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Hi, I only make soap a few times a year, but I have never seen this before! My thermometer was acting up, so I am pretty sure I soaped too hot. I'm going to try to salvage the soap by rebatching it, but I am curious about the yellow pockets. What on earth are they? Could it be that I didn't incorporate my fragrance oil well enough? The batch was thickening so I was working quickly. Hoping to learn from my mistake...
 

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I'm a bit embarrassed to fess up to my recipe, as I clearly need more experience before I start winging it. However, since it may help to diagnose the problem, here it is - I don't recommend it!

I started with a basic recipe from The Everything Soapmaking Book, pg. 93, but since I didn't have one of the ingredients, I substituted (did my research to see if the substitute was similar in properties). I had read somewhere that a high percentage of coconut could feel drying, so I added a couple more ingredients and ran it through Brambleberry's lye and fragrance calculators. So here goes:

Lye 2.87 oz.
Distilled water 6.42 oz.
Avocado oil 3 oz.
Shea butter 3 oz.
Coconut oil 5 oz.
Rice bran oil 2.5 oz.
Olive oil 2.5 oz.
Castor oil .5 oz.
Sweet almond oil 1 oz.
Beeswax .5 oz. (I realize this was a mistake. I read that beeswax could help with release, but this was too much)
Palm oil 3 oz.

I used BB Black Raspberry Vanilla FO and Merlot Sparkle mica.

So what the heck are those yellow pockets???
 
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Was your beeswax yellow? Do the yellow bits of the soap feel waxy? If yes, then probably the beeswax didn't incorporate well into the batter, and that's creating the yellow areas you are seeing.

At first I wondered if perhaps the mold had absorbed some yellow colorant from a previous project, which then transferred onto this soap. But since the picture appears to show yellow spots that are a completely different texture from the rest of the soap, unincorporated beeswax gets my vote.

ETA: Beeswax has a pretty high melting point, so you do have to soap hotter to keep it melted and well-incorporated. What were the temps of your lye and oils?
 
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I used white beeswax pellets. The spots were kind of gelatinous in texture.
I don't really know what the temps were, because my thermometer wasn't working properly. But it was hot - came to gel phase really quickly even though I was trying for no gel and didn't insulate.
 
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Wow, that back is... interesting! 😆

Based on what you shared, I hereby withdraw my initial guess. Your batch definitely separated. That can happen from overheating, which I'd normally blame on the FO, but BB's BRV is known for being very well-behaved. From the looks of it, this soap is going to be lye-heavy in some areas, and not have enough lye in others. If you want to save this batch, I'd recommend grating it up and rebatching. Otherwise, you probably need to toss it out to be safe.

Looks like your lye amount was correct, and your lye concentration was about 31%. That would have helped it gel pretty quickly, even at lower temps. You might want to increase to 33% lye concentration (not water as percent of oils), and make sure your oils and lye solution are at 100F or below.

For future, making 1lb batches is recommended, especially for new recipes. That way, you don't end up with a lot of soap you don't like - or a lot of soap that has to be fixed. :( Also, sodium lactate is an easier-to-use ingredient than beeswax for hardening and unmolding cleanly; some folks also use a bit of plain salt. But you really don't need either. Just wait until the soap is firm with a bit of give before unmolding. To speed up the process, you can CPOP it, or put it on a heating pad for an hour or so.

The good news is, those are super cool molds, and should make some lovely soap once you get it all melted down, mixed together well, and back into the mold. :)
 
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Thank you! Sorry for the dumb question, but how do you figure out 33% lye when using the lye calculator and it gives you 31? Do you have to add more water too? And to clarify, you mean 33% of the oils, not the total batch, right?

The mold is from Milky Way. It's my favourite!

I did grate the soap and re-batched it in the slow cooker. Fingers crossed! Btw, does it still need to cure for about 6 weeks after re-batching? I've never re-batched fresh soap before.

Thank you for all your help. This forum is amazing!
 
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Great job on rebatching it already! Since this soap wasn't cured yet, you will need to give it the regular cure time.

I didn't realize you were using a Milky Way mold. Those often do need some extra help to release the soap. Try coating it with a very thin layer of mineral oil. It won't saponify, and the soap will release easily.

Regarding your water and lye amounts, I am suggesting that you select the lye concentration setting, instead of the water as percent of oils setting. This will tell you how much water and how much lye to use for your particular batch of cold-processed soap. Most of the older lye calculators default to water as percent of oils, which was developed as a hot-process soap setting. In your calculator, you have have to look for, and check, lye concentration instead. From there, you can input the 33% into the box next to lye concentration. Here is a screen shot of how that looks in SoapmakingFriend (my favorite calculator):

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 5.52.01 PM.png


Here is how the lye concentration setting looks in SoapCalc:

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 5.54.13 PM.png


There is nothing magic about a 33% lye concentration, but it is a good starting point for people who are newer to soapmaking. Once you get the hang of things, you can play around with a higher or lower setting, depending on what you are trying to achieve. Some people refer to that as a "water discount," but since there is no standard amount of water for any given soap recipe, it can be really hard to know how much water we are talking about, since we don't know where we started. :)
 

Zany_in_CO

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I am curious about the yellow pockets. What on earth are they? Could it be that I didn't incorporate my fragrance oil well enough? The batch was thickening so I was working quickly. Hoping to learn from my mistake...
Whether it was the fragrance or some other ingredient, my guess is that your suspicion is correct -- the batch wasn't incorporated well enough. That happens often when the process speeds up and you have little time to waste to get the batch into the mold.

TIP: When a batch starts thickening to the point that it seizes and you have "soap on a stick", you can stop, walk away for 5 minutes (I set a timer), and when you come back, the soap is going into gel. It's warm enough to make it easy to stir thoroughly and then pour.

Another option: Have a few ounces of cold water handy in case this happens. Add an ounce or two to the batch. That will slow down the process long enough to give it a good stir. :thumbs: 😉
 

Zany_in_CO

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I never would have thought of letting it gel in the pot. Thank you!
I never thought of it either... until it happened one day and I walked away to "think about it"! 😁 When I came back, I saw what was happening and felt pleased as punch when I could easily stir up the batch!

The cold water trick works too! It was demonstrated at a soap convention by a well-known soapmaker whose name I forget. (Old person here. LOL) :rolleyes:

You're welcome!

ETA: Even though you interrupt the gel phase, the soap goes through a second gel once in the mold and insulated. :thumbs:
 
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Many years ago I posted the let-it gel in the pot when I had a favorite fragrance that always acted up. It was a trick I learned out of desperation because I loved that particular fragrance and was determined to learn how to use it by the cp method, in which I never succeeded. :eek: Five minutes does not always work sometimes it takes longer you just have to check on it. Zany left out that you have to quickly stir it and pour it very quickly because it will set up very quickly.
 
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Great advice @cmzaha, and I'll note that if you can put a heating pad under your bowl, and turn it up on high, it will speed up the gel process to loosen up the batter for molding. To me that is a much better alternative than dumping it into a crock pot for hot processing.
 

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