Something for the Holidays
This video was a bonus video made mainly due to a mix up of soap making classes. We originally had planned to do an advanced soap making class but there was far more demand for a beginners soap class. So we switched to a beginners class with a twist of learning how to make a handmade soap using a swirl technique.
This was timely as we were also on the verge of making a bar for our Christmas gift boxes. Hence it all came together to make this video and do the class at about the same time.
The technique is fairly simple however the hardest part is actually ensuring your soap batter is fluid enough to accept a swirl of two colors. This simply means taking your soap batter to a light medium trace.
There are a few factors to consider as well. The biggest is the fragrance or essential oil that you will use. Will it accelerate trace or not?
Fortunately for me this fragrance did not accelerate trace infact it behaved very well during the cold process soap making. This doesnt mean to say that all went well as it didnt.
I nearly forgot to add the fragrance to this batch. If you watch the video you will see that I was about to get ready to pour and realized that I had not added the fragrance. This mistake did add time to the soap making process and it made me frantically speed up my movements as I was afraid that the batter would begin to thicken.
Luckily for me I did have some thickening of the batter but not so much that I couldnt recover from it.
When it comes to making soap, planning is key. You have to have a good idea of what you are going to make, the look of it and the end use of the soap. This will dictate what tools you will need to make the soap you want.
In this soap making session I knew I wanted a drop swirl soap, one with green and one with red. Well because it was something for the Christmas season those colors stood out more.
The concept of the soap was simple. I will need white, green and red. The reason I say white is because as a beginner you may think that just making a plane soap will yield a white soap. Not so. Natural soap will be a yellowish color mainly due to the oils you use. Because many of my soap mixtures use predominantly Olive Oil it gives it this rich creamy look.
This is where planning comes in to play. Having all your tools at the ready is important so you are not left frantically searching for an item. In this video close to the end you see that I used a white stick to put a little texture design on the soap. This is because I forgot to have my top designed stick aka a bamboo skewer ready.
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Castor Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Titanium Dioxide
- Green Mica
- Red Mica
- Distilled Water
- Mixing measuring cups
- Two pour containers
- Separate mixing bowl to separate batter
- Teaspoon measuring
- Stick Blender
- Container for fragrance
- Good timing
This what I needed and of course a plan of action of how to get it all done. Off camera I was following the recipe I made for this soap project and before that I had made a sketch of how I wanted the soap to look.
Put It all together
Having a plan of action helps in putting it all together. What to do first, where to place items, what is needed next, where to place used tools. All this is a part of organizing your work station to ensure that you get things done right.
Even though I do this all the time, to make such a soap separating batter and using two different colors makes it a bit harder because there is so much to keep track of.
Making one loaf of soap can be a daunting task much less making two loaves both with different colors.
Putting in the work is the fun part. Its when the creative juices are flowing and you get to enjoy making something yourself. The swirl technique used here is just one of three that can be used. This one is called a drop swirl technique. The technique it self is pretty easy to figure out but its the one part that is missing that makes it hard for most beginners to figure out.
The recipe. This is where it breaks down to what you can do or what technique you can use. Depending on the recipe and the intended use afterwards things can get a bit complicated. More on this later.
So the concept for the work was simple. Mix one big batter. Separate the batter into two smaller containers for the color then use the larger batter separated into two to make the swirls. So I needed 4 containers.
What went wrong
A few things I missed in preparing. I should have premixed my colors instead of adding them directly to the batter. It can work either way but the problem is incorporating the color properly in to the batter. By not premixing it would thicken the batter more. So yeah that was an issue.
Secondly I should have used two separate bowl when separating the white batter and dropping the colors in. Using the larger pot make it harder to get a good drop and swirl. Honestly I knew the problem once I reached that bridge and had to adjust.
Making the red and white soap was a bit harder because the batter was thicker than the green and white. I had to clean up the tools as to not get green in the red, add the fragrance last which caused me to mix free hand to avoid an overly thick batter.
Trace is important, you have to know the thickness of each and adjust. The red was at thin trace but the white was at medium so I had to make it thicker and heavier to drop into the bowl. That took a while.
Topping it off
In the planning process I knew how I wanted the top to look so that was in my mind and I didn't not forget it. Sort of a Taiwanese swirl look to go with the drop swirl.
Un-molding and cutting the soap is the moment of truth for your technique. its an exiting and nerve racking experience. Did I make it right? Will It come out how I planned and imagined? What will it look like?
That first cut is like holding your breath. You just dont know sometimes even tho you may have done it many times before. When I cut it I was relived. It came out pretty good. A nice U shape swirl. Its hard to predict how a swirl will work out but one thing you dont want is for your colors to blend into each other and that did not happen. I was happy with it in spite of the hiccups I had in making it.
The last fear is after the curing process... Was my recipe good? Will I get the type of lather I wanted. Will it be as moisturizing as I planned or did I make a mistake. Did I use the right amount of fragrance? Is it to mild or too strong? This and many more questions come to mind until you test that first bar of soap on your own skin.
For us as Bahamas Candle and Soap, We not only test on ourselves but we do a ph balance test, oil strip test, moisturizing test and a few others to ensure our soap is safe to use and it does its job well.
This is the process of making soap.