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Sunrise ombre soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

I often doodle my ideas and designs in my notebook, before I start working on the recipe. Sometimes, the inspirations for my soaps come from the name of a fragrance, like last week’s Love Spell Soap, but I also get my ideas from certain places, moods and emotions, or particular ingredients. This week I was inspired by the colours (yellow and orange), and I wanted to create something to use in the morning shower that would remind me of those sunny mornings, when it’s easy to get up in the morning. The result is a simple layering with gradience colours. Here’s the sketch I drew in my notebook and the notes I wrote alongside. Even if I don’t end up making the soap, these sketches often end up as further inspiration for future soaps.

The scent I used to accompany the design is sweet orange essential oil from Pure Nature, not just because of the colour but because I feel the fruity, fresh fragrance of oranges fits my idea of a wake-up-and-shower soap. The mica is called Orange Saffron, also from Pure Nature.

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!

In addition to your usual equipment, you will also need 3 small containers for colour preparation and 3 extra jugs (250-500 ml).

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 one teaspoon of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, ….

… it’s time to prepare the colours…

TWO: You will need three small containers. To each add 10 ml of light weight oil, such as rice bran oil. In the first container, add 1/4 teaspoon of orange saffron mica. To the second, add 1/8 teaspoon of orange saffron mica. And to the third, add 1/16 teaspoon of orange saffron mica. Mix the mica with the oil, using a little whisk or electric mini-mixer, until you have a smooth mica/oil mixture.

… and to prepare the oils.

THREE: Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted. Weigh out and add the other oils to the now melted coconut oil and give it a good stir to blend all the oils together.

Check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and if it has, it is time to add it to the oils.

FOUR: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Gently whisk until you have the lye and oils have emulsified and are at light trace. Don’t let it get thick, because then you won’t be able to work with it.

FIVE: Add 20 ml of sweet orange essential oil and give it another good stir.

SIX: Into each of the three extra jugs you have set aside, pour 125 ml of soap. You should now have four jugs of soap: 3 jugs with 125 ml of soap (these will be coloured), and the large jug with the remainder of the soap (which will be left uncoloured)

SEVEN: Add one of the containers of mica/oil mixture to each of the jugs and stir them well, to disperse the colour evenly throughout the soap. This is an important step, as any uncoloured streaks will show up in your soap.

EIGHT:  Starting with the darkest colour, pour the soap into the mold. It should be still fairly fluid. Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles and to create an even surface.

NINE: Next, add the medium colour, and carefully pour it over the dark layer, trying not to disturb it. Ideally, your soap will still be fluid. Because I have to take pictures at the same time, my soap thickened by the time I got to do the layers. I tried smoothing the surface with a spatula as much as possible. If you have to do this, try to avoid touching the sides of the mold, so you can keep the sides clean.

TEN: Add the lightest colour over the other layers carefully, as not to disturb the surface underneath. Smooth with the spatula if necessary.

ELEVEN: Lastly, pour or scoop the white (uncoloured) soap over the layers.

TWELVE: Using your fork, texture the soap top, by carefully scraping upwards and into the centre on both sides. Sprinkle bronze coloured mica, and gently mix it into the centre peak, before pulling the fork down each side again to spread the mica into the grooves. Make sure you place the fork into the same grooves as before.

Clockwise from top left: Using a fork and adding mica to texture the soap surface.

THIRTEEN: Leave the soap to cure for several days before removing it from the mold and cutting it up into bars. Cure for another 6-8 weeks.

Sunrise 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

  • 150 g olive oil
  • 130 g rice bran oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 20 g castor oil
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 110 ml water
  • 1 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 20 ml sweet orange fragrance oil
  • orange saffron mica

