January’s Soap Challenge Club is all about hanger swirls, and there are a lot of different types!
I’m participating in the challenge on my own, but I thought it would be fun to blog about it. I would have made my soap earlier in the month, but it took me until yesterday to locate the gear tie I’d planned to use as a hanger swirl tool. I used to have a piece of coated wire I used as a hanger swirl tool, but that’s nowhere to be found, of course.
The hanger swirl I did is just the basic variety that you don’t know what you’ve got until you cut your soap. I decided it would be simplest to use only two colors, so I chose Ultramarine Blue and Amethyst Pink. I left about half the soap batter uncolored.
Hanger Swirls work best if the batter is not very thick, so I chose a recipe that ought to remain fluid a bit longer than average. (It’s the same recipe I used when I made the Tall & Skinny Shimmy recently.) Ultramarine Blue tends to thicken soap batter, so I knew I’d be working against that. I did not find the Amethyst Pink caused thickening. I used Blood Orange & Thyme Fragrance Oil, as it does not discolor or accelerate trace. Actually, I felt like it even decelerated trace, which was an exciting thing to learn.
One of the challenges of the hanger swirl is that it’s blind, and because you can’t see what you’re doing inside the soap, it’s not hard to overdo it with the swirling. I’ll talk more about this and the results in my soap in the Notes section.
Hanger Swirl Soap – What You’ll Need
These are the oils and additives I used to make this soap. You could try any combination of oils; just make sure you choose oils that will make a fluid batter.
37.5% Olive Oil
16.5 ounces Olive Oil
Basic Soaping Instructions
Before getting started, please prepare 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 all the oils into a microwave-safe container; set aside.
Weigh the fragrance oil into a small glass container; set aside.
Weigh the lye.
Weigh the liquid you will be using.
Slowly add the lye to the liquid, stirring. Do this in a well-ventilated area. It will give off toxic fumes that you do not want to inhale. Once the lye is completely dissolved, set the mixture aside to cool.
Pop the oils into the microwave to melt, using 30-second increments. Once they are completely liquid, set them aside to cool.
Here is your break to clean up your work space, set out the mold you will use, visit the rest room. Once the oils and the lye mixture are within 10 degrees of each other and have cooled to about 90ºF, you’re ready to make this soap.
Because I knew it did not accelerate, I added the Blood Orange & Thyme fragrance oil directly to the cooled oils before adding the lye solution.
Carefully pour the lye mixture into the oils, taking care not to splash. Stir with your spoon, then pulse the stick blender a few times just to emulsify the soap batter. Don’t overdo the stick blending; you need a fluid batter.
Now’s the time to separate the batter for colors. I poured off about half of the batter into two jugs for colors and left the rest uncolored. (I was pleasantly surprised at how white the uncolored batter turned out.) I had premixed Ultramarine Blue with glycerin and the Amethyst Pink with some olive oil. I just added it to the batter until I had a color I liked.
For the pour, I put about half the uncolored batter in the mold, then I poured alternating lines of the blue and pink the length of the mold. When it was about half full, I added the rest of the uncolored batter and poured more lines with the colored batters until most of it was gone. I saved a little to decorate the top.
For the hanger swirl, I stuck the gear tie into the soap batter and made loops with it from the bottom to the top staying in one half of the soap mold. I made sure to touch the sides so they would be swirled. Then I repeated the swirl motions on the other half of the mold. Then I decided I probably had not done enough in the center, so I did the same motion down the middle.
I scraped out the last of the colored soaps and dropped it gently in lines on top of the soap in the mold. I took a chopstick and swirled just the top to make a pretty design.
I covered the soap mold with plastic wrap and put it in a preheated oven (170ºF then turn off the oven) to force gel phase so the colors would be nice and bold. I left it there overnight and cut the soap after roughly 24 hours.
Swirling just the right amount is really tough with hanger swirls! I overdid it a bit. I was focused on two things: first, to make sure I swirled enough along the edges; and second, to make sure there was not a lot of blue that didn’t get swirled, as it was considerably thicker than the pink and uncolored batter. In my efforts to address my two concerns, I did too much swirling, particularly around the edges of the soap. See the bar in this photo? Definitely got a bit muddy.
However, I’m happy with the fact that I moved plenty of the blue soap around, so there are not big blobs of unswirled blue.
Have you made hanger swirls before? How did it go? Do you have any tips?