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Rock Soaps

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 6 soaps of about 100 g each

Soap stones, rock soaps, soap pebbles, whatever you want call them, are so much fun to make and they look AMAZING! The marbled look is really easy to achieve, and the variety of colour combinations and shades are endless.

I decided to go for the grey river stone look for these ones, and I used activated charcoal to get the different shades of grey. If you don’t want grey rocks, you can use micas to create different colours, like green, red or even blue rocks. Or you can even mix different colours to create your multicoloured rocks. Feel free and be creative!

The mould I used to make these rock soaps is the following stones mould (see below). The cavities hold about 110 ml each and the cured soap will weigh about 100 g. Any recipe using 500 g oils will work with this mould. The stones are also excellent for the glazing technique (which is an advanced technique), but to be honest, I personally like the marbling with an in-the-pot swirl a lot better, because the marbling will go all the way through the soap and not just on the surface.

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 place it in the sink to cool down to room temperature.

I’ve added sodium lactate to the lye solution, to help harden the soap quicker and make it easier to unmould the next day. This is particularly helpful with these kind of moulds, because they are fairly enclosed, making it difficult for the water to evaporate.

TWO: Weigh out your coconut oil and shea butter in a microwavable bowl or jug, and heat it in the microwave until completely melted. In my old microwave it took 3 minutes set on high. There should be no white residue or streaks left visible in the oil. It should be completely clear.

THREE: Once your coconut oil and shea butter are melted, weigh out and add the liquid oils – the olive, sunflower and castor oils.

FOUR: Add your fragrance. I’m using Coconut Lime fragrance from Candlescience, available from Pure Nature in New Zealand, which is one of the most popular fragrances in my soap workshops.

FIVE: Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.

SIX: Give it a quick pulse of about 5 seconds with a stick blender and then stir until all the streaks of oil have disappeared and the mixture has emulsified. It should be still very liquid at this stage, you don’t want the mixture to thicken.

SEVEN: Separate the soap into three different portions. Leave one portion uncoloured. Add 1/2 tablespoon of activated charcoal to one portion and 1/4 tablespoon of activated charcoal to the other portion. Mix with a whisk. Note: you don’t have to disperse the activated charcoal in oil or water beforehand, you can add it direct to the soap, it will mix in easily and without any trouble.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to create grey rocks, you can play with different colours using mica. Again, leave one portion uncoloured, add 1 teaspoon of mica to another portion, and 1/2 teaspoon of mica to the last portion. You can either add the mica direct to your soap, and you’ll have a bit of a speckled look in your soap, or you can mix the mica with a little oil before adding for a smooth colour.

EIGHT: Next, pour the three portions of soap back into your main soap jug or bowl, alternating the colours. There is no set way to pour them, and as you can see in the picture above, I just randomly poured the colours into each other. Once you’ve poured all the soap, give it a quick stir with a chopstick, just to give it some extra swirl. Once or two circles is enough.

NINE: Lastly, pour the soap into each cavity of the stone mould, and leave the soap to set overnight.

As you can see my soap is very black when I poured it, but they lightened up significantly the next day.

TEN: Check the following morning if the soap has hardened sufficiently to unmould. If you have used sodium lactate, it will be more likely that you can unmould the next day. Otherwise, you may have to leave the soap in the mould for a few days before it is hard enough to unmould. You don’t want to end up having dents in it from pushing the soap out.

ELEVEN: Leave the soaps to cure for another 6-8 weeks. As with all soaps, the longer the curing time the better the soap will become.

If soap ash develops on your soap rocks, just give them a quick wash. The picture I took below is from a freshly washed soap. The gloss will actually disappear when they dry and they’ll look more like rocks again as in the picture above.

