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Neon swirl soap

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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

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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
  • Print
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.

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Solid shampoo bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 45 mins

Yields: 4 bars

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Learn how to make this gentle cleansing shampoo bar, which leaves your hair soft, silky and tangle-free. Suits all hair types, and this tutorial is a great introduction for those wanting to venture into making solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Also check out this hydrating solid conditioner bar!

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature or your local soap making supplies shop.

Please note SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) powder is very irritating if breathed in or gets in your eyes. I know it sounds like a total contradiction, since it is a very mild, non-irritating cleansing surfactant. But we work with it as a very fine, light powder, which is easily airborne, and our lungs really, really don’t like it. So make sure you wear goggles and a breathing mask (dust mask) and have your windows open!

ONE: Start by preparing all your additives. First add 1 teaspoon of citric acid to 10 ml of hot water and then stir until the citric acid has dissolved. Then add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, the orange essential oil and the mica, if you decide to add colour. Stir everything together.

The citric acid helps to soften the water, especially in areas of hard water (see blog post about hard water here). It works by reacting with the mineral ions in the water, and basically rendering them inactive.

Coco-caprylate is one of my favourite little secret additives. It is a natural alternative to silicons derived from coconut. It is a lightweight emollient, which coats and seals in moisture, making your hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. But unlike silicons, it doesn’t build up in your hair, is easily washed out and is biodegradable.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, keeps your hair hydrated. The provitamin B5 turns into pantothenic acid when absorbed into the hair shaft, where it binds water and thus retains moisture inside the hair.

And the essential oil I’m using in this shampoo bar is orange essential oil, which is not only a delicious fruity fragrance, but is also full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, is known to increase the ability of absorbing vitamin C as well, and is an excellent moisturiser with calming, soothing qualities on both skin and mind. And also who doesn’t love orange?

TWO: This part can be skipped if your sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) comes in powder form. In any case for this part and the next part, you will need to wear goggles and dust mask to avoid breathing in the powder and to prevent it getting into you eyes.

If your SCI comes in pellet form, use a bullet or food processor to grind it into a fine powder. The finer the powder, the easier it will be to work with. SCI is very difficult to melt due to its high melting point, and by using powder instead of pellets, you can significantly reduce the melting time from hours (pellets) to minutes (powder)!

The benefits of sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) is that it is a very mild and gentle (anionic) surfactant which is naturally derived from coconut and also biodegradable unlike most anionic surfactants (except soap).

Be careful to let the powder settle before opening the bullet or food processor and to tip the powder in at once from a very low height. I usually go outside to do this and let the dust settle again before going back inside. Like I said, the powder makes you sneeze!

THREE: Once you have your SCI in powder form, weigh the correct amount and then add the coco-glucoside. The coco-glucoside is also natural and derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. It is added as a non-ionic co-surfactant, which acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent and conditioner. Basically, it helps make a nice smooth fluid paste, makes sure you have a great lather when you use it, and it conditions your hair while you clean it.

Once you’ve combined the SCI and the coco-glucoside, it’s time to melt it. You can either use the microwave or directly on your stove. If you are using the stove, use the lowest setting and keep stirring gently. You can also use a double boiler, but that will take longer. I found if I use the lowest setting on my stove, it works just as well as a double boiler!

However, I’m using the microwave here. When you use the microwave, use it in burst of 30 seconds initially and then reduce the burst to 10 seconds. Stir briskly between the bursts and always keep an eye on it in the microwave because it can boil over! When it starts rising, stop, stir, and then put it back in for 10 seconds, until you have a paste similar to the photo below.

FOUR: In another pot, add your BTMS-25, cocoa butter and Dehyquart F75. These are all conditioning agents. Melt it until liquid in the microwave or stove top, and then add it to the SCI/coco-glucoside paste.

The BTMS-25 is naturally derived from rapeseed, coconut and/or palm oil. It is a conditioner pellet made from 25% behentrimonium methosulfate and 75% cetearyl alcohol. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent, and not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants.

Dehyquart 75 is another conditioning ingredient, which soften and moisturise hair. It is made of distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohol, and comes in off-white waxy flakes or pellets. The active ingredient is the distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, which is a quaternary ammonium salt like the BTMS, and like BMTS-25 is not he prohibited ingredients in the Curly Girl Method. The cetearyl alcohol is a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, which help stabilise the emulsion, but also give the shampoo its silky and creamy appearance and helps soften and hydrate your hair.

