food dehydrator for curing CP??

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jenny1271

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Have you ever used a food dehydrator to aid in the curing process for CP soap? My Mother In Law had one for her garden and she started describing how it evenly circulates a low amount of heat around 100-115 degree warm air and gradually dehydrates her fruits and vegetables, and the wheels in my head began turning. It seems like there might be some advantages for using it and I wanted to see if anyone does that. If you don't use a dehydrator, how do you set up your soaps for the curing process? Thanks in advance for sharing!
 

IrishLass

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Susie

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There is more going on during cure time than loss of moisture, your soap gets milder and better lather. You will also get warped bars of soap with use of a dehydrator.

I place my bars of soap on one edge in a plastic basket on top of a shelf or chest of drawers. I flip them weekly until they have cured 6-8 weeks(we have high humidity, and storing them before then can lead to mildew in the box) They do not get any special treatment other than that. If I had the door closed for any reason, I would probably put a fan in there, but an open door seems to be sufficient.
 

DeeAnna

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This comes up pretty often. The consensus is ... try it if you want, but it does not speed the cure time. Cure still takes a minimum of 4 weeks. If you dry too fast, you risk drying the surface too quickly and that may reduce the rate of evaporation from the inner parts of the bar. Some have noted more warping than usual.

Bear in mind, your MIL's food and your soap are two different deals. When you dry food in a dehydrator, the instructions are pretty clear that food pieces need to be relatively thin so water evaporates from the center of the pieces relatively easily. A soap bar is not a thin piece of food.

Often just leaving the soap bars in the open air is plenty fine. That's what I do. If the air is very humid, some use a fan to circulate air, some use a dehumidifier to lower the humidiry, and some use both.
 

jenny1271

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Thank you for all of your responses. All of this is very helpful. It seems like if raising the temperature about 120 degrees above room temperature in hot process could reduce cure time from four weeks to about an hour, then raising the temperature about thirty degrees could maybe reduce cure time from four weeks to two weeks or three weeks. If I put it on the lowest setting, maybe kept it below 100 degrees, and rotated/flipped the bars frequently, multiple times a day... my mind says it could work but my gut says don't try something that other people have dismissed, but generally, when I do things my way, I still learn a lot from the mistakes I make. Anyway, I want to shorten the time before I can use my soaps; there is so much I want to learn, and I don't want it to take so long to learn it. I know patience is a virtue but gee whiz... four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks is a long time to me. If small increases in temperature don't cause the curing process to become more even or improve it in some way, then why do recipes usually say to put a towel around the soap for the first twenty-four hours?
 

IrishLass

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Thank you for all of your responses. All of this is very helpful. It seems like if raising the temperature about 120 degrees above room temperature in hot process could reduce cure time from four weeks to about an hour, then raising the temperature about thirty degrees could maybe reduce cure time from four weeks to two weeks or three weeks.
Hi Jenny!

I think you are confusing 'cure' with 'saponification'. They are two different processes.

In saponification (which simply means to turn into soap), the oils and lye go through their chemical dance to become tongue-neutral/zapless soap. As they do their dance, heat is generated. Sometimes the heat is enough to make the batter go into the gel-stage, which will speed up the process of the lye and oils turning into soap, but sometimes not enough heat is generated and the saponification process will proceed slower. Adding heat, such as applying heat in CPOP or during HP, forces the soap batter to go into the gel-stage, which will cause the lye and oils to become tongue-neutral/zapless soap all the more quicker.

The main point of covering molds or CPOPing or HPing is to ensure that the soap goes fully through the gel stage to complete the saponification process (instead of going through partial gel, which causes unevenly colored soap). It has nothing to do with 'cure'.

Once you have tongue-neutral/zapless soap, saponification is complete- in other words, the lye has done its job of converting the oils into soap.

Now, while you can certainly use your soap the moment it becomes tongue-neutral, it will not last as long or be as good as it will be weeks later. It is still in it's infancy stage and has not reached the best it can possibly be in terms of hardness, longevity, mildness and lathering abilities. It needs time to bring those qualities to full maturity....

That's where 'cure' comes in. Heat will help to evaporate water off, sure, but it will not help your soap to become as mild or as bubbly as what you formulated it to be. Only time and exposure to air will bring such things to fruition. As much as we'd like our soap to become adults quickly, the process just doesn't work that way, or else we'd all have dehydrators. lol


Anyway, I want to shorten the time before I can use my soaps; there is so much I want to learn, and I don't want it to take so long to learn it. I know patience is a virtue but gee whiz... four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks is a long time to me. If small increases in temperature don't cause the curing process to become more even or improve it in some way, then why do recipes usually say to put a towel around the soap for the first twenty-four hours?
Although I can empathize (waiting is hard for all of us!), it looks like you may have picked the wrong hobby then! ;) If you want soap that's ready in a day, melt and pour may be more to your liking.


IrishLass :)
 

TwystedPryncess

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There is a lot to learn in the 'field' of soaping. Thus, there is a lot to keep one's self occupied with. Make a batch, always take notes when you do it, and once it is put to bed, notate about what date it 'should' be about ready and then go to something else. 'Something else' being reading a forum, a book, learning a new technique (there are lots) or try a new product type- make some lip balm, or a sugar scrub.

There is no real way to speed up cure time. 'Saponification' can be had in just a short amount of time when hot processing or cold-process-oven-processing a soap, but you still need the cure times of 4-6-8 weeks, and the why was perfectly described above.

