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View Full Version : Escapades in Soapmaking (opinions, please!)



Flaire-FireStar
June 11th, 2006, 09:34 PM
This weekend, my mother and I tried our hand at making lye soap. All went well, pretty much until today. The recipe I was using (I guess you could call it a recipe) said to leave the soap covered with a blanket for 48 hours, which was up this afternoon, at which time I could take the soap out of the mold, cut into blocks and was to leave it for 4 weeks before use.

Now, I got the soap out of the mold easily enough, but when I went to cut it, it would break apart like it was extremely brittle. I tried several different knives getting the same result each time. I'm thinking of buying a piece of cheesewire and trying it like that.

There's nothing in my book in the "troubleshooting" section about this. Does anyone have any ideas what's up?

Would the weather be a factor? -- It's been very hot and humid here the past week.

(PS: I can post pictures if anyone needs a visual.)

PeleRising
June 13th, 2006, 03:57 PM
First off... Welcome to soap making... YaY... I love to see new soapmakers.


Lets start with the recipe... could you either post it here or pm it to me, I would like to check it on my SAP calculator. A picture would be nice as well.

A cutter with a thin piece of wire (think guitar string) would be helpful to cut the rest of the soap... Thats what I use.

One thing i recommend to all people interested in making soap is to double check your recipe. I have found errors in recipes before ... recipes that were printed in books. Thats one of the reasons that I like to make my own soap recipes. You can check your recipe using a sap calculator... there are several free ones online.

My very first batch of soap was a castile type soap... all olive oil, distilled water and lye. It crumbled like you are describing. What I found in that case was that I had not let the soap come to a proper trace. Sometimes it can be very hard to recognize trace, unless you really know what you are looking for.

So anyways... Lets see the recipe and try to figure out what happened. and Flaire... welcome to the family... soapmakers are a special breed. We have to be...we play with lye :hehehehe:

Flaire-FireStar
June 13th, 2006, 10:15 PM
Thanks Pele. :hugz: I was hoping you'd reply.

I'm on my way out the door, but I thought I'd let you knwo that I saw your reply & I'll post everything tomorrow.

azapolya
June 14th, 2006, 09:15 AM
Pele is super! She's been helping me out too. I'm a newbie to soap making as well and am going to be making my first batch of CP this week :)

Flaire-FireStar
June 14th, 2006, 11:17 PM
Pics: Uncut block // a piece cut that ended up broken
(excuse the gigantic pictures. :lol: )

PMing you the recipe. ;)

What would I be looking for for trace?

The book I was using doesn't really define it...it just says "Continue to stir occasionally until the mixture reaches the stage when soap dribbled from the spatula will leave a faint trace line on the surface. This stage is known as a "light trace". If you require a heavy trace, leave the mixture to thicken, but you should still be able to pour it."

Rather vague. I was thinking something like peaking when making whipped cream or beating egg whites.

PeleRising
June 15th, 2006, 03:42 PM
thanks for the pictures... :smile:

I have fixed the recipe and returned it to you via pm... its relatively simple to fix... I say because I dont have to do the rebatching lmao

In regards to trace... the liquid in your pot looses its transparency... it becomes thicker... if you move the spoon or stick blender through the liquid, there is a trail in the surface of the liquid that doesnt go away immediately. I liken it to what happens when a motor boat goes by on the lake. You can see where the motor was in the water by the impressions on the surface... but in the case of soap... the trailings dont disappear easily... they just sit there and slowly sink in lol

That tutorial that I sent you the link for has a picture of trace... its wicked hard to describe really. :weirdsmil You just know its in trace lmao. Sorry :awilly:

This link has good pictures to help you determine trace... Trace pages (http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/17779/1062/5)

The picture below came from the following site: http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/coldprocesssoapmaking/g/glosstrace.htm

PeleRising
June 15th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Pele is super! She's been helping me out too. I'm a newbie to soap making as well and am going to be making my first batch of CP this week :)

I cant wait to see the soap... :smile:

Flaire-FireStar
June 15th, 2006, 04:08 PM
Okeedoke. :thumbsup:

Thanks Pele! :)

banondraig
October 29th, 2008, 06:08 PM
Cranberry lane had a free lye calculator last time I checked. They're located in Canada, too.

Eldawyn
November 6th, 2008, 05:16 PM
I like the soap calculators at either thesage.com or SoapCalc.com

As Pele said, "trace" is kinda a hard thing to explain... If I'm pouring into a a log like you did though, and I'm not swirling colors or anything, I'll usually pour at a thicker trace. When the consistancy is a little thinner than pudding.

Looking forward to hearing how your rebatching goes! (It's a pain, but hopefully worth it in the end!)

Flaire-FireStar
November 10th, 2008, 10:06 PM
Woah! Old thread! _inabox_

In the end, I went to a different recipe, which I have now misplaced, but it turned out wonderfully. :smile: If I ever find it again, I'll share.

Eldawyn
November 10th, 2008, 11:15 PM
:toofless: I only looked at the last few posts before mine - lol! I didn't even see the date on the original post.

Well... hmhmm... you still make soap then, Flaire? heh

Flaire-FireStar
November 10th, 2008, 11:20 PM
Off and on. Mostly I avoid lye now, though, instead preferring to use melt & pour. :) I'd rather just do one or two bars at a time instead of a whole batch like with the lye...I already have more soap than I know what to do with. *grin* Plus I get a ton more at craft fairs and farmers' markets because they have scents that I can't get.

I'm not addicted to soap or anything. I promise! :lol:

banondraig
November 11th, 2008, 02:58 PM
Off and on. Mostly I avoid lye now, though, instead preferring to use melt & pour. :) I'd rather just do one or two bars at a time instead of a whole batch like with the lye...I already have more soap than I know what to do with. *grin* Plus I get a ton more at craft fairs and farmers' markets because they have scents that I can't get.

I'm not addicted to soap or anything. I promise! :lol:

You must have better craft fairs & famers' markets in your area. The last one I went to, I was all like, "Oh, they have that mold, too! I like that mold!" :lol:

Flaire-FireStar
November 11th, 2008, 04:11 PM
You must have better craft fairs & famers' markets in your area. The last one I went to, I was all like, "Oh, they have that mold, too! I like that mold!" :lol:

The ones here don't use molds - or at least pretty molds. :T All the ones I get are cut from a slab. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a soap from a mold here to tell the truth. (And now that I actually think about it.)

banondraig
November 11th, 2008, 04:38 PM
I'm going to be upset if I find out that the soap in question was a melt'n'pour. Though I acknowledge that it is a lot easier to make melt'n'pour soaps pretty, how not farmers' market is that?

Flaire-FireStar
November 11th, 2008, 07:03 PM
No, the original question was regarding a lye soap completely done from scratch. :lol: