What went wrong with my batch?

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

Joined
Dec 4, 2021
Messages
16
Reaction score
32
Location
Bronx, NY
About 3 weeks ago, I had a very wonky batch and it still seems pretty soft. It should definitely be harder at this point. My recipe was 25% coconut, 25% palm, 25% olive, 15% beef tallow, 5% mango butter and 5% castor oil. I did a 6% superfat and used a 34% lye concentration. I soaped at 90 degrees. I split my batter into 4 parts and added my oil dispersed micas. I used a new-to-me fragrance oil. It was a basic Lavender FO-1oz in a batch with 2lbs of oil and I split it between my 4 containers. My batter only stick blended for 15-20 seconds before I divided it. I was barely at trace since I wanted time to do some swirls. Immediately after adding the FO, it became very thick and chunky. It was too thick to stick blend the clumps out so I whisked it a little, gave up on my pretty swirl design and scooped the batter into the mold in layers. The cut didn’t look as terrible as I expected. But three weeks later its still very soft. I have a few questions Would the fast clumping be considered seizing or ricing? Or was it just rapid acceleration? Did I get a false trace? How can I know if it actually saponified? I don’t think it gelled at all. What’s causing it to stay soft and will it ever harden? Lastly, is it safe for personal use? I’ve never had a batch clump up like that so I’m trying to understand what even happened! Thanks!
 

Attachments

  • 6D80619A-21E4-4FAE-AF19-0F58A80C748F.jpeg
    6D80619A-21E4-4FAE-AF19-0F58A80C748F.jpeg
    233.6 KB · Views: 26
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
7,599
Reaction score
13,778
Location
US
It does sound like the batter seized when you added the FO. Read the reviews for the FO to make sure it is safe for CP (many FOs are not), and also what other soapers say about the performance.

When seizing happens, you can either:

1. throw it into a crockpot, or pot on the stove to hot process it, or

2. wait about five minutes for the soap to go into gel phase, which will soften it enough to allow you to stir it together and be sure it is fully emulsified. This option may not work as well when you have already divided the batter into smaller containers for coloring, because you don't have as much mass to generate the heat needed for gelling.

As to the softness, are you sure you actually used a 34% lye concentration? Is it possible you accidentally put the 34% in the water-as-percent-of-oils box instead? That would create a high-water soap that would take a long time (maybe a couple of months) to firm up. I've had that issue with rebatched soaps where I added way too much water. They did eventually get acceptably firm, although they remained highly soluble and tended to get mushy when used.

EDIT: if the soap doesn't zap, it is safe for personal use. Don't trash it; just give it a long time to firm up. You can rebatch it if you want, but that may require you to add more water, which would just keep it soft longer (been there, done that). My vote is to let it cure for another 60 days and see what you think of it then.
 
Last edited:

Obsidian

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
10,671
Reaction score
8,967
Location
Idaho, USA
Yep, ad long as it passes a zap test it will be safe to use.
When you dispersed your mica, did you use extra oil or oil from the recipe?
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
3,151
Reaction score
5,965
Location
Oregon
Your recipe is 70% Hard Oils so it shouldn't be soft unless, as noted by @AliOop, you messed up on your water. Hopefully you printed out your recipe for that batch and go back and make sure. If you didn't print out your recipe and used it, then going forward ALWAYS do so. Even though I Master Batch my Oils and Lye Concentration and use a Chart, I always print out my recipe, write down the numbers from my chart and make notes.

As for the FO, I've used several different Lavenders...BrambleBerry, Rustic Escentuals, Elements Bath & Body and Nurture Soap. I'm allergic to Lavender as a whole, gives me really bad headaches, but it's a popular scent and so I looked at several to find one I could work with. My recipe and such is not too far off from yours and I've never had an issue with acceleration, ricing or seizing so I have to ask where you got your FO from. As also noted by @AliOop, not all FOs are appropriate for soap making. Because some of the companies also sell supplies for other crafts, I have learned to double-check that my scents and colorants are for soap making.

"Fast Clumping" would be seizing. Ricing, as it name implies, looks just like someone dumped rice in your batter and can be stick blended out. I've had a batter seize before...I barely got the stick blender out before it turned into concrete. I've also had a batter accelerate...no clumps, it just got really thick, like pudding.