Cocoa butter also has excellent conditioning properties, is incredibly nourishing for your hair and leaves it soft and shiny. There’s just the right amount of cocoa butter in this shampoo, so that it will condition your hair without leaving it feel greasy and heavy.

FIVE: Mix everything to a fluid paste like in the photo. It will take a little while to stir until everything has been thoroughly incorporated into the paste.

SIX: Then add the additives that you have pre-mixed in the beaker and stir everything until it is an even colour.

SEVEN: Pour the shampoo mixture into your moulds and let them cool down and set overnight before using. I prefer to let them dry out for about a week before I shut the lid or use them, just because I find that it helps make them long-lasting that way.

This has become my personal favourite shampoo bar at the moment, because I don’t need any conditioner with it. I’ve also mixed up the essential oil blend a few times, just because I don’t like using the same thing over and over again. Lavender and mint is a nice alternative, or just plain lemongrass, which is the one I’m currently using. Feel free to experiment a little!

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Solid shampoo bars

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 240 g SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate)
  • 80 g coco-glucoside
  • 40 g BTMS-25
  • 20 g cocoa butter
  • 10 g dehyquart F75
  • 10 ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 4 clamshell moulds

Directions

  1. In a small beaker, add the citric acid to the hot water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, essential oil and mica, and stir until it is a slurry. Set aside.
  3. If the SCI is in pellet form, grind it up into powder using a bullet or food processor. Make sure you are wearing goggles and a dust mask, and have your windows open. DO NOT BREATHE IN THE DUST!
  4. Carefully, still wearing goggles and mask, combine the SCI and coco-glucoside and either melt in the microwave or stove top, until melted to a fluid paste. Be careful in the microwave, as it can suddenly start boiling (foaming) over.
  5. In another small jug or pot, add the BTMS-25, cocoa butter and dehyquart, and melt it until liquid.
  6. Pour it to the SCI/coco-glucoside mixture and give it a very good stir.
  7. Add the contents from the beaker (see point 1 and 2) you’ve set aside and stir everything until it has blended to a smooth paste.
  8. Lastly, pour the shampoo mixture into the moulds. You’ll need to work fast, as the mixture starts to set and thicken quickly.
  9. Leave the bars to cool down completely before unmoulding. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to let them dry for about a week before use.

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5X Sweet Orange Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars of soap to fit a large loaf mold

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Citrus oils are very volatile and can lose their scent quickly in soaps, especially when they heat up during gelling in cold process. Using a concentrated orange essential oil removes some of these lower boiling components, mainly the terpenes, which intensifies the scent and makes it also longer lasting in soaps, but also removes some of the phytotoxicity. The higher the concentration the stronger the scent will be. Higher concentrated essential oils can also colour your soap, ranging from yellow to orange. Sometimes the colour can fade during curing, but the stronger tints tend to stay.

In this tutorial I am using the ‘5-fold’ orange essential oil from Pure Nature, which has an amazing intense fruity orange fragrance, and I can confirm that the scent is still strong after the obligatory 6 week curing time. This is definitely one of my favourite orange oils!

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.

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ONE: Measure out the caustic soda and the water in separate containers. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (never the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool down.

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TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter, and heat in the microwave or stove top until the oil and butter have melted. This particular recipe will give you a nice solid bar of soap with a creamy lather due to the coconut and shea butter it contains.

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THREE: Add the olive oil and castor oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter. I’m using pomace olive oil here because it makes for a harder bar than the cold pressed olive oil and doesn’t need as long a curing time. I also find that the pomace oil I’m using makes a whiter soap than my other olive oils, but I know that’s not the case with all pomace oils.

FOUR:  Add the ‘5-fold’ orange essential oil and give everything a good stir. As you can see on the bottle the Latin name is Citrus sinensis, which is the same as the normal sweet orange essential oil. The only difference being that is a 5-fold concentration than the normal essential oil.

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FIVE: Make sure you are (still) wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye solution to the oils, avoiding any splashes.

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SIX: Use your stick blender and alternatively pulse and stir until the mixture has emulsified and thickened to a medium trace.

SEVEN: Pour the soap into your loaf mould and sprinkle some calendula petals over the top for decoration.

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EIGHT: 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.

Note: the soap will have a yellow-golden colour to it in the beginning but this will fade over time, leaving only a light yellow tinge.

