Pumpkin Spice is one of my favourite soaps to make, not only because I’m one of those people who love the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, but because the colours associated with pumpkins and spice (oranges and browns), means I don’t have to worry about vanillin discolouring in my soap and I can use any of those delicious I-want-to-eat vanilla-spice fragrances that usually tend to discolour. Here’s one of my favourite all-time autumn swirl soaps with fresh pumpkin added to it!
For this tutorial I used a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove essential oils and a delicious fragrance called Creme Brûlée fragrance, which are all available from Pure Nature. You can use any vanilla fragrance you like with this essential oil blend. I created this blend specifically to spice up any vanilla fragrance to turn it into a yummy Pumpkin Spice fragrance Beware, I do think soaps with this fragrance need a ‘Do not eat!’ label on them! Just so you’ve been warned 😉
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.
ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and set aside to cool.
I like to add sodium lactate to my lye solution, which helps to harden the soap quicker, so I can unmould them the following day. Sodium lactate is a natural liquid salt (sodium salt of lactic acid), which is made from fermented sugar beets or corn. It doesn’t shorten the curing time in general, but just speeds up the setting/hardening of the soap in the beginning. It’s especially useful when you use silicon moulds or mould with individual smaller cavities, which are sometimes harder to unmould because the soap stays soft longer. Sodium lactate helps with that. The usage rate is approximately 1 teaspoon per 500 g oils, and I add it to my lye solution. You could use normal non-iodised salt, but I found that salt reduces lather and sodium lactate doesn’t. You can omit the sodium lactate if you don’t have it. It’s not necessary.
TWO: Weigh out and melt your coconut oil and cocoa butter.
As you can see, I’m using Pyrex jugs. I like using my microwave to melt my oils and butters. You can also use a normal pot and melt them on your stove.
THREE: Weigh out and add your liquid oils and set aside.
I always melt the solid oils first and then add the liquid oils to the melted solid butters. This way, the room temperature liquid oils will bring down the temperature of the melted butters and will ensure the oils aren’t too hot when I add the lye. I’m one of those people who soap at room temperature, so I like having my oils as close to room temperature as well.
While my lye is cooling down, I use this time to prepare everything else.
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.
Again, here I’m using my microwave. Does anyone else also use their microwave just for their soap making? I think that’s the only reason we have it in our kitchen. Soap making and heating milk. 🤣 You can cook your pumpkin on the stove top as well btw.
Next, measure out your fragrance and essential oils blend.
Also prepare your cocoa powder, by adding 1 teaspoon of powder to 1 teaspoon of oil.
Lastly, prepare your mica oils.
This will be for your mica swirled top. You can use one colour or two colours like I did.
For each colour: Mix 1/4 teaspoon of mica with 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a little cup or beaker. Set aside.
The two micas I’m using are called Coffee and Lustre Brown, both available from Pure Nature.
Make sure you have everything prepared and set out before you continue:
- Puréed pumpkin
- Cocoa powder water
- Mica oils
And also all the equipment you will need:
- Stick blender
- Soap mould!!! (The many times I had to run and get one! 🙈)
And before you start: MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING PROTECTIVE GOGGLES AND GLOVES!
FIVE: When the lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils and using a whisk, stir briefly.
SIX: Add the pumpkin puree and then use your stick blender for about 3 seconds only to mix the pumpkin into the soap mixture.
Don’t overmix the soap, or it will start thickening too early! Three seconds is long enough! Use your whisk from now on.
SEVEN: Add your fragrance blend and whisk it in. 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.
The technique I’m using for this soap is called ‘In the Pot Swirl’ technique, or ITPS for short. It’s one of the easiest techniques for swirling soap, because it works for soap of any consistency, and it’s a great emergency swirl for when your soap has thickened too much.
In The Pot Swirl (ITPS)
NINE: Pour the 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.
That’s it! That’s all there is to that technique. Now you just have to pour/scoop it into your mould.
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.
To finish the soap, mica swirl the top. If you are new to this technique, check out my post on Mica Swirling. It’ll explain step by step how to drizzle and swirl the top.
ELEVEN: Drizzle the mica oils on the surface of the soap, and, using a chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap – just the top few millimetres of the surface. You don’t want to go too deep.
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 your fragrance, but the soap will smell sooooo delicious! Yum!
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.