Gel question

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Rusti

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If your soap doesn't gel, does it tend to take a little longer to unmold? Like, a couple of days? I neglected to set the batch I made Saturday night on a heating pad for a few minutes and I just now took it out of the mold and cut it and it was still pretty soft, like I could've left it in the mold another day and it would not have gone amiss.
 

Omneya

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I'm no expert but I do not think gelling has anything to do with why it is soft. Do you use SL? Was there a lot of liquid oils in it? Was it in a silicone mold? There are many other factors as to why it could be soft still, but gelling is not one ( I don't think), but I could be wrong.
 

DeeAnna

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I have to disagree with you about gelling not making any difference in softness. In my experience, gelling has a big effect. When my soap gels, it is almost always ready to unmold and cut 12-24 hours after it's poured in the mod. Soap that doesn't gel might take a day or three to firm up enough to cut nicely.

All other things being equal, a gelled soap compared to a not-gelled soap will generally be firm like cheddar cheese, somewhat translucent around the edges (uncolored soap), and ready to unmold sooner. Colors may be brighter and bolder, depending on the colorants used.

A not-gelled soap will generally be more opaque looking (some say "creamy"). The soap may stay slightly zappy a little longer than gelled soap. Colors can be muted or more pastel. The soap can be softer with a texture like waxy clay or slightly crumbly like feta cheese.
 

Rusti

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I have to disagree with you about gelling not making any difference in softness. In my experience, gelling has a big effect. When my soap gels, it is almost always ready to unmold and cut 12-24 hours after it's poured in the mod. Soap that doesn't gel might take a day or three to firm up enough to cut nicely.

All other things being equal, a gelled soap compared to a not-gelled soap will generally be firm like cheddar cheese, somewhat translucent around the edges (uncolored soap), and ready to unmold sooner. Colors may be brighter and bolder, depending on the colorants used.

A not-gelled soap will generally be more opaque looking (some say "creamy"). The soap may stay slightly zappy a little longer than gelled soap. Colors can be muted or more pastel. The soap can be softer with a texture like waxy clay or slightly crumbly like feta cheese.
Yeah, I tend to try to make sure all of my batches gel, but I'm thinking that this one didn't. Covering it up apparently wasn't enough this time. It's two days out and it's still soft and tacky, although firm enough I was able to cut it. I expect if I wanted to sculpt with it I probably could. No zap. It's lard, coconut oil, avocado oil and high oleic sunflower oil (and a smidge of castor). The only variation from a previous similar recipe being taking a little more out of the lard for the sunflower oil.

I figured this was probably the case, but I wanted to pick more experienced brains!
 

DeeAnna

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Omneya has a good point that other factors besides gel/not-gel can also affect how soft the soap is. More water, higher superfat than normal, more polyunsaturated fats, etc. So that's certainly something to think about when troubleshooting.

I've been making a 60% lard, 15%coconut oil, and 25% high oleic sunflower recipe lately. It is quite firm about 12-18 hours after molding if it gels, which it usually does without a lot of encouragement from me. The extreme corners of the gelled loaf -- the small bits that don't fully gel -- can be a little softer and clay-like for day or so, however.

The time or two my entire soap has not gelled and is staying soft and clay-like, I've done a "CPOP after the fact" -- put the soap back into the mold (even if cut into bars), put the mold into a pre-warmed oven at 150-170 F (65-70 C), and warm it for an hour to 1 1/2 hours. If I don't need the oven, just turn it off and let the soap slowly cool in the oven. Otherwise pull the soap out of the oven, cover with a towel, and let it cool. The end result is a soap that appears to have fully gelled -- firm, waxy, translucent.

What's cool about "CPOP after the fact" is that, unlike regular CPOP, this method doesn't mess up your cut bars or cause rough texture to sag.
 

Omneya

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See...told ya i was no expert LOL
 

Rusti

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The time or two my entire soap has not gelled and is staying soft and clay-like, I've done a "CPOP after the fact" -- put the soap back into the mold (even if cut into bars), put the mold into a pre-warmed oven at 150-170 F (65-70 C), and warm it for an hour to 1 1/2 hours. If I don't need the oven, just turn it off and let the soap slowly cool in the oven. Otherwise pull the soap out of the oven, cover with a towel, and let it cool. The end result is a soap that appears to have fully gelled -- firm, waxy, translucent.

What's cool about "CPOP after the fact" is that, unlike regular CPOP, this method doesn't mess up your cut bars or cause rough texture to sag.
I'll keep this trick in mind, though I think I'm just going to leave these and let them do their thing on their own. I can't be bothered to take the time to put them back in the mold, LOL. Too much else to do so close to Christmas.
 

DeeAnna

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Hey, Omneya, I hope I didn't make you feel awkward by having a different opinion about gelled soap vs not gelled. You made some very good suggestions that people should consider when their soap turns out overly soft -- it's not just about whether the soap gels or not. I want to make it clear that you have offered good advice, and I appreciate your smart thinking!
 

Seawolfe

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I once had a loaf that didn't gel and it was 5 days before it was ready to unmold! That CPOP after the fact would have helped :)
 

Susie

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Yeah, I am thinking I might try that the next time I end up with a non-gelled loaf, which is rare, but it happens. Especially when I forget the sugar.
 

Soapsense

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Just last week I had a batch that didn't gel, 24 hours later it was still ice cold. I hadn't taken it out of the mold yet, so I did what DeeAnna said and put it in the oven for about an hour or so, took it out and then noticed it was getting warmer not cooler. Covered it up and it gelled.
 

Dana89

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I agree with DeeAnna, it also depends on if you used full water. When I first started soaping I used "full water" and the bars would be a little soft and sticky for a few days longer than the soaps I didn't use full water on.
 

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