Zap Testing and possible massive failure

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So I've had what seems like a possible massive soap fail...I've been on a kick, making 2-4 batches a day using my normal recipe for the past few days with different scents and colors. It may not be the best recipe ever, but it has been working for me for 20 or so batches, and I've been using it exclusively for a couple of months (you caught me, I didn't let it cure the first time for a full 4 weeks, but I seriously had so much soap that I had to start making a dent in it. I'm drowning in soap, and I can't stop making more).
I was planning on giving my dad and his new wife a huge wedding present by making soap favors for their wedding (It was their suggestion, and I had planned on buying insurance before handing them out, but it looks like I may scrap the whole idea anyway and tell them that it's not a good time and that I'd rather just practice more)...I've gifted soaps so far that have been great, and I've been totally confident in them, but maybe a gift this large is too much for my experience level, I don't know.

I just have a few questions about zap testing. From what I gather, you touch your tongue to the side of the soap, and if you feel pain, it's lye heavy. The issue I'm having is that I saw crystals forming on top of two dozen bars (depression ensues because that's a failure rate of like 20% of what I did), so I decided to touch my tongue to it. If I touch my tongue to the crystals outright, it's not a zappy feeling, but it isn't great. If I hold my tongue on the side of the bar, I can keep it there for a fair amount of time, and feel little to nothing.

I'm wondering if this sounds like a lye heavy bar to anyone? Does it matter where you lick it? Any other thoughts? I've pretty much decided to to err on the side of caution and use it as laundry soap anyway... At least it's a nice lavender scent. I have a slight curiosity to wash my hands with it once a couple of weeks passes to test it out...but I'll revisit that when the time comes. I'm just wondering because people say the zap is extra painful, and I'm not feeling that.** Maybe it is only slightly lye heavy? I did use hydrion paper to test some soap/crystals which I had dissolved in a tiny bit of water and I'm getting like an 9-10 reading, so it doesn't even seem bad (especially since it's only been 1 day).

I have been using my soapcalc recipe printouts to work off of and take notes on, and I'm a very analytical person, so I'm really not sure how this happened. This happened even with an added mica oil drop swirl (and I was worried about the superfat being too high). I even checked my scale and it seems fine (I don't have actual calibration weights, so I used various net weights of food items).

**Embarassing side note: I found a battery to lick just to get the idea of a zap...and it doesn't feel like that at all hahaha! Ouch!
 

DeeAnna

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Nope, not lye heavy. The crystals are most likely "ash" and they're harmless.

Most pH strips don't work well -- they usually tell you the pH is lower than it really is. There's enough error that the results are pretty much useless. To do a pH test properly, you need to use a pH meter in a solution of soap in water. And even if you measure the pH accurately, the pH still doesn't tell you whether the soap has excess lye. You need to do a free alkalinity test to measure excess lye accurately. Sound complicated? Most of us use a zap test instead -- it's fairly accurate if your tongue is reasonably normal and it's also free and fast.

Here's how to do a zap test safely and with minimal risk of discomfort -- https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/how-to-properly-safely-conduct-the-zap-tongue-test.63199/

Another point I want to add to Irish Lass' explanation is that you don't ever have to rush into doing a zap test, if your goal is to check that the soap was made properly and is safe for use on the skin. Cut your bars, let them mellow for a few days, and then do a zap test. That will give you the peace of mind that the soap is properly made and safe to use, with little risk of encountering a real zap.
 
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:thumbs::thumbs:

Zap is not pain but a jolt. All soap can burn if you leave you tongue on it to long. Most of us will wet a finger, swipe across a soap and touch our tongue. If it zaps you cannot miss it as it will feel like touching your tongue to a nine volt battery (a jolt). If you wonder if it zaps it most likely does not.

If you want some opinions on your soap as for quality, you could post your recipe and collect opinions. Granted we all have different opinions on good soap but you might get a good idea. I have a soap here from a long selling soapmaker that I cannot use at all. While this soapmaker feels it is great I think it is the worst I have ever used, lathers great but strips every little bit of my natural skin oils.
 
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Thank you everyone for the feedback. Also DeeAnna, thank you for the link. I was trying to find something like that but I probably looked right past it in my search.

