# To Gel Or Not To Gel? That is the question...

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by hungryhawaiian, Feb 15, 2019.

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1. Feb 18, 2019

### IrishLass

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Right here, silly!
Full water equates to using anywhere from 1 part lye to 3 parts water (a 25% lye concentration), to about 1 part lye to 2.448 parts water (a 29% lye concentration). Others may differ, but I consider anything within those boundaries to be a 'full water' amount. On SoapCalc, their default 38% lye as per oils setting will give you a 'full water' amount that falls somewhere within those boundaries, depending on the oils you are using.

IrishLass

2. Feb 18, 2019

### DeeAnna

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It IS confusing, because full water means pretty much whatever an individual soaper wants it to mean. I don't see that it has a consistent meaning even here on SMF.

One definition of full water is whatever water you get when you use the default of "38% water as % of oils". This default causes the lye concentration to vary from a low of 26% to a high of 31% depending on the fats in the recipe. Since it's more helpful to base the water content on the alkali, not on the fat, the use of "38% water as % of oils" builds a lot of unnecessary variability into soap recipes.

If you assume a balanced blend of fats (for example, something like the "trinity recipe" of 1/3 palm, 1/3 coconut, 1/3 olive) and you use 38% water as % of oils, you'll see the lye concentration ends up around 28%. A lye concentration of 28% is another definition of full water for many people, but a 28% lye concentration is not mathematically the same as "38% water as % of oils" unless you always make the same recipe.

I was browsing the website of one well-known soaper recently. I learned she defines full water as 25% lye concentration and "discounts" her water from that. (I honestly don't remember who it was -- sorry.)

None of these definitions are wrong necessarily, but they don't mean the same thing. I can appreciate Irish Lass being comfortable with a range of numbers, but the definition needs to be consistent IMO in order to be useful, especially to newer soapers who are seeking clarity.

Furthermore, I question whether the idea of "full water" is all that helpful. I have yet to see a good argument to convince me that "full water" and "water discount" really do help soapers make better soap.

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3. Feb 19, 2019

### Misschief

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Thank you so much for this, DeeAnna. I don't want to say you cleared it up for me but at least I'm getting an idea of what people are talking about. I will not be using the term "full water".

Even though I've been soaping for almost five years, it's something that has always confused me. I set up my recipes (most of them) with anywhere from 33 - 35% lye strength. I use the full amount of the water that the recipe recommends. As far as I'm concerned, I'm using the full water amount.

I think it's another one of those issues that confuses not just new soapers and it isn't really helpful unless there's a baseline for "full water" in a recipe, as you say.

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4. Feb 19, 2019

### Dawni

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I too am thankful for this reminder @DeeAnna. I always go back to your page regarding water when I need to double check what I'm doing because your suggestions are extremely helpful to newbies like me.

I have been playing around with the numbers and taking notes, so that I can see eventually which amount of water goes best with which recipe. It's a long process for sure, trial and error with mostly errors lol

Since I HP I also have to factor in water evaporation. I sometimes end up with a totally fluid batter that's super smoothly gelled and sometimes I end up with something resembling (my) room temp lard that's hard to break apart in the pot before it's fully cooked. When I get that I have to work it with a whisk before it resembles gelled soap and I must say I might be growing more muscle lol

I looked around if someone had some sort of guideline.. Like "use this much water if your recipe has high olive or similar oil" or "only use this much for high coconut" and while those two in particular are addressed in DeeAnna's site, I was struggling with questions like what if I have a high percentage of lard? What if it's a high butter soap? What if I want to add a ton of additives, with or without clays? How about using waxes?

Mainly this issue is because I have not been soaping long enough to know what each fat does while I'm cooking it, so I always tell myself to research each as best as I can while I'm not soaping. Like I said earlier, DeeAnna's page is a great starting point. I know eventually I'll understand, but I'll need time.

All the websites say is "if you want a more fluid batter use more water" but then the question is "more than what?" lol

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5. Feb 19, 2019

### Cherrydene soapy

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Can you point me in the direction of @DeeAnna page please xx

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6. Feb 19, 2019

### hungryhawaiian

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@Dawni: ditto! Point us in the right direction please!

7. Feb 19, 2019

### Dawni

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Here ya go kiddos lols

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8. Feb 19, 2019

### penelopejane

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The link is in DeeAnna’s signature.

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9. Feb 19, 2019

### Dawni

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Forgot about that. Probably coz I never see it. I don't even see mine. I use the browser coz the app is funky on my phone and I see no one's signature. I should remember that, though.. Thanks.

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10. Feb 19, 2019

### Cherrydene soapy

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How do I find it????

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11. Feb 19, 2019

### DeeAnna

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12. Feb 19, 2019

### hungryhawaiian

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Thank you! I’m using my mobile and also didn’t see a signature/link. =)

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