Partial gel... every single batch :(

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straub&wood

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I seem to never get either fully gelled batch or avoid gel altogether. So I followed someone’s advice in this forum yesterday and after pouring, put my batch in the garage for the night. It was around 30F I think. I cut it just now and it still partially gelled:(
I did spend about 10 minutes taking pictures and then moved it to the garage:) may be that was enough for it to start heating up.
 

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msunnerstood

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I thought i got partial gel last week and it turned out if was just softer and wetter in the middle. once it sat a few days it disappeared. so maybe...
 

AliOop

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My loaf molds and slab mold gel on their own with just insulation, but I put the my cavity molds on a heating pad when I want to force gel. Like CPOP, you have to experiment a bit to figure out the temp and the timing, but once you do, it is nice not to see those rings any more.
 

Zing

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I'm just curious, not judging, why you want to avoid gel? I always gel, or more correctly, my soaps always gel. I like the more vibrant colors with gelling. Good luck to you. I like your color, what did you use?
 

DeeAnna

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I don't think the OP wants to avoid gel; they want to avoid a partial gel.

Putting soap in the fridge or freezer (or in the garage in winter) is the usual advice to prevent gel or overheating, but that's not a sure-fire solution. Soap can still gel even in a cold environment depending on the ingredients, water content, and the particular method used to make the soap. I suggest putting the soap on a cooling rack or several food cans on the counter and using a fan to blow room temperature air over all the surfaces of the mold. Moving air -- even room temp air -- will cause a higher rate of heat loss than cold but not-moving air.

Not knowing anything about the OPs recipe and method, it's hard to give a critique of these aspects of their soap making. Based on the myriad other people who have also made this complaint, my guess is the OP might want to try using a higher lye concentration. That will raise the temperature at which the soap gels and give a more uniform appearance.
 

quinta do veloso

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I pre-mix a master batch of lye water at 40% lye, and so long as I don't add sugar or the like, my soap never gels. (I use 95% olive oil—extra virgin, from our own olive trees—and 5% castor.) I always insulate the soap, and often oven process or, in the summer, leave outside in the sun, and still get no gel. From what I understand, a low-water (high lye concentration) soap is much less likely to gel. Also, I can soap at room temperature since I master-batch lye water—perhaps that also prevents the soap heating up? (I've been considering adding extra water so I can force gel, just to see what that's like.) So maybe explore the effects of different lye concentrations?

Sorry, just realized DeeAnna said the same thing!
 

amd

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What temp are you soaping at? Maybe start with a lower temp. The saponification process will raise the temp naturally on its own, so it makes sense to me that starting lower may help. *disclaimer: I let my soap do what it wants to do. Gel. Don't gel. Partial gel. Glycerin rivers. Soda ash.*
 

KiwiMoose

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What temp are you soaping at? Maybe start with a lower temp. The saponification process will raise the temp naturally on its own, so it makes sense to me that starting lower may help. *disclaimer: I let my soap do what it wants to do. Gel. Don't gel. Partial gel. Glycerin rivers. Soda ash.*
Soap do what soap do :)
 

straub&wood

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You can try CP/OP to get a full gel, or put your soap in the freezer right after pouring to prevent gel.
Thank you! I did CP/OP and the circle seems a bit less obvious. Now I have another issue - soda ash lol))) but only on half of my bathc :rolleyes:

I'm just curious, not judging, why you want to avoid gel? I always gel, or more correctly, my soaps always gel. I like the more vibrant colors with gelling. Good luck to you. I like your color, what did you use?
I agree gel gives more vibrant colors but for some reason I prefer more pastel colors. I also feel like gel makes the white color more yellowish. Correct me if I am wrong...

I don't think the OP wants to avoid gel; they want to avoid a partial gel.

Putting soap in the fridge or freezer (or in the garage in winter) is the usual advice to prevent gel or overheating, but that's not a sure-fire solution. Soap can still gel even in a cold environment depending on the ingredients, water content, and the particular method used to make the soap. I suggest putting the soap on a cooling rack or several food cans on the counter and using a fan to blow room temperature air over all the surfaces of the mold. Moving air -- even room temp air -- will cause a higher rate of heat loss than cold but not-moving air.

