To gel or not to gel?

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troyrim01

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Just curious of how everyone likes their soaps:
Do you prefer gelled soaps? Why?
Or do you prefer non-gelled soaps? Why?

I'm interested in the pros and cons of each, and how the use, feel and duration of the soap varies between them
I appreciate anyone who expresses their opinion. :mrgreen:
 

TeresaT

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I gel all of my soaps. On the rare occasion I don't gel, I end up with soft mushy soap that has to stay in the mold longer. I'm not a "stay in the mold longer" kind of gal. Also, gelling makes the colors "pop." I'm a firm believer in "the brighter the better" and "if you can't see me a block away" this isn't the right (insert color here) for me. I just can't get that kind of in your face color without gelling my soaps. So far, my best soap was my "mica madness." I used 1 tsp mica per 200 gm oils and CPOPd it. I think it came out amazing. It was my first time using those micas and that particular pour method. I was afraid I had used too much colorant, but it ended up being the perfect amount.

Mica Madness.jpg
 

troyrim01

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I gel all of my soaps. On the rare occasion I don't gel, I end up with soft mushy soap that has to stay in the mold longer. I'm not a "stay in the mold longer" kind of gal. Also, gelling makes the colors "pop." I'm a firm believer in "the brighter the better" and "if you can't see me a block away" this isn't the right (insert color here) for me. I just can't get that kind of in your face color without gelling my soaps. So far, my best soap was my "mica madness." I used 1 tsp mica per 200 gm oils and CPOPd it. I think it came out amazing. It was my first time using those micas and that particular pour method. I was afraid I had used too much colorant, but it ended up being the perfect amount.
Really nice soap! The colours do look good :thumbup:
Are your ungelled soaps only mushy when you use them?
 
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IrishLass

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Like TheresaT, I'm not a 'stay in the mold longer' kinda gal either. :lol: I've done it both ways in my 10+ years of making soap (gelled and non-gelled), and there's no doubt about it- I much prefer gelling my soaps.

Reason 1: Quicker un-molding (within 6 to 18 hours after pour)

Resson 2: My gelled soaps are sturdy enough to be cut, bevelled and stamped as soon as I unmold. In comparison, my un-gelled soaps remain the consistency of cream cheese for about 2 to 4 days after pour and cannot be handled well enough to unmold or cut gracefully until then, never mind trying to bevel or stamp them (I usually have to wait a few days beyond unmolding/cutting to be able to do that).

Reason 3: My colors come out much more brilliant. Like Threesa said- they 'pop'. In comparison, my un-gelled soaps remain pastel...for example, my favorite red colorant comes out pink in my un-gelled soap, but if my soap gels, it comes out a beautiful blood red.

Reason 4: My gelled soaps reach their 'earliest best' by 4 weeks of cure, as opposed to about 6 to 8 weeks of cure for my un-gelled soaps.

Reason 5: Within about the first 3 or 4 months or so of their lives, I've noticed that my gelled soaps perform better and hold up better in the shower as opposed to my un-gelled soaps, but the un-gelled soaps eventually play catch-up shortly thereafter.


IrishLass :)
 

shunt2011

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I gel allmy soaps. I too like being able to unmold quicker and that the colors do pop more. Besides, I've had zero luck stopping it except in individual molds and it's much softer and harder to ummold. I make too much soap and want it out of the mold and pretty too!
 

troyrim01

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Thanks for the replies, people :)
I've made two batches so far and have tried to avoid gelling, but only ended up with a partial gel. I'll gel my next batch and see how things go. From what you guys have said, gelling seems the way forward. I'll try both and though and see what works for me .....the hardest part is waiting to cure :problem:
Also, is gelling a problem for soaps colored with titanium dioxide? ....I don't want any glycerin rivers
 

IrishLass

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Also, is gelling a problem for soaps colored with titanium dioxide? ....I don't want any glycerin rivers

I use TD in about 98% of all my batches, and it's very rare that I get glycerin rivers. And as rare as they are for me, believe it or not, some of the times that I have gotten them occurred in batches that did not even contain any TD at all. Go figure!

