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Gelling soap???


Craftedinthewoods
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I hope I'm not asking too many questions! (I'm afraid I'm wearing out my welcome.) I decided to post this one in a new thread since it is a new subject.

I've been reading several threads about gelling soap. Some like to let it gel, others don't let it gel.

What does this mean exactly? I've not found an explaination of this and why it is necesary or not. What is this gel stage, what does it mean in the soap process, why do you think it is good or not good for certain soaps.

I've also read something about using pvc pipes as molds and this not letting gelling occur, or somthing. I didn't understand. But I'm going to try pvc as molds so I would like to know. This article I read talked about not insulating the pvc because of gelling and it just didn't make sense to me. Does that mean anything to anyone?

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i do gell all my soaps...

i don't know if i can explain like you want...

but gelling...what i do is usually heat my molds..pour my soap..

and then put on towels and then cover with a card board box..that fits

low on the molds but not touching the top..and cover with towels or a blanket...

if you look at your soap, 2 to 3 hrs after doing this..it will almost have a translucent look..and if you reach under all the towel or blankets with your hand...it will feel really warm...sometimes for 9 or more hrs..

it is best if you don't uncover for that time..

if you don't reach full gell you will have that moon look in the center of your soap...doing that way i explained, i have never had a partial gell...

i gell because, i feel that my soap cures faster...and i have less trouble with ash...

but there is alot of different opinions, so you have to try both ways and see what you prefer..

i have read, where some think that it makes their scents fade..but i have never noticed that with mine... for along time i never gelled my soaps..

but now with gelling i don't see a diffrence with my scents..

i also usually cut my soap within 12 hrs...after gelling...and mostly my bars are already pretty hard..

i don't recommend it...but i have used my soaps in 2 wks..because i just could not wait to try out a new scent .....and it was very hard..

but i do feel that there is a big benifit for waiting at least 1 month before useing..as i think they are milder..and more bubbly..

hope i have helped....

and i know there are others out there..with lots of good info too...

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Gel is basically melted soap. It's not liquid, but it does go into a different phase above a certain temperature. When gels and solidifies again, it ends up looking different from ungelled soap. If a batch partially gels, it will look both ways.

Whether it happens depends on the temperature of the mixture when it goes into the mold, the mold material, the size of the batch, the amount of insulation, the ambient temperature around the mold, and anything that affects the speed of saponification (recipe, FO, ancillary ingredients, the amount of water).

Gel isn't totally dependent on the rate of saponification, but it's one indicator of it, so soaps that don't gel might (in some cases) need a little more time to harden and cure out. Apart from the look of it, the only difference I've heard of in the final product is that gelled soap swells a little less when it gets wet, so it keeps it's shape a bit better.

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Ok - so gelling happens if the soap maintains it's heat in the mold? Do I have that right?

The first batches I made a few days ago, I kept looking at while they were in the molds. I touched, poked, prodded and generally couldn't keep my hands & eyes off! So I don't even know if they gelled or not. I don't recall seeing the things described, sooo,....

I made soap today and I'm learning that I have no patience for waiting! But I'm going to wait and not open my towels until I fell the heat is gone.

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yes they can get too hot....especially if your molds are wood..

what usually happens..is they crack on top...if that does happen..you

can kind of push them and squeeze it back together..

i have not had that happen very many times...maybe 2 or 3 times..

and i know what you mean by patience :)..it is so hard not to look..:rolleyes2

but you will have less chance of ash...if you don't look...lol

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Ok - so gelling happens if the soap maintains it's heat in the mold? Do I have that right?

The first batches I made a few days ago, I kept looking at while they were in the molds. I touched, poked, prodded and generally couldn't keep my hands & eyes off! So I don't even know if they gelled or not. I don't recall seeing the things described, sooo,....

I made soap today and I'm learning that I have no patience for waiting! But I'm going to wait and not open my towels until I fell the heat is gone.

That's correct - with heat comes gel. When you peak at your soap, you lose heat and could get a partial gel. I think we all do it or have done it. Its hard not to peak. After all these years of soaping, I still peak. lol You'll know if you get a partial gel as the soap will have a discolored circle, usually the center of the soap, and can have 2 different textures to it where it did and did not gel.

You also should know that partially gelled soap are completely safe to use. Its just a cosmetic thing. An ungelled soap will have a creamier feel and look to it and will be softer longer. Gelling or not gelling can also affect the brightness of the colors you use.

Gelling is just matter of opinion. Some gel, some don't. And some do both. I try not to gel any of my milk soaps. Milk is a heat accelerant and can cause your soap batch to over heat, and/or crack or separate. So can honey. When soaping with milk or honey, I soap as cool as I can and put my mold in the fridge to avoid gel.

While a gelled soap might be unmolded faster and lessen cure time, disounting water can do the same thing. Just be careful what fragrances you use when you discount water.

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That's correct - with heat comes gel. When you peak at your soap, you lose heat and could get a partial gel. I think we all do it or have done it. Its hard not to peak. After all these years of soaping, I still peak. lol You'll know if you get a partial gel as the soap will have a discolored circle, usually the center of the soap, and can have 2 different textures to it where it did and did not gel.

You also should know that partially gelled soap are completely safe to use. Its just a cosmetic thing. An ungelled soap will have a creamier feel and look to it and will be softer longer. Gelling or not gelling can also affect the brightness of the colors you use.

Gelling is just matter of opinion. Some gel, some don't. And some do both. I try not to gel any of my milk soaps. Milk is a heat accelerant and can cause your soap batch to over heat, and/or crack or separate. So can honey. When soaping with milk or honey, I soap as cool as I can and put my mold in the fridge to avoid gel.

