The silicone seems to work okay for hobbyists
and small batch production. We have not found that to be the
case ourselves, but we do see people using this liner method.
Silicone tears, degrades over time and, of course, is expensive.
For a large block pour with a Manual Soap
Cutter™ Mold, it is just too easy to line a soap mold,
versus having to handle and wrangle around a 40 lb block of soap
to remove the liner.
We have tried about everything out there. We were building
professional soap cutters long before anyone else. If silicone
was a viable solution for Large Batch SoapMaking, guaranteed we
would have been the first to have perfected it. If you could
take a poll of all the SoapMakers out there, you would find that
90% of the companies making large batches and pouring 500 lbs or
more of soap per week are using paper liners.
Both of our Pro-Cutters are
designed to load easily, either by sliding the block onto a
Manual Soap Cutter™ Loaf Table or by setting onto the Air Soap
Cutter™ Rolling Table, to cut right from the mold bottom itself.
Silicone is too fragile to allow a 40 lb block of soap to be
pushed around, while it is sitting on top of it (Manual
Soap Cutter™). Having silicone rubber on the bottom of
either types of Molds (Air Soap Cutter™ or Manual Soap Cutter™)
would prevent the wires from passing through the block of soap
into the grooves.
The reason things like lining, stirring, heating oils, mixing
lye, etc. got put into the category of being a hassle by the
Handcrafted SoapMaker, is probably because no one got fed up
enough to step back and look at it another way and to find a
more efficient way to do it. We just happen to be the first to
do so. Take for example, weighing and heating oils; before we
started supplying Oil Heaters, people
were doing this one batch at a time. It would take hours just
heating oils to mix a few batches. Now, all the oils are mixed
and heated for a number of batches all at once. Not only are
they heated more efficiently, with less energy but in much less
time. The SoapMaker also saves time in measuring both, in and
out, of the Oil Heater.
With liners, you would do the same thing, pre-cut lots of
liners. It only takes two sizes, one for the bottom the other
for the perimeter. The height of the liner is already pre-cut.
With a template for the soap mold bottom and a simple mark on
the table for the length of the perimeter liner, you can make a
hundred sets in a few hours. It takes 30 seconds to line a soap
mold if you take the time to get the procedure down-pat. You get
excellent release both from the soap and from the mold. It makes
a very tight corner, adheres tightly to the soap mold, it is
wrinkle free, does not outgas, does not need to be washed and
does not matter if you get a little tear in it.
Here is a list of what we have seen over the years on liners
and soap mold materials, and our opinion of them. This is based
on using in professional soap molds, under constant use.
Types of Soap Mold Liners...
Mylar: Releases nicely but can stick a little. Do not
wrinkle it or it will remain there and is very difficult to
flatten. Hard to get to stick to the mold if too thick and soap
sometimes gets behind the plastic, ruining part of the batch..
Wires will not press down into it to allow a clean cut on the
Silicone: Releases very well and seems to stick to the
mold side well. Works well for small soap molds or soap molds
that allow you to remove the soap by flipping it over. Will
degrade over time and use, tears easily, expensive initially and
with replacement. It can shrink over time if not made correctly.
It can outgas depending on the type of silicone. Needs to be
cleaned between uses to remove carry over fragrance. Wires will
not press down into it to allow a clean cut on the bottom.
Thin Plastic sheets: Does not release any easier than
the plastic soap mold that it is already poured in. Don't see
the point as once the mold is taken apart you still have to peal
off the plastic and not bend it. Difficult to hold to the soap
mold sides and soap sometimes gets behind the plastic, ruining
part of the batch. Wires will not press down into it to allow a
clean cut on the bottom.
Shower curtains: We understand they release well, are
cheap and you can get nice floral patterns to look at while
lining. We have not tested these. Most shower curtains are made
in China, out of who knows what. Most are PVC, this outgases.
Not sure if the wire will press into it to allow a good clean
cut on the Loaf Table.
Teflon: Releases okay but is known to stick to some
types of soap. Do not wrinkle it or it will remain there and is
very difficult to flatten. Can tear easily if thin. Hard to get
to stick to the mold if too thick and soap sometimes gets behind
the plastic, ruining part of the batch.. Wires will not press
down into it to allow a clean cut on the bottom.
Shortening or oil only: Some types of soap release
well with just this. Sometimes just part of the soap mold can be
coated, the rest lined. Inexpensive, fast and reliable but make
sure you know it will release. You can in a pinch run a wide
thin blade like a drywall knife between the plastic and soap and
keep a good surface.
Freezer paper: Releases well, adheres to the soap mold
well. The only real difficulty with it is that it is thick and
does not make sharp corners without extra effort. It also
wrinkles badly, so it may be best to have a thin waste cut.
Silicone paint or painted on release agents: These
eventually break down and need to be recoated. Of course when
they break down, where do they go? Into the soap.
Types of Soap Molds...
Acrylic plastic: You see people popping up every
several years who make these and then they fade away. They
really don't release any easier than HDPE but they look pretty.
Eventually, under lots of use, they break down and start
cracking from the oils used in making soap, specifically the
essential and fragrance oils. It is a real disservice to the
unaware SoapMaker who has spent good money purchasing these. We
used to make them for ourselves and when we found out what would
happen under constant use, went to HDPE. The fragrance and
essential oils, eventually start degrading the plastic,
gradually working into it until it starts cracking.
Wood: Has to have some sort of liner. Breaks down over
time, warps, does not stand up to professional, repeated use and
will eventually have to be replaced.
Stainless Steel: Next to HDPE, this is the best but it
is expensive both in labor and material. It also has to be
insulated very well to maintain an even saponification.