False trace usually occurs when you are soaping at a very low temperature...under 80F, it's caused by your Hard Oils starting to solidify.

The Saponification process starts the minute you pour your Lye Solution into your oils and there is no stopping it. Whether you use too much, or too little Lye, the process is usually complete in about 48 hours.

Looking at the soap, it does look like it gelled...it doesn't have the same matte appearance that my soaps have (I don't gel). It also has a sheen to it...which could be from the FO or unsaponified oils. I would zap test it first to make sure it isn't lye heavy (I don't think it will be) and then I would stick it on the top shelf and let it sit for 90 days.

PS - I didn't vote because none of the options applied.
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2021
Messages
16
Reaction score
32
Location
Bronx, NY
As to the softness, are you sure you actually used a 34% lye concentration? … My vote is to let it cure for another 60 days and see what you think of it then.
Thank you for the advice. I went back and double checked my recipe online and the hard copy and both say 34% concentration. It could be that I somehow added extra water to it although I’m generally meticulous about my measurements. As you predicted, the soap has no hardened up decently. Although it’s still a bit softer than I’d like, its headed in the right direction. I had a negative zap test and tried out one bar. I don’t think it will be particularly long lasting but otherwise it’s shaping up to be a nice bar. Still wouldn’t sell it but will use at home & share with other family.

Yep, ad long as it passes a zap test it will be safe to use.
When you dispersed your mica, did you use extra oil or oil from the recipe?

Zap test passed! And I managed to safely try out a bar. I dispersed the mica using oil I measured out for the recipe.

Your recipe is 70% Hard Oils so it shouldn't be soft unless, as noted by @AliOop, you messed up on your water. Hopefully you printed out your recipe for that batch and go back and make sure. If you didn't print out your recipe and used it, then going forward ALWAYS do so. Even though I Master Batch my Oils and Lye Concentration and use a Chart, I always print out my recipe, write down the numbers from my chart and make notes.

As for the FO, I've used several different Lavenders...BrambleBerry, Rustic Escentuals, Elements Bath & Body and Nurture Soap. I'm allergic to Lavender as a whole, gives me really bad headaches, but it's a popular scent and so I looked at several to find one I could work with. My recipe and such is not too far off from yours and I've never had an issue with acceleration, ricing or seizing so I have to ask where you got your FO from. As also noted by @AliOop, not all FOs are appropriate for soap making. Because some of the companies also sell supplies for other crafts, I have learned to double-check that my scents and colorants are for soap making.

"Fast Clumping" would be seizing. Ricing, as it name implies, looks just like someone dumped rice in your batter and can be stick blended out. I've had a batter seize before...I barely got the stick blender out before it turned into concrete. I've also had a batter accelerate...no clumps, it just got really thick, like pudding.

False trace usually occurs when you are soaping at a very low temperature...under 80F, it's caused by your Hard Oils starting to solidify.

The Saponification process starts the minute you pour your Lye Solution into your oils and there is no stopping it. Whether you use too much, or too little Lye, the process is usually complete in about 48 hours.

Looking at the soap, it does look like it gelled...it doesn't have the same matte appearance that my soaps have (I don't gel). It also has a sheen to it...which could be from the FO or unsaponified oils. I would zap test it first to make sure it isn't lye heavy (I don't think it will be) and then I would stick it on the top shelf and let it sit for 90 days.

PS - I didn't vote because none of the options applied.

Thank you, this is very helpful! I agree that based on oils and butters this recipe shouldn’t have stayed soft. I’ve used those ingredients at the same percentages many times and got nice hard bars with it. Perhaps I did mess up the water content somehow. I re-checked my printed and online recipe and both list a 34% concentration.
The FO I used is “Lavender Fragrance Oil 91” from Wholesale Supplies Plus. I make sure to only use FOs that have testing notes + reviews and are noted to work in cold process because I’m not experienced in soaping enough to want to work with any additional issues😁 This particular oil was noted not to cause any discoloration, acceleration or ricing in testing and no reviewers stated they had this issue either.
I appreciate the clarification re: seizing vs ricing vs acceleration and from your description it must have seized.
Now that they have cured a bit more, the bars have less sheen and are harder. I did a negative zap test and tried out a bar. They seem usable but not sellable. I’ll probably cure them for another month or so for personal/ family use. Thanks for your input!
 
Last edited:
Top