Lye Spots on Soap

What do lye spots on soap look like?

Below are two pictures – one that shows’ a lye pocket (this pocket is filled with liquid) and the other shows lye spots (hard white lye spots in the soap)

lye spot

Lye pocket

White Lye Spot

When you make your soap, put it to rest and then take it out all ready to cut…it may look amazing and then you start cutting it into bars and find these liquid lye pockets or solid spots and gasp!  This batch is gone.

So what happended to cause this?

The possible causes of lye pockets are:

  • Possibly too much lye was added to the recipe (maybe incorrectly read from your recipe card)
  • If the soap has been poured before it has traced – it’s important to ensure your soap has reached trace before pouring it into molds.
  • The soap has not been mixed well – mix it well when adding the lye water to the oils

If your soap is showing lye pockets you can check the following:

  • Make sure your recipe has the right amount of lye. To do this you can re-run your recipe through the lye calculator. Lye Calculator for Soap Making
  • Check your scale to make sure it is working properly. If it is battery-operated maybe the batteries are low and need replacing.
  • When stirring your soap, make sure it is blended well before pouring it into the soap molds.
  • Use a stick blender, and also a whisk in between to make sure your soap mixture is well blended.
  • Sometimes a stick blender will work too quickly and it will look like the soap is well blended when in fact it isn’t. It’s always a good rule of thumb to take a whisk or wooden spoon and stir your soap batch up well before pouring it into the mold.

Can the soap be fixed?

    • If the liquid pockets in your soap appear to be oil rather than lye, you then can just cut it up and re-batch it.
    • If in fact, the pockets are lye, it’s a little harder to fix. I would toss it, but if you want to try to re-batch it I would add some extra oils and definitely check the PH of the soap before attempting to use it.

What do white lye spots look like on soap?

If you have made your soap and cut into it and see white spots it could be undissolved lye or have lye-heavy areas. If this is the case it would look something like the picture above.

The possible causes of white lye spots on soap are:

      • If the soap has not been mixed properly – always be sure to blend the oils and lye/water mix well and don’t pour your soap into the molds until it has traced.
      • Too much lye has been added to the recipe – this will cause lye spots or patches of soap that will crumble – check your recipe to make sure the amount of lye added is correct. Use your Lye Calculator to Soap Making
      • Possibly the lye/water mix was not mixed well leaving hard pieces of lye that would have been poured into the oils may be without notice. I have had this happen where the bottom of the lye/water container had almost what looked like a sheet of ice. It was not easy to see and was too late once it got poured out into the oil pot.  This has resulted in having those lye spots when I cut the soap.  Very disappointing.

Can this lye-heavy soap be fixed?

Check your recipe and see if you can figure out what went wrong with this batch. If you are sure it was too much lye, you then try re-batching by cutting the soap up and adding more oils. Like the fix above, you will have to check the PH balance to make sure the soap is usable after doing this.

Tips on how to prevent soap problems

      • Proper measurements of your oils and lye/water mixture are very important and should not be altered. It’s important to use the Lye Calculator when changing or substituting other oils. Each oil has its own SAP value so if you are replacing an oil you have run out of with something else then the recipe needs to be run through the lye calculator again, as you may need more or less lye depending on the oil.
      • When adding your lye to the measured water make sure to stir it completely until it is clear in color.
      • The oils and lye/water temperature should be between 100 and 110 before pouring together and mixing. Some people say you can mix at lower or slightly higher temperatures but I have found this to be the perfect temperature for my recipes.
      • When using a stick blender, blend in short bursts and use a whisk or wooden spoon in between to stir, this will help to blend the oils and lye/water mixture well.
      • Don’t pour your soap until you are sure it has traced.

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    Happy Soap Making

    Render Soap Making Kit Silicone Mold with Separator and Cutting Tools DIY Handmade Soap Mould

    Another article you may want to read is what to do when you get lye on your skin.  I have had this happen and it does burn and continues to burn.

If you have suffered a lye burn you will know what I am talking about.  What to do if you get Lye on your skin?

Also very important in soap making is to know how to be safe.  Wearing the proper safety gear which would include safety eye wear, gloves, and aprons.  Ready the article below for more information on safety when making soap

Soap Making Safety


Silicone Soap Mold – Flexible Rectangular Loaf Mold Comes with Wood Box, Stainless Steel Wavy & Straight Scraper for Soaps Making


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6 Responses to Lye Spots on Soap

  1. f1shbiscuits says:

    Wow, I see that you have experience making home made soap. Do you sell it at your local market ? I find the soap nowadays are quite expensive. I would like to make myself a bar of my own scent of soap, is it less expensive if I make it myself?

    • Tes says:

      Hi yes I do sell my soap at local markets and do craft fairs and Christmas markets as well.  I enjoy getting out and meeting the people that buy my soap.  Handmade soap varies in price depending on the ingredients, but for sure it would be cheaper if you made your own.

  2. Cathy Cavarzan says:

    Your article on lye spots is interesting. I have a friend of mine that used to make goats milk soap and used lots of essential oils in the making of her soaps. I never knew that it was a problem with the lye that makes homemade soap crumble like that. My opinion is this is very valuable information for anybody interested in making soaps and selling them.I liked the layout of this site,and the friendly way you went about explaining the lye issues.

    • Tes says:

      The right amount of lye is really important in soap making either too much or too little can have a terrible outcome.  Thanks for the nice comments on my website. 

  3. Dora says:

    I like to make my own laundry detergent because it’s inexpensive, safe and I love how clean my clothes come out.  Lately I have been thinking about making my own soap as well, I am so glad I found your article because you have a lot of greats tips on making soap.

    I checked out your coffee soap recipe, I have to say I LOVE coffee and I can’t wait to try this recipe because it has a lot of health benefits along with it.  I definitely will be returning to your website to check out more of your soap making recipes.



    • Tes says:

      Hi Dora, the coffee soap really is nice.  It has works as a nice exfoliator and the smell is also amazing.  I’ll be adding more recipes as time goes by.  Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 

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