In my 16 years of cold process soapmaking, I have heard of of soap volcanoes in various soap forums, books and soap gatherings over the years. But until today, I had not experienced one for myself. The ensuing happenstance was so exciting that I started exclaiming ‘Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh‘ with such glee that Erik (manager of Otion) thought I was thrilled about what he was talking about. When I finally got him turned around to see the soap, his jaw dropped. Erik has been making cold process soap for only 2 years but has made 300+ batches of cold process soap in those two years. He’s never seen the volcano happen either. I shouted at the top of my lungs for the customer service team from Bramble Berry to come watch. They arrived just in time to catch the last of the show.
The soap literally bubbled out of the mold like a fizzy soda fountain, with mounds of frothy, bubbling caustic soap. The entire thing was funny because I was wearing my gloves and goggles but had I not been working on a protected surface with my hands and eyes covered, it could have been a disaster. The bubbling took about 90 seconds to finish. After it was done erupting, about half the soap was out of the mold and on the table.
Notice how much the soap deflated as it cooled down? It lost almost half of its volume!
The soap was super hot (over 200 degrees) as though it was going through a full hot process (or in-the-oven-hot process) gel phase. Since the soap hadn’t separated much, I just plopped all the soap that had overflowed back into the mold, patted it down (with gloves on – the soap is still caustic) and smoothed it out. The soap isn’t the most pretty soap I’ve ever seen but hopefully it will be usable.
I’ll cut the soap tomorrow to see how it looks and am hopeful I saved the batch. The experience reminded me of the valuable lesson about making soap with too many unknown variables. Coconut Milk + Cocoa Butter + Coconut Oil + Untested Fragrance = Super Pow Volcano Soap. This is why buying fragrance oils from a proven, tested vendor is so important for you too. If someone else has done all the testing for you, there is one less variable for you to worry about when you’re soaping at home or in your soap studio.