After nearly a year and a half of making, I encountered my first crumbly soap today. And naturally, it was a soap I was highly anticipating cutting to see the awesome inside swirls. This is the soap that I managed to get the awesome top detail on the other night. (See Here)
Ok so not the best top, but I had high hopes for the pattern inside. The batch of soap had produced two Love Spell loaves, and two unscented plain loaves. After the soap had rested for 24 hours, I was quite surprised by the lack of moisture both on the soap, and underneath it when I turned it onto it’s side. Normally after a stint in the fridge and/or freezer, there is some condensation on both, but not this batch. Dry as a bone. My first alarm bell.
The second was how hard it was when I picked it up to put it on my soap slicer. Unusually hard. Like a brick hard!!
With these two warning bells flashing loud and proud, I decided to cut the unscented loaves first so I knew what I was dealing with before touching the others and their pretty patterns. And that’s when disaster stuck…
With my slicing wire as useful as a butter knife on concrete, the butcher’s knife of terror was pulled out and used to issue this murdering blow. I used all my strength to push the knife down and suffered whiplash as it hit the bench. Having never experienced crumbly soap like this before, it took a moment for the realisation to sink in. Slowly and filled with fear, my eyes shifted to the Love Spell loaves.
My heart beat increased, pulse raced, breath quickened…
Shattered. Absolutely Devastated! Not only because it’s the last of my Love Spell fragrance, but look at those swirls?!?! How awesome would those bars have been!!
The smell is fantastically strong, which still surprises me each time I walk into the kitchen (I’m too heart broken for the rubbish bin funeral arranging). I used less fragrance than I normally would, weight wise, so not sure if Love Spell is just particularly strong, or if it’s the changes I made to this particular batch helping that factor. Either way, it’s a bitter sweet smell at the moment.
Slowly I made cut after cut, a single tear running down my cheek as I realised the entire two kilos of perfectly coloured and scented soap was nothing more than a dried up corpse that could turn to dust at any moment. I agonisingly admired the different swirls and patterns as I came across them…
Now that I have accepted the batch is ruined – although I am considering finding a nice bowl and keeping it as room fresheners as the smell is remarkably strong – it’s time to work out what went wrong. The paperwork portion of the murder investigation.
There are three suspects:
- The Liquid Discount. My first suspect. However after talking to some fellow soapers, my lye solution is (and was) very weak, so that has been temporarily ruled out. I’ve always worked with a weak solution as I feel relaxed with the extended trace time it brings, allowing me plenty of leeway to play with my swirls. The only downside is the loooooooong wait for the fancy tops.
- Second suspect is the fact that I ran short on my olive oil and topped it up with Rice Bran oil, something that is already in my recipe, thus putting a LOT more rice bran into the mix. But my doubts are high with this one as a lot of people out there use nearly all rice bran (in place of olive) with no problems. Plus, I have topped up this way before, albeit not the extent of this batch, but again, I don’t see that really being the problem.
- The final suspect and only other variation in the mix is how my lye got colder than it normally does. We’re talking ‘crap I forgot it was cooling in the freezer and now it’s slushy frozen’ kind of cold. This is not normally an issue as I work with chilled lye with all my batches to help keep the goat’s milk as white as possible, and it’s the way I do my liquid soaps to help keep it as clear as possible. But this particular mixture did have to be sat in a pot of warm water (just warm tap water) to thaw out enough to be runny and not have solid chunks in it.
My finger of blame is now firmly aimed at the lye. My suspicions is that the act of mixing the lye and milk with the oils caused the lye to heat up and quicken the tracing aspect of it. Given the hotter you soap, the quicker you reach trace, it’s a plausible theory that somehow, the chilled lye reacted somehow with the oils, started heating up and introduced the element of heat into the mix which isn’t normally there.
That would give me the hastened trace. But would that give me such dry, hard, and crumbly bars? They don’t zap, and given everything was mixed extremely well in the first place, they aren’t lye heavy at all. This is purely a lack of moisture factor. But how…
My mind boggles…
ShareAfter nearly a year and a half of making, I encountered my first crumbly soap today. And naturally, it was a soap I was highly anticipating cutting to see the awesome inside swirls. This is the soap that I managed to get the awesome top detail on the other night. (See Here) Ok so not…Read More