Soap dough and late superfat/colour/FO addition

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ResolvableOwl

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Oof. Just made 14 mini soaps (about 20 g each). @Mobjack Bay Your pre-mix trick saved me about an hour of tedious work, and the skin of my hands the kneading of 8 lye-heavy soap loafs.
No way around for the 6 ones with individual oils, though. BAD idea. My hands feel like frozen, sandblasted and covered with superglue at the same time, although I have put lotion, pure babaçu oil and stuff multiple times already.
It's bed time now, but tomorrow I'll share pics!
 

Johnez

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With a different reading of your comment, you're raising another point that I didn't find an answer to yet: Is soap dough itself of any use if it undergoes gel during its initial preparation? All sources I found either avoided gel or didn't really care/mention. HP soap dough, anyone? I can't really predict if gel phase does something to the consistency that makes gelled soap dough inferior to ungelled. Sounds like yet another thing to try out. 🤪
There is never a shortage of experiments. If only we could clone ourselves!
 

glendam

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Great idea! I was about to knead the dough and the oil together in a bowl with hands/gloves, but this appears to scale up a lot better. I will try both and report back.

@Johnez Ah, you mean something like a repeated scale-out parameter scan? Yes, that makes sense, although, if you want to make all soaps of one “iteration” at once, you don't need the dough step! Just make a basic soap batter, divide and melt the butters into the small portions, and treat them like normal CP/CPOP.
Food for thought to obtain training data sets for @Tara_H's ML project ;)


Uh, dunno. I won't bother to CPOP my dough soaps (we'll se if this will revenge with stearic spots). It's just that the possibility exists to avoid and/or force gel to taste, while in HP gelling is obviously unavoidable.
My point is, the soap dough detour appears the only way (as far as I overlook it) to get an ungelled soap with a well-defined superfat or heat-sensitive ingredients.

With a different reading of your comment, you're raising another point that I didn't find an answer to yet: Is soap dough itself of any use if it undergoes gel during its initial preparation? All sources I found either avoided gel or didn't really care/mention. HP soap dough, anyone? I can't really predict if gel phase does something to the consistency that makes gelled soap dough inferior to ungelled. Sounds like yet another thing to try out. 🤪
Bee from Sorcery soap always advices to avoid gel phase for soap dough, the reason is that gel phase creates an undesirable texture in the soap dough. I have seen it in some of mine, it gets lumps that are not ideal when a smooth finish is the goal, and it does not knead as well.
 

SoapWitch

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I am confused by the discussion of gelling or not gelling soap dough, or maybe I am misunderstanding the purpose.

Gel speeds up saponification, but why would that be desired or necessary with soap dough? Because you want to be able to handle it sooner? To get more vibrant colors? To make a potentially more translucent soap dough? Just curious.

All soap saponifies, whether gelled or not, even when kept in the refrigerator (in a plastic bag, of course, to keep the air from drying it out).
I am a bit confused too. I don't understand the desire to gel CP soap in the process of creating soap dough. Gelling soap will create a harder/stiffer bar. I've made soap dough, let's say, CP with the desire to use it as soap dough. I used a fragrance oil that gelled the soap. The FO was a gingerbread scent. I have found these types of FO's (replications of ginger, cinnamon, some bakery) will gel soap, causing the soap to heat. No matter how I tried to work with this soap intended for soap dough it wasn't going to happen. Too hard and crumbly, wrong consistency.

I discovered that is one were to make their recipe (depends entirely on the ingredients water/lye ratios) and then keep it from curing, a pliable substance, which we now call soap dough, can be rendered. To color it, mixing colorants after saponification is less ideal than mixing while being made/processed. However, mixing colors of soap dough works well. For example, mixing blue made dough with yellow made dough will produce green.

Ideal soap dough needs to rest. It just does. If one wants to force the situation you will have soap dough, however, to have ideal consistency, resting soap intended for soap dough is ideal. I've been asked so many times how I make this consistency, and this is part of the process. Leaving soap for approx 36 hours before use. Longer, a week to a month can produce amazing results as well. Making soap dough quickly, like I've seen some do, can make soap dough, however, as someone who has worked with it daily for years, the process I use is resting soap before use.

Does this help?
 

ResolvableOwl

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Yes, that's very helpful! As first-hand as it can get. I just hadn't found any information about gelling soap dough or not, but your explanations and experiences have clarified that case for me. I'm glad you shared your knowledge, so that the insight from negative experiments (like your gingerbread crumbs) doesn't have to be rediscovered (the hard way) by others.

I'll wait for tonight to share my findings, since it'll be very interesting to observe some colour shifts over time already – but I want to photograph under the same lighting conditions as yesterday (white balance 🤬).
 

SoapWitch

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Yes, that's very helpful! As first-hand as it can get. I just hadn't found any information about gelling soap dough or not, but your explanations and experiences have clarified that case for me. I'm glad you shared your knowledge, so that the insight from negative experiments (like your gingerbread crumbs) doesn't have to be rediscovered (the hard way) by others.