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5x Sweet Orange 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

  • 550 g olive oil
  • 300 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 138 g caustic soda
  • 260 g water
  • 50 ml 5x orange essential oil
  • optional: calendula petals

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. Set aside to cool down.
  2. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and heat in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  3. Add the olive oil and castor oil.
  4. Measure out and add the essential oil and give everything a good stir.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified and thickened to a medium trace.
  6. Pour the soap into the soap mould. Optional: sprinkle some calendula petals over the surface.
  7. 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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Bubble bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 10 bars

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I love, love, love bubble bars! They’re fun, smell delicious and…. BUBBLES! Lots of bubbles! Need I say anything more?

These bubble bars are created especially with the humid climate in mind! To make them, you will need quite few ingredients, but let me assure you, it’ll be worth it! All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature, except for the corn starch, which you can get from any supermarket.

The fragrance I’m using for these bubble bars is Jamaica Me Crazy from Candlescience, a deliciously fruity tropical blend, and perfect for these fun bubble bars!

ONE: First add all your dry ingredients to the bowl: baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, kaolin powder, corn starch and cream of tartar. Be careful when adding the SLSa, which is a very fine powder. Avoid breathing it in as it can be irritating to your lungs. I will usually work outdoors and upwind when using SLSa, or alternatively, I will tie a scarf or cloth around my face to prevent breathing it in.

The baking soda and citric acid are what will create a fizz in your bath. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSa), not to be confused with the sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), adds the bubbles to your bath. It is a mild and gentle skin cleanser, and considered skin safe. Both the kaolin clay and cream of tartar add hardness to the bar, and the corn starch acts as a skin softener.

Wearing gloves, mix the dry ingredients and break up any clumps.

TWO: Add the liquid ingredients, glycerin, decyl-glucoside, polysorbate 80, coconut oil and fragrance, and knead everything together to a dough. Glycerin is the ingredient, which helps create this dough like consistency, coco-glucoside is a foam booster, and polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier, helping to mix the oils and mica into the water and preventing oil streaks on the water surface and colour rims on the bath tub.

THREE: Separate the dough into three roughly equal portions, and add 1/2 teaspoon of mica to each portion. Knead until the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the dough, which can take a little while.

The micas I’m using are from Pure Nature and are called Coral Reef (orange), Juicy Pink and Shimmer Green. They also work well in cold process soap.

FOUR: To put the loaf together, first place the green dough on a sheet of baking paper and flatten it slightly with your hand. Place the pink dough on top and flatten it out to the same size as the underlying green dough. And lastly, place the orange dough on top and again, flatten it to the size of the other two doughs.

FIVE: Place another sheet of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to a sheet of about 1-2 cm thickness. The baking paper will avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin.

SIX: Once you have flattened the dough to the desired thickness, carefully roll it up into a log. You can see in the pictures that I am using the baking paper to help roll the dough.

Once you have rolled the dough into a log, smooth it out with your hands, and because the bottom will most likely still be sticking to the baking paper, carefully roll the log over.

SEVEN: Use a sharp knife, cut the log into 10 equal bars. Place the bars on a sheet of baking paper, and lightly flatten each bar with the palm of your hand.

EIGHT: Leave the bars to dry out overnight. Turn them over and let them dry for another day. Check their hardness, if they are still soft, you will need to let them dry for longer, turning them over each day.

Because of the high humidity here in New Zealand, bubble bars will take longer to harden than usual. It is not unusual for me to have them drying for several days up to a week.

To use them, crumble the bubble bar under running water and watch it make lots and lots of bubbles in your bath!

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Bubble bars

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup SLSa
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup kaolin clay
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • 1 teaspoon decyl-glucoside
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons fragrance
  • 1/2 teaspoon green mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink mica

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, corn starch, kaolin clay and cream of tartar in a bowl, and mix it, using your hands, breaking up any clumps. Be careful of the SLSa, which is a very fine powder, and try not to breathe it in.
  2. Add the liquid ingredients (glycerin, decyl-glucoside, polysorbate 80, coconut oil, fragrance) and, still using your hands, knead it together to a dough.
  3. Separate the dough to approximately 3 equal portions.
  4. To each portion add a different colour mica, and knead well until the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
  5. Spread out a sheet of baking paper and place your green dough on it. Flatten it a little with your hand. Place the pink dough on top and flatten it out to the size of the green. Lastly, add the orange dough and flatten that out as well to match the other two.
  6. Place another sheet of baking paper over the dough, and using a rolling pin, roll it to a fairly thin rectangle sheet, approximately 1-2 cm thick. The baking paper will help avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin.
  7. Carefully roll up the sheet of dough into a log.
  8. Using a knife, cut the log into bars. Place the bars on to a sheet of baking paper and gently flatten them a little with the palm of your hand.
  9. Leave the bars to dry overnight, then carefully turn them over and dry them for another day. Check if they are solid enough. If not, let them dry for another few days, keep turning them each day.

