Pool of oil on top of saponified soap

by Zikhona
(South Africa)

Thank you for sharing your recipes and information with us. I, too, am new in Soapmaking and I am making a few batches of your basic (and not so basic) soaps. I have made 4 successful batches with a combination of my own recipe formulations and your recipes.

Last night I made a Goatsmilk Oatmeal and Honey soap as per the following recipe;

297g Coconut oil
288g Olive oil
288g ricebran oil
27g castor oil
324g fresh goats milk (2/3 in chilled liquid form and 1/3 in frozen slush), added with lye.
126.98 lye with 5% superfat
Mixed the lye and oils at 50 degrees Celcius.

180ml powdered oatmeat and 20ml honey

Everything seemed to have been going fine, and I added the oatmeal and honey, along with 40g EO (orange/ginger/cinnamon) at thin trace. After I achieved full trace I poured into the mould and covered with cling wrap and lid (wooden mould).

Within half an hour, the soap had progressed into gel and in 45min it had already reached full gel but a lot of the oil was sitting on top of the soap. As it started to harden, the oil did not seem to be absorbed back into to soap.

Now, 24hrs later, the pool of oil is still on top of the saponified soap. I would like to know what I should do with this batch, should I rebatch it or try and leave it in the mould for a couple of days and see if the oil will be absorbed?

Please note there was a mismeasurement in oils, with the rice bran oil weighing 24g more than the recipe called for, but I reduced the castor
to 15g. Could this be the problem? If so, can the soap be saved?



It's always a guessing game to try and figure out what happened to a botched batch.

I ran the recipe through SoapCalc with the new numbers.

Coconut oil - 297 gr
Castor oil - 15 gr
Olive oil - 288 gr
Rice bran oil - 312 gr

Essential oils - 4.4% at 40 gr
Water at 36%
Superfat at 5%

This gave amounts for:
Goats milk - 328.32 gr
Lye - 128.43

These numbers seem to be within reason (compared to the ones you used) but when mistakes are made in the measuring it is often the reason for any problems.

You say you mixed at 50 degrees Celcius...that is equal to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and may be a bit high. Especially considering you are making a milk soap. Probably best to keep the temperature around 30 - 40 degrees Celcius (80 - 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

A couple of things could have happened aside from the measuring mistake.

The soap batter may have been poured too soon. You may have had a false trace. I mix my soap batter with a hand blender but I find it always best to mix it with a spoon or whisk for a minute or so before I pour it into the soap mold just to be sure I am at a true trace.

You have to be careful with spice oils as well since they can sometimes cause strange reactions.

Another possibility is that the soap overheated and seperated.

I would try to rebatch the soap along with the pooled oil and see what happens.

Good luck,

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Pooled Oil Fix
by: Becky

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond, Cathy, and thank you for your comments.

I think you nailed down my problem - I had based the amount of honey I used in my goat's milk & honey soap by the same method I used in my honey oatmeal soap - a tablespoon per pound of oils.

Worked fine in that no-milk oatmeal soap, but obviously way too much for a goat's milk soap recipe.

Like I said, I'd had no problem at all with that very same recipe when I made it without adding honey - and I had no problem with using a full tablespoon of honey per pound of oils in a soap recipe that had no milk - but ended up with a real mess of pooled oil (and a soap with very wimpy lather even after the oil reabsorbed, so while that oil may have gone back into the soap, it had not turned INTO soap - so it was a low lathering soap with a whole lot of slip ;).

Again, thank you, I had never experienced a false trace before (except obviously each of the three times that I made my spearmint goat's milk & honey soap!), and that obviously is what happened.

I ended up rebatching that last batch - and oh my, how I hate rebatching, such a mess! And then ugly soap to boot .. that did solve the oil problem, but after having tried to steam it into a decent looking soap (it's interesting looking, but still not pretty enough to wrap up and sell to strangers, I wouldn't feel good about it).

I'm going to slice it up and use it for embeds in a fresh batch of spearmint goat's milk soap (I'm not ready to try milk and honey again just yet, haha! But when I do, I will follow your guidelines for the honey! Thank you!).

Pooled Oil on Goat's Milk & Honey Soap
by: Becky

I've had this same thing happen each time I've made a goat's milk & honey soap - the latest incident being last night (which is why I'm looking for solutions!).

The previous two times, the oil reabsorbed into the soap within a few days, and while the soap took longer than most of my other soaps to fully harden, it did turn into a nice bar, with the exception being that it had a rather thin lather that had no staying power.

I found this especially puzzling since honey is supposed to boost lather - but I make another goat milk soap by the same recipe, but no honey, and it lathers just fine (and no oil pooling).

I soaped at about 110 degrees F - and I used individual rectangle molds and could see that the soap was definitely at trace (it was mounding in the molds before I put it in the oven - I do CPOP).

I had even revamped the recipe before doing this batch, bumping up the coconut oil by 5% because of the thin lather of the previous batch.

I used spearmint essential oil in it just like before, and this is the only spearmint soap I make (so far) - but I make lots of soaps with peppermint essential oil in them, and surely the properties are similar?

In my goat's milk soap by the same recipe with the exception of honey, I scent that one with sweet orange and peppermint essential oils and it comes out just fine, so I am really puzzled .. but I think I am going to have to try re-batching last night's batch of spearmint goat's milk & honey soap because it's really a mess.

And I may be dropping the honey from my goat's milk & honey soap, sad though that makes me 'cos of course milk & honey is so appealing! (and yes, I've worked with honey before, with no problems!)


Unfortunately, without the formula and steps you used, it is hard to tell what might have gone wrong.

Goats milk contains quite a bit of sugar on it's own and it could be the amount of honey you are using combined with the goat's milk is overheating the soap. Especially when using the CPOP process.

You could try reducing the amount of goat's milk and honey used in your formula to see if that helps. Typically, honey can be used in amounts of up to 1 tsp per pound of oils.

False trace is still a possibility even if the soap mounds in the moulds. If you use a stick blender to stir your soap, always hand stir before pouring into the soap moulds just to be sure the soap has emulsified or reached a true trace.

Good luck,

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