I've found it's hard to put a finger on any singular thing that causes them. It's more than likely a combination of factors. There are a few well-thought out theories on the singular-cause theme that some have put forth, but leave it to my soap to be too spitefully stubborn to conform to them. :lol:

For what it's worth, I mostly soap with a 33% lye concentration, I soap between 110-120F (closer to 110F) and I gel all my soaps. The times I have gotten glycerin rivers seem to be when I've used an accelerating FO that caused my soap to rush into a very hot, very fast gel, usually within a couple of minutes after pour.


IrishLass :)
 

shunt2011

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^^^
I agree with what IL said. I too use TD in my soaping and soap at 33%. I get rivers when the soap gel too hot only. So thankfully it's rare.
 

TeresaT

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Really nice soap! The colours do look good :thumbup:
Are your ungelled soaps only mushy when you use them?
Thanks! No, they don't stay mushy. It's more like what IL said, they're a cream cheese consistency for a few days after unmolding. I've noticed the soaps that didn't gel are also the soaps that stuck to the corners of the mold that had to be scraped out. The ones I gel don't stick in the corners (if they do, it is very little). But they all cure just fine.
 

milky

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What causes gelling and what steps would you take to cause it?
 

shunt2011

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What causes gelling and what steps would you take to cause it?

It's the thermal reaction from the saponification process. To encourage gel I just cover my mold with a lid and then cover with a couple towels. Usually that will do it. Or you can heat your oven, my lowest is 170 and then put the mold on th oven and turn it off leave it in there until it cools off.

Also if you us higher water it will generally gel without much encouragement. Just a cover can do it.
 

Arimara

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I tend to get gel and that's how I choose to roll. The batch I had that didn't gel was super soft and crumbly and I just didn't like it when I tried it nigh 5 months later. To make sure I gel, I place my mold on a heating pad (I use individuals with no problems) and cover it with an empty container. That usually does the trick after a few hours and it saves me from having the oven on only to have to move my creation 5 minutes later because my curious little helper wants to bake.
 

Susie

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I use the cover and towel method of gelling, also. My recipes always want to gel (full water), so it is prettier and easier to go for a full gel rather than preventing it and having my mold occupied for longer. I also do not like scraping parts of bars out of the corners of the mold.
 

SuzieOz

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I so relate to most of the posts above - I prefer to gel - I usually soap at 30% lye concentration and cover and insulate with blankets. My house has been rather cold lately and I suspect it has caused my soap to not gel properly and the resulting soap is soft, chalky, tends to break easily and the colours aren't as nice. The soap that gels seems more flexible and has a texture something like a wax crayon, wheras the soap that doesn't gel is more like chalk. Does this make sense?

Personally I like the waxy, colourful, flexible kind of soap that unmoulds quickly, preferably without leaving bits in the corners of the mould.
 

troyrim01

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Hi again, Teresa :)

I'm having a bit of trouble with getting the right colour for my soap. Then I thought of that really nice-looking soap that you made and posted, and how the colours really stood out.
I'm just wondering, what do you use? Oxide pigments? Micas? ...Do you mix any colorants to get a different colour or lighter/darker shade? ....How much colorant do you mix with oil/water? ...And how much colorant do you add to your soap batter?

I appreciate any help :-D
 

TeresaT

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Hi again, Teresa :)

I'm having a bit of trouble with getting the right colour for my soap. Then I thought of that really nice-looking soap that you made and posted, and how the colours really stood out.
I'm just wondering, what do you use? Oxide pigments? Micas? ...Do you mix any colorants to get a different colour or lighter/darker shade? ....How much colorant do you mix with oil/water? ...And how much colorant do you add to your soap batter?

