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Noel soap

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

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Noel has a special meaning for me. It reminds me of Christmas celebrations of times past. The family Christmas when we would all gather… The real pine Christmas tree, with delicate baubles and candles and a Christmas star on top… The old photographs, which are slightly faded now, but still have that typical golden hue of the polaroids of those times… The typical Christmas scent that lingered everywhere you would go… The sparkling colours and the greens, reds and gold of the decorations… Noel is memories and feelings and smells and colours and Christmas.

All the ingredients used in this soap are available from Pure Nature, my local (and favourite) soap ingredients supplier!

The soap has mica swirling on top, and a green and red swirl within, using a drop swirl or push swirl technique – the colours popping out against the white soap.

There is a preparation part, which you should do about a week before. A good tip is to do all the preparation for Christmas (embeds, cut-outs, etc) in one soap making session, so that you have all the extras ready for your soaps when you need them!

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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PREPARATION: From an earlier batch of soap, I separated some to make the little stars that I added on top. I poured the soap into a little container, and then when the soap had hardened enough to unmold, I cut it in slices and then used a cookie cutter to cut out the stars. Leave the stars to harden for a couple of days, before proceeding with the rest of the tutorial.

COLOUR PREPARATION: You will need four little containers. To one container add and mix 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of gold abtruse mica. To the second container add 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of shimmer green mica. To the third add 2 teaspoons of lightweight oil and 1 teaspoon of designer green mica. And to the last container add 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/4 teaspoon of red brown mica and 1/4 teaspoon of red wine mica. The lightweight oil I’m using is rice bran oil, but any other light weight oil will work as well. Set aside for later use.

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ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil. I am using olive oil, because I want to have a nice white base to contrast with the colours of the drop swirl. Castor oil is my little secret ingredient, and as you may have noticed, I use it in all my soaps. It adds a nice creamy lather to the soap, particular in soaps, such as castile soaps, which tend to have a rather thin and poor lather.

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THREE:: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).

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FOUR: Add your fragrance. I’m using Mistletoe fragrance from Candlescience, which was the inspiration of the soap. When I first smelled Mistletoe, it reminded me of all the things I mentioned above. It’s such a beautiful, vintage Christmas fragrance.

 

FIVE: Separate about 1 cup of soap each into two small jugs. And pour the remainder into the mold.

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From the colours you prepared earlier, add one teaspoon of designer green mica/oil mixture to one of the jugs with soap, and all of the red mica/oil mixture to the other jug, and stir well. You should now have one jug containing red soap and one containing green soap.

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SIX: If your soap is still very fluid, use the drop swirl technique to form a swirl in your soap. From a height of about 30 cm, pour each colour into your soap along the length of the mold, slightly off-centre.

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Push swirl technique – using a spatula to push the coloured soap into the white soap. Make sure you hold the spatula flat and push the soap in at an angle.

If your soap has thickened, like mine has (because I keep having to stop and take pictures lol), you can cheat using the push swirl, by pouring each colour into and onto your soap along the length of your mold, also slightly off-centre. Then taking a spatula, push the colours into the white soap at an angle. Do this several times along the whole length of the mold until you think you have pushed sufficient colour underneath.

 

SEVEN: Using the remainder of the colours you prepared earlier, drizzle them over the surface of your soap, and then swirl the top 1/2 centimetre of the soap in a figure-8 motion, to create a nice swirly surface.

Sprinkle some glitter over the surface and place the 10 stars in equal distance into the centre of the soap. There should be one star per bar of soap later when you cut it.

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EIGHT: Leave the soap to set and harden. I would recommend gelling the soap, to make the colours more vibrant and pop out. You can do this by placing it in a cardboard box and closing the lid. Or my trick is to put it on top of the hot water boiler with a box over it – but you will need to keep a good eye on it, so that it doesn’t heat. It will also only work if you have an old boiler like we do. The newer ones are too insulated and shouldn’t be warm on the outside.

