The Science Behind Clean Mud

Have you ever heard of clean mud? No, I’m not talking about the stuff you find in your garden either. I’m talking about the totally awesome sensory material that is fantastic to explore and create.

The Science of Clean Mud

Welcome back for another month of  12 Months of Sensory Dough Recipes where several bloggers get together to share the exciting sensory dough recipes and a variety of twists and turns.  It is our hope that you will have a one-stop resource for all things Sensory dough! This month we are featuring a huge list of clean mud recipes.

Materials for Clean Mud Experiments

What when you put soap in the microwave

4 bars of Soap (any kind, however you need to have Ivory for this experiment)

Knife (adult supervision)
Microwave Safe Dish

What is Clean Mud?

Clean Mud

Clean mud is an amazing sensory dough that is made by mixing Ivory Soap and toilet paper together. You can learn more by checking out any of the awesome clean mud recipes at the bottom of this post. It is a fluffy, soft and squishy dough that acts similar to mud but is made from soap. (Hence, the “clean” title)

What is the Science Behind “Clean Mud”

How to make soap explode

To determine the reason Clean Mud gets so fluffy, the boys wanted to test various soaps. We did an entire day of observations and tests on the soaps. You can read about our soap experiments here. Our final experiment was to test what happens when you put he soap in the microwave.

Using equal sized pieces of soap on a plate, we labeled our soaps, made predictions and then placed the soap in the microwave for 1 minute.

The boys predicted that the soap would melt like a liquid onto the plate BEFORE they did the other science experiments. However, after they completed those experiments, they changed their predictions and thought that the Ivory soap might get bigger. My oldest son said that he was pretty sure the air was going to try to escape as it warmed up.

What happens to Soap in the Microwave

The results were pretty cool!

Comparing soap in the microwave

As you can see, the Ivory expanded while the other soaps remained almost unchanged. The Dove soap did not change at all, while the Dial and Zest both softened and even expanded on a very small scale.

What Soap Expands in the Microwave

The Ivory soap had turned into a papery, soft pillow. Now the boys were completely excited and decided they wanted to see what would happen if they put an entire bar of Ivory soap in the microwave.

Why Does the Soap Expand?

I can explain the reason for the expansion, however Steve Spangler describes the change best over on his site with a great video to go along with it. Basically, the reason is due to the amount of air trapped in the Ivory in the process of manufacturing the soap. For a more detailed explanation, I highly suggest popping over to Steve Spangler Science for a great demonstration and science explanation.

Now what? What do we do with this puffed up soap?

12 Months of Sensory Dough Recipes

Would you call this recipe and activity a success or a fail? Would you try this recipe or have you tried another? We want to see! You can share pictures to Facebook, Instagram,TwitterorGoogle+. Tag your pictures with #ilovesensorydough.

Be sure to check out each blogger, as we will each provide a different take on the dough, some of us with have the BEST recipe ever, while others (probably me) will show you our attempts (both failed and successful).

12 Months Sensory Dough


Totally Awesome Clean Mud Recipes You Don’t Want to Miss


The Science Behind Clean Mud | Lemon Lime Adventures
Clean Mud Garden Sensory Bin | Study at Home Mama
How to Make Clean Mud Recipe (Taste Safe) | Powerful Mothering
Music Inspired Clean Mud | Witty Hoots
Clean Mud and Flowers| Peakle Pie

Clean Mud Bubble Dough | Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Clean Mud Sensory Tray | Creative World of Varya
Lego Clean Mud | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Gone Mudding! Clean Mud Sensory Dough Play | Stir the Wonder
Clean Mud  | In The Playroom

Clean Mud Fine Motor Gem Dig | Still Playing School
Clean mud, clean paper? | Glittering Muffins
Rainbow Clean Mud | The Pleasantest Thing
Soapless Clean Mud | Squiggles and Bubbles
How to make Edible Mud for Play | Wildflower Ramblings
Shower Gel Clean Mud | Sugar Aunts
Clean Mud Princess Garden | It’s A Long Story

Did you miss last month’s sensory dough?

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Discover how to get siblings to get along even when all they do is annoy each other with the Sibling “Get Along” Poster Pack!

7 thoughts on “The Science Behind Clean Mud”

  1. What an awesome way to experiment! I bet it smelled amazing!

  2. Pingback: Rainbow Clean Mud - The Pleasantest Thing

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  4. Pingback: How to Make Clean Mud Recipe (Taste Safe)

  5. Pingback: Galaxy Salt Dough - Lemon Lime Adventures

  6. Pingback: 14 Fun Activities for Dirt-Loving Boys - and Girls!

  7. Pingback: 30+ Totally Awesome Recycled Crafts from the Bathroom - Lemon Lime Adventures

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