Thick Soap Batter, what am I doing/not doing?

MonicsDelight

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Sep 13, 2020
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Hello!
I'm new to the cold process soap making game; I just made my third batch and it turned out thick again. My first batch I over blended, the second batch I added my essential oil blend at late trace and the third time, it riced on me! I've seen were some scents can accelerate the soap batter but is there a way to get around that? I'm still hopeful for this third stab at CP soap, but I just want to know what's happening.
 

WilliamD

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Sep 28, 2020
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Hello MonicsDelight....First let me welcome you to the trials and tribulations of soap making :) !!! It is very difficult to answer your question specifically without knowing for example the recipe you are using....has it been tested; the ingredients used, type/brand of oils used, your specific process for making the soap, etc. So if I may, I can only pose a few suggestions from my past experiences and hopefully something may help. I started making soap back in 1995 (ingredients were not as "pure" as they are today). I learned very quickly that a fragrance oil was not the same as an essential oil and that all oils are not comparable with the cold process soap process. My first soap batch seized using a fragrance oil (and I remember specifically it was lemon) and I am not exaggerating when I use the term "rock hard" ( I could not remove the stirrer), because I didn't know any better! Long story short, even though fragrance oils are better today, some can affect your batch....even pure essential oils can with cold process soap like lemon oil. Use quality oils, they are worth it in the long run and know their compatibility with other oils and ingredients. I usually add my essential oils just prior to an early trace in case of any "hidden surprises"....but that is a purely subjective call and you have to know your trace...which brings me to number two.
Some base oils trace quicker than others and react with fragrance/essential oils quicker and this is especially true with using electric blenders/drills/stirrers, etc. So know your trace! Electric stirring devices amplify, intensify and hasten the soap making process. Know when to only do a very light trace because it will harden quickly or when you can get away with a thicker or fuller trace. Alas, This only comes with experience, practice and knowing your recipes and their reactions with ingredients. If you use an electric device to stir the mixture do so in small increments at a time and let the batter "rest" a little so you can judge the results. I find if you continually stir to the point of trace with a drill or similar electric device by this time it is "overdone" the saponification reaction continues and hardens your "batter" even more. I could go on and on with my past failures, but you get the picture...Hopefully some of this helped and I wish you Good Luck and All the Best!
P.S. you can also lessen your lye ratio so it will not saponify as quickly...I usually use a 2.3:1 Ratio (30.3%) But this is subjective as well!
 
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WilliamD

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Sep 28, 2020
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Happy Sunday Ekkle!...I manually put in my water/lye ratio when using this site so I check that second box (Lye Concentration) and manually type in 30:3 (a 2.3:1 ratio). This site uses/defaults to 33.3 (a 2:1 ratio) which is perfectly fine and what a lot of people use...it's all what you are used to/comfortable working with. The higher your lye solution percentage the quicker your tracing occurs. But.....this does not correct adverse reactions resulting from using a reactive (or a cheaply made) additive. This only slows down (or speeds up using a higher concentration) the overall saponification tracing process to give more time to possibly correct any mistakes by using a lower value. The reason I use 30:3 is because my mixing equipment traces soap very quickly and I find for my situation that higher percentages give me too short a working time. It comes down to one's own technique and equipment used for making soap dictates......All the Best!
 
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MonicsDelight

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Sep 13, 2020
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I'm using essential oils and fat oils from the store, except for palm oil which I get from Bramble Berry. I'm working with small yields, only 2 pounds, so I'm probably still over mixing and not letting the batter rest. (I've been watching too many YouTube videos!) The recipe I used has the default lye ratio and super fat for this site, 2:1 and 5%. I almost adjusted the super fat but chickened out 😣 But I'm just starting out with baby steps, so just have to keep on going right? Thanks for the advice!
 

WilliamD

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Sep 28, 2020
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Very Good sources Monics! If you ever need Cocoa Butter Bulk Apothecary is a good/reputable source as well.....I am in no way connected to them...just had to throw that in here :) The problem with You Tube Videos I personally find is the credibility of the person making the video...You just don't know if they are an expert or someone pretending to be one. Here I would think (and hope) that there are enough soapers out there that if any flat out wrong or harmful advice/information is given..someone would step in and say something!
2:1 and 5% is absolutely fine....no need to adjust the super fat either...5% is pretty standard. I'll give you a tip to help you out. If you want more fat in your bars just add Shea Butter (like an ounce in your small batches)....All of the Shea Butter does not get used up in the saponification process.....But Remember...Too Much Superfatting and the soap will not stick together.....It will Separate !!!!!
You are also correct....Baby Steps and keep on going! May I also suggest you keep a log or Spread Sheet so you have a record of what goes right and wrong to fall back on while in the learning process......the more detailed the better. Most importantly....don't get discouraged and Just Have Fun with it!!! ( I will be waiting for you to post when you make that good batch :) ...All the Best!
 
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WilliamD

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Sep 28, 2020
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Monics...I also noticed that you are just starting out so I thought this post would be helpful for you.....I get asked....."how much of a particular oil should I use when making a bar of soap".......So I'll post some basic oils and their percentages.....This is just a general guideline only to help you on your way to making that good bar of soap!

Olive Oil...can be used up to 100% in recipe
Coconut Oil....can be used up to 20-30% in recipe
Cocoa Butter......up to 15% in recipe
Palm Oil....can be used up to 20-30% in recipe
Shea Butter.....up to 20%
Sunflower Oil.... up to 15-20%
Canola Oil......up to 50%
Castor Oil.....up to 30%

I think that's the majority of oils you would be trying out getting started....Hope this helps you out and All the Best!!!
 

MonicsDelight

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Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Messages
4
Very Good sources Monics! If you ever need Cocoa Butter Bulk Apothecary is a good/reputable source as well.....I am in no way connected to them...just had to throw that in here :) The problem with You Tube Videos I personally find is the credibility of the person making the video...You just don't know if they are an expert or someone pretending to be one. Here I would think (and hope) that there are enough soapers out there that if any flat out wrong or harmful advice/information is given..someone would step in and say something!
2:1 and 5% is absolutely fine....no need to adjust the super fat either...5% is pretty standard. I'll give you a tip to help you out. If you want more fat in your bars just add Shea Butter (like an ounce in your small batches)....All of the Shea Butter does not get used up in the saponification process.....But Remember...Too Much Superfatting and the soap will not stick together.....It will Separate !!!!!
You are also correct....Baby Steps and keep on going! May I also suggest you keep a log or Spread Sheet so you have a record of what goes right and wrong to fall back on while in the learning process......the more detailed the better. Most importantly....don't get discouraged and Just Have Fun with it!!! ( I will be waiting for you to post when you make that good batch :) ...All the Best!
Thank you Thank you for the advice! I’m logging my results and keeping the recipe print outs. I’ve seen a recipe that uses cocoa and shea butter that I want to try, but I’m worried about the thickness issue. My partner says that as long as it lathers up and smells good, people will like it, doesn’t matter what it looks like. I could go off on Youtubers and Instagram accounts for soap making, but that’s for another post...😅
 

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