Have you ever had a soap seize on you? Do you know what I’m talking about?
You mix your soap to the perfect light trace, add a fragrance oil and all hell breaks loose?!?
It looks like a mixture of lumpy mashed potatoes or turns completely solid (soap-on-a-stick)!
I regret not taking a picture of my last seize, but it came so expectantly that I just didn’t have time to grab my camera.
EEK! I feel your pain!
Why does a soap seize happen?
Something is causing the saponification process to accelerate. It is usually a fragrance oil or essential oil.
Watch out for florals and spices when it comes to fragrance oils and watch out for spices (clove, bay, cinnamon…etc.) when it comes to essential oils. Some fragrances are labeled with ‘may cause acceleration’. These are fragrances that are prone to seize, combined with a couple of factors.
Temperatures – Temperatures play a huge role in your soap moving towards and through saponification. Cooler temps cause your soap to move slower; higher temps cause your soap to move faster. Higher temps combined with a fragrance oil or essential oil that is know to move fast = soap seize! Soap cooler (75-85 degrees F) when working with fast moving fragrances and essential oils.
Watch out for other additives that can cause your soap to heat up, such as oatmeal, honey, beer…etc.
Water Amount – Discounted water combined with a tricky EO or FO can cause your soap to seize. If you are using a water discount while soaping, be sure you aren’t using a finicky EO or FO.
Mixing – Using a stick blender can cause tricky EO’s and FO’s to accelerate. Stir by hand or whisk.
Add your fragrance or essential to your melted oils BEFORE adding the lye solution. Sometimes the dilution of the FO or EO helps to slow it down.
What can you do?
You can prevent it by paying attention to the temperature and water amount. Soap cool and don’t discount your water. If you are using a new fragrance or essential oil and don’t know how it will effect your soap, make a one pound test batch first. If it is happening, don’t panic!
If it is a light seize, where just where you are stickblending on the bottom of the pot is seizing, stop stickblending and stir to trace by hand.
If it is a heavy seize and you can’t save it, you’ve got three options!
Hot Process it – Dump it into a crockpot and hot process it. If it goes beyond the point of being able to stir it smooth and pour into a mold, you can hot process it. Simply put it into a crockpot and cook it until the whole mass has gelled (turned translucent) and then glop it into a mold.
Rebatch it – If you managed to get it into a mold but it is UGLY, you can rebatch it. Here are rebatching instructions. If you do it the day after, you usually won’t have to add additional water to it. If you rebatch it weeks later, you can add a bit of water to the shreds before cooking.
Chunk it – You can let your soap sit until solid. Cut it up into little chunks. Make a new batch of soap and add the chunks into the new batch. I’ve come up with some really nice designs this way. Here is a soap that Benjamin and I had to chunk up to fix. I love the way it looks!
If you are a soapmaking, you’ve probably had a soap seize. If you are new to soapmaking, you’ll have it happen one day! Stay calm and know that there is a way to fix it! It might not come out how you envisioned it, but you’ll end up with a unique soap that has a unique story.
Happy Rebatch-less Soaping!