Soap Behaving Badly

I started my soaping adventures when I was young (ah, sweet 16), and have learned that not everything turns out perfectly the first time. Sometimes despite your best efforts during a soaping session, you’ll get batches that just don’t quite turn out right. It’s just an inherent (and disappointing!) part of soaping. I’m a firm believer in ‘practice makes perfect,’ and being persistent in mastering your technique will help you achieve what you want in your soap, consistently. While there are hundreds of soaping variables that can cause problems, one huge factor that can determine the success of your soaping session is the fragrance or essential oil you use.

All Bramble Berry Fragrance and Essential oils go through a thorough testing process to ensure they perform well in cold process soap.

Bramble Berry carries hundreds of fragrance and essential oils, all of which are rigorously tested multiple times in cold process soap by our product development team. We regularly receive hundreds of fragrances from top perfumers throughout the year and some of them don’t behave as well as we’d like. The following collages are great examples of the various ways fragrance oils can misbehave — and how you can still salvage the soap! Every soaping experience is a learning experience =)

Note about testing: We tested all of these (non-Bramble Berry) fragrances in 1 pound batches using our Lots of Lather Quick Mix. Each batch contained .7 oz. of fragrance oil.

Exhibit A: Acceleration

Acceleration occurs when a fragrance oil brings the batter to trace extremely quickly — sometimes too quickly to work with! In the case above, the fragrance oil thickened the batter to the consistency of pudding almost immediately after being mixed in with a spoon (notice the top right photo). Just to see how thick we could get it, we took a stick blender to it to see if it would seize, which is a more advanced form of acceleration. Seized soap is the more like the texture of Play-Doh or clay, and at that point it’s almost impossible to pour into a mold or work with at all. In this case, the fragrance got fairly thick, but we still managed to glop it into the mold. If you have a seizing or accelerating fragrance, just get that batch into the mold as quickly as you can. Be prepared for it to heat up quickly. Often there is a correlation between the acceleration/seizing and excessive, quick heat in your soap batch. On to the next one!

Note: Although we stick blended the batter for the purpose of experimentation, we generally do not recommend stick blending fragrances into your soap batter. It can cause even the most well-behaved fragrance oils to accelerate or seize up.

 A closer look at accelerated soap. Notice that thickness!

The work around: Although the fragrance did accelerate trace, the batter itself was not unworkable. While it wouldn’t be suited to a design with intricate swirls, a thick batter like this would be well suited to simple soap design, such as a straightforward layered soap or a solid-colored soap.

Exhibit B: Ricing, intense discoloration

This batch was an excellent example of ricing. Ricing occurs when an ingredient in the fragrance oil binds with some of the harder oil components in the recipe to form little hard rice-shaped lumps.

Up close & personal with ricing. This batch looks like tapioca pudding!

The work around: Often, ricing can be stick blended out. However, in utilizing the stick blender to smooth your soap out, you may end up with a much thicker trace than expected. Notice the photo in the bottom right-hand corner of the collage — the soap was as thick as pudding after we stick blended the rice granules out. We managed to spoon it into the mold and it retained a relatively smooth texture.

This soap is also a great example of the discoloration that can occur as a result of vanilla content in fragrance oil. It may look like a nice creamy white in the mold, but after hardening for a few days this soap turned chocolate-y brown. Scroll down for final photos.

Exhibit C: Separation, ricing and seizing

Out of all the fragrances we tested, this one was definitely the most misbehaved. It’s hard to tell from these small photos, but the batter showed separation almost immediately. Separation occurs when the fragrance oil can’t be mixed into the soap batter, and oil slicks can start to pool on top of the batter. It looks much like cream of wheat with butter on top! Separation can look a lot like ricing, and the two sometimes occur together. The main difference between them is you can see pools of oil on the soap with separation — it almost looks like it’s falling apart.

This is from a different batch of soap, but it shows a more intense example of separation. Notice the pockets of oil where the fragrance oil is pooling around the batter.

After we stick blended this batch, the batter started to seize. This is true seizing because the texture was beyond that of pudding like the other two; at this point it almost looked like gritty Play-Doh. Yuck!

Seizing at its finest!

 The work around: This batch had so many issue that it would be hard to salvage. If it’s not lye heavy, making it into rebatch is always an option (for more on rebatch, check out this tutorial or this Soap Queen TV episode). If you determine it’s lye heavy by doing a zap test or using a pH strip, consider making it into laundry detergent, which is easy to make and ensures no soap goes to waste. If the soap is fairly soft and fresh, Hot Process Hero is the way to go to salvage the batch. It’s a variation on the traditional hot process method that creates a rustic bar of soap.

The Final Soaps

So how did these three batches fare after being scooped into the mold and allowed to harden? Check it out below:

Immediately after being glopped into the molds. From left to right: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

After being allowed to harden for 2 days. From left to right: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Notice that after it hardened, Exhibit A’s fragrance oil caused intense gelling in the middle of the soap. The fragrance also formed small brown spots throughout the soap. Exhibit B fared the best of the bunch, but notice how brown it turned! Finally, Exhibit C struggled the most. The texture was rough and almost crumbly.

From left to right: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C

Just for fun, we cut into each soap. Exhibit A went through gel phase in the center (notice that dark, oval circle) as well as discoloration from vanilla content in the fragrance oil. Exhibit B went through textbook vanilla discoloration, showing the dark brown on the outside and creamy white in the center. Exhibit C was so thick when it was poured that there were bubbles throughout — notice the small hole where an air bubble was trapped.

 Bonus bad soap behavior

Alien Brain: Not only do we get fragrances to test, we get various oils and butters too. This soap was made using pumpkin seed oil, and it caused a crazy phenomenon called Alien Brain. Alien brain happens when the soap overheats, which is clearly what happened here. Notice that the entire loaf is gelled throughout! The great thing about Alien Brain though is that it is a purely cosmetic issue, and does not affect the rest of the soap. With a little steaming to get rid of the soda ash, this soap would look great!

Soap Volcano: Natural sugars (including fruit purees) and alcohol in cold process soap can super heat the soap and cause what’s known as a soap volcano. This soap had pumpkin puree in it, and the mini soapy eruption was relatively mild. Once unmolded,we simply cut a few inches off the end and the soap was perfect.

In other instances though, the sugars can super-heat the batter so much that it causes the soap to overflow out of a mold into a soapy lava flow. That’s what happened to this coconut milk soap:

With gloves on, you can scoop the soap back in as it starts to deflate. Or, Hot Process Hero the soap out when it’s fully cooled.

 General tips for good soapy behavior

Although some fragrances will inevitably cause issues, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get well-behaved batter.

  • First, make sure you are soaping at lower temperatures. We like to soap when the lye water and oils are about 120 degrees F. When soaping at hotter temperatures, you run the risk of accelerating trace, creating a heat tunnel or causing a soap volcano.
  • Double check to be sure your recipe checks out with the lye calculator and that you are using the recommend amount of water. Water discounting can cause the batter to accelerate.
  • Take the fragrance oil for the batch and mix it with an equal amount of liquid oil (you can pull it out of the regular recipe or just add extra superfatting oils) and heat the mixture up for 20 seconds in the microwave to bring the temperature of the fragrance up so it’s not quite as cold when the product is added to the soap batter.
  • Whisk in fragrances and colorants after the batter reaches trace. Even the best recipes and fragrances will thicken up if you stick blend them too much.
  • Using recipes with lots of soft oils, such as Olive, Sunflower or Rice Bran, tend to maintain a thinner trace longer.

 Have you experienced any strange soapy phenomena? How did you handle it? I’d love more tips.

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  1. Jocelyn says


    Two days ago I made a HP coconut soap, but it’s too soft like gel. What I did wrong was that I added a few ounces of coconut milk little before finishing and put into mold. What can I do? Can I rebatch it? Can I save it some how?

  2. Kathy says

    I am having an issue with my rosemary CP soap. It smells wonderful at first, then after I use it a couple times, the smell gets odd; as if the water changes the smell, like a rancid smell. My oils are not expired; I use Brambleberry’s palm oil and a store brand olive oil. I cure it for 4- 6 weeks on a rack. Is there anything that could cause this problem?

  3. Caroline says

    Something weird is happening to my soap while it’s curing :( I read quite a bit on soap making and I’m following the instruction and everything but I can’t find anywhere the reason for this problem… After 4 weeks lets say, it’s like my soap in transpiring? The surface gets a little oily and when you touch it, it leaves a strong stinky smell (same odor with different batch of soap/different essential oil, even when I don’t use any essential oil). But the soapbar doesn’t smell bad at all, its smells great! It’s only when you touch it :/ haha not so good.. Let me know if you have an idea of what’s going on there… If there’s something I can do to prevent it or get rid of the smell. Thanks!!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Caroline!

      Hmm, that’s strange! Does it have a sharp, unpleasant smell? If that’s the case, it may be Dreaded Orange Spots. That happens when the oils in your batch go rancid, or there is a lot of humidity in your environment. Read more about DOS and how to prevent it here:

      It may also be one of the oils in your batch. For instance, tamanu oil has a distinct earthy smell. Can you tell me a bit more about your recipe? Also, are you using any fragrance or essential oils? Let me know an we’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      Tamanu oil:

      • Caroline says

        Hi Kelsey!
        I looked more closely at my soap but there’s no sign of discoloration or orange spots so I don’t think it’s that. And the smell is still present even when I’m not using any essential oil or fragrance. Here’s the recipe I’m using :
        It’s the last one on the page. The Avocado Oil Soap – Palm Free
        Reading your response, it made me think that this problem can me linked to the humidity… I store my soap in the basement. It’s cooler and maybe there’s to much humidity? I checked my soap this morning and the smell was less intense so maybe it’s related to that… hmm.. weird 😛
        Or could it be the temperature of when I combine the oils to the lye? I usually mix the two at 125 F. Any other ideas? Thank you!

        • Kelsey says

          Hey Caroline!

          Your temperatures look just fine! We often soap at those same temperatures. :)

          When you checked it, was there still oil on the top? If that’s the case, the soap may be separating, and the oil on top may be giving off that smell. It could be going rancid in the humidity. Let me know!

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

          • Caroline says

            Hi Kelsey!
            Yes the surface of the soap is a little bit oily. Why is that? Is there something I can do to prevent the separation when it’s curing? And another way or place I could store my curing soap? For the soap I did already, I guess I could just wash off its surface?
            Thank you so much for your help! :)

          • Kelsey says

            Hey Caroline!

