Apr
26

Gel Phase

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inhibited gel phase soap In an earlier blog post, we briefly discussed insulation of cold process soap. Through insulating your soap, you are encouraging the best environment for the gel phase to occur during saponification. Keeping the soap evenly heated using insulation will prevent a partial gel from occurring. But, still there are no guarantees. Even with the best insulation, you may still end up with bars of soap that have partial gel evident.

So, what if you prevented the gel phase in your soap?

Although this is possible, it is still not guaranteed. It can be very tough to prevent the gel phase. But, there are some factors that need to be noted to help you in your quest to stop the gel phase. These factors are: the size of your mold, and the various ingredients in your recipe. The saponification process involves heat; it is the nature of the soaping beast. Choosing to eliminate the gel phase will change some elements to your soap and soaping process.

But, before we get to that information, let’s look at some specific reasons to prohibit the gel phase.

First, since you are decreasing the amount of heat that is in your soap, this will allow you to introduce certain soaping ingredients that normally would be finicky. Examples of these heat sensitive ingredients would be: dairy products, heat sensitive colorants; prone to morphing, and fragrances or essential oils with a low flashpoint.

Dairy Products
Soaping with ingredients such as creams, milks, and butters for example will provide your finished bars with rich, extra moisturizing elements. However, soaping with dairy products can be tricky. With the heat that is involved with the saponification process, there is a chance that dairy products will burn. This results in both discoloration and an off smell in your soap. By preventing the gel phase from occurring, you allow these ingredients a fighting chance in soap. And, you can even produce a creamier bar of finished soap.

Colorants
Whether you are deciding to go the natural route with herbs, or using colorants that you worry may morph; preventing gel phase allows the window of opportunity to stay open. Certain herbs discolor or darker from the saponification process. The same is true for some colorants that completely alter like deep purple to brown.

Now, for the colorants in the finished soap when the gel phase is eliminated: the bar colors are bolder and more vivid. Even if you choose not to color your soap batter, the elimination of the gel phase stops the darkening of the fats and oils in your recipe, allowing for a “whiter” finished bar.

Scenting Options
If you do not want to rebatch your soap recipe, preventing the gel phase in your cold process soap may allow you to scent your soap with low flashpoint oils without worrying that the saponification process will eliminate the scent. It is also possible for fragrance or essential oil scents to come through stronger in the soap because of the reduction of heat.

As for what preventing the gel phase means for your soaps, there are key points you should know. First, you must keep your molded soap chilled for the full 24 hours. Depending on your recipe, you may have to keep the soap chilled for an additional 24 hours as well.

Now, when you are ready to unmold your soap, it is crucial to let your molded soap reach room temperature before trying to slice it. Not allowing your soap to be at room temperature before cutting may result with your bars being brittle, and breaking apart as you slice them.

As for the saponification process, since you inhibit the gel phase, it will take your soaps longer to complete the saponification process. What this means is that the soap will need additional cure time before it will be ready to use.

So, whether you choose to insulate or prevent the gel phase, it is really up to personal discretion. Regardless of the method, the result is the same; a finished bar of soap. The only variables that change are the molding environment and the cure time.

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