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Carried away with the heating pad

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reallyrita

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Oh dear...there is so very much to learn! I am in the middle of testing some soapsupplies.net fragrances. I have posted about 3 of them already on the fragrances section of our forum. Today I soaped the cucumber and green tea scent. I am not ready to say much about it yet...and I may have cooked my batch but good so there may not be much scent left. I have a thick silicone log mold from Chase Molds. It is a very nice mold...sort of like a Martha Mold, but silicone. The soap pops right out! That is the good part, but I prefer the Tog molds for the finished size of the logs. Also, I have had trouble getting gel (which I DO want) with the Chase but never ever with the Tog.
Sooooo..today I soaped a 2 lb batch, poured into the Chase and put it on a heating pad very very low. Actually, I had the mold warming on the pad, when I poured, I turned the pad off but covered with a towel and a blanket and from time to time, turned the pad on to keep the warmth up.

It was not warm in my little soaping space and I wanted to get gel. I got gel alright, but I also got a nice long crack on the top of the soap, and a kind of sweaty area near the crack. Yup, I overheated it. There must be a million variables with this soaping business. I hope this soap firms up and turns out ok. I can't tell how it smells tonight but I will post my results when I get some final results. I should have just let it do it's thing without that drat heating pad. SIGH
 
G

Guest

I'm just a newbie on my 2nd batch, but just last night I poured and molded and monitored the temperature over the next several hours and observed my batch reaching 110+ degrees in a room ambient temperature of 70-80 degrees. I had the batch wrapped in some towels to insulate it.

Why do you feel it's necessary to use a heating pad? You said, "It's not warm in my little soaping space." How about you saponify your batches in a more temperate environment, maybe in your living space?

Note that it's easy for me to say, considering that I live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles where this time of year temperatures often never go below 70 degrees at night.

(Any other SFV or LA soapers out there?)
 

Laurie

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I live on the Prairies up here in Canada, so I have to put my little mold in the oven with the light on to get gel. My Tog will gel, but my other 2 wooden molds don't.

By the way talking about LA. I flew in and out of there in March. We ended up in Arizona and then drove to San Diego and from there drove up to San Clemente and stayed 2 nights there. That was my first time to ever see an ocean and to see surfers. I was pretty awestruck by the homes on the hills with their balconies all overlooking the ocean. I hope I can go back someday. The traffic nearly killed us. It was very overwhelming, just driving in and out of LA.

Anyway I guess I got off topic here.
 
G

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Laurie, I certainly don't mind off topic although I can speak only for myself. I figure as long as the OP gets their answer all's fine, and I think the off topic makes the forum more interesting, more human. :)

I can appreciate your seeing the ocean the first time. You'll probably be surprised that as an LA native and long time resident I got tired of the beach and the ocean a long time ago. Even though it's only about 45 minutes drive from home I haven't seen it in perhaps 1-2 years. The thought of lying on the beach and getting hot, sandy and sunburned doesn't appeal to me. Been there done that thousands of times. I guess you can get tired of any good thing. I'm thinking of moving to AZ or NM in the next few years... Back to the topic.

I understand now why you need to help your batch along with a heating pad. I'm sorry I'm no expert but perhaps I can help you with ideas, at least until the soapmaking gods have their say.

Okay you heated your mold and the soap cracked. Probably too much heat as you said, or perhaps a possibility that something else cracked it. Thinking about what's happening though, your soap is going through a chemical reaction that is releasing heat (exothermic reaction). I don't see that you really need to add heat because your soap is already making it, making enough to do the job for most people. What your problem is is that your soap is losing heat, due to room temperature and probably due to poor insulation. Your adding heat is just making it more unpredictable when it should be entirely predictable by just being left on its own.

What I would try (remember I'm a rank newbie) is to improve your insulation. Also, don't remove it and peek. You'll lose heat every time you peek. What I suggest is to find the warmest place in your house, or at least in the area that you keep warm for personal comfort, and put your mold there while it completes saponification. Since your having problems, insulate it better. Start out by placing a blanket on a wood table or something, not a concrete floor which will suck out the heat. Put your mold on top of that, then cover it with more blankets. Keep it all in an area that doesn't get below room temperature. I don't see how too much insulation can harm your soap, but it's clear that too little will prevent gelling, so try overdoing the insulation and see if that solves your problem. Do remember to cover your mold with cardboard or wood or the like before you cover it with the blanket.