Rock Soaps

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 200 g olive oil
  • 150 g coconut oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 75 g sunflower oil
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 70 g caustic soda
  • 150 g water
  • 1 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 3/4 tablespoon of activate charcoal
  • 15 ml fragrance or essential oils

Directions

  1. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye solution. This is to help harden the soap.
  3. Place the lye solution in the sink and let it cool down to room temperature.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  5. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil, and castor oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  6. Add your fragrance or essential oils to the oils and give it a quick stir.
  7. Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils.
  8. Give the oil/lye mixture a quick 5 second pulse with the stick blender and then stir until all the streaks of oil have disappeared and the mixture has emulsified.
  9. Separate the soap into three portions. Leave one portion uncoloured. Add 1/2 tablespoon of activated charcoal to another portion and 1/4 tablespoon of activated charcoal to the last portion. Stir the soap until the colour has been dispersed throughout.
  10. Pour the three portions back into the main jug or bowl, alternating colours and pouring randomly around the bowl. Once you’ve poured all the soap back, give the soap a quick swirl with a chopstick.
  11. Pour the soap into the cavities of the stone mould and leave to set and harden overnight, or if necessary longer.
  12. Once you are able to unmould the soaps, they will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Skin brightening soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap

Over the years I have been repeatedly asked for a skin whitening soap, but I’ve always been hesitant for going in this direction. The reason for my reluctance is that I believe everyone is beautiful, regardless of their skin colour and ethnicity, and we should stop striving to reach what are sometimes impossible beauty standards. However, after a little research, I realised that there is some benefit to these skin brightening (not actually whitening) products. The purpose of most such products is not to ‘bleach’ or ‘whiten’ the skin, but to chemically exfoliate, dissolving the glue holding the dead skin cells and removing them, which will leave your skin looking fresh and bright.

Admittedly, there are some ingredients that do have an inhibitory effect on melanin production, but these are not without their own risks, including skin irritation and hyper pigmentation. Here’s an interesting study about skin whitening agents: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/3/3/27/htm

This recipe I formulated for this shower and bath soap contains papaya and corn silk, two known skin brightening ingredients. Papaya is a popular ingredient in skin whitening products. It doesn’t actually have an inhibiting effect on melanin production. Instead, the enzyme papain contained in papaya works as an excellent chemical exfoliant, dissolving the glue between dead skin cells. Corn silk, on the other hand, can reduce skin pigmentation, as studies have shown: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260527233_Inhibitory_Effect_of_Corn_Silk_on_Skin_Pigmentation. It works by directly interfering with the melanin production. However, in this soap, I am using the corn silk as a mechanical exfoliant, which will help with the removal of the dead skin cells after the papain has loosened them from the skin. Together, they will make your skin look and feel fresh, rejuvenate and boost cell renewal, and help prepare the skin for optimal absorption of your (skin whitening) moisturiser or lotion.


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 leave to cool down before placing it in the fridge. You will want the lye solution to be fridge temperature (around 4 degrees Celsius). This is important, because the papaya contains sugar and will heat up the soap.

TWO: While the lye solution is cooling down, we can prepare all the other ingredients. First, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted.

THREE: Then, add the olive oil and rice bran oil to the now melted coconut oil and shea butter. Set aside for now.

FOUR: Next, scoop out about 1/2 cup papaya and add the corn silk (fresh or dried) of about 2-3 cobs of corn (a small handful) to a food processor or bullet. Blend until the mixture is as smooth as you can make it.

FIVE: Add the papaya and corn silk puree to the oils and mix it well with a whisk or stick blender.

SIX: Once your lye solution is sufficiently cold (fridge temperature), carefully pour it to the oils/puree mixture and use your stick blender to mix it until it has emulsified.

SEVEN: Add the essential oils or fragrance to the oils/puree mixture and continue mixing with the stick blender until thin to medium trace.

I used a blend of lemon (20 ml) and sandalwood (10 ml) essential oils, which are known for their skin brightening effects.

EIGHT: Pour the soap into your mould and place it in the fridge for several hours to prevent overheating.

NINE: After 2-3 hours, remove the soap from the fridge and leave it on the kitchen bench overnight to set and harden. DO NOT INSULATE THE SOAP!

