Too much lye?

Discussion in 'Soap Making' started by informative, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. informative

    informative New Member

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    So I just got a batch that was tan/light brown with dark red around the edges and a few spots within the bars. Feels harsh on the hands so I am re-batching it a few bars had much less of it and just around the edges so I wittled the red edges off with a sharp knife and will keep a dozen or so of those bars they seem fine.

    Is it safe to assume this is the result of a recipe using too much lye and not getting it to blend fully and completely saponify? I gave it a lot of time like 2 months to cure but the red spots never lightened up or went away.
     
  2. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    Do the spots zap? Different color on the outside often has to do with incomplete gel or oxygen exposure. (For example, soap that is going to turn brown is often brown on the outside of the log when you cut it and lighter in the middle when you cut it, but after cure, completely brown on all of the outside of the bars.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013

  3. Necie@Lunamojo

    Necie@Lunamojo Active Member

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    Did you run the recipe through a lye calculator? www.thesage.com has a very simple one. Having the lye dissolved in the liquid is also important. Or make sure you pour slooooow so that any small bits that aren't dissolved are kept out of the soap.
     
  4. informative

    informative New Member

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    too much lye

    Pretty sure I used too much lye. Not sure what zap means. If I handled the bars a lot it would feel like I was burning my fingers in tiny spots at random. I assume that was from lye (unsaponified) in spots.

    I've already rebatched the whole thing with a can of crisco and used a blender prior to pouring it into the molds so I would expect any possible undissolved crystals should now all be properly dissolved.

    I've made maybe 30 batches in my soap making life and never used the calculator - no plans to start now. Just my silly ways - I want to get a feel for the process without having to resort to a computer.

    Thank You for your feedback!
     
  5. swgoats

    swgoats New Member

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    If you don't use a calculator, you will occasionally have batches that are too lye heavy and batches that are too oil heavy. Just opened up some old fashioned soap from a reenactment that was molded and smelled like lard. Blech. Personally I think the advancements in soap making have only been improvements, but to each their own. It's so easy. You plug how much oil you want to use, and it tells you how much lye to use.
     
  6. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    Zap means that if you touch your tongue to the spot, it feels like you just licked a battery. Trust me, you'll know what I mean if you try it on some lye heavy soap. But I would agree that if it feels like you are burning your hands, you have too much lye. If you have lye undissolved lye crystals in your soap (which is a different issue from just having too much lye), adding more oil will not fix that problem. The lye has to be dissolved in a liquid BEFORE it can combine with the oils.

    Certainly, you can make soap without using a lye calculator, but if you are actually UNDERSTANDING the process, then, rather than using a lye calculator on the computer, you will be getting out pencil and paper, and knowing the SAP values for each individual oil, you will be manually figuring (you know, doing math) out how much lye is needed for each individual oil in your recipe and then adding that all together to get the total lye needed. If that is not what you are doing, then you aren't understanding anything, you are just tossing some lye solution and oils in a bucket and hoping for the best. If that's what you want to do for your own personal soap, well, fine, but if you are hoping to ever sell (or even give away) your soap, what you are doing is, to be blunt, stupid and irresponsible. And by batch 30, if you are still having soap that burns your hands, I'd say there's a problem with your particular method of getting a feel for the process. I'm sure this sounds harsh, but I am saying this not just for you, but for others who may read this, since you have posted this in an open forum where other people may come to learn.

    Assorted lye calculators, take your pick:
    http://www.soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp
    http://www.brambleberry.com/pages/Lye-Calculator.aspx
    https://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php

    Alternatively, if you don't want a calculator and prefer to crunch the numbers yourself, here's how:
    http://www.soap-making-resource.com/saponification-table.html
    http://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/resources/sapon.asp
     
  7. MF-Alpines

    MF-Alpines New Member

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    :yeahthat

    EVERY SINGLE WORD SHE SAID!!!
     