            Separation can be caused by a number of factors, such as the time spent stick blending. To get the soap to fully emulsify and stay together, you’ll want to stick blend until there are no more streaks of oil in the batter. Depending on the recipe, this can take as little as 30 seconds, or at least 10 minutes!

            Read all about emulsification (trace) here:

            Another thing that can cause separation is extreme heat. If the soap gets overheated, the oils can separate and pool on top of your soap. If you’re living in a hot climate, it may help to not insulate the soap, or pop it in the fridge or freezer for 5-24 hours. Read all about when to insulate your soap here:

            For the soap now, I would recommend letting it cure the full 4-6 weeks. It may help to run a fan over the soap or use a dehumidifier to try and dry the soap out. You can wipe it with a paper towel every once and awhile too. If it’s still oily after curing, you may try rebatching it to get it to mix together. :)

            How to Rebatch Soap:

            -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  4. Amanda says

    I just made a batch of soap which decided to act a bit funny. I used a pretty standard recipe I have made several times now without any problems. The soap was going to be three different colours. Purple (Ultramarine oxide and bordeaux mica), grey (activated charcoal), and pink (FD & C Magenta). After I mixed up the colours I added my fragrance which was called “Dark Kiss.” As I was pouring the soap into the mold I noticed the colours starting to change. All the colours, including the grey have this odd mucky, brown/grey colour to it. I just poured the soap about an hour ago and when I look through the sides of the mold, I am noticing some oil seeping out of the soap. The soap doesn’t look at all like it is separating, it is just seeping oil which has me a bit concerned. I have a feeling the fragrance was the culprit because the purple batter that was stuck to the immersion blender looked perfectly fine and that bit of batter didn’t have any fragrance in it. I wont know what condition it is really in until I try to cut it tomorrow, but I am wondering if it will be safe to use if it had the oil seeping out of it.

  5. Angelique says

    If the temperature of lye solution is too low, can that make the soap soft? What happens if I do not have any solid oil in my recipe? For how long can I keep my cold process in mold to harden? Does canola oil make soft soap?

  6. says

    Hi, my soap certainly behaved badly today.
    I was making a Doggie Shampoo hot process soap today – made HP many times before – but the soap was ricing as it got hotter and hotter .
    I stirred a lot, and finally, in desperation I stick-blended that hot mess.
    Well that seemed to save the batch. pH at molding was 8.

    However I have a suspicion of what may have gone wrong: the oils were app.140 degrees, the lye water was only 85. It seemed ok at first bringing it to trace but then there was an “in-pot-war” of ricing. The recipe was 10-10-10 Olive, Palm, Coconut plus 3 oz of Neem Oil- ran through lye calc and all seemed fine. Oh I also added Sod Lactate 1oz to the lye water.
    Any suggestions what else could have been the culprit?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Petals!

      I’m sorry to hear that! Typically, ricing is caused by a tricky fragrance oil. Did you add any to your batch?

      Also, how long did you stick blend that soap before cooking it? It could be that it wanted to separate a bit. Let me know and we’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • says

        No, I did not add any scent until all was cooked – and used Litsea Cubeba/Tea tree Oil combination at the very end.
        The ricing started after the mixture had reached medium trace – that was at around 120 degrees – then, as the mix started to heat, there seemed more and more separation. I stick blended for about 3 -4 minutes with repeated interruptions and did not see much change. Then I just left it alone and eventually after another 10-15 minutes it arrived at the “mashed potato” phase – temp 195. I waited a bit to let it cool, added my essential oils and globbed it into the mold.
        Unmolded about 20 hours later – then cut and left to dry – pH 8
        Now drying ok but remains rather soft.
        I do hope you have an answer for this strange behavior, thanks Kelsey.

        • Kelsey says

          Hi there!

          Do you have any oil pockets in the soap? Is it fairly smooth?

          If that soap doesn’t have any pockets, it should be just fine to use, especially with the pH at the right level! I’m thinking it may help to stick blend until very thick trace before cooking. That way all the oils are fully blended before they start cooking. I’m wondering if they weren’t quite emulsified, which caused that separation. In that case, more stick blending at the beginning should help. :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  7. Carey says

    Hello! I make CP soap. I noticed in my curing soap in the last few batches there are little tiny holes from bubbles that I haven’t had in the past. I’ve made many batches and never seen this. How do I prevent that from happening again? Thanks!

    My recipe is:
    33 ounces coconut oil
    9.6 ounces distilled water
    4.8 ounces lye
    1.5 ounces fragrance oil

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Carey!

      I’m wondering if you’re getting air bubbles. Air bubbles can form if any extra air gets trapped in the soap. The good news is the soap is just fine to use, it’s just an aesthetic issue.

      To help prevent those bubbles, pour your lye water slowly down the shaft of your stick blender. Then, tap the stick blender on the bottom of the bowl before turning it on. That is called “burping” and gets rid of any excess air trapped under the head.

      Then, when the soap is in the mold, tap it firmly on the counter. That will bring those bubbles to the surface and pop them. :)

      Learn more about air bubbles in the Soapy Mess Up Quick Guide:

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  8. Deb says

    Hi, I had a batch of soap made with a fragrance called Birthday Cake that had a high vanilla content?? It came to trace nicely and never got too thick or rice looking but it came out a dark chocolate brown all the way through. Did something go wrong or is this normal when using a fragrance high in vanilla? Also, the brown comes off on my washcloth when I use it. Is this normal? Thanks

  9. Marisa says

    Thanks for this super helpful blog. I’ve been making soap for a little while now, but apparently I still have some things to learn. I just made a batch of cold process soap today (shampoo bars to be exact) using coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil, lye, water, sodium lactate, and peppermint essential oil. The calculator put everything for a 5% superfat. I’ve never had a batch of soap turn out badly yet, (but this is also the first time I’ve used sodium lactate and peppermint EO) and I’m wondering if something might be up with this batch. Anyway, this batch reached trace very quickly, much quicker than it’s ever taken me. I put it into the molds, and it looked nice and creamy. Now, a few hours later, I notice that most of it is looking grayish and liquid again. What do you think happened? Can it be salvaged? Thank you!!

  10. Elissa says

    Hi! I love your site. I had a quick question. I made a hot process bar soap and completely messed up on the amount of lye I was supposed to use! According to the soap calculator I should have used 8.15 ounce lye with 23.47 ounces of water. I realize now after fully cooking the soap that I had a dyslexic moment and weighed the lye at 5.18!!! What result will this have on the soap and is it possible to fix it?

  11. says

    Hello so I had this new problem with my soap. I made a wood mold and tried out a batch of some new soap and got a lava tunnel through the soap with a clear oil oozing from the holes and was on the exterior as well. My batch consisted of
    almond butter 6 Oz
    castor oil 8 Oz
    coconut oil 34 Oz
    olive oil 20 Oz
    Shea Butter 2 oox
    Water 26.98 Oz
    lye 9.86 Oz
    super fat at 10%

    Pleasee help. I belive this is from over heating. I mixed oils and lye with both being 115 degrees and then just covered with a piece of wax paper on top and left in oven over night. Also I did use a colorant which was activated charcoal and only used 1/4 of the oil to color and poured black mix on top of brown color soap in wood mold. The black soap is the only part that had the holes in it. Sorry for the novel. Thx Brandon.

  12. Kay says

    Hi there,

    Thanks for such an awesome website.
    I just tried to make my first large batch of soap using the online calculator and what a disaster it was. Everything looked great up to even pouring them into the molds. I was going for an Avocado soap and it looked great with my green finish. About an hour later I went back to check the soap and it was all smuggy with oil leaking out of the wooden mold. How is this possible using the soap calculator. I was making a 10 pounds batch.

    Here’s my recipe
    Avocado Oil – 20oz
    Castor Oil – 35oz
    Coconut Oil – 45oz
    Olive Oil – 30oz
    Shea Butter – 20oz
    Sunflower Oil – 10oz
    Soybean Oil – 13oz
    5% Super Fat
    Water – 60.55oz
    Lye – 23.87

    All these was done using the app.
    10 pounds of expensive oils all ruined.
    Need to try this again but need some tips as to what could possibly have gone wrong

  13. Je says

    I made a batch of oats milk and honey. I added all the ingredients at a very low temp but made a mistake of adding milk into oils at the same time as lye. I was worried but when I started to blend it was turning to be good. I split the batch into 2 and mixed honey in one half and oats powder into the other half. I put the soap in the fridge overnight. Soap looked all beautiful, I left the soap outside to get to normal room temp. (It was a slab of soap) I am now noticing drops that are coming out from different spots that look like honey. I did touch it with hands and it was not bothering my hands or anything. I don’t know what these droplets are and will the soap be usable. I don’t know if it is normal to happen. The one mistake I can think of is maybe there was more honey added.. I don’t know what I messed up. It will be great if you can help.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Je!

      After a soap has been in the fridge and then moved to room temperature, it can form condensation. That is completely normal! After a couple days, that moisture should evaporate.

      If you’re still noticing it, it may be separation. That can happen if the soap, fragrance or additives aren’t fully mixed in. Can you tell me a bit more about your recipe? Also, how long did you stick blend for? Thank you! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Je says

        Hi Kelsey,

        The % of oils I used was
        3% Castor
        10% Coco butter
        10% Palm kernel
        15% Palm Oil
        25% Coconut oil
        37% Olive oil
        I used honey about about 1%.
        1) I am not sure if I mixed the honey good. I did stick blending till it reached light trace which was for a long time as I had started soaping at room temp. But when I split the batch I added the honey in one half and mixed it, not sure if it was good enough.
        2) I used a wooden mold to make this soap and there was some extra batter that I put on silicone molds. All the soaps out of the silicone mold turned out perfect with no issues.
        3) When I cut the block of soap out the wooden mold I could see few hole like structures in few part of the soap. The holes had something like glue running out of it.
        4) wondering if it was lye heavy, I checked the ph of the soap and it was about 8.5 – 9 which I suppose is ok.
        5) I am not sure what was the issue. I am not sure if this soap can be used.
        6) I did not add any FO or EO for this soap.