Melt & pour soaps give excellent instant gratification and are not as easy as one might think. If they aren't challenging enough, make them challenging. Grab some intricate molds, colors, pipettes, and go to town.

The possibilities really are endless, but the real fact is that patience is key. At first, my dear boyfriend would get almost mad at me because soap takes an approximate 6 weeks to cure, because he would want to use it right then! After some soap-u-cation, he finally got it and is much calmer about it now.

But, I also send his rear end outside to make molds. :)
 

DeeAnna

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What Irish Lass and TwystedP said. I want to emphasize that cure time is not just about drying your soap to a more stable moisture content. Certainly that is part of cure, but another aspect of cure is the time needed to develop the final crystalline structure of the soap. This organization of the soap molecules simply takes time -- no dehydrator can rush this along -- and contributes a lot to the increased mildness, lather, and longevity of the soap.

Most of us use about 4 weeks as the minimum time needed for curing soap, and I tend to follow that rule too. But I can absolutely say the soap continues to improve for months afterward, which one would not expect if cure was only about water evaporation.

I will also say that the impatience you feel is something I think is pretty common to newer soapers. As I've gotten more soap in my soaping "pipeline", I now always have well cured soap to use, and that has also helped a lot. I've also learned the benefits of being patient with soap as it cures, and that knowledge has helped me get over my desire to hurry things along.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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^ this. There is a time while you wait for the first bars to cure, but after that you won't have to wait long to try something.

One thing I would say, though - don't make variations on a theme until the first version in cured and tested. You might end up making various batches using a base recipe that you really don't like. Fortunately there are enough different types of soap that you can make soap once a week a least without making a bar similar to another.
 

jenny1271

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Omg, I love you guys! You're exactly right, of course. Does anyone think it would be good to put it in dehydrator for the first maybe 48 hours before cutting? Are there techniques for bringing gel phase consistently?
 

shunt2011

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I wouldn't put it in the dehydrator at all. Believe us that giving it a good cure takes time but gives you the best product.

Many don't gel their soaps and put them in the fridge or freezer to prevent it. Saponification does take longer when this method is used 2-3 days. I happen to gel all my soaps. I usually just cover them and lay a towel or two around them to make sure gel happens.

If using anything with a high sugar content (honey, sugar, beer, milks), I do check on them periodically to make sure they don't overheat and I only lightly cover them.
 

Seawolfe

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Yeah I would really worry about the dehydrator forcing a "skin" on the soap like it does with food that is too thick. That would prevent the insides from curing properly.

Seriously, just make your soap, cut your soap and stride briskly away. Leave it for at least four weeks, sometimes 6-8 is better - up to a year for castile (of course you can test a bit every week to see the changes).

I've never understood why people want to bypass curing - its the one step that takes no time, effort or anything. I guess I can see when you're a newbie and don't have any soap in the house to play with. But after a couple batches you should be able to relax a bit :)
 

IrishLass

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Yeah I would really worry about the dehydrator forcing a "skin" on the soap like it does with food that is too thick. That would prevent the insides from curing properly.

Seriously, just make your soap, cut your soap and stride briskly away. Leave it for at least four weeks, sometimes 6-8 is better - up to a year for castile (of course you can test a bit every week to see the changes).
Ditto that^^^.

I've never understood why people want to bypass curing - its the one step that takes no time, effort or anything. I guess I can see when you're a newbie and don't have any soap in the house to play with. But after a couple batches you should be able to relax a bit :)
Ditto that^^^, too, except for the part about it being the one step that takes no time.... unless of course you meant it in a different way, that is- such as it takes no time out of your day to do anything to the soap- in which case I agree wholeheartedly.....well...almost wholeheartedly, because there is that one surge of effort that it takes to resist taking the soap off the curing rack and using it up before it's had time to fully cure! lol



IrishLass :)
 

TwystedPryncess

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I do go visit my babies, though. And I bring them visitors. My daughter's boyfriend and his friend stayed with them for almost half an hour the other night smelling and learning about them.

At some point in time that will happen for you as well. I think it's really neat that two teenage boys would have so much interest in soap, of all things. So again I will suggest read read read, because when you get proud and go show off your curing babies, the most unexpected culprits are going to take an interest and quiz you like crazy. Those two had a million questions, and each adopted a bar to go home with them once the soap grows up and can leave the incubator.

Moral of that story is that when impatience hits me, I go check on them. (This is at least once a day. At least. It's okay.) All you have to do is learn to channel it properly. :)
 

Relle

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REALITY -

Cheese has to be cured
Soap has to be cured

YOU HAVE TO WAIT.

You had a life without soap, so do, what you were doing, before soap making came into your life and before you know it the cure time will have finished. Keep the dehydrator for what it was meant - food, and please take on board what others in the above posts have said. Read carefully their answers and take it all in.
 

hmlove1218

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I do go visit my babies, though. And I bring them visitors. My daughter's boyfriend and his friend stayed with them for almost half an hour the other night smelling and learning about them.
Did you remember to sacrifice them to the soap gods?? You know they need new minds to infect with the soapmaking addiction and keep gremlins away from you..lol
 

boyago

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LOL I meant time out of your day. As in nobody ever says
"Lawdy I was so BUSY today curing my soaps!!"
Actually that sounds like a fantastic excuse. What was I doing all day and why weren't the dishes done? ... Well I was curing 15 lbs of soap ALL day. I didn't get very far with it though, might be a while till the floors are mopped.
 
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