Trying not to gel...

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Hi all -

I've asked this on other boards several times and I generally get the same answer and probably will again but I am desperate!

I do not want to gel my soaps but I can't stop it and have as of late given into it and let it gel. I use GM in several of my soaps and they are hard to color anyway just to have the gel process morph the colors.

I use log molds. I have tried the freezer method - still partial gel. The last batch I made I actually stuck the mold outside (it's very cold here) and brought it in right before pouring and then stuck it outside again and STILL got a partial gel.

So - I either need to find different colorants and stick to scents that won't morph or find a way to stop the gel process.

Would switching to slab molds make a difference? Any ideas would be soooooooo appreciated.

Yes! :) My molds hold heat well since they are wood, but my slab molds, any one's slab mold will have less chance of gelling due to the fact that the soap is less thick and spread out over a larger area. If you take my 12/24 bar divider mold, pour to a depth of 1 inch or so, stick it in the fridge with the lid off, no gel. The good thing about wood also is you can pre-cool my mold in the fridge before pouring then stick it back in. Anyway, due to the nature of design, a slab mold is a much better choice if you do not want gel.

A mold like this;

Paul.... :wink:
Why do you not want to gel? What are the differences in gelled and ungelled soaps? Are there any benefits of one over the other? I read a lot about how people love the look of ungelled soaps or that they never gel. So I am curious. TIA
To gel or not gel is really a matter of preference. Other than a change in cure time and the looks, there is really no difference in the performance of a soap that gelled compared to one that did not.

I use a log mold when making my milk soaps and can usually avoid gel all together. I made several batches this weekend and they did fine. I do it by soaping with my lye and oils at room temperature and placing my mold in the fridge or outside if it is cold enough. Sometimes my milks are frozen, sometimes not. When I use my slab mold is when I will have problems with a partial gel. See how different it can be for all of us? This is part of what I love about soaping. :)

I guess I'd say to keep trying until you find a method that helps you to avoid gel or just let the darn thing gel. Sometimes letting it gel is easier or maybe it won't gel just because you wanted it to. :wink: It can be very frustrating when you keep trying something and it won't work. But hang in there.
CPSoaper said:
Sometimes letting it gel is easier or maybe it won't gel just because you wanted it to. :wink: It can be very frustrating when you keep trying something and it won't work. But hang in there.

:D You mean that the soap won't do exactly what I want it to do when I want it to do it? Well then I just may as well have another kid then!! LOL :D

Thanks for the info, I haven't made my first batch yet, still waiting on everything to arrive, but I didn't know if it made a difference in the quality of the soap. Oh all the things to learn! I just love trying new things.
Yes! Total frustration!

It is strange how using the exact same methods can produce two different results when soaping. I too use the RT process and I freeze my Goats Milk. As I mentioned - I have used the fridge, freezer, outdoors etc and still no luck.

It's only my GM soaps that I prefer not to gel. The others I am perfectly happy to have them gel - but the color morph with GM is a pain.

I've been eyeballing your tog molds for a few months now Paul. I have considered using slabs just for a more uniform look. AND I hate cutting and lining.

The saponification process is exothermic. This means that the reaction itself creates heat. The acids and sugars in goats milk act as a catalyst to increase the rate of reaction, thus increasing the heat created. This reaction is going to happen; it is very difficult to stop it once it gets going - what you need is a way to dissipate the heat as it is created. An uninsulated slab-type mold will work. The molds that are found in local craft shops for melt and pour are actually perfect for this. You typically want an insulated mold for CP because you want to keep that heat in to keep the reaction going. Otherwise the reaction will slow or stop, causing a lye-heavy soap. In the case of GM soaps, you already have a built in catalyst so the reaction will most-likely continue on its own. A freezer or outside is a good idea, but you need a way to remove the heat. Try a fan. Turn it to high and have it blowing directly across your slab mold. Let us know if this works. I do HP, so I've never tried to actively remove heat, but theoretically the fan (maybe even a fan outside if you can stand it!) should work as long as your mold is not insulated.

The only caveat is that since you are removing the heat so quickly you may get an uneven reaction. Make sure you do a loooonnnngggg cure so you don't get pockets of lye-heaviness, especially on the outside edges since the cold and fan may even be enough to derail this soap!

(uh... and good luck with the no-gel thing too).

I have read completely different sides the the whole 'Gel phase' ... I've been trying to compare whether it's good or not...

I use a flat slab mold, generally holds 2 pounds, and I have a hard time TRYING to get it to throughly gel. I place it in a box and cover it with a blanket and even then it sometime won't gel all the way through...

Haha... to answer the original question...
I do however know if I use no insulation and just place it on the counter, I never have a stitch of gel. I do believe this is because, as mentioned above, the soap is more spread out and thinner.
Thanks for the replies guys!

If my soap were water based all of the time - I wouldn't care if it gelled as much. Some like a gelled soap because they like the texture better and say that the color is more vibrant. Others don't gel for the EXACT SAME REASONS. So - I think it's very subjective and each soapmaker has to make up their own mind.


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