How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Soda Ash

by | Oct 18, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Soda ash forms during the soap making process when the unsaponified lye reacts with the carbon dioxide that’s naturally in the air. It forms a cloudy film on the surface of your bar giving a whitish powdery effect. It happens more on slab molds than loaf molds because there is a larger surface area exposed to the air.

 

It is harmless and won’t affect the quality of your soap, but if you’ve used colors or swirls you won’t be able to see your designs so well. These are a couple of bars with soda ash on and you can see that I’ve cleaned the one on the left and you can see the difference – it is much more vivid than the one on the right.

 

 

There are several ways to prevent soda ash:

The easiest way is to spray the whole surface of your soap with the 99 percent isopropyl alcohol 10 to 15 minutes after pouring the soap into the mold, put a piece of cardboard over your mold, then cover with a bath towel or blanket for 24 hours to keep it warm.

The temperature of your soap can also contribute to soda ash formation. If your lye and oils are too cold – less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 38 degrees Centigrade, you might get soda ash forming deep in your soap – not just on the surface. This happens more when you’re doing intricate swirls and your mixture is thin and likely to be cooler because of the time you’re taking to do your swirls.

If you prefer to soap at a low temperature make sure that you have a thicker trace before pouring as this will help reduce soda ash formation.

 

Here are some other practices that work:

 

Do a 10% water discount.

Use a lower super fat. I usually superfat at 5%

Work at a thicker trace

Adding 5% beeswax to your soap at a thin trace can also help to add a barrier between the unsaponified lye and the air slowing down soda ash formation.

 

Some people don’t mind soda ash but if you’ve gone to all the effort of adding colors or creating swirls you want them to stand out. If you do end up with soda ash on your soaps there are a few ways to clean it off. Wear gloves to prevent fingerprints and hold your soap under running cold water and scrub the soda ash off. As soon as the ash is gone rinse away any lather. Stand Your soap on end and allow to dry. A rubbery makeup sponge like this is also ideal to use and you can use it over and over again. Just rinse it out after use.

 

 

Nylon tights (pantyhose) are also good for washing the soda ash and for getting a smooth finish.

You can also use a sharp knife to gently scrape off the top layer of your bar.

 

If you make a lot of soap you could invest in a hand-held steamer like this one.

 

 

This will reduce the soda ash in no time and will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Just put your soaps on a rack and hold the steamer about five inches above each bar for 20 to 30 seconds. This will bring out the colors and the design and give you nice clean shiny looking bars.

Author - Shona O'Connor

Author - Shona O'Connor

Soap Maker, Course Creator & Blogger

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