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Most soap making problems can be fixed. Your best bet is to
always consult a saponification chart before trying a new recipe. Make sure the
ratio of fat/oils to lye is accurate. It is even more important to do this
if you are adjusting the basic recipe in any way. Soap making is a delicate balance
and any haphazard changes are likely to cause problems.
Here is a short list of what can happen and what to do about it.
- If a layer of oil rises to the top as the soap cools you may have put in too much oil. Just pour off the excess, reheat the soap, stir until
"trailings" are visible, and put it back to bed.
- If the soap curdles it is probably due to inaccurate measuring or too much of an additive. This happened to me once when I added borax to the soap. It was disgusting looking. This one is tough to fix. You can try to dilute it by adding more soap and water (in correct proportion). If the curdling is severe-don't even try. You will have to discard the soap.
- Lye Bubbles
- You will not see this right away. The bubbles will be inside the block. This is why you still wear the rubber gloves when cutting up the cured soap. Lye bubbles are caustic and will burn your skin! Cut up the batch over the sink and rinse off any lye. Allow the soap to dry as usual.
- Free Fat
- The cause is too much fat and too little lye. No way to fix this
after the fact. :-(
- The soap will not come out of the mold.
- Put the molds in the freezer for about an hour. The soap will shrink and
pop out like an ice cube.
- The soap doesn't show signs of tracing.
- You may have too much lye in the mixture, too much water, wrong
temperature, or you may not have stirred enough. Try stirring more or use
short bursts from a hand blender to speed things up. If it doesn't trace after 4 hours,
it isn't going to happen. Most recipes should take between 20 minutes and one hour to trace.