The idea for this soap was born when Andee texted me a fragrance blend she’d created for one of our customers. The idea the customer wanted was a citrusy, oceany fragrance. Andee combined 2 parts Lemon Zinger Fragrance Oil with 1 part Sea Salt Fragrance Oil, and the result was wonderful!
The design I did is a modification of a mantra swirl, which Amy Warden featured in November’s Soap Challenge Club. The club’s version required makers to use dividers; my version was an attempt to do it without dividers. In the notes section, I’ll talk about what worked well and what didn’t. You can see from the photos that I did get some pretty bars!
(By the way, The Sage is sponsoring December’s Soap Challenge Club, and registration is currently open! More later about that.)
Here is what you’ll need to gather to make this soap.
Citrus By The Sea Soap
Let’s get started with a simple recipe using our 6-5-4-1 formula.
37.5% Soybean Oil
Recipe for 31 ounces fats
11.62 ounces Soybean Oil
Before you get started, get prepared to soap safely. Long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and close-toed shoes are a must. If you have never made cold process soap before, we’re glad you’re here! Please check out this blog post, which is the first in a series on beginning soapmaking.
Weigh oils into a microwave-safe container or double boiler; melt them completely. Set aside to cool.
Measure water into a lye-safe pitcher or beaker. Weigh the lye, then carefully add it to the water. Stir until lye dissolves, keeping your face away from the fumes. Set aside to cool.
While waiting for the oils and lye to cool, go make a batch of lotion. (Just kidding – that’s one of the things that got me into trouble with this batch of soap!) A better choice would be to prepare your colorants by mixing a bit of the Ocean Blue color into a small amount of olive oil or avocado oil. The Lemon Yellow dye can be added right to the soap, as it is premixed in water.
When the oils and lye solution are around 90-100ºF, carefully pour the lye solution into the oils. Stir with a silicone scraper, then use a stick blender to pulse a few times and get the soap batter to emulsion. You want a little bit of a trace, but not a thick trace.
When the soap batter is ready, pour off about 1/3 of the batter to color with Ocean Blue color. The rest of the batter will be Lemon Yellow. Add enough color to achieve the hue you want. One thing to know about Ocean Blue is that the color intensifies as the soap cures. When you first mix it into the soap batter, it will look grayish. Don’t worry! It will turn a deep blue with a teal influence. It’s gorgeous when gelled!
Pour all the yellow soap into a loaf mold and thump the mold on the table a few times to level the top and get rid of any air bubbles that might be hanging around. Now for the tricky part. Start pouring the blue soap right down the center of the loaf mold, keeping your pitcher up pretty high so the blue soap will break through the yellow and go to the bottom of the mold. As you continue pouring the blue soap, lower your pitcher closer to the yellow soap to allow the blue to come up to the top. This was the part that was a bit difficult, as my soap batter was a bit too thick for the blue to fall all the way to the bottom. (See the photos below.)
Now for the swirl. Using a thick stick or spoon handle, begin in the top left corner. Place the stick all the way to the bottom of the mold, and make the design by looping back and forth across the loaf as though you were making cursive capital Ls. You can also imagine making the infinity symbol over and over as you move down the length of the mold.
Once the design was done, I covered the soap with plastic wrap and placed it in the oven, which I had preheated to 170ºF and turned off. I left it overnight to force gel phase so the colors would be vibrant.
This soap sat in the mold about 36 hours before I attempted to remove it. I let it sit another 24 hours or so before cutting. My mold is 10” long, so I divided it into 4 segments of about 2.5” each. I then took each of the 2.5”-wide blocks and cut these horizontally to make two bars. This reveals the mantra swirl design. I got 8 bars from this 10” loaf mold.
The first issue I ran into was multitasking. I had a batch of lotion in mind to make up while my lye and oils cooled. That might have been okay on a warmer day, but my work room was quite chilly, and the oils cooled too much.
The main issue was using too many hard oils when soaping on a really cold day. I had to reheat the oils, but they remained a bit cloudy. I’m not sure if it was the Palm Kernel Oil or the Soybean Oil that was my problem, but I would modify the recipe to use more liquid oils on such a cold day.
Another issue was that my batter got too thick as I mixed it. I was afraid of having a false trace because the oils were on the cool side, so I compensated by stick blending longer than is optimal. When I divided the batter and started pouring the blue into the middle of the yellow, it wanted to pool on top rather than fall through to the bottom as I needed it to do. I was fairly sure at least some of the blue soap had made it to the bottom of the mold, but much more of it remained on top, and that was not optimal for the mantra swirl design (or any swirl, for that matter).
I also messed up the swirl because I was flustered at having so much of the blue soap ending up on top. Instead of looping and crossing back over like making a cursive L, I just swirled back and forth. Whoops! So I went back through doing the mantra swirl correctly. The result is pretty, but it’s not exactly a mantra swirl.
The thing that saved me in the design is the way the loaf is cut to reveal the swirl. Rather than just cutting the whole loaf into bars vertically as usual, it needs to be split horizontally to create basically two narrow slabs. Then each slab is cut into bar widths. The design is found inside the bars. If you do the swirl right, you’ll see the design on the top of the soap. If you don’t do it just right (like my problem with too much of the blue color pooling on top), you will just have to trust the design will be there in the middle when you cut horizontally.
My workroom smells so good with this soap sitting in it! The fragrance is bright with a little bit of ocean coming through. It makes me think of drinking lemonade on a beach.
Have you created a winning fragrance blend? What fragrances do you like to put together? If you try the Lemon Zinger/Sea Salt blend, please let us know what you think.