        • Kelsey says

          Thanks so much for your in-depth answer! That really helps me. :)

          It sounds like that soap has a heat tunnel. The natural sugar in honey can cause that soap to overheat. This is especially the case in wooden molds, which tend to hold heat more than silicone molds. You can see an example of that here:

          To prevent the tunnel, soap a little cooler and pop your soap in the fridge or freezer after it’s in the mold. That will prevent the soap from getting too hot. You can leave the soap in there for 4-24 hours. Then, take it out and let it sit at room temperature for a couple more days. :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  14. Dee says

    First many thanks for all the amazing support you provide your customers!

    My question is not regarding soap behaving badly, it’s actually the soap newbie behaving badly. I was able to successfully make one batch of cow milk recipe ( loved it!) and was so happy I tried another with a few alterations: used energy fragrance, goats milk and different colors. All went smoothly and I was doing the happy dance after placing my soap in the freezer and finished cleaning my kitchen. The mistake : I sat down And realized the 2 oz of energy remained untouched . I was able to scoop out about 1/2 of the mold ruining my design…and poured the 2oz and mixed. The mixture became a light trace consistency and I continued to mix then poured it back in. Do you think the soap is ok? Or is it possible I added too much fragrance since I only added it to the top layer . It’s currently in the freezer.and I am no longer dancing with joy. ..just laughing at my mistake :) btw I also forgot the sodium lactate making me wonder if should have thrown in the towel :)thank you very much!

  15. says

    I just made my first batch of soap. I had some problems along the way where I allowed my lye to cool down to 74 degrees F before I poured it into my mixture of fats at 82 degrees F. I did allow 24 hours before cutting the soap. Everything seems fine. But I am concerned. Will this cause a problem with my soap while it cures because of the temperatures of the lye water and fats?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Connie!

      If everything seems fine, your soap is probably fine to use! We recommend soaping around 100-130F because that ensures all the oils stay melted and you have lots of time to work with your design. However, some soapers prefer hotter temperatures, while some soap at room temperature. Whichever way works best for you is the one to go with. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  16. Mik says

    I’m very familiar with cold process, but I made hot process for the first time today, using a crock pot. Someone came to the door and distracted me just long enough to miss when it started rising, and I got an overflow similar to your “soapy lava flow” of half-developed soap and some oil. It’s a recipe I’ve used many times in cold process and I know the oil VS lye VS liquid levels were right.

    I finished the batch, but I’ve actually in my 10 years of soaping never have dealt with an overflow until this day, somehow. What I ended up pouring into the mould after the overflow seemed fine, but is it? Can the overflow have gummed up the PH? If it’s ruined, is there any salvaging?

    Thank you.

  17. Leslie says

    I have had a few batches that have had liquid that looks like water left in the mold or on the surface of my soap when I unmolded the soap. It is just a small amount but I am wondering if this is serious or not. Thanks!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Leslie!

      I’d love to help you troubleshoot! Can you tell me a bit more about your soaping method, including your recipe, oil and lye temperatures and where you’re storing your soap? Thank you!

      If you put your soap in the fridge or freezer, then move it to room temperature it can form little beads of liquid. That’s completely normal – it’s the same thing that happens when you defrost food! The liquid should evaporate out in a couple hours or so. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

          • Hannah says

            This happened to me. I put my soap in a pvc pipe two days ago, and it’s still a watery mess when I look into its ether. It’s the first time I made it, and from reading the rest of this page, I’m thinking that the essential oil I used (lavender) was the problem :( is there a way to save it? I don’t think it ever got a really good trace and remained pretty oily – how long, generally, do you mix it until the trace is created? I felt like I was mixing it and mixing it, and it didn’t ever get trace…y. Anyway, now it’s sitting in a pvc pipe, making me super sad. Is it a lost cause?

          • Kelsey says

            Hi Hannah!

            Oh no, I’m sorry about that! It may be that the soap is separating, leaving that liquid at the top of the soap.

            Generally, it takes 30-60 seconds of stick blending for your soap to emulsify. However, that depends a lot on the recipe. For instance, a recipe with a lot of soft oils will take a bit longer to emulsify.

            You can read more about trace in the All About the Trace post:

            Can you tell me a bit more about your recipe, and how much essential oil you used? Also, how long did you stick blend for, and what were your soaping temperatures? Let me know and we’ll get this figured out. :)

            -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  18. says

    My soap recently is cracking during the saponification process. Even before I wrap it up, while I am still spritzing it with alcohol during the first 90 minutes after the pour. What is causing this please?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Tonya!

      Typically, high temperatures, temperature changes or a large amount of butters in your soap can cause cracking. Can you tell me more about your recipe, including what temperatures you were soaping at and where you’re storing your soap? Then I can help you troubleshoot. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  19. Leigh says

    I made my basic CP recipe (coconut, olive, palm oils) and added some carrot and calendula extract for the first time with the Bamboo fragrance oil. It turned out great – smells great, color is great – but is is ashy on top. Can I fix the ashy top somehow?

  20. Marcie says

    I recently made a Cedarwood/Lavender soap that I’ve made before without any issues. I had a bit of Hungarian Lavender but not enough so I used a bit of the 40/42 Lavender to complete the EO for the recipe. Everything looked great when I poured but when I removed from the mold after 30 hours, it came out like peanut butter, very oily with most of the corners sticking to the inside. The batch is definitely not sellable, although possibly useable. Is it possible that mixing the two different Lavender oils caused this to happen? I’m remaking it again today as my stock is out and hoping for a better result using only one Lavender oil. Thank you!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Marcie!

      I’m wondering if there is a little bit of separation! The essential oils may have needed a bit more mixing. I had that happen to me recently when I filled one of my containers too full, so I didn’t mix very thoroughly!

      If that’s the case, you can still totally use that soap! You can use the Hot Process Hero method to get everything mixed in well. See how in the Black Cherry Bounces Back post:

      It may also just need to sit a little bit more! We typically leave our soap in the mold for 3-4 days, or up to 2 weeks depending on the recipe. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  21. Mukul says

    Dear Kelsey

    I’m a perfumer and this is regarding one complaint of one of my client who is manufacturing Translucent hot n pour soap in green colour. They are using my two different perfumes in two different soap, both are green translucent with same hot n pour method. I’m supplying these perfumes since last 7 years on regular basis. But now they are facing some problem while making soap with only one particular perfume.
    According to the client:
    They are following same process for making both the soap, they use coconut oil in both of them, one is absolutely fine but in other one some white cloudy ring is forming as it cools down.They are pouring it in hollow cylindrical barrels for cooling and This never happened before.
    I’ve sent few snapshots of this soap to your email for you to understand.

    I hope to hear from you and will be highly obliged if you resolve this issue.

      • Mukul says

        Thanks Kelsey
        But all our perfumes are free from alcohol. I also like to mention that my client is using same perfume from my company since 7 years and never such thing happen. There is even no change in the formulation of perfume as well. In my experience of 12 years I’ve never seen such thing. The formation of white cloudy rings is totally unanticipated and left me stunned.
        Please help.

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Mukul!

          Thanks so much for clarifying! The fragrances that we sell are specifically formulated for bath and beauty products like soap. They are thoroughly tested in a wide range of applications. They are trade secret, meaning we don’t know all the ingredients that go into them. You can read more in the What is a Fragrance Oil Made Of post:

          So, it is tricky for me to tell you how fragrances you make may be reacting with someone else’s soap. You may want to try out some small test batches with your fragrance oils to see if you notice the same discoloration. It can also help to ask your client what colorant they’re using and what temperatures they’re soaping at. Sometimes heat plays a role in discoloration!

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  22. Ashlea says

    I recently made a liquid castile soap using naoh with great success- but – when i poured some into a container to try scenting it (i used a cactus flower scent as its supposed to be great in cp soaps) and now my liquid soap has got solid bits all through it… Any ideas how to rectify this?

  23. Cadence Chung says

    I did a little test batch of the soap with lemon in it, and it worked great, and smelled like lemon without any fragrance! (I used some old not so pretty soaps to do my test batch so I don’t waste anything!)
    Next step, the coconut water!

  24. Cadence Chung says

    Hi. I have a few questions about adding fresh fruits and liquids to melt and pour soap.
    1. Can you put pureed lemon and lemon juice in melt and pour soap?
    2. Could you put coconut water in melt and pour soap?
    Thanks, Cadence.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Cadence!

      Adding fresh fruit and coconut water to your soap can be a bit tricky. They may not mix in very well with the melted soap base. They can make your soap greasy or oily. Also, the ingredients are natural, so they will turn brown in your soap. We don’t recommend adding them to the bases. If you do, I would recommend adding a smaller amount – about 1 tsp. per pound of soap. Also, a small test batch is very helpful! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  25. says

    I’m trying to understand what I can do with a recent batch that never set up enough to unmold. I’m almost certain I didn’t let it get to trace: I had kids running in at the critical mixing moment (they’re usually banned from the kitchen when I’m soaping) and used a fragrance that in the past has accelerated trace; so, bottom line, I was quick on the trigger and I’m sure I didn’t combine oils/lye/water long enough before mixing in pigments and fragrance and pouring into the mold. Any way to salvage this batch??

  26. SHANNON says

    HI Soap Queen,

    Ive been anxiously waiting for my 4 weeks and zap test to be over for my first ever olive oil castile soap to be ready to use.

    Today we tried our first batch and it worked great for the first 10 seconds then it developed a thin jelly like film over it.

    Now, sitting in the soap dish its a thick covering of gelatine like film.

    i used olive oil 3.125 pounds

    Sodium hydroxide 3.15 ounces

    water 7.5 ounces

    I would appreciate any advice – im so sad!


    • Kelsey says

      Hi Shannon!

      Thanks so much for that recipe! I ran it through our Lye Calculator and the suggested amounts were 6 ounces of lye and 15 ounces of water. I’m wondering if that soap is a bit soft because the water and lye amounts you added were on the lower side.

      Also, castile soap by nature is very soft. It typically takes several weeks to unmold and up to a year to fully cure. To speed this process up, you can add 1 tsp. of sodium lactate per pound of oils to your cooled lye water. Read more in the Sunday Night Spotlight: Sodium Lactate:

      I think letting that soap cure for another month or so will make it a little firmer and leave less residue. However, it will still leave some residue. That is the nature of handmade soap, especially softer recipes. We think the way it feels on your skin is totally worth it though! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      Lye Calculator:

  27. Mohit Lakhani says

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    One of our customer uses Talc Powder (a different grade than yours) to manufacture soap.
    But recently they have informed us that the soaps melt very easily when in contact with water (i have pictures but no option to send them).
    Previously they used 5.77% now they use 10.8% of talc in their soaps.
    In your opinion and expertise, do you think that this has anything to do with the % of talc in the soap recipe?
    I am very confused about this and I do hope that you can help me understand what can cause this problem or what can be done to resolve this problem?
    Looking forward to hear from you. Any feedback on this will be very helpful.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Mohit!