After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure, just in time for Christmas!

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Noel

  • 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

  • 950g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 128g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 30 ml Mistletoe fragrance from Candlescience
  • 1/2 teaspoon gold abtruse mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon green shimmer mica
  • 1 teaspoon designer green mica
  • 1/4 teaspoon red brown mica
  • 1/4 teaspoon red wine mica
  • approximately 30 ml lightweight oil, i.e. rice bran oil
  • 10 little soap star embeds
  • glitter

Directions

  1. Colour preparation
    1. First container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of gold abtruse mica
    2. Second container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of shimmer green mica
    3. Third container: 2 teaspoons of lightweight oil and 1 teaspoon of designer green mica
    4. Fourth container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/4 teaspoon red brown mica and 1/4 teaspoon red wine mica.
  2. Measure out 250 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 128 g 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.
  3. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  4. In a large Pyrex jug or pot, add the 950 g olive oil and 50 g castor oil.
  5. When 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. Using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add 30 ml Mistletoe fragrance and stir.
  8. Separate approximately 1 cup of soap each into two jugs or containers, and pour the remainder of the soap into the soap mold.
  9. To one container add 1 teaspoon of the green designer oil/mica mixture and stir. To the other container add all of the red oil/mica mixture and stir.
  10. Drop swirl or push swirl.
    1. Drop swirl: from a height of 30 cm, pour the green and red soap into the white soap along the length of the mold and slightly off-centre
    2. Push swirl: pour the soap into and onto the white soap along the length and slightly off-centre, and then using a spatula, push the colours at an angle into the white soap.
  11. Using the remainder of the prepared colours, drizzle the oil/mica mixtures over the surface of the soap, and swirl the top 1/2 cm of the soap in a figure-8 motion.
  12. Sprinkle glitter over the surface and place the 10 stars in equal distance along the centre of the soap.
  13. Let soap set and harden for a few days.
  14. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Ocean Waves Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Yields: 500 g soap

There’s something about waves in the ocean that fascinate me. You can have the most stormy weather and waves crashing about on the surface of the ocean, but go deeper and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the still and calm of the ocean, blissfully unaware of the tempest raging above. I wanted to recreate this in a soap, with the movement of the waves on the surface and just deep blue in the lower part of the soap. The technique I used is simple layering, with a bit of mica dusting between the layers. I created the wave movement with swirling, using my chopstick.

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The micas I used for the blue layers in the soap are Blue Lustre and Iridescent Blue from Pure Nature. I also used a bronze mica for dusting between the layers, and a silver mica for mica swirling on the top of the soap.

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 one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Sodium lactate is a naturally derived salt, which I use to make the soap harder. Set the lye aside to cool down in a safe place, while you prepare the other ingredients.

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TWO: Take two small containers. To one container add 1/4 teaspoon of Blue Lustre mica, and to the other add 1/4 teaspoon of Iridescent Blue mica. Add 10 ml of a light weight oil, such as rice bran oil or sweet almond oil, to each container. Stir well to mix the mica and the oil.

THREE: Measure out 20 ml of fragrance, ready for when you need it. I’m using Ocean Breeze here – a lovely, fresh uni-sex fragrance with a bit of a floral, musky undertone.

Next, it’s time to get the oils ready.

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FOUR: Weigh out olive oil and castor oil in a large pyrex jug or pot, and then check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature.

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FIVE: Once your lye has cooled down sufficiently (feels cold to touch), you can carefully add it to your oils, avoiding splashes. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves and goggles! Give the mixture a few quick pulses with a stick blender until you reach thin trace.

SIX: Add your fragrance and give it another stir. The fragrance can cause the soap to accelerate (thicken), so work quickly from here on.

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SEVEN: Divide the soap up evenly in three containers. There will be roughly 175 ml of soap in each container. The containers I’m using here are cheap ones I got from the Warehouse, and although the writing is slowly coming off from use, they’re very handy for doing colour work.

