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How to avoid tiny bubbles?


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Hi there!

 

I've been a soap hobbyist for the better part of the last year, but am recognizing that it's a never ending learning journey! With that in mind, I'd love to know how I can avoid these tiny little bubbles that appear when I blend my oil/lye mixture (and sets with the soap)? I'm using a stick blender at the lowest setting and only blending for about 5-10 seconds at a time. I also mix a bit with a silicone spatula by hand to avoid the bubbles. It's never happened to me before and my recipe hasn't changed much so not sure what's happening! 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

 

IMG_9007.jpeg

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Yes, they look like tiny little air pockets. 

 

My formula is 45% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, 15% shea butter, and 10% castor oil. It doesn't seem like there's a ton of stearic acid in that recipe, but what do I know? I am now wondering if it's related to your point on the oils not fully melting though. Lately, I've been just melting the solid butters and oils and then lightly mixing the room temp liquid oils into that. Could it be that they are not incorporating well enough before I start blending the lye mixture?

 

Also, a side note, but I really have to thank you @TallTayl! I think I was requesting help in a candle-related topic last year when you introduced the concept of water discounting to me and it's made a world of a difference in getting back into exploring soaps now that I'm not waiting months for them to cure :) 

 

 

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2 hours ago, fruit.tart said:

Yes, they look like tiny little air pockets. 

 

My formula is 45% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, 15% shea butter, and 10% castor oil. It doesn't seem like there's a ton of stearic acid in that recipe, but what do I know? I am now wondering if it's related to your point on the oils not fully melting though. Lately, I've been just melting the solid butters and oils and then lightly mixing the room temp liquid oils into that. Could it be that they are not incorporating well enough before I start blending the lye mixture?

 

Also, a side note, but I really have to thank you @TallTayl! I think I was requesting help in a candle-related topic last year when you introduced the concept of water discounting to me and it's made a world of a difference in getting back into exploring soaps now that I'm not waiting months for them to cure :)

 

 

So happy to have helped 🤗 once you have your timing and “feel” down with soap water discounting is a huge time saver. And, importantly, no more overly shrunken/distorted bars after a few months! Your cured weight is much closer from the time you cut this way too. 

 

Shea butter is really high in stearic acid. Depending on the source, could be up to 50% stearic.  I would fully melt those oils to perfectly clear, blend well and cool to your normal soaping temperature.  I had similar dots and spots until I ensured all stearic components in my formula were melted.  
 

another thing you can try to figure out if it is stearic is pouring it through a fine sieve.  I picked up plastic material sieve from either Wally World or the dollar store.  Can’t remember which… when all oils are melted I pour through the sieve and learned quite a bit of the spotting was tiny little bits of stearic from the cocoa butter and Shea I use.

 

 

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Lately I have been melting my hard oil/butters separately (I was just measuring and heating all together) and it seems to have cut down on the steric spots but I love the fine sieve idea!

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One more idea...do you pour your lye solution down the shaft of your stick blender or down a spatula? That seems to make a bigger difference than I thought it would for me in cutting down on air bubbles.  

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2 hours ago, asr said:

One more idea...do you pour your lye solution down the shaft of your stick blender or down a spatula? That seems to make a bigger difference than I thought it would for me in cutting down on air bubbles.  

I don’t  pour any special way personally. Just pour and swirl around with a wide spatula to move everything together. 
 

But… if there’s a bubble of air trapped in the stick blender bell, or if the seal of the stick blender is worn it could inject air. 

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4 hours ago, TallTayl said:

So happy to have helped 🤗 once you have your timing and “feel” down with soap water discounting is a huge time saver. And, importantly, no more overly shrunken/distorted bars after a few months! Your cured weight is much closer from the time you cut this way too. 

 

Shea butter is really high in stearic acid. Depending on the source, could be up to 50% stearic.  I would fully melt those oils to perfectly clear, blend well and cool to your normal soaping temperature.  I had similar dots and spots until I ensured all stearic components in my formula were melted.  
 

another thing you can try to figure out if it is stearic is pouring it through a fine sieve.  I picked up plastic material sieve from either Wally World or the dollar store.  Can’t remember which… when all oils are melted I pour through the sieve and learned quite a bit of the spotting was tiny little bits of stearic from the cocoa butter and Shea I use.

 

 

Yes, I'm now thinking it's a combo of air bubbles and stearic spots. For these two batches in the photo, I had melted the solid butters/oils just to the point where it became clear or so I thought, but then I would immediately mix in the room temp oils. Maybe the butters need to be heated for longer (and then cooled to my normal soaping temp, as you suggest?) If these are in fact stearic bubbles, is it still safe to use? Would hate to waste them!

 

 

3 hours ago, asr said:

Lately I have been melting my hard oil/butters separately (I was just measuring and heating all together) and it seems to have cut down on the steric spots but I love the fine sieve idea!

I've been melting the hard butters/oils separately too so that may not be it. Also agree the sieve idea is great!

 

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15 hours ago, fruit.tart said:

Yes, I'm now thinking it's a combo of air bubbles and stearic spots. For these two batches in the photo, I had melted the solid butters/oils just to the point where it became clear or so I thought, but then I would immediately mix in the room temp oils. Maybe the butters need to be heated for longer (and then cooled to my normal soaping temp, as you suggest?) If these are in fact stearic bubbles, is it still safe to use? Would hate to waste them!

 

 

I've been melting the hard butters/oils separately too so that may not be it. Also agree the sieve idea is great!

 

Yes. Should be totally safe. 

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