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Salt soap fail

Every time I get confident with soapmaking I try something new and find that its not as easy as I thought.  I have pretty well perfected my basic soap recipes:

Using salt in soap
I decided to try a couple of recipes that use salt - soap with pink salt as an exfoliant, and then soap with salt water in the lye to make a harder bar (its called soleseife in German).  Salt is supposed to produce a nice lather and a soft, soothing soap.  I sprinkled larger lumps of salt on top the exfoliant bar.  See below for the recipes adapted for tallow.


eight acres: problems with making soap with salt
It looked good in the moulds!

Everything went well until I came to cut the soap.  I left it in the mould for a couple of days, as I usually do.  When we tried to cut the soap it crumbled.  No mater what we tried, the cutter than came with the cutting frame, a pizza cutter, a large knife, a serrated knife, a piano wire, NOTHING would prevent the soap from crumbling.  I had this problem with both versions of the salt soap.  So I asked Google, and find multiple references on forums to salt soap being VERY difficult to cut. That's when I realised that the two recipes I had consulted used individual moulds, so there was no mention of the fact that the salt soap would be impossible to cut.  This was my fault for not researching more thoroughly before jumping in to try a new recipe.  

I found this site was a good reference for salt soap, with the following advice: 
If you pour salt soap into a loaf mold, you have to monitor it closely and cut it before it gets to hard. This can be 4 hours after you pour or 8. Sometimes it is hard to tell when they are ready to cut.
More on salt soap here and here.

eight acres: problems with making soap with salt
We could not cut the soap without crumbling because it was so hard

Rebatching the salt soap
Next time I make these recipes I will use individual moulds.  But in the meantime, what to do about two batches of salt soap fail?  I still really wanted to try the salt soap!  There was some useful advice on this soap forum about how to recover from salt soap fails.

I decided to use the same method I used last time I had a soap disaster (more soap rebatch info here), and remelt the soap and put it in individual moulds.  It crumbled easily, so I was able to put it all in a double boiler, but it was taking SO long to melt I took it out of the double boiler and stirred it over the element (with added water this time rather than a new batch of soap - I didn't want to dillute the salt).  Anyway, it was pretty messy and didn't pour nicely into individual moulds.  In another wave of genius I decided to pop the moulds in the woodstove oven overnight, thinking that the soup would melt and smooth over.

I was very surprised to find that the soap rose (better than any baking!) and burnt a little on top.  Its hollow on the inside, but if I pick off the burnt bits, and squish it together I get a semi-normal chuck of soap.  So I finally got to try my salt soap and it is REALLY nice.  It does have a soft lather and I think it was worth all the effort.  I haven't remelted the batch with the salt exfoliant, so that might be less messy now that I've had some practice.


eight acres: problems with making soap with salt
soap muffins - risen nicely but a little burnt!

What have I learnt?
  • Salt make soap VERY hard and it must be cut very soon after pouring or poured into individual moulds - no cutting required
  • Soap can be rebatched, it takes ages to melt and never pours as nicely as the original
  • Don't leave soap in the oven to melt!  
  • I like salt soap, so I'll try this recipe again.
I thought I was going to run out of tallow with all this soap I've been making, but a friend gave us about 20 kg of beef fat in exchange for some welding work.  It didn't come chopped up though, we had to do that, but its lovely white kidney fat, so should make some nice soap.  We put it in the freezer until I have time to render the beef fat.



more beef fat

Salt soap recipe
In order to compare, I made both recipes the same, the only difference was that the soleseife had the salt dissolved in hot water which was later used to make the lye.  I used a high coconut oil content as salt tends to reduce the lather.  I only had 6% superfat, which is lower than recommended, so you might want to reduce the lye to 151 g for 8% superfat (because coconut oil can be drying), however I haven't noticed any problems with my version below.

250 g tallow
250 g olive oil
500 g beef tallow
155 g caustic
330 mL water
100 g salt - either added at trace or dissolved in the water and allowed to cool
Larger grain salt as decoration
Essential oils can be added (I wanted to try it plain at first)


Have you tried making soap with salt?  Any soap fails to share?


Comments

  1. I haven't made salt soap but have seen it a lot online lately, Liz. Thanks for the tips if I ever do decide to try it. I know some who does make it so will ask her what she uses for moulds as I have only ever seen her use loaf moulds.

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  2. Oh dear thats a shame, I wonder if a hot knife cutter would do it, we learn by our mistakes

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  3. Experimenting is exciting until you feel like you have wasted materials and money.....I feel your pain. However, you have saved us all money and materials by sharing your learnings. Paid forward in full me thinks!

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  4. hi Liz, i've been making soap for years and this includes salt soap. You are correct, it must be cut very soon after molding. I can usually cut mine within an hour of molding. When I rebatch I always use a slow cooker (designated for soap only) put the soap in there, add about 1/2 cup of water and stir as needed, about every 15 minutes. It rarely burns this way if watched closely. When it is opaque and shiny I remold it. And the LovinSoap site is an excellent site. I refer to it often as is the Bramble Berry Site. https://www.brambleberry.com/ These woman are the experts. Remember, all of us hard core soap makers made mistakes and THAT is how we all learn to make great soap in the end. Keep up the hard work. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

    ReplyDelete
  5. hi Liz, i've been making soap for years and this includes salt soap. You are correct, it must be cut very soon after molding. I can usually cut mine within an hour of molding. When I rebatch I always use a slow cooker (designated for soap only) put the soap in there, add about 1/2 cup of water and stir as needed, about every 15 minutes. It rarely burns this way if watched closely. When it is opaque and shiny I remold it. And the LovinSoap site is an excellent site. I refer to it often as is the Bramble Berry Site. https://www.brambleberry.com/ These woman are the experts. Remember, all of us hard core soap makers made mistakes and THAT is how we all learn to make great soap in the end. Keep up the hard work. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing your soap making adventures. I love your soap, and have been meaning to purchase more. However, I've been having problems with my credit card. Can you believe I've had it replaced TWICE due to fraud? That's two separate cards, with my information taken and used overseas to purchase products with.

    Once I set up a new account with special security features, I'll be able to do online purchases with my new card again. So hopefully not long now. I really do love your soap and think its amazing how you use beef tallow to make it with. I would like to try your charcoal soap next!

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  7. I recently made a salt bar soap with pink Himalayan salt and activated charcoal. I superfatted at 20% and used 50% salt, 80% coconut oil, 10% butter and 10% (liquid at room temperature) oil. I share it here if you'd to try it! http://soapdelinews.com/2016/06/ultimate-detox-salt-bar-recipe.html

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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