Troubleshooting Guide for Soap Making Process – 16 Common Soap Making Mistakes

Troubleshooting Guide for Soap Making

Producing your homemade soaps is a fantastic hobby, with a great range of health benefits. As with anything, however, the process is vulnerable to several difficulties, which can affect the outcome of the final product.

Below is a list of some of the most common difficulties you might encounter while producing your soap, and a cause and solution for each.

troubleshooting guide for soap making

The mixture sets too slowly

Ingredients; There’s too much-unsaturated fat, not enough lye, or there’s too much water.
Process; Not stirred sufficiently or stirred too slowly.
Solution; Double-check your water, oil, and lye measurements, as well as the accuracy of your scales.

The mixture sets too quickly fat and lye is too hot

Ingredients; Too much-saturated fat or fats/oils react to synthetic fragrance or other additives.
Solution; Check temperature and adjust the ratio of saturated and unsaturated fats. We can still use the mixture: pour into molds as quickly as possible.

Mixture curdles while stirring.

Ingredients; Fat and lye are too hot and either not stirred sufficient or stirred too slowly. We have used synthetic fragrances.
Solution; Use only natural fragrances, such as essential oils, instead of synthetic oils.

Mixture is grainy

Ingredients; Fat and lye are too hot or too cold.
Process; You need to be very careful with the temperature. The batter was not stirred thoroughly enough, or it was stirred too slowly.
Solution; Check temperature and use a stick blender. We can still use the mixture should only affect the look of the soap.

Mixture is lumpy

soap making molds

Ingredients; When mixing oils or lye, it was too hot.
Process; Not stirred sufficiently or stirred too slowly.
Solution; Check the temperature with a stick blender. Soap most likely will be unusable: check after removing from the mold.

Soap won’t trace

Ingredients; Not enough lye or too much water.
Process; Wrong temperature. Not stirred sufficiently or stirred too slowly. A too high percentage of unsaturated fats in a base oil.
Solution; Check water, essential oil, and lye measurements. Check the temperature with a stick blender. Adjust the ratio of unsaturated and saturated fats.

The layer of oil forms on the soap as it cools

Ingredients; Too much fat or not enough lye
Solution; Check fat and lye measurements. Soap may still be usable: if it is caustic or does not lather well, dispose of it.

Soap separates in mold

Ingredients; Not enough lye.
Process; Not boiled long enough. Not stirred sufficiently or stirred too slowly.
Solution; Check lye measurements.

Soap leaks clear liquid when slice or pockets of powdered lye can be found

Ingredients; Too much lye
Process; Not stirred sufficiently or stirred too slowly.
Solution; Check lye measurements. Soap may still be usable after cleaning away extra lye, but it is safer to discard the bars.

Soap is soft or Spongy.

Ingredients; There’s not enough lye, there’s too much water, and there’s too much-unsaturated fat.
Solution; Check lye and water measurements. Adjust the ratio of unsaturated and saturated fats. Soap may be usable after yet another two to three weeks of curing if it is still soft, discard it.

Soap is hard or brittle.

Ingredients; Too much lye or too many dry ingredients
Process; Traced too long
Solution; Discard. Check lye measurements for the next batch and ensure proper tracing time.

Soap smells rancid

Ingredients; Poor quality fat, or too much fat, or insufficient enough lye.
Solution; Check lye and fat measurements.

Air bubbles in soap

Process; Stirred too long
Solution; Stir by hand, don’t use a stick blender. Soap is still usable.

Mottled/Spotted soap

Troubleshooting Guide for Soap Making Process - 16 Common Soap Making Mistakes

Process; Not stirred sufficiently, stirred too slowly, or there were temperature fluctuations during molding.
Solution; Always stabilize temperature during the molding phase.

White powder on cured soap

Ingredients; Hard water or lye not dissolved properly or has reacted with the air.
Solution; Use distilled or bottled water, heat water to the proper temperature before dissolving the lye. Make sure to seal molding containers. When there is a large quantity of powder, soap is unusable and must be discarded.

Warped soap

Process; Drying conditions are not consistent.
Solution; Dry on a rack and do not disturb. Soap is usable; if desired, whittle the soap down, or cut it up for rebatching.

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