Possible to lye discount AND avoid gel-phase?

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troyrim01

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I've made two soap batches with a 5% lye discount so far, and both batches have reached a partial gel. I'm trying to avoid gel-phase (personal preference) and I've heard of decreasing the amount of water used, to make it a more concentrated lye-solution ....but won't that void my lye discount??

What do you guys do to avoid partial gel and gel-phase altogether? And is it possible to lye discount 5% AND avoid gel-phase?

Any help will be greatly appreciated :thumbup:
 

shunt2011

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Decreasing your water has nothing to do with your lye discount. Two different things. Lye discount means using less lye to leave some free oils. Water discount/Lye concentration just adjusts the amount of liquid not lye. Many of us soap with a 33% Lye Concentration. In most cases I have to force gel as I prefer gelled soap. The more liquid/water you use the more likely it will get on it's own.

There's really no way to guarantee you won't get partial gel regardless of what you do as many factors play into it. What oils, FO's, EO's, milks, beer etc....

It will take you testing different things to find what works best for you. I've found it's not worth trying not to gel as I usually use milks or beer.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Lye discount and solution concentration are two different things.

Let's say that I want to use a 30% lye concentration it means that 30% of the solution is made up of lye. At 40% solution, 40% of the solution is lye. In real terms, 100g of a 30% solution has 30g lye and 70g water. A 40% solution has 40g lye and 60g water.

Lye discount means "how much less lye do I use, from the total amount required for these oils?". So if I need 80g lye to fully saponify my oils (not that we can really be so accurate when we have approximate SAP values, but that's not the point) then I only need 76g lye if I want to leave 5% of the oils unsaponified. I use 5% less lye, so 5% of the oils are still oils (approximately).

The two combine like this:

I need that 76g of lye. That is fixed if I want to make this batch with this lye discount. What can change, however, is the strength of the solution! If I need 76g of lye and use a 30% solution, I will use about 253g of solution, which is 76g lye and 177g water. If I use a 40% solution, I use 190g of solution which is 76g lye and 114g water.

Notice that the lye amount is the same, but the total solution amount and the water amount changes.

Thankfully, the calcs do all this hard work for us.................
 

galaxyMLP

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I think you may be misunderstanding what people mean by using a concentrated lye solution in making soap. You aren't using more caustic for the same recipe. You're using less water. You won't effect your lye discount at all by using a more concentrated lye solution.

For example, let's say I wanted to do a 40% lye concentration for one of my recipes. My recipe calls for 8 oz of sodium hydroxide for 60 oz of oil with a 5% lye discount. A "full water" recipe would be 22.8 oz of water mixed with my sodium hydroxide. However, if I wanted to do a 40% lye concentration I would use only 12 oz of water to dissolve my sodium hydroxide. Instead of doing that math though, I would just put in my desired lye concentration (40%) into that category of my calculator.

Doing a water discount helps increase the temperature at which gel phase will start. For my recipe at full water gel phase begins at 135 F, with a 33% lye concentration it begins at about 145-150 F and for my 45% lye concentration soaps it goes all the way at 170 F. That's why people say that doing a water discount discourages gel phase.

Edit: and I was so busy answering I missed the other replies!
 
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troyrim01

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Thanks for your help! That's cleared a lot of confusion up haha :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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Thanks for your help! That's cleared a lot of confusion up haha :)
I think your confusion got three clearing ups. :)

You can go higher than 33% concentration if you want. By the time you get to 40% a typical recipe won't even gel in the oven. You can also save days to weeks of drying time and get less shrinkage.
 

TeresaT

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I think your confusion got three clearing ups. :)

You can go higher than 33% concentration if you want. By the time you get to 40% a typical recipe won't even gel in the oven. You can also save days to weeks of drying time and get less shrinkage.

Ohh, so it cuts down on curing time? :evil::twisted::lolno:

KIDDING!!!! Kidding. Let's not go there!! (I just had to do that, though, because I have a very warped sense of humor...)
 

dixiedragon

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Ways to prevent gel:
Put the soap directly in the fridge or freezer. If you don't have room in your fridge for soap, possibly an ice chest with ice?

Soap cooler. This can be tricky with some hard oils because you can get false trace.

what is your mold made of? If you are using a wooden mold, I think you are going to find it very difficult to prevent gel, b/c wood is a good insulator. if you are using a non-wooden mold, remember that the bottom of your mold gets warm too, so you may need to put something underneath your mold to get air circulation under there, or move your mold around on your counter and let the cool counter top draw out some of the heat.
 

topofmurrayhill

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Ohh, so it cuts down on curing time? :evil::twisted::lolno:

KIDDING!!!! Kidding. Let's not go there!! (I just had to do that, though, because I have a very warped sense of humor...)
Screw dogma. I'm not afraid of a little heresy.

It cuts down on one aspect of curing. Let's face it, some soaps will be better in 2 weeks than others will be in 8 weeks -- or ever. If it's good enough to use early and you want to do so, then less water would be helpful.

I have to look back at the data, but even at 6 weeks a full water batch might still have a significant amount of water weight to lose.
 
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