There is absolutely nothing wrong with a partial gel in Cold Process Soap. By making cold process soap, heat is naturally generated as the lye reacts with the oils. As the soap mixture heats up, a process called gel phase takes place. During gel phase the saponification process speeds up, the oils begin to harden and the color usually becomes a bit more vibrant and darker. Many soapers want to achieve gel phase to bring out the vibrant colors they have chosen to use in their soap. Since the gel phase does change the appearance of your soap, it is important that the soap is heated evenly throughout the entire soap mixture. If the soap heats unevenly, you may end up with what is called a partial gel. There is nothing wrong with a partial gel, as it is strictly a cosmetic or aesthetic issue. The soap will still last and act as the same whether it goes through gel phase or not.
I like to have my soap go through a gel phase as I feel the colors are much more darker and vibrant when it does. I recently unmolded a charcoal soap and it went through a partial gel phase. Here are the photos of that.
Here is the whole log of soap from the top and you can see no real difference of where it gelled and where it did not.
Can you see the oval ring that is on the side of the loaf of soap?
And here is the end of the loaf. It is real obvious that there is a partial gel.
In the photos it is easy to see that the center of the soap did heat up and the outer edges did not get to as high a temperature and it it did not gel. Again no change in the quality of the soap but I do try to get the whole log to gel. A good way to get a complete gel is to insulate the mold (in a box of wood or cardboard) I than place towels over it and put it on a heating pad. That way hopefully the entire soap log stays at an even temperature. Would love to hear your thoughts on to gel or not to gel. Click here to leave a comment.
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