Removing soda ash from homemade soap

bsnyderAugust 29, 2012

I have been making cold process soap for about 4 years now, and I know that a couple of popular ways to remove soda ash is to either scrape it away (with a chisel, or something similar), and I've heard of soapmakers using rubbing alcohol to remove it.

But I have done some research on the chemical reaction between citric acid and sodium carbonate (soda ash). In perfect combination, it yields sodium citrate, water, and CO2(gas form).

I have one of my rare batches that actually started to set when I had to hurry to get it into my log molds, which left the surfaces uneven. Rather than scraping off the small amounts of soda ash, I saturated a folded paper towel with regular strength lemon juice, and used it to remove the soda ash.

It removed it easily, and beautifully. The sodium citrate left is so small, that there will be no need to rinse off the soap afterwards. Especially since sodium citrate is water soluable, so when you lather up with it, it will be that much more dispersed (weakened), and can actually help a tiny bit with the soap being slightly basic.

Has anyone else tried this method? I would love to hear your comments.

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I make cold process too, but I've never heard of the lemon juice thing to remove ash. I'll definitely try it :-)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 8:37AM
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Interesting! I have heard of using alcohol, but never lemon juice.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:47PM
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I have steamed ash away by holding a bar in a folded paper towel over a teapot. It works great. I like the lemon juice idea, will try it next time if I need it. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 7:58PM
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I just started making soap. I have looked up the ash issue and thought about this long and hard. I have hard that its the left over reaction to sodium hydroxide. The lemon came into mind when I show that using lemon in soap making didnt work for some. It cancel each other out. So I thought to use lemon to wipe off the ash in my soap and it worked. My soap is very nice and shiny and I will be using it more.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 5:34PM
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I realize this is about REMOVING soda ash. I use the 90% alcohol to spritz it right after it goes in the mold, so I rarely have ash. I have steamed it and/or rinsed it off. I never realized lemon juice would work. One can also just "embrace" it. It is purely cosmetic.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 8:35AM
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Thanks for bumping this up, SadieRose. I always have issues with soda ash and I do spray the surfaces with alcohol before insulating. I do a lot of individual molds and I read that this can increase ash. I usually just "wash" it off but I am definitely going to try the lemon juice trick.

Thanks to the OP for sharing.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 5:32PM
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