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rparrny

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When I started soap making, I heated up my lye and my oils and made sure they were ~120-130F and never more than 20 degrees apart. I didn't get too adventurous then...basic soaps and maybe one color. This year I've started with the colors and more recently the swirls. Because of this site I have started using lye at cooler temps and my oils as well. I keep them within 10 degrees of each other but the last few batches have been in the 90s.
So I doubt I'm getting a gel phase (in all honesty I never really understood what it was or why I wanted it), I don't care about soda ash because I usually cut off that area and use it as a test soap...and there is always ETOH if I want to avoid it. Most recently I did a batch of black and blue/green eucalyptus/spearmint EO soap with my usual hard recipe...mostly liquid oils for a longer thin trace and shea...and the results I got were confusing. Lots of dots (air bubbles??) on the top, my black looked more gray...everything just seemed off and I now wonder if I'm pushing the limits of my CP soaps with cooler temps.
What is the lower limit of cool for CP and why?
 

snappyllama

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If you're soaping with a lot of hard oils/butters/beeswax, you risk false trace when soaping cool. I normally soap in the room-temp to 90 degree range even though I use lots of lard and some shea in almost all my recipes.

For air bubbles, the best remedy is prevention. Try pouring your oils down a spatula to keep the air bubbles out while measuring. Bang the oil pot to try to pop them before adding your lye. Let the oils sit for a little bit to let them pop on their own. Add any powdery additives to a bit of your water to make a slurry instead of incorporating dry. Burp your stick blender to release any air trrapped underneath. Pour your lye down the shaft of your stick blender to try to keep those bubbles out. Pour at a thinner trace and bang your mold.

I do all those things and still sometimes get little bubbles. There's only so much you can do. :)
 

Consuela

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I've heard of a land, where people soap at room temperature.... but I have never ventured there.

And they prepare their oils and lyes in master batches and mix right then and there...whenever they choose...

I do soap cooler - and I have soaped at around 90* before. I don't know that that is the reason for your lighter colours or air bubbles though... Sometimes you just get a finnicky, PMSing, brutally annoying batch.... (although, there is always a reason for it...I just don't know it.)

PS. I am totally that soaper who doesn't care about air bubbles. I don't bang my mold because I'm terrified of lye in the eye (that rhymed...unintentionally).
 

osso

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I don't think the bubbles have a lot to do with temp, snappy gave some good advice on that.

If it did not gel, it's possible that's why the colors are more muted. Or maybe you just needed a tad more colorant.

I usually soap close to RT and put a heating pad under my wood mold and cover with towels to encourage gel.
 

cmzaha

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I am another one that does not get upset with tiny are bubbles. Heck, soap is supposed to bubble!! But I do not like large bubbles that leave holes in soap. My lye is master-batched, 2-3 gallons at a time so it is always room temp. Oils, I usually just melt or even leave a little un-melted, add in the room temp liquid oils, all additives including additional liquids into the batter, then stir to incorporate without kicking up to many bubbles, add in my lye proceeded to make soap. I do have 2 fragrances that I actually chill the oils, lye, all liquids and the mold before soaping because the fo's heat up so badly. Do not freeze the lye or oils, just chill
 

rparrny

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If you're soaping with a lot of hard oils/butters/beeswax, you risk false trace when soaping cool. I normally soap in the room-temp to 90 degree range even though I use lots of lard and some shea in almost all my recipes.

For air bubbles, the best remedy is prevention. Try pouring your oils down a spatula to keep the air bubbles out while measuring. Bang the oil pot to try to pop them before adding your lye. Let the oils sit for a little bit to let them pop on their own. Add any powdery additives to a bit of your water to make a slurry instead of incorporating dry. Burp your stick blender to release any air trrapped underneath. Pour your lye down the shaft of your stick blender to try to keep those bubbles out. Pour at a thinner trace and bang your mold.

I do all those things and still sometimes get little bubbles. There's only so much you can do. :)
I soap with mostly liquid oils 2/3 liquid to 1/3 butter (most recently shea). I usually do all the techniques to avoid the bubbles but I did remember I poured my liquid oils right into the measuring cup and that may have been part of the problem. I also just realized my TD white is made for water and I have been using oil or glycerin to mix it and wonder if that is why I always have to SB my TD white...
I usually bang my mold before I swirl...as I found out the hard way if I bang after the swirl I get some runniness at the edges (runniness...is that even a word?)

I am another one that does not get upset with tiny are bubbles. Heck, soap is supposed to bubble!!
Yeah but between the black and the ash it really looked diseased...
 

