Woulda,Coulda,Shoulda Nightmare! Wrong Stuff?

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I had a miserable soap making session this week. I should have come here first...I know, I know, don't scold me. I'm so sorry, believe me!
Trying to make my own signature soap. It needs to be very mild because I live in a very dry desert climate, needs to last because our water is so hard and ugly that nearly everyone uses a water softener which dissolves the soap very quickly, needs to be light colored so I can color it easily, needs to be vegan (my belief system=no factory farming), ingredients need to be reasonably priced. Would also like to avoid palm till I research the environmental matters more. Maybe I'm asking for too much.

During the week, I enjoy crafting my melt and pour soap. Then on the days my husband plays golf I put my dogs outside and get out the lye. I need to be totally alone when I do my cold process soap. I tweaked a recipe that had been successful previously but didn't last long. This week hubby said he pulled "something" and needed a rest from golf, so he was in my hair. Then he discovered TWO wasp nests in the light fixtures on our front porch. He brought the dogs in and called the pest company. So, there I was with my new recipe, the hubby, pest exterminator man, three Labradors, and two swarms of wasps. MERCY!!!

So here is the recipe:
Avocado Oil 300grams--30%
Olive Oil 290 grams--29%
Coconut Oil 76 degree230 grams--23%
Castor Oil 60grams--6%
Soy wax 100% hydrogenated 120 grams-- 12%

I also added 1/2 tsp sugar to the lye water, 1/2 tsp ROE to the oils, 1/2 oz cedar EO to the oils, and 1 tsp Sodium lactate to the lye and water mix
The lye calculator results showed great promise and I thought this would be my holy grail of soap. The result was complete [email protected] and a waste of my time and money! It is soft and crumbly and just too weird looking, Never mind the big black dog hair on one of the oval soaps, I'm calling that an embed.
Soy soap.jpg

Where did I go wrong? Let me add a few clues:
First, the sugar water and lye went solid like a crust at the bottom of my jug. The sugar was well dissolved before I started, but It seemed as though the sugar went hard again and trapped the lye under it. I broke the sugar crust and sensed the lye coming out from underneath because that's when it got hot and I kinda smelled it. (Wearing protective stuff of course)
The soy wax wouldn't melt for me. I stirred and microwaved it in small bursts forever till it finally melted, never had to do that so long before. It seemed strange to me and I wondered if I bought the wrong stuff. Did I?
I added it to my warm 95F oils and it went into little solid particles, so I microwaved all the oils and soy wax together just till it became clear again. Now it was 140F. I didn't want the soy wax to go solid again so I mixed everything and narrowly escaped soap on a stick, just threw the slop into the nearest molds, shewed away a wasp and tried not to cry.
soy before.jpg
Soy wax added.
soy heated.jpg
Heated till just clear again

Do I remember somewhere that sodium lactate is not needed with a hard soap? Why then is the result soft and crumbly?
Is 95F too cool for making soap with soy wax? What's the magic temperature, assuming I used the right wax?
Just to see what happens, one soap was wrapped with saran wrap, one was sprayed with alcohol but left open, and one was wrapped in a warm towel. Picture of soaps above taken at 24 hours. All the soaps have a REALLY thick white something here and there on the outsides. Soda Ash? Soy wax? Sodium Lactate?
I soaped too hot didn't I. What do I need to add to make my soap last longer in very soft water?

Thanks in advance,
Shirley, feeling like a fool (again).
 
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You had a lot going on there, for sure. Whew. I'll try to start with what I think are the easy things.

1. Soaping too hot wasn't your problem. That may speed up trace but shouldn't affect the quality of your soap. After all, people soap hot on purpose when they use the hot-process method, or the heat transfer method, right?

2. I really hope you didn't put that much ROE (which is Rosemary Oleoresin, which is not the same as rosemary EO) in your batch of soap. The usage rate for ROE is extremely low at one-half of one percent (.05%) by weight. Normally ROE is added to the batch oils, not the soap batter, but for a batch your size, that would probably be a couple of drops. Overdosing on ROE can speed up rancidity (ask me how I know, lol). But I haven't read anything to make me think it would cause your soap to be soft and crumbly. Hopefully you intended to refer to rosemary essential oil, and we can move along from there.

3. Soft and crumbly soap can be from not having enough NaOH to saponify your oils. You didn't list the amount of NaOH you used or the amount of water. Can you provide both of those measurements, as well as any other additives, so we can run the entire thing through a calculator?

4. You did mention some issues with mixing your lye solution. Did you happen to remove what you thought was the sugar crust? It is possible that was actually a chunk of undissolved lye. If so, and if you removed that chunk, you would have ended up with not enough lye to saponify your oils. Ask me how I know about that one, too. :nodding:

I'll stop there for now. The lye solution is the most likely key to figuring out why happened, so please do let us know how much NaOH and how much water you used, and whether you removed any chunks after trying to mix it with the sugar solution.
 
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Wow! Thanks for responding AliOop. Gosh, I DID put that much ROE into my oils. What was I thinking? I did it from memory 'cos I was distracted. Should have been 0.05% and I thought 0.5 tsp. So I did goof there. Could that cause all this trouble?
I beat all the "sugar crust" back into solution and didn't throw any away. That actually happened to me before and I scooped out the crystals and ended up with squish for soap. So this time I kept everything in there.
Good to know it wasn't too hot.
I used a 2:1 ratio of water to lye or 33% lye. Actual amounts were 138 grams of lye, 276 grams of water. I use grams because my scale reads ounces with fractions, blows my mind trying to add them. I'm safer with grams. The SF was 5%.
I am eyeing the results and thinking the white stuff is the soy wax separated from the rest, if that is possible. I've has soda ash before and this seems different, more chunky and mottled.
I just went back and examined my soap again, it has been 36 hours and it is harder now, still with white patches. Would you guess that the soy wax maybe went out of the solution, crumbled away, and now the lye is making the remainder much harder? Sigh!
Thank you for helping.
 
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Yup, I did the same with ROE... ONCE. It is expensive stuff to overuse, and it has been a painful fix to slowly mix all my over-ROEd lard into my masterbatches to balance out the excess. Sigh.

Good job on redissolving all the sugar and NaOH into the water. So unless you mismeasured, or unless the soap is zappy, that rules out lye as the problem.

I've never used soy wax before, but I have read that there are different types, some with additives that are made for candles and not suitable for soap. It sure seems like it gave you a lot of trouble. What can you tell us about the brand and the version that you used?
 
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So @AliOop I used Mistic Mountain Sage's Soy Wax. I believe it is a soy oil that is 100% hydrogenated. They have a good reputation so I am sure the error is mine. I added it to my recipe because I thought it would increase the longevity in softened water.
OOOH! I can't imagine having to mix all the over ROE'd lard! Tee Hee, what we soapers get up to.
 
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Hiya,
It looks like the melt point on your soy wax is very high. I use this one: Golden Wax 415 Soy Wax which has a melt point of 125 degrees as opposed to the 155 of your one. And, it is half the price of the one you bought.
So yes - it would have been harder to melt. In addition, I always melt the soy wax ( I use 20% in my recipe) and CO together first - then add the other oils to that (at room temp) and never have any problems. My batter temp has gotten as low as 35 degrees celsius ( 95 fahrenheit) with no problems.

The big block looks like it gelled - which I always do, and you can see that it did not get as crumbly as the smaller molds ( which I don't think gelled). I have had similar crumbly soap when i don't gel. The white stuff is likely to be soda ash and stearic swirls.

If you want a more cost effective bar of soap, could I suggest reducing the avocado oil ( I don't know about in the US, but here is pretty darned expensive) and increasing the soy wax to 20%. I also regularly use Rice Bran Oil now instead of OO ( or to reduce the amount of OO) because it's half the price. Of course - costs do vary from country to country.
 
