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To gel or not to gel

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gigisiguenza

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So, after examining my soap pics closely (it's slow right now at work lol) I think I really like the way the soap looks ungelled. I've read and seen pics that show the difference between the two, and while I like the fact that the colors of will pop more, I really like the creamier look that the ungelled has. It looks luxurious to me. Can that creamy look be achieved with letting the soap gel?
 

galaxyMLP

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As time passes, you will notice the difference between the gelled and ungelled portion of the soap will be less noticeable.
 

gigisiguenza

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galaxy - all the pics I've seen the gelled looks more translucent vs the ungelled, that's why I asked. So over time, they both look the same?
 

spenny92

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I switch between forcing gel and preventing gel. With my milk, beer or honey soaps, I prevent gel by popping it in the freezer as it's all too easy for them to overheat and I don't want a messy soap volcano to deal with. I like the ungelled look, especially for milk soaps, as it does look nice and creamy. For other soaps that don't contain sugar-y additives, I tend to try and force gel along a little by insulating with a few towels - if they're going to gel, I'd like them to gel all the way! I do prefer preventing gel though, as it's just plain easier. I actually just made a batch of soap using a new FO, wrapped in a towel like usual, checked on it after 30 mins and it's bloody roasting hot with a big old crack down the middle! So into the freezer it goes.

I feel like there are just less problems that go along with preventing gel, than forcing it. I've heard about CPOP, which I'm curious as I really hate to see a partial gel - nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't look good to me.
 

Relle

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galaxy - all the pics I've seen the gelled looks more translucent vs the ungelled, that's why I asked. So over time, they both look the same?
You are right, the gelled is more translucent and the ungelled creamy, they won't look the same over time.
 

Jstar

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I usually let mine do what it wants..I use a wooden mold made of 1/2" lumber so usually if I dont prevent the gel, then they usually do without much insulation {just a towel under the mold is all I do}

I dont gel my milk soaps tho, and I soap very cool with those {frozen milk sitting in an ice bath to add my lye}..then they go directly into the fridge after pour.
 

Seawolfe

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Because a) I am lazy, very lazy and b) I dont have space in my freezer or fridge for my molds & c) a bad experience where an accidentally ungelled soap cut like crumbly cheese, I have decided that gelling is perfect for my soaps.
 

shunt2011

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I gel all my soaps. I've tried not gelling and CPOP and it took too much effort and had some issues. So just mold and lightly cover and leave it alone. No problems.
 

gigisiguenza

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I usually let mine do what it wants..I use a wooden mold made of 1/2" lumber so usually if I dont prevent the gel, then they usually do without much insulation {just a towel under the mold is all I do}

I dont gel my milk soaps tho, and I soap very cool with those {frozen milk sitting in an ice bath to add my lye}..then they go directly into the fridge after pour.
Jstar I've read in several places about people swearing by their wooden molds because of their insulation ability n gel. I don't think it translated really until I made this first batch and saw for myself how the material that the mold is made from impacts the way the batch behaves. I haven't planned on using wooden molds because they are so bulky and heavy, but maybe I should consider a small one so I can experience the difference.

As to milk soap, that way down the road for me still. Any superheaters can wait until I've got a couple recipes nailed solid enough that I feel comfy tweaking it with risky additives LOL
 

Jstar

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Gigi, the good thing about wooden molds {besides being good insulators} is that you can make them any size you want..they dont have to be bulky.

Check my post with my ugly baby tester molds..I love em and wouldnt trade em for nuttin.

ugly baby molds

And def get a few batches under your belt before moving to known heaters like milk soaps so you know how things really work, and so you will know when things are about to get really really interesting lol
 

spenny92

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Jstar I've read in several places about people swearing by their wooden molds because of their insulation ability n gel. I don't think it translated really until I made this first batch and saw for myself how the material that the mold is made from impacts the way the batch behaves. I haven't planned on using wooden molds because they are so bulky and heavy, but maybe I should consider a small one so I can experience the difference.

As to milk soap, that way down the road for me still. Any superheaters can wait until I've got a couple recipes nailed solid enough that I feel comfy tweaking it with risky additives LOL
I used honey in my second soap, and goat's milk from my 3rd batch onwards. Honestly, it's easy if you just freeze the milk into cubes before mixing your lye with it. No scorching or burning, and I haven't had any sort of lye volcano or mishaps yet. Touch wood. I had my first overheating soap yesterday, my 15th batch or something, and it had no milk, sugar, honey etc. But it was an FO that I hadn't tried before. So it can really happen at any time if it's going to happen! It just cracked down the middle a little bit, it wasn't as bad as it could have been and was easily smoothed over.

I use rigid silicone moulds and they seem to insulate heat quite well, too.
 

navigator9

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Jstar I've read in several places about people swearing by their wooden molds because of their insulation ability n gel. I don't think it translated really until I made this first batch and saw for myself how the material that the mold is made from impacts the way the batch behaves. I haven't planned on using wooden molds because they are so bulky and heavy, but maybe I should consider a small one so I can experience the difference.
Wooden mold with freezer paper liner is good for gelling. Wooden mold with silicone liner, you would think so, but actually not. Wood with silicone is better CPOPed to insure gel. I was surprised by this, when I got my first silicone mold, I expected the "plastic" would really encourage heat, but it's not the case. I still love silicone, but now I just CPOP everything.
 

shunt2011

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I use silicone lined wooden molds and have never had a problem getting my soap to gel. I just mold, cover with the lid and lay a towel over it. I'm thinking it totally depends on where the moon/sun is what the temperature and which way the mold is facing....:p I'm just glad it works for me. It may also depend on the recipe? It's funny how things work differently for every person. We each just find the process that works best for us.
 

galaxyMLP

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galaxy - all the pics I've seen the gelled looks more translucent vs the ungelled, that's why I asked. So over time, they both look the same?
Sorry, it will be less noticeable but it won't go away completely! I need to get more thorough in my responses... You are absolutely correct about the translucence. And I believe that the different fatty acid profile also contributes to how translucent the soap becomes with gel. I've just noticed personally that with batches that have partial gel after the cure it is less noticeable than when first cut! Ymmv there though...
 

gigisiguenza

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Ok so my collective take from all your feedback is that wood molds are good for insulating, and wrapping them will further encourage gel phase. To avoid gel, soap at cooler temp, use non wood molds, and keep batch cool so gel doesn't start at all.

You guys rock :)
 

Seawolfe

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Another tip I hear a lot of is to chill the mold and utensils well if you don't want a heating recipe to gel.

Of course using a recipe without sugars, beer, wine, milk, or lots of coconut oil helps too :)
 

Obsidian

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I personally prefer the look of non gelled soap and since most of my molds are small enough that they won't gel without assistance, it works out well for me. I did make a new 3.5 lb wooden mold and it will gel or at least partial gel unless I toss it in the fridge, because of this I like my 1-2 lb molds better.
 

gigisiguenza

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Seawolf- I hadn't thought of chilling the molds & utensils, that's a good idea, thanks :)
Obsidian - I was going to take the time and build myself some inexpensive wooden molds, but I'm leary of the partial gel happening. I assume it won't hurt the finished product to put the whole thing in the fridge since so.many people seem to do this, but how long do you leave it in there for?
 
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