  8. informative

    informative New Member

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    Well I never sell soaps but I do give soaps away. I'm still making each batch by hand using no math but tend to stick with the same fats and oils so it's been pretty consistent (not a lot of variation makes it hopefully require less math). If doing a bunch of "math" makes some people feel more confident or superior to folks like me that can estimate and eyeball it then I'm genuinely happy for them.

    Since I try each batch several times personally and the bars are very consistent and very well aged/cured I don't expect to have to break down and do a ton of math to make it happen correctly. Sometimes they are a little softer and take longer for the bars to harden up other times they are solid right away. Also since I have used a couple of bars myself for weeks in the shower I know if it is good, great or awesome before deeming it worthy of giving as a gift to a friend or family. One or two bad batches out of 30 sounds like a pretty good record to me (I hear lots of people make suspect batches even with all their math done) and I would hardly consider the process reckless or irresponsible.

    I still appreciate the help and thanks for the feedback!
     
  9. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    It has nothing to do with feeling superior and everything to do with being safe and getting consistent results. Like I said, if it's just for you, then have at it. And yes, people make bad soap when they've done their math, but the bad soap has nothing to do with them having done the math and everything to do with having done something WRONG. Usually, they forget to add an oil, measure incorrectly, or something along those lines. A lot of what we see here with truly bad soap has to do with following some random recipe off of the internet without double checking the math on a lye calculator, not straining the lye and having undissolved lye crystals end up in the soap, etc. Some soap problems (overheating, false trace, etc) again have nothing to do with the math but are procedural problems and can be fixed by doing things differently in the future and rebatching the soap that it happened to. In that case, the soap is entirely salvageable because the math was done correctly in the first place. Heck, even a soap where the math was done incorrectly can often be salvaged if you know what went wrong and can crunch the numbers to determine how much additional lye solution or oil needs to be added (depending on the problem). But it's harder to do that when there is no math in the first place.

    Like I said, you are free to do what you want when making soaps for your own use. But this board is used by newbies to soapmaking to learn how to make soap. People who might actually want to be able to get consistent results from their soapmaking and reduce the likelihood of burning their hands on excess lye. People who might eventually want to sell their soaps, even. It would therefore be irresponsible of me NOT to point out the problems with your methods. Soapmaking involves a chemical reaction using dangerous, caustic materials. Estimating and eyeballing are therefore not the best way to go about it, and are potentially dangerous.
     
  10. MF-Alpines

    MF-Alpines New Member

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    :handclap:handclap:handclap

    Bravo, Stacey!
     
  11. informative

    informative New Member

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    Not to tempt fate by soliciting further feedback - but why not? - after the rebatch I used the new 3" pvc tubes for the first time and had a mostly good outcome. The first tube came out somewhat soft whiter and fluffy looking (almost too soft) but hopefully this should be a nice stick of soap once it dries for a long time. two others were perfect solid brownish and good solid bars. the last two were mostly medium brown but had this weird red-brown juice at the very bottom. Kind of nasty and was clearly never going to solidify.
    guessing some unsaponified lye settled out maybe? Normally I only let it settle for a day or two max these sat in the tubes for 3-4 days because they are taller than my usual molds and I wanted to ensure adequate time to gel up because it was a rebatch after all

    Am I maybe not simmering and stirring long enough to get a full combine maybe?
     
  12. janner

    janner New Member

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    See...I think that is the problem! How would you know if the "red-brown juice" happened because the ingredients were not properly combined when you don't even know for sure that you started with a proper recipe? I understand being stand-offish of math. OK. Well, maybe at least start with a good recipe! I am sure someone on this list would be more than willing to tell you a good one! At least make notes of the amounts you are using and see if, well you get too fluffy or red-brown juice and maybe, just maybe you will hit on a good mixture that won't burn your eyes or nether regions and presto! You will have a base recipe!
     