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Thank you @KiwiMoose. You are right. The bigger block looks like it gelled and seems more respectable than the other smaller molded bars. I am starting to think that block could be kept for personal use. I will decide once it is cured and add it to my huge stash of "Not Good Enough For Gifting Or Selling But I Could Use It Myself, Maybe"
Yes, the avocado oil has to go. When I bought it a few weeks ago at Costco the price was half what it is now. Shocking! Same with the olive oil. Everything is getting more and more expensive. I am expecting to switch to Rice Bran oil too. Thanks for showing me a better wax at half the price. I see they have a warehouse in the next state from me--closer for shipping.
So if I continue with soy wax I probably should CPOP, yes?
Am I right in thinking the soy wax would make the soap last longer in softened water?
I'm ready to give it another go.
 
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Thank you @KiwiMoose. You are right. The bigger block looks like it gelled and seems more respectable than the other smaller molded bars. I am starting to think that block could be kept for personal use. I will decide once it is cured and add it to my huge stash of "Not Good Enough For Gifting Or Selling But I Could Use It Myself, Maybe"
Yes, the avocado oil has to go. When I bought it a few weeks ago at Costco the price was half what it is now. Shocking! Same with the olive oil. Everything is getting more and more expensive. I am expecting to switch to Rice Bran oil too. Thanks for showing me a better wax at half the price. I see they have a warehouse in the next state from me--closer for shipping.
So if I continue with soy wax I probably should CPOP, yes?
Am I right in thinking the soy wax would make the soap last longer in softened water?
I'm ready to give it another go.
I find that it does last longer - my soap is also vegan and palm-free, so it's what I use as an alternative. I still use a bit of Shea butter too though (@10%). The RBO also helps up the palmitic value.
Also - if you have access to aloe, I use that as full water replacement. It really helps with bubbles. I just peel and and blend it up until it's juice.
 
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I second @KiwiMoose about what happened to your soap. I use soy wax at 23% or 24% and recently decided not to force gel and see what happens.

ungelled soy wax soap.jpg
Here are both sides of the same bar, with the ungelled part looking very chalky, ashy and cracked. It looks very similar to your ungelled bar, @Shirley-D .
My favorite way to gel my soaps is a heating pad. I place the mold on a heating pad, cover with towels and blankets, and leave the heating pad on for about two and a half or three hours. Then I leave the whole warm bundle alone till the next morning. It always gells and is definitely hard enough to cut.
 

TheGecko

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I miss the desert...live in Phoenix for ten years.

Yes, the water is Arizona sucks...lots of minerals in it. Can't leave anything in the sink to soak overnight. Gotta add bleach to the kiddy pool. Doesn't taste great out of the tap, but it won't kill you.

I had the same thought as you did when I start out, want to make something "unique", but it's kind of like when I designed my first knitting pattern. I spent three months on it, had it test knitted...it was perfect. Then I went to publish it and found that that there were easily a hundred other patterns just like it. I was beyond bummed out and was going to toss it, but a friend, who was as well-known designer said no, publish it...that it was still unique because I did the work.

Soap making is like that. My soap recipe is not 'unique' in the sense that there are hundreds of other soap makers out there using the same ingredients that I am using and probably more or less in the same amounts. They are probably adding Sodium Lactate to help unmold their soap and using Kaolin Clay to help provide 'slip' and/or 'anchor' their fragrance. And odds are good that they are also using a 33% Lye Concentration since it's fairly standard.

But regardless of the above my soap IS unique simply because I made it. I bought the ingredients, I played around with them, I added color, I added scent, I mixed it all up and maybe did layers and drops and swirls, I poured it in molds, I beat the crap out of it, did little swirly things on top. It's mine.

Below is my recipe, you are free to use it. It produces a light colored soap that you can do pastels in. At lower temps (80F-85F) it will give you lots of play time and the oil/butter combo is good for Master Batching. It's 'vegan' though I don't advertise as such, but it's not Palm free because I like to support that kind of stuff. It won't cure cancer, but it's mild enough for those going through radiation therapy to use. It likes an eight week cure though it's okay with six week. It will lather well in cold water. Hubby thinks it needs more 'bubbles' but what does he know...the man drinks espresso (shudder).

