Pumpkin Spice is one of my favourite soaps to make, because the colours associated with pumpkin and spice (orange and brown), means I don’t have to worry about vanillin discolouring, and I can create a beautifully swirled soap with a delicious I-want-to-eat fragrance. The discolouration from the vanillin in the fragrance, only enhances the colour. In addition, I love the idea of adding fresh produce into my soaps, and pumpkin adds both colour and a bit of texture to the soap. The only downside is that by adding fresh puree, you risk getting glycerine rivers in your soap (see the example below), and to avoid this you have to calculate a water discount into your recipe. I usually do a simple 1:1 ratio – 1 tablespoon of puree equals 15 ml less water in my lye.
The recipe has an advanced level due to the various techniques and potential problems involved, and if you are unfamiliar with any of them, or have never made soap before, I suggest to look at the basic tutorial here, and make a few beginner and intermediate level soaps first.
For this tutorial I used a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove essential oils and Creme Brûlée fragrance, which are all available from Pure Nature. The scent from this blend is a delicious, yummy vanilla with spicy overtones – and I think the soaps need to have a ‘Beware! Do not Eat!’ label on them!
BEFORE YOU START, MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING PROTECTIVE GOGGLES AND GLOVES AND HAVE READ THE SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS HERE!
ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and set aside to cool. I’ve added sodium lactate to mine to ensure a harder bar.
TWO: Weigh out and melt your coconut oil and cocoa butter.
THREE: Weigh out and add your liquid oils and set aside.
FOUR: To prepare your pumpkin, peel and cut into cubes and cook in microwave until soft. With a stick blender, blitz until you have a smooth consistency.
Measure out your fragrance and essential oils blend. Also prepare your cocoa powder, by adding 1 teaspoon of powder to 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil.
Lastly, prepare your mica oils. Add 1/4 teaspoon of mica to 1/2 teaspoon of lightweight oil. Do this for both mica colours. I’m using Coffee mica and Lustre Brown mica from Pure Nature.
Set everything aside until you need them.
FIVE: When the lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils and using a whisk, stir briefly until emulsified. MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING PROTECTIVE GOGGLES AND GLOVES!
SIX: Add the pumpkin puree and either using your stick blender or the whisk, stir until the pumpkin has been well incorporated into the soap mixture.
SEVEN: Add your fragrance blend. The essential oils will accelerate trace, so you will have to work quickly from this point on.
EIGHT: Separate approximately 1/3 of the soap mixture into a separate bowl and colour this with the cocoa/oil mixture. Add no more than 1 teaspoon per 500 ml of soap mixture.
NINE: In the pot swirl. Pour the now brown coloured soap back into the other pot with the uncoloured soap. With your spatula, swirl the soap around a few times, but don’t over-stir! You don’t want the colours blended too much.
TEN: Pour or scoop the soap into the mold and tap it a few times on the bench to release any air bubbles trapped in the soap mixture.
ELEVEN: Drizzle the mica oils on the surface of the soap, and, using a chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap (only the top 0.5-1 cm layer of the soap).
TWELVE: Leave the soap to cure overnight before unmolding, and then let it sit for another day or two before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for about 6-8 weeks before they are ready to use. Note, the colours will darken over time due to the vanillin content of the Creme Brûlée fragrance.
Pumpkin Spice Soap
- 150 g olive oil
- 130 g coconut oil
- 100 g sunflower oil
- 30 g cocoa butter
- 20 g castor oil
- 60 g caustic soda
- 100 ml water
- 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
- 12 ml Creme Brûlée fragrance
- 3 ml ginger fragrance
- 3 ml cinnamon fragrance
- 1 ml nutmeg fragrance
- 1 ml clove fragrance
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon prepared pumpkin puree
- 1/4 teaspoon lustre brown mica
- 1/4 teaspoon coffee mica
- lightweight oil
- Prepare your lye as usual and add the sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
- Weigh out and melt your coconut oil and cocoa butter.
- Weigh out and add the liquid oils and set aside to cool.
- Pumpkin puree: peel and cut into cubes, and cook in microwave until soft. Using a stick blender, blitz until smooth consistency. Set aside.
- Fragrance: measure out the fragrance and essential oils. Set aside.
- Cocoa powder: mix 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of oil. Set aside.
- Mica oils: mix 1/4 teaspoon of mica with 1/2 teaspoon of lightweight oil. Do this for both mica colours. Set aside.
- When both lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils and stir until emulsified using either a whisk or a stick blender.
- Add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree and blend until puree has been fully incorporated into the soap mixture.
- Add the fragrance blend and stir to mix the fragrance through the soap. Be aware that the fragrance blend may cause acceleration.
- Separate 1/3 of the soap into a separate bowl and colour this with the cocoa/oil mixture until you have reached the desired colour.
- Pour the brown coloured soap back into the pot with the uncoloured soap and with a spatula, swirl the soap a few times (in the pot swirl).
- Pour or scoop the soap into the soap mold and tap the mold a few times on the bench to release any air bubbles trapped within the soap.
- Mica painting: drizzle the mica oils over the surface of the soap, and swirl the top 0.5-1 cm of the soap with a chopstick or other utensil.
- Leave the soap in the mold overnight before removing, and let it harden for another few days before cutting the soap into bars. Leave the bars to cure for a further 6-8 weeks.