Okay….it seems that my first attempt at making homemade soap has failed. Instead of a beautiful hard piece of soap that I can use to lather up, it looks like this:
How did this happen?
I’ve thought of a few things that maybe went wrong:
- I added the wrong amount of ingredients. maybe I added 28 oz of shortening instead of 38 oz…It could have happened ….who knows.
- I didn’t stir it enough. I don’t think this is the case, since I stirred it almost twice the amount the recipe said to expect. I also don’t think this is the case, because there didn’t seem to be any separation of the oils from the liquid.
- I added the lye mixture to the oils at the wrong temperature. I added them at about 105-degree F instead of about 98-degrees F.
- The amount of lye wasn’t correct.
After talking with someone that has made a lot of soap, she thought that it must be the amount of lye wasn’t correct. She pointed me to a website that help you calculate the amount of lye to add for a soap recipe. The website is: https://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php it is an online lye calculator. You put in the amount and types of oils and fats, and it calculates the amount of lye and water is needed.
I went on the lye calculator website and did some investigating. I think I’ve figured out what I did wrong. I messed myself up when I substituted some of the olive oil for the coconut oil. The recipe called for 24 oz of coconut oil and 24 oz of olive oil. I only had a 14 oz container of coconut oil, so I put in 14 oz of coconut oil and 24 oz of olive oil.
Blame it on the Lye (and the coconut oil)
Here is the original recipe that I had:
- 24 oz of coconut oil
- 24 oz of olive oil
- 38 oz of shortening
- 12 oz lye
- 32 oz water
Using the correct amount of coconut oil and olive oil, the lye calculator says I should use:
- 22 to 32 oz of water
- 11.92 to 12.04 oz of lye
This matches pretty closely to the original recipe. The calculator shows that maybe I could have used a little less water.
Using my modified amount of coconut oil and olive oil, the lye calculator says that I should have used:
- 22 to 32 oz of water
- 11.46 to 11.59 oz of lye
Since I added 12 oz of lye, I think I added too much.
Soap making may not be as easy as I thought. The recipes need to be followed exactly, since they appear to have bad consequences if they are not followed.
The next time I make soap, I am going to use the lye calculator to check quantities. This seems to be a great resource that I can even use to make my own recipes with.
Often a bad batch of soap can be rebatched. This generally involves heating the soap slowly, adding any missing ingredients, then putting back into molds. Since I suspect the soap has too much lye, it can’t be rebatched. At least that is my understanding. If I had too little lye, I could rebatch and add lye.
It seems that instead of bar soap I may have just made some laundry detergent.
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