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To gel or not to gel


Oceangazer1
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good question.. I actually was on another board and there were a lot of people that put their soap in the freezer and stuff so it would not gel.

I also thought that all CP should gel.

Yeah...exactly they stick them in the freezer so they wont gel and I want to know the significance, pros and cons of each. What are they trying to achieve or Not achieve. LOL.

Common please soapie experts!! :)

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Gel or no gel depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Gel: Colors more vibrant, harder faster, translucent quality.

Not to Gel: Milk soaps to prevent discoloration, eo/fo that can be burned off (those with a low flash point or highly volatile components), want a more creamy look/no translucence, want subdued/pastel colors.

I think my gelled soaps feel smooth as glass when lathering, non-gelled soaps don't have the same glassy smoothness.

Some additives (sugars/milks) will heat up the soap. Too much heat can cause problems as well (separation, lye bubbles or pockets, discoloration) so by putting those soaps in the refrigerator or freezer, the problems can be avoided.

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When I get partial gel... I just live with it and make notes so that I force a full gel the next time I make the same soap. You will see a difference in color. The gelled part will be more vibrant and have a translucent quality, the non-gelled part will be creamier in color and more opaque. The difference can diminish with cure, but it won't go completely away. Not dumb questions.

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I gel my soap. I have never tried to prevent gel because it does not seem logical for me to do this because heat is a byproduct of saponification, ie. saponified oils mixed with lye are SUPPOSED to gel, so I try not to interfere with that process.

I forgot about the "rule" of not gelling GM soap and allowed mine to gel. It didn't seem to hurt it. It may have caused the soap to darken a little, but since the soap was colored, I can't say that it did much more than darken the soap slightly. Now having said that, I have made exactly ONE batch of GM soap, soooo I may not have the same experience in future batches, in other colors or using other formulas...

I don't like putting soaps in the refrigerator or freezer, even just to demold them (although I DO refrigerate soap that is giving me a hard time dropping out of the mold). Mainly this is because as the cold or frozen soap warms, it develops condensation on the surface. I don't think this condensation is particularly good for new soap and it makes the bars/loaves really slippery to handle!

those with a low flash point or highly volatile components
Once FO or EO is added to something, it becomes blended with that larger product. The flashpoint changes to an average of ALL of the components of that solution, whether wax, oils, etc.. Many FOs used for soaping are also used for candlemaking. The flame does not "burn off" the scent (when correctly wicked) and a flame is far hotter than the temp of gelling soap. The temp of the MP of a candle (where most of the scent is emitted) is comparable to that of gelling soap... Certainly some chemicals that may be contained in a particular FO or EO may be fragile and easily diminished or destroyed by heat, but this is not related to flashpoint so much as it is related to those delicate chemicals. Edited by Stella1952
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Once FO or EO is added to something, it becomes blended with that larger product. The flashpoint changes to an average of ALL of the components of that solution, whether wax, oils, etc.. Many FOs used for soaping are also used for candlemaking. The flame does not "burn off" the scent (when correctly wicked) and a flame is far hotter than the temp of gelling soap. The temp of the MP of a candle (where most of the scent is emitted) is comparable to that of gelling soap... Certainly some chemicals that may be contained in a particular FO or EO may be fragile and easily diminished or destroyed by heat, but this is not related to flashpoint so much as it is related to those delicate chemicals.

We are talking about soap here, not candles. How much experience do you actually have making soap? I see from your post above you've made 1 goat milk soap. After 12 years and thousands of batches of soap, I'm confident in telling someone that gelling soap will destroy/"burn off*" some of the more volatile components of essential oils and fragrance oils. And if you want to keep those components of the fragrance, try to do so by avoiding gel.

*By the way "burn off" is used by soap makers to describe the volatile components of eos/fos vaporizing during the soap making process.

Over the years I've seen post after post from soap makers wondering why their fragrances are weak, have lost "something," morphed, and don't last. They never bother to connect how they treat the fragrance in the soap making process with the final result.

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We are talking about soap here, not candles.

No disrespect intended to your years of soaping experience, but your use of the term "flashpoint" was confusing because it isn't really applicable. Flash point is flash point, regardless of whether it's oils or wax. Certainly heat can destroy delicate components, but that is not because of flash point - it's because the heat destroys those chemicals. I agree that heat sensitive chemicals can be damaged as well as ones that do not react well with lye.

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I only make goat's milk CP soaps, using 100% fresh goat's milk as my liquid. I put all my poured soaps in the freezer to prevent gel, which is a personal preference as I like the creamier consistency and off white color. I occasionally get a partial gel, but it's not a problem to my customers or me. I also don't get condensation on my 'thawed' soap log and never have a problem handling it to cut.

To gel or not to gel is strictly a personal preference, it doesn't make a better soap one way or the other! :cool2:

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  • 4 weeks later...

The mark of a good soapmaker is one who controls the process. You do that in a myriad of ways by choosing the combinations of oils, discounting, superfatting, oil temps, additives and the list goes on. I choose some soaps to gel and others to not gel. When you start trying to swirl or make artistic statements with your soap then you have to know how the recipe and fo or eo behaves and with what methods can you defy some of the behaviors that prevent you from being artistic. Stepping outside of the box requires a new level of learning new characteristics of soap and how it can be manipulated by your knowledge. Heat exchange from chemical interaction can be manipulated to accomplish all sorts of tricks; I just haven't figured them out yet. That's why I need to live with Babs or Irena and learn their secrets ( I could name a whole lot more folks on the board that would be so cool to soap with too).

Steve

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