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partial gel woes

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Lye-Di

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This has been happening to me a lot. My soap partially gels, it doesn't reach the ends. What am I doing wrong? Is there any way to fix it?
 

KristaY

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Hi Lye-Di and welcome! :wave:

A little more info about your process will help but here's a few things that come to mind:

Have you tried CPOP?
Do you insulate the mold after you pour?
Do you put the freshly poured soap in an area that has a lot of cool air flow?
Do you put your freshly poured soap in the fridge or freezer?
What lye concentration do you use?

I always wrap my soap molds in towels when they're saponifying or I'll end up with partial gel sometimes (unless I'm using an FO that overheats, then I leave it open to air).
 

Lye-Di

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Hi KristaY- (see below to answers for your questions)

I make CP soap or am trying!
I use a silicone mold, then put in in the wood box for support, put a wood cover over it then wrap everything up in an old comforter.
My whole house has central air so I'm not sure that one room has more cool air flowing than the other.
I have not put any of my freshly poured soap in the fridge or freezer. Should I be doing that?
As far as the lye goes, I have been using the pellets, following recipes and double checking with a lye calculator.

I have also been using essential oils not fragrance oils. What FO have you found that overheat? Lavender has been the main oil that I have been using so I don't think that's the issue.

Thanks for all of your help!
 

Cindy2428

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My first question is - are you trying/not trying to achieve gel?

No gel - soap at room temp lye/oils and refrigerate soap for 2-4 hrs; low water (discount)

To gel - soap hotter, insulate, possibly CPOP; high water (full water)
 

kchaystack

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Actually a more important question is what is your lye solution strength?

If you are using 'full water' (38% water to oils in soapcalc) then it is more likely to gel, so you should add a little heat to make sure it is complete. Either by putting into a warm oven (but don't bake it! Just warm up the oven to its lowest setting and turn it off when you put the soap in), or maybe putting it on a heating pad before covering and wrapping in the comforter.

If you do not want to gel, you can reduce the amount of water you are using. This will also speed up trace mind you. But change your calculator to lye concentration and use 33-35%. change it to ratio and use 1 part lye to 2 parts water (33%) or 1 part lye to 1.8 parts (35%) water.

If you are already using a water discount, discount more to reduce gel, less to encourage it.
 

earlene

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From your description, it sounds like you want gel. If you do, and doing all you are doing now, perhaps it is that you are soaping too cool? Room temperature in a house with central air set at the low 70's F (pretty common, I guess, but too cold for me, so I keep my AC set higher) is probably too cool if you let your oils & lye solution reach room temperature before you mix them.

What temperatures are you starting to mix your oils & lye solutions together? A bit warmer might be the ticket. Say in the 120 F range?

Secondly, I would go the CPOP route, as KristaY and kchaystack suggest. It works very well for me to ensure complete gel. Do you know what CPOP means? Cold Process Oven Process. When taking a long time with intricate designs, colors, swirls, etc. (or even because I generally don't like to rush) the soap can cool off a pretty quickly, so CPOP has become my routine method to ensure gel if I am not making high content milk, sugars or alcohol kinds of soaps. Even when I take a soap upstairs to the hot rooms (my AC doesn't reach the second floor nearly as well as it does the ground floor), and cover with a wool blanket, sometimes the already too cool soap does not fully gel. Usually that is a soap made with a low water content, but even so the first time it happened I was surprised that my upstairs, which I feel is pretty hot this time of year, plus a wool blanket wasn't enough to ensure complete gel.
 

shunt2011

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However, if using full water be very careful with CPOP. When I first started and did both it overheated every time. With full water I never need to CPOP. Just putting the wood lid on and insulating even in airconditioning I get full gel and sometimes it will still try to over heat. I don't use full water often but when I do it have to watch it. At least this is my experience.
 

penelopejane

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If the lowest temp your oven goes to is 175*F then wait for it to cool before you put your soap in. Use a thermometer as you only want the oven at 110* then turn it off before putting the wrapped soap in. I've never had a batch overheat (touch wood) with this method regardless of water amount.

Not sure what temp shunt CPOPs at but she has made a LOT more soap than me.
 
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