Heating oils for gel phase

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theplasticfantasty

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I want to try gelling my next batch of soap, since I usually soap at room temperature at no higher than 85 degrees fahrenheit and I want to expand on my practice and technique. I have a stupid question - how would I go about heating my oils while making sure I don't alter their integrity? Would heating them up in the microwave be okay? How do you guys do it?
 
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You can certainly heat your oils in the microwave, or on the stove or hotplate.

Just know that heating the oils before mixing is going to speed up trace, which could interfere with making designs, swirls, etc. That's why it is more common to heat the soap after mixing it and creating those designs, rather than making the oils hot before mixing in the lye solution.

Of course, if you don't care about designs, then soaping with hotter oils may help your soap gel. But if you do want a fluid batter for designs, you could still soap with cool oils, but then use the CPOP method to gel the soap. Or, depending on your recipe, you may only need insulate the mold with a towel or box, or you can put heating pads under the insulated molds.
 

theplasticfantasty

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You can certainly heat your oils in the microwave, or on the stove or hotplate.

Just know that heating the oils before mixing is going to speed up trace, which could interfere with making designs, swirls, etc. That's why it is more common to heat the soap after mixing it and creating those designs, rather than making the oils hot before mixing in the lye solution.

Of course, if you don't care about designs, then soaping with hotter oils may help your soap gel. But if you do want a fluid batter for designs, you could still soap with cool oils, but then use the CPOP method to gel the soap. Or, depending on your recipe, you may only need insulate the mold with a towel or box, or you can put heating pads under the insulated molds.

Gotcha! Thanks for explaining. The reason I ask about heating up the oils is because I wanted my oils to match the temperature of my lye before soaping, so like ~120-130 degrees fahrenheit. Since I'm just testing I'm not too concerned about designs at this moment. But would soaping at room temperature and then insulating the soap with a towel and heat pad give the same gelling effect?
 
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Whether your soap gels depends not just on the temp of your oils and lye, but also which oils, how much water is in your recipe, and the size and type of your mold. More water means the soap gels at a lower temperature. But more water also can mean more ash, longer time to unmold, and more potential for glycerin rivers and warping.

You can certainly experiment with hotter oils and lye to see how that works with your recipe. I often soap around 120F when I'm doing an uncolored or single color batter with no designs. My recipe traces quickly at that temp, and usually gels unless I use cavity molds (because the batter cools off more quickly in cavities). Bigger batches in bigger molds generate more heat and gel more easily on their own.

When I soap cooler, or use cavity molds, I usually insulate to force gel. I've used various combinations of insulating bags, boxes, and towels, and all of them have worked for me. I wasn't fond of gelling via CPOP, but may try it again without covering the soap, per recommendation of @Obsidian. I haven't tried the heating pads, but plan to try that, too, per recommendation of @Todd Ziegler.
 

Todd Ziegler

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Whether your soap gels depends not just on the temp of your oils and lye, but also which oils, how much water is in your recipe, and the size and type of your mold. More water means the soap gels at a lower temperature. But more water also can mean more ash, longer time to unmold, and more potential for glycerin rivers and warping.

You can certainly experiment with hotter oils and lye to see how that works with your recipe. I often soap around 120F when I'm doing an uncolored or single color batter with no designs. My recipe traces quickly at that temp, and usually gels unless I use cavity molds (because the batter cools off more quickly in cavities). Bigger batches in bigger molds generate more heat and gel more easily on their own.

When I soap cooler, or use cavity molds, I usually insulate to force gel. I've used various combinations of insulating bags, boxes, and towels, and all of them have worked for me. I wasn't fond of gelling via CPOP, but may try it again without covering the soap, per recommendation of @Obsidian. I haven't tried the heating pads, but plan to try that, too, per recommendation of @Todd Ziegler.
I even use the heating pads for single cavity type molds. As long as I have a lid to put over the molds the heating pads will work. The molds in the picture are massage bar molds and I used the heating pad on top and bottom.
 
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@AliOop why not cover your soap when CPOP. I have been because i thought you were supposed to...
Me, too, I did the same when I tried CPOP, but I didn't continue with it because I always got weird texture on top. Then @Obsidian mentioned in another post that this can be the reason for the weird texture on top. So I'm going to give that a try and see if it works better for me. I am also going to try @Todd Ziegler's heating pad method since: a) I have heating pads, b) it would keep the FOs out of my oven, and c) it prevents accidents where someone turns on the oven with the soap in it.
 

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Me, too, I did the same when I tried CPOP, but I didn't continue with it because I always got weird texture on top. Then @Obsidian mentioned in another post that this can be the reason for the weird texture on top. So I'm going to give that a try and see if it works better for me. I am also going to try @Todd Ziegler's heating pad method since: a) I have heating pads, b) it would keep the FOs out of my oven, and c) it prevents accidents where someone turns on the oven with the soap in it.
If you do try the heating pads, keep in mind that you can over heat the soap. Just like you mentioned, it depends on the oils and additives that you use.
I have never had it completely go over the side, I have had it rise up and hit the lid.

Depending on the recipe, I check the temperature around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once my soap is at least 120°F from end to end or you can see the change, then it is gelled. Usually it doesn't take more than 2.5 hours. Once you get your gell, just uncover and let it harden.
 
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I think I am happy with my CPOP soap tops. I have been covering with towels, and my last one I cut out a piece of cardboard then a towel on top. I guess for these reasons, I don't get condensation ...cause it's not plastic?

I like the CPOP, mainly because I am not tempted to keep peeking LOL. Out of sight out of mind. Otherwise I am constantly looking. Sometimes I forget its in there. I come home from work and go to cook something...always have to look in first because sometimes I store pots and pans in the oven. BONUS I got soap!! LOL LOL.
 
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