IrishLass

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What is the lower limit of cool for CP and why?
That's going to depend on your formula.

Speaking only for myself, I've found that my 2 main formulas don't like it if I go much below 110F with them. Whenever I do, I get pseudo-trace because of some of the higher melting-point fats I choose to use. And since I also soap with a water discount, lower temps means that my soap will have a harder time achieving full gel, which bothers me because I prefer my soaps to gel, and to do so fully.

One of the reasons (among others) why I like my soaps to gel is so that my colors 'pop', or come out more brilliant. In my un-gelled soaps, I've always noticed my colorants are more muted/pastel. My favorite red, for instance comes out pink/mauve instead of the beautiful blood red I get when gelled.

Although, having said that, the purple and turquoise micas I recently got from Nurture Soap Supply stayed brilliant in both my gelled and ungelled soaps, which means I'll definitely be ordering more of those when I run out. I should mention at this point that with mostly every batch I make, I pour off 4 oz of my batter into indie molds to remain un-gelled so that I can compare things at the end.

Other reasons why I like to gel is so that I can cut and unmold quicker to free up my molds to make other batches, and also because my gelled batches hardly ever get any ash compared to my ungelled batches.


IrishLass :)
 

rparrny

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That's going to depend on your formula.

Speaking only for myself, I've found that my 2 main formulas don't like it if I go much below 110F with them. Whenever I do, I get pseudo-trace because of some of the higher melting-point fats I choose to use. And since I also soap with a water discount, lower temps means that my soap will have a harder time achieving full gel, which bothers me because I prefer my soaps to gel, and to do so fully.

One of the reasons (among others) why I like my soaps to gel is so that my colors 'pop', or come out more brilliant. In my un-gelled soaps, I've always noticed my colorants are more muted/pastel. My favorite red, for instance comes out pink/mauve instead of the beautiful blood red I get when gelled.

Although, having said that, the purple and turquoise micas I recently got from Nurture Soap Supply stayed brilliant in both my gelled and ungelled soaps, which means I'll definitely be ordering more of those when I run out. I should mention at this point that with mostly every batch I make, I pour off 4 oz of my batter into indie molds to remain un-gelled so that I can compare things at the end.

Other reasons why I like to gel is so that I can cut and unmold quicker to free up my molds to make other batches, and also because my gelled batches hardly ever get any ash compared to my ungelled batches.
IrishLass :)
Thank you for such a complete answer! I had heard about the colors but didn't know that they unmold quicker. Now the question is...if I want a batch to gel, what do I do? I've heard people say they cover and insulate the soap. I don't have a cover for my molds so what are my options? Can I just tuck a towel around the soap for insulation? My batters are very thin so I try really hard not to move them once I've swirled.
 

Consuela

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To gel, what do I do? I've heard people say they cover and insulate the soap. I don't have a cover for my molds so what are my options? Can I just tuck a towel around the soap for insulation? My batters are very thin so I try really hard not to move them once I've swirled.
So... way back in the day (but not really because way-back should only be used to refer to the 60's and/or Keith Richards) when I rendered my own tallow - I bought a bunch of these big, cheap containers from the dollar store. They fit like, 12 cupcakes...you know them...the kind that you would NEVER actually store cupcakes in because the lid doesn't close all the way properly.. (Not like a good ziploc, rubbermaid, or tupperware).

ANYWAY.... I use the lids from those containers (and other random lids) to cover my molds. It is not uncommon for me to have 5 molds, and like 8 lids all stacked, overlapping etc... (I've always done this, because I have custom wood molds and there is no set lid. Some lids are from when I used silicone molds too - and I was just starting out so I used whatever lids I had laying around. (I seriously, have another random stray box somewhere, full of lids from the first house I soaped in....)

I should take a picture for you. I will. Hold on. I'll BRB and edit to add them.



Then... I cover in towels. Layered usually, like 5 towels - however many are clean and in my soap room. Followed by a big blanket... (Now, If I do one mold - I just use like 2 towels (and the blanket).

And I have a couple recipes I don't cover at all: Anything with Honey.. & Salt Bars. Those just sit right out in the open. Also I should add, that I hardly move my molds either once I've done decorating, swirls etc... I do it all exactly where they will rest.

Okay going to take a picture.
Nevermind on the picture - it's upside down and not cooperating.

Anyway... POINT BEING... my lids aren't perfect..

PS. In the winter, because the Northlands here get quite cold - and I used to have a soap room on an outside wall - I would fold towels to wedge between the mold in the wall, and I always insulated really really really well...
 
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