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Essential oils and temperature

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I have only made a few batches of soap, and have a few questions.
First, I’m not really trying to promote my soaps going through the gel phase since I use essential oils and natural botanicals that I’m sure are heat sensitive. What should the temperature of my cold process soaps be? I’ve especially noticed my wood mold loafs getting very hot and cracking.
Second, with essential oils, do I need to be worried about what temperature my soap is? I don’t want the scent to burn off.
 

earlene

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Welcome, Bennett.

There are several things to consider here. One is your recipe which is heating up, so we might be able to help you keep the soap cooler based on recipe. Another is your expectations related to the Essential Oils. Also another is the actual EO's you are using. Some actually accelerate and heat up soap. So the soaping oils you have chosen, the wooden mold you are using and the EO's themselves could be contributing to the overheating. Also, what method you are using to discourage gel is another issue. There are some things that help and I will list some below.

But first what are your expectations of the Essential Oils? Do you anticipate any long lasting benefit from the EO while in use in the soap? Or is it that you desire a longer-lasting fragrance if the soap doesn't gel? Either way, I'll still address how to prevent gel below.

Next what is the recipe you are using? Be as specific as possible, including the amounts of each oil and water and lye and all other additives. Include how hot or cool you tend to soap (if you take temps, or describe how hot or cool it may be based on hand feel when you touch the containers.) They all play a part in increasing heat. Some oils heat up in soap quite a lot and the more you use, the hotter the soap will get. For example, Coconut Oil will heat up the soap batter pretty quickly when used in higher percentages.

Which leads to which EO's are you using? Some surely increase the heat of the soap as it interacts with the lye and oils. Incidentally, as the lye interacts with the EO, there is a chemical restructuring, so there may be less therapeutic effect of the EO if that is one of your desires. Some EOs that cause increased acceleration are the spicy ones, but there are others.

Next, your mold. Wooden molds insulate and hold the heat longer, thus encouraging gel. So to discourage gel in a wooden mold is more of a challenge with a recipe that heats up to start with.

Some steps to discourage gel: Soap cool (only warm enough to ensure the oils are clear and not solidifying.) Allow your lye solution to come to room temperature before mixing it with the cooled oils. Use less water (more water encourages the soap to gel.) Make smaller batches (larger batches heat up more than smaller batches.) Use a mold that doesn't insulate as much, like a plastic mold or a cardboard box lined with freezer paper. Or use smaller molds; individual soap-bar sized molds don't cool very fast. If you have no other mold option at this point, make every attempt to keep the soap from heating up in addition to the aforementioned.

However, even with your current recipe and your current, you can do the following:
Put the molded soap on a cooling rack (to increase air flow to all surfaces) while it sits on the counter
Put it in a cool or cold location - refrigerator, cold concrete room, near the AC vent, some even direct a fan toward their molds. Some put their soap in the freezer. But even then, some soaps that heat up a lot still volcano even in the freezer, so your recipe is key.
 
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Welcome, Bennett.

There are several things to consider here. One is your recipe which is heating up, so we might be able to help you keep the soap cooler based on recipe. Another is your expectations related to the Essential Oils. Also another is the actual EO's you are using. Some actually accelerate and heat up soap. So the soaping oils you have chosen, the wooden mold you are using and the EO's themselves could be contributing to the overheating. Also, what method you are using to discourage gel is another issue. There are some things that help and I will list some below.

But first what are your expectations of the Essential Oils? Do you anticipate any long lasting benefit from the EO while in use in the soap? Or is it that you desire a longer-lasting fragrance if the soap doesn't gel? Either way, I'll still address how to prevent gel below.

Next what is the recipe you are using? Be as specific as possible, including the amounts of each oil and water and lye and all other additives. Include how hot or cool you tend to soap (if you take temps, or describe how hot or cool it may be based on hand feel when you touch the containers.) They all play a part in increasing heat. Some oils heat up in soap quite a lot and the more you use, the hotter the soap will get. For example, Coconut Oil will heat up the soap batter pretty quickly when used in higher percentages.

Which leads to which EO's are you using? Some surely increase the heat of the soap as it interacts with the lye and oils. Incidentally, as the lye interacts with the EO, there is a chemical restructuring, so there may be less therapeutic effect of the EO if that is one of your desires. Some EOs that cause increased acceleration are the spicy ones, but there are others.

Next, your mold. Wooden molds insulate and hold the heat longer, thus encouraging gel. So to discourage gel in a wooden mold is more of a challenge with a recipe that heats up to start with.

Some steps to discourage gel: Soap cool (only warm enough to ensure the oils are clear and not solidifying.) Allow your lye solution to come to room temperature before mixing it with the cooled oils. Use less water (more water encourages the soap to gel.) Make smaller batches (larger batches heat up more than smaller batches.) Use a mold that doesn't insulate as much, like a plastic mold or a cardboard box lined with freezer paper. Or use smaller molds; individual soap-bar sized molds don't cool very fast. If you have no other mold option at this point, make every attempt to keep the soap from heating up in addition to the aforementioned.

