Always partial gel, no matter what I do...help!

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by crunchyaf, Aug 27, 2019.

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  1. Aug 27, 2019 #1

    crunchyaf

    crunchyaf

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    Hi everyone!

    So to start, I have read all of the blog posts and have followed different recommendations. I am simply out of ideas.

    My soaps always partially gel. There is usually a ugly gel spot in the middle in varying sizes.

    Last night I tried two different tactics:

    Cold method: mold in the freezer, wait until oil and lye water 100 and 110, after mixing immediately put the mold back in the freezer. The slices look like bread. They are creamy ivory but the out edges are darker, like crust. This is the most successful loaf I have ever made thus far. I used a Brambleberry fragrance oil and nothing else.

    Heat Method: Mix it much hotter, lye water and oil around 125 degrees. Then I put this loaf in an insulated cooler and closed the top. It got so hot that about 2 hours later I checked on it and it cracked on the top so I pulled it out to let it finish saponification while on the counter. Even this did not completely gel. I got the ugly af dark spot in the middle. This had no scents, no oils, no colorants: only 1 oz of finely ground oatmeal.

    I honestly do not understand how people get soap that is one color all the way through.

    I am getting discouraged. I mean, I don't care if they look like this for me, but I make these as gifts to family and friends and this just looks so... bad :(

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Aug 27, 2019 #2

    DKing

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  3. Aug 27, 2019 #3

    TheDragonGirl

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    I cpop when I want to ensure full gel- thats cold process oven process, you heat your oven up on its lowest setting then turn it off and put your soap in there and leave it for a few hours.
     
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  4. Aug 27, 2019 #4

    shunt2011

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    @crunchyaf Have you tried CPOP? You just warm your oven up to the lowest temp and turn it off when you put your mold in the oven. Then just leave it be.
     
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  5. Aug 27, 2019 #5

    Marilyn Norgart

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    i set mine on a towel with a heating pad in it and but a box over it and towels on top. I take temps frequently and if its is getting to warm I turn off the pad and leave the towels on. I have only had one crack this way (of course it happened after I told some one I never had any crack). I take temps every so often and if it seems to be getting to hot I will pull the towels off for a bit. my oven is unpredictable so I don't cpop
     
  6. Aug 27, 2019 #6

    DeeAnna

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    It would be helpful if you posted pictures of your problem and shared your full recipe. Sometimes the problem you think you have is not really the problem. It doesn't seem likely you're getting partial gel in both of the batches you've described, given you are in Pennsylvania and it's summer and you've tried two quite different methods of controlling temperatures.

    I very seldom get partial gel, and I don't go to either extreme that you've described. But I don't know your recipe nor do I know what you're looking at, so it's nearly impossible to draw any valid conclusions and give accurate advice.
     
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  7. Aug 27, 2019 #7

    Cellador

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    I agree with DeeAnna- it sounds like something else might be going on.
    For the first batch mentioned- what FO did you use? It might be a discoloring FO- the darker edge and lighter inside sounds like it might be an FO that hasn't darkened all the way yet.
    The second one sounds like it got overheated which can cause all sorts of issues.
     
  8. Aug 27, 2019 #8

    DeeAnna

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    Oh, I didn't pay attention to the light center and dark outside -- I agree with @Cellador that this is not partial gel. Gel darkens the soap so it has a darker circular or oval center with lighter non-gelled soap on the outside. If that pattern is reversed, it's not partial gel. Also if the color difference is a band that parallels the sides of the mold -- not a circular or oval discoloration -- it's also not partial gel. It's more likely the colorants you used are changing due to water evaporation or reaction with air. Or it's discoloration from fragrance.
     
  9. Aug 27, 2019 #9

    crunchyaf

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    Hi Everyone, Thanks for all of your responses, I will try the oven trick! Um... hmm... I am not sure I know how to add pics here. I guess I need to figure that out. Here are the recipes for the two loaves I made, I wasn't sure which way would be best, the actual amounts of % so here it is one for each.

    One basic loaf (fits those silicone loaf molds) 5% superfat, water discounted for a quicker firm up
    caster oil- 1.44 oz
    OO- 4.33 oz
    CO- 2.89oz
    PO 20.21
    water 8.66oz
    Lye 3.96

    Eczema Loaf Recipe-superfat 8% also water discounted
    Palm 70%
    CO 10%
    OO 15%
    Castor 5%
    water 8.66 oz
    Lye 3.84 oz
    1 oz oatmeal powder
     
  10. Aug 27, 2019 #10

    DeeAnna

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    These recipes should do just fine as written -- there's nothing unusual about them, really. Your lye concentration is around 31% which is fairly ordinary too. Many of us use 33% lye concentration routinely. If you want to reduce the chance of the soap going into gel, try 33% lye concentration or even a little higher.