TEN: The following day, unmould the soap and cut into bars. The bars will need a further 6-8 weeks of curing before they can be used.

Skin Brightening Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 400 g olive oil
  • 350 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 150 g rice bran oil
  • 135 g caustic soda
  • 200 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 20 ml lemon essential oil
  • 20 ml sandalwood essential oil

Directions

  1. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution. This is to help harden the soap.
  3. Place the lye solution in the fridge to cool down to fridge temperature.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  5. Add the olive oil and rice bran oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  6. Next, blend approximately 1/2 cup of papaya and a small handful of corn silk in a food processor or bullet blender.
  7. Add the papaya and corn silk puree to the oils and give it a good stir with a whisk or a quick pulse with a stick blender.
  8. Add the essential oils. Or use your own fragrance.
  9. Once the lye solution is cold, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until you reach medium trace.
  10. Pour the soap into your soap mould and place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  11. After 2-3 hours, remove the soap from the fridge and leave to set overnight. DO NOT INSULATE THE SOAP.
  12. The following day, unmould the soap and cut into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Frappucino Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or approximately 10-12 bars

I love my coffee! Even when it’s hot and muggy in summer, I like to drink coffee, preferably ice cold and with cream on top. In my opinion, one of the yummiest inventions is the creation of the frappucino! What would we do without them?

One of the problems with making coffee and chocolate scented soaps is that most of the coffee and chocolate fragrances discolour your soap brown. To avoid this, I added titanium dioxide to the cream of the soap. The soap also contains coffee grounds, which gives it a bit of an exfoliating effect, but not too much, just enough for using it daily in the shower.

The fragrances I’m using here are Chocolate Fudge and Fresh Coffee from Candlescience, which you can purchase from Pure Nature. The mica is Antique Bronze from Mica Your World. And the paper straws I purchased from AliExpress.

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 leave it to cool down to room temperature. I always place my lye in the sink, for safety reasons.

I’ve added 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to my lye solution. Sodium lactate is a natural additive derived from the fermentation of natural sugars, and it helps to make the soap harder allowing to unmould it quicker.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted. Then add the liquid oils to the now melted coconut oil and cocoa butter.

THREE: Add the fragrance. I’m using coffee fragrance to which I’ve added a little chocolate fragrance.

FOUR: Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.

FIVE: Use a whisk or stick blender to mix the oils and lye to thin trace.

SIX: Separate roughly 1 1/2 cups of soap into a separate container. This will be your ‘cream’ on top.

And separate another cup of soap for the uncoloured soap in the swirl.

SEVEN: Add the brown mica to the remaining soap in the pot.

EIGHT: Separate another 2/3 cup of soap and add the coffee grounds. Give it a good stir to get rid of all the clumps.

I’m using the content of one of the Nespresso pods, which is roughly a little more than a teaspoon.

You should now have two cups of soap, one uncoloured and one with the coffee grounds, and the brown coloured soap in the main pot. You should also have the ‘cream’ part separated in another container.

NINE: To do an ITPS (in-the-pot swirl), pour the colours into three spots in your soap, as shown in the image. Make sure you pour them from a height so that the colour reaches the bottom. I poured each colour twice in each spot.

Then take your spatula, and move the spatula in a circle through the soap once or twice, but no more. The more you move it, the more you will blend the colours together. If you want more distinction between your colours only go round once. I did two circles in my soap, one smaller and one bigger circle.

TEN: Pour the swirled soap into your mould.

ELEVEN: Add the titanium dioxide to the soap in the separate container. I added it straight in powder form, but it’s better if you mix it with a little water before adding, to avoid white specks in your soap. Use your stick blender to mix it to a thick trace.

TWELVE: Use a teaspoon to plop the soap on top. I did three lines and then two more lines on top of the other three, to create this whipped cream appearance.

Cut the straws into roughly 2-3 inches and then stick them diagonally into the soap.

THIRTEEN: Leave the soap to cure for a day or two before unmoulding. Then let it sit for another day before cutting the soap into bars. I used a thin filleting knife to cut this soap 12 bars. The bars will need another 6-8 weeks of curing.

