Time: 1 hr
Yields: 800 g soap
There’s nothing special about soap dough, you can use any soap as soap dough. There is no secret ingredient or special technique. The trick is to NOT cure the soap, so that it stays soft. In other words, the soap doesn’t dry out and harden. However, not all soap recipes are the same, and a good soap dough is one that is soft, smooth, pliable, and not sticky. Sorcery soap has a book with 20 awesome soap dough recipes, including tallow recipes, vegan recipes, palm free recipes, and lots more. The recipe I’m giving you here is one that I use in my soap making classes, and I’ve tweaked it a little bit to make it even better. It is vegan, and palm-free like all my recipes here!
In addition, I’ll show you a handy method to make several colours at once, without the hassle of lots of washing up to do! I’m lazy and hate washing up 😉
For this batch, I’m using the new mica colours from Pure Nature.
If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof container or jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves, then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Set aside to cool.
TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter. Either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until the oil and butter have completely melted.
You’ll notice the recipe contains a high percentage of coconut oil and cocoa butter. This allows the soap to thicken to the right dough consistency, without having to cure it. I found that if I used too many liquid oils, the soap would be too soft to work with.
THREE: Weigh out the olive oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter. Add the titanium dioxide and give the oils a good stir to disperse the titanium dioxide through the oils. Then, let the oils cool down to room temperature. This part is important. The oils need to be lower than 30 C or else you risk the soap gelling, and you want to avoid that.
The reason for adding the titanium dioxide is to make the base colour whiter, which will make the other colours brighter and more intense.
FOUR: Now you have two options, you can either use cups or containers to mix your colours in, or what I like to do, is add the soap and the colours to zip lock bags and mix it in there. In either case, prepare your cups or your ziplock bags and have your mica colours ready (I’m adding them straight to the soap without mixing them with oil first). The recipe will make for 8 colours of about 100 g each, so you need 8 cups or 8 sandwich sized ziplock bags.
FIVE: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. Once the lye and the oils have cooled down to room temperature, carefully add the lye to the oils and then using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate) and thickened to thin trace.
SIX: Now add about 100 g of soap to each cup or ziplock bag. Don’t worry, the ziplock bags will stay put. It’s not as difficult to pour into them as it may seem. Also if you are planning on doubling the batch, make sure you use bigger ziplock bags. If you fill them too full, you risk them popping leaks when you squish them later.
SEVEN: Next add the colour to each cup or ziplock bag, and zip them up. I used 1/2 teaspoon of mica for each. It sounds a lot, but you’ll need that amount to make sure you have rich colours and not pastels. It isn’t enough colour to stain your wash cloth or hands, but could give the lather a slight tinge. However, soap dough is usually used to decorate other soaps, so the little bits of soap dough on your soap won’t have an impact on the overall soap.
Then using your hands, and sitting comfortably in front of your TV with your favourite sitcom, squish and squash the little bags to mix the colour into the soap. I did some yesterday, while waiting for my son at his trampolining course. And that did get me some curious looks and questions from the other parents! Btw great way to promote your business at the same time too!
If you are using cups, mix the colour thoroughly into the soap and then either use plastic wrap to cover each cup airtight, or pour it into a ziplock bag. (See now you have to use ziplock bags anyway!)
EIGHT: Leave the little bags or cups in a cool area overnight. Check the consistency the next day. It should be ready to use but will probably still be a little sticky. You can use cornflour to dust the dough to stop it sticking as you work with it, or you can leave it for about a week in your ziplock bag or an airtight container. By then the stickiness should be gone.
To work with your dough, remove as much as you need. Knead it to soften it up. Dust the tools and the surface you’re working on with cornflour to prevent the dough sticking to it. A trick I learned from a cake decorator is to add a little cornflour in a muslin bag or cloth and tie it up, and use that as a little dust stamp. To stick dough bits together, use a little water to wet the surface and that will make it stick again.
Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you might want to spritz it with water or lightly brush it with a wetted soft paint brush, to give it shine and get rid of the powdery look.
You can store the soap dough in your ziplock bags or an airtight container for several months or more. I’m still using some dough from last Christmas, which was more than eight months ago!
Once you added the soap dough decorations to your soap, the soap will start to harden and firm quickly.
- 240 g olive oil
- 200 g coconut oil
- 120 g cocoa butter
- 40 g castor oil
- 80 g caustic soda
- 180 g water
- 1/2 t titanium dioxide
- 8 different mica colours
- Add 180 g of water to a heat proof jug or container. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
- In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter have melted.
- Add the olive oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon titanium dioxide to the oils and give it a good stir. Set aside to cool down.
- In the meantime, prepare your ziplock bags. You will need 8 and make sure they’re all open.
- Once the lye and the oils have cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
- Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified to a thin trace.
- Pour approximately 100 g of soap into each bag.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of mica to each bag and zip the bag shut, removing as much of the air as possible.
- With your hands, gently squish and squash the bags until the colour is thoroughly mixed into the soap.
- Set the bags of soap in a cool area overnight to set. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to leave them for a week before using.
- Keep the dough stored in the ziplock bags or an airtight container to keep the soap soft and pliable. You can store the dough for at least several months.