      I’d be more than happy to help you troubleshoot! Do you mind telling me a bit more about their recipe, including what oils they use? Let me know and we’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  28. Angie says

    I made the squirty swirls recipe with Cybilla Cucumber Melon FO. There are strange white rings around my green (I did not do the squirt bottles, just a line pour back and forth, alternating colors). The green had green oxide, the other soap had a little yellow oxide. Some of the white-ish lines around my green were a bit crumbly. I soaped at a very low temp (95), my lye was the Roebic brand powder, the zap test is fine, the cabbage test is a pretty blue. It is still a “pretty” bar, but the white is not planned and I don’t like the crumbly spots. Could it be soda ash? And how do I prevent that next time? Thanks for your help!

  29. maggie fenstermacher says

    I have been using the same recipe for2 yrs and the last 4 hatches of my cp soap developed an orange/peach color to around the top and sides. It has never happened until recently. I thought it might be the palm oil but reworked the recipe without palm and still have the issue. I tried it with another tried and true recipe and am now having the same coloring issue. It is not spots at all so not DOS. I am guessing one of my oils is bad but none look or smell off. Thoughts? Thanks

  30. Terah says

    I have many numerous attempts at olive oil liquid soap (last recipe: 8oz olive oil, 1.6oz KOH, and 5oz water), and I just cannot get it to be clear. It’s never milky, but really cloudy.
    I’ve used instructions both from Making Natural Liquid Soaps and I always bring it to a really solid trace, then check/stir it every 20 minutes, with the crockpot on low. It never goes through the phases described, and I can never get it to the transluscent vaseline stage. I’ll cook it for 4 hours, and it will still be chunky/creamy, and it just burns if I cook it any longer.
    I cannot for the life of me figure out what I’m doing wrong.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Terah!

      Cloudiness usually happens when there are unreacted fats in the soap. That typically means it needs to cook another 2-4 hours.

      Liquid soap can take a long while to reach the translucent gel phase – up to 8 hours or more! However, as long as your soap is around 160F and you’re stirring frequently, it shouldn’t burn.

      A great way to see if your soap is finished cooking is what we call the “mug test.” Pour 2 ounces of boiling distilled water into a clear mug and then stir in 1 Tbsp. of the soap paste. Let that sit overnight. If it’s cloudy in the morning, cook that soap another 2-4 hours.

      Our liquid soapmaking online video may be helpful for you! It includes step by step instructions from start to finish. :)

      Liquid soapmaking online video:

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  31. Gwen says

    I just made my first ever batch of soap today, and all went well until I poured it into my mold.
    When it reached trace, I put about 40 drops of peppermint EO in, worked that in, and poured my batch into my mold. I put newspaper on top because I didnt have a towel to get dirty, put it in a cardboard box, and covered the box with a towel.
    However, it’s nearly 4-5 hours later and my soap looks EXACTLY the same as it did when I first poured it in! What is happening? This is the first website I’ve found where I could reach out for help!
    I think I may have done something wrong with my recipe but I don’t know what. Here is what I did:
    11.7 oz Lard
    9.7 oz Coconut and Olive oil
    5.8 oz Sunflower oil
    1.9 oz Safflower oil
    5.5 oz of lye crystals in 11 oz of distiller water. Both my oils and lye solution were at 110° when I mixed them, and I used my stick blender to mix them (manual stirring with it most of the time). It took me little over an hour to reach a good trace.
    I have no idea where I went wrong and why my soap isn’t starting to harden and form in the mold. I think it might be something to do with the amount of lye and water I used, that part of making a recipe still confuses me. Please help!

  32. Barbara says

    A weird thing happened to my Calendula Cleansing Bar soap. I used the recipe from the soap crafting book and I used the Lemongrass EO in it. I poured the batter into my new BB silicone soap molds (individual oval bars). The batter took much longer to set up and then the bars turned white (some all over – some on just the top). The texture is strange too. Now, I’ve made this soap before and have never had this happen. I thought that maybe it was soda ash on top but all over? And what’s with the weird texture? Any ideas? Thanks!

    • says

      Oh that’s interesting. I’m wondering if the soap seems like it has soda ash throughout the entire thing? And it’s sort of crumbly? If that’s the case, the trace wasn’t fully there when you poured and/or the temperatures also got too low, too fast. I would let these soaps sit out and cure for 4-6 weeks and then do a pH test or tongue test to determine if they will become laundry soap or are good to use. If the batter took too long to set up, I would also look at your scale and weigh a stick of butter to ensure that your scale is calibrated correctly; also, look at your lye – how old is it? Is it possible it took on water? Those are the things that come to mind first for me! =) I hope this helps – and thank you for trying my recipe and buying the book. Happy Soaping! Anne-Marie

  33. Eleni says

    Soapqueen you are a great tool for newbies, thanks for helping us… in my case I made a soap using no EO or FO, but the result was the exhibit B with lighter vesrsion of discoloration from your example.
    I simmered 1 whole lemon with fresh sage in water to make a water infusion, cooled and frozen.
    I took the zest of a lemon and allowed to completely dy.
    The oils I used where: 10% almond oil, 16% babassu, 14% cocoa butter, 7% coconut oil and 53% olive oil. SF=6%

    I finally ground the lemon dried zest and dried sage.

    I dissolved NaOH in the frozen infused water -delayed to melt, but did. Melt and mixed the oils, added prowdered zest and sage, added lye, blended and molded.

    The next day, some lemon looked like DOS and when cut a fine color discoloration ring around the border of the soap…
    The soap now 3 days after, looks rusty at the lemon zest and not really attractive. I cut a piece and the ring is around… any ideas? when i blended I saw no ricing, or I think I did not!
    Thank you

      • Kelsey says

        Hi Eleni!

        That’s awesome that the ring disappeared! Is there still some discoloration in your soap?

        When sodium hydroxide lye is added to liquids, it can change the color. It sounds like the lye was reacting with the lemon and sage infused water, causing the discoloration. When we made soap with coconut water, our lye turned a rich brown color. You can see the color in the Coconut Cream Pie Cold Process Tutorial:

        Also, sometimes the moisture in natural ingredients like lemon zest can cause a little ring of discoloration around itself. You may try letting lemon zest dry for a week or so to help prevent that.

        Hope that helps! If you have any other questions let me know. :)

        -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  34. Adrianne says

    Thanks for this.
    I just made my first batch of soap following the recipe that goes with the BB oatmeal, milk and honey column kit–although I didn’t do the colors or anything, and used Saffron and Honey fragrance. Also, I included 2 tsp. sodium lactate, as the recipe suggests. I mixed at 118 for the oils, and 122 for the lye water, and added fragrance halfway through blending.
    Anyway, it seemed to be going well, I stick blended for a minute or two and it thickened up but still seemed consistent and smooth. Then, however, when I actually poured, there were largish lumps in the batter. Not like rice, more like…I don’t know. Liquid-like lumps the size of walnuts, maybe. It wasn’t a smooth pour.
    My question is, what may have cause this, and will my soap be okay/usable?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Adrianne!

      So glad you like the post!

      Hmm, that’s weird! From your description it sounds like the soap may not have emulsified all the way. When we stick blend, we like to move the stick blender around and top to bottom. That mixes all of the ingredients in. Putting the stick blender at the bottom of your bowl and pulsing the whole time may not everything in all the way. You can see that stick blending in action in the Cotton Candy Cold Process Soap on Soap Queen TV:

      Once that soap is out of the mold, it can help to pH test it to make sure there are no pockets of lye. You can use our pH strips to test it out:

      If the pH level is fine, you can definitely use that soap. If there are pockets of lye, don’t throw the soap out! You can use it as laundry soap. I’ll include a post below on how to do that. :)

      Three DIY Laundry Soap Recipes:

      • Adrianne says

        It’s pretty wintery here, and I had the window open bc of the lye fumes–I was thinking perhaps my fragrance oil was much cooler than my batter, and I kind of dumped it in. Is it possible the cool fragrance oil caused gloppy batter?

        Since it’s a first time for me, I may be overly anxious about what worked and didn’t. I want that perfect bar of soap, and I’m still hoping I’ll get it! :)

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Adrianne!

          If your recipe has butters in it, adding a cold oil can cause those butters to solidify and not completely incorporate. However, the Silicone Column Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap doesn’t contain any butters, so I don’t think that’s the case!

          I think stick blending in short bursts and moving the blender around should help.

          Also, if that soap isn’t lye heavy, it’s still totally fine to use and will feel great on your skin! Don’t worry too much, we all have batches of soap that don’t turn out quite like we planned, especially when you’re first starting out. You’ll be a master soaper before you know it. :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  35. Corey says

    Howdy folks,

    First time soap maker here and I’ve got my first problem, BRAINS! Go figure. The gory details… cold process, no colorant or fragrance, 2 LB batch, 70/30 recipe, 15.3 oz Pomace olive oil, 6.5 oz coconut oil (76 degree I think, LouAna brand), 7.3 oz distilled water, 3.2 oz lye. Oil was at 107 degrees, lye was at 113 degrees when mixed, reached trace (thin pudding) after about 5-10 minutes of mixing with a stick blender. Molded up the soap, covered with plastic wrap and a towel and put it to bed in a 72 degree room. RH was 26% for those with inquiring minds. Peeked in on it after about an hour, soap temp was 130 degrees, BRAINS! At two hours, temp was 119 degrees and after 5 hours temp was at 96 degrees. I understand that BRAINS! are not a soap killer, just curious as to what may have caused BRAINS! (sorry, I just love that movie :P) Yes, I was a rocket scientist in a past life. You should see my notes LOL.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Corey!

      Hmm, that’s weird! In our experience with alien brains, they typically occur when the soap gets very hot. Several factors can cause this overheating, including fragrance oils or additives like honey. I see that you didn’t add any fragrance or color, but were there any additives in your batch?

