Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Getting Good At Botched Batches!

I made more crappy soap. This time I followed a recipe through MMS and their lye calculator as some of you suggested. Everything was fine until I added the fragrance oil. Instant separation. What?!?? What was happening? I had read about separation and why it occurs when the recipe is unbalanced or cools too quickly. But neither occurred. The soap mix was creamy and at a lovely trace and then, BAM! I added un-Brambleberry, untested fragrances. It was a combo of marshmallow and Honey (type). They must have been the culprit because everything was fine until then. The whole thing separated as if the fragrance oils (FOs) marched in their and broke up the kissing that was going on in the pot.

I was too mad to let it go, so I started to cook it on the stove top. I had it on low and stirred every three or four minutes, but no one was kissing again, it just got worse! They were a hateful bunch. 50% of the information I got on the internet said to throw it out, and the others said to cook the batch, pour it and see what happens. So I cooked the beasts and poured what looked like really nasty vomit into my wooden mold. The smell of the sweet fragrances gave me a whopping headache and filled my house with what smelled like a honey latte from Starbucks.

I have a new appreciation for Anne-Marie and Brambleberry, because now I understand the comments in the fragrance oil's description...such as,"accelerates trace" or "discolors cp soap to a brown"...If I had read more on soapmaking, I wouldn't have trashed all that raw material! I want to know ahead of time that the FO isn't going to turn my creamy yummy soap into a vomitous vat of waste.

I have made 4 batches. 2 flopped. That is 50% success in making soap. (I never said great soap, either, just soap). A footnote on batch #3, Elizabeth of Gracefruit gave me a tip and I turned my bad boy batch into real soap, even though lather is minimal.

A lesson is learned here (my husband's words were trying to penetrate my sad head last night). I should try to see this whole thing as a learning step. Now I know that I should pull a bit out of the original batch to scent it and hope there is no separation, or use the fragrances that have been tested by our vendors to begin with.

I have no photos for you, but hope to find my son's camera before the weekend.

It might be time to get a soap book with tried and true recipes and my own camera.



dcyrill said...


I am so sorry to hear about the soap. Believe me it happens to all of us. Even those among us who you view online and have the most fabulous looking soaps to die for have gone through this at some point. My pet peeve is accelerated trace when I use Pulmeria fragrance oil. I have to move real quick to get that in the mold or you can forget it. And I don't want to sound like a broken record but it is a learning process. We all have to go through the bad to get to the good. If that helps. :)

dcyrill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

I am a HP soapmaker, so I have not experienced this (EO/FO goes in after the cook), but that doesn't mean I haven't had super frustrating things happen!

You'll be a seasoned soapmaker soon Joanna.

Hang in there!

Heidi said...

Sorry Joanna! It isn't always this bad = ) I had my own frustrating batch this week too. One of the best things about making more soap is that I learn what to do what the crazy stuff happens.

I like your point about buying tested fragrances. I love Anne Marie for testing all her products so we know what to expect and don't end up wasting lots of money!

I've been using your yuzu bar and it is a nice bar of soap...if you hadn't told me it was your first, I would never have known! (my first bars were slimy and had no lather)

Jennifer said...

Have you went to the Scent review board?

I always check there before purchasing fragrances.

I love having a little more insight on the behavior of a scent before wasting my hard earned money and being disapointed.


Also a tip....try adding your FO's into warm (not hot ) base oils blend for even distribution and then add in room temprature lye water. I started doing this 2 years ago and will never go back to adding FO's after the lye.

as far as soaping...You win some, and you loose some...All in the name of leaning and experimenting.

Good luck and have a Soapcessful Day!

gracefruit said...

Oh bless. I have been there so many times. I am constantly testing fragrance oils for, and I have seen some real disasters.

I hope this one works out for you, but even if it doesn't, don't fret. You learn so much from failed batches. We've all had them!

E xx

Heather@Twin Birch said...

Hey Joanna, thanks for writing about the separation thing. I'm scared to try any FO besides A-M's in CP because I don't know what will happen! I love the descriptions that she gives, so I always pick her FO's.
But I would like to take a risk, and it's reassuring to have some idea of what to do when it goes wrong!

Don't give up! You are so super talented!!!

Joanna Schmidt said...

You all are so delicious I want to eat you up!! Let's just face it... I do well with body products, but chemistry has never been my forte. I am NOT giving up, however. I have too many ideas flashing through my brain, like, always. I even dream about soap designs!

Jennifer said...

Just fixing the link I added to my previous post. I was obviously up past my bedtime when I posted last night.

The Scent Review Board.

Sign in...

I am always blown away by the extensive list of suppliers and reviews.

Anonymous said...

Joanna, glad you're not giving up! I'm very bummed for you about your latest batch, but I have great faith in you that you will learn the craft well and be an expert very soon. Hugs!

Carrie Garvin said...

For some reason I have found the "sweeter" the scent, the more likely it may freeze up, or seperate.

For this reason, I have stayed with the same vendors, same fragrances for years.

Hang in there, we have all been there.

Anonymous said...

Please don't give up...I agree with your hubby, it is just part of learning, AND if it is any consolation, it makes for very enertaining reading : )

Heather@Twin Birch said...

Hi girls! Thanks to Cedar House Soapmaker for the cool link. It's worth checking out. Another great site w/tons of info!

Anonymous said...

I tried your graham cracker soap and absolutely loved it. One problem only- it's too big for the soap dish. Much respect for your willingness to jump into something so new and difficult. Keep up the good work, girl. Love, Mama

Michelle said...

Oh Joanna, don't worry! All budding soapmakers have failed batches! I think the book is a good idea. You can read more about other mistakes before you actually make them. *hugs*

Unknown said...

Even seasoned soap makers make botched batches once in a while...they just don't want to admit it.

Anonymous said...

Awww...hang in there! It'll get MUCH better!

Rurality said...

About those ornery batches, you just have to think, "Well it makes a good story"!

At our yearly soap meeting in Alabama, we always have a BUS award. That stands for "Butt Ugly Soap"! People bring in their biggest catastrophes from the year, and everyone votes on which is the worst. The "winner" gets a prize! So whenever we have a failed batch, we can save it for the BUS. :)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried warming up your FO before you incorporate it? Sometimes that helps. Also, have you tried working with EO's at all? They're easier than FO's to work with, and might be a better starting off point for a beginning soap maker.

Also, have you made a batch of Palm-Coconot-Olive oil soap yet? That's the classic, standard soap recipe, and it's always good to start basic before you get all fancy. If you haven't yet, check out Miller's Soap. It's one of the most old school looking websites I've seen in a while, but don't let that fool you. She has a ton of experience and great advice. Try her Soap Classic recipe.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

By the way, just because a recipe is published in a book as opposed to a website, doesn't mean it's better. I've read tons of bad reviews on the recipes in some of the soap books out there.

I really would recommend you go with Miller's Soap website if you want some good recipes.

And please buy the book, The Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch. It goes in-depth into the chemistry behind soapmaking, and I think it will really help illuminate your soapmaking efforts.