I'll wait for tonight to share my findings, since it'll be very interesting to observe some colour shifts over time already – but I want to photograph under the same lighting conditions as yesterday (white balance 🤬).
I've written a bit about it in my books (I've written a few books on soap dough). I might have a blog post about it... I'll take a look. I know I've covered this before... Just can't remember where. I'm glad it helped. I'll look for your results. :)
 

ResolvableOwl

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Judgment day (T+7d)

collage_interim-7d.jpg


Quick wrap-up of my procedure:
  1. Soap dough made from low-IV HO sunflower/hydrogenated canola/PO/PKO/castor/ROE. It had turned alarmingly solid after two days, but became well malleable when hand-warm. 7% excess lye.
  2. On make day, I split the dough into 8/14 and 6/14 each, and kneaded in just enough canola oil into the larger half to end up at 3% positive superfat (via @Mobjack Bay's trick of putting into a bag and kneading in bulk without skin contact). Letting that rest/saponify for a few hours. I'm aware that this is not a sufficient amount of time for the extra oil to eat up all the excell lye, but still it turned out to be a lot less irritant than the original dough.
  3. Each mini soap of this silicone mould holds 20 g soap. Unless otherwise noted, from the solid colourants (S), I added 0.5 g (4%ppo) to the canola pre-mix. For the bulky/oily additions (O), I used 1.4 g (11%ppo) each, kneaded into the original lye-heavy soap dough. The two exceptions are the piece in the very middle (control group: no addition, just canola), and the bottom-left indigotin, where I stopped kneading after barely touching the blue powder with the dough clump – I just loved the marble effect so much, and 0.5 g would have been a lot too much colour anyway.
  4. You can tell from the section photos that I wasn't quite comfortable with kneading (particularly) the bulk oils barely enough to get the majority of them incorporated. The whitish specks are unworked pieces of dough. It indeed didn't end well with the skin on my palms, but it would have been even worse if I would have ignored my pain and kneaded them even more thoroughly.
  5. One day after forming, I cut each into half, and popped them into the oven for an emergency CPOP/late forced gel.
  6. One week of drying later, things have settled a bit, and the soaps have entered their boring cure phase. Time to wrap up! I've put the ungelled and force-gelled pieces side by side, to judge the difference the emergency CPOP made.


(O) Pumpkin seed oil(O) Yerba mate infused babaçu(O) Yerba mate infused HL sunflower(S) Yerba mate powder (Brazil style)(S) Yerba mate powder (Argentina style)
(O) Sunflower purée 21%ppo(S) Cocoa powder(S) none (pure canola control)(O) Biodiesel(S) Butterfly pea powder
(S) Indigotin E132 (trace amount)(O) Canola lecithin(S) Caramel food colouring E150c(S) Manganese blue pigment artist grade, toxic heavy metals!


Obviously, ma priority was to explore natural shades of green, blue, and brown, even though I didn't categorise each of the outcomes in the right category from the beginning 😒.

I can go on chatting about most of these for hours, but I'll focus on a few, IMHO, most interesting observations. Feel free to ask me if you want to learn more about the many things I will leave out in the following!

  • Chlorogenic colouration. Chlorogenic acid is, among few other plants, contained in yerba mate and sunflower seeds. I caught the most dramatic effect with the latter, but the others were by no means less impressive (I just had dirty fingers and couldn't photograph them). Upon kneading the sunflower purée into the dough, it turned bright yellow. BRIGHT yellow, as if I had put considerable amounts of annatto in there. Within a minute or so, however, it turned darker and dirty, and lost much of its brilliance. Further tanning, it turned beige-brown, with something obviously going on by means of air contact (see the outer zone on the freshly cut surface). Gelling considerably deepened the colour to a dark maroon. Essentially the same happened to the powdered yerba mate samples. They first turned lime-grass green, but became darker and darker within minutes. Expectedly, the Brazilian variety (unaged, light green powder) kept its greenish hue a bit better than the aged (Argentina-style) powder that is more olive-coloured by itself. The yerba mate infused oils, however, behaved vastly different. Chlorogenic acid is water/lye soluble but insoluble in oils, so when infusing oils, yerba mate is “just another” of many green plants, with chlorophyll extracted and all its downsides (fading, colour intensity).
  • I'm hugely impressed what happened to the cocoa powder. It really darkened too from the outside. Gelling made the tone darker, more uniform, and a bit glassy. But, unlike CP, the powder retained its brownish, chocolatey hue and didn't turn into a “cold” black.
  • Not sure yet what to think about butterfly pea. The blossom powder that dissolves into water to give a bright blue/greenish/purple (pH sensitive) solution. It didn't quickly fade like red cabbage etc. do. Initially an agreeable teal/turquoise hue, the brilliance is about to get lost right now. Definitely one of the most interesting to watch over weeks/months.
  • To address my initial point: Yes, soap dough is a way to add late superfat and lye-sensitive ingredients to CP soap, with full freedom over gelling or not. But, expectedly, the fine-print reveals limitations of this process. As evident as it sounds, not touching lye heavy soap is A Good Idea™. Thorough mixing of soap dough is a tedious task for 20 g sized sample soaps already, and I expect it to scale very badly (muscles needed, or better, an extruder and muscles). Even when not lye-heavy (a situation I strictly haven't tested here), soap is a harshly alkaline medium, with all its consequences for sensitive supplements.

Edit: the forum software had crazed out from my table formatting
 

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