What is the best way to avoid partial gel?

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luebella

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My latest batch has partial gel, and does not look pretty lol. What is the best way for it to gel all the way? I read wrapping in towels, or putting it in the oven. I also read you can use a heating pad. What would you recommend?

This batch was in my garage in a cardboard box with one thin towel wrapped around it.
 

commoncenz

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What kind of mold do you use? It's generally harder to insulate silicone well. It's also harder to get batter in a slab mold to gel because the batter is spread out more allowing heat to dissipate at a faster rate.

Those considerations aside, I generally use either the oven (CPOP) or a heating pad to get my soaps to gel when I want to encourage gelling. Both work well; though the CPOPing usually gets the batter to gel quicker. I also cover my mold with a thick throw blanket rather than a towel at this time of year since it's getting cooler in Ohio.
 

luebella

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Great idea thank you :) I use a silicone loaf mold. How long do you leave the heating pad on for?
 

commoncenz

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My heating pad shuts off after an hour. So, I check after an hour to see if it is gelling yet. If not, I turn the heating pad back on and check every half an hour to see where we are at. Usually, I'm gelling before 2 hours even when soaping at room temperature. I use a wooden mold though, so there might be some variation in time for you.

Edit: Make sure you cover the top of your mold with a piece of cardboard or something cut to fit. Otherwise you may end up messing up any design put on the top of your soap if the blanket sags ... don't ask me how I found this out. ;-) Also, some folks on here put there mold in a box with the blanket/towel covering/surrounding the mold to provide greater insulation.
 
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snappyllama

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If you want to gel, you can try CPOPing it to ensure it gels fully. It's pretty much the only way I can get a full gel (especially in the winter). If you don't want to gel, try putting the mold in your refrigerator overnight.
 

cmzaha

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I HATE CPOP with a huge passion. If you really want to gel you can put a heating pad on low under your mold and keep an eye on it. When it is gelled from edge to edge cut the heat. I would actually put the silicone on a thin wood cutting board and the heat pad underneath the wood. Not sure how a silicone mold will work on a heat pat, I use hdpe molds and do not gel often. You will still want to cover the mold with the heat pad method.
 

Soaper12

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I use a wooden mold when I want my soap to gel. I put the soap in a big insulated beverage cooler. Then I put a lid over the soap made from cardboard, Styrofoam or wood. I wrap a heavy blanket over my covered soap mold and put the lid on the cooler. Then I let it do it's thing and try to avoid taking a peek. That is the hardest part because it takes a lot of self control not to look at it every hour. Just remember, every time you take a peek, you are cooling off your soap and slowing down the gel process.
 

luebella

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Would it be easier to not gel then? I just assumed most wanted it to gel from what I've been reading
 

snappyllama

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It's a matter of preference. I normally let my soap do what it wants to... normally that's ungelled.

Gelled: more transparent, initially harder, texture is slicker, deeper colors, may hold up better to abusive family members that leave the precious soap getting pelted by water in the shower.

Ungelled: more opaque, initially softer (though cures to the same level of hardness), more pastel colors, less chance of overheating.

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHD7aC4t75w[/ame]
 

lsg

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I have had good experiences with cpop. I turn the oven to 160-170*F and put my soap in. Leave the oven on for 1 hour and turn it off. Leave the soap in the closed oven for at least 12 hours. For soap with high sugar content or for beer soap, use a 120*F setting to prevent overheating.
 

Dharlee

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I have had good experiences with cpop. I turn the oven to 160-170*F and put my soap in. Leave the oven on for 1 hour and turn it off. Leave the soap in the closed oven for at least 12 hours. For soap with high sugar content or for beer soap, use a 120*F setting to prevent overheating.
Can you do this using silicone molds?
 

lsg

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Yes, as long as they are safe for that temp.
 

luteplayers

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I have just one batch of CP soap under my belt. I didn't do enough reading before hand and was surprised by the gel phase. I used a silicone loaf mold, and had built a plywood box to put it in to keep the sides from bowing. I initially covered the top of the soap with saran wrap and covered it with a dish towel folded in half. When I peeked and saw the center gelling, I did some quick reading and wrapped it in towels and quilts.

I got to thinking, I have some 2" rigid foam insulation left over from insulating a basement window. Could I make a box and cover out of the 2" foam and not have to use towels / blankets all?
 

Susie

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Yes, that would work fine. Just anything to hold the heat in. I have one mold that a small cooler fits over perfectly. I set the mold on the lid, and turn the cooler upside down over. The closer the insulation is, the better it works, so give yourself just enough space to have a tall top.
 

DeeAnna

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Your idea is good -- some people put their molds into an insulated cooler, which is about the same thing. A suggestion -- don't permanently attach the insulation to the mold. Gel is fine, but overheating is not. If the soap starts to show slight (or large) cracks or unusual puffiness in the center of the mold, it's overheating, and you want to be able to cool it down a wee bit. If I start to see those symptoms, I remove any coverings, put the wood mold on a cookie cooling rack to get some air underneath, and set a fan on it for 30-60 minutes. Once the soap settles down, then the mold can be covered back up if you like.
 

penelopejane

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I've had success with getting full gel by heating the oven to 100 degrees F turning it off, then putting the soap in wrapped in a piece of an old woollen blanket, and leaving it overnight.

To avoid gel, if I have a recipe with milk in it, I put it in the fridge overnight.
 

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