My recipe right now is pretty simple: 30% Olive oil, 30% Rice Bran oil, 30% Coconut oil, 5% Shea butter, 5% castor oil. I use 33% lye as I've found it really cuts down on my glycerin rivers.

I haven't really branched out into many additives. I have used tussah silk in many batches and I'm okay with it. I've also used sodium lactate in 3 or so batches and I feel like does nothing for me and I probably won't use it regularly or at all once I'm done with the bottle.
I've used additives for color as well, ex: AC, rose clay, indigo powder.
I also want to try to work in oatmeal and kaolin clay, but I've not yet experimented with it. It's next on my to do list (especially oatmeal).
 
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While it is not a recipe I would use if you like it all is good. It is not a long lasting recipe and I would not be able to customers selling, plus being at least 12% to high in CO, for my and my customers likes. If you persist in using such a high Oleic recipe I would cut down on the OO and Rice bran adding in some Cocoa Butter or some other hard butter. Keeping in mind butters tend to cut lather. Palm, Lard, and tallow help give a better feeling, longer lasting soap. One other added thought your recipe will get better with a very long age. For my recipes I never go over % total for the high Oleic oils.

As I mentioned you will get a lot of different answers.
 
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While it is not a recipe I would use if you like it all is good. It is not a long lasting recipe and I would not be able to customers selling, plus being at least 12% to high in CO, for my and my customers likes. If you persist in using such a high Oleic recipe I would cut down on the OO and Rice bran adding in some Cocoa Butter or some other hard butter. Keeping in mind butters tend to cut lather. Palm, Lard, and tallow help give a better feeling, longer lasting soap. One other added thought your recipe will get better with a very long age. For my recipes I never go over % total for the high Oleic oils.

As I mentioned you will get a lot of different answers.
I'm definitely still working on getting a "better" recipe, but have been sticking with this one because I like how it behaves during the soap making process (mostly, with some exceptions recently mentioned in my other posts). The fact that is isn't very long lasting has definitely been a worry for me (plus, I am a pretty heavy soap user, so doubly so). I bought some cocoa butter but I haven't tried it yet. I think I may tweak up a small batch tonight with it to see how it behaves. I've been avoiding Palm, but I may order some rspo Palm and give it a go as well. I used Palm shortening in one batch and it did come out nice. I'm just mad I missed that huge sale on Palm the other day from wsp
 
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While it is not a recipe I would use if you like it all is good. It is not a long lasting recipe and I would not be able to customers selling, plus being at least 12% to high in CO, for my and my customers likes. If you persist in using such a high Oleic recipe I would cut down on the OO and Rice bran adding in some Cocoa Butter or some other hard butter. Keeping in mind butters tend to cut lather. Palm, Lard, and tallow help give a better feeling, longer lasting soap. One other added thought your recipe will get better with a very long age. For my recipes I never go over % total for the high Oleic oils.

As I mentioned you will get a lot of different answers.
Another question for you. I have been wanting to add more butters, but am worried about my soap accelerating. A lot of the time right now it seems to move very quick after reaching emulsification/ very light trace (of course depending on the fragrance I use it is better or worse in terms of working time). Say I use a really well behaving fragrance, however, how much does the addition of extra butters cut down on the working time? From soapcalc, I found a theoretical recipe that I like the properties of, but it would be using 8% shea and 7% cocoa butter. Of course I know I wont be able to see how it behaves until I try it within the next few days, but do you have any pointers on working with higher amounts of butters while still maintaining workability of the batter?
 

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I'll second the lard. I'm still a noob but, I use at least 20% in most batches. If you go high enough, it smells funny for a while but, that will subside with curing.

If DeeAnna is right and she usually is, what you're seeing is ash. You can clean it up by spritzing with isopropyl alcohol and rubbing with an old toothbrush. If I'm just giving it away, I don't bother but, for favors at a wedding, you might want to do it.
 

MickeyRat

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I use 40-45% lard and get no smell. Just don’t over heat it. I heat it until it’s almost all melted then remove it from the heat and stir it.

I use a double boiler. So, probably not over heating.

Out of curiosity, are you doing straight cold process? Hot process? I do CPOP and when I take it out in the morning, if there's a lot of lard in it, there's a smell. After it's cut up and curing a day or two, the smell subsides. If it cures slower, that might not happen.
 
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