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. While you wait for the lye to cool, prepare the colour. Add 10 ml of rice bran oil to three small containers. To the first, add 1/4 of orange saffron mica. To the second, add 1/8 teaspoon, and to the third, add 1/16 teaspoon of orange saffron mica.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until melted. Weigh out and add the other oils, and give it a good stir to blend all the oils together.
  4. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and using only a whisk, stir briskly until emulsified to a very thin trace.
  5. Add 20 ml of sweet orange essential oil to the soap and stir well.
  6. Into three small separate jugs, pour off 125 ml of soap each. You will now have 3 jugs with 125 ml of soap, and the larger jug with the remainder of the soap, which will be left uncoloured.
  7. Add one of the mica/oil containers to each of the jugs, and mix them thoroughly to disperse the colour evenly throughout the soap. You should have a light, medium, and dark colour.
  8. Pour the dark colour into the soap mold, and tap gently on the bench to remove air bubbles and to even out the surface of the soap.
  9. Carefully pour the medium colour over the dark layer, without disturbing the surface. If necessary, smooth the surface with a spatula.
  10. Pour the light colour over the other layers and smooth the surface.
  11. Lastly, pour or scoop the white (uncoloured) soap on top of the other layers.
  12. Texture the soap surface with a fork, scraping both sides upwards and towards the centre. Mix a little bronze mica to the centre peak, and placing the fork into the same grooves, carefully pull downwards to spread the colour.
  13. Leave the soap to cure in the mold for several days, before removing and cutting into bars. Cure for a further 6-8 weeks.

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Love Spell Soap

Difficulty: advanced
Time: 2 hrs
Yields: 1400g soap (10″ loaf mold)


Inspired by the name of the soap fragrance, Love Spell, this soap features plenty of magic with a gorgeous magenta swirl in its centre and gold swirling on top. The techniques used here are drop swirling and mica swirl painting.

The micas I used are Sweetheart Rose and Glitter Gold. The micas and the Love Spell fragrance are available from Pure Nature.

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!

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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 two teaspoons of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, it’s time to prepare your colour and fragrance.

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TWO: Add 1/4 teaspoon of Sweetheart Rose mica to 10 ml rice bran oil. Give it a good stir with a little whisk until the colour is well dispersed into the oil. I’m using a little electric mini-mixer to mix the mica with the oil (a little trick I learned from Soap Queen). Set aside for later.

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THREE: Measure out 30 ml of Love Spell fragrance and set aside. I love this amazing fragrance. Pure Nature describes this scent as a romantic fusion of cherry blossoms, hydrangeas, peach, citrus and apple, with a touch of blonde wood. I find it a mesmerising fragrance, yet not too sweet or fruity and it performs great in cold process soap.

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FOUR: Next, it’s time to get the oils ready. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until it is completely melted.

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FIVE: Add the shea butter to the now-liquid coconut oil and stir until the shea butter has melted. Weigh out and add the olive oil and castor oil.

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SIX: Check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature. If it has, it is time to add it to the oils. Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Using a whisk, stir until the oil-lye mixture has emulsified. It is important you keep it to very thin trace, so you’ll be able to work with it. Check out the video below to see what a very thin trace looks like.

SEVEN: Pour about one cup (200-250 ml) of the soap into a separate jug for later. I purposefully did not add any fragrance to this, because fragrances can accelerate trace, and we want this to remain fluid.

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EIGHT: Add your fragrance to the remainder of the soap in the main jug, and give it a good stir. Stir a while longer to thicken the trace a little more – not quite medium trace, but thicker than before.

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NINE: Pour the soap into the mold, leaving a little bit for later. Tap the mold on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.

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TEN: Next, it’s time to colour the soap you separated earlier. Give the mica in the oil a quick stir and pour it into the soap.

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Mix briskly to disperse the colour throughout the soap.

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ELEVEN: Now, from a height of about 30 cm, pour the coloured soap into the centre of the white soap along the whole length. This technique is called drop swirling. The height of pouring will ensure that the poured soap will break through the surface of the soap being poured into. The higher you pour from, the deeper the poured soap will reach into the other soap. Go back and forth a few times and vary the height of pouring, so you end up with varying depths in your soap.

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TWELVE: Pour the remainder of the coloured soap in thin criss-crossing lines on the surface of the soap.

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THIRTEEN: Take a chopstick (which is why I always keep my unused chopsticks from takeaways!), and sticking it vertically into the centre line all the way to the bottom, do some slight vertical swirling along the length, as if you were tracing a spiral inside the soap, while remaining within the centre of the soap.

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FOURTEEN: Now, like you did earlier with the coloured soap, pour the white soap in criss-crossing lines on the surface of the soap.

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FIFTEEN: Next, it’s time to prepare the gold mica for the mica swirling technique. Add one teaspoon of Glitter Gold mica into one tablespoon of rice bran oil, and stir it into a very smooth, fluid paste.

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SIXTEEN: In drops and very thin lines, drizzle the mica-oil mixture carefully over the surface of the soap.

