Sponsorship of the December contest in the Soap Challenge Club has the whole Majestic Mountain Sage team excited to see what wonders will be produced. I’m making some soap, but I won’t be entering it in the contest. This is just for fun.
I’ve been thinking about different techniques and watching a lot of videos, trying to decide what to do. Dancing Funnel kept coming back to my mind, so that’s the technique I chose to try for the regular category guidelines. I’ve never made a soap using this technique before. I hope I don’t make a huge mess of it!
Fortunately, there are many resources available in the Soap Challenge Club.
One thing I definitely need is a recipe that will be slow to trace to successfully make the technique work. I also need to choose a colorant that will not absorb too much liquid. I chose Mint Green pigment to be my accent color. Pigments do not accelerate trace like ultramarines or oxides. I have to use Titanium Dioxide to make the white soap, but hopefully, the slow tracing batter will offset any issues. I’ll use half Black Onyx and half Activated Charcoal to make the black soap.
For a fragrance, I chose Eucalyptus Spearmint. It’s a fragrance that actually slows trace. Also, it works with the green accent color, and I love the smell.
Here’s the recipe I am using.
I am using water as my liquid, with 1 teaspoon PPO (per pound of oils) of powdered sugar, which is recommended to help slow trace. I’ll also add 1/2 teaspoon PPO of Sodium Lactate, again to keep the soap batter fluid. The fact that it helps harden the bar is just an added benefit.
I didn’t want to use a big mold that would take forever to fill, so I found a box lid that is smaller than my slab mold. It will hold 25 ounces (oil weight only). That seems doable.
Using our Lye Calculator tells me what amounts of oils, lye, and water I’ll need to fill a 25-ounce mold.
8.75 ounces Olive Oil
7.5 ounces Lard
6.25 ounces Coconut Oil
2.5 ounces Sweet Almond Oil
3.55 ounces Lye
7.45 ounces Water
1.5 teaspoons Powdered Sugar (added to water)
1 teaspoon Sodium Lactate (added to cooled lye solution)
MAKING THE SOAP
After mixing the water and lye out on the front porch with the stiff breeze at my back, I left the container out there to cool while I melted the oils. (The ambient temperature was about 18 degrees F, so it was not in any danger of getting too cold.)
I melted the lard and coconut oil in the microwave, then I added the olive oil and sweet almond oil. The temperature of the oils was 120. I was aiming for between 90 and 100 degrees F, so I let it sit while I worked on cooling the lye solution.
When I brought the lye solution back inside, it was 145 degrees F. A few minutes sitting in a sink of cold water brought the temp down to 97 degrees F. By that time, the oils had cooled to 98 degrees. I mixed the sodium lactate into the lye solution and checked the temperatures again. They were 96 and 94 degrees F, so I started making soap.
I decided to try hand stirring for a while, but I used the stick blender for several bursts of 2-3 seconds each just to get the emulsion to happen. The batter stayed nice and fluid, and it was at emulsion and beginning to show a light trace, so I divided the batter for coloring and stirred in the fragrance oil.
I added enough Mint Green pigment (premixed with Glycerin) to get the shade I wanted, then I poured the soap into a bottle. I did the same with the smaller amount of white (which was to be my outline color), adding Titanium Dioxide premixed with Glycerin. Once that was done, I put the white soap in another bottle.
There was about twice as much black soap, which I colored using Black Onyx color and Activated Charcoal premixed in Glycerin. Then I poured it into a bottle as well.
CREATING THE DESIGN
I began making the first white circles in the bottom of the mold, adding the black inside them. Trying to work fast and be careful to squirt the soap batter precisely is not as easy as it appears on the videos I watched. Fortunately, I didn’t drip very much. By the time I’d gotten about 2/3 the way through the pour, the white soap was getting thick. I shook the bottle vigorously, and that helped a bit. I hurried to get the last of the soap done, and then I put it in the oven to gel. (I’d preheated the oven to 170 degrees F, which is the lowest heat setting. When I put the soap in, I turned off the heat.)
Fast forward about 6 hours. The soap had been in the oven long enough for a small batch, so I took it out. But I’m going to wait to cut it until tomorrow morning. The top looks good – I’m anxious to see how it looks inside.
Ready to see the cut? Me, too!
I’m happy with the colors. The black and white are spot on, and the green shows up very well against them. However, the thickness of the white batter messed up the design more than I like. If this were soap I was going to enter in the contest, I’d very likely redo it.
The thing I always remind myself when a design does not come out like I envisioned, it’s still soap, it smell marvelous, and it will probably make someone smile. That’s a win!