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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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Sunny yellows and orange

I love sunny mornings and how it makes everything happier and brighter. Sunshine just seems to lift everyone’s spirits and moods. And although it’s been unbelievably cold this week, the sunny weather makes me care a lot less about the cold. I just wrap myself up in a warm jacket and woolly hat, and off I go walking the dog. I even look forward to it, despite the freezing temperature.

To reflect the happy, sunny weather we have at the moment, this week will be all about the yellows and orange colours. I have some great tutorials coming up later this week, but today, I’ll show you how the yellow and orange micas from Pure Nature behave in cold process soap.

Pure Nature has 2 yellow micas, Yellow Glitter and Magic Yellow, and one orange mica, Orange Saffron. All three produce beautiful, bright colours, but they do exhibit some strange behaviour during the process.

Let’s start with what the colours look like after a week of curing:

As you can see, the colours are nice and bright, and are true to what they are supposed to be. The yellows are what I think true yellows, there is no brown or orange hue  in them. The difference between them is slight, but the Magic Yellow is a warmer, richer yellow than the pastel-like Yellow Glitter.

The Yellow Glitter also took a little detour, before becoming this shade of yellow. For the first two days, I was convinced it was going to end up orange. Yes, that’s how long before it finally started turning back to nice yellow!

 

The orange on the other hand, behaved itself and remained orange throughout the process. No funny surprises here.

So for this week, enjoy the sunshine, and don’t forget to check back for some yellow and orange tutorials!

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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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Moody reds and pretty pinks this week

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Reds and pinks are probably the most popular colours in soap making, yet for all their popularity it is often difficult to get the exact shade you desire. Many reds morph towards the purple part of the spectrum or even into browns. Some of the problem lies with the yellow undertone of the soap base, but more often it is the dyes used to colour the mica in a particular shade of red, which react in the high pH environment of cold process soap making. To help you take the guesswork out of soap colouring and prevent unhappy results, I’ve tested the micas available at Pure Nature to help you choose your shade of red and pink for your next soap project!

The soap recipe I’ve created for the colour tests contains olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil and castor oil, which gives the soap a creamy off-white base colour, and will hopefully most naturally reflect the colour of the micas. I, purposefully, did not go for a near-white soap, because only few soap recipes are truly white.

The micas I’m testing are all from Pure Nature. The colours this week are: red mauve, red pearl, red wine, sweetheart rose, juicy pink, and magic pink. Usage rate is 1 teaspoon per 500 g of soap.

As you can see, there are no true reds here. I have to admit, I have yet to find a mica that will give me a true red. I’ve tried previously to mix different red and orange micas, but without satisfactory results. Here are some tests I did last year trying and failing to create a red for my Christmas soaps.

Your best bet for a true red is with soap pigments or lakes. Allura Red, a lake available from Pure Nature has a very bright, brick red that stays true in cold process (see here).

Check back later this week for a gorgeous cold process soap tutorial and a vibrant lipstick tutorial!