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Soap dough

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

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I often get asked about a special soap recipe, because most soap makers don’t realise that any soap will work! Soap dough is actually a normal soap recipe that has gone through the saponification process but hasn’t been allowed to dry out (cure). It’s not a special formulation and doesn’t contain any special ingredients. Really, any soap can be used, and I often use my left over soap from other projects, either cut offs or the leftover in my soap pot, and will it turn into little soap beads or other soap decorations for my cupcakes. The trick is, as mentioned before, to not let the soap dry out. As long as you store it in an airtight plastic bag or container, the soap dough will keep for at least a month or longer.

You don’t have to use a special soap dough recipe, any left over soap that is still soft enough can be used!

However, there are times when you do need a bit more soap dough for larger projects, or if you want to prepare a batch ahead, so I have added a special soap dough recipe at the end of this blog post, which will give you a nice white soap base, like the one in the picture below. You can make the soap as usual using the cold process method, letting it set in the mold overnight, before unmolding and storing it in a plastic bag. The soap should be soft and pliable. If it is too wet and sticky just let it dry out a little longer. You can either use the soap as it is, or add micas, soap colourants, or natural colourants to colour the dough.

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The consistency of the soap should be like play dough – easy to knead and mold. If the soap is a little too sticky, you can mix in a little corn starch. Take as much soap as you need for the project, and leave the rest in the bag, as not to dry out. Knead your soap before using. The warmth of your hands and the friction will help soften the soap and make it easier to work with. I do recommend wearing gloves, especially if the soap is less than 2 weeks old, although I have to admit I’m don’t always wear gloves when playing with my soap dough.

If you are very creative, you can shape your dough into any little creature or object. It’s just like working with play dough. There are some very creative people out there, have a look on YouTube and search for polymer clay or fondant miniature tutorials. To paint the shapes, mix a little mica with alcohol and using a small paint brush, just paint on the mica (for example eyes, shading, etc).

Here are some simple tutorials to check out and get you started:

You can also use little silicon molds, such as berries or shells. Just press the soap into the mold and then carefully unmold. You can use the shapes straight away, but if you are planning on storing them, let them cure for a few weeks to harden before placing them into a container.

My favourite use for the soap dough is making little mica coloured soap pearls, which are so easy to make and great for embellishing your soap creations. Just roll your soaps into little balls with your hands, and place them in a little cup or container. Add a little mica, depending on how many beads you are making, about 1/4 teaspoon should be more than enough, and then swirl the beads around in the mica. When you take out the beads, give them a little shake to remove the excess mica, and store them in an open container to harden them and finish curing.

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Here’s my favourite dough recipe, although as I mentioned before, you can just as easily use any left over soap from another project.

To make the dough base as white as the little shells in the picture above, I added titanium dioxide, which you can get from Pure Nature.

Soap dough recipe

  • 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

  • 140 g olive oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 100 g sunflower oil
  • 100 g cocoa butter
  • 10 g castor oil
  • 60 g caustic soda
  • 140 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon titanium dioxide

Directions

  1. Measure out the water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
  2. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter has melted.
  3. Add the olive, sunflower and castor oils to the now-liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter, and give it a quick stir. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the titanium dioxide, by mixing 1 teaspoon of titanium dioxide with 2 teaspoons of water.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the titanium dioxide mixture.
  7. Then, using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified and thickened to medium trace.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and leave to set overnight.
  9. The next day, unmold and check if the soap is not sticky anymore. If it is, let it cure for another day or so, just enough to dry it out a little more, but not enough to harden.
  10. Cut the soap up into cubes and knead them together, to make it soft and pliable. Make sure you are wearing gloves! The soap is still zingy!
  11. Store the soap dough in an airtight container or plastic bag until needed. It will keep for a month or longer.