What do lye spots on soap look like?
Below are two pictures – one that shows’ a lye pocket (this pocket is liquid) and the other shows’ lye spots (hard white spots)
The possible causes of lye pockets are:
- 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 into molds.
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 the batteries may be low and need replacing.
- When stirring your soap, make sure it blends well. I use a stick blender, but also a whisk in between to make sure it is blended well. Sometimes a stick blender will work to 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 good before pouring 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 caused of white lye spots on soap are:
- 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 for Soap Making
- Possibly the lye/water mix was not mixed well leaving hard pieces of lye that would have been poured into the oils maybe 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 to late once it got poured out into the oil pot.
Can this lye heavy soap be fixed?
Check your recipe and see if you can figure out what went wrong with this batch. If your 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 it’s own SAP value so if you are replacing an oil you have run out of with something else you 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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