft oil probably did play a role.
That makes sense! I didn't think about the almond vs olive oil. My kitchen had been about the same temperature, the cold front only has really hit us today.
I think I have more experimenting to do now .... 🤔
 

MrsZ

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I find that lard absolutely slows a recipe down. It changes a great deal of how the soap behaves to me, all for the better.
I find that using lard at a higher amount will also give me more working time despite the high amounts of other faster tracing ingredients I use (such as Shea and Cocoa butter)

Interestingly enough, we did a challenge not too long ago with water discounts, and I found that too much water actually sped up trace on me.
It blew my mind, and I experimented with it a few more times just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, (it wasn’t) so that’s something to consider.
That's certainly not what I expected. All the variables are so interesting!
 

MickeyRat

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I use lard all the time. I wouldn't say it slows to trace. It does seem to give you a bit more time to work with it after trace has been achieved. For me that's a good thing because I also use soy wax and I soap at around 120 degrees F.
 

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