Thursday, March 3, 2011

S.O.A.P. Testing Day One: The Trace

I shared my first impressions about the S.O.A.P. fragrances the other day, but this post is all about the trace and pour in cold process soap.  I am predominantly a cold process soap maker, so this is the process I am most interested in testing, but I also plan to test them in some lotion bars later on.  As I am not used to making such small quantities of soap, I consulted Bramble Berry's Fragrance Calculator to see how much fragrance to use.  In this test I used .5 oz. of fragrance per roughly 9 oz. of soap.  I also made a small test log of soap (without fragrance) so that I would have something in which to compare the soap samples (color, consistency, etc).

I started out using large paper cups for this testing, but I quickly realized that the fragrance was going to leak through, so I switched to large plastic cups. This picture is of course before I made this discovery.

My testing set up.

I mixed the lye water and oils at 110 degrees and started mixing the fragrances at a light trace.  Here are my notes on the behavior of the fragrances in cold process soap:

#1 Gardenia: There was no discoloration to the soap right away, but it accelerated trace rapidly and was quite hard immediately after pouring into the mold.

#2 Gardenia: Soap turned a light ivory.  It caused moderate acceleration in trace.

#3 Gardenia:  Very slight acceleration occurred and little white clumps formed in the soap.  I was quickly trying to work them out before I poured, but as I had more soap to mix and pour, I just poured into the mold.  This is something I would like to compare to the other panel members.  Did they have the same problem? The soap appears to be an ivory color.

#4:  Very slight acceleration in trace, and the soap started turning a bright yellow.

#5:  Very light acceleration if any.  The soap immediately turned a bright yellow color.

#6: No acceleration to the soap and no discoloration.

fragrances 1-6

#7:  No color change, and no acceleration.  

#8: There was very slight yellowing to the soap, but absolutely no acceleration.

#9: Soap was a medium yellow after mixing, but again, no acceleration.

#10:  There was no color change with this one, but there was slight acceleration.

fragrances 7-10

As you can see, everything behaved rather nicely.  That first gardenia was a little sketchy, but I did get it into the mold.  The second gardenia (I still think this might be Bramble Berry's former gardenia scent ;)) accelerated, but was not something that would cause major problems if you were making a pretty straightforward soap (swirls might be a challenge), and the last gardenia was a bit perplexing with the white clumps.  Everything else was pretty much flawless.  I do have to confess that I did these in two separate batches (1-6 and 7-10) because I was limited in space with the molds I used (I wanted to make two separate bars per fragrance).  I did a modified CPOP (cold process/oven process) method as well.  Each batch went into a 170 degree oven for 15 minutes to ensure a nice gel.  Then the oven was turned off and they were left alone until the next day.

I will write another blog post soon to tell you how they did the next day out of the mold (color, fragrance, etc.).  I have caught a nasty cold (boo!), so I want to wait until my olfactory senses are back in working order before I share my findings.

You can find my first blog post about the fragrances here.


  1. Your testing system is so organized. Love it. And it's so fun reading your notes!

  2. Hey! I just found your blog via a link on Courtney Robyn's Nest. I was on the first SOAP panel, so I know what fun you are having right now! :) So fun to compare notes with the other testers too! I hope you'll stop by my blog too.

  3. Thanks Anne-Marie. I do try to be organized every once in a while (it doesn't always happen in this zoo I call home). ;)

    Hi Amy - I have been to your site several times. LOVE IT!! I guess I will have to comment so you'll know I've been there. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will visit again!

  4. Great soaping notes! I'm also on this most recent SOAP panel and yes, #3 did rice on me, too. I was able to blend out the clumps and ended up with pretty smooth soap. But my experience with acceleration differed from yours for some of the FOs. So many things can affect trace: temps, oils used, size of batch. So interesting. You can see my results on my blog.

  5. It was really weird. I don't know that I'd consider it ricing, but just little bumps. So strange.

    I have been trying to keep up on everyone else's posts also. It is so fun to see what everyone else has to say. I'm using them in lotion bars and bath fizzies too. I will have it up next week at the latest. Thanks for stopping by!