Soap won't gel all the way

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Marru

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Hi! I have a problem with gel phase and I can’t seem to find a reason. I have a high olive oil % CP soap recipe and I use a 33% lye concentration. I always check the temperatures and mix the lye and water at around 110-120°F. I use a wooden loaf mold with a lid and silicone liners, + I've now tried covering it with blankets as well to keep it even warmer.
The soap heats up nice and gels, but the gel never reaches the edges. So the edges are always a little (well, sometimes A LOT) lighter than the inside. It doesn’t really look like a partial gel. Have you experienced something like that and do you have any ideas why the edges wouldn’t gel?

The recipe is 72% olive oil, 22% coconut oil, 3% cocoa butter and 3% shea butter.

Thank you so much in advance!
 

topofmurrayhill

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Hi! I have a problem with gel phase and I can’t seem to find a reason. I have a high olive oil % CP soap recipe and I use a 33% lye concentration. I always check the temperatures and mix the lye and water at around 110-120°F. I use a wooden loaf mold with a lid and silicone liners, + I've now tried covering it with blankets as well to keep it even warmer.
The soap heats up nice and gels, but the gel never reaches the edges. So the edges are always a little (well, sometimes A LOT) lighter than the inside. It doesn’t really look like a partial gel. Have you experienced something like that and do you have any ideas why the edges wouldn’t gel?

The recipe is 72% olive oil, 22% coconut oil, 3% cocoa butter and 3% shea butter.

Thank you so much in advance!
Try a 30% lye concentration.
 

Marru

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topofmurrayhill

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I haven't tried CPOP yet because I'm just trying to figure out why this happens...because I insulate well and the centre gets really hot. I searched online and didn't find much help but I did found a picture: http://edgewatersoaps.blogspot.com.ee/2011/03/scientific-soap-making-part-iii.html , my soaps sometimes look just like that, the edges are so much lighter.
Actually I kind of just told you why it happens. It's because of your lye concentration.

To elaborate, at 33% lye concentration the melting (gel) point of the soap is 20 degrees higher or more than at 25% lye concentration. A handcrafter-size batch of soap is never going to fully gel unless you pour it very hot, even with insulation. At 33% you need to CPOP.

Raise the lye concentration a little more and you won't even get the partial gel in the middle. Lower it and you have a shot at full gel with insulation. I figured that would be the smaller and simpler change to your procedure, but alternatively you could CPOP if you like.
 

penelopejane

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I guess I use the CPOP method as well as the lye concentration method because I like to wrap my soap and keep it safe until it saponifies. I guess it's a ritual thing.

I have never had a problem with partial gel with any recipe since I put it in the oven at 100* F turn it off and let it cool. I always had a problem before I did that. It is about getting the ingredients to the right spot to saponify. Either a little less water or a little more warmth or both. Whatever works for your recipe and for you.
 
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SuzieOz

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Do you live in a cold climate Marru? I do, and even though I use a water discount my soaps tend to leave a lighter edge also. I don't CPOP because I use a silicone mould (and I don't think I can put it in an oven, but not 100% sure about that yet).

So, I'm going to have to find a way to keep my soap warmer. I've heard of people using a warming mat to sit their soap on, as well as insulating with towels/blankets etc. This could help. I've even thought about putting my soap to bed (literally) in the spare room with the electric blanket on! (And turn it off once the soap is in there).

Also, as people have said, soap with your batter very warm. I know this doesn't help much when you want to do swirls though, as it tends to trace faster when warm. Just some thoughts anyway.
 

Swampy

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Read this http://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/education/chemistry/to-gel-or-not-to-gel.aspx
The general idea is that the higher your water % is in your recipe the lower the temperature is needed to achieve gel phase.
Recipes with a very low water % will never achieve gel because the temp needed is far too high so adding a bit more water and soaping at higher temps can help.
I place all my soap in the oven on low for a hour and always achieve full gel phase with a 36% water to oil ratio.
Do you live in a cold climate Marru? I do, and even though I use a water discount my soaps tend to leave a lighter edge also. I don't CPOP because I use a silicone mould (and I don't think I can put it in an oven, but not 100% sure about that yet).

So, I'm going to have to find a way to keep my soap warmer. I've heard of people using a warming mat to sit their soap on, as well as insulating with towels/blankets etc. This could help. I've even thought about putting my soap to bed (literally) in the spare room with the electric blanket on! (And turn it off once the soap is in there).

Also, as people have said, soap with your batter very warm. I know this doesn't help much when you want to do swirls though, as it tends to trace faster when warm. Just some thoughts anyway.
Silicon molds are made to go in the oven at high temps.You only need your oven on low for about an hour for the gel phase.I use my perspex mold in the oven and its fine.
 
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SuzieOz

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Silicon molds are made to go in the oven at high temps.You only need your oven on low for about an hour for the gel phase.I use my perspex mold in the oven and its fine.
Ok, yes I wasn't sure about the particular mould I'm using as it is sold just for making soap, not cooking. I can ask the supplier though.

I think I have the water ratio thing the wrong way round then do I? Dear me, I'm a bit confused.

You'd better not take too much notice of me Marru :confused:
 

dillsandwitch

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Ok, yes I wasn't sure about the particular mould I'm using as it is sold just for making soap, not cooking. I can ask the supplier though.

I think I have the water ratio thing the wrong way round then do I? Dear me, I'm a bit confused.

