What went wrong with my first batch of soap?

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eventi

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Years ago I spotted a soap recipe on a Badger and Blade (a wet shaving forum) and thought it was interesting and I should really try it one day. I ordered the ingredients and somehow 5 years went by. This past winter break, I decided I'd finally pull the trigger and make my soap, and had a blast doing it.

It's about 50% Coconut, 50% Stearic Acid with KOH as the lye. The recipe is here: Homemade Shaving Soap - An Illustrated Guide to a Test Batch - LONG POST

So it made some really good shaving soap. I've been shaving with a brush for years, and it's as good as any I've tried, including the one it was based on (Martin de Candre)

The problem is how it looks. I zap tested the translucent section and it doesn't zap, so I'm not sure what's going on. I added 3T of glycerine after saponification, could that be it?

Any help would be greatly appreciated
 

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TheGecko

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The problem is how it looks. I zap tested the translucent section and it doesn't zap, so I'm not sure what's going on.

Uh...NOT zapping is a good thing. Zapping means that you still have some active Lye in your soap.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Welcome.gif

You are in good company! :)

We have a large number of SMF members invested in making the best shave soap... not unlike yours. Put "Shave Soap" somewhere in the title.

You can also use the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of this page to search "shave soap" -- be sure to tick "Search Titles Only" to reduce the number of responses.

so I'm not sure what's going on. I added 3T of glycerine after saponification, could that be it?
TIP: To fully incorporate an additive after saponification I've found it's best to stir for one full minute before pouring. ;) :thumbs:
 

eventi

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I'm confused about the move to this forum - I thought it was a new soap maker issue, but is it in "Liquid & Cream" since it's KOH?

TIP: To fully incorporate an additive after saponification I've found it's best to stir for one full minute before pouring. ;) :thumbs:

There's no pouring with this, the stearic acid causes it to trace almost immediately and it was very dough like when I folded the glycerine in
 
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Not sure why this went to the Cream and Liquid soap thread, but that's ok. You can also use the tag SHAVE SOAP in front of your title. Not sure if it is too late to do that now, but one of the ad-mods can if you ask.

I'm very inexperienced with shave soap, but that white stuff on your puck looks just like the soda ash I get on some of my bar soap. If I'm correct, it's harmless and will wash away.

I guess it could also be an unincorporated ingredient. Have you read the very long shave soap thread here, I believe by Songwind? There is a good explanation and discussion in that thread (by @DeeAnna IIRC) about how to incorporate stearic acid so your batch moves a bit more slowly and gives you more time to get all the ingredients mixed.
 

DeeAnna

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This could be from inadequate mixing, but it could simply be the normal appearance of the soap. This type of soap can look like this as it ages ... areas of more translucent, slightly amber soap and other areas of dead white opaque soap. You may also see the translucent areas turn opaque as the soap cures.

In other words there's nothing wrong ... just not what you expected.

Shave soap and cream soap and liquid soap are closely related.
 

eventi

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I finally found and got to reading the legendary Songwind thread, (well, I'm 1/6 of the way through it) and it turns out his recipe was based on the one I used from Badger and Blade :) Someone in there had the same problem as me, but over time it homogenized
 
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Have you zap tested the opaque parts? It looks to me like partial seizing during the alkali addition (stearic acid really wants to pull these hydroxide ions out of solution, and might do so in a that rude way that leaves the more tame fatty oils = coconut behind). That means, although you likely have had well mixed oily ingredients, the soap might be not homogeneous – uneven consistency, look, and there is a small chance that water and/or KOH is uneven distributed.
To test if it is zappy in practice, you can lather it up like for regular use, and zap-test the foam.

For the future, you can't be cautious enough when combining oils and lye solution, to avoid seizing. The reaction of KOH with coconut oil takes minutes…hours depending on temperature, but free fatty acids (stearic acid) react instantly under any condition.


Side note: I'm officially obliged to ask you what keyboard that is! 😃
 

eventi

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Neither the translucent nor the opaque bits are zapping, luckily. I read to the spot in the Songwind thread where DeeAnna recommending adding the stearic last, and I'll give that a try on my next batch, what you're saying makes a lot of sense

And the keyboard is a Keychron K2 - I picked it up used for $40 to see if I'm a "keyboard guy" and it turns out that I'm a "keyboard guy" Blue switches 4 life
 
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Another point that, in principle, might be seen as a problem (but in practice most likely isn't) is that the composition is obviously different for the different parts of the soap. But due to the way that shave soaps are usually used, it doesn't make much of a difference. As long as it is non-zappy.

