Posted on 11th Sep 2015
Recently I came across the perfect example of handmade soap gelling or going through the "gel" phase. When making soap it generally will want to gel. Gelling’ and ‘gel phasing’ in cold process soap references the part of the soap making process where the soap gets warm and gelatinous - up to about 200 degrees I'm pretty sure. Different factors can affect this from ambient heat, batch size, how hot you pour and ingredients such as honey and certain fragrances and/or essential oils such as spice scents. Most batches of freshly poured soap will tend to want to gel unless you are making small 1 or 2 lb batches then you need to help it along with adding heat. In my case batch sizes are at a minimum of 25 lbs so that is not an issue. I have more difficulty controlling gel when I don't want the soap to move into the gel phase. In that case I soap cool, remove all insulation and watch carefully for the early signs the soap is gelling. Sometimes I can control it and sometimes it is best just to accept it. A gelled soap has a more vibrant color than a non-gelled soap and is a bit harder initially than a non-gelled soap bar because of water evaporation but that is about it. No difference in the quality of the final bar of handmade soap whether you gel or not.
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