    In your second recipe you give the fats as percentages and you give the NaOH and water in weight. There's no way to talk about a recipe given in a mixed format like that. For any chance of an intelligent discussion, the numbers have to be either all weights or all percentages.

    (I've always wondered about the term "water discount." Discounted from what? ;) )

    Click the button "Upload a file" to add a photo to your post.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  11. Aug 27, 2019 #11

    crunchyaf

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  12. Aug 27, 2019 #12

    shunt2011

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    Also, you may want to do some research on soap for special skin conditions. What works for one may irritate another. Plus you can’t claim soap is for special conditions. You’ll be crossing into drugs not soap.
     
  13. Aug 27, 2019 #13

    crunchyaf

    crunchyaf

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    Thanks for the lye amounts, that is something to try.
    I can give the OZ for the second recipe:

    Eczema (personal use) recipe
    PO 20.21 oz
    CO 2.89 OZ
    Castor 1.44 oz
    water 8.66 oz
    lye 3.84 oz
    1 oz oatmeal powder

    Thanks for the pic help! I was hitting the pic icon at top but it was asking for a url. Didn't even see the upload a file at the bottom.

    Okay, here are the pics!
     

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  14. Aug 27, 2019 #14

    lenarenee

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    Tell us about the mold you're using...

    It looks like partial gel to me, and the type of mold used could be a factor.

    How old are the affected soaps? Partial gel often fades a lot during cure - I've had many become barely discernable.
     
  15. Aug 27, 2019 #15

    crunchyaf

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    I am using Crafters Choice Regular 1501 Silicone Soap mold from Amazon.

    I made these soaps two days ago...

     
  16. Aug 27, 2019 #16

    lenarenee

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    Ok, that's not a mold I would associate with excessive heating.

    I really think a lot of the partial gel will fade a great deal. You can try the CPOP method. Or soap at cooler temps - even 80 degrees and see if that helps prevent the tendency to partial gel. Some fragrances also cause heating such as ocean/salt scents. I know you're disappointed in the appearance of your soap, but for what it's worth - I love them.
     
  17. Aug 27, 2019 #17

    DeeAnna

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    First photo -- yes, that is partial gel. The center is darker than the outsides, not lighter. The pattern is an oval bullseye.

    Second photo -- That's what I call a "rind." The outside can be darker than the middle -- that's what I usually see -- or possibly vice versa. What's different is the boundary between the two levels of color parallels the sides of the bar. This color difference happens from water evaporation or perhaps some kind of oxidation. Given time, the entire bar should change to the outer rind color.
     
  18. Aug 27, 2019 #18

    Aquamarine56

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    If you're talking 100 degrees F, then that's much too hot for soap if you don't want partial gel.
    Your results will be perfect if you just leave your oils and lye to cool to 80F or less before combining, then pop in the freezer for a day.
    I do this all the time. One time I was in a hurry and mixed at 90 degrees F, and I had partial gel.
     
  19. Aug 28, 2019 #19

    crunchyaf

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    Thanks everyone for all of your help! I will try to soap at 80 F with freezer and see how it goes. I took a class and I was told that I need to soap between 90-130. I did not know I could go lower than that. Also, thanks for the compliment. Thanks again!!
     
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  20. Aug 28, 2019 #20

    DeeAnna

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    The advice to soap cool to cold is not a surefire solution for preventing gel, and I view this advice as a little outdated. Kevin Dunn in his book Scientific Soapmaking and Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara's have shown the water content is more important for controlling whether a soap goes into gel during saponification assuming the batter temp is within a reasonable range. "Reasonable" is anywhere from room temp to around 105F, even 110F.

    If you soap with a high percentage of solid fats such as lard or palm, it's not the best plan to soap at room temperature. These fats can solidify at lower temps if you soap too cool and that will create a "false trace" situation that often leads to troubles making the soap properly.

    Furthermore, there's no need to put soap in the fridge or freezer. Put the soap mold up on a rack or soup cans on your counter so air can flow underneath and put a fan on it. Quiet air, even if cold, is not nearly as efficient at cooling as moving air, even room temp air.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019

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