Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Fixing Failed Soap

I have been able to fix all my failed soaps so far.  I’ve read of people throwing out hundreds of dollars of ingredients because of reasons that could have been fixed.  Try rebatching them

If this occurs during cooking or any stage of making, blend it again.  It will come right.

Separated Bar Soap.
I had problems with 2 honey soaps.  In one the honey settled and the other separated all through the middle. I cut them up and cooked them, stirring till they melted and poured back into the mould before they became too thick.  They turned out rustic. My goat milk, honey and beeswax soap with a swirls of turmeric came out looking more like a chocolate browny and the beeswax smell was more noticeable.  It’s good.

The auto setting on SoapCalc. for water is 38%. I now reduce this to 33% if I am adding liquid type extra ingredients (for 1000gm oil = 330gm water) or 35% if I am doing hot process.  Some use a lower percentage to reduce drying time and shrinkage but it will come to trace quicker and need to be moulded before it hardens.

Lye Heavy
Yes you can fix this.  If you don’t know what went wrong so have no idea if you made a mistake with the measuring.  Cut the soap up and melt it (slow cooker or double boiler) and add 5% of oil mixing in well. Let it cook a little while, stirring and test the pH.  If it is still lye heavy add another 5% oil.

Because 5% super fat is good, while it is lye heavy you know you can add this much oil without overdoing it.  If it’s getting too thick during the process add a touch more water till it mixes well.  If you add too much water, don’t panic, the soap will just take longer to dry and show shrinkage but will be fine to use.

Burnt Milk
 Milk soap smells like vomit?  It overheated and the milk is burnt.  Time does fix this but it will take quite a long time.  Put it away in a far corner for a few months and the smell fades.
You can hot process milk soap lowly and slowly, stirring it away from the edge of the slow cooker often.

Seizing soap
I haven’t had a batch seize completely but one started to go very quickly.  Fortunately I had spare water next to my pot and I just tipped a good splash in.  It gave me time to finish mixing and pour it.

I would try heating/melting it and adding more water if it did seize. I wouldn’t add a whole lot at once, do it in smaller amounts and stir till it is just liquid and smooth enough.

If it isn’t a problem of wrong quantities I would try cooking any other problem. It might not end up your favourite but it will probably be functional.

Some fragrances are prone to this and use of oils such as Coconut, Palm and Palm Kernel oil could be a problem if water was discounted too much or you got distracted at a crucial time.

Too Soft
The first soap I made was from an internet recipe and was very soft. It had quite a high conditioning level. I made some others then revisited this one.  I melted it and stirred it in, near the end of hot processing another recipe that was very hard with conditioning that would have been a bit low under normal circumstances.

 The resulting soap was a very attractive lightly marbled soap with a lovely feel.
The original hot processed milk soap was the darker contrast in the very white soap (Palm Kernel oil).

Lye Spots
Orangy and white Lye spots
These can be either little white or orangy blisters on the surface of the soap or white patches through the soap.  If you want to be sure, get a toothpick and moisten the whitened area, then dig a tiny bit out and spread it on litnus paper.  You'll probably find it reads about 12pH and if you do the same to an area close to it you might get 8-9pH.

The reason for this problem is not stirring the lye till it is dissolved.  If you made a soap and had milk
too cold it will take a lot longer to dissolve.  Some ice blocks present at the end of your stirring are fine but if it is still mostly an ice slurry you should let it melt a bit more and stir well before adding to the oils.

Note the white blisters showing.  Undissolved lye.
OK.  Cooking as is, probably wont help - it didn't for me.  At  a guess the soap immediately around the lye spot is probably harder because of the lye excess and forms a layer around the lye spot resisting water penetration to dissolve the lye.

 After a few attempts that weren't so successful I just took the plunge and put a whole lot more water in to make it a lot more fluid.  I figured I could deal with the high water content later.  It took a while but with cooking and mashing the spots disappeared.  I took quite a few samples to test the pH in case I had missed some.

 I cooked it longer to dry it out, but that was taking too long so I poured it into a large container and left it to dry naturally for about a month.  With our warm weather it happened.  I broke it up and then to expose it all to the air (keeping it covered with a thin cloth for some weeks before melting it down again to put into moulds.  It was still quite moist at this stage but not unmanageable.  I chose not to mould it earlier as the shrinkage would look silly and create sharp edges as the centre shrunk.

If you have more time than money it can be done but it does take a while.

If this had been a standard soap I probably would have just used it for the laundry but it was a castile soap and had low cleaning, high condition characteristics so I chose to try and fix it.

Good luck.

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