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SEVENTEEN: And now is when the magic happens. I love this part! Using your chopstick,  swirl the surface doing little intertwining figure eights along the whole length of the soap. Don’t go deeper than about half a centimetre into the surface.

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EIGHTEEN: Spritz the surface with isopropyl alcohol to prevent soda ash forming. You don’t want the soda ash hiding those pretty gold swirls!

You’ll notice the next day, that the soap will have soaked up the oil from the mica-oil mixture, leaving a groove. Pretty cool effect!

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NINETEEN: Leave to cure in the mold for a several days before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks to harden completely.

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Love Spell Soap

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

Ingredients

  • 600 g olive oil
  • 300 g coconut oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 141 g caustic soda
  • 280 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 30 ml love spell fragrance
  • 1 teaspoon sweetheart rose mica
  • 1 teaspoon gold glitter mica
  • rice bran oil

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. While you wait for the lye to cool, prepare the colour. Add 1/4 teaspoon of sweetheart rose mica to 10 ml rice bran oil. Stir well.
  3. Measure out 30 ml love spell fragrance and set aside.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until melted.
  5. Add the shea butter to the now-liquid coconut oil and stir until it has completely melted. Add the olive oil and castor oil, and give the oils a good stir to blend them together.
  6. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and using only a whisk, stir briskly until emulsified to a very thin trace.
  7. Pour about 1 cup (200-250 ml) of the soap mixture into a separate jug and set aside for later.
  8. Add the fragrance to the remainder of the soap and stir well.
  9. Pour the soap into the mold, leaving a little bit for later, and tap the mold a few times on the bench to get rid of any air bubbles in the soap.
  10. Give the mica-oil mixture you prepared earlier another quick stir, and then add it to the soap you set aside. Stir briskly to disperse the colour evenly throughout the soap.
  11. DROP SWIRL TECHNIQUE: From a height of about 30 cm, pour the soap in the centre of the soap in the mold. Go along the whole length and back and forth a few times, varying the height of pouring.
  12. Pour the remainder of the soap in criss-crossing lines on the surface of the soap.
  13. Using a chopstick, give the soap a spiral swirl along the whole length, but remain within the centre (coloured) portion.
  14. As you did with the coloured soap, take the leftover white soap and pour it in criss-crossing lines on the surface of the soap.
  15. MICA SWIRL PAINTING: Prepare the mica, by adding one teaspoon of glitter gold mica to one tablespoon of rice bran oil and stir to a smooth, fluid paste.
  16. Drizzle the mica in drops and thin lines over the surface of the soap.
  17. Using the chopstick, swirl the top 1/2 cm of the surface of the soap in intertwining 8 figures along the whole length of the soap.
  18. Spritz the soap lightly with isopropyl alcohol.
  19. Leave the soap to cure in the mold for several days, before removing and cutting into bars. Cure for a further 6-8 weeks.

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Lavender castile soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

Castile soaps are named after the Castile region in Spain, where the olive oil based soap originated. Historically, the soaps were made from olive and laurel oils, but nowadays, castile stands for soaps made with 100% olive oil. However, pure olive oil soaps have a rather poor and thin lather due to Continue reading Lavender castile soap

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Rose geranium and shea butter soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

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Rose Geranium Soap

Rose geranium essential oil has a lovely fresh floral fragrance with a light citrus top note. Considered to be both calming and grounding, the uplifting scent helps reduce stress and worry, and this balancing effect extends to the skin, as it helps stabilise both oily and dry skin. Adding nourishing shea butter to the soap, it creates a wonderful bar of soap that leaves your skin clean and fresh, and yet without it being too drying for your skin.

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 one teaspoon of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

TWO: Weigh out the shea butter and oils in a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex jug) and heat on high in the microwave for 1 minute or until the shea butter has fully melted. Set aside to cool.

Wait until both the oils and the lye have cooled down to room temperature, which is around 25C (77F).

THREE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.

FOUR: Add the rose geranium essential oil and give it a quick stir with the stick blender. Then keep alternatively pulsing (5-10 seconds) and stirring with the stick blender until you reach trace.

FIVE: Pour the soap into the mold, and then gently tap the mold on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles in the soap. Scatter a few dried rose petals on the surface and then leave the soap to cure overnight or until it is hard enough to remove from the mold. Olive oil soaps tend to be a bit softer initially and take longer to harden.

