Bar Soap Production FAQs

Greeting from my safe abode to you all; I hope you are all safe too. May God protect us all from this Coronavirus palava. That said, I received lots of emails and comments one some questions on bar soap production, which I am going to be attending to today. So, I enjoin you to read carefully, and let me know where you are confused.

Question 1: EarnBase, why do people use distilled water in Bar Soap Production?

Most people use distilled water in bar soap production because it produces longer-lasting bars of soap. As Tap water often contains additives such as chlorine, minerals, and even heavy metals from the piping system. Minerals and heavy metals can cause DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots) in your soap. While DOS is safe, it can ruin a beautiful batch of soap with its unattractive appearance and off-putting odor.

Question 2: EarnBase, why is Lye so caustic, and why is it necessary?

You see, bar soap is a combination of oils or fats, and lye. Without the Lye, the oils will not go through the chemical reaction required to produce soap. In a properly calculated recipe, the lye reacts completely with the oils, leaving none in the final bar of soap.

All of the recipes here ( produce final bars that have no trace of residual lye. Soaps that are advertised as “lye free” are likely not true soaps and are usually labeled as “beauty bars,” “cleansing bars,” or something similar. These products are typically created from surfactants, chemicals that act as degreasers.

Question 3: EarnBase, what exactly is “trace”?

The word “trace” comes from the idea of literally tracing a design — or your name, even! — into the soap batter after mixing it. To determine the degree of trace, drizzle a line of batter off your stick blender over the pot of soap. Which made us discuss the three types of trace available.

  • THIN TRACE appears when the oils and lye-water are completely combined with no visible oil streaks or pockets and the batter is just beginning to thicken, similar to a melted milkshake texture. When batter at thin trace is drizzled on the surface of the mixture, the drizzle does not immediately sink, but remains visible for a few seconds.
  • MEDIUM TRACE is when the batter moves from melted milkshake texture to more of a cake batter texture. This is the ideal stage for mixing in additives, such as poppy seeds, that need to remain suspended in the batter, and to create layers of soap that need to support additional layers. You should be able to “trace” a few letters on the surface before the first letter sinks into the batter.
  • THICK TRACE is when the batter develops into a thick pudding texture, and holds its shape when spooned or poured out. Thick trace is great for creating textured tops and holding up embeds.

NOTE: It is better to stop blending and check if you aren’t sure how thick your trace is; you can always thicken it, but you cannot make it thinner!

Question 4: EarnBase, what might prevent soap from achieving trace?

There are lots of factors, but one factor is that not all stick blenders are equal. So, if your stick blender has less power or you do not apply more energy when stirring manually, it will take longer than the suggested trace time. Blend for a little longer to see if it starts to pull together.

If your stick blender is not the problem, then run through your ingredient list to ensure that you used the proper amounts of oils, lye, and liquid. The most likely reasons that soap will not trace are too much oil too much water or not enough lye.

Even after all the above confirmation your soap still have not achieved trace, there is a chance that you will not. However, go ahead and pour it into the mold and see if it hardens. If the problem is too much water, it will eventually evaporate and your soap will finally harden.

Question 5: EarnBase, what is the white, powdery stuff on my finished soap?

This is called Soda ash. This is a very common, harmless substance that forms on cold-process soap when a small amount of unreacted lye in newly poured, and soap reacts with carbon dioxide. However, this can easily be prevented by spraying the mold with 99% rubbing alcohol to create a barrier while the soap sets up.

A number of factors can contribute to soda ash: two common ones are the temperature of the soap (cold soap tends to ash more than gelled soap) and trace that is too thin. To prevent ash, keep the temperature of the soap at 120°F (49°C) or more (unless otherwise specified for a recipe) and make sure your soap is at a full trace where you can easily see trailing on the surface of the batter.

Another factor is too much of water in the batter, so experienced soapers may choose to remove 10 percent of the recommended liquid from a recipe for an effective fix.

Please, let me know if you still have other questions concerning bar soap production in the comment bellow.

2 thoughts on “Bar Soap Production FAQs”

  1. Can I use sunflower oil for powder detergent production where pko is not available? If not which other oil can be a to substitute to pko


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