How to make soap dough?!

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Shaylyn Valdez

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I have been searching it seems forever and I cannot figure out how to make soap dough! The information I found said to use your usual recipe, and I want to use my usual recipe but I don’t know what I am supposed to do different to turn it into soap dough. Also.. does it harden? I want to make stuff to put inside of my soap so when I cut it has a design but I’m not sure if it will harden or if it’s supposed to stay soft. Please give me some info on soap dough!
 

Tara_H

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I have been searching it seems forever and I cannot figure out how to make soap dough! The information I found said to use your usual recipe, and I want to use my usual recipe but I don’t know what I am supposed to do different to turn it into soap dough. Also.. does it harden? I want to make stuff to put inside of my soap so when I cut it has a design but I’m not sure if it will harden or if it’s supposed to stay soft. Please give me some info on soap dough!
The most important thing to do is just to keep it out of contact with the air. It will harden up a certain amount as it turns into soap, but as long as it's stored in an airtight container you should be able to use it as dough. Taking it out and mixing/kneading it thoroughly a few days after making it will help with getting a good consistency. After that, just use it like modelling clay, and when you are finished your design, leave it to cure normally and it will start to go hard and become more like a normal soap.

For example, for the moon in the last soap in this post: SMF May 2021 Challenge - One Pot Wonder
I made the moon from soap dough that was made over a month ago and stored in an airtight container. After putting it into this soap and pouring the other colours around it, I gelled the whole thing in the oven. It was a little soft when I cut it, but now it's completely solid and just the same as the rest of the bar, which was newly made the day of the pour.
 

Shaylyn Valdez

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Yeah I already read those and none of those answered my question. Those are specific recipes, I want to use my usual soap making recipe but use it as dough. I want to know what makes it soap dough, do I add more water to my recipe? What do I do differently with my recipe to make it dough??

The most important thing to do is just to keep it out of contact with the air. It will harden up a certain amount as it turns into soap, but as long as it's stored in an airtight container you should be able to use it as dough. Taking it out and mixing/kneading it thoroughly a few days after making it will help with getting a good consistency. After that, just use it like modelling clay, and when you are finished your design, leave it to cure normally and it will start to go hard and become more like a normal soap.

For example, for the moon in the last soap in this post: SMF May 2021 Challenge - One Pot Wonder
I made the moon from soap dough that was made over a month ago and stored in an airtight container. After putting it into this soap and pouring the other colours around it, I gelled the whole thing in the oven. It was a little soft when I cut it, but now it's completely solid and just the same as the rest of the bar, which was newly made the day of the pour.
So if I want to use my recipe I just do everything normally and pour it into an air tight container instead of an open mold? Do I need to wear gloves when I’m working with it? How long after I make it is it dough like? Or do I have to wait a while for it to get firm enough to use as dough?
 

TheGecko

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The only difference between a bar of soap and soap dough is that the bar of soap is allowed to cure and the dough isn't. That's it. All you do is make your usual recipe, pour it into a mold and allow it to saponify for 18 - 24 hours. Then you unmold it and put it in an air tight container or freezer zip lock bag (they are thicker) and put it away for a couple of days as it can take 48 to 72 hours for every tiny of bit of lye to fully saponify.

You don't need to wear gloves, but some people do as the dough can be sticky. Or you can make a small bag out of cotton fabric and put corn starch in it to dust your hands and work surface with. When working with soap dough, you only want to take out of the container/bag the amount you are going to be working with. As an example...say you want to make 20 balls. Take out enough to roll five and once done, get out enough to roll another five and so on and so forth.

Check out Lisa with "I Dream in Soap" on YouTube...she makes her own soap dough and has uses it to make all sorts of things. Some of the embeds you make with soap dough you'll want to let dry so they keep their shape if you are putting them IN the soap and some you can use right way if they are just going on top of the soap.

Just go to YouTube and type "soap dough" into the search and it will bring up tons of videos to watch.
 

Tara_H

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So if I want to use my recipe I just do everything normally and pour it into an air tight container instead of an open mold?
Yes, basically that's it. Some people do various complicated things, but personally I find that the plastic containers that Indian takeaway comes in are airtight enough for the purpose. If I'm planning on leaving it particularly long, I'll knead it up and re-wrap it in plastic wrap for storage.

Do I need to wear gloves when I’m working with it?
I generally wear nitrile gloves - if you're sure it's finished saponification it's safe enough to handle, but it can be drying on the hands if you're making something complicated. And just in case it's not finished, I prefer to get into the habit. Also, the texture can be quite sticky and annoying depending on the exact recipe you use, and tending to get under the fingernails etc...

How long after I make it is it dough like? Or do I have to wait a while for it to get firm enough to use as dough?
A couple of days is generally a good guess. It can be ready to use the next day in some cases (definitely make sure to wear gloves though!) but it depends on your recipe, room temperature, etc.
 

Shaylyn Valdez

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The only difference between a bar of soap and soap dough is that the bar of soap is allowed to cure and the dough isn't. That's it. All you do is make your usual recipe, pour it into a mold and allow it to saponify for 18 - 24 hours. Then you unmold it and put it in an air tight container or freezer zip lock bag (they are thicker) and put it away for a couple of days as it can take 48 to 72 hours for every tiny of bit of lye to fully saponify.

You don't need to wear gloves, but some people do as the dough can be sticky. Or you can make a small bag out of cotton fabric and put corn starch in it to dust your hands and work surface with. When working with soap dough, you only want to take out of the container/bag the amount you are going to be working with. As an example...say you want to make 20 balls. Take out enough to roll five and once done, get out enough to roll another five and so on and so forth.

Check out Lisa with "I Dream in Soap" on YouTube...she makes her own soap dough and has uses it to make all sorts of things. Some of the embeds you make with soap dough you'll want to let dry so they keep their shape if you are putting them IN the soap and some you can use right way if they are just going on top of the soap.

Just go to YouTube and type "soap dough" into the search and it will bring up tons of videos to watch.
Thank you! This helps so much!!
 

Shy1

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So after it's ready to go, how long is it good for or stay dough-like? Is it good for as long as it's in an air tight container or does it eventually harden?
 
A

amd

I've had soap dough stay moldable for 6 months if I have it wrapped properly. I did notice around the 6 month mark it starts to develop a waxy texture, especially if it hasn't been handled in... 6 months... ahem. Generally once I notice the waxy texture I use it up or roll it into "noodles" to add to my scrap bucket.
 
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Not all recipes lend themselves to work well as soap dough. However once you try yours following the above advice, you will be able to tell if yours works well or not. Even from the same recipe, I have had different colors behave better than others, as the titanium dioxide ingredient in them affects the consistency. Weather also affects it. I learned it had to do with the water content and me living in a humid area and her in a dry climate. My regular soap recipe for example, works well as soap dough depending on the water content I use. I still make it work regardless, but it is so much easier with a recipe designed to become soap dough. Have fun!
 

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