Batch consistency

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Bamagirl

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Since I have only made six batches of soap so far, I am still not sure on what to expect as far as consistency goes. My first batch (50% lard, 30% OO, 15% CO, 5% castor) was firm and ready to unmold and cut 24 hours (I used a silicone mold). Second batch was the mechanic soap (70% lard, 30% CO) was ready to unmold and cut in 6 hours. When I tweaked Batch 1 (55% lard, 25% OO, 15%Co, 5% castor) it was not ready to unmold and cut until 41 hours, but I didn't think too much of it, it is now about a week old and seems to have hardened pretty good, so I don't think it is an issue with the lye or ingredients. Then yesterday I made another batch of mechanic soap using the exact same recipe (only difference was the pumice wasn't from the same supplier) and now at 16 hours, it isn't totally firm, it still can be indented when pressed on the corner. From reading through the forums, I was under the impression that the same batch should be ready to unmold and cut around the same time each time. Would weather affect consistency since I keep them in our unheated garage? With the first couple of batches I made (around Christmas) it was warmer than it is now, and I was wondering if the colder weather would affect it? (If this is a silly question, I'm sorry, just still trying to learn what to expect and to know when there is a problem with my soap or supplies.)
 

lionprincess00

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Cold slows saponification, yes, which in turn slows the hardening process. Water content, higher water, can leave soap softer longer. Also your fo or eo can affect texture hardening.
On the idea of colder temps, when I began and tried gm soaps, I froze for 24 hours, left in the fridge 6-12 hours, and it remained zappy and soft until the following day. Keeping your constants level, as in same recipe/water/heat or temps the same, it should provide more consistent results. Well, that is unless your fragrance changes things up, which as I mentioned, it can.
 

houseofwool

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Yes, if you have them in your unheated garage, they will absolutely be different because the temperature and humidity fluctuate.
 

Bamagirl

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Great! And thanks for replying. Now that I know the temperature will affect how long it takes to unmold, I can be prepared for that.
 

paillo

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I made tallow coffee soap with used coffee grounds a few days ago, along with another batch, same ingredients minus the coffee grounds, and different fragrances. Had to wait another day to unmold the coffee soap, the grounds hadn't been completely dry and it made a difference. Consistency is the key!
 

navigator9

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Not a silly question at all. I also use silicone molds, and for me, the biggest consideration in when the soap is ready to be unmolded is if it gels or not. I usually CPOP all my soaps, so whatever time of day I make them, I unmold the following morning, without problems. If I make a batch of soap, and don't gel it, then I give it at least several days before unmolding. And I zap test as I go along, just to be sure. If it still zaps, it will be too soft, and will probably dent or stick to the mold if I tried to get it out. So I wait til there's no zap left, and then unmold. The same recipe, can take different times to be unmolded, depending on whether or not it has gelled, because if it gels, the saponification process is speeded up, if not gelled, it just takes longer. So it's not the weather that affects the soap, it's temperature. In warmer weather, it's easier for the soap to gel on its own. In cooler weather, gel may be prevented altogether, and then the soap will take its time to finish saponifying. Hope this answers your concerns.
 

DeeAnna

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I agree w Navigator -- gel vs no gel makes a big difference.

Although I'm beginning to think it's more about whether the soap gets sufficiently warm rather than whether the soap actually goes into a true full-on gel. The reasons why I say this --

I've had a few soaps made with more concentrated lye solutions that I know didn't go into gel, but they did get really toasty warm during saponification. These soaps firmed up and went zap-less quickly and have a waxy-translucent look -- in other words, they behaved and look about the same as higher-water soaps that I know did reach a true vaseline-y gel stage.

I also did an experiment with batch of soap that didn't get hot enough during saponification to go into gel. It was zappy the next day and had that powdery, soft feel I associate with non-gelled soap. I knew from experience that the soap would remain soft for a few more days, and I was impatient to finish it up. I put this soap into a warm oven for an hour or so. I kept checking and I know the soap did not go into gel from the oven heat, but the soap ended up just as firm and waxy and non-zappy after the "bake" as if it had gelled.
 

topofmurrayhill

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I've had a few soaps made with more concentrated lye solutions that I know didn't go into gel, but they did get really toasty warm during saponification. These soaps firmed up and went zap-less quickly and have a waxy-translucent look -- in other words, they behaved and look about the same as higher-water soaps that I know did reach a true vaseline-y gel stage.
My experience is the same. I CPOP most of my soap, but once the lye strength gets to 35% or more, it may not gel. It can be demolded, cut and used after 12 hours regardless. Saponification takes about 4 hours if the soap is warm, apparently regardless of whether it's neat or curd.
 

Bamagirl

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I unmolded and cut the mechanic soap earlier today, it wasn't as firm as the first batch, but it was fine. It looks like it went through partial gel even though it was cold.
 

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