What is trace in Soap Making?

Well I can’t tell you about soap making without talking about trace…..when I started making soap I kept thinking What is trace in Soap Making?  It sounded complicating to me, but once I saw it, I knew what it meant. I have given you step by step instruction on how to make soap, but here is some more information to help you clearly understand TRACE.

What is trace in Soap making?

Well, it is when the chemistry of the waters and oils start working to create a soap like substance.  When real trace has occurred your lye solution and oils will not separate anymore, the emulsion of the oils and water, with the chemical reaction from the lye has fully blended and will continue to set up or become solid.  While this process is occurring the ph levels of the lye are being neutralized, so in the end, your will have a gentle cleaning bar.

Before Trace

So you have your melted oils and your lye solution and the temperatures
are just right, it’s time to add your lye/water to the oils.  When you do this you will notice the lye/water will go to the bottom of the pot, this happens because this mixture is heavier than the oils.

Time to Stir

Carefully, start to stir your mixture (your don’t want caustic liquid to splash you) so don’t forget your protective apron, safety glasses and gloves.  If you are using a stick blender, make sure the blades stay under the soap to eliminate any splash.

The soap base will begin to change color, how much depends on the oils you are using, your mixture will not look so oily anymore.  After enough blending or stirring your soap will have a color that is often described as vanilla pudding, of course if you are using darker oils like Hemp the color will be darker.

Is it trace?

When deciding what is trace in soap making, and if you are still not sure, it is better to over trace than under.  In theory, if your soap is under traceIMG_0890d, it may try and separate which could leave you with a harsh lye-strong soap on the bottom of your mold and a layer of oil on the top.

If you over trace, this just means your soap will be thicker which is fine, the only problem with this may be if you are adding essential oils or other additives as it may be harder to bend them in, and you may end up spooning your soap into the mold.  (Some people actually prefer to spoon it in) The picture here show soap that is traced.  You can see the stir marks in the soap.

When you soap has traced

At this point, your soap is soap, all natural and unscented and uncolored. Now is when you would add your additives and pour you soap into molds. The stick blender increases the time of trace, without it you could be stirring for a long time.  Stir in your final additives and use the stick blender to mix them in well, then pour your soap into molds and yes scrap the sides of your pot….you don’t want to leave a bar or two behind.

Happy Soaping.



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