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Exploding Soap [Sep. 20th, 2008|05:11 pm]
SCA Soapers


[mood |depresseddepressed]

I tried to make soap this afternoon with disastrous results.

20 oz castor oil
24 oz cocoa butter
81 oz fractionated coconut oil
84 oz olive oil
32 oz palm kernel oil
15 oz beeswax
29 oz palm oil
44 oz lye, mixed in 41 oz water
after trace (which was nigh immediate), mixed in a small tsp of honey, 2ish oz fragrance oil, and 50 oz of half & half (slightly frozen)

First, it chunked up immediately upon mixing in the lye. There wasn't trace so much as there was suddenly solidness. I added the honey, which I've done a few times in the past to success each time Then I tried adding the fragrance oil and the half & half, and it *exploded*. It at least doubled the volume of the stuff, to the point where it overflowed onto my stove and burnt me and I ended up putting half of the mixture into the sink. Whenever I stirred, it expanded further.

WTF? Please help me understand where I went wrong. The dairy didn't burn. That part ended up fine -- not even a singe scent. The results of this experiment are cleaned up from being all over my stove and sink, and what I salvaged looks like vomit, frankly, from having the early yellowish chunks mixed in with the later red molten part of the mixture. Obviously I made a larger batch than I should have, since I couldn't handle the stirring fast enough, but that wasn't my only mistake. What made it explode?

Also, given that it's cold process soap, can I reheat & remix it as I've read others do? I've never done that with soap before.

SOOOOO sad. :(

From: akshuman
2008-09-20 11:08 pm (UTC)


Kudos for going for such a big recipe! That's so ambitious,
I'm not sure I can tell you why it doubled in volume with the FO's and the milk. FO's are always tricky to work with as any impurities in them can give your soap problems but you added such a small percentage... Honey will add heat but at only a half a teaspoon in a 285 oz recipe I have a hard time seeing that as a problem.
Personally, the Castor is a bit high. It's over 7 percent of your recipe and Castor will cause a recipe to seize. Also, the beeswax is over 5 percent and I can see the combination being deadly.
The INS on this recipe is 185 which suggests high iodine, low creamy lather and an overly hard bar.
Did the lye/water go clear before you used it?
But not to worry, it's very hard to irretrievably destroy a batch of soap (possible. Just hard and unlikely). I would recommend setting this batch aside for a week to let it settle and dry. Test it for lye absorption and if it's good, some fall/winter day when you've got time on your hands run it through your food processor or through a cheese grater. After that, you can add water at a low heat and whatever other additives you want. If you don't want to mill the whole thing it also makes great laundry soap.
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[User Picture]From: chaiya
2008-09-22 03:19 am (UTC)

Re: Wow!

I do suspect that the castor caused the chunkiness, which I guess is seizing -- never happened to me before, but I don't think I'd had so much castor to use before.

How does one test for lye absorption?
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From: akshuman
2008-09-22 04:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow!

The recommended way is with litmus paper but if you're the type of person who will test a 9 volt by touching it to your tongue then you can do the same with the soap. Any sting means there's still lye and since your recipe was correct for the amount of lye it means that the whole thing needs to be shredded and melted as a single batch.
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