Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saponification Sunday...One Heavy Lye

What's wrong with this picture?

 You know what they say, Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a crumble, I mean fall.. This applies to the most serious events of life as well as the simplest, such as soap.

Well into my third year of soap making, I was thinking I had a fair handle on this craft. I can hot process, I can cold process, I can layer, I can tiger stripe, add embeds and do landscapes.  I can swirl in the pot, out of the pot and even in an elemental manner.

But apparently I still have a way to go when it comes to scale use.

Earlier this week I was in the groove. I had big plans to make big amounts of soap. I pre-infused many herbs for coloring and ordered lots of oil. I stocked up on lye and away I went. After making three soap batches I realized my glad bag, that I use to protect my scale was looking pretty raunchy. I threw it away, then realized I was out of glad bags.

So I grabbed some Saran wrap and wrapped my scale with that.

Being brilliant as I am, I wrapped it TIGHT so no oil would leak onto it. I measured my water and added the lye and set it aside. I made another batch of lye and set aside. I made two more soap batches. Then decided I'd make just one more. Measured my water, poured in the lye but was short about an oz.

Walking away from the scale that showed 13.5 oz (10 of water and 3.5 of lye) I grabbed some more lye and added another 1 oz. As I was capping the lye jar I saw the scale drop in front of my eyes from 13.5 to 13. Then back up to 14. Then up to 15.

Uh oh. Something wrong her.

Poured my lye water into another container. Turned scale off, turned it back on and even more wonky measurements. I knew it wasn't the battery as I changed it the day before. Obviously it was scale failure. Which meant soap failure . Which caused me to have a minor fit.

My husband suggested I was too tightly wrapped.

Before I could suggest alternative sleeping arrangements, he clarified that the Saran Wrap I encased the scale in...was too tightly wrapped. He was correct of course. My digital scale worked fine after I released it from it's see through straight jacket.

But alas my mistake was discovered too late to save the last couple batches of soap, which explains the pictures on this post. Lye heavy soap is basically just bad soap. At it's best it gets rock hard and crumbly and some soapers have suggested it can be saved by rebatching with additional oils. But because lye heavy soap at it's worse  can cause skin irritation and/or burning, I choose not to take that risk. In my opinion, best thing to do with lye heavy soap?

Take a few pictures for humilitys' sake and pitch the rest.

Then buy some loose fitting glad bags to protect your scale, take a deep breath and start over.

O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!...


  1. There must be something about that three year soaping mark~ I've had more botched batches here lately than in all those years combined. Knock on wood, none of them have been lye heavy ... yet.

  2. crazy, maybe it's because as we progress we try harder and harder things and therefore we're bound to make a few mistakes. The mistake part doesn't bother me near as much As throwing away all that money In base oil And essential oil!

  3. Oh dear how frustrating. Hope your next batch provides better results.


    I hate the throwing away of soap. Because the ingredients are so expensive and the process takes so long - just drives me crazy!!

    But you're right. Throw it out. Worst thing is to have someone wash their hands and come out with one less layer of skin. *ouch!*

  5. Such a shame your pretty soap was lye heavy! Mistakes happen. I hope that the next batch goes better for you!

  6. Ugh, such pretty soap, and all that work down the drain... the same thing happened to me last week, except my scale appears to be toast. I've bought a new one.