Friday, 29 November 2013

How to deal with a curdled disaster!

Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos while making this so the post is going to look a bit boring. This soap started out as a disaster for me but I managed to remedy the situation and ended up with a really nice bar of soap in the end. I have outlined below what went wrong, how I remedied it and what to do to prevent this happening to you.

This soap contains lots of really rich oils to provide lots of moisture for sensitive facial skin, along with kaolin clay to cleanse and gently exfoliate dead skin cells.

Please read the health and safety instructions, and the whole post before attempting this recipe.

Rose and Kaolin Facial Bar

Olive oil 100g
Coconut oil 100g
Shea Butter 25g
Lard 125g
Rapeseed oil 75g
Palm oil 25g
Cocoa Butter 25g
Distilled water 190g
Sodium hydroxide 68.9g
Kaolin 1tbsp
Pink mica 1tsp
Rose fragrance oil 20mls

  • Place the water into a plastic container and slowly add the sodium hydroxide bit by bit until it has completely dissolved.
  • Gently heat the oils in a pan until they have completely dissolved.
  • Wait until both the lye mixture and the oils have cooled to 45C then combine them in a plastic container.
  • Blend the two together until the soap mixture reaches trace.
  • Add in the kaolin, mica (you may want to add more than 1tsp, I wanted a really pale shade of pink for my soap so this is why I used such a small amount).
  • Then I added the fragrance oil and about two seconds later the mixture started to resemble curdled milk with lots of the liquid oils separating out (apparently this is common when dealing with certain fragrance oils especially floral ones)
  • I spooned it into the mold in one big glob and hoped that the soap would sort itself out when it reached gel phase.
  • The next morning I checked on it and it was still an oily mess.
  • My plan was to heat it up in a pan to rebatch it but I know you can't make soap in an aluminium pan so I tried all the pans we have with a magnet to find a steel one and no luck!
  • As a last resort, I set our big soup pan on the stove and filled it with boiling water.
  • I spooned the dodgy soap mix into a zip lock plastic bag and the put another bag around it to keep out the water.
  • I boiled the soap mixture in the bag until it had completely melted, at this point the soap turned from a curdled mess into a nice smooth soap mix which I squeezed out of the bag back into the mold and allowed to set.
  • I left the soap for two weeks to dry out, then it was ready to use. I'm really pleased with it as it moisturises my dry facial skin really well and has a lovely light smell of roses.

I have done some research and there are several things you can do to prevent the soap seizing so badly when you add certain fragrance oils. I will give these methods a go next time I work with fragrance oil.

1. Add your fragrance oil to the melted oils before adding the sodium hydroxide as the effects of the fragrance oil will be diluted by the other oils.
2. Mix the oil and sodium hydroxide together at a lower temperature to prevent the mixture reaching trace as quickly.
3. Make your soap base with a higher amount of liquid oils as this will also slow down trace.