Cold Process ,”Gel” Phase Questions

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by SoapNerd2004, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. Nov 19, 2017 #1

    SoapNerd2004

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    Hello! I have been making soap for some time. However, CP soap is something I don’t normally do, and most my experience is with Hot Process. I’ve only done cold process a few times previously. My soap always turns out to be good soap, but I get an opaque look in the middle with a solid ring around the outside. After what I believe is the gelmphase the soap never returns to the solid color I’ve seen, but looks like jelly in the center and solid color around the outside edge.

    I’ve recently acquired a large silicone mold and built a box with a lid. Today I tried a new batch, and I’m wondering if during cure/ insulation/ gel phase of its normal for the soap to discolor to an opaque look. I seem to have the entire mold doing that this time, but will the colors return to normal?

    Attacked is a picture pre-lid and being wrapped in a towel. I know you aren’t supposed to open the box up after but I did take a quick peak. The entire thing looks,”gelled” but in the past my soap always stays that way, and colors never return. Can some help me understand this and let me know how to prevent this from turning my soap into this oddnopaque look. Thanks.

    B23E4F21-F005-4794-B57B-5FD0AA1032BF.jpg
     
  2. Nov 20, 2017 #2

    DeeAnna

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    So can you share your recipe (weights of ALL ingredients) and method of making the soap, please? More information would be a great help -- you'll get more accurate advice.
     
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  3. Nov 20, 2017 #3

    Susie

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    You are describing partial gel in the first paragraph. You need more insulation or an additional heat source like an oven or a heating pad to increase the heat to get full gel. OR you need to freeze it to prevent gel all together. Gel yields a different shade of the color.

    Gel yields a different shade. Period. You either need to go full gel or no gel to not have the two toned look.
     
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  4. Nov 20, 2017 #4

    Cellador

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    I can't tell from your description if you are trying to keep the gel phase (entire bar is the color in middle ring) or if you are trying to prevent gel phase (entire bar is the color on the outside).

    If you like the inside ring color, you want to try to force the gel phase by holding the heat (insulation, CPOP, heating pad, etc.). If you want the color to be more like the outside edges/corner of your soap, you need to prevent gel phase by keeping the soap cooler (no insulation, fridge/freezer).

    I hope this helps.
     
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  5. Nov 20, 2017 #5

    SoapNerd2004

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    8oz Coconut Oil
    15oz Olive Oil
    11oz Palm Oil
    4.8oz Lye
    11.2oz Distilled water

    ( this batch was doubled)

    Melt all the oils, combine water and lye. I wait for both the oils and lye to reach approximately 120 degrees F before combining( with no more than 10 degrees difference between the two. In this case the oils were 118.4 and the lye water was 121.2). After combining to light trace( with a stick blender), I separated some and added desired scent and color( color to only 1 part, orange), poured white into mold, the. Orange and swirled. Lid on, insulated with a towel.
     
  6. Nov 20, 2017 #6

    SoapNerd2004

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    I really don’t want to opaque look, I want the colors to stay as close to the colors when I poured as possible. Without a gel phase, is the cure time longer? Does the gel phase act like a lighter hot Process cook?

    I forgot to include the picture I snapped of the progression/ change in the soap. I want it to stay as close to the picture above as possible, not the one here....

    2A926FD8-81FF-4D7C-BA31-731F210B7E2D.jpg
     
  7. Nov 20, 2017 #7

    SoapNerd2004

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    Now that I’m looking, the orange pigment seems to have changed slightly, but the cream colored, in-tinted soap is much different in color( reddish). I supposed if I added some white mica it would be closer to the white I desired. If I prevent the gel phase, how long should I keep it in the fridge for future batches?
     
  8. Nov 20, 2017 #8

    Cellador

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    It appears that this batch of soap is going through gel phase completely- no rings in the middle- yay!

    I have never HP'd soap, so I can't say how it compares. But, I would wait until the soap is ready to come out of the mold before you make a decision about the color. The color in gel phase is not indicative of the color of the final soap. If you don't have the ring, you may not be able to determine a color difference at all.