While a gelled soap might be unmolded faster and lessen cure time, disounting water can do the same thing. Just be careful what fragrances you use when you discount water.

you are right meridith....discounting does cause the soap to harden faster...i discount and gell...but i still prefer to use my soaps after a month...i just think they are milder...

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Ok - so gelling happens if the soap maintains it's heat in the mold? Do I have that right?

Not so much maintains heat, but accumulates enough heat. Heat has to be produced by the saponification reaction faster than it escapes from the mold, so that the temperature goes up. If that happens enough, the soap melts and you have gel.

That's why its affected by things like the starting temperature of the mixture (soap warm= more heat in the first place= more likely to reach gel temp), water discounting (less water = faster saponification = more heat accumulation), insulation or a warm oven (heat escapes more slowly), or the size of the batch (more soap has more inside volume to generate heat and relatively less outside surface for it to escape through).

Hot process soaping of course always produces gelled soap because of the heat being added by the soaper. With CP you're usually not adding very much heat once the soap is in the mold, but leaving the mold in the oven at low temp for long enough would do that too.

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you are right meridith....discounting does cause the soap to harden faster...i discount and gell...but i still prefer to use my soaps after a month...i just think they are milder...

Any soap will benefit from a cure; even HP soap. I never sell any soap before a proper cure time (at least a month - sometimes longer) and rarely even use it before the cure is complete. You are so right when you say it just gets milder. I always wash my hands with it right away though to see how it lather and smells. I save my opinion for how mild it is after its cured. I have a castille soap made in 2008 still curing! I recently used it and it was very mild. I will be putting this one on the shelf for sale soon.

But if you need to unmold quickly, discounting can work for that. Some people will even use this to shorten the cure time, but I myself don't advocate that. :)

Edited by Meridith
typo
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An ungelled soap will have a creamier feel and look to it and will be softer longer. Gelling or not gelling can also affect the brightness of the colors you use.

Ungelled soap is creamier but softer... Does it get harder with a longer cure or will it not last as long (i.e. melt away faster in the shower)?

Gelling is just matter of opinion. Some gel, some don't. And some do both. I try not to gel any of my milk soaps. Milk is a heat accelerant and can cause your soap batch to over heat, and/or crack or separate. So can honey. When soaping with milk or honey, I soap as cool as I can and put my mold in the fridge to avoid gel.

So, to not gel soap do you simply not wrap a towel / blanket around it? I'm not soaping with milk or honey (yet:)) so I assume I wouldn't consider puting soap & mold in the fridge, right?

I'm not sure yet if I understand gelling enough to know if I want it or not, I'll still wait to look at my soap for now. That way, the soap will do what it will do...

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I always wash my hands with it right away though to see how it lather and smells. I save my opinion for how mild it is after its cured.

Another dumb question... Do you just take the whole bar and use it for that first hand washing and then put it back on the drying rack?

I've taken a few slivers to wash my hands with but it is kind of tough to get a good lather with a little sliver (I keep dropping it:rolleyes2) and it ruins my perfect little bars to have a cut taken off of them.

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Ungelled soap is creamier but softer... Does it get harder with a longer cure or will it not last as long (i.e. melt away faster in the shower)? .

Yes it will get harder and won't melt away faster if given the proper cure.

So, to not gel soap do you simply not wrap a towel / blanket around it? I'm not soaping with milk or honey (yet:)) so I assume I wouldn't consider puting soap & mold in the fridge, right?

I'm not sure yet if I understand gelling enough to know if I want it or not, I'll still wait to look at my soap for now. That way, the soap will do what it will do...

Not necessarily so. Sometimes you can do your best to avoid gel and your soap either completely gels or you get a partial gel. Because of the possibility of a partial gel, some people will always force gel.

To try to avoid gel, you can soap as cool as possible and keep your soap mixture as cool as possible. You can do this by putting fans on your soap. I've put my mold out in the snow and in the fridge. You can gel a soap with milk or honey but IME, I can't keep it from overheating.

To help force a gel, you can wrap your mold to insulate it, you can put heating pads over it and I've read where someone would put their soap on top of the dryer while it was running. You can also put your mold, if oven safe, in a warm oven. Some people do this by turning the oven on warm, placing the mold in there, and immediately turning the oven off but leaving the mold in there overnight or until completely cooled. Some will leave the mold in there with the oven on, for like 2 hours before turning the oven off and leaving it in there overnight.

Some people have a soaping box they use to help force gel. I use to have one that was simply a cardboard box that I lined with a piece of sheep's wool. I would put my mold in the box, and covered it with old towels, then closed the box. I don't ever recall having a partial gel with this method. Only draw back was I could not use this box for my wood log mold. I used it for my slab mold. Slab molds can be easier to achieve a full mold in.

Wood molds are great for holding in heat so I find it pretty easy to gel in my wood log mold. I also have many times experienced partial gel but this usually happens if its really cold out and I don't wrap the mold. During the warmer months I don't have to wrap this mold to get full gel. But everyone's experiences can vary when soaping.

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Another dumb question... Do you just take the whole bar and use it for that first hand washing and then put it back on the drying rack?

I've taken a few slivers to wash my hands with but it is kind of tough to get a good lather with a little sliver (I keep dropping it:rolleyes2) and it ruins my perfect little bars to have a cut taken off of them.

I usually just use what I get on my hands while unmolding and cutting it. I will also scrap off what sticks to my liner or the mold. I usually get some lather from my soap right away. You will too once you figure out a recipe you like. :)

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Just addressing the ash issue~~I'm a geller~~the only way I've found that can kinda sorta guarantee (and I'm using that term very loosely) that you won't get ash, or at least reduce it, is to put plastic wrap over the top of the batter once it's in the mold. I quit doing that quite a while ago because to me it was just another step, and ash doesn't really bother me anyway.

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