My soaping Catch-22

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Carly B

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I have a tall skinny silicone mold, it holds soap made with about 2 lbs of oil (if I do a 2:1 water/lye ratio).

I have had recurring issues with the soap coming out of it still soft on the bottom (there's no one recipe, it just seems it happens for 85% of them), with bits left stuck in the bottom, especially along the sharp edges and corners, even if I use sodium lactate. Sometimes, the bottoms of the loaves are a bit "creamy", for lack of a better word. I'm assuming it's because the air doesn't get to them. They cure fine when out of the mold, but they don't come out cleanly. I love the shape and size of the bars, which is why I haven't given up on it yet.

I get really eager about unmolding and cutting, so with the last batch I made, I decided to wait a little longer to see if that helped. Which seemed to create a whole new set of problems. I understand about soap getting crumbly if you wait to long, but there's more soap stuck in the mold now than if I did my impatient unmolding thing.

I used a pre-made BB base (which I was trying to use up), which has been fine before. I added SL to the lye-water, I'm thinking maybe it was too much coupled with the TD? I don't want to give up on the mold. This has never happened before. Why does soap not release from the mold? It doesn't zap, so I'll trim down what I have and either rebatch or make confetti soap with the trimmings, but I wish I could find the happy medium where soap was firm and released cleanly instead of either crumbling or being gooey. Hmph.

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violets2217

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I’m following, because with any kind of silicone mold I use this happens to me. Plus the soap has horrible soda ash as it cures. The last soap I made, the chamomile hanger swirl, I had lots of leftover batter and put in individual silicone molds. I was so excited to cut my soap I forgot about the individual molds for about 3 days & they unmolded perfectly! But I’m too impatient to always wait that long…
 
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I don't know. I had the original TS mold from the manufacturer, (which makes about 3 lbs) and had some difficult un-molding in general - didn't want to release, edges weren't clean. I just stopped using it.

I've seen people suggest using mineral oil or petroleum jelly, which don't saponify to "grease" their molds. Also, try keeping the soap in the mold longer....much longer.
 

Obsidian

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I have a particularly touchy individual silicone mold that sticks quite badly, I have to leave the soaps in it much longer then my other silicon molds.
I'd suggest leaving the soap as long as possible just don't let it get so hard you can't cut it.

The reason its getting more soda ash is because the bottom is taking longer to saponify fully and there is still active lye which reacts with the air when you unmold and cut, creating ash.

Fully gelling your soaps is another way to solve both you issues.
 
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I get sticking with my ts mold, although not as bad as yours. I love the look of ts soaps. but I don't want to use this stupid thing anymore. It bows really bad no matter how much propping up I do, and the edges stick. By the time I am done cleaning up the soaps to be both square and clean looking, I have really small soaps.

I might buy one that is a wooden mold with a silicone liner (the one from NS is in my cart). But for now, I have one like yours and I am really unhappy with it. I have only used it maybe 4 or 5 times, so it's not because its an old mold. It behaved like this on my very first soap in it.
 

Carly B

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@dibbles I never deliberately gel my soap. I make it, and if it gels, fine, if it doesn't, fine. I actually thought this one was gelling because it was quite warm when I touched the sides a few hours after the pour.

@Cat&Oak I use water/lye at a 2:1 ratio. I was thinking I should try SoapCalc's default. Do you think more or less water is better for getting it to unmold and be firm?

@Catscankim It bows for me too, but I've got a velcro strap that I wrap around the mold perpendicularly after I pour it. Otherwise I get trapezoidal bars. :rolleyes:

I've got 3 silicone loaf molds--the little one pound square, the standard 2 pound loaf, and this T/S one. I've had by far the worst luck with this one, and I guess I keep trying because when the soap does unmold correctly, the bars are the perfect size.
 
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I agree with the others who suggest gelling, freezing before unmolding, and lowering your water. Try 35% ( or 1.8 : 1) -- you might be surprised.

But definitely don't use SoapCalc's default water rate of 38% water to oils. When the water is tied to the oil amount instead of the lye amount, your actual water:lye ratio will fluctuate depending on batch size. In other words, your small batches will be low water, and your bigger batches will be high water - so they will behave very differently.

Another thing to try is lining the bottom with freezer paper or oven liner. I prefer oven liner because it is reusable - measure and cut just once and be done.
 
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I have put silicone molds in freezer for a bit before unmolding and the soap has come out clean, but the sweating has lead to bad soda ash…. I’m at a loss here!
My tall and skinny mold releases cleanly if I leave it in the freezer for a half hour. As soon as I unmold it, I wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent condensation. When it’s back to room temperature, I can cut it. I rarely get soda ash, or only on the top, which I attribute to using some beeswax in my soap oils. BTW, I use a CPOP process with the mold.
 
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I get sticking with my ts mold, although not as bad as yours. I love the look of ts soaps. but I don't want to use this stupid thing anymore. It bows really bad no matter how much propping up I do, and the edges stick. By the time I am done cleaning up the soaps to be both square and clean looking, I have really small soaps.

I might buy one that is a wooden mold with a silicone liner (the one from NS is in my cart). But for now, I have one like yours and I am really unhappy with it. I have only used it maybe 4 or 5 times, so it's not because its an old mold. It behaved like this on my very first soap in it.
I had the same problem with the sides bowing out. I asked my husband to make a wood mold support for it, but immediately discovered one of my other molds was exactly the right dimensions to support it if I left one end off.
image.jpg

I even got it to release a sticky rebatched soap cleanly this morning. I have used two pieces of freezer paper, one lengthwise and the other from side to side, as liners. They allowed me to pull the soap out as soon as it was cooled after CPOP.
 

TheGecko

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It bows really bad no matter how much propping up I do, and the edges stick.

My 10" Silicone Loaf Molds from BB started doing this. So I went to Home Depot, bought some cheap lumber and screws and built rails (like a box, but no bottoms, just the sides). I measured from the bottom of the mold to under the lip. Molds just slide in and a little push on the bottom of the mold pops them out. Note, it is really important that the bottom of you mold sits flats. First set hubby made were too tall and the bottom bowed. Fortunately, I was making soap for BIL and hubby and so rounded bottoms weren't an issue.
 

AAShillito

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If I put my silicone loads in the freezer for 30 minutes they pop right out cleanly. I don't have alot of sweating but it's hot and dry here all year long so maybe that has something to do with it
 

The_Phoenix

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I experience the same with my T&S. Dropping my water:lye ratio down to 1.7:1 helped enormously. I also have to force gel (using a seedling mat used for gardening) briefly then put it in my styrofoam cooler. Normally, with other molds, it goes right into my cooler and goes into gel just fine. I think it’s because it’s skinny that it doesn’t go into gel as readily.
 
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