Finally getting a handle on swirling 3" PVC molds

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Todd_in_Minnesota

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Hey All,
The January black/white challenge got me focused on swirling a 3" PVC cylinder mold. I've never had any luck in the past, and the black/white contrast made a nice opportunity.

As you can see below:
Top Left: Trial1. Good colors, good consistency, good scent (2 parts grapefruit, 2 parts balsam, 1 part ylang ylang), very weak swirl.

Bottom Left: Trial2. Colors drifted, good consistency, good scent (2 parts orange, 2 parts lemongrass, 1 part ylang ylang), but again.. very weak swirl. I think the Orange essential oil contributed to the color shift white->yellow... but I'm guessing.

Right side: Trial3. Good colors, consistency very crumbly even after drying for a month, horrible scent (5 parts lavender, 1 part tea tree), swirl finally worked out!

I'm very pleased with the swirl finally, which was my goal originally. But - I can't figure out the crumbly, waxy feel. All 3 batches are the same recipe in the same environment, mixed at roughly the same temperatures. (My suspicion is that VERY SMALL variations in ingredients and process have larger-than-they-should impacts.)

But - at least I'm starting to develop a good cylinder swirl technique!
Now all I need is consistency (and a better nose for good scent combinations, and mixing tubs with pouring lips, and maybe a chemical engineering degree?)

Cheers.
Todd

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Steve85569

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For swirls I like to use low water for more time to play and EO's / FO's that "play well" with low water. Some scents will cause acceleration and I end up with plop and swear soap. Also soap at a lower temperature except when using a high lard or tallow recipe ( false trace gremlin).
 

LisaAnne

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For swirls I like to use low water for more time to play and EO's / FO's that "play well" with low water. Some scents will cause acceleration and I end up with plop and swear soap. Also soap at a lower temperature except when using a high lard or tallow recipe ( false trace gremlin).
What is low water?
 

lionprincess00

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What is low water?
most of us no longer use the lye to oil ratio in soap calc anymore. Instead we use lye concentration. Low water means less water to lye. Low water would be more like a 38% lye concentration or 40% lye concentration, and at 40% that is a 1.5 water to 1 lye ratio.
 

Steve85569

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What is low water?
Full water is a lye concentration of about 27% ( 38% water to oil or water: lye at about 2.79 : 1). I like to use a lye concentration of about 38% ( 21.8% water to oil or water: lye of about 1.6 : 1) .

It really does give a lot of time to play with the swirl. Some have even told me that they made up a batch of batter and went to the store and back before the soap was thick enough to pour. I'm not that brave - but it does give me enough time to measure out the scent that I almost forgot.:mrgreen:
 

DeeAnna

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"...Full water is a lye concentration of about 27% (38% water to oil..."

Yes, for a typical blend of fats, the lye concentration will be about 27%-28% at Soapcalc's default setting of "38% water as % of oils". I'll add a caution -- once you get away from a recipe with a typical blend of fats, the lye concentration will vary a lot for the same constant "38% water as % of oils". It will range from 26% to 31% concentration depending on the fats you choose. Ugh. That's why I'm all for using lye concentration as Steve does -- I get more consistency and better control of my recipes with lye concentration.
 

LisaAnne

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Lionprincess00, Steve85569 and DeAnna.. Thank you! I've read your responses twice and am understanding where you do it. You've explained why, now I'm going to have to look into this. I do appreciate your responses, it seems to make total sense, I just don't have a solid understanding yet :) I will ask more questions if I can't figure it out.
 

Steve85569

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Lionprincess00, Steve85569 and DeAnna.. Thank you! I've read your responses twice and am understanding where you do it. You've explained why, now I'm going to have to look into this. I do appreciate your responses, it seems to make total sense, I just don't have a solid understanding yet :) I will ask more questions if I can't figure it out.
I learned from DeeAnna and the other good teachers here.
At first it seems strange like magic but after you've used it for a few batches it begins to make sense ( gel ).
This forum and the presence of so many skilled soap crafters is a great place to learn the "how to's".
 

LisaAnne

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I learned from DeeAnna and the other good teachers here.
At first it seems strange like magic but after you've used it for a few batches it begins to make sense ( gel ).
This forum and the presence of so many skilled soap crafters is a great place to learn the "how to's".
Oh yes! I completely agree! This site is filling in the gaps for me. My knowledge has expanded tenfold in the short time I have been here. A mountain of knowledge with free and generous sharing. The thing that really impresses me is the
Lack of ego and competition
On the lye ratio thing. Yes, on the surface is seems opposite of what I know. I have lye cooling now that I used this method because I trust what I learn here.
 

newbie

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Todd, re: your question about the crumbling and different texture of your third soap, I would guess that your soap was very thin and not quite to trace. I've done that a number of times and while the soap will hold together and it will lather and be safe, the texture is kind of mealy, slightly uneven and it can be a touch softer than your other soaps. If you hit emulsion and pour, it's just a different beast than soap brought to trace.

And yes, you can actually leave your low water soap and go to the store. Done that. You can also go outside and get 2 hours of gardening done (have done that too), you can have your neighbor over for coffee. You can do all those things but only if you don't PLAN to do all those things. If you plan for that, it will come to trace much sooner, just because soap likes to toy with us.
 

Todd_in_Minnesota

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Hey Newbie,
Thanks! I deliberately poured this batch much earlier than I usually do, to guarantee the batter would be swirl-able... most likely that's why it's crumblly/mealy. I much appreciate the insight.
It sounds like a balancing act between 'traced enough to not be crumbly' and 'too traced to swirl nicely'.
<sigh> one more variable to throw into the mix.
Cheers.
Todd
 

DeeAnna

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If you want to try to turn a crumbly, mealy soap into a not-mealy soap, put the soap back into its mold, whether cut or not, and put the mold into a warmish oven (140 to 170 deg F) for an hour or so. Not saying miracles will happen, so don't try this unless you're going to be cool with whatever you get, but it's worth a try.

Someone a year or three ago shared this on SMF as a way to fix the look of partial gel or to get a gelled appearance in a soap with a deeply textured top that you really didn't want to go into full-on vaseline gel during saponification because the top would flatten out. Heating after saponification didn't make the soap go into that liquidy gel state, but still gave the soap the "gone through gel" appearance, including more intense colors.

I remembered this tip recently when I ended up with a soap that was rather soft and had that odd crumbly-powdery-opaque texture you are talking about. I put it in the oven, thinking I had nothing to lose, and was happy to see the soap change to a nice waxy-firm texture and slightly translucent look. The soap obviously got warm while in the oven, but it didn't gel -- it just changed texture. The soap was already cut into bars, and I didn't see any melting or deformation -- the bars looked fine at the time and still look fine after cure.

I'd enjoy hearing if other people get the same results.
 
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newbie

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That's good to know. If I know I poured too thin, I don't dare to try to gel because it's likely to separate. While I've heated soap after the fact in the oven to get the gelled look (or heated them with a heat gun), I hadn't thought to do it with one of these emulsion bars. Hopefully I've learned my lesson enough not to do it again, but since that's unlikely, I suspect I will be able to give a try somewhere along the way.
 

Todd_in_Minnesota

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Thanks!

Hey - Thanks DeeAnna,
I suspect it's too late now... several weeks after I cut this batch.
But I'll certainly keep that tip in mind. It never would have occurred to me.
Todd
 

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