Not knowing anything about the OPs recipe and method, it's hard to give a critique of these aspects of their soap making. Based on the myriad other people who have also made this complaint, my guess is the OP might want to try using a higher lye concentration. That will raise the temperature at which the soap gels and give a more uniform appearance.
Hi! Thank you so much for your advice! I am going to try the fan + the water discount tricks. Here is the recipe I used:

Castor Oil - 2oz
Coconut Oil - 6 oz
Avocado Oil - 2 oz
Olive Oil - 22 oz
Lye - 4.4 oz
Distilled Water - 10.5 oz
EO (Patchouli& Ylang Ylang) - 2.5 oz

Based on this recipe how much water should I use to try to avoid gel?

Thanks again!

What temp are you soaping at? Maybe start with a lower temp. The saponification process will raise the temp naturally on its own, so it makes sense to me that starting lower may help. *disclaimer: I let my soap do what it wants to do. Gel. Don't gel. Partial gel. Glycerin rivers. Soda ash.*
I soap at 110F (oils) and 120F (lye water) which after reading the comments above seem too hot.
 

Zing

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I agree gel gives more vibrant colors but for some reason I prefer more pastel colors. I also feel like gel makes the white color more yellowish. Correct me if I am wrong...
To each her/his own. I use titanium dioxide for white and it is white white.
Now I have another issue - soda ash lol))) but only on half of my bathc :rolleyes:
If it's not one thing, it's another! I got soda ash once. Now I pour, spray with alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, cover with cardboard (and towels for gellin') -- and have avoided ash ever since.
 

DeeAnna

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Your lye concentration is about 29%. Try raising it to 33%. This is not "water as % of oils" -- it's lye concentration.

Lye conc = Lye weight / (Lye weight + Water weight) X 100 = 4.4 / (4.4 + 10.5) X 100 =4.4 / 14.9 X 100 = 29.5%

More: Lye conc vs water:lye ratio | Soapy Stuff
 

DeeAnna

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So sounds like I need to use about 5.2oz of lye then. Thank you so much!
I don't think that's a wise thing to do -- please think this through a bit more!

Your 4.4 oz of NaOH is the correct amount for the weights of the fats you provided in your recipe in Post 13. Don't change the NaOH if you're sticking with that recipe.

(In hindsight, I should not have given the mathematical formula for calculating lye concentration -- I think I may have inadvertently confused matters.)

Changing the lye concentration changes the amount of WATER in the recipe. It does NOT change the amount of NaOH.

The weight of NaOH is based only on the fats in your recipe and the superfat percentage. If you don't change the fats and don't change the superfat setting, the 4.4 oz of NaOH should remain constant.

Adjust the lye concentration number only changes the amount of WATER for that set amount of NaOH.

Experiment in the recipe calculator to prove this for yourself. Set up your recipe in the calc with the weights of the fats you listed in Post 13 and the superfat setting you used. Next change the lye concentration number -- you might go from 28% to 33% to 50%. Look at the NaOH and water weights. Which one(s) change?
 
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straub&wood

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I don't think that's a wise thing to do -- please think this through a bit more!

Your 4.4 oz of NaOH is the correct amount for the weights of the fats you provided in your recipe in Post 13. Don't change the NaOH if you're sticking with that recipe.

(In hindsight, I should not have given the mathematical formula for calculating lye concentration -- I think I may have inadvertently confused matters.)

Changing the lye concentration changes the amount of WATER in the recipe. It does NOT change the amount of NaOH.

The weight of NaOH is based only on the fats in your recipe and the superfat percentage. If you don't change the fats and don't change the superfat setting, the 4.4 oz of NaOH should remain constant.

Adjust the lye concentration number only changes the amount of WATER for that set amount of NaOH.

