Soap making using essential oils

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Kaz

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Can anyone please offer some advice, I've started making some soaps using honey and/or beeswax. My most recent attempt was to make a lemongrass and poppy seed soap, but having got the mix to trace, as soon as I add the lemongrass essential oil it sets hard (within seconds and before I can get it in the mold). I've had 2 goes now and this has happened both times, even with the second mixing to a lighter trace. Can anyone tell me why or what I'm doing wrong or how to deal with this issue please?
 
I personally haven’t used lemongrass essential oil so I don’t know if it’s a common occurrence. What oils are you using for your soap base and what percentage of essential oil are you adding relative to the total weight of your soap mixture?
 
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Do you have the IFRA document for the essential oil? A quick rummage online suggests a maximum percentage for safe use in bar soap 6%, but this will very depending on supplier.

Are you following a recipe from elsewhere or is this your own, also are you adding the poppy seeds at the same time as the essential oil?

Apologies for interrogation whilst attempting to isolate cause of your issue!
 
Can anyone please offer some advice, I've started making some soaps using honey and/or beeswax. My most recent attempt was to make a lemongrass and poppy seed soap, but having got the mix to trace, as soon as I add the lemongrass essential oil it sets hard (within seconds and before I can get it in the mold). I've had 2 goes now and this has happened both times, even with the second mixing to a lighter trace. Can anyone tell me why or what I'm doing wrong or how to deal with this issue please?
Evidently if you use Thyme for your soap and provide a paddling pool on the entrance to bathe every individual bee, it prevents Varroa!
 
I personally haven’t used lemongrass essential oil so I don’t know if it’s a common occurrence. What oils are you using for your soap base and what percentage of essential oil are you adding relative to the total weight of your soap mixture?
I'm using olive oil (312g), coconut oil (198g), shea butter (113g), sweet almond oil (85g), castor oil (85g) and beeswax (15g), water (255g) and lye (109g). 30g of lemongrass essential oil so just 2.5% of the total weight. I'm blending until trace, mixture is still quite fluid but as soon as I add the lemongrass it seems to set before I can even mix it all in (using a balloon whisk in an attempt not to accelerate trace too much)
 
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Do you have the IFRA document for the essential oil? A quick rummage online suggests a maximum percentage for safe use in bar soap 6%, but this will very depending on supplier.

Are you following a recipe from elsewhere or is this your own, also are you adding the poppy seeds at the same time as the essential oil?

Apologies for interrogation whilst attempting to isolate cause of your issue!
I'm adapting a recipe, I've posted my ingredients and quantities above. The lemongrass essential oil is only 2.5% of the total ingredients. Having looked online, I'm wondering whether I have enough liquid oil content, or too much solid? It seems to be the addition of the lemongrass which triggers a very rapid trace acceleration, but I dont see any referred to this in any of the recipes I have checked online. And yes I added the poppy seeds and lemongrass at the same time. If you have any advice or insight I would really appreciate it
 
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I'm adapting a recipe, I've posted my ingredients and quantities above. The lemongrass essential oil is only 2.5% of the total ingredients. Having looked online, I'm wondering whether I have enough liquid oil content, or too much solid? It seems to be the addition of the lemongrass which triggers a very rapid trace acceleration, but I dont see any referred to this in any of the recipes I have checked online. And yes I added the poppy seeds and lemongrass at the same time. If you have any advice or insight I would really appreciate it
Have you tried exactly the same base recipe using a different essential oil?

Lemon grass and poppy seed is not a combination I’ve encountered before (I’m not keen on seed inclusions because they leave bits in the bathroom sink and I’m not a fan of extra housework 😉) however plenty available online so it must be something that has been solved. Have a look at some of the online recipes available and see if the oil/solids ratio differs from yours.

The other potential issues could be temperature of ingredients, (soap making in the recent heatwave?) the utensils you are using (I use food grade plastic jugs, if you use metal containers that can have an impact)

Also do you weigh all your ingredients or use volume for some? If you have scales accurate to 0.1g (I appreciate most people won’t, I’m just a saddo) you could weight your essential oil (many recipes suggest drops which is ok but each oil has a slightly different mass/volume ratio and may affect your final percentage) so you get a reproducible recipe.

You could design an experiment where you make your base, divide it accurately by weight into four parts at trace, (pre weigh all your ingredients first because you won’t have long to add them):

try one quarter with the same weight off a different essential oil plus poppy seeds,

one quarter with lemon grass essential oil and no poppy seeds,

one with no essential oil or poppy seeds and

one with lemon grass and poppy seeds as tried previously.

Get someone to help in case you run out of hands!

Hopefully from that you’ll be able to isolate what is causing the issue and move on.

If it’s just the lemon grass try a different supplier, if they all seize it’s your base, it’s unlikely to be the combination of lemon grass and poppy seed since so many are commercially available but the other essential oil and poppy seed will highlight that.

They are definitely poppy seeds? If they’ve been muddled up with chia seeds which make an albumen-like liquid in water that might have an effect…

Good luck and let us know how you get on!
 
Certain essential oils can accelerate the trace, especially in combination with beeswax, which also has a tendency to harden quickly. Lemongrass might be one of those "accelerator" oils. You could try a couple of things:
1. Lower the temperature: Both of your base and the essential oils. Sometimes cooler temps slow down the trace.
2. Pre-mix the lemongrass essential oil with a bit of your carrier oil before adding it to the soap mixture. This may help dilute the impact of the essential oil on the trace.
 
I make honey and beeswax soap with essential oils and a few days ago had exactly the same problem with my soap “seizing” up. Firstly, don’t waste your soap, rebatch it! My rebatched soap, grating, heating in a Bain Marie and adding a little more water, has come out beautifully, although it’s in a loaf mould rather than the more delicate mould I usually use. Yesterday, I made some fresh soap remembering to stir it by hand rather than with a blender. This gives much more control. I also put my honey and water mixture into the fridge to lower the temperature as far as possible, adding it after I’ve mixed the lye and oils, finally adding in my essential oils and bringing the lye to a slightly cooler temperature than the oils. This seemed to do the trick for me. Hope it helps you.
 

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