First pull through soap

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Just the thought of all that fiddling about, and soap waste (residue left in the bags). And that my recipe tends on the thicker side due to soy wax and shea butter. I just use a long funnel that sits nicely over the central pull rod and pour down that directly from my mixing jugs.
When I'm done with the bag, I squeeze all the remaining soap out or add a twist tie and use it as soap dough. It's the easiest thing to clean.
@not_ally I finally had a chance to read back through your post and watch the videos. I’m so impressed with the great results you achieved on your first tries! I’ve been working to get better at this technique for about a month now and still haven’t worked out all of the issues. Six batches later (only making 6 bars at a time), my biggest challenge has been keeping the design centered. I think my tilted counter is part of the problem, but after watching the second video, I may need to pay more attention to how I’m pulling up the stem. Thanks especially for detailing your methods. I have one batch that looks like a series of ultrasounds and will try to remember to take a break the next time I have batter that’s too thin!
@dibbles and @KiwiMoose, thanks for your tips on the impression mat. Dibbles, I serendipitously bought one of those flexible cutting mats from the Dollar Tree last week, it seems perfect for this use(ie to put into the mold and then to let the impression mat unroll into it.) Kiwi, i wish I had your cutting skill, I think making the mat fit is going to be a lot harder for me than it was for you.

@Mobjack Bay, I wonder if if the silicone straws I used (rather than pipettes) would help? In watching all the videos I could find on this, it seemed really important to gently lay the colors on top of each other so that they sit in successive rings rather than dropping color into the ones below, which a medium rather than a thin trace would help with as well (although with the constraints of pouring all the %$&# rings in time!) I think the straws helped with that because they are longer, so that I could get each new pour/dollop added right on top of the preceding one rather than dropping it in from higher.

Also, the fact that the straws were wider than the pipettes might have helped with not having to squeeze the bottle as hard so that the batter was expelled more gently. I'm not sure about that because I only used the straws so have no basis of comparison with the pipettes. In the event you think it's worth a try, here's the ones I used, I just cut the tips of the squeezy bottle tops as low as I could subject to leaving enough of a margin to squeeze the straws on and then tape them on well with electrical tape:

I won't get around to this pull through pour variation for a while, but you might find it interesting. My notes on two other videos with pull throughs done as wallpours (just cutting and pasting from my doc, hopefully they're intelligible:
Pullthrough w/wall pour (rather than center pour) with v. interesting result from Diane at #seifenimglück

Soap challenge winner Heiki Calagagan who used the wall pour method above, credits Diane at #seifenimglück for the method

Picture of soap is at first link, video is at second link (go to the arrow and third screen for video of pour)

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@not_ally It took me a bit to realize that each new bit of batter needs to sit just atop the one before it, without plunging/dipping except as a single mass (hope that makes sense). Even if the addition looks perfectly circular from the top, smaller dips/drops/drips below the surface at the bottom contact surface of each addition will throw the pattern off (avoid making a mini drop!). (edited to add: and that's pretty much exactly what you said above, thank you!). That's exactly what happened in my "ultrasound" batch." It looks like the straws make it easier to "go with the flow"/ lay the batter down very gently on the previous layer.
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Second pull through notes below (I'm only going to add thoughts/pics during the early part of this learning curve while I have thoughts or experiences which I think might be helpful, there won't be wordy updates on future batches in perpetuity!)

Still really fun to make and cut. I did not realize that I picked almost the same colors, I really just replaced the black with purple, next time I will do something completely different. I did have issues with spotting of some kind, I’m not sure what it is.

I used the PVC pipe I used in the first round of soaps, plus a quart milk container to do the square soaps, and squeezed the batter left in the bags/liners to the squeezy bottles into cavity molds. The issues are worst/most obvious with the cavity soaps, which are clearly pitted and spotted. The ones in the bigger molds are not as bad, but if you look closely you can see spots which look like big stearic spots or unmelted butters (I don’t think it’s either, though, because I heated the oils to 182F by mistake the night before, then heated until clear again before mixing with masterbatch lye/extra liquid and pouring.)

Do you guys think this could this be just overheating? Same formula and process as last time. The only real deviation is that after I put them in the oven to CPOP I pulled them out at one point to see if they were gelling, then turned the oven back on to warm (170F), meant to turn it off in a couple of minutes, and forgot it for about 30 ms. Also, the cavity soaps (less mass/more surface area) and the square ones (which were in the thin/paper milk container and may have been more insulated because I wrapped it in kitchen towels and put it in a baking dish to stand upright when CPOPing because I didn’t want it to fall over) were most likely to overheat and fared worst in this respect.

@AliOop and @Mobjack Bay, you master diagnosticians, any thoughts?

One issue this brings up is the mold medium. It sort of reinforces my conclusion that PVC molds (at least the high temp PVC used to make the Wild Plantanica molds) seem to be pretty good about not overheating here, despite research indicating that (regular) PVC molds were likely to overheat. Since the other molds in this batch were thin silicone cavity molds and a paper dairy container, I wasn't expecting too much, but I wonder what would have happened with the thick silicone column molds that are often used for this technique. I found a cheap ($25.00) silicone column mold on Amazon which come with discs/rods/everything necessary, and am tempted to buy it to try it out. Although almost all the discs in the Amazon set have center pull placement, which I think makes it harder to pour well, one of the things that is good about the WP set (all side pull discs).

One thought on these generally, I think the molds/discs with the most negative/open space make the nicest, cleanest designs. I’m attaching a picture of three of the four soaps I’ve made so far with their discs to show the connection between two since it's hard to know from just looking at the discs or the soaps separately. One of the soap/disc pairs is missing because I didn’t take a picture of the first round with their discs and couldn’t figure out which disc I used with that bar.

The first pic of the cavity soaps and the worst of the loaf mold soaps to show the pitting/spotting issues. The second pic is of the soaps next to their discs so that the disc designs and the results are a little more clear. The third pic is of all the rest of the soaps in the second batch.
2d pullthrough problems.jpg
Pullthrough bars and discs.jpg
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Also, wanted to put in a plug for SoapGoods micas. The blue and the violet are both from there (Iridescent Blue and Iridescent Violet). The yellow is from there (Glitter Yellow), I added a bit of TKB yellow neon to make that one extra bright, though.

I have bought a bunch of micas from SG, and they are generally very good and incredibly cheap (1 oz for $1.99, $5.80 for 4 oz). The iridescent colors in particular are really nice and saturated, I think because they "anchor" them with ultramarines or oxides. The only bad experience I have had with their colors is their True Red, which ironically ended up being an indeterminate orange, don't buy that one! I haven't tried their Iridescent Red, and having read this (that one has red oxide in it) I am annoyed that I missed it, although can't recommend it because I haven't tested it myself as I have the others.
The pull-throughs look great! I'm not really seeing any big problem with them, other than a few holes that were probably caused by air from the stickblender, and perhaps exacerbated by wire cutting (assuming you used a wire cutter).

Based on how you described your CPOP process, the holes on the cavity-mold soaps look like silicone rash to me. I've gotten that when I've overheated my cavity molds on the heating pad. The colors look fantastic so just tell everyone that the bubbles are a new art technique, one of our SMF challenges, etc. ;)
just tell everyone that the bubbles are a new art technique, one of our SMF challenges
Ha! That's right, it took a lot of time, effort and confidential proprietary information to get those perfectly executed bubbles. I could tell you how I did it, but then I'd have to kill you! I think I've got the patter down, @AliOop, thanks :)

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