A soap-maker knows the importance of soap tracing. It's impossible to make quality soap without first obtaining a trace. I always put on a happy face when I see a trace. After this many years in the field I consider myself to be a seasoned tracer. Nowadays Bittersweet soap traces within the first 5 minutes of mixing. It wasn't always that fast. When making those first batches some sixteen years ago I had to earn it! The process reminds me of preparing custard or tapioca. Stir, stir and more stir until you get that creamy thick pudding. Sometimes stirring for 30 minutes until the consistency is thick enough. Soap tracing is quite similar but a bit more finicky.
Provided your measurements are accurate and the temperatures are right you should get a fairly quick trace. If something is off however be prepared to stir, stir, stir, stir, stir and stir... Here's a soap making tip... If you whip instead of stirring your soap will float!
If you've watched my old HGTV clip detailing making soap then you know I use a mixer and a wooden spoon to stir my soap. The decision to use both utensils is personal. There really isn't any explanation on why I prefer this method other than it makes me fill complete. Left brain, right brain mechanics I suppose.
It has been rather cold the past few mornings. The extreme coldness slows down the manufacturing some. The coconut oil is harder therefore more difficult to work with. The sodium hydroxide is apposed to sudden drops in temperature. Keeping in mind, it reaches 200 degrees once it comes in contact with water. Then I shock it by sitting it outside for a spell while its caustic fumes are released. Isn't chemistry amazing? I love it!
Off to make more soap!
Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.