How to pipe Christmas trees

These are my favourite Christmas soaps to make, because, you gotta admit, they look incredibly cute! Another advantage of these little Christmas tree soaps is that you can make them kinda last minute and give them away before fully cured. It’s unlikely people will use them right away. More likely, they’ll be sitting somewhere to be admired for a while, because it would be a shame to use it, right? So if you just realised it’s already December and you still need some soap for presents, why not pipe some pretty Christmas trees?

You’ll need a recipe that thickens, but still gives you a bit of time to work with (to pipe). Here’s my favourite piping recipe:

Piping soap recipe

50 grams sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
100 grams water
140 grams coconut oil
50 grams cocoa butter
80 grams olive oil
80 grams sunflower oil

For the fragrance, there are two fragrances that I used for my trees: Christmas Tree from the CandleScience Clean Scents Range (available from Pure Nature, if you are in New Zealand), and Scandinavian Pine fragrance from Zen Aroma. Don’t use Frosted Pinecones or Fraser Fir (both from Zen Aroma), the first accelerates like crazy and the latter separates and is really hard to work with unfortunately. I added 15 ml of fragrance to oils in this recipe.

To get the bright green colour, I used a blend of neon green pigment and chromium green oxide. For this recipe, I used 1/2 teaspoon of each, which I then mixed with 1 teaspoon of water and added that to the oils. I dispersed the pigments with water to prevent ugly colour specks in my soap later on.

Here’s a tip: before you start, make sure you have everything ready. Prepare your colourant. Don’t forget to put the piping nozzle into your piping bag. Place a sheet of baking paper on to a tray (this is where you will be piping your Christmas trees on). And have everything ready and laid out, because once you mix your lye and oils, you don’t have time to go looking for things.

Once you have added the lye to the oils, I use a stick blender to mix the soap until it’s a very thick consistency. It should be able to hold it’s shape, but still soft enough to be able to easily squeeze it out of the piping bag. Don’t overmix!

I used a large open star 1M from Wilton, which I find is the easiest type of nozzle to work with, but other nozzles can create swirls too.

To embellish the Christmas trees, I used soap dough. There are lots of soap dough recipes out there, but the truth is you can use any soap really. The key is not to let the soap harden. When I make soap, especially when it’s a nice colour, I will often scrape the bowl for the leftover soap and put it in a little ziplock bag. Soap dough needs a bit of time for it to become workable and not sticky anymore, usually a week or two, so it’s handy to always have some soap dough ready to go.

Some tips working with soap dough
– if the soap is still sticky, wait for another week
– always spray your tools with alcohol, to prevent sticking
– keep your soap dough well-wrapped to prevent it from becoming hard
– you can prepare your soap embellishments beforehand, and keep them in a little container until you want to use them

Making Christmas tree soaps in one of my soap making classes
These cool Christmas trees were made by one of my students!

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