      Let me know and we’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Corey says

        Hi Kelsey ,
        Thanks for the quick reply! There were no additives at all, just olive oil, coconut oil, distilled water and lye. The coconut oil was the only oil not bought from Brambleberry. I bought at my local grocery store, expiration date of 2016, does not smell or taste rancid and claims to be 100% pure. I did not pay any attention to the soap for the first hour. When I did check it, the temp was 130 degrees and I could see that it had gone through jell stage. What temperature is considered overheating? Once this batch is out of the mold, I’ll make up an identical batch but I won’t cover it with a towel and see if it does the same thing.

        • Corey says

          Here’s how things turned out. Got the BRAIN soap out of the mold, let is rest for a few hours then cut. Texture was a bit firmer than Monterey Jack cheese and the color was a light beige. It did show a very feint gelling ‘rind’ and a PH around 9. Top still looks amusing but I can live with that.

          Second batch. Recipe was identical to the first one, nothing added or changed. Made sure that both the oil and lye were at 108 degrees before blending. Took about 5 minuets to reach trace, dumped into the mold and only covered with plastic wrap, no towel. At around 30 minutes the center began to swell and developed a long crack lengthwise, temp peaked at 146. Gelled almost fully at an hour and a half, just a hint of opacity around the edges. Swelling went down as temp decreased. No hint of BRAINS. Never knew that making soap could be so amusing :)

          • Kelsey says

            Hi Corey!

            Soaping is definitely complex! It’s also a lot of fun doing trial and error to find out exactly what works for you. :)

            It sounds like the first and second soaps are both getting pretty hot. That sounds like the reason for the brains and the cracking. I would recommend not wrapping the soap at all and letting it sit at room temperature. If it’s still getting hot, it may help to pop that soap in the refrigerator after it’s in the mold.

            The good news is a pH of 9 is the perfect level for soap, so both batches are absolutely fine to use and will probably feel amazing. :)

            -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  36. Safira says

    Hi Brambleberry,
    I made my first batch of soap two days ago, it had reached medium trace but then it riced after I put in my lavender eo. I wasn’t panicked, but too bad I didn’t know until I read this post that I still could stick-blend the clumps and try the “tounge test” before putting it in the mold. However, with clumps and without the tounge test, it went through the gel phase. Now it has sat for 48 hours and still looks a bit transparent, and feels soft. I think I can do nothing about the clumps now, but is it too late (and necessary) to do the tounge test? What should I do if it didn’t pass the tounge test? Or if it pass(or not necessary to do tounge test because it had reached trace), can I cut it now and let it cure or should I just let it sit for another 24 hours to be sure?

    Sorry for the overwhelming questions and thank you so much for every post you share with us, it’s such a big help for newbies like me.

  37. Jess says

    Hi there!

    I have also been trying to make Castile liquid soap in the crock pot, just this morning, and ran into a little difficulty.

    When I combined my lye solution with the olive oil at 160 degrees and began blending, it started to foam, and the foam got bigger and bigger until it had reached the top of the pot after about 2 minutes!

    I kept waiting for the foam to go down, and trying to stir it in a little by hand, but this foam is really stubborn! I think it would take hours of blending, then waiting, then blending, then waiting for me to get this thoroughly mixed to trace!

    I’ve turned the pot off now, with the mixture ( and foam!) still in there. I’m planning to continue with it in the next day or two, but my question is, what can I use to reduce the foaming while I’m bringing it to trace?

    I read in the Catherine Fallor liquid soap book that isopropyl alcohol can be used for frothing during the dilution stage, but it doesn’t say anything about if this happens at the earlier stages.

    Any ideas? Thanks so much in advance!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Jess!

      Sometimes when making liquid soap, your mixture can fluff up during the process. That’s why it’s important that your mixture only fills up half the pot to give it lots of room.

      I would just recommend spraying it with alcohol when you’re diluting it and making sure to use a large pot to give it room. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Jess says

        Hi Kelsey,

        Thanks for your reply. It actually turned out really great because when I turned the pot back on the next day it required very little mixing to bring to trace.

        It remained puffy throughout cooking, and never became transluscent, but passed the clarity/dilution test after a few hours.

        Thanks again!

  38. Kasey says

    Hi there. I tried to make a batch of liquid Castile soap a while back, and my son played with the nob on the crockpot and i didn’t notice it and we went to my mothers house for the day, when I can back it had volcanoed everywhere.

    I scraped everything up and added a little water to the crockpot and cooked it all back down, but the thick goop is very milky and I have ready that if it is milky it was not cooked long enough.

    It’s been sitting for almost three weeks now, waiting for me to do something with it and it is still a thick goopy mass that is very milky.

    What can I do? I don’t want to throw it away. But I want to salvage it somehow.

    Also, it leaves a slight oily film on things. I tried to let some of it dissolve in water last night to see what happened. It dissolved well enough, but the pan I dissolved it in had an oily film on it after I cleaned the soap out of it.

    Please help.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Kasey!

      Has your soap already been diluted?

      If it’s still a paste and a tester batch of diluted soap is cloudy, it needs to cook a little longer, probably another 2-4 hours. After it has cooked some more, I would recommend adding 1 Tbsp. of your soap paste to 2 oz. of boiling distilled water. Let it sit overnight. If it is clear in the morning, it’s ready to dilute. If not, it may need more cooking.

      If not, that batch of liquid soap may not be usable.

      Let me know!

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  39. says

    Hi guys,
    I m new to soaping, n recently did this batch which ‘sweats’ (i dunno if it is sweating or not )after like 2 weeks sitting in a open cupboard.

    It came out the mould just nice, n i keep flipping the sides each day to let it ‘air’ properly, but this is worrying me as my fingers gets oily after flipping them, is this normal? It looks nice n glossy, until u touch them. What could be the problem?

    Thanks alot for the help, it could be really relieving to know what when wrong instead of me just guessing

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Annbu!

      I’d love to help you out! Can you tell me about your recipe? Also, what fragrance and color did you add, and how much? Also, how did you store your soap after it was in the mold? Let me know and I’ll help you troubleshoot. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • says

        Thank you Kelsey,
        I did not add any color or fragrance to it.
        It was a plain coffee soap.

        Used coffee instead of water ( slightly more coffee than with water, but nothing more than 2 tablespoons in excess) ,65% pomace olive oil, 15% coconut oil, 15%palm oil, 5% castor oil. Its a 600g batch using bramble berry s lye cal. I m very sure nothing was wrong

        I stored it in a foam box, much larger than the sillicon mold, so i loosely wrap some scrap fabric around it, took it out after 20hours, n cut.

        The texture was nice until it starts to be oily….. o, n the newist development is it is beginning to bend a bit.

        Just noticed these 2 days. My cuts were 2cm thick each, n its starting to bend slightly, i did nothing to it, except still flipping them everyother day

        Thank you ~

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Annbu!

          Thanks so much for your recipe! Common factors that cause sweating in cold process are salt or extreme temperature changes. Was there any salt in it, or any extreme temperature changes?

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

          • says

            I didnt put salt in it. But come to think of it, it was pretty cold the week i unmoulded it, maybe thats the reason…

            Thank you Kelsey ^^

          • Kelsey says

            Hi Annbu!

            That may be the culprit! When your soap gets cold and then heated up again, it can start to sweat. It’s like when you take something out of the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature – it can get condensation.

            I would recommend leaving your soap at room temperature while it cures. That should stop that sweating. :)

            -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  40. Kristan says

    So there I was, happily making my chocolate/coffee soap when **POOF** my immersion blender shorts and dies! so, right/wrong/or indifferent, I poured it all into my standing blender. Pulsed it to trace and poured it into my loaf mold. Covered it and when I went to check it, it seems to be going into gel stage but um..there is sort of a white “foam” ONLY in the corners (it looks a bit like creamer..LOL) is that caused by the blender? I’ve made this soap several times and this is the first time it’s happened. It’s only on the ends (which I keep for myself anyway, because, well um..UGLY LOL) I’m just completely stumped as to what that foamy is about…if there is a way to upload a photo I would but I don’t see that as an option.

    • Kristan says

      Ok so….I checked the soap again this morning..foam gone and it looks like it should! I have to wonder if maybe I just checked it at a moment during the gel phase that made it look like that. I’m honestly a bit mystified by it. Either way, I guess I will be asking “Santa” for a new immersion blender for Christmas…LOL

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Kristan!

      Oh no! I think the foaming may be caused by the stand mixer. Because your stick blender is immersed in your soap, there is less of a chance of air being incorporated. Because the stand mixture is open, it may be some excess air in your soap. It shouldn’t affect the soap at all, it just may look a little weird!

      I’d love to see a picture just to be sure though. You can send that to :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  41. Terry says

    SOS! HELP! I made my first batch of CP soap in individual silicone molds and 72 hours later it’s STILL just sticky MUSH! Like thick trace but not at all like play-doh. I have NO idea what I did wrong! I used the Bramble Berry Lye calculator to create the recipe. I used 6oz of Coconut Oil, 6oz of Olive oil, 6oz of Grapeseed oil, 1oz of Castor oil, 6.27oz of water, 2.67oz of Lye (5% superfat), NO fragrance. I encountered major problems juggling the temperatures. In none of the Soap Queen or other intro videos and written instructions did I see anyone ever give any indication of how long it takes for the Lye to cool down so I got the impression it would just take about 5 min. My oil was all measured and mixed when I mixed the Lye in the water. It took about 30 minutes of me stirring almost constantly (in the sink with the window behind it open to the frozen outdoors) to get it to cool down to about 120F and then it started going down FAST !!! (so I closed the window). I had read we should mix the oil and Lye water when they are between 95 and 105F. My oil was in a stainless steel bowl sitting on another bowl filled with hot water but when I took my thermometer out of the lye (wiped it) which was now at 110F to measure the oil it was about 40F. So I poured about 1/4 of the oil into a plastic cup and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds then got the temp of the Lye which was down just below 100 and I started to panic because I was worried it would go below 95 and didn’t know what to do if that happened. So as soon as the oil was out of the microwave I poured it into the rest of the oil, stirred it hastily and poured the Lye water in (not sure how low the Lye temp was by then and I have no clue of the oil temp). So I’m guessing this is where the problem occurred. I used a stick blender and blended until medium trace but as I was hand mixing some cocoa into the separated half, the whole thing (both halves) got to thick trace before I knew what happened. (VERY thick pudding but no lumps and not dry). I poured it in individual silicone molds, put a piece of plastic wrap on it and covered it with two folded towels.
    So why is my soap not hardening ? How can I salvage it? Is it too late to Hot Process? HELP PLEASE!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Terry!