    Not gelling does require that you keep it cooled, and yes, it will take longer to harden-up in the mold. Maybe even 3-5 days more than you are used to.
     
  9. Nov 20, 2017 #9

    Cellador

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    I keep soap I do not want to gel in the freezer for about 12 hours. But, I soap at night and get it out of the freezer in the morning....I think you could do it earlier than that.
     
  10. Nov 20, 2017 #10

    Kittish

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    I made a batch that I kept in the fridge (not freezer) for 3 days. It was still fairly soft when I took it out of the fridge, had to let it sit out for another day or so to be firm enough to unmold. No gel, though, which was the point.
     
  11. Nov 20, 2017 #11

    earlene

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    For me, gel intensifies colors. Gel is also supposed to look more 'transluscent' than non-gelled soap, which is more often desscribed as more opaque. Partial gel causes that ring, and the center part is usually the gelled part because soap tends to heat from the inside out when left to it's own devices or with insulation when it needs a little help.

    But it is not only gel that effects the final color, as other factors can cause colors to change. Some colorants morph, some fade away altogether, some fragrance oils cause color changes, and of course some oils affect color as well.

    And, yes, in HP you bring the soap through gel phase before putting it into the mold. With CP, gel phase happens after putting into the mold unless you purposely manipulate to avoid gel.
     
  12. Nov 20, 2017 #12

    DeeAnna

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    Thanks for sharing your recipe and method! I appreciate the extra info -- very helpful.

    I agree with pretty much all of what the others are saying regarding gel vs. no gel. A gelled soap has a more translucent look, the colors can be more intense, and it is often firm enough to unmold sooner than not-gelled soap. It does shorten the time for saponification compared to not-gelled soap, but gelling does not not shorten the cure time by any practical amount. I'd rather gel than not, but I realize other people feel differently about it.

    So some thoughts --

    If you want to avoid gel without making any other changes in your method or recipe, some people get good results by refrigerating or freezing the soap, although it can be just as effective to leave it completely uncovered sitting on a cooling rack in front of a fan. Cooling soap like this seems fiddly to me, but again some people have good results from this, so your mileage may vary, as they say.

    If I were in your shoes I would instead do two things --

    I would look at lowering the starting temperature of your ingredients by about 10 degrees F -- to about 110 F or even a bit less. My goal is for my solid fats to be melted through and clear, but I want them only just warm enough to reach that goal. With my soap recipes that contain a lot of lard, that's 100 to 110 F. With your palm based recipe, this temp range should also work, but you may want to play around with this to see what temps work best for you.

    Another change I'd suggest is to switch from "water as % of oils" (if you are using this) to using lye concentration or water:lye ratio. And then reduce the water in your recipe by changing the lye concentration from your current 30% (water:lye ratio of 2.3) to about 33% (water:lye ratio of 2.0). This will raise the temperature at which your soap will naturally want to go into the gel phase, so your soap will be less likely to gel.
     
  13. Nov 24, 2017 #13

    SoapNerd2004

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    Thank you for all the help! I’ve taken the advice in here and have done a batch of Clean Cotton, with jojoba beads for exfoliating. I forgot to get more isopropyl to spray the top, so I’ll get soda ash, DOH! Oh well! I’ve decided I am ok with gel phase, I noticed the colored soap only slightly changed color in the last batch ( the orange), while the uncolored soap browned, so I dyed both parts this time to see if I avoid the browning.
    I will post the results!

    078351D1-415B-43BD-8332-7D001BF0DEFB.jpg
     
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  14. Nov 24, 2017 #14

    penelopejane

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    If your plain batter went brown it would be the FO. FOs can also effect the coloured parts too.

    DeeAnna's instructions from "so, some thoughts" to the end are how to avoid gel.

    If you want gel use a lye concentration of 30-31% and do what you are doing with covering the mold etc
     

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