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At the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild Conference in Miami, soap making guru Kevin Dunn, the author of Scientific Soapmaking talked a bit about “ash.” Through extensive testing, he has concluded that “ash” is indeed sodium carbonate, which occurs when the free lye in the raw soap comes in contact with the air. One of the several tips he suggests to combat “ash” is “Do not unmold the soap until it is tongue-neutral.” But what does that mean?
A tongue-test is an unscientific, though popular, method to test to see if the lye-oils chemical reaction is “done.” If you have really raw soap, or soap that has too much lye in it, if you touch the soap to the tip of your tongue, it gives you a “zap.” If it’s done saponifying, and is balanced correctly, you get no zap – just the taste of soap.
Now, what Kevin’s talking about is not exposing the soap to air until all of the lye has reacted out – until all of the lye has combined with the oils to make soap. If you cover the exposed surfaces of the soap with plastic wrap as well, you can greatly reduce the occurrence of ash. Anne-Marie from Bramble Berry suggests spraying the top of your soap with rubbing alcohol to reduce ash. Lots of variables…and ways to reduce this pesky issue.
More about tongue testing your soap here…
More about “ash” on your soap here…
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Tongue Tests and Tongue-Neutral Soap originally appeared on About.com Candle & Soap Making on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 14:45:42.
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