When I first stated with this recipe, I used the microwave to melt my Hard Oils (starting with the Cocoa Butter and then using residual heat to melt the Shea Butter), but found I got better results on the stove with no more than a medium heat. Just make sure you cut the Shea Butter into small chunks. It doesn't take a lot of Stick Blending to bring it to emulsion...I have made a lot of 50 oz total and it just takes a few bursts. I once made up 14lbs of batter and made seven different soaps with different scents and color combinations. It wasn't until I got to the last two that the batter started to thicken it up but I still got some really nice drop/chopstick swirls.

35% Olive Oil
20% Coconut Oil
20% Palm Oil
10% Cocoa Butter
10% Shea Butter
5% Castor Oil

33% Lye Concentration
5% Super Fat

1 tea Sodium Lactate PPO
1 tea Kaolin Clay PPO
 

TheGecko

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I use the stove top too

I started out with the microwave because that is what the directions said; I started out with bags of Coconut and Palm Oil from BrambleBerry. It was with my second 7lb bag of Palm Oil that I started thinking that the microwave was maybe not the best option. At the time, I was only using between 2.8 oz and 6.6 oz here and there of PO so I was having to reheat that bag a lot and noticed about two-thirds through the bag that it was getting really "grainy" and so maybe all the microwaving wasn't that good. But I also knew that PO contained Stearic Acid and sank and so it had to be mixed in real well so then I only partially melted the bag and then beat on it for a while to get it all mixed up. And that worked though it was annoying.

But what got me to quit using the microwave (so much) was when I started making Lotion Bars with Bees Wax. OMG...that stuff takes for freaking forever to melt in the microwave! So I bought a stainless steel quart saucepan from the local second-hand shop just to melt bees wax with and then add to my melted butters and then of course, that was stupid to dirty up a pan and a bowl so I just started melting the wax and the butters and even though the batches were a little smaller, it worked out since I was pouring quicker and didn't have to reheat at the end. So then I started melting my soap Hard Oils on the stove.

Now I still use the microwave about 10 months out of the year. While my Master Batched Hard Oils/Butters don't fully turn solid again, during the winter, the mixture is fairly thick...like a cornbread batter so it takes about 20 seconds PPO in the microwave. Last summer when we had a heat wave, didn't have to use the microwave at all because my house was like 80F even with A/C...which is fine.

I have thought about wrapping a heating pad around my bucket to keep my Oils/Butters fluid all the time, but that would be a big NO-GO with my husband and not worth the ensuing argument. So that would mean figuring out how long it would take to melt the bucket of Oils/Butters on high and also finding a heating pad that doesn't have an auto-shut off (or setting an alarm).
 
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@SoapSisters thank you for that info. Yes indeed, your ungelled soap looks like my funny stuff. I recognize the look. So I will make sure my next batch gells. I don't have a heating pad handy but I will get one. In the meantime it is not much trouble to CPOP because my kitchen has one full sized oven and one half size oven.

@TheGecko, I am touched by your kindness in sharing your recipe. Most of those ingredients are already in my arsenal, so I can play around with it. You are very generous--in fact everyone here is so supportive :--)
I went off and consoled myself (LOL) with some melt and pour which I have the hang of now, and find very satisfying. But still want to do lye/cold process to control the ingredients.
melt Pour.JPG


Happy to report some success with CP-CPOP due to the advice I received right here from @KiwiMoose, @AliOop, @SoapSisters, and you @TheGecko. MANY THANKS!

First, I used a double pan to melt all the hard oils together, it really makes a difference.
Then I CPOP'd to ensure gelling. In addition, I sprayed alcohol on top and covered it with food wrap to prevent ash. Putting the soap in the oven with the plastic wrap and alcohol was a bit nerve wrecking, but it was only 170F and no open flame or exposed electrical element (they are all outside the metal oven cavity). Nothing is cured yet, but what a difference! I made two loaves that look very promising...not perfect but much better. (Suspecting I used too much mica.) I need to get the soy wax KiwiMoose uses, and for half the price I paid. Can't wait now to make more soap :--)

lavendar soap.jpg

striped soap.jpg
 
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@TheGecko, I am touched by your kindness in sharing your recipe. Most of those ingredients are already in my arsenal, so I can play around with it. You are very generous--in fact everyone here is so supportive :--)
I went off and consoled myself (LOL) with some melt and pour which I have the hang of now, and find very satisfying. But still want to do lye/cold process to control the ingredients.
View attachment 65517

Happy to report some success with CP-CPOP due to the advice I received right here from @KiwiMoose, @AliOop, @SoapSisters, and you @TheGecko. MANY THANKS!