      I believe your soap just needs a little more time to set up and cure! Your recipe has lots of soft oils like olive oil and grape seed oil. Because of that, your recipe will be a little softer and take longer to harden.

      Formulating Cold Process Recipes:

      We typically add palm oil to our recipes because it creates nice firmness. However, we also have some great palm-free recipes if you don’t want to use palm! This Queen of Hearts Cold Process Recipe had hard oils like coconut oil and cocoa butter, which helped it set up faster.

      Queen of Hearts Cold Process:

      The recipe also had sodium lactate. Adding 1 tsp. of sodium lactate per pound of oils to your cooled lye water helps your bars set up faster. :)

      Sunday Night Spotlight: Sodium Lactate:

      Also, how long it takes your lye water to cool depends on a number of factors! When we mix lye water, it can take several hours at room temperature, or about an hour in the refrigerator. When I make soap, I typically mix my lye water and pop it in a refrigerator (make sure it’s very clearly marked so no one touches it). Then, I prepare my oils, colorants and fragrances. I check the temperature, and if it’s still too warm I let it cool off some more.

      Mini Temperature Gun:

      If that lye water gets too cool, you can put the container in a hot water bath to help it heat up a little more.

      Also, we recommend mixing your lye water and oils when they’re around 100F and ideally within 10 degrees of each other. However, it is not absolutely necessary! Some soapers have their lye water and room temperature and their oils around 130F. We recommend around 100F because it gives you quite a bit of time to work and ensures all those oils are melted.

      So, long story short, I believe your bars just need to sit some more! They can be in the mold for up to 1-2 weeks. Then, after a 4-6 week cure, they should be firmer. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  42. Drew says

    I am newbie to making soap but I have watch a to. Of Anne Marie’s tutorials and read her book and two others she suggested. I got my ingredients in the mail yesterday and made my first batch that night. I wanted to make a nice Christmas bar to sell for the holidays. My recipe was as follows with a 7% superfat.

    BB Quick lather mix. 56oz
    Lye 7.8oz
    Water. 18.4oz
    BB Christmas Forest 5 tbsp.
    Sodium lactate. 3 tsp

    Plus I had colorants to make it festive looking red, green, and left some batter white, everything seemed to go good I brought it to trace where you can see the trace just start to lay on top. I added my fragrance and colorants and it got thick super fast I added a little water to it to help thin it out and scooped it into my mould. I sprayed top with 99% alcohol and put it in the oven at 170 degrees for and hour and turned it off and let sit over night. I haven’t un-moulded
    It yet but it still feels soft. I used the cpop process so that it would be useable right away and I could sell/give away for Christmas. It smells wonderful and there’s a little sodas ash on top which I can remedy but why is it still soft has it not had enough time to cure yet or did I maybe add to much fragrance? Any suggestions would be helpful.


    • Kelsey says

      Hi Drew!

      Thanks so much for providing your recipe, that helps me a lot! I double checked it in our Lye Calculator and Fragrance Calculator, and those amounts are just fine.

      Lye Calculator:

      Fragrance Calculator:

      I think the soap may be soft because of the water added. When you add the extra water, it can take your soap a few extra days to harden because that water has to evaporate. I would recommend cutting the bars and letting them cure for a couple of days.

      Several factors can contribute to acceleration, like the temperature of your soap or how long you stick blend for. What temperature did you soap at, and how long did you stick blend for? Let me know and we’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  43. claire says

    I just had ricing and exactly like that example picture. I was able to stick blend and smooth half of the lumps only. I noticed the texture of soap is not smooth when I cut the soap the next day because of the rest of lumps. It still safe to use? Is re-batching the only solution for soaps with ricing?

  44. tammy smith says

    Hello! I am new to soap making. I have been making CP soap with goats milk. No matter what I do, my soap traces really fast (although the finished product is fine) I have made about 7 batches using different fragrances, etc, and the only thing that seemed to make a little difference was increasing the amount of goats milk in the recipe (although it still traced too fast to be able to do any colors in the future).

    I have always soaped with the lye/ milk and oil mixtures each reached 85 degrees. I use an immersion blender to mix.

    Yesterday, I tried soaping with the oils at 100 degrees and the goat milk / lye at room temp-ish. Same result.

    I have to figure out how to get it to trace slower!! Oh, and I work with frozen goat milk (I store up the milk from my little herd and freeze it for future use)

    Here is what I used in my last recipe:

    16.2 oz olive oil
    14.2 oz palm oil
    14 oz coconut oil
    1.4 oz castor oil
    2.2 oz sweet almond oil

    19 oz frozen goat milk
    6.7 oz NaOh

    fragrance: 2.15 oz frankincense, .5 oz lemongrass mint, 1.0 oz lemon eucalyptus, .8 oz lavender sage, 3.0 oz lavender (not usually so complicated- I was using up some small bottles :) )

    I would be so grateful for ANY help– nothing I do seems to really change the trace time too much.

    Thank you!!!!
    Tammy Smith

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Tammy!

      Thanks so much for giving me your recipe, that really helps! I checked it on our Lye Calculator and the milk and lye amounts check out just fine.

      I have some guesses, but I’d like to get more information! How long are you stick blending it for? Are you using olive oil pure or pomace?

      Also, when we make goat milk soap, we usually have our goat milk and lye mixture around 50-60 degrees. This helps prevent the goat milk from scalding, but it may also help slow down that trace time. I’ll include a link on goat milk soap below. :)

      Let me know and we’ll get this figured out!

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      Goat Milk Soap:

  45. Erin says

    I just made a batch of milk and honey oatmeal soap. I thought I followed a recipe fairly close but I added some extra castor oil for more lather. When I cut my soap into bars it was extremely oily. ( oil everywhere) It even had a small pocket of oil on the top of one of my long loaf molds but not my rectangle mold. My question is… it salvageable? Do you think it will dry out and will I be able to use it or should I just trash it and start over????

    Thanks for your time,

      • beth says

        I’m having the same problem as Erin. I made a shampoo bar (which I’ve been making and using successfully for 2 years!) yesterday and today noticed it is super oily. It also shrunk away from the mould and was very easy to un-mould (not always the case). I’m just hoping it is still good…

        My recipe –
        6 oz pomace olive oil
        5 oz coconut oil
        5 oz castor oil
        2.2 oz lye
        6 oz water
        fragrance (I used a little more than 1 tsp rosemary essential oil and a little more than 1/2 tsp peppermint essential oil – same bottle of peppermint as I’ve used before, and I finished a bottle and then opened a new bottle of rosemary – while different brands, I’m pretty sure both brands are re-branding from the same supplier)

        I’ve always made my soap outside in a regular blender regardless of time of year, temperature, humidity levels etc and have never had this happen before. I find in winter, it takes a bit longer to come to trace than it does in summer. I live in Vancouver, Canada.


        • Kelsey says

          Hi Beth!

          Thanks so much for that recipe! I ran it through our Lye Calculator to double check the amounts and ours recommends 5.2 oz. of water. Did you include that extra water for more time to work with your soap?

          “Sweating” in cold process is usually due to two factors – salt and temperature fluctuations. What temperature are you soaping at, and where do you store your soap?

          Let me know and I’ll help you troubleshoot. :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Kim!

      You want your temperatures to be lower than 100F. That way the milk won’t scald!

      Several factors, such as fragrance or additives, can cause acceleration. Do you mind if I ask what’s in your recipe, and what temperature you soaped at? That way I can help you troubleshoot. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Kim!

          Thanks so much for letting me know! I have a few more questions if you don’t mind. How long did you stick blend for, and did you use olive oil pomace or pure?

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  46. Candy says

    what does it mean when you say “lye heavy”? What is the cure for this in the future?

    The soap is at a friend’s house…so I will have her test it and let you know!

    Thanks! Candy

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Candy!

      During the saponification process, the lye reacts with the oils to create soap. If a soap is lye heavy, it means there is lye that hasn’t turned into soap. It can be irritating to skin.

      To avoid this, I would recommend measuring your ingredients by weight. It gives you more accurate measurements. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  47. Candy says

    Just completed a batch of goat milk and lard soap. When unmolding, some of the soaps (used individual molds) were perfect looking and others had an oozy brown mess on them. It seems like it was the last 5 or six molds that developed this ooze. What did I do wrong?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Candy!

      I’d love to help you troubleshoot! Do you mind telling me your recipe? Also, what temperature did you soap at, and how did you store your soap when it was in the mold?

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Candy says

        This is the recipe that I received when I attended a soapmaking class….

        5 cups frozen goat milk
        1 1/4 cup lye (12 oz.)
        12 cups lard (96 oz.)
        2 tbsp. soap scent

        The lard was slowly melted to 90°F. Lye was added to the frozen milk slowly and stirred until incorporated. When temperature reached 90°, the fat was slowly added to the lye mixture. Stir for 30 minutes with non-reactive spatula. Pour into molds sprayed with cooking spray so the soap will easily come out of the molds. The molds set in a cool basement (60-65°) for 48 hours before unmolding. Place on rack and let sit for 6 weeks to cure.

        Being a total and complete NOVICE, I am clueless why the ooze appeared. Any input would be really appreciated!!


  48. Maria says

    Hi: I’ve been trying to find a real answer about my problem. My soap sweats!!! can someone tel me why and to fix it? I have a great A/C! I leave it to dry and next day, there it is: freaking sweat!

  49. Marty Salas says

    We have been trying to figure out what to use on our BB bottles for easing pouring so we don’t lose or waste any. Where did you find the spouts pictured on your BB bottles?
    Thank you,

  50. Cherie says

    My husband bought me a used bowl and accessories to go with my bosch. I kept it on “1” for the first hour, then turned it up to “2” then back to “1”. I ended up rewarming it 3 times, then there was finally a hint of trace after 3 hours. I just checked it, so far it looks good…but still soft. I will probably wait 48 hours to take it out of the mold. Are bosches not good for soap making?

