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mommycarlson

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I made this recipe today:
Lard 75%
Coconut Oil 20%
Castor Oil 5%

30% lye concentration
5% superfat

2 T sugar to lye water for bubbles
1 oz peppermint EO

I can't get this soap to gel! I've had it on the heating pad for almost two hours, not all at once because it was warm after an hour so the heating pad got shut off, but after another 30 minutes it still hadn't gelled, and is soft like clay still, so I turned the heating pad back on. Any ideas? I've made this recipe many times but not with a 30% lye concentration, I usually do 33% but I wanted it to stay fluid a little longer. I had made it with a 33% concentration two days ago and it got so thick I couldn't do anything but glop it in the mold.
I appreciate any feedback, thank you
 
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cmzaha

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Less water/liquid less heat making it harder to gel. If your mold can go in the oven you can heat your oven to 170º F turn it off and put your mold in. This will usually give it the necessary boost
 

topofmurrayhill

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I made this recipe today:
Lard 75%
Coconut Oil 20%
Castor Oil 5%

30% lye concentration
5% superfat

2 T sugar to lye water for bubbles

I can't get this soap to gel! I've had it on the heating pad for almost two hours, not all at once because it was warm after an hour so the heating pad got shut off, but after another 30 minutes it still hadn't gelled, and is soft like clay still, so I turned the heating pad back on. Any ideas? I've made this recipe many times but not with a 30% lye concentration, I usually do 33% but I wanted it to stay fluid a little longer. I had made it with a 33% concentration two days ago and it got so thick I couldn't do anything but glop it in the mold.
I appreciate any feedback, thank you
Hi MC. Gel depends mainly on two things, the most important one as you know being heat. Even though you added heat it simply needed more. Maybe for one reason or another this batch saponifying slowly and you didn't get a lot of heat from the reaction. If you soap cool it won't get as much of a head start heating up, and with a lot of hard oils you could get false trace.

The other thing that's important is water. You can think of gel as being melted soap, and the less water (lower lye concentration) the higher the melting point. With a 40% lye for instance a batch would be pretty resistant to gelling unless you overheated it. With a thirty percent lye I don't think this was your problem. I just wanted to make sure you know, and you might already.

Could any of these things apply to this batch?
 

mommycarlson

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It's warm now, I shot it with my temp gun and it reads 119°. I don't think that's hot enough to gel. It's 12 hours now since I made it. It's still soft-ish like molding clay. Should I put it in the oven now? Is it too late?
 

mommycarlson

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As far as I know it hasn't gelled. Most of the time I can tell, sometimes I can't. But I would think if it gelled it would be setting up now? getting firmer?
 

DeeAnna

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Yes, you can CPOP after the fact. Preheat your oven to 150-170 F (65-70 C).

Put the soap back in its mold -- it makes no difference if the soap has been cut or not. If the mold you used is not oven safe or is not available, put the soap on a parchment lined cookie sheet or some container that is oven safe and fresh soap safe.

Put the soap into the preheated oven. Let the soap warm for 1 hour or so, and then check the texture and visual appearance. If you do not think the soap is quite ready, let it warm another 1/2 hour or so. I have not seen a lot of benefit from heating the soap a lot longer than that.

While in the oven at 150-170 F (65-70 C), the soap will not get soft nor will it look like it is in gel. In my experience, the soap does not warp or distort at all, so cut bars or a rough peaked top will stay fine.

If you can spare the oven, turn it off at that point and leave the soap in the oven to cool down. Otherwise, take the soap out, cover with a towel and let it cool slowly.

This has helped my non-gelled soaps firm up quite a bit. They won't look like they actually reach gel in the oven, but even so, the process seems to work pretty well.
 

mommycarlson

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DeeAnna, thank you for the advice. What about putting the heating pad on high for an hour? will that get hot enough? My soap is in a silicone mold that is in a wooden box DH made for it. I don't know if that can go in the oven or not. There is no way I can un-mold it without totally mucking it up. Are the silicone molds oven proof?
 

mommycarlson

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Hi MC. Gel depends mainly on two things, the most important one as you know being heat. Even though you added heat it simply needed more. Maybe for one reason or another this batch saponifying slowly and you didn't get a lot of heat from the reaction. If you soap cool it won't get as much of a head start heating up, and with a lot of hard oils you could get false trace.

The other thing that's important is water. You can think of gel as being melted soap, and the less water (lower lye concentration) the higher the melting point. With a 40% lye for instance a batch would be pretty resistant to gelling unless you overheated it. With a thirty percent lye I don't think this was your problem. I just wanted to make sure you know, and you might already.

Could any of these things apply to this batch?
I soaped at about 115 ish. I tried not to overmix because I wanted to be able to do a design.
 

DeeAnna

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I can't speak about heating pads -- I don't use them. Silicone is oven safe. My molds are wood and I use them in the oven -- 150 to 170 isn't all that hot.
 

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DeeAnna, thank you for the advice. What about putting the heating pad on high for an hour? will that get hot enough? My soap is in a silicone mold that is in a wooden box DH made for it. I don't know if that can go in the oven or not. There is no way I can un-mold it without totally mucking it up. Are the silicone molds oven proof?
If you are worried just turn the oven on at 100*F. That works for me and I turn it off as soon as the mold goes in. You might need the half an hour at that temp that DeeAnna suggests. I haven't had a problem with my silicone molds at 100*F.
 

ngian

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Did you reached thin or thick trace before pouring it in the mould.

