Lumpy Soap Dough

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Green Mountain Farm

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I wasn’t sure what category to post this under (im new here!) so I hope this is ok.

I made soap dough a while back with great success! 70% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, and I think I had it at 2.5:1 water:lye.

I went to make a bigger batch to sell at a festival this weekend (4 pounds, 4 different colors). When I unmolded it, it was harder than the last time. And I’ve been kneading like crazy but there are hard bits. They are possible to squish but it takes some effort and there are a LOT. I did a 2:1 water:lye and did allow it to come to a medium trace before pouring. What can I do to get the lumps out? And how can I keep it from happening again?

Im planning on making another big batch today for the festival. Im going to make little soap dough kits. :)
 

ResolvableOwl

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Welcome to SMF, @Green Mountain Farm !

Your woes sounds like a gelling issue to me. Does the large batch happen to look more “glassy”/rubbery, darker, with deeper colour?
As the soap dough gurus told us, gelling is not ideal for soap dough. It gives the soap some tough and rubbery texture, which is not the pliable and plastic consistency that is best for soap dough.
Controlling if a soap is going through gel phase or not is an ever recurring topic. Heat is the key factor: the warmer the batter gets during saponification, the higher the gelling chances. Larger batches heat up more by themselves/keep the reaction heat longer, hence are more likely to gel. I suspect that's what happened to you.

Unfortunately that means that you cannot do much about that batch. Maybe waiting a week or two makes it more compliant, but that probably doesn't fit into your time frame :confused:. For future batches, avoid insulation during saponification (no lid, no oven/heating pad, no towel), try to use small individual moulds, or if possible put them in the fridge (or outside if it's cold enough). Do everything uncomfortable, and don't be afraid of braking the reaction (as long as you're certain about trace, and you've scraped off the walls of your mixing jar, it will reliably react.)

HTH
 

glendam

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Reducing the water can make the soap dough consistency harder. I would go back to the water amount used before with success.
Some colorants can affect it as well. You didn’t say how long ago you made it, sometimes waiting a few days more to use it seems to help.
 

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