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EIGHT: Take the two small containers with the mica/oil mixtures and give each of them another quick stir. Add each colour to one of the soap containers, and mix well, so that all the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the soap. The third container will be left uncoloured.

Next, we’ll be putting together the soap.

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NINE: First pour the darker of the two blue soaps. That will be the one you coloured with the Iridescent Blue mica. Give it a few taps on the bench to even out the surface and to release any air bubbles within the soap.

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Next, sprinkle some bronze mica over the layer and gently blow on it to spread it over the whole surface of the soap. Be careful, this can get very messy! Don’t worry if it doesn’t spread evenly and you have the odd spot with a bit more mica. This will just add to the effect!

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TEN: Carefully pour or spoon the uncoloured soap over the mica covered layer. Try not to move it too much as not to mix the mica into your white soap. Leave a little white for later use. And again dust the white layer with bronze mica and blow on it to spread it over the whole surface.

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ELEVEN: Add the last layer, the Blue Lustre mica coloured soap. And again, work carefully as not to disturb the mica layer and mix it into the soap.

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TWELVE: Using your spatula, scrape out any remainder soap in your containers and add it to the surface of your soap.

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THIRTEEN: If you haven’t already, mix one teaspoon of a silver coloured mica into 10 ml of lightweight oil, such as rice bran oil. Give it a good stir.

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FOURTEEN: Drip the mica/oil slurry over your soap. It’s ok if you have puddles like I have, as you can see in the photo below. We’ll be mixing it partly into the soap.

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FIFTEEN: Using your chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap. To create a semblance of waves, I lifted and pulled the soap out with my chopstick in a kind of vertical circular motion.

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SIXTEEN: Leave to cure in the mold for a couple of days. Then carefully remove the soap from the mold and let it harden for another few days, before cutting it into bars. Let the bars cure for 6-8 weeks.

Ocean Waves 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

  • 375 g olive oil
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 50 g caustic soda
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • Blue Lustre mica
  • Iridescent Blue mica
  • bronze coloured mica
  • silver coloured mica
  • Ocean Breeze fragrance
  • rice bran oil or other light weight oil

Directions

  1. Prepare 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. Prepare your colours: add 5 ml rice bran oil to two small containers. To the first, add 1 teaspoon of Blue Lustre mica, and to the second, add 1 teaspoon Iridescent Blue mica. Mix each container well.
  3. Measure out your fragrance and set aside.
  4. Weigh out the oils in a large pyrex jug or pot.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and using a whisk, stir briskly until you reach thin trace.
  6. Add the fragrance oil, and stir again using the whisk.
  7. Divide the soap evenly into three containers.
  8. To one of the containers add the Blue Lustre mica/oil mixture and to another container add the Iridescent Blue mica/oil mixture. Mix the two containers well to disperse the colour throughout the soap. Leave the third container uncoloured.
  9. Pour the darker of the blue (Iridescent Blue) soaps into the mold, and tap gently to release any air bubbles in the soap.
  10. Sprinkle some bronze mica over the layer of the soap and gently blow on it. Make sure the whole surface is covered with bronze coloured mica.
  11. Next, carefully spoon the uncoloured soap over the mica, trying not the mix the mica into the soap. Tap gently to even the soap.
  12. Again, sprinkle bronze mica over the layer and gently blow on it, covering the whole surface.
  13. Spoon the other blue soap over the layer. Again, try not to mix the mica into the soap.
  14. If you have any soap left in the other containers, scrape it out with a spatula and add it to the top of your soap.
  15. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of silver coloured mica in 1/2 teaspoon of rice bran oil and mix well. Drizzle over the surface of the soap.
  16. Using a chopstick, swirl the surface of the soap, making some wave impressions. Leave the soap to cure for a few days.
  17. 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 a further 6-8 weeks to cure.

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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.