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Rainbow soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1000 g soap

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This week, I’ve created a soap that shows off the bright colours of the rainbow against a backdrop of white to make the colours really pop out. The technique is very simple, although it does require a bit of preparation.

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 soap making equipment, you will need 7 little containers for your colour preparation. The colours I used for the rainbow are micas, which are available from Pure Nature:

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Colour preparation

Because we are colouring only small amounts of soap, we will be mixing the mica directly with the soap.

Take 7 small containers, which have a volume of at least 100 ml. To each little container add the following amounts of mica:

RED: 1/8 teaspoon of Red Pearl Mica
ORANGE: 1/8 teaspoon of Saffron Orange mica
YELLOW: 1/8 teaspoon of Magic Yellow mica
GREEN: 1/8 teaspoon of Green Fruit mica
BLUE: 1/8 teaspoon of Blue Lustre mica
INDIGO: 1/16 teaspoon of Dark Violet Purple mica and 1/8 teaspoon of Magic Violet mica
VIOLET: 1/8 teaspoon of Magic Violet mica

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ONE: To prepare your lye, weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Then add 280ml water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. 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 harden the soap quicker and shorten the curing time.

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TWO: Weigh out and add the coconut oil to a large Pyrex jug. I’m using a 1.5L Pyrex jug here. Place the jug in the microwave and heat until the coconut oil has melted.

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THREE: Add the remaining oils and give it a quick stir. Set aside.

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FOUR: When the lye has cooled to room temperature, i.e. the outside of the jug feels cool to touch, you can carefully pour the lye to the oils. Make sure you are wearing protective gear (goggles and gloves) and avoid making any splashes.

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FIVE: Using only a whisk, stir briskly until the mixture has emulsified (i.e. very thin trace). You know when it has emulsified, when there are no more streaks of oil and the mixture does not separate if you leave it to stand for a while.

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SIX: Add the essential oils and give it another quick stir. If you decide to use a different blend of essential oils or fragrances, make sure that these do cause the soap to accelerate, in other words cause the soap to thicken or seize.

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SEVEN: To each of the seven pots, add approximately 60 ml of soap.

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EIGHT: Pour about 2/3 of the what is left of the white soap into the soap mold. Tap the mold gently on the bench top to even out the surface.

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NINE: If you haven’t already, stir each of the seven pots until the colours have been mixed well throughout the soap.

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Then, starting with VIOLET, pour a line of soap along the length of the mold, about 1/3 away from the edge.

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Next, pour INDIGO into the same line of soap you just poured. You want to layer the colours into each other. Gravity will make the colours spread out.

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Keep pouring the colours into the line of the previous one in this order: BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, ORANGE, and RED.

Don’t worry if you have colour left in the containers, you will be using that to create the top.

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TEN: Carefully pour the remainder of the white soap into the mold, making sure you cover all the coloured soap.

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ELEVEN: To create the top, just drip whatever coloured soap you have left randomly over the surface. At the end, spritz the surface with 99% isopropyl alcohol to prevent soap ash forming, which would otherwise dull the colours.

TWELVE: Leave the soap to cure for a few days in the mold, before removing. Then leave it to cure for another few days, before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need at least another 6-8 weeks to finish curing.

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Rainbow 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

  • 500 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 200 g sunflower oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 137 g caustic soda
  • 280 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • Red Pearl mica
  • Orange Saffron mica
  • Magic Yellow mica
  • Green Fruit mica
  • Blue Lustre mica
  • Dark Violet Purple mica
  • Magic Violet mica
  • 30 ml pink grapefruit essential oil
  • 20 ml lemon essential oil
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol

Directions

  1. Colour preparation: Take 7 small containers and to each add the following amounts of mica:
    1. RED – 1/8 teaspoon Red Pearl mica
    2. ORANGE – 1/8 teaspoon Orange Saffron mica
    3. YELLOW – 1/8 teaspoon Magic Yellow mica
    4. GREEN – 1/8 teaspoon Green Fruit mica
    5. BLUE – 1/8 teaspoon Blue Lustre mica
    6. INDIGO – 1/16 teaspoon each of Dark Purple Violet mica and Magic Violet mica
    7. VIOLET – 1/8 teaspoon Magic Violet mica
  2. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Add two teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large jug (I use a 1.5 L Pyrex jug), weigh out and add your coconut oil and place it in the microwave for 2 minutes to melt.
  4. Weigh out and add the other oils, stir briefly and set aside.
  5. Once your lye has cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to your oils and stir with a whisk until the mixture has emulsified. Be careful not to over-whisk, because you don’t want the mixture to thicken.
  6. Add your essential oils and give it another quick stir.
  7. Next, pour approximately 60 m of soap into each of the 7 containers.
  8. Then, pour about 2/3 of what is left into the soap mold.
  9. For the rainbow:
    1. stir each container until the colour is well mixed into the soap
    2. start with VIOLET, pour a line of soap about 1/3 from the edge along the whole length of the mold
    3. pour the next colour, INDIGO, into the same line of soap you poured previously
    4. keep pouring the colours into the previous line you just poured in this order: BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, ORANGE, and RED.
  10. Carefully pour the remainder of the white soap to cover the coloured soap.
  11. To create the top, drip what is left of the coloured soap over the surface. Spritz the surface with 99% isopropyl alcohol to prevent soap ash forming.
  12. Leave the soap in the mold for a few days to harden. Once the soap is firm enough, remove from the mold and let it cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will need at least another 6-8 weeks to finish curing.

