Archive for February, 2012

Handling a seize

February 14, 2012

You’re making soap, everything is going along fine, then you put in the scent. All of a sudden, the soap in the pot starts hardening as you watch. This is one good reason we have the mold ready. Here’s what else you can do.

First, be sure you’re using a quality fragrance oil. Don’t go cheap, you’ll pay for it by fading scent, or speeding trace.  Get your fragrance oils (FOs) from a reputable place, like Brambleberry, or Wholesale Supplies plus, a place that has fragrance oils for soap or candle making. They won’t steer you wrong.

The first, and possibly the most important thing here is to stir with a spoon after adding the fragrance oil. It’s already been explained how a stick blender can cause a false trace. Using it after adding the fragrance oil may precipitate the seize. For people who like their stick blender so much, hand stir at least half the time. Wailing away with the stick blender can cause other problems, like a moon surface on the soap when it’s hard, and speeds up trace when used after FOs that speed trace up. You don’t need two factors causing it.

Some FOs are known offenders, though. One of my favorites, Sun Ripened Raspberry from Brambleberry, is one. They do warn you when you buy, so you can take some precautions.

Add your fragrance oil at early, very thin, trace. This at least buys time to get it into the mold. What will work better is setting aside a portion of the oils, mixing the FO with it, and warming it a bit before adding at thin trace. Either way, stir with a spoon once you have added the FO.

You’re working with a new FO, and aren’t sure about it. You add at light trace,  stir 2-3 times, then realize you’ve got something the consistency of pudding already. Your mold is prepared, now glop, spoon, scrape, in any way possible, into the mold. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and insulate the daylights out of it, like wrap it in a quilt. Put it somewhere and leave it be for about half an hour. It’ll get hot. When you take the quilt off, it will look like gel. It’s supposed to. DON’T TOUCH THE RAW SOAP. Smooth the top through the plastic, insulate with just a towel, and leave it alone until morning.

You add your FO, look away for half a second, turn back, and you have a pot of stone. Spoon embedded, the whole nine yards. You can put low heat under it, and begin stirring, adding water a drop at a time as the soap melts. Then you can put it in the mold.

And now I’ve told you all this nice stuff, I don’t do much of anything when the soap seizes. I turn on the oven, put the soap in there, and oven hot process. You’ll have to add more scent after cook, because it will likely cook off, but you’ll have your soap, and sooner than you expected.