Tag Archives: why would you prevent the gel phase


Insulating Soap

This entry was posted in bath and body, bath and body fragrances, cold process soap, cold process soap scents, homemade soap, Natures Garden, soap ingredients, Soap making supplies, soap mold and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

insulating soap In an earlier blog post, we discussed how insulating soap to promote gel phase was a matter of personal choice. Whether you insulate or choose not to, your soap will still be soap.

When it comes to whether you choose to insulate or not, really there are only two factors that will change. The first is the amount of cure time. Due to the fact that the saponification process is slowed down by the prevention of gel phase, your soap may need extra cure time before use. On the other hand, promoting a full gel phase for your soap means an accelerated saponification process with a normal cure time. And, the second difference is an aesthetic one.

The finished look of your soap will differ slightly based upon whether you choose to prevent gel phase or encourage it. By preventing gel phase (sticking your molded soap in the fridge or freezer), your finished soap will have a matte look to it. By promoting gel phase, your finished soap will have a slight translucent, shiny look to it. Again, however, please remember regardless of which method you choose either method results with finished soap.

When making soap, it is important to remember that the gel phase occurs during the saponification process. While your soap is in the mold, the various soaping ingredients react with the lye mixture, and heat is used to help the acceleration of the whole saponification process. When choosing to promote gel phase during saponification, it can be accomplished through means of insulation.

Insulating your soap means wrapping the soap with various layers in an attempt to keep the heat within the soap. Because the saponification process is endothermic (meaning the process pulls heat from its surroundings), keeping the soap insulated is the best means to successfully promoting gel phase throughout your whole soap. It will also help to prevent a partial gel. If you remember, a partial gel is where the center of your soap achieves gel phase, but the outside areas do not. This typically occurs because the outside of the soap looses heat in a quicker fashion therefore inhibiting the ideal environment for a full gel phase to occur.

Through the means of insulation, you can provide your soap with its ideal environment (heat wise).  And, when it comes to insulation for your soap, there are many different items you can use.  These items would include: newspaper, cardboard, blankets, towels, etc.  Practically, you can use any layer type material that will keep the heat in the soap (but never aluminum foil).

Many soapers will use various items in combination such as: wrapping the soap with saran wrap (especially if the soap has a decorated top), then covering it with newspaper, surrounded by towels, and finally placed under a box. There really is no limit for insulation. And, many believe that over insulating can never be done. Remember the key to insulating, if you are choosing to promote the gel phase; is to keep as much heat in the soap as possible.

However, please note: If you are soaping a recipe that does contain sugar or dairy products, you may want to go a little on the lighter side of insulating due to the fact that these items in your recipe will increase heat during the saponification process. Extreme insulating in these examples may cause the ingredients to “burn”, possibly resulting in discoloration and an off smell in your finished soaps.  It can also cause your soap batter to begin to bubble out of your mold.  You do however have the choice of preventing the gel phase for these types of recipes, and sticking your molded soap in the fridge or freezer.


Gel Phase

This entry was posted in all natural, bath and body, bath products, cold process soap, cold process soap colorant, cold process soap scents, essential oil, fragrance and color, Fragrance Oils, homemade soap, Natures Garden, soap fragrances, soap ingredients, Soap making supplies, soap mold, soaping terms and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

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.

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.