SIX: Once the soap has hardened and doesn’t stick to the sides anymore, you can remove the soap from the mold. Let the soap cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will then need at least 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready to use.

Rose Geranium and Shea Butter 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

  • 325 g olive oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 51 g caustic soda
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 20 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • dried rose petals

Directions

  1. repare 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.
  2. Weigh out the shea butter and oils in a large heat proof glass jug and microwave on high for 1 minute or until the shea butter has fully melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once both the oils and the lye have cooled down to room temperature, carefully add the lye to the oils, without splashing, and give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.
  4. Add the rose geranium essential oil, and keep alternatively pulsing and stirring with the stick blender until trace.
  5. Pour the soap into the mold, and gently tap the mold on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles in the soap. Scatter a few rose petals on the surface and then leave to cure overnight or until hard enough to remove from the mold.
  6. Once the soap is hard enough, remove the soap from the mold and let it cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will need another 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready.

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Confetti soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 1/2 hrs
Yields: 1000 g soap

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If you make soap, it is most likely that you have little leftover pieces of soaps, or soaps that you didn’t like for some reason. Instead of throwing them away, there are ways to re-use the soaps in new soap creations. Making confetti soap is one of those techniques, and one of my favourites, because it allows me to use up coloured bits of soaps, soaps that can’t be ‘over-fragranced’, and even older soaps that I’ve never found a use for. The confetti pieces in the soap are simply grated soap, grated with a good old fashioned cheese grater!

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!

Preparation: Choose your bits of soaps that you want to re-use. Aim for something that will contrast with the colour of your base soap, which will be white for this tutorial. I’m using bits of red, green, blue and other soaps that I’ve collected over the past year or so. Grate the soap using a cheese grater. Don’t try and take a short cut here, because food processors and Zyliss graters won’t work – you’ll just end up with a sticky mass of soap!

ONE: Next, 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 two teaspoons of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted.

THREE: Add the remaining oils to the now-melted coconut oil and set aside to cool.

When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, it is time to add it to the oils.

FOUR: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.

FIVE: Add your fragrance or essential oil, and alternatively pulse and stir with your stick blender until you reach thin trace. Don’t blend too long, because you don’t want a thick trace.

SIX:  Pour a thin layer of soap into your soap mold, about 1 cm.

SEVEN: Add a few handful of grated soap on top of the base colour and gently press it in (with your spatula!). You can mix all your grated soap colours together, or, as I’m doing here, use one colour per layer.

EIGHT: Slowly pour some base soap over the grated soap, until most of the grated soap is covered. Tap the mold on the bench a few times to release any air bubbles.

The reason we are doing this in portions is to minimise the air bubbles that can be trapped in the grated soap. I try to avoid stirring the soap with the spatula after pouring for the same reason. I found that pouring in portions had a better result in the end.

NINE:  Continue alternatively adding grated soap, pouring base soap, and tapping the mold on the bench, until your base soap is used up.

TEN: Leave the soap to cure in the mold for a few days before cutting into bars. The soap will need to cure for another 6-8 weeks to fully harden.

Note: my base soap thickened quite a bit, because I had forgotten to prepare the fragrance, which is why the top layers didn’t mix as evenly as I would have liked.

Confetti 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

  • 300 g olive oil
  • 200 g coconut oil
  • 260 g rice bran oil
  • 40 g castor oil
  • 110 g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • About 1 cup of grated soap
  • 40 ml fragrance or essential oils

Directions

Preparation: Using a cheese grater, grate your selected soap pieces until you have approximately one cup of grated soap.

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  2. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted.
  3. Add the oils to the now melted coconut oil and set aside to cool.
  4. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.
  5. Add your fragrance or essential oil, and alternatively pulse and stir with your stick blender until you reach thin trace.
  6. Pour a thin layer of soap into your soap mold, about 1 cm.
  7. Add a few handful of grated soap on top of the base colour and gently press it in (with your spatula!).
  8. Slowly pour some base soap over the grated soap until most of the grated soap is covered. Tap the mold gently on the bench a few times to release any air bubbles in the soap.
  9. Continue alternatively adding grated soap, pouring base soap, and tapping the mold on the bench, until your base soap is used up.
  10. Leave the soap to cure in the mold for a few days before cutting into bars. The soap will need to cure for another 6-8 weeks to fully harden.