I appreciate any help :-D
I'm still experimenting with color, so I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination. That particular soap was made with micas by Nurture Soap. I'm cutting and pasting my (unedited) notes from Evernote below along with the SoapCalc screen shot. I can't figure out how to insert a link to the Evernote page.

ETA: I just looked at my notes and noticed they didn't have this info in there: I pulled two tablespoons of oil from each of the "mini batches" and added the colorant to that. I allowed the colorant to sit in the oil for about 5 minutes before I did anything with it. I blended the colorant and oil with a badger mini blender until it was completely smooth. I have found that by allowing the colorant to sit in the oil for a few minutes, it helps it to dissolve (or disperse) much better than if I start mixing it immediately. I blended each mini batch to emulsion then added the appropriate colorant and SBd to fully incorporate the color. I hand stirred the FO in then poured into mold and let it set up. Then I did the next mini batch. You don't need to do the mini batches unless you're doing a layered soap like this. Trying to do this with a single batch of soap would not have worked for me. The colors would have mixed together and my last color would have been too thick to pour.


Mica Madness (Carmen Iclodean inspired soap)


I was going to do this in 100 gm batches then I realized I can master batch the oils and the lye solution with all of the additives. Weigh each of the master batched solutions, divide total weights by 10 and make 10 small batches with the "master batched" oils and lye solutions. That will be much easier than trying to individually weigh out the NaOH, additives and water.


I used 200 gms oils and 1 tsp mica in each batch of oils (probably too much mica). 93 gms solution (NaOH, H2O, SC, SL & sugar) into each batch of oil and 7 gms FO into each batch.


Hollywood Pink first on an angle. Turquoise second on the opposite angle. Sunshine Yellow third flat. Wisteria Purple fourth on an angle above pink. Lime Appeal fifth on the opposite angle above the turquoise.


Additives:


3.5% Pretty Kitty FO from Nature's Garden = 35 gm
2.6% sodium citrate = 26 gm
3% sodium lactate = 30 gm
2% sugar = 20 gm


I am NOT using ACV in this batch. I'm out of it. There's actually no vinegar at all in the house. Gotta get some.


05/04/2016. I cut it. Oh my gosh! It turned out amazing!!

Image.jpg
 
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troyrim01

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Wow! You've really gone above and beyond to help me. Thank you so much :-D

Also, I haven't used micas yet. I'm currently using iron oxide pigments. Do you think that the same colour vibrancy can be achieved from using iron oxide pigments? (depending on how much is added?) ...or is only micas good for getting a very good colour? ...And can you darken micas with black iron oxide? (say for example, I like the red that's in your soap but I want a darker black cherry kinda red)
 
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TeresaT

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I have oxides and I don't like them. I haven't had much success with them. To me, they produce dull colors and I like bright colors. Same thing with natural colorants. Although, I did get a pretty green mixing spirulina with nettle; it was a subtle color. However, it wasn't my personal preference, although a friend requested a repeat. The only thing I can suggest is to make small (1 pound or 500 gm) batches and test them out. That's what I've been doing. Actually, I usually make 1000 gm batches, but that's just me. No matter how ugly or messed up the soap is, as long as it has saponified and does not zap, it's a good soap. It will get me clean. I won't rebatch over the way something looks, only because it failed somehow.
 
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penelopejane

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I've used Spirulina and 4 weeks after unmolding it was fawn colour. Very disappointing. The lack of colour didn't stop it making me very very itchy all over! DH who has much more sensitive skin had no problems with it so not everyone will.

I'll post a photo later of ultramarine blue powder which you can mix with Activated charcoal or whatever you want. Teresa's right it isn't a bright colour so it depends on what you want. There are different grades of micas from lip safe to cosmetic grade. Don't buy from anywhere as they may not be skin safe is: they are sometimes used by clay potters.

Getting the right colour also depends on your base. A high EVOO being yellow right at trace affects colours. Over time this base will lighten or you can add TD to the base. So when you see other peoples colours the base does matter.
 
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