However, even with your current recipe and your current, you can do the following:
Put the molded soap on a cooling rack (to increase air flow to all surfaces) while it sits on the counter
Put it in a cool or cold location - refrigerator, cold concrete room, near the AC vent, some even direct a fan toward their molds. Some put their soap in the freezer. But even then, some soaps that heat up a lot still volcano even in the freezer, so your recipe is key.
Thank you Earlene!

I have a few recipes, as well as a few molds. The wooden loaf molds seemed to be the ones that cracked and got the hottest. One had soap that had 11oz coconut oil, 11oz palm oil, 10oz olive oil, 1oz coffee oil, with added coffee grounds and coffee EO. My other had 11oz coconut oil, 11oz palm oil, 7oz olive oil, 4oz apricot oil with added EO and hibiscus. I made sure the water lye soliton and the oils were about 120 degrees before mixing. Both of these batches seemed to gel (not thoroughly) and crack. I believe they reached about 170 degrees.
The reason I’m using EO is not for the therapeutic benefits, but because I do not like using fragrance oils so I am using EO strictly for fragrance. I noticed that when I used orange EO in the second batch I listed, no scent remained.
I did make a batch of pure olive oil soap with bergamot and cedar wood EO which did retain the scent.

I have not tried any methods to discourage gel. The other couple batches I have made I used silicone cube molds, and those seemed to get pretty hot as well. I have not tried to discourage gel because I did not know if it would cause the soap to not saponify. When cold processing, after pouring into the molds, does the soap need to remain at a certain temperature? I was worried I’d cause it to not saponify or that I’d cause a problem.

My currently knowledge and techniques are very basic, and only what I have learned through research. I have only made about 6 different batches of soap, so please correct me if I am wrong!
 

shunt2011

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Firstly, your are soaping too warm. You just need to melt your hard oils until just melted and then add your liquid oils and then your cooled lye mixture. Wood molds do insulate more than just a silicone or individual mold. Lightly covering to keep some of the jest in and watching for gel till you get to know how your recipes react. I can’t speak to Coffee EO as I wasn’t even aware there is such a thing. Citrus EO is notorious for not surviving well in CP. I anchor mine with litsea cubea or lemongrass. I have found that 10 pr 15x orange sticks better than others.
 

earlene

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The soap will saponify at pretty much any temperature. It is a chemical reaction that begins as soon as you mix the lye solution into the oils. Your clue that it has started is that your batter reaches trace (not to be confused with false trace). It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to completely convert the lye and oils into soap depending on heat and other conditions, but it WILL happen once started, except in some situations. (Refer to links below on that topic.) So don't worry about that. The soap does not have to remain at a particular temperature at all.

Some EOs stick and some don't. Some may last through cure, and some won't even last that long, sadly. I have also experienced as shunt mentions above, that litsea cubea and lemongrass tend to stick pretty well. So when it comes to citrus EOs, those 2 are pretty a pretty good choice. I have read that Orange 10X (aka 10 fold) sticks far better than plain orange. I tried orange 5x and it didn't seem to last long enough to satisfy me.

Extra on separation, which is NOT your situation, but can happen sometimes if soap oils and lye solution are not fully emulsified:

https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/a-picture-of-ricing-volcanos-separating-overheating.52097/

https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/what-causes-separation.46381/

https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/soap-behaving-badly/

https://iamcountryside.com/soapmaking/lye-pockets-in-soap/
 
Joined
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Firstly, your are soaping too warm. You just need to melt your hard oils until just melted and then add your liquid oils and then your cooled lye mixture. Wood molds do insulate more than just a silicone or individual mold. Lightly covering to keep some of the jest in and watching for gel till you get to know how your recipes react. I can’t speak to Coffee EO as I wasn’t even aware there is such a thing. Citrus EO is notorious for not surviving well in CP. I anchor mine with litsea cubea or lemongrass. I have found that 10 pr 15x orange sticks better than others.
Thank you!
 
Joined
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The soap will saponify at pretty much any temperature. It is a chemical reaction that begins as soon as you mix the lye solution into the oils. Your clue that it has started is that your batter reaches trace (not to be confused with false trace). It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to completely convert the lye and oils into soap depending on heat and other conditions, but it WILL happen once started, except in some situations. (Refer to links below on that topic.) So don't worry about that. The soap does not have to remain at a particular temperature at all.

Some EOs stick and some don't. Some may last through cure, and some won't even last that long, sadly. I have also experienced as shunt mentions above, that litsea cubea and lemongrass tend to stick pretty well. So when it comes to citrus EOs, those 2 are pretty a pretty good choice. I have read that Orange 10X (aka 10 fold) sticks far better than plain orange. I tried orange 5x and it didn't seem to last long enough to satisfy me.

Extra on separation, which is NOT your situation, but can happen sometimes if soap oils and lye solution are not fully emulsified:

https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/a-picture-of-ricing-volcanos-separating-overheating.52097/

https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/what-causes-separation.46381/

https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/soap-behaving-badly/

https://iamcountryside.com/soapmaking/lye-pockets-in-soap/
Thank you SO much for you time and advice! Taking the time out of your day to help me means so much thank you!

I will try lower temperatures and just have to play around with EO’s. Thank you!
 
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