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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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Pink clay and salt bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 bath bombs

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Baths are a wonderful way to detox and rejuvenate your skin. These bath bombs contain the benefits of cleansing pink French clay and detoxifying Himalayan salt, combined with an uplifting and soothing blend of litsea cubeba, ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender to leave your skin looking radiant and feeling soft and smooth.

All ingredients are available from Pure Nature, who also stock the bath bomb molds in two sizes, the larger one is the one we used here, which is perfect for an adult sized bath.

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ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add two cups of baking soda and one cup of citric acid to a bowl.

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TWO: Add 1/2 cup of pink Himalayan sea salt and 2 tablespoons of pink French clay.

Next, put on disposable gloves to protect your hands and nails (baking soda and citric acid ruin your manicure!), and using your hands, combine everything and break up any clumps.

THREE: Then measure out and add your essential oil blend. I used 2 ml of litsea cubeba (may chang), 1/2 ml of ylang ylang, 1/2 ml bergamot and 1 ml of lavender essential oils. Mix the essential oils well into the bath bomb mixture.

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FOUR: Using a spray bottle, spritz some water and start mixing it in immediately. Keep mixing and spritzing until you reach the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but when you squeeze some of the bath bomb mixture in your hand, it should hold its shape.

FIVE: Scoop the bath bomb mixture into your half molds and fill them a little bit more than it can hold. Push down with your palms to compact the mixture. Then press two halves together and twist them so that both halves will hold. Gently remove one of the half molds and then, carefully, place it on a baking sheet and remove the other half mold.

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SIX: Leave the bath bombs to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place. I like using my hot water cupboard for this, because it’s the driest place in the house. Because of the clay, they might take a little longer to dry than usual. Once they’re solid, wrap them in cellophane or put them in a little cellophane bag, to keep them dry. Bath bombs should be used within 3-6 months, because they will lose their fizziness over time.

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Pink clay and salt bath bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup fine pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 tablespoons pink French clay
  • 2 ml litsea cubeba (may chang) essential oil
  • 1/2 ml ylang ylang essential oil
  • 1/2 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 1 ml lavender essential oil

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl.
  2. Add the pink clay and Himalayan salt.
  3. Measure out and add the essential oils, and, wearing gloves, mix well with your hands, breaking up any clumps..
  4. Spritz with water and keep mixing until you have reached the right consistency. It should be still powdery, but hold shape when you squeeze the mixture in your hand.
  5. Scoop the bath bomb mixture into the half molds and firmly press to compact. Press two halves together and twist to hold shape.
  6. Gently remove them from the mold and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Leave them to dry overnight before wrapping. Note, because of the clay, they may take a little longer to dry!

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Cleansing clay soap

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

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French pink clay is known to clarify and improve skin softness, but in a gentle way, which makes it ideal for all skin types. A shower soap made with pink clay will gently exfoliate without irritating your skin, and will help smooth and draw out impurities. If you have oily skin or blemished skin, for example on the upper arms, backs of thighs and/or stomach, you can substitute the pink clay for red clay, which has a stronger drawing effect.

Exfoliation is an important part in the skin care routine, and should be used on the whole body and not just on the face. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, opens clogged pores and stimulates circulation, which improves both skin texture and tone, leaving the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.

Added a rose geranium, sweet orange, and lavender essential oils maximise the benefits of the clays and help balance and soothe the skin.

Rose geranium is used for a wide range of skin disorders, such as eczema, acne, rashes,  because not only does it reduce inflammation, it also helps balance the secretion of sebum, which makes it ideal for dry, oily or combination skin.

Sweet Orange essential oil is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it an ideal ingredient in your skin care routine. This oil isn’t just for acne-prone skin though: It’s been shown to increase the ability to absorb vitamin C, collagen production, and blood flow, all of which are essential for anti-aging.

Lavender essential oil, is one of the best known skin oils, for its properties. It is an antibacterial, helps reduce redness, inflammation and blemishes, and is soothing and calming on both body and mind.

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature. The soap mold I’m using is the small square silicon mold, which is my favourite soap mold, perfect for small batches and test soaps. It makes 4 bars of 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!

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. Optional: stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate, which will make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

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

TWO: Get your fragrance ready, by measuring out the essential oils in a measuring beaker. If you don’t have a measuring beaker: 20 drops of essential oil are approximately 1 ml.

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

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

FOUR: Add the other oils and give it a little stir to blend them.

When the lye has cooled down to room temperature…

FIVE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves). Add the clay to your lye and give it a careful but good stir to make sure all the clay is suspended in the water and there are no more clumps. Be careful of splashes! Note the pink clay goes a reddish orange when added to the lye and soap, but once it’s cured it will be a beautiful soft pink. If you are using the red clay, it will cure to a rich orange/red colour.

SIX:  Carefully pour the lye to the oils and whisk until the mixture has emulsified.

SEVEN: Add your fragrance.

EIGHT: Keep stirring with the whisk or give it a few pulses with a stick blender until you reach trace (the mixture has emulsified and starts to thicken). It doesn’t matter if you stir/pulse too much and the mixture becomes thick, but make sure it has emulsified. The image below shows thin trace, so you want it like this or thicker!

NINE: Pour the soap into the mold. Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles.

TEN: Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and leave it to cure in the mold for a few days, before carefully removing. Leave to cure for another day before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 4-6 weeks until they’re ready.

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Cleansing Clay Soap

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

Ingredients

  • 250 g olive oil
  • 120 g coconut oil
  • 30 g castor oil
  • 56 g caustic soda
  • 110 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 1 teaspoon pink clay
  • 10 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 ml lavender essential oil
  • poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Optional: add one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare your fragrance.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted.
  4. Add the other oils and give it a good stir.
  5. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, add 1 teaspoon of clay and whisk well (but carefully to avoid splashes) until all the clay has dispersed and there are no more clumps.
  6. Carefully add the lye to the oils and stick blend briefly until the mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the fragrance and keep stick blending until the mixture has reached trace (thickened).
  8. Pour in mold, and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
  9. Leave to cure in the mold for a few days, before removing and cutting. The bars of soap will need another 4-6 weeks of curing.