Is it cold in the room that your soap is?

Another thing that might be to blame, is the possibility that you didn't weight the correct amount of NaOH or you did but NaOH has dropped its purity a lot.
 

mommycarlson

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Thank you everyone, what I did was turn the heating pad on high, since it was bedtime and I was unsure about my mold and it's safety in the oven, put my cardboard over it, covered it with every blanket I could find and went to bed. The heating pad has a timer so it shuts off after one hour. It appears to have done the trick, the soap feels like what most of my soaps feel like at 24 hours, it's still warm, in the 90s but I did take the blankets off.

Now I want to ask about two soaps I made on the 26th of December. They have the same texture, mostly on the two end pieces and the corners/edges. They are multi colored in the pot swirl soaps. Would I be able to force gel them as well? I'm not sure I could match up the swirls and I don't know if that matters. Is it too late to do this with them? Thank you so much for your help!
 

mommycarlson

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I have re-assembled these two batches of soap, what I'm wanting to know is if the colors will stay since it's a multi colored ITP swirl, if I do either the CPOP in the oven or if I put them on a heating pad. The texture of them is soft like molding clay on the two end pieces and on the corners. I'm guessing they didn't fully gel even though I don't see evidence of a partial gel. I haven't attempted to put them back in the molds but I do have them put back together since I already cut them. Thank you in advance for any advice!
 

DeeAnna

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"...Would I be able to force gel them as well?..."

Yes, you can do that too. The colors will stay about the same or become slightly deeper in color, if my experience holds true for you. You'd only need to warm the softer end bars if you like how the center bars are already.
 

mommycarlson

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Thank you DeeAnna, I really appreciate your help. I'm going to re-warm the one that has the softest texture and see how that goes. Do you think that with a long cure the softness will go away?

I meant to ask, is winter affecting my soap? It's colder and drier now, maybe that is why it's been harder to get my soaps to gel. I made one yesterday with full water and it got so hot I had to un-insulate it and prop the box up. So maybe I should up my water content in the winter months? I'm just running ideas through my head.
 
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DeeAnna

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Yes, cooler temps can change how soap behaves in the mold, although I don't personally see enough of a change to do things any differently than I do in the summer. So I have to ask -- why increase the water content? That changes a lot of factors in your soap that I don't think I'd care to deal with. If I were in your shoes, I would just compensate for the lower temperatures by using your heating pad.

You ask if a soap that didn't gel will firm up during cure -- yes that will happen. But you might see a big change just by heating the soap as I suggested earlier.

It feels to me like you're overthinking this and getting really nervous. Take a deep breath? :)
 

mommycarlson

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DeeAnna, you called it, after a few batches that have "flopped" I am getting nervous about what I might be doing wrong. I put the one loaf in the oven for 90 minutes at 170, it's now been turned off for almost 5 hours and I just snuck a peek at it, I touched the last piece and it's squishy, probably more squishy than it was before I put it in there. I just don't want to have a bunch of failed batches. I've been making soap only for a year and I've never had this much trouble. If I'm doing something wrong I want to figure it out. Thank you for the help. I see we are both from Iowa so you know the climate :)

I increased my water because I wanted to be able to do a swirl with my soap, and wondered if I should increase my water because the weather is drier in the winter.
 

penelopejane

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I don't know if it is my recipe or what but if I heat my soap to anything over 100*F it cooks my soap, turns it mushy and makes it smell like it is musty. It never recovers no matter how long it cures. It obviously works for others, though.

CPOP for a newly made batch is just to coddle it through the saponification stage and keep the soap's own heat surrounding it in an ice cosy environment for a little longer to encourage gel. I put
my mold in a cardboard box (tight fit) wrap it in a blanket put it in the oven preheated to 100*F turn the oven off and don't open it for 12 hrs. I do this for all soaps including GM winter and summer. It works for me. But I don't use lard. YMMV. Once you find something that works for you stick with it.

I guess the heat pad will work too but I would preheat it then turn it off, wrap the soap in a blanket and leave it completely undisturbed for 12 hrs.

One other thought: did you change the lard or coconut oil you use?
Is the lye a year old.
 
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mommycarlson

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Penelopejane, I don't know what YMMV stands for :) This is the first time I've put a batch of soap in the oven with the oven on, so we'll see what happens. I thought that I had found a good recipe that worked great for me, now all of a sudden I am having issues so in trying to compensate for those issues I think I've created others. I've used a heating pad for several months now when I started having trouble with partial gel in some soaps, just to coax it over to gel stage. Normally one hour on medium and the heating pad shuts off on it's own and I used to not have any problems. Maybe it's my FO, the ones that I used in the two batches that were on the softer side were both from WSP, Crafter's Choice. One I had used before, one I had not. Maybe I'm over-analyzing? :) I appreciate your input, we will see how this turns out, I'll leave it alone now til morning, I usually have to absolutely SIT on my hands to resist peeking.
 
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