  51. Cherie Anderson says

    Help! I am a novice soap maker, cp process. I have been mixing this same batch of soap for 2 1/2 hours. I followed the directions carefully, even triple checking the lye calculator. I cannot reach trace. While mixing, it looks like silky thin pudding. If I leave it to sit a minute, it separates. I rechecked temperature after an hour or so, and found it had cooled too much, so I warmed it to 95 and began stirring again. Still pretty, but no trace. I ended up warming it a second time…but not sure what to do. My recipe is 4oz avacado oil, 12 olive, 12 coconut, 12 vegetable shortning, 5.54 lye, 13 oz water. It looks so pretty when its stirring, but ugh! No trace! What can I do? Its supposed to be a yummy peppermint eucalyptus green and white swirl bar. lol. :(

  52. Jessica M. says

    I am doing melt and pour and I keep getting these little white bubbles on top. I spray with rubbing alcohol but it still happens. Once the soap hardens I can cut it off but is the soap safe to use? And why is this happening?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Jessica!

      It sounds like there may be air bubbles on your soap. What base are you using, and what are you adding to it? Also, what percent of isopropyl alcohol are you using?

      Let me know and we’ll figure this out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  53. Jenn says

    One other thing, and maybe it’s out there, however I can’t seem to find anything on humidity affecting acceleration. It seems my soap accelerates much faster when the AC is on but moves super slow once it is off for awhile. This only seems to happen in the summer months.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Jenn!

      Hmm, that’s interesting. I’m not exactly sure if humidity affects acceleration!

      Typically, fragrance oils, temperature, or a long time stick blending cause acceleration.

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  54. Jenn says

    Your recipe sounds somewhat similar to mine (with the exception that I use cocoa butter and palm oil and no grapeseed oil) and I have only ever had one fragrance oil rice on me and never had separation (and I have made a ton of soap…lol. Yes I’ve been bitten by the soaping bug). I do however always soap around 80 degrees I find anything higher makes my soap want to behave very badly (acceleration) and this is a medium. For example, if my oils are 90 degrees and my lye is 70 I find I have no problems whatsoever with the batch.

  55. Liz says

    I have found recently that my soaps are ricing and/or separating. I use olive oil pomace (40%), coconut oil (30%), castor oil (8%), sweet almond oil (8%), grapeseed oil (8%), and shea butter (6%). The oils and lye water are about 125 degrees F when I mix them. It doesn’t seem to matter which fragrance or essential oils I use. What am I doing wrong?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Liz!

      What temperature is your lye water? When lye is cooler, it can start solidifying the shea butter in your recipe as you’re making soap.

      If your oils are around 125F, it may help to have your lye water around the same temperature. That will ensure the shea butter stays melted. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  56. Luzvi says

    I am a beginner and my shampoo and my luxury soap it’s very good but my third batch is ok and hard but a little bit oily when it touch. I can still use this soap or I needed to re-batch. Thanks Luzvi

  57. Rose says

    Hi! I’ve been making soaps for almost 2 years now, and sometimes I get holes that run through an entire loaf of soap, and “leak” oils. I make goat’s milk soaps with only essential oils. The only things I did differently this time, was I added hemp oil, vitamin E, and I put the loaf in the freezer for awhile so the goat’s milk wouldn’t burn. What on earth did I do wrong?

  58. Kellyn Nunez says

    I had a particular experience with salt soaps. The one with lemongrass did not gelled like the others and when I cut it it, the consistency was like compacted baby powder. So weird. I tried to rebatch it, but I didn’t work either. The lye did did not bond with the rework and my soap turned out extremely alkaline. There was excess fluid in my soap, I believe it was lye. I still don’t know what to do with the alkaline salt bars. I added 7% salt to my whole batch.

    I have something particular to ask you. How do you prevent goat’s milk soaps from overheating? Which procedure will be better to allow a complete gel stage or to prevent it from happening? Is this something that it will apply to sugar soaps as well?

    Thanks Soap Queen :)

  59. Wendy says

    I Peeked at one of my loaf soaps to see if it was gelling and it was completely liquid. It had been covered very well for about 9 hrs at the time. I took the towels off. Now I’m hoping it will be OK in the morning. I don’t understand why this happened. I don’t think it was suppose to turn completely liquid.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Wendy!

      Depending on how hot your soap is, the entire loaf can go through gel phase. This will give the loaf a liquidy appearance.

      However, it should be solid in a day or so. If not, let me know and I’ll help you troubleshoot. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

    • says

      Hi Christine!

      Some soapers add their fragrance/essential oils to their soaping oils, while others add it at trace. Personally, I like adding the fragrance at trace with a whisk, because I feel it gives me more control over possible acceleration. I would recommend trying that method, and seeing if that helps! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  60. Christine says

    I’ve tried making a few batches of soap with a 5% superfat and they all seize right away. Like moments after I mix before adding any essential oils. On top of that, all the soap bars are very soft. I even tried changing the recipe with softer oils like 70% olive and sunflower oil, but it still seized. And is still very soft days later. Is there anything I can do? In case it matters, it is very hot and humid here.

      • says

        Hi Christine!

        I’d be happy to help troubleshoot why your soap is seizing. Sometimes fragrances can be the culprit, so you want to make sure you are using a fragrance that has been tested for soap making. It sounds like you are using essential oils, so that may not be the issue. If you could tell me a little bit more about your recipe, and methods, I’d be happy to help!

        It could be that you are reaching too thick of a trace. Do you use a stick blender, and for how long? Once your soap has emulsified, I recommend using a whisk to blend in any colorants or fragrances. This helps with seizing :)

        I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot further!

        -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  61. says

    I made a batch of soap with brambleberry strawberry fragrance it is too soft. I thought the weather was to blame so I waited two days to unfold but I also put it in he freezer. I unmolded it and a day later it’s soft again what do I do rebatch it? And if I do rebatch should I just melt it? Help me save my soap :( this the first time this ever happened

  62. Thakasato says

    Just made some cold process soap that turned out greasy and very oil. What could have caused this, and is there anything else I can do to salvage the soap besides rebatching?

  63. Thakasato says

    Just made some cold process soap that turned out greasy and very oil. What could have caused this, and is there anything else I can do to salvage the soap besides rebatching?

  64. Cutter says

    What about crumbly soaps? I recently did a coconut-banana soap – with real banana and coconut milk – and the result is a *very* soft soap that’s easy to crumble apart. Too much liquid? Too much lye?

    • says

      Hi there!

      If you have found that your soap is crumbly, it could be caused by a few things. It could be that not enough liquid was used, or too much dry ingredients were added (things like oatmeal, or clay). If you’d like to tell me a little bit more about your recipe and methods, I would be happy to help you troubleshoot :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  65. Tara says

    Thanks Kevin! My soap did set up, and have used and seems fine! Though I am curious of one more thing, there is a noticeable dark line that goes through the center of my soap where the top half is a lot lighter and the bottom half is a lot darker, what could have caused this? Will the bottom half fade? Is this safe to use?

  66. says

    So this is my 3rd time making soap, and conveniently the first two times worked out perfectly, no problems! Yet this time, I found it took a long time for my soap to harden. I like to make designs/chunky top of the soap, and I had to wait a while before the soap would even allow me to do so. I believe I was at a thin trace before I added my fragrance and then before I poured into my mold. When I went to peak at the loaf (which I wrapped in saran wrap and a towel) it seems that the center has gone dark, and the sides seem to have some soda ash. It still feels a little warm to the touch of the wooden mold as well. Do I need to just let this cool longer before losing hope? I used more fragrance than my past times, I wonder if that can account for it? Or I needed to wait for a thicker trace?
    Also, what can I do if the dark center does not go away? What is the process for re batching soap?

    Thank you!!!

  67. Newbie says

    First time making soap today. Everything went great until I added fragrance and stick blended it, boom…. It turned into ‘what looks like’ pellets and it’s thicken up. I molded it and I could see some oil draining out from the “soap?” The texture is not smooth at all. Can this be called separation? What can I do with “this” later?

  68. Femmy says

    Hi AM,

    I finally tried your ‘Lost of Lather’ CP recipe and… failed :'(

    First batch: I unmolded it after 24 hours and tried to cut it. You did cutting very smoothly, so I was thinking, ‘cutting is gonna be easy’. So I cut with a knife, but instead cutting it smoothly, my soap just broke apart! It turned into crumbles and didn’t make smooth edges :( I was really sad.

    Second batch: after pouring into mold, my CP soap just did not get harder. It was like pudding and after 1 week, still soft and had a creamy texture :(

    What is wrong with those soaps? I used Sunflower oil instead of olive oil for both batch (run out of olive oil) and use labcolor for the second batch. Is it why it failed?

    Thanks AM, you’re the best!

    • says

      Hi Femmy!

      I’m sorry to hear that your soap didn’t turn out quit right, but soaping takes practice so don’t be too hard on yourself :).

      It sounds like for each batch, the balance of lye may have been off. When you switched your oils, did you rerun your recipe through the lye calculator? The colorant would not be the reason.

      If you could give me a little bit more information regarding your recipe and methods, I would love to help you troubleshoot further! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  69. says

    This post provides some great visuals for common soaping problems! It’s difficult sometimes to explain ricing, seizing, volcanoes, or alien brains. Having pictures helps so much. I haven’t experienced alien brains or a soap volcano (yet – I’m sure my day is coming), but I have experienced acceleration, ricing, and seizing. Big time seizing – like cement in my bowl in seconds! All I could do was mash it up with my whisk and glop it into my mold. It wasn’t pretty, but it was usable. :)

    • says

      Hi Jenny!

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful! I’m a visual learner myself, so having examples like this helps me as well :) I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced seizing, that’s always frustrating! But with soaping practice makes perfect, and then you know what you don’t wanna do in the future! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  70. Melissa says

    Great article and perfect timing!!! Wondering how I can submit a picture of two soaps that I think have had ‘problem b’ so BB experts can confirm what has happened. One was made with Spellbound Woods (made 12/14/13) and the 2nd was made with Oatmeal Milk & Honey (made 12/17/13). Both FO’s are from BB and both were made with fresh/frozen goat milk.

  71. Leslet says

    Great post, thank you! I have had batches get super thick and some over heat but never ricing or separation thank goodness! I am very cautious about the FOs that I purchase. Bramble Berry’s detailed information about each FO is wonderful. I don’t purchase from many companies due to lack of information. Come right back to BB.

    • says

      Hi Leslet!

      I’m so glad that you enjoy our fragrance oils, and I’m also really happy to hear that they have behaved well for you! We test our fragrances thoroughly to make sure they behave themselves :) Thanks for the kind words and your business Leslet!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  72. says

    Very timely post for me. I’ve dealt with ricing, acceleration and seizing, but just the other day has some soap separate for the first time. Unfortunately I had poured it on top of the majority of soap which was fine. I didn’t notice the weird separation consistency until after poured and swirled a bit. I’ve made this soap recipe and EO blend before so I know I just did not SB enough to emulsify. Your photos confirmed my suspicions that it was separation.