First, I used a double pan to melt all the hard oils together, it really makes a difference.
Then I CPOP'd to ensure gelling. In addition, I sprayed alcohol on top and covered it with food wrap to prevent ash. Putting the soap in the oven with the plastic wrap and alcohol was a bit nerve wrecking, but it was only 170F and no open flame or exposed electrical element (they are all outside the metal oven cavity). Nothing is cured yet, but what a difference! I made two loaves that look very promising...not perfect but much better. (Suspecting I used too much mica.) I need to get the soy wax KiwiMoose uses, and for half the price I paid. Can't wait now to make more soap :--)

View attachment 65518

View attachment 65519
Wow! Love all these. Your CPOPped soap has made all the difference eh? I have those floral molds and would love to attempt those colours with CP but not sure it would behave well enough!
 
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@Megan, thanks for the compliment, they are fun and relaxing to make.
@TheGecko, my first melt and pours were not successful, but I stuck with it because people had me terrified of lye. Now I enjoy both.
@KiwiMoose, I don't think I could do those intricate colors in the floral molds...but might try it when I have more free time. I am eagerly waiting for my 5lbs of golden wax 415, should arrive very soon :--)
 

TheGecko

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my first melt and pours were not successful, but I stuck with it because people had me terrified of lye. Now I enjoy both.

There is that. Admittedly when I first started researching soap I did ask if Lye was necessary to make soap because I wanted to make ‘natural’ soap without harmful ‘chemicals’. And it really wasn’t a ‘dumb’ question because how many bars of soap in the store list Sodium Hydroxide or Lye as an ingredient? Until you understand what ‘saponification’ is, “Saponified Oils of…..” or “Sodium Cocoate” or “Sodium Palmate” have no real context.

There is a lot of ‘fear mongering’ that comes with using Lye and while the fears aren’t necessarily false it’s really no different than taking care when cooking and bacon. No, the fumes aren’t good for you…it’s why you shouldn’t stand over your container breathing them in. All you need is some good ventaliation and once the water quits steaming…no more fumes. You can also mitigate it by starting with refrigerated or frozen Distilled Water. Now it does get crazy hot…200F-225F, but you would use the same care that you would use for boiling water for pasta or heating oil for deep frying. Now it does get hotter faster, you just need to be aware of it. And of course…no glass containers. As for the caustic nature…it’s not as caustic as say sulfuric acid which burns immediately upon contact. Now some people are more sensitive so they might have a quicker reaction, but I have found so long as I rinse the affected area asap, I haven’t had any issues. Yes, vinegar neutralizes lye, but NOT on skin. In fact, it can/will cause more problems. I have a spray bottle of it to clean my counter after master batching ans it works fine there.

The reason why I even have any M&P is because of the grandkids. They get to help Grandma make soap in the afternoon and the use it in the bath that night. Else wise I never cared much for ‘glycerin soap’ as we called it growing up. And I have no interest in Hot Process as crockpots aren’t cheap unless you get them from a second-hand store and then you have to store the darn things…I have too much crap as it is. And then there is the time and you have to keep an eye on it. I made two batches of soap…same scent, different colors, master batched (I’m make Rust and Navy Soaps for my son’s wedding). Took me about an half hour including dishes. The soap will sit overnight, I’ll unmold, rinse and dry the molds and do it again. It fits my ‘no fuss/no muss’ style.
 
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@TheGecko, I master batched my lye for the first time this week, it worked out very well. I will probably do this from now on. I used a very well rinsed laundry detergent bottle. The convenience was great! Congratulations on your son's wedding :--)
 
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