Soap Making Troubleshooting

Though soap making is fairly easy, there are some problems and mishaps that can occur along the way. Usually this happens to beginners who start to branch out towards the other soap making procedures like the cold process and the hot process methods. When these problems occur, soap making troubleshooting is needed. You can almost always save your failed batch of soap!

Check out our soap making troubleshooting table which features some of the most common problems that occur:

Problem

Reason

Soap Making Troubleshooting

Cracks along the finished soap

There was probably too much lye in the recipe or the soap was too thick when poured.

Melt the soap down and add oil to the recipe in order to balance out the lye

Brittle soap (hard)

There was probably too much lye in the recipe.

Melt the soap down and add vegetable fat to the soap.

Soap has watery parts

There was probably a separation of the lye solution in some areas.

If the watery parts are large, remelt the soap.

Soap is watery underneath

There was a complete separation of the lye solution from your soap.

You will have to remelt the batch, making sure all the liquids are in your remelting pot.

Soap is crumbling (oily when rubbed)

You probably didn't mix the soap batch well enough and saponification didn't occur.

Remelt slowly over low heat and mix while this goes on. Heat up to a slightly higher temperature than the one initially used before allowing to cool down.

Soap is whole but has oily parts

You may have added too much fat or trace was not achieved well enough.

If the oily parts are large, remelt the soap, making sure the entire batch goes into your remelting pot.

Soap separates while in the pot

There is a problem with the fragrance oil you used.

You will have to remelt the soap and increase the amount of water. If this doesn't work, you will have to throw the batch away.

Soap is streaked

This is usually the result of a lack of stirring.

Remelt the soap and make sure you stir the batch well.

White residue on top or in the edges.

You probably used 'hard water' or there was inadequate heat

Try using distilled water and keep your heat constant


Many soap making problems can be avoided if you are careful with your soap making procedure in the first place. If you are careful to make your soap well, then soap making troubleshooting will not be needed.

So when making your soaps, make sure that your measurements are always accurate, more so if you're making smaller batches, which are more sensitive to measurement problems. Always check your lye calculations with an online lye calculator and make sure you weigh your measurements. Don't rely on volume measurements as these often lead to problems!

Try to keep your heat constant during the procedure or at the right temperatures during the right time. Usually a lack of heat occurs when hand stirring or if the soap has a good amount of olive oil, which takes a while to trace. Try using a stick blender for more even stirring. Remember that adequate mixing is important and trace MUST be achieved before pouring your soap out. Don't get over excited. Wait for trace to occur so you can save yourself from soap making troubleshooting.

Finally, remember that you can always re-heat your batch and try again. Use a crockpot or other covered heating implements to re-heat your soaps. This will assure you that you won't burn the batch during the re-heating process.