  13. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    Soap in a PVC pipe heats up more than in other molds. If it wasn't a rebatch, I'd say that you had overheating, leading to some separation, but with a rebatch, that can't be the issue. Also, with a rebatch, there is no "gel," as that has already occurred, or occurs during the rebatching itself, not later when the soap is in the mold. Essentially, with a rebatch, you are cooking the soap, mixing everything together, and glopping into molds. As soon as it has cooled, it is as done as it is going to be. No need to leave it sitting in the molds.
     
  14. MF-Alpines

    MF-Alpines New Member

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    I agree with Janice. Without knowing exactly how much of what is in your batch, there really is no way of knowing what went wrong.
     
  15. informative

    informative New Member

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    the results

    Thank you for the excellent feedback. Had a little more soap than would fit in the five 2 foot pvc's so poured the rest into the empty crisco tub and it made these huge pucks like 6 inches across you can see the dark one next to the 3" soap bars. This batch included finely ground coffee, fresh blended rosemary & lavender, witch hazel and borax.

    If you look closely some have darker brown circles which start small then expand as you go closer to the bottom bars that was where the darker stuff settled out. What is interesting is the pvc pipe mold being partly to blame is supported by the fact that latest pour into the crisco tub was darker but solidified just fine with no settling.
     

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  16. MF-Alpines

    MF-Alpines New Member

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    Could be a partial gel, but also, there looks to be some inconsistency is some of those bars, like it was not fully blended.
     
  17. Caprine Beings

    Caprine Beings New Member

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    First off Ray I will put it to you straight, your batch got too hot. See the holes in your bars, the oils and solids separated. Second, if you are not using a lye calculator you are putting others at risk for topical burns. Lye is dangerous in soap if there is too much. And really if you are just winging it then you are also putting yourself and family members at risk. It is not rocket science but there is a formula to making soap that is soap and not hazardous waste. Take this as you will but soap like this is what makes people think Goat Milk soap is bad. Goat Milk Soap is one of the best darn things out there for folks with skin issues. Please use the lye calculator...it does the math for you for safe soap.

    Ray, I teach 4-Her's to soap and my first lesson is:
    A recipe tried and true with a lye calculator is the best soap for you.
    They make soap for fundraisers and I want them to have great business, and they do with pre-orders from last year to fill. Soap, as I tell them, is not soap if it is not done right.

    Tam
     
  18. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

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    Tam, I would agree with you totally, except that he said this was a rebatch. Unless he means something totally different from rebatch than everyone else does, which is definitely possible. So for a rebatch, what I'm seeing in those pictures doesn't make a lot of sense, unless he just heated it up enough to glop back into molds and didn't mix it together at all, again, a possibility. What I see when I look at these pictures (and given the other description above of some of the soap being very soft and "fluffy" and some of it having this ugly reddish-brown goo) is a batch of soap that was not properly mixed, at all, part of it not having enough lye (the soft, fluffy soap, which will turn out to have an excess of fat and probably be greasy) and part of it having too much, with the parts with the reddish-brown goo having overheated and separated. At any rate, I would NOT use those soaps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  19. Caprine Beings

    Caprine Beings New Member

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    He did :)

    "So I just got a batch that was tan/light brown with dark red around the edges and a few spots within the bars. Feels harsh on the hands so I am re-batching it a few bars had much less of it and just around the edges so I wittled the red edges off with a sharp knife and will keep a dozen or so of those bars they seem fine."

    "after the rebatch I used the new 3" pvc tubes for the first time and had a mostly good outcome."

    I still stand on what I say though, use a lye calculator.
    Tam
     
  20. informative

    informative New Member

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    Did not "gloop" them. If you read all my soap posts, I'm the guy who did the crazy dangerous blender to the soaps (don't try this at home!)

    I'm already sampling them. They work great, smell great, feel soft and melt a little faster than I prefer may try to cure dry them a couple months to get them to melt slower in use. Drying them out very well seems to help increase density just as that crazy blender thing tends to make them nice and fluffy but then they tend to melt too fast.