The soap smells absolutely delicious. Very much coffee with a hint of chocolate. Just how I like my frappucino!

Frappucino Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 400 g olive oil
  • 300 g coconut oil
  • 100 g cocoa butter
  • 150 g rice bran oil
  • 50 castor oil
  • 141 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 25 ml coffee fragrance
  • 5 ml chocolate fragrance
  • 1/4 tsp titanium dioxide
  • 1/2 tsp brown mica
  • 1 tsp coffee grounds
  • 10 paper straws

Directions

  1. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution and set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  4. Add the olive, rice bran and castor oils to the now liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter.
  5. Then, add 25 ml of coffee fragrance and 5 ml of chocolate fragrance to the oils and give everything a good stir.
  6. Check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a whisk or stick blender, mix until emulsified (thin trace).
  7. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of soap into a separate jug. This will be the ‘cream’.
  8. Separate another cup of soap into a different cup or container.
  9. To the remaining soap, add 1/2 teaspoon of brown mica and give it a quick mix with the stick blender.
  10. Fill another cup with the brown soap, and add to it 1 teaspoon of coffee grounds. Mix well.
  11. You should now have one container with soap for the cream.
  12. You should also have one cup of uncoloured soap, one cup of brown coloured soap with coffee grounds, and the main pot should contain the brown soap.
  13. To do an ITPS (in-the-pot-swirl): In three spots, like a triangle, pour the uncoloured and coffee-grounds soap into the brown soap in the main container. Do this twice, and each time pour into the same three spots.
  14. Stick the spatula into the soap and move it around in a circle through the soap. Do this only once or twice.
  15. Then pour the soap into the mould.
  16. To create the cream: Mix the titanium dioxide with a little water and add it to the remaining soap in the other jug or container. Use your stick blender to mix it until a thick trace.
  17. Plop the soap onto the surface of the swirled soap with a teaspoon.
  18. Cut the straws into 2-3 inches length, and stick them into the soap diagonally.
  19. Leave the soap to cure a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it stand for another few days before cutting into bars. The soap bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

 

 

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Lemon Myrtle Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or approximately 10 bars

Recently I was debating the benefits manuka essential oil vs tea tree essential oil, when one of my Australian soap friends mentioned Lemon Myrtle. I’d heard of lemon myrtle before, but I’d never used it in any of my products. Discussing the properties of lemon myrtle soap, I soon came to realise that lemon myrtle is totally underrated. We always think of tea tree oil as being The Wonder-Oil, but lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), also native to Australia, is just as powerful if not more so. And it has the added bonus that, unlike tea tree, it smells delicious! (Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of the tea tree scent?)

So let’s begin with the fragrance. Lemon myrtle is said to smell more lemon-y than lemon itself, and I’d say that statement is pretty accurate. Lemon myrtle oil contains more citral compound, which is what gives lemon its lemon scent, than lemon oil. In fact, lemon myrtle has over 90% pure citral compound compared to 10% found in lemons. In soap, the fragrance of lemon myrtle essential oil is also stronger and longer lasting than lemon essential oil, which, like all citrus oils, are very volatile and fleeting, and don’t hold well in soap. Lemon myrtle is definitely more expensive than lemon, if you are going for fragrance only, but there is a lot more to lemon myrtle than just a pleasant aroma.

Like tea tree and manuka, it is considered to have anti-viral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic properties, but is also anti-inflammatory, soothing and calming, reduces redness and itchiness, and has an uplifting and refreshing effect on the mind. Like the popular tea tree/lavender combination, it can be used to treat problem skins, cuts and grazes, insect bites and stings, rashes, inflammations and infections. In soap, which is a wash off product, it adds an antimicrobial and antiseptic aspect to the cleansing properties of the soap, which makes it ideal for hand soaps, which need that bit of extra disinfection from dirt, grime and germs.

