what is trace and soap

What is trace and soap? Trace is the time when the saponification of the lye, water and oils have become soap. It is at this stage when the soap base is thicker and doesn’t start to separate if you stop stirring. It will continue to get thicker from here on in. Now is also the time to add your scents, colorants, superfats, clays or anything else, then you’d pour all this into the molds.

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This is what trace looks like, when a bead of soap can be drizzled across the top without sinking in.

The signs of trace are:

  • the soap has changed color a little, a lighter shade
  • the oil layer is not visibly sitting on top
  • the soap base has gotten thicker
  • the soap doesn’t separate if you stop stirring
  • if you pick up the spoon and drizzle soap on top, it does not sink right in, it will sit on top
  • although sometimes it is sit on top then slowly become one with the soap again

This is the perfect photo of trace:

You can stir with a big wooden spoon to get this effect, but a hand blender will speed up the process. Just be careful not to bring the blade action too close to the top and get spattered.

What is trace and soap, and a series of images to show the progress from oils and lye-water to a soap:

  1. First image shows that the lye and water has been added, and some stirring has occurred, but you can still see that the oils are sitting on the top:


2) Second image shows the stick blender/hand blender mix the oils and lye water. At this point the oils would still separate and sit on top.

3) Third image shows a finished soap base, you can tell by the color and that it isn’t separating, and now a superfat is being added.


4) Fourth image is your soap in a mold. This soap appears darker, and soap will change colors a little, for instance an all olive oil soap will be darker than say a canola and coconut oil soap would be.

Leave the ‘what is trace’ page and check out what ‘superfatting’ your soap is.

Find out exactly what lye, aka caustic soda, aka sodium hydroxide, is here at Wikipedia.

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