Also, it might be interesting if you have one of those remote reading roast thermometers. I've got one I use on turkeys, stab it in the turkey and close the oven door on the wire, and the readout sits next to the stove and tells you when your roast is done. For your soap, put the probe in contact with your mold or perhaps lay it on top of the soap before you cover it if your mold is too insulating and won't conduct the heat. Then you can turn on the readout from time to time and see if your temperature is increasing. My understanding, and supported by a few measurements I took on my 2nd batch, is that after you pour your soap into your mold, as long as your batch is insulated the temperature will increase and stay high for several to perhaps 24 hours as the reaction completes, and then start cooling off.

So my suggestion is to forget the heating pad, keep your mold in a heated portion of your house, and focus on better insulation, more blankets, and make sure the mold is not setting on a cold surface that won't suck the heat out.

Well I hope some of the gurus chime in, but if not perhaps my idea might help.

Greg
 

reallyrita

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Lovehound, I think you have some very valid points. My soap was in my living space. I live at 8000ft and sometimes the nights get very cool and the house cools down. I have not had any problems with gel using my Tog mold or even milk cartons inside a big pot with a towel wrapped around really well and a blanket on top. This particular mold that I used has never given me gel. I had read somewhere that heating your mold ahead might help the gel get going so that is why I did that this time. I think my mistake was LEAVING it on the pad and switching it on low from time to time. I had a towel and a blanket on it as well. I did peak from time to time and after 4 hours....no sign of gel...and then...oh my gosh...gel right to the edges and the mold was really warm. The silicone is about 1/2 inch thick and really held on to the heat. I took everything off and just used a light towel and it is still warm this morning!! I have to figure out the secret to this mold. My soap will pop right out of this mold and it looks pretty good this morning. The crack is not too deep but the soap is very soft!! Even in the summer, my house gets really cool at night because I am up in the mountains. It is going to be trickier than in the winter when the house stayed consistently warm with the heat on. I am new to soaping and have not gone through a summer soaping yet!!
Thanks for your help....this is a frustrating hobby sometimes...
 
G

Guest

I'm glad things are working out for you Rita. I'm very happy if I provided any help at all because I too am new to soaping, in fact just started the beginning of this month. I'm doing batch #3 this afternoon in fact. I've been doing so very much reading and a fair amount of surfing the Internet for soaper knowledge, but I'm pretty much speaking from theoretical knowledge and not any practical knowledge. However my hobby of cooking and my profession of engineering does give me a different perspective than others.

While I'm only at 800 feet here I'm considering relocating in 2-4 years and one of the places I'm considering is Santa Fe NM which is at about your same elevation so it's possible I might learn something useful too. I would presume though that if living there I would leave the heating on all night and the temperature wouldn't be that different from here now. Outside though is a different story, expecting 100+ today. That ought to get my gel going! :)

I don't see any harm at all preheating your mold to perhaps 100 or about the same temperature as your soap batter, so that you won't shock it cold. I think you've discovered though to not heat it after the pour and then just keep it really insulated until the gel stage is over. The important part is to keep that heat in, and I don't see any possible harm at all with adding more than enough insulation. The exothermic reaction will provide all the heat you need as long as it doesn't escape.

And avoid peeking. I can understand the impulse but it seems like cooking rice where there also you've just got to keep the lid on and trust in the recipe (1 rice to 2 water) and you'll make perfect rice every time. You might try my remote reading roast thermometer a go. I'm pretty sure that a rising temperature over a period of several hours is a sure indication that everything is going properly.

Yeah, frustrating for sure, and you know what I mean if you read my pipe mold post. :)

Greg
 

reallyrita

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Oh no! I did read that.....I am fascinated with the idea of making round soaps but I don't have the cojones for the PVC pipe adventure yet!!
 
G

Guest

I bought some 18" wide freezer paper this morning. It's supposed to help. And with the food cans as a pusher I think I'm good to go! :)
 

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