Soap Batch Gone Wrong

Yes, I do mess up. I. Make. Mistakes. Occasionally. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be the “master of all I attempt” and all, but I do occasionally have a bad one.

Take for instance this hideously ugly batch of soap I made. The soap, while absolutely horrendous to look at, still functions as it should. It foams up nice, cleans well, and is mild to the skin.

I can think of a few reasons why my batch went awry. The first thing I thought was that I must be losing my touch.  I no longer make soap to sell, but I do still make it for my family to use. I usually make a big batch so it lasts for a while. Soapmaking is a science as well as an art. If you can follow a few basic directions, do some basic math you will do fine.  So no, it couldn’t be that I lost my touch!  Here is the order of events on that fateful day:

1. Measured and melted my oils:

2. Measured, mixed and cooled my lye water

3. Prepped my molds. Nothing much to do there since I use silicone molds which are the best invention since sliced bread.

4. Mixed the oils and lye when the proper temperature was reached (around 110 deg F)

5. Waited for the beloved ‘trace’, then scented my batch with ‘Bedtime Bath’ Fragrance Oil. So far so good.

6. Poured my soap into the prepped molds and popped them into the oven at 250 deg F.

7. (This is where things go screwy) I left home for about two hours and come back to find this:

WTH???  My soap rose like muffins and spilled over the sides! This. Was Not. Supposed. To. Happen.

8.  After stuffing as much as I could back into the molds with a spatula, this is what I end up with:  Bleccccchhhhhh!  Ugly Soap!!!  In addition to being ugly, my soap seems a little more oily than it should be. It still cleans, but I’m not happy about the extra oil.

Now, here are my hypotheses as to what went wrong. The problem could be any one or combination of these.

1.  My lye may be faulty. I’ve had this lye for years and some of the crystals have banded together to form bigger clumps, making them hard to dissolve sometimes.  The lye also seems to leave a film on the water, which is not supposed to happen. I don’t think lye goes bad but it’s possible.

2. My scale may be faulty.  It may not be weighing right. I normally leave 4% extra fat as a buffer to keep the soap very mild. I may actually be leaving more than 4% if my scale is off.

3. The oven oven temp may have been too high for this batch, causing the soap to get too hot and rise out of the pan. This might have also caused some of the oils to separate from the lye causing the extra oiliness. This I strongly suspect is the biggest culprit. I will try it again at 150 deg F.

Whatever the reason we are now bathing with some sweet smelling, very mild, very ugly soap here at the AfroMartha household.

I hope to have pictures of pretty soap soon!

3 thoughts on “Soap Batch Gone Wrong

  1. Kanita says:

    Hey! I can tell you exactly what happened. It was your fragrance oil in addition to the heated oven. The fragrance oil was already generating too much heat, and you putting it in the warm oven caused the soap to “bubble” which is why it expanded and then shrank. This sometimes happens even if you have used the same method and oil before. Think of it like boiling cream of wheat. It gets all puffy then when it cools it shrinks down. Next time, just take a flat painters scraper while they are still in the mold and slide it across the top to take of the excess before you pop the soap out of the molds.

    • AfroMartha says:

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by. I hadn’t considered that the fragrance oil as the culprit. I’ve made scented soap many times in the oven before and it hasn’t happened before. It’s my way of making the HP method instead of insulating the molds with blankets. You do have a point though. If the FO is causing it to heat up then I pop it into a too-hot oven, then I can see where that would lead to muffin-top soap. Thank you for your observation!

  2. Sanura says:

    When I make mistakes in the kitchen, it’s usually thrown out in the trash can. You know where I get it from? It was genetically passed down from my father. After many years of thinking he can do no wrong, he once told me he’s thrown away a lot of dishes without anyone knowing, too.

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