Experiment in the recipe calculator to prove this for yourself. Set up your recipe in the calc with the weights of the fats you listed in Post 13 and the superfat setting you used. Next change the lye concentration number -- you might go from 28% to 33% to 50%. Look at the NaOH and water weights. Which one(s) change?
thanks for being so patient! Ok to get 33% of lye conc I figured I need to use 8.9 oz of water. I think...
 

DeeAnna

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Are you doing the calculations by hand? I'd recommend using an online soap recipe calculator instead (or make your own using a spreadsheet application). It's good to know how the math works, but a calc reduces the chance of error. Soapmakingfriend.com and Soapee.com are two that are full featured and easy to use.

Set up the recipe in a calc by entering the weight of each fat. Ajust the superfat setting if needed. Set the lye concentration to 33%. Calculate the recipe. Done.
 

straub&wood

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Are you doing the calculations by hand? I'd recommend using an online soap recipe calculator instead (or make your own using a spreadsheet application). It's good to know how the math works, but a calc reduces the chance of error. Soapmakingfriend.com and Soapee.com are two that are full featured and easy to use.

Set up the recipe in a calc by entering the weight of each fat. Ajust the superfat setting if needed. Set the lye concentration to 33%. Calculate the recipe. Done.
Both. First, I used your formula and then tested it in a calculator. Both showed around the same amount of liquid: 8.9 and 8.88oz. For actual soap making of course I will use the calculator to get the decimals to get as close to the perfect formula as possible.
 

DeeAnna

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Another reason why the soap that gels may be more yellowish is your choice of fragrance and your use of olive oil as your main fat.

Patchouli can be pretty dark and that can carry over into the color of the soap. Extra virgin olive can also make a yellowish soap. Regular olive is less likely to do this. Gelling may emphasize these tendencies.

You also have a soap that has low percentages of palmitic and stearic acids. If this soap doesn't last as long in the bath as you'd like or seems a little too drying to your skin, you might want to alter the fatty acid profile of your soap. Look into adding fats that are higher in stearic and palmitic acids.
 

straub&wood

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Another reason why the soap that gels may be more yellowish is your choice of fragrance and your use of olive oil as your main fat.

Patchouli can be pretty dark and that can carry over into the color of the soap. Extra virgin olive can also make a yellowish soap. Regular olive is less likely to do this. Gelling may emphasize these tendencies.

You also have a soap that has low percentages of palmitic and stearic acids. If this soap doesn't last as long in the bath as you'd like or seems a little too drying to your skin, you might want to alter the fatty acid profile of your soap. Look into adding fats that are higher in stearic and palmitic acids.
Totally! After your post I have done some reading on fatty acid profiles and sounds like I do have plenty of oleic acid which has moisturizing property but I do agree I could use some extra hardness. What do you think of this recipe?
 

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DeeAnna

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Keep in mind -- you're going to get a lot of opinions about what's best. Listen to those of us in the peanut gallery, but in the end remember you have to do what you think is right for you.

For me, your recipe has way too much coconut. In other words, the lauric and myristic acids are too high. This would be overly drying to my skin. If it works for you, don't change it. For me, I'd reduce the coconut until the combined lauric + myristic content is maybe around 10-15%. But other people like a higher L+M content like yours has.

You have 3 high oleic fats in the recipe -- rice bran, olive, and avocado. Do you really need three? IMO, I'd use either olive or RBO -- or another high oleic fat such as HO sunflower or HO safflower. Base your decision on cost and availability at this point in the game. As you get more experience, you may find you prefer certain ones over others, but they're all pretty close. The 10% avocado is nice as a "curb appeal" fat, but IMO the cost and the high unsaponifiable content of avocado argue against using more than your 10%, give or take.

This last recipe is better for palmitic and stearic, but still on the low-ish side -- I'd be shooting for closer to 30% combined. Cocoa butter is high in these fatty acids, but you'll find a wide range of opinions on whether a high % of cocoa butter makes a nice soap or not. Also the cost might discourage the use of high amounts of cocoa butter. You may want to look into soy wax to boost the stearic and palmitic content rather than expensive butters, if palm, lard, or tallow aren't options.
 
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