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Monday, March 19, 2012

Troubleshooting Cold Processed Soap

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Here are some great questions and answers for troubleshooting cold process soap.

Q. What if Tracing does not occur?
A. The mixture may have not been stirred enough. Most likely it is because your lye/water mixture was off in relation to your oils. Check your formula for accuracy. If it is one you have used before successfully, recheck all measurements. If it is not one you have not used before, check all of your SAP values and recalculate your formula.

Q. What are the causes for soap being hard and brittle?
A. If it is an all vegetable soap then you may have too much lye and you should not use it. If it is an all animal fat soap, tallow, etc. the soap will be very hard and will be somewhat brittle.

Q. My soap is marbled with white streaks. What causes this?

A. Mostly likely caused when using a fragrance with lots of alcohol in it. Uneven stirring or not enough can cause streaking due to the oils and lye/water mixture not fully incorporating for a complete saponification.

Q. My soap looks like cottage cheese and has small lumps in it. What did I do wrong?
A. I hate to tell you but you should throw this soap out. This is called “Curdling” and can be caused by inaccurate measurements, incorrect formula, cooling too quickly or the ingredients were not completely mixed together.

Q. I have DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots). What causes this?

A. Usually, this results from heavy super fatting. The DOS is an indication that some of your oils are oxidizing. It can also be caused by humid conditions. Anytime you super fat, you risk this, especially if your soap it exposed to excessive heat and humidity. A super fat value over 6% creates a high risk of DOS. Other reasons; not calculating SAP values correctly along with super fatting, changing bases oils without recalculating SAP values.

Q. My soap looks like scrambled eggs and not very pretty ones at that! What happened?

A. It has seized. Mixing your base oils and lye at too high a temperature can cause this. Also, some essential oils and fragrances can cause soap to seize. Be careful with cinnamon, clove and myrrh. Fragrance oils with too much alcohol will do this. Your soap can be saved if you act quickly by pouring it into your mold. This is why it is always advisable to have your mold ready when you make soap.

Q. I have a white powdery substance or film on the top of my soap. What is it?

A. This is called soap ash. It is harmless and can be cut off or washed off. One way to avoid it is to cover your mold as soon as you have poured your soap. If you are using tray molds or small molds, this is hard to avoid. Best thing to do is cover and insulate well.

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