Another question about gelling/not gelling

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Well-Known Member
Mar 7, 2016
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I know this must have been asked about ad nauseam, but I want to ask this from a slightly different angle; if there are no colors or scents involved, what are the pros/cons to gelling vs not? In case it matters, I always use at least 1 tsp. sugar PPO (my next batch will have 2 tsp PPO as a test and it might become my standard measure to add going forward). I also add 1 tsp. sodium lactate PPO. Also, my recipe uses a high lard and palm oil content and I squirt a little TD into the mix to brighten up the batch.
Knowing that, if 2 batches are made, CPOP one and the other popped into the freezer, what can I to expect 2 months from now with each one?
I know that with regards to soap there is a lot that is different for each person, but I want to know what the factual/tangible differences are.

Mar 18, 2015
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A few things will be different when actually soaping and it does depend on water content.


With added TD: if you use the default water amount you're more likely to get "glycerin rivers" (mottling).

With higher sugar: if you use the default water amount you might have a chance of volcanoing if the batter overheats. Water discounts will reduce the likelihood.

You may be more likely to experience separation when using default water amounts.

Your soap will be more translucent.

Your soap will be saponifiyed within 24-48 hours max. Usually within 8 hours when CPOPing. You can usually unmold and cut when the soap is cool.

I highly recommend soaping at a 31-35% lye concentration (or higher) if you are going to gel regularly unless you want to achieve glycerin rivers or are trying to have very fluid batter. If you go above 35% lye concentration, you may need to force gel at higher oven temps.

Preventing gel:

Your soap will have a matte appearance.

Saponification can take up to 1 week or more in some cases. It may take that much time to unmold or you will loose corners.

You may get partial gel using more sugar.

I also recommend soaping with a 31-35% lye concentration for preventing gel as well because it greatly lowers your chance of partial gel. You don't even need a freezer at 35% and over. I wouldn't go higher than a 40% lye concentration without gelling because I've had some problems with it before.

After 2 months though, you won't notice much of a difference between a gelled and ungelled soap. Ungelled soap tends to feel almost powdery before you use it. Gelled soaps have a very smooth and shiny look to them. In use, I don't find they are all that different. Some people have said that gelled soap last longer in the shower.

It comes down to personal preference in the end as both have their advantages and disadvantages. Personally I prefer to gel. But I have zero freezer/fridge space.


Well-Known Member
Apr 17, 2014
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New England
Just speaking in general, and the two main reasons I gel my soaps...#1 I like the instant gratification of being able to unmold the following day. #2 I like the texture of gelled soap better. If you take one batch and split it, and gel half and not the other, you'll see a difference between the two. And this is purely an aesthetic thing, neither one is better, just different. I happen to like the slightly "waxy" texture of gelled soap better.


Supporting Member
Aug 16, 2014
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Near Charlotte NC
Ditto to what Galaxy and Navigator said. As a personal preference, I like the way my regular recipe feels when it's ungelled. I use PKO which gives it enough of a waxy feel - gelling it makes it almost *too* waxy feeling for my tastes. Also, I use milks in almost all my soaps and don't want to worry with overheating.

Where I currently live, my soap doesn't want to gel on the countertop, and I'm a big believer in working with things instead of fighting them. My hair is parted where it wants to be parted, dries how it dries, and looks how it looks. Same with my soap. :) If my FO decides to heat things up, fine: I'll gel it.


Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2014
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New York
Honestly, the biggest reason I gel my soaps is because I usually can't avoid it, especially in the summer. I hate the look of partially gelled soap, so I'd rather just completely gel it and avoid that issue altogether. I prefer the translucent/shiny look, as well.


Staff member
Feb 11, 2008
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Right here, silly!
Ditto all of the above.

When all is said and done and cured (i.e., about 2 months after pour or so, I'd say), the tangible behavior-able differences between my gelled and ungelled soaps that were so obvious earlier on in their lives have pretty much evened out as the un-gelled soaps have finally caught up.

The only differences that remain are purely aesthetic in nature, i.e., the colors in my gelled soap are more deep and brilliant (as opposed to the light pastel in my un-gelled soaps), and the gelled soap is more transluscent....unless I added TD to the batch, that is, which makes my gelled soap just as matte in appearance as my un-gelled soaps.

IrishLass :)