Typed on a Cherry G80 (Blue switches) – would love to use something similar at work, weren't it for picky office colleagues 🙉
 
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From the page at Badger and Blade:
"It could definitely use a little more drying time, as parts were white and parts were still translucent, but I'm impatient, so I grabbed a bar and headed for the morning shave. "
This is from the author of that thread who made the soap. So as you can see... the recipe is probably where it should be. I personally believe it's the stearic acid myself causing the white areas. I could be wrong though.

Since the soap is a hot process, if you followed the formula then all the lye should be saponified, after a couple of days it will be for sure.
The person who posted the formula was a rookie apparently from the wording of his posts in that thread.
 
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From your B&B post on January 2nd.
"I bought the ingredients for this soap about 4 years ago, and finally made a batch on New Year's Day 2022. Great stuff! I shaved with it today (almost 9 years after the original post.) "

Using four year old ingredients can be sketchy at best. The stearic acid should be fine, even perhaps the coconut oil. However, using four year old potassium hydroxide is a big gamble as KOH loses it's potency over time due to it's highly hygroscopic nature (attraction to water). The oldest KOH I have ever used was six months old and I could tell a difference.

If you want to make a really good first time shave soap then follow this lady's formula and method at YouTube. My first batch of shave soap was her formula and method.

Making Dual Lye Shaving Soap | Modified Cold Process Method

If you wish to dive deeper into the "Shave Soap" Rabbit Hole, then check out Carrie Seibert's book: HOW TO MAKE SHAVING SOAP

It's on Amazon for $12.99 plus tax.
 

eventi

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Using four year old ingredients can be sketchy at best. The stearic acid should be fine, even perhaps the coconut oil. However, using four year old potassium hydroxide is a big gamble as KOH loses it's potency over time due to it's highly hygroscopic nature (attraction to water). The oldest KOH I have ever used was six months old and I could tell a difference.
Well it sat in the bottle unopened since purchase (from Essentials depot) I lost my stearic acid, so I bought a new batch, and the CO was purchased new (since it had been used in other things) - That makes sense though. I just wish I had a local source, so I could buy by the batch.


...
If you want to make a really good first time shave soap then follow this lady's formula and method at YouTube. My first batch of shave soap was her formula and method.

Making Dual Lye Shaving Soap | Modified Cold Process Method

:) I had that bookmarked already, that is going to be my next shave soap. This morning I'm making my second batch of "Basic Trinity" this time with Red Palm oil... Experimenting is so much fun, and I haven't even started with fragrances
 
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Well it sat in the bottle unopened since purchase (from Essentials depot) I lost my stearic acid, so I bought a new batch, and the CO was purchased new (since it had been used in other things) - That makes sense though. I just wish I had a local source, so I could buy by the batch.
This morning I'm making my second batch of "Basic Trinity" this time with Red Palm oil... Experimenting is so much fun, and I haven't even started with fragrances.

I have used Essential Depot KOH, it has a cap liner seal but not a heat-sealed top. Even with a cap seal, KOH will degrade over time.
It is EXTREMELY hygroscopic in every way.
I am not saying you're wrong, I was just trying to point out potential issues is all.

If you're following the Basic Trinity formula from this forum, be careful, because using 40% Red Palm Kernel Oil is really high. In addition, Red Palm Kernel oil will stain anything it touches... I mean anything; plastic, towels, countertops, wood, etc.
Keep the percentage around 15% and use regular palm oil for the remaining 25%. It will give a nice golden color to the soap looking very similar to the traditional DIAL soap so many of us grew up with during the days of the Model A Ford.
 
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Not sure why this went to the Cream and Liquid soap thread, but that's ok. You can also use the tag SHAVE SOAP in front of your title. Not sure if it is too late to do that now, but one of the ad-mods can if you ask.
There is now a "SHAVE SOAP" sub-category in the Liquid Soap & Cream Soap forum. It was kindly put there by @DeeAnna , if I'm not mistaken, to provide a place for us shave soap people. It came about after the kerfuffle about my posting a request for a separate shave soap forum category. @DeeAnna is the best
The OP just didn't know about the sub-category because one must select the little box to the left of the THREAD TITLE area to choose "Shave Soap" prefix.
 

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