You'd better not take too much notice of me Marru :confused:

Most silicone molds can withstand the heat needed to CPOP. My oven's lowest temp is 75c and my moulds hold up fine under the heat. Even the ones I made using roofing silicone are fine under that heat.

As for the water ratio thing I'm not exactly sure about how all that works as Ive never really paid that much attention to it but I find using 33% lye concentration in soapcalc works fine for me to CPOP and get full gel.
 

Marru

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Thank you everyone for your help! I found the article by Kevin Dunn really helpful, I think I understand the process a lot better now. So I think I have three options now to try: 1) try 30% lye concentration, 2) CPOP with the recipe I have now, 3) I could also use even less water and avoid gel.

I think I will try 30% lye concentration first and see how it goes. Though I know that with my recipe and the % of olive oil, less water would probably be a little better. So maybe CPOP would be better...Oh, it's hard! I don't have an oven in my soaping room, is it safe to use just my kitchen oven?
 

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So maybe CPOP would be better...Oh, it's hard! I don't have an oven in my soaping room, is it safe to use just my kitchen oven?
Yes it is safe to use your kitchen oven. I wrap my soap in a blanket just incase something unforeseen happened.

You don't have to heat the soap much. The oven only has to go to 100*F (37*F) which is not very hot. Turn the oven off as soon as you put the wrapped soap in and leave it closed overnight.
 

Marru

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Yes it is safe to use your kitchen oven. I wrap my soap in a blanket just incase something unforeseen happened.

You don't have to heat the soap much. The oven only has to go to 100*F (37*F) which is not very hot. Turn the oven off as soon as you put the wrapped soap in and leave it closed overnight.
Thanks! Do you think if it would be OK if I just use my wooden mold with silicone liners and a lid in the oven? Or without the lid? I don't know why, but I'm really nervous about putting it in the oven :smile: I will try it tonight and post an update on how it went.
 

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Thanks! Do you think if it would be OK if I just use my wooden mold with silicone liners and a lid in the oven? Or without the lid? I don't know why, but I'm really nervous about putting it in the oven :smile: I will try it tonight and post an update on how it went.
The reason I cover and wrap it is to keep the heat even and to avoid spills.
Covering the mold will help avoid ash.
The heat you are going to use is only just hand warm. It isn't hot. It's just going to keep the soap evenly snug for a few hours. I get the oven just on warm body temperature really and use the blanket to keep the heat in.

It will be fine.
 
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Marru

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The reason I cover and wrap it is to keep the heat even and to avoid spills.
Covering the mold will help avoid ash.
Thanks!

Yesterday I made soap and tried lowering the lye concentration by just 1% to see if it made any difference. I just cut it now and the centre of the soap is slightly lighter color and it doesn't look as bad as the same soap with 33% lye concentrate. Edges are still visibly lighter though. But I'm really impressed with the texture/consistency of the soap! I can see a small difference, the soap is a little bit siklier and creamier. I love it! I hope that today I will finally get the gel problem fixed as well. Fingers crossed!
 

penelopejane

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Thanks!

Yesterday I made soap and tried lowering the lye concentration by just 1% to see if it made any difference. I just cut it now and the centre of the soap is slightly lighter color and it doesn't look as bad as the same soap with 33% lye concentrate. Edges are still visibly lighter though. But I'm really impressed with the texture/consistency of the soap! I can see a small difference, the soap is a little bit siklier and creamier. I love it! I hope that today I will finally get the gel problem fixed as well. Fingers crossed!
Hi Marru,

Post photos so someone can identify it for you The lighter edges still sounds like a gel problem.
 

Swampy

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Thanks!

Yesterday I made soap and tried lowering the lye concentration by just 1% to see if it made any difference. I just cut it now and the centre of the soap is slightly lighter color and it doesn't look as bad as the same soap with 33% lye concentrate. Edges are still visibly lighter though. But I'm really impressed with the texture/consistency of the soap! I can see a small difference, the soap is a little bit siklier and creamier. I love it! I hope that today I will finally get the gel problem fixed as well. Fingers crossed!
Marru Honestly just try the oven.It is all I do now.I have used my plain wood mold with no silicon,A cheap silicon mold,my new hybrid half wood half polycarbonate mold all with excellent results.Turn the oven to low,wrap your mold in something,maybe a towel.pop it in.Turn off the oven and leave it in for a few hours.Easy.Just remember to use your normal water amount when doing this though as you need that water for the gel phase in the oven.
 

topofmurrayhill

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Thanks!

Yesterday I made soap and tried lowering the lye concentration by just 1% to see if it made any difference. I just cut it now and the centre of the soap is slightly lighter color and it doesn't look as bad as the same soap with 33% lye concentrate. Edges are still visibly lighter though. But I'm really impressed with the texture/consistency of the soap! I can see a small difference, the soap is a little bit siklier and creamier. I love it! I hope that today I will finally get the gel problem fixed as well. Fingers crossed!
With 32% lye you would still need the oven. Most of those photos you see of fully gelled soaps that were wrapped in blankets are full water batches, which is 27-28% lye concentration. At 30% you would want to make sure you soap warm and insulate the mold to get full gel. If you want to use more concentrated lye than that, then use the oven.
 

Marru

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Thank you very much! I will try both the oven process and adding more water and see how it goes.
This is a picture of my soaps, on the left is 32% and on the right 33% lye concentration.

20160404_141606.jpg
 
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