Classic Bells > Soapy stuff > Rescue oven processing

Rescue Oven Processing

Soap that does not get warm enough to gel (become a soft liquidy paste) during saponification can remain soft with a powdery or clay like texture. Soap can also go partially but not fully into gel. The center that gels is darker and the outer edges that do not gel remain light, which creates an odd "bullseye" pattern on the cut bars.

What's a frustrated soaper to do? Soap that did not gel at all will eventually firm up on its own, but the process can take weeks and that can be frustrating. And the bullseye ring of a partial gel is unappealing to many soap makers.

The main benefit of "Rescue Oven Processing" is to convert not-gelled soap into a firm translucent soap that looks like it has gelled normally during saponification.

A secondary benefit of "Rescue Oven Processing" is that it may help to soften the bullseye ring of a partial gel. I cannot guarantee the bullseye look will entirely disappear, but some soapers who have tried this method say the ring becomes less obvious.


Lower-temperature method that I use

Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature possible -- usually somewhere between 145-170 F (62-70 C).

Put the soap back in its mold. It makes no difference if the soap has been cut or not.

If the mold you used is not oven safe, not available, or not convenient to reuse, put the soap on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Do not put soap directly on a metal surface.

Put the soap into the preheated oven. Let the soap warm for 1 hour or so, and then check the texture and visual appearance. It should look slightly more translucent and should feel firmer.

If you do not think the soap is quite ready, let it warm another 1/2 hour or so. I have not seen any benefits to heating the soap more than 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

The soap will not get soft nor will it look like it is in gel. In my experience, cut bars or rough peaked tops will stay fine.

If you can spare the oven, turn it off at that point and leave the soap in the oven to cool down. Otherwise, take the soap out, cover with a towel and let it cool slowly.


Soapish's higher temperature method

Soapish uses a similar method to fix the bullseye ring on partially gelled soap, but her method may work even better than the one I describe above. I am going to try her technique the next time I have a batch of partially gelled soap.

Soapish preheats her oven to 275 F (135 C) and then puts the soapin the preheated oven. She carefully monitors the soap and removes it from the oven immediately after the ring disappears.

CAUTION -- Do not walk away from the oven when using this method. It does a better job of removing the bullseye ring, but the soap will melt if you let it heat too long at this higher temperature.

See her video about her method. It's short -- just under 5 minutes -- and well worth watching.