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Mica swirling technique

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Creating swirly mica tops on your soaps looks a lot harder than it is, and the result is simply stunning! The surface of the soap is usually a just as important as the soap itself, and learning a technique that will create beautiful tops is very handy, especially since it leaves a lot of room for creativity. You can create wispy swirls, splatter effects, sparkly accents on your soap, and change the look each time by using a different colour. It is one of my favourite soap finishes.

A great advantage with this technique is that you can use micas that would usually morph in cold process. After the oil get absorbed into the soap, the mica is left on the surface of the soap. And because the micas remain on the surface, they are completely unaffected by the high pH environment of cold process soap making. A handy way of using up those unfortunate mica purchases!

How to do mica swirling

The rule of thumb is to combine 1 teaspoon of mica with 1 tablespoon of light weight oil, such as rice bran oil or sweet almond oil, and mix it to a smooth, fluid paste. It should be more fluid than paste. I use an electric mini-mixer for this, but you can also use a little whisk.

Don’t use too much oil, as it has to be re-absorbed into the soap. If you use too much oil, you risk not all of the oil being re-absorbed and leaving you with an oily surface!

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Next, drizzle the mica-oil mixture over the surface of the soap in thin lines and drops. Make sure it’s very free-form and ‘untidy’, and the lines are criss-crossing all over, but try and avoid big blobs of oil. How much of the mica-oil mixture you use, is entirely up to you.

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Then, using a chopstick or skewer, lightly swirl the surface of the soap. If you have a very fluid soap, like I have here, the swirls will remain flat on the surface of the soap. If you have a thick soap, you can swirl it into a three-dimensional, uneven surface.

You can swirl any way you like, in circles, straight up and down, in wavy lines, but if you’re still a bit unsure or new to this technique, try swirling it in an intertwining figure eight pattern (see image below), which will always give you a very pretty finish, regardless if you have thick or thin soap.

To finish off, spritz the surface lightly with 99% isopropyl alcohol. This will prevent any soap ash forming on the surface, and hiding those pretty swirls!

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It will take about a day or so for the soap to absorb all the oil. A bonus effect is that re-absorption of the oils will leave behind little grooves on the surface, as you can see in the image below. Places where the oil was thickest will have the deepest grooves. So even if your soap was very fluid, you will have a bit of a 3d effect after all!

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Seriously, how pretty is that?

You don’t have to use gold mica for the swirling, you are free to use any colours or combination of colours to get gorgeous results like that. Be daring and get creative!

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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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In the pot swirl technique

Difficulty: Intermediate

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This is one of the easiest way to produce coloured swirls in soaps and a great technique to get started into swirling soap. The best effect is created with two colours, but you can use more colours, as I did in this tutorial.

I had a lot of pre-mixed colourants left over from my colour tests with the soap pigments, which I wanted to use, rather than throw out. I used the three base colours red, yellow and blue, and left a portion of the soap white, to which I added titanium dioxide, to make the white stand out from the rainbow. The pigment I used are granulated soap pigments 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. Cold process soap making requires the handling of caustic soda!

ONE: First, prepare your soap. Choose a recipe that will trace slowly, so you can work with it. I used the recipe from the basic cold process soap tutorial. Follow the steps until you reach a thin trace (still very fluid).

TWO: Next, divide up the soap into as many containers or jugs as you have colours. I am using three colours, plus white), so I’m pouring about a quarter of the soap into each jug. Then add the colour and stir briskly to mix in the colour.

THREE: Now comes the actual technique. In a large jug, slowly pour a bit of the first colour. Next, pour some of the second colour into the first colour. And then, pour the next colour into the previous colour, and so on, until you’ve gone through all the colours. You can see in the pictures below, the first sequence of colours I poured into the jug.

Then, pouring into the middle of the previous colour, repeat the same sequence again, and again, until you’ve used up all the colours. I had enough soap to go through the sequence twice.

FOUR: Once you have finished pouring all the colours into the large jug, give the soap in the jug a slow swirl with a chopstick (that’s why I like saving unused chopsticks from takeaway dinners!).

FIVE: Finally, pour the soap slowly in your mold. For best results, pour the soap in a corner rather than in the middle of them mold.

SIX: Leave the soap to cure in the mold for a day or so, before taking it out and cutting it into bars. Depending on the recipe you used, the bars of soap will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks.

I added titanium dioxide to my white to get the cloud-like appearance in the soap.