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Gellers: CPOP vs insulating

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Zing

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I'm wondering when to do CPOP versus burying my mold in towels. For forever my soaps would spend a night all tucked in under towels. However, my last several soaps have taken a long time to design and I get paranoid that it's cooled off too much, so I CPOP. Is there a rule of thumb or is it just personal preference? Thanks,
 

KiwiMoose

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If it's warm weather (we are rocking circa 26 - 28 degrees inside the house at present, and it's always a couple more degrees in the garage as it's not insulated) I usually pop a towel over it and let it gel in the garage. Any other time of year I CPOP.

ETA: 78 - 83 Fahrenheit.
 

Mobjack Bay

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Given that I’ve had only a few experiences with soap overheating slightly and no volcanoes ever with my recipes and methods, I put almost every batch on a heating pad or in the oven (CPOP). However, I think recipe, FO and lye concentration are key factors to consider in the strategy. I typically use 35% lye concentration, and regardless of recipe, the batches (500-1200 g of fats) do not want to heat up much on their own. As a result, I’ve had more “cold soap” fails, like a weak emulsion leading to graininess in a “designed” soap, than problems with overheating. I could probably leave a batch on the counter to do its thing when it’s made with beer or an accelerating FO, but I usually stick it on a heating pad, covered with a blanket and watch it until I’m sure it‘s starting to gel. I find it easier to check on a batch that’s on a heating pad, but do the same thing if I’m using the oven.
 
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dibbles

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I always set my soaps on a heating pad and insulate with a thick, faux fur blanket. My heating pad is quite old and it seemed to not be getting warm enough anymore, so I *appropriated* the 'people' heating pad and have started placing that on top of the molds before wrapping them in the blanket. That is working quite well. I check on them after about an hour. If the outside of the molds are warm, I lower the temp of the heating pads and let them go for awhile. I can't always see gel happening, but if I can I will watch for it to reach the edges of the mold and turn off the heat. During the summer months, I will probably only need a heating pad under the mold. I tend to soap cooler, so I need to have some external heat to get the soap to gel. I don't use my oven.
 

AliOop

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I think a lot depends on your recipe, soaping temps, ambient temps, and goals. For instance, even when I don't need to force gel for color reasons, adding the extra heat does reduce ash on my soaps.

My loaf soaps always gel with just insulation - no added heat necessary. For cavity molds that require help to gel, I am another fan of the heating pad method. It doesn't tie up the stove, doesn't cause the stove to smell like the fragrances, allows me to put the soap out of the way in another room, and is easier to check on during the gel process.

We regularly get insulated cardboard boxes and styrofoam boxes with our meat deliveries. We also have a lot of mylar freezer bags from those handy Whole Foods deliveries during the shutdown. All of those work great for extra insulation, whether using a heating pad or not. There is also no worry about messing up the soap tops, which has happened at times with towels.
 

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