Sometimes, things go wrong.

There are just those days in everyone's life when you feel like everything you touch get's ruined. It happens for soap maker's too. The really horrible thing is when you're having one of those Jonah days in general and then you have a soap day that joins the fun. Sometimes, things go wrong.

The sad little story goes like this. Once upon a time, I bought Bramble Berry's Crisp Anjou Pear FO and Champagne FO. I decided they would be a delightful thing to combine and sure enough, they were. I mixed up a creamy orange and light, lime green colorant and added it to two separate portions of batter. The pudding-like mixture was awesome and positively perfect! After getting all the base in my mold, I prepped the frosting. I always do high-tops now, but with a different recipe made specifically for piping. I Knew I had just made an epic swirl (truly on of a kind) and was awfully pleased with myself.

After 30 minutes, my frosting STILL wasn't even beginning to thicken up. "How very odd." I said to myself. I checked everything and decided that perhaps I added a wittle too much water. I took 1/2 a teaspoon of sodium lactate and gave it a whirl. Lucky for me, that worked and the it became thick enough to do a little texturing. The final look was drop dead gorgeous.

And then.....things went wrong. 24 hours later, I pulled the loaf out of my wooden mold. The effervescent, bubbly fragrance filled the room and I lined up my knife for cutting. When I sliced through the first bar, the entire piped top fell off! It just fell off completely! It was crumbly, way too hard, and brittle. Needless to say, the high tops fell off EVERY SINGLE BAR! I could've cried I was so mad. "That blasted sodium lactate!" I screamed at myself inside my head. My recipe was foolproof. It didn't need that extra hardness. Something else had to be at play here. I went back down to the shed and finally found my stupid mistake. I had forgot to add the shea butter. I had melted it and never mixed it in. That's why the batter didn't harden up.

Here I sit with 12 bars of fabulously smelling soap, perfectly cleaned up and uniform.......and no pretty things on top. At least the bottom is perfect, but it sure is difficult to get over you expectations.

There are lessons to be learned, of course.

1. Make sure that you have added EVERY ingredient. Count it. Make a list. Do whatever you need to do, but don't start adding things to a recipe you know works perfectly until you make sure the ingredients are all present in your mixture.

2. Give yourself some grace when you mess up. I happen to know that quite a few soap makers are creative perfectionists. We want things to turn out right every time. We live in an imperfect world and batches that separate, seize, smell horrible, look awful, or don't turn out like we expect are going to happen. This is okay! After all, if we were guaranteed success all the time, we wouldn't learn and grow!

Have you had any of your soap go awry lately?


  1. Ah Katie, I love your soaps, your video's and your honesty! Yes, we have ALL had those wonderful soaps turn out not the way we had hoped because of our over confidence maybe? Not sure. But,as you said, we have to 'make sure' we add all the ingredients! And give ourselves some 'grace' when we mess up! Thanks for the post!

  2. I felt your pain when reading this post, Miss Katie ! I can't count the number of times I've left a fragrance out of the mix - usually it's high in vanilla and I'm only adding it to part of a batch. Or I accidently add a high vanilla content fragrance to the portion I'd intended to be whiter than white. Ugh ! I had a coffee grounds layer that I thought was thin enough - nope, the bar broke in two. Shall I go on? We all make mistakes and you're so right that we need to learn to accept them with grace and not fling our stick blender across the room. ;-) Btw, I love BB's Champagne FO - it reminds me of Bubble Up. I'm not sure if Bubble Up is even around anymore, but it was similar to 7-Up. xoxo

  3. Hi Katie, I am only new to making soap and every batch has been a learning experience. There is always something that happens (like colour issues) and I know what I need to try for next time. I recently told my hubby that if they turned out perfect the first time then I wouldn't learn anything! And ts funny isn't it that even when things dont go to plan and I know I have sometimes wanted to chuck in the towel, but after a day or so I am "itching" to get back in there and make a perfect batch :-)

  4. Oh shame, as it truly is sooo beautiful. I did a piped top that also completely lifted off. was most dissapointed, but smiled when my friend said... oh well, thats to soaps from one!!! Your colours and techniques are beautiful.

  5. What a bummer, Katie! I just wonder how the batter stayed liquid if in there were less oils than required? I mean, the soap is lye heavy due to missing shea, so the saponification should occur faster and the batter should be thicker sooner than if you'd had exact amount of oils!
    It's such a pity, the soap looks wonderful!

  6. Loved your story and glad it all worked out. It really did look great.

  7. So sorry Katie! I forgot to add the Shea Butter to one of my soaps once too and I could not believe it! The tops are just beautiful!

  8. I made a batch of Goat Milk, Oatmeal & Honey. This soap is unscented and all of the liquid is goat milk. I pulled it out of the mold and it had glycerin pooling in the bottom of the liner and when I cut it the middle of the loaf looked like a cave. It was really, really weird. Never had a batch before or since do anything remotely similar. It was super weird and really curious. The only thing that I can figure is that when my milk thawed ( I had to pull it out of the freezer to make room and didn't get around to making soap as quickly as I had planned) I poured out some of the whey and didn't pull out any of the cream since I had too much milk for the soap. The whole batch was and stayed soft and spongy. I have only been soaping for 4 years, but each batch is an experience.


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