Soap making is an intricate art but can, from time to time, be a complicated science. Even with the smallest mistake, your soap may turn out to be a crumbly mess. Why and how this happens is what we’ll discuss in this article.
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Why Is My Homemade Soap Crumbly? Excessive lye causes the soap to become dry and crumbly. It may also be due to improper mixing or making the soap too high or too low. Using a fridge or freezer to avoid the gel phase may also cause the same crumbly result.
Why Is Your Homemade Soap All Crumbly?
Lye heaviness usually the main reason for your soap to turn all crumbly. But this is unfortunately not the only cause.
Too much lye:
Let’s start with the most common cause. Crumbly soap mostly results from too much lye in your soap formulation. In this condition, it is called “lye-heavy.” “Lye heavy” means that the lye did not entirely change to soap during the saponification process resulting in free-floating lye.
If your soap feels crumbly or dry, it is crucial to check if it’s lye-heavy before using or selling it because it may cause dry skin or irritation skin, or even burn your skin. Various pH tests can be conducted to confirm whether the soap is lye heavy or not.
NOTE: You should carefully calculate the amount of lye by using a lye calculator. They are available online. The ingredients must always be measured by weighing on an accurate scale instead of using cups and spoons.
Your homemade soap may become crumbly because you used too much sodium lactate. One teaspoon of sodium lactate for each pound of oil is enough in a soap formulation. And it’s usually added when the lye solution has cooled.
Cooled down too fast and too much:
A crumbly texture may result from you using a fridge or freezer to avoid the gel phase. Allow the soap to cool at room temperature and wait 24 – 48 hours before removing it from the mold.
Salt bars, for example, made with coconut oil and sea salt set up too quickly. If you delay cutting them into bars, they will turn too crumbly. Using individual molds instead of a loaf mold makes it easy to handle them.
How Do You Fix Crumbly Homemade Soap?
If your soap is crumbly and dry, a longer cure may reduce moisture content and let it saponify completely. With time the soap will turn harder as the moisture will evaporate from it. Be sure to test it, though.
A good way to avoid a soft crumbly soap is to increase the number of hard oils or pass the soap through the gel process without a fridge or freezer and keep the number of liquids below 40%.
If the soap is hard and crumbly, try to cut it while it is still hot. Adjust the recipe for 30 -40% liquid for the next time. Adding too little water hardens the soap and makes it challenging to handle.
You can also exchange the hard oils used in it for some more soothing oils. Hard fats are solid at room temperature and will make the soap hard as soon as they start cooling.
It is always better to measure all ingredients by weight instead of measuring them in cups and spoons. Make sure that your scale is 100% accurate to prevent soap from imbalanced components.
TIP: Once saponified, it becomes challenging to fix the excess amount of lye in it. But there is no need to waste the soap! You can use it for laundry. Yes! Your clothes won’t mind an alkaline soap because they are not as sensitive as our skin.
Can You Use Crumbly Homemade Soap? Is It Safe?
Soap that becomes hard and crumbly due to excessive lye becomes challenging to fix. Though you can attempt rebatching with some additional oils, the soap becomes unsafe. Knowing the exact quantity of oils required to saponify the excessive lye can sometimes be tricky.
Phenolphthalein can help you in determining the pH of your soap.
If the soap has a crumbly texture due to some other reason, such as excessive use of hard oils or a lack of water, it will usually be perfectly safe to use. In most cases, such soap will not cause any problem to your skin and even perform just like any other soap.
Can You Re-batch Crumbly Soap?
If your soap is soft and crumbly, you can try to rebatch it. The cooking process will reduce its moisture and complete the remaining saponification process. You can rebatch the soap before or after the cure time is completed.
If the soft and crumbly texture is due to insufficient lye, it is difficult to fix as no one knows the exact amount of lye needed in that soap. In case you do manage to rebatch it, you must check its pH before using it.
Should you Re-batch Soap.
I know that this question might seem weird to you, but rebatching soap may not always be the best solution. Having said that, I don’t believe in throwing a failed batch away without trying to save it, but if it’s for customers, I might be reluctant to sell a rebatched soap.
Before you rebatch your soap, bear in mind that it may affect your soap’s aesthetics, and its appearance may become unpleasant compared to the first soap you poured.
Moreover, it traps the air bubbles, and it may not have a smooth top after rebatching.
In most cases, the soap does not melt entirely during a rebatch. It turns into a thick and gloppy mass of soap that does not pour quickly. We can say that rebatch is not a preferable choice for marketing purposes if you are selling homemade soaps.
How to Rebatch Your Soap:
- Grate the soap in a cheese grater or turn it into the smallest possible pieces.
- Melt the soap by placing it in a liquid; it may be distilled water or any other juice such as coconut milk or goat milk in quantity just enough to wet the grated soap.
- Melt the soap until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- You can use crock pots or oven dishes for rebatching soap.
- Add the lye water cautiously in just the amount required to balance the soap.
- Heat the crockpot at low or preheat the oven to 150 – 170 F.
- Cook the solution for one hour.
- Open the lid and stir gradually.
- Cook the soap for one hour again.
- It should be liquefied and appear translucent.
- Mash all the lumps and bring it to a pourable consistency.
- Scoop the soap in its molds.
The usage of too much demanding or soft oils or the lack of using a lye calculator leaves mostly homemade soap crumbly and dry. Don’t use a fridge or freezer to accelerate or avoid some processes; you’ll only end up frustrated. And make sure you measure your ingredients using an accurate scale to avoid formulation mistakes.
Crumbled soap can still be used, that is, if you make sure it has a balanced pH.