Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are you gellin'?

I am always seeing soapers online sharing the creative ways they insulate their soaps. I have definitely tried a lot of different ways to ensure a gel phase for my own soaps, because I just love the look and feel of gelled soaps, and it makes working with silicone molds and avoiding ash a lot easier in my opinion. 

When I first started soaping, I insulated with just plain ol' plastic wrap and a towel. After I started playing around with different heights and decorations for the tops of my soaps, I started putting my molds into cardboard boxes and then covering with plastic wrap and a towel, but I found this didn't hold heat well. So then I flipped the box over the soap mold sitting on a towel and covered with another. Then I bought a heating pad, and I've definitely had the best results using that. The pad is small though, and only two of my silicone loafs will fit on top of it at a time. I tend to go all out on soaping days with at least two loaves, sometimes three, or extra soap poured off into smaller multi-cavities I want to use for embeds, so the heating pad didn't always cover everything.

Now that I am living in a house with other people, I am trying to be a bit more courteous and tidy on my soaping days, and started looking for a way to keep my soaps warm, out of the way, and safe from dust, dog hair and nosy passersby. 

Lucky for me, I have a pretty impressive collection of plastic storage boxes now from my recent move. Some of those were just the perfect size for my silicone loaf molds to fit inside and still have plenty of room to cover with the plastic lid. So far I've gotten a quick and full gel every time I've used these boxes, and.....they are stackable! That is, if you trust your tower of "sleeping" soaps not to be bumped into wherever you're storing them at the time!

I have gotten a little bit of condensation on the inside walls of the boxes, but so far nothing on the lid or the soap. I keep a folded washcloth under the mold, to help with insulation and the slightly uneven box bottom.

I used the heating pad on a low setting for this batch because it was quite
cool in the house that day. As it turned out though, I don't think I really needed
it all, as my other batches gelled just fine in their boxes stacked on top of this one,
long after the heating pad had automatically shut itself off.

I got these boxes as a four-pack at Wal-Mart for only five bucks, so definitely not a budget-breaker. I am putting my soaps to bed on a side table in the almost completely unused den right off the kitchen. I get some really good natural lighting in there for taking photos, and an old folding table for crafting. No one even notices the space my hobby is taking up! The tv is broken in that room, so apparently that has rendered it unfunctional. Fine by me! 

I've heard of netted food covers, pizza warming bags, ovens and even sunshiney drive-ways being used to ensure gel phases in soaps. How do you guys do it? I'd love to hear about all of your clever insulating innovations!


  1. Is that a piped top on the that soap?! It looks lovely! Those are great ideas and tips...thanks Laura! Unfortunately my favorite mold will warp if I gel, so I haven't been able to gel for a while. Having said that though, I do prefer my soaps to gel and once I find a sturdier mold I will be making use of your good ideas!

  2. Yes, that's my very first piped soap Cee! It was fun! :) I use those silicone loaf molds from BB pretty much exclusively, but my honey did build me a couple of 2lb wooden molds a while back for fairly cheap that always gel on their own. Less than $20 if I remember correctly. Is your favorite mold you mentioned the clear plastic loaf mold?

    1. Yes it is that one, and my first one warped on me :( but I've had good luck so far with the new one, as long as I don't gel...but that's not ideal either.

  3. That is a super great idea, Laura! I love that you have found a creative way to gel your soap. I love the sneak-peek of that soap, what kind is it?

  4. Laura, that is a great idea!!! I usually just CPOP mine since I have several different sizes and shapes of molds in the oven at the same time. :)

  5. Anne-Marie: That soap is Carrot Cupcake with a piped top. It almost looks like basketweave at a glance hehe.

    Linda: I wish I could make CPOP work for me! It just always turns out a funny texture on the exposed surfaces, from stick blending I assume. :(

  6. Putting the mold in the plastic box is a great idea, Laura! And it's good that they're stackable, too, so you can economize space. I like to gel my soaps, too, although I may experiment more with not gelling for milk soaps. The one time I tried to avoid gel phase, I ended up with a very impressive partial gel. (I prefer to think of it as "power circles.") I love my wooden mold and acrylic mold and just wrap them in a towel to insulate. I wondered if I needed to insulate my round column mold - I ended up standing it up in a plastic box like yours and draping a towel over the top and tucking it in at the sides. :)

  7. I love those boxes! I bought some to store some of my fragrance oils and other soaping tools. The pencil boxes from Walmart are also great for smaller items.