    I’m wondering about your ricing statement “Ricing occurs when an ingredient in the fragrance oil binds with some of the harder oil components in the recipe to form little hard rice-shaped lumps.” Do you think using more soft oils and less hard oils will also help this problem? I do use a lot of hard oils and butters in my recipe and I have one FO that always rices, but I really like it so just deal with it. But I’m thinking of tweaking my recipe now.

    Great post with suggestions to solve these problems. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Susan,
      Great question! Unfortunately the makeup of the soap recipe doesn’t matter so much. It’s all about the fragrance oil. You could have a 100% olive oil soap and still have ricing if the fragrance oil is not perfected for cold process!

      That is very frustrating, especially if you like the fragrance! You could always start doing rebatch with that particular fragrance so then it wouldn’t matter! :) Happy soaping!

  73. Kenzie says

    I just have to say, I’ve bought fo’s from several different companies. 9/10 times I’ve had problems with them in cold process like ricing, acceleration, etc. I’ve never had one fragrance oil from BB that caused any problems. It definitely pays off to go through a high quality company that thoroughly tests out their scents. Thanks for the fantastic quality!

    • says

      Hi Kenzie!

      I’m so happy to hear this! We test all our fragrances extensively, it’s really important to us that the fragrance not only smells great, but behaves well in your soap! Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for being a customer! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  74. Elizabeth says

    I love this tutorial, but I wish you had also included photos of what would have happened if you hadn’t stick blended out the ricing – does it cure with lumps? Is it worth dealing with the super-thick batter once you blend it out?

    If you’re pouring into a mold that might not get completely filled with a thicker batter, would it be better to take a chance that the rice will disappear rather than deal with a “holey” (partially filled with air pockets) design?

    I’ve only had one experience with ricing (BB’s super-yummy Sea Moss FO), and I blended out the “rice”, but I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t put in all that extra effort. It was just a sample run in a Dixie cup, so I didn’t have to worry about pouring.

    Thanks for all the info – you guys have helped me so much so far!

    • says

      Hi Elizabeth!

      I am so glad you found this post helpful. Your guess is correct, if you were to not stick blend out the ricing, your soap would cure with clumps. Whenever we have experienced ricing, we have found it’s worth it to stick blend the clumps out in order to end up with a smoother soap.

      I hope this helps Elizabeth :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  75. Corina says

    I have had an issue twice out of 14 batches. The issue is the essential oils seem to be precipitating out of the soap leaving it very moist and soft. This means that I have to wait more than 48 hours to cut. Am I not incorporating properly? I add at trace. I usually soap at 110 – 125 degrees. This issue has happened with 2 different recipes. The first one was with a Cedarwood and Orange Oil EO Blend, and the second one was a combination of sage, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, and lavender blend. These were not BB Eos.

      • Corina says

        One last thing I totally forgot about. After the soap had set up a bit, I added sea salt to the tops and then covered with plastic wrap and a towel (I have had problems with too much ash). About an hour later, I went to check on it and the plastic wrap was wet as if the water in the soap had condensed. I took off the wrap and looked at it again several hours later, and it looked fine, so I decided to put a clean piece of plastic wrap on it and covered the whole thing in a towel. Went to check on it, and same thing occurred again, so I ditched the plastic wrap and just kept a towel around the base of the mold. This issue happened to me previously in a wooden mold; this time it was a silicone mold.

        Any ideas would be helpful. I think the soap will be fine, as the last one came out fine. I intend to let it cure for 6 full weeks and then test.

        • Kristi says

          I just had this same experience w/shampoo bars. It was a recipe I made once before, I just doubled the size. I put plastic wrap over the top and had the same experience, so I ran my recipe through a calculator and everything was fine. I was worried my scale miss-weighed some oils (it does that sometimes), but I’m now wondering if it had to do w/putting plastic wrap on the top (I had never done this before). Did your batches reabsorb the oils, were they still usable?

          • Kelsey says

            Hi Kristi and Corina!

            It sounds like that plastic wrap may be causing some condensation on your soaps and making them a little soft.

            To force our soaps through gel phase, we put a piece of cardboard on top and wrap it in a towel. Another way is to set it on a heating pad on a medium setting. That may help prevent that precipitation! :)

            -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  76. Anna-Rose says

    thanks for the info. Luckily I haven’t had to deal with any of these problems (except acceleration) and this so helpful for identifying problems, so we can fix them! and also Ann Marie you are such a roll-model to all young soapers out there! as a 15yr it is nice to know I’m not the only one who started young!!

  77. Natalya says

    I had a strange problem that appeared couple months after the batches were made. I am committed to use only natural ingredients in my soaps. I used to add grapefruit seed extract to my formulas. After reading that preserving properties of GSE were largely due to presence of added benzethonium chloride, I switched to using vitamin E (tocopherol). Strangely, couple months after the batches were made, plain unscented soaps and soaps scented with peppermint EO developed purple spots, and eventually turned from white grayish-purple. Peppermint soaps lost their smell. The same thing happened when I made batches without any preservatives. Interestingly, my other soaps (including white ones scented with lemon EO) did not have this issues – only plain and peppermint soaps were affected. I believe the problem was caused by oxidation of superfatting oils. After lots of reading and experimenting, I think I found a solution – I replaced the vitamin E with rosemary extract. This took care of the issue: the batches are 3 months old now, with no signs of purple discoloration. An unscented powdered rosemary extract appeared to work better than regular dark-colored liquid form.

  78. Cathey says

    I recently made an ITP swirl batch that riced just as I was doing the swirling, I poured it into the mold really fast, then discovered that when the soap went through gel-phase the ricing just melted or smoothed out and the look was really unique! I would agree with another poster…as long as the soap is not lye-heavy or damaged, sometimes the “weird stuff” can look interesting!

  79. Amy says

    I am very new to cp soaping and I read a post on the teach soap forum last that said not to use glass when mixing lye and water and also mixing the soap. I noticed that was what Anne Marie used on her basics of cp soap series on soapqueen tv, so I am confused. Also I have used glass measuring cups to do 2 batches of cp soap. If I dont use them anymore for cp soap can I wash them up and use for baking and cooking now?
    Also another question, someone mentioned not using loaf molds for goats milk soap. What about using a 4″ loaf mold, will that still get too hot?

    • says

      Hi Amy!

      We have found glass to work fine when mixing lye water and when mixing soap. We make sure to use high quality, strong glass products to avoid any breaking. While some soapers prefer to soap with alternative materials, we feel comfortable soaping in heat resistant glass containers. Anne-Marie has confirmed multiple times over the years, with both KitchenAid (Whirlpool Corp) and Pyrex, that adding lye (sodium or potassium hydroxide) to water and using it with their products is within their safety and testing zones.

      As to using the same utensils for baking and making soap, we do not recommend it. We prefer to keep these tools separate, just on the off chance that any lye remains. This is purely a personal choice, but we recommend keeping these items separate. We offer a wide variety of quality measuring utensils that have been tested specifically for soaping :)

      Soaping Tools:

      I hope this helps, Happy Soaping!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  80. KatydidSoaps says

    I’ve heard you can rescue “soap on a stick” or soap that has seized in the pot by letting it go into gel and then spooning it into the mold, since it gets more fluid during the gel phase. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it yet though.

  81. says

    I have had really good results with fragrance oils that I know will rice by adding a little of the warmed oil to the fragrance oil prior to adding it to the soap pot. I will also make sure not to discount my water and also soap at low temps (100 degrees f or lower). Awesome post by the way Anne Marie!

  82. says

    I add all my fragrance oils to the oil before I add the lye, and I always use room temperature lye. That way they are already fully incorporated, and I can hand stir the ones that I know are troublemakers (florals) or just use the stick blender in very short bursts.

    But the most important thing I remember is that the customer doesn’t know what I wanted the soap to look like – so unless it’s really damaged in some way or lye-heavy, onto the shelf it goes!

  83. Michael G says

    I recently had a batch with extreme ricing then separation. It was pretty gross and wasn’t salvageable. So, no words of wisdom or any solutions, but it was a learning experience. I was pretty bummed though that I lost a whole batch of soap igredients and 4 ounces of fragrance.

  84. Lisa Christiansen says

    I had this experience with a small batch of soap that I was making over the holidays for Valentine’s Day gifts. It seized immediately when I added my Rose Essential Oil. But I quickly mashed it into the mold (my milk carton) and once it set up I cut it, hoping for the best. After it aged I had to trim off quite a bit of the crumbly-looking edges (which I kept for myself to use in my mesh “soap saver”) it WAS great soap. Smelled fabulous and no texture issues, maybe because I had lots of soothing oils in it. I soap just as a hobby but am learning a lot from your site. Thanks so much for this great information.

  85. Kris Sayers says

    After not making soap for 10 years or so, I made a few batches of goat milk soap – plain and cinnamon – so I would have a reason to help a friend out at a craft fair. I used to make all my “spare” money selling this soap, so I was crushed when people said things like “Yuck” and “It doesn’t smell!” and others proceeded to give me tips on how to make my soap “better”. Well. Humph. So no one wants excellent but “plain” soap anymore??? I went online, ordered a bunch of B&B-like scents and went to work. (I know, long story)One of the FOs was a cucumber-melon which smelled wonderful! BUT! Not only did the soap rice, it seized into hard, dry balls! It looked like shredded HP soap! However, it still smelled great, so I rebatched it and added some french green clay. The result was a beautiful, silky-lathering, great smelling soap that sold immediately. It was such nice soap, I’d like to make more, but don’t care to go through all that again! Also, I like to chunk “failed” soaps (especially ones that get too dark to look nice solo) and add the chunks to a soap I know will stay light. HP soap that crumbles can be mixed into a M&P – I did a red grapefruit soap that way and it also sold out

  86. Rose says

    I make goat milk soaps and have had a couple of weird overheating issues. I have found that I can’t make my recipe in a loaf mold because the soap gets too hot when it cures and creates a black sludge in the bottom of the mold. The sludge is black to brownish, clear and gelatinous. It’s probably a variation of the soap volcano situation. My work around is to wipe off the sludge and rebatch the soap if it is too damaged to make uniform bars. I now use a large pan mold and make each batch only 2″ thick to avoid the sludge factor.


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