The soap we are making here is a natural, yet effective hand soap, to which I’ve added lemon peel powder to give it a bit of extra scrub. Both the lemon myrtle essential oil and lemon peel powder I am using in this soap are available from Pure Nature.

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 leave to cool down to room temperature. I’ve added 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate, which is a natural additive, to my lye solution to make the soap harder and easier to unmould.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted.

THREE: Add the liquid oils to the melted coconut oil and shea butter.

FOUR: Add the lemon myrtle essential oil to the oils, and give everything a good stir.

FIVE: Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils.

Use your stick blender to mix the lye/oil blend until it has emulsified, and is still fluid. For those working with trace, you’ll want a thin trace.

SIX: Separate 1/3 of the soap into a separate jug or bowl.

SEVEN: To the remaining 2/3 of the soap, add 1 tablespoon of lemon peel powder. Lemon peel powder is a gentle exfoliant, unlike pumice, so if you want more exfoliation, you can add a heaped tablespoon of lemon peel powder.

Mix with the stick blender until medium trace – thin enough to pour, but thick enough to be able to support layers.

EIGHT: Give the smaller portion of soap in the jug, a quick burst with the stick blender to thicken up the soap to the same consistency of the lemon peel powder soap. Then add 1 heaped teaspoon of poppy seeds, and then stir it through with a spatula or spoon.

NINE: To assemble the soap, first pour about half of the lemon peel powder soap into the mould, and gently tap the mould on the bench to even out the layer. Next, pour all of the poppy seed soap over the first layer. To prevent the soap from breaking through and disturbing the previous layer, pour the soap over the flat part of the spatula to spread out the stream of pour. Lastly, pour the remainder of the lemon peel powder soap over the poppy seed layer.

TEN: Use a spoon to texture one side of the soap, and sprinkle some poppy seeds over the other half.

ELEVEN: Let the soap cure for a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it harden for another few days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Lemon Myrtle Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 400 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 200 g sunflower oil
  • 50 castor oil
  • 138 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 30 ml lemon myrtle essential oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel powder
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution and set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  4. Add the olive, sunflower and castor oils to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  5. Then, add 30 ml of lemon myrtle essential oil to the oils and give everything a good stir.
  6. Check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified (thin trace).
  7. Separate about 1/3 of the soap into a jug.
  8. To the remaining 2/3 of the soap, add 1 tablespoon of lemon peel powder and mix with the stick blender until medium trace.
  9. Give the soap portion in the jug a quick mix with the stick blender until it has the same consistency (medium trace) as the lemon peel powder soap.
  10. Then add 1 heaped teaspoon of poppy seeds to the soap and mix it through with a spoon or spatula.
  11. To assemble: first pour half of the lemon peel powder soap into the mould, then pour all of the poppy seed soap over the first layer, and lastly, pour the remaining lemon peel powder soap over the poppy seed layer.
  12. Use a spoon to texture one half of the soap surface, and sprinkle poppy seeds over the other half.
  13. Leave the soap to cure a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it stand for another few days before cutting into bars. The soap bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

 

 

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Neon swirl soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1250 g of soap
Mould: standard loaf mould

img_3408

I recently discovered neon pigments, available from Pure Nature, and they’re perfect for this easy-peasy swirling method to create these stunning soaps. I loved the bright colours so much, that I repeated the same recipe with three different colour combinations. Yellow and green, pink and orange, and a trio of pink, blue and purple. I’ll let you decide which you like the best!

This recipe is an ideal introduction into swirling after you’ve done a few other soaps. The swirling method is really easy to do and pretty much fail-safe. You just need to make sure you’re using a fluid soap recipe, because one of the most common problems encountered with swirling or any technique that takes time, is that the soap starts to thicken and becomes impossible to pour. This recipe I’m using here is my go-to recipe whenever I need time.  It is an adaption of a pure Castile (olive oil) soap, to which I’ve added castor oil (for extra lather) and sodium lactate, a natural additive which helps speed up the hardening of the soap. The result is a lovely mild cleansing bar of soap with all the good qualities of olive oil, but without the long curing time.


Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

If you have never soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first, and make several other easier soaps before continuing.

img_4340

ONE: First prepare your lye by weighing out the caustic soda and water. And then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and stir until the lye water is clear.

Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, and set aside to cool down. I usually leave my lye solution to cool down in the sink. So in case I knock it over, it will spill into the drains, and the worst thing that will happen is that I have clean drains.

img_5025

TWO: In the meantime, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot, which can be a large stock pot, a pyrex jug, or even an empty 2L ice cream container. Set aside.

neon colours

THREE: While you are waiting, prepare the colours. Mix 1/2 -1 teaspoon of each colour that you will be using with 1-2 teaspoon of oil (for example olive oil) in a small beaker or container.

If you are using just two colours, use 1 teaspoon each, for three colours use 1/3 teaspoon each, and if you are using four colours use 1/2 teaspoon of each colour.

img_5028

FOUR: Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves, carefully add lye to the oils and then, using a stick blender, pulse and stir to thin trace. Make sure you keep the soap at a very fluid, thin consistency. If you’re worried about getting it too thick, you can also use a whisk and beat the oil/lye mixture until it has emulsified (does not separate). I often can’t be bothered getting my stick blender out and will just whisk the soap. (Yes, that works perfectly fine!)

img_4456

FIVE: Add the fragrance to the emulsified soap mixture and give it a quick stir.

I used different Candlescience fragrances for each of the colour combinations:

  • green and yellow: coconut lime
  • orange and hot pink: mango and tangerine
  • white, bright pink, blue and purple: sweet pea

img_2598

SIX: Separate the soap into roughly equal portions depending on the number of colours you are using and add the colours to each pot of soap. Using your stick blender or whisk, briefly mix each pot until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.

Note for the white/pink/blue/purple soap, I left one portion uncoloured.

SEVEN: To create the swirls, pour a line of one colour along the length of your mould. You can either pour to the line on the side or the centre, it’s up to you. If you pour it in the centre, you’ll have a roughly symmetrical soap, like the white/pink/blue/purple soap, and if you have the line more to one side, it will be more skewed, like the yellow/green soap below.

Next pour a line of another colour INTO the same line of soap that you just poured. So instead of pouring the soap next to each other, you keep pouring into the same line over and over again, and this pushes the colours to the side and creates the swirls that you see in the soaps.

You can be a bit more daring, and instead of one line, create two lines into which you pour the soap, just like I did with the orange/pink soap (further below). Or you can change halfway and start a new line on the other side. You can’t really do anything wrong. Even if you don’t hit the previous line of soap exactly, it doesn’t matter, you’ll still get your swirls.

Keep pouring, alternating the colours, into the same line until all the soap has been used up.

Leave the soap somewhere warm and dry, out of direct sunlight, to cure.

EIGHT: After 2-3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Don’t be tempted to unmould to soon, like I was with the orange/pink soap. The hardest part of creating swirl soaps is waiting for the soap to become hard enough to unmould. Once it is hard enough, carefully unmould, and cut it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

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Neon swirl soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 950 g olive oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 128 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of the neon colours you are using
  • 30 ml fragrance

Directions

  1. Measure out 280 g of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 128 g of caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye solution is clear.
  2. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution. Set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot. Set aside.
  4. Prepare your essential oil blend. Set aside.
  5. Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each colour with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a separate pot. The exact amounts depend on how many colours you are using. Set aside.
  6. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  7. Using a stick blender or whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  8. Add 30 ml of fragrance and give it another quick mix with the stick blender.
  9. Divide the soap into roughly equal portions and colour each portion with one of the colour/oil mixture. Briefly mix each pot a quick pulse with a stick blender or whisk until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.
  10. Pour a line of one colour along the length of the mould.
  11. Pour another colour of soap into the previous line of soap. Keep repeating the colours until all the soap has been used up.
  12. Place the soap in a warm, dry area to cure.
  13. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmould. Remove from mould and cut into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.