Extremely Fast Trace Time
by soap dilemma
I recently have been hand whisking my lye solution and oil mixture to what seems to be a stable emulsion in under 5 minutes.
My conversion to hand whisking from a stick blender is because I would reach trace (past stable emulsion) within seconds of using a few 2-second pulse intervals with the stick blender giving me little time to swirl.
Most information on the internet discuss trace time with stick blender on the order of minutes and much longer time with hand whisking.
I am aware that many factors can contribute to trace time (see additional info below please) but still would like to get feed back on whether soap can be thoroughly mixed via hand whisking within the time frame I mentioned above or not?
And is it possible to form lye pockets not detectable with the naked eye with my new mixing method? (I do vigorously mix in both directions as well as from top to bottom)
*calculations are checked multiple times with 5% lye reduction prior to proceeding.
*my recipes use > 50% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 2-3% castor oil, and remaining percent are other oils
*usually 1 part lye to 2 parts water (around 50% lye solution)
*mildly warm to the touchAnswer:
As you said, there are a number of factors that can affect trace time and from the information you have provided, I would say that the number one reason your batches are reaching an emulsion so quickly is your steep water discount.
While it is perfectly fine to use a steep water discount, it will reduce the amount of time you have to work with your soap when it comes to implementing more advanced design techniques such as swirling.
To make swirling easier, simply increase your water amount a little bit and/or use a higher percentage of liquid oils to hard oils in your recipe.
Using a whisk to stir your soap to emulsion or trace is perfectly acceptable. In fact it was all I used for a number of years before I actually bought a stick blender.
You mention stirring in both directions and top to bottom. Direction is unimportant when mixing your soap batter. As long as the mixture is thoroughly combined, it should be just fine.
As for undetectable lye pockets forming in the soap, as long as the soap batter has been mixed to a full emulsion, it should be fine but if you are unsure, it would be best to test your soap's pH level before using it.