Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Yields: 500 g soap
There’s something about waves in the ocean that fascinate me. You can have the most stormy weather and waves crashing about on the surface of the ocean, but go deeper and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the still and calm of the ocean, blissfully unaware of the tempest raging above. I wanted to recreate this in a soap, with the movement of the waves on the surface and just deep blue in the lower part of the soap. The technique I used is simple layering, with a bit of mica dusting between the layers. I created the wave movement with swirling, using my chopstick.
The micas I used for the blue layers in the soap are Blue Lustre and Iridescent Blue from Pure Nature. I also used a bronze mica for dusting between the layers, and a silver mica for mica swirling on the top of the soap.
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: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Measure the water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. Then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Sodium lactate is a naturally derived salt, which I use to make the soap harder. Set the lye aside to cool down in a safe place, while you prepare the other ingredients.
TWO: Take two small containers. To one container add 1/4 teaspoon of Blue Lustre mica, and to the other add 1/4 teaspoon of Iridescent Blue mica. Add 10 ml of a light weight oil, such as rice bran oil or sweet almond oil, to each container. Stir well to mix the mica and the oil.
THREE: Measure out 20 ml of fragrance, ready for when you need it. I’m using Ocean Breeze here – a lovely, fresh uni-sex fragrance with a bit of a floral, musky undertone.
Next, it’s time to get the oils ready.
FOUR: Weigh out olive oil and castor oil in a large pyrex jug or pot, and then check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature.
FIVE: Once your lye has cooled down sufficiently (feels cold to touch), you can carefully add it to your oils, avoiding splashes. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves and goggles! Give the mixture a few quick pulses with a stick blender until you reach thin trace.
SIX: Add your fragrance and give it another stir. The fragrance can cause the soap to accelerate (thicken), so work quickly from here on.
SEVEN: Divide the soap up evenly in three containers. There will be roughly 175 ml of soap in each container. The containers I’m using here are cheap ones I got from the Warehouse, and although the writing is slowly coming off from use, they’re very handy for doing colour work.
EIGHT: Take the two small containers with the mica/oil mixtures and give each of them another quick stir. Add each colour to one of the soap containers, and mix well, so that all the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the soap. The third container will be left uncoloured.
Next, we’ll be putting together the soap.
NINE: First pour the darker of the two blue soaps. That will be the one you coloured with the Iridescent Blue mica. Give it a few taps on the bench to even out the surface and to release any air bubbles within the soap.
Next, sprinkle some bronze mica over the layer and gently blow on it to spread it over the whole surface of the soap. Be careful, this can get very messy! Don’t worry if it doesn’t spread evenly and you have the odd spot with a bit more mica. This will just add to the effect!
TEN: Carefully pour or spoon the uncoloured soap over the mica covered layer. Try not to move it too much as not to mix the mica into your white soap. Leave a little white for later use. And again dust the white layer with bronze mica and blow on it to spread it over the whole surface.
ELEVEN: Add the last layer, the Blue Lustre mica coloured soap. And again, work carefully as not to disturb the mica layer and mix it into the soap.
TWELVE: Using your spatula, scrape out any remainder soap in your containers and add it to the surface of your soap.
THIRTEEN: If you haven’t already, mix one teaspoon of a silver coloured mica into 10 ml of lightweight oil, such as rice bran oil. Give it a good stir.
FOURTEEN: Drip the mica/oil slurry over your soap. It’s ok if you have puddles like I have, as you can see in the photo below. We’ll be mixing it partly into the soap.
FIFTEEN: Using your chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap. To create a semblance of waves, I lifted and pulled the soap out with my chopstick in a kind of vertical circular motion.
SIXTEEN: Leave to cure in the mold for a couple of days. Then carefully remove the soap from the mold and let it harden for another few days, before cutting it into bars. Let the bars cure for 6-8 weeks.
Ocean Waves Soap
- 375 g olive oil
- 25 g castor oil
- 50 g caustic soda
- 100 ml water
- 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
- Blue Lustre mica
- Iridescent Blue mica
- bronze coloured mica
- silver coloured mica
- Ocean Breeze fragrance
- rice bran oil or other light weight oil
- Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Add one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare your colours: add 5 ml rice bran oil to two small containers. To the first, add 1 teaspoon of Blue Lustre mica, and to the second, add 1 teaspoon Iridescent Blue mica. Mix each container well.
- Measure out your fragrance and set aside.
- Weigh out the oils in a large pyrex jug or pot.
- Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and using a whisk, stir briskly until you reach thin trace.
- Add the fragrance oil, and stir again using the whisk.
- Divide the soap evenly into three containers.
- To one of the containers add the Blue Lustre mica/oil mixture and to another container add the Iridescent Blue mica/oil mixture. Mix the two containers well to disperse the colour throughout the soap. Leave the third container uncoloured.
- Pour the darker of the blue (Iridescent Blue) soaps into the mold, and tap gently to release any air bubbles in the soap.
- Sprinkle some bronze mica over the layer of the soap and gently blow on it. Make sure the whole surface is covered with bronze coloured mica.
- Next, carefully spoon the uncoloured soap over the mica, trying not the mix the mica into the soap. Tap gently to even the soap.
- Again, sprinkle bronze mica over the layer and gently blow on it, covering the whole surface.
- Spoon the other blue soap over the layer. Again, try not to mix the mica into the soap.
- If you have any soap left in the other containers, scrape it out with a spatula and add it to the top of your soap.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of silver coloured mica in 1/2 teaspoon of rice bran oil and mix well. Drizzle over the surface of the soap.
- Using a chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap, making some wave impressions. Leave the soap to cure for a few days.
- Once the soap is firm enough, remove from the mold and let it cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure.