Light Trace...or Not Yet Traced?

by Maggie

My gracious...this measure of trace is stressful!

I've got this soap-making thing going pretty well, if I do say. I've made my mistakes, I've gotten cocky...but over all, I've never had to throw away a batch of soap. I credit much of this success to you. You're my number one go-to resource for every question I have.

So anyway, I rock at making soap. Yay for me.

But for some reason, I'm timid when it comes to the phrase "thin trace". When is that? Just how thin can your trace be when you start adding the fun stuff? Every time I try to see trace...actual trace on the batter surface...super early, I think I've got it, and by the time I pour, it's thick custard and needs to be scooped and spread. And I don't take forever to get the ingredients in either...everything's always pre-measured and made ready while the lye is cooling down.

But trace thin enough for swirling...erm...ain't gonna happen.

My problem is that I'm afraid of not reaching trace...of pouring and then having a nasty, separated, muck-fest when I unmold.

So how thin can thin trace be and still give you soap and not slop on unmolding day?

Rookie with Promise


I consider the soap to be at a thin trace as soon as I can see trails on the surface of the soap when I am hand stirring.

For example, when you stick blend you should gently stir the batter down with a whisk to check for trace. If the soap sits momentarily on top of the batter when you drizzle soap across it, it is at a thin trace. If the trails sit on top and stay there it is at a thick trace.

Remember that some essential and fragrance oils will also accelerate trace considerably and no matter how thin of a trace you start off with, you may not be able to swirl the soap if you use them. Spice oils will definitely accelerate trace. With these I have to work at warp speed to create a marbled effect. Lavender essential oil is a great one to marble with since it seems to slow the trace down.


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Same problem
by: Kerrie

I have had much the same experience with swirling as Maggie. I usually tend to get thick trace very quickly. I also try to get thin trace so i can have some fun with colours etc but it ends up too thin and everything just runs into each other or sinks but I will keep trying. My goal is to do a really good peacock swirl. I have done two and the second one was better. Thanks for the tip about the lavender oil, will try that.
your site has also been a big help to me and I have fallen in love with your camellia soap and have made it a few times. It is my favourite.

Thanks Cathy.

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