Rescue Oven Processing
Help! My soap did not gel, and I wanted it to gel.
Help! My soap only partially gelled, so the bars have ugly bullseye rings.
Help! My soap is staying too soft with a powdery or clay like texture.
What's a frustrated soaper to do? Soft soap like this will eventually firm up on its own, but the process can take days or even weeks and that can be frustrating.
If gently heated, however, this too-soft, not-gelled soap will become firm within an hour or two. The soap will also have the translucent look of soap that has gone through gel during saponification.
A secondary benefit of this "Rescue Oven Processing" method 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 say the ring becomes less obvious.
Here is the method 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 uses a similar method to fix 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.
See her video about her method. It's short -- just under 5 minutes -- and well worth watching.