Problems with Chalky edges and tops of Soap using the Shea Butter Soap Recipe

by Anonymous

Layered Soap with Chalkiness on top and sides

Layered Soap with Chalkiness on top and sides

I have been using your Shea butter recipe- many times with great success and others had problems with a chalky/ flaky outer layer and tops. I also see this chalkiness in the small plastic molded soaps- but usually not in my loaf molds- but my last batch was quite bad in both. The bottom layer looks good- it has sweet orange E/O and the olive oil was infused with some orange peel. However, the top layer is quite bad. This layer uses the same recipe without the orange peel and E/O but instead uses olive oil infused with green tea leaves and then strained before use. I measure out my lye in grams and double check every measurement- I mix my lye solution and oils at the same temperature- between 100-105'F. I have read that hard water can cause chalkiness but I use Poland Springs distilled water, so that should not be the problem here. I wonder if it my soap is cooling down too much before insulation - the layering and adding of flowers on top takes time but the wooden mold I do first and insulate right away after adding the flowers. I insulate my plastic molds in a towel lined storage Tupperware-like container, with plastic wrap over the soap molds, then cardboard under and over each mold. I then even place the container over a heating pad on low (to help ensure full gel)- which is wrapped in a large wool blanket along side the well covered/ insulated wooden soap molds. I wonder if I am over beating my mixture (I start with a whisk then move to a hand beater- short low speed bursts then stirring without the beating) or if the air bubbles in my soap mixture could cause this. I do notice air bubbles often but I try to get some out by banging my

soap pan and by not beating above the surface.

I really hope this soap can be saved in some way and is safe to use. I am so confused on why this is happening with some batches and not others. Do you know what caused this problem and what I can do to remedy it?

I have attached two pictures- one of the layered soap that mentioned above cut from my wooden soap mold loaf. The first bar is a middle piece and the right-most is an end piece. The second picture is of my lavender marbled soap- the bars from the wooden mold look great and did not have this issue but the small mold soaps have the same chalky and flakiness issue but just in the non-dyed batch part.

(note: I prepped my molds by swabbing with 91% isopropyl alcohol to reduce soda ash and I also grease my plastic molds with spray canola oil.)

Thank you so much for your time and help with my question. It is really appreciated.


I noticed that you have asked this question twice but added pictures to this one. I have added my response to the first asking below.

Sounds like you are insulating quite well. Maybe try pre-heating the essential/fragrance oils before pouring them into the soap. You could also try pre-heating the soap molds. I found this to work very well when I lived in one home that was a little drafty.

Also try changing the location of the place you insulate the soap in. Make sure it is not being insulated next to an exterior wall of the house. Choose a spot that doesn't have any drafts and is on the warmer side.

Had another thought - when you make the soap be sure that the location isn't subjected to cold drafts there either.

Good luck,

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shea butter problem
by: Good witch

i have the exact same problem since i have started using shea butter in my recipe and i just use half an ounce. i have been making soap for the last five years this was never a problem. my soap does exactly the same as those pics on top, i cant seem to figure it out!!

Thank You!
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your tips and advice. I really appreciate it. I will see if I can find or make a large enough wooden soap mold to fit my plastic molds (most have 4 individual chambers / mold) for future batches.

I am looking to get some pH test strips to test my soaps. Would I just dab the soap to these strips?

I am used to using pH strips in liquids- like a pool.

Thank you again.

Thank you - is the build up soda ash? Is it safe to use?
by: Anonymous

Hi Cathy,

Thank you for your quick response. I apologize that this got sent twice- I had a problem uploading the pictures the first time and had to re-size them.

I do pre-heat my E/O on top of a hot-stove in the bottles. I do not have any in that top green colored layer- just the infused olive oil which was heated when combined with the melted saturated oils.

I will see if I can find a new insulation place- though all my soaps have been insulated in the same place and some batches do not have this problem. I will try to warm up my molds- though I am unsure of how to do this with my plastic ones.

Also, are these soaps safe to use? Or do I need to re-batch them all?

Thank you for your help.


From the pictures you've posted it doesn't look like soda ash. Soda ash is a fuzzy/salty like layer that sits on the exterior surface of the soap bars.

To me it looks like the soap was subjected to temperature fluctuations either during the processing or insulating of the soap. This would be a cosmetic issue but I do suggest you test the bars to make sure they are not caustic just in case my thoughts are not what has happened.


Just had a thought...happens once in a while!

When I used to use the small individual plastic molds, I would insulate them with the larger mold.

I would first place a woolen blanket on the table. Then the larger wooden soap mold with a piece of styrofoam insulation as a lid.

On top of the styrofoam I would place one of the plastic individual decorative soap molds and on top of that I would place another piece of styrofoam.

I would then wrap the woolen blanket up and over the sides of the soap molds and firmly push the blanket to the sides of the mold.

After that I would place another woolen blanket overtop the whole thing. This seemed to keep enough heat in that the small individual soaps came out fine.

Good luck.

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