Success After Disaster

Stirring Radiant Plum Oxide

Yesterday we tried again to make the Taiwan Swirl in cold process soap, using Soap Queen’s “Swirl” recipe. We did everything carefully: Mixed the oils and lye water at a cool temperature, stirred/blended just short of trace, split into four pitchers, added colors and Amber Romance fragrance oil and began pouring. And then everything went south.

The soap began setting up and ricing and there was no hope of swirling, let alone pouring the soap. I added water, frantically trying to thin back the soap as she glopped it into the miter box mold. I glopped the leftover into another miter box and we put them in the oven at 170F.

But soon we noticed liquid rising to the top of the soap and draining to the floor of the oven. We stuck a cookie sheet underneath the molds like we should have in the first place.  Finally, we took the  molds out and tried to drain them into the sink. We used paper towels to soak up the liquid. At first we thought it was water because it was so clear, but then we noticed some of it was yellow, the same color as our oils.

Swirling Lemongrass

We left the soap in the oven for several hours, then took it out for a closer look. It was soft, dripping wet and not getting any better. We finally dumped the leftover in a big Ziplock baggie and put the larger loaf in the freezer.

Later, she looked at the leftover soap in the baggie and it actually had hardened and most of the liquid absorbed. The full loaf is still in the freezer. We both felt pretty bad, but she was devastated, her day ruined.

We realized we should have tested the fragrance oil first by making a batch small enough for one bar. Then if it goes south, very little time and product have been lost.

Ready To Cut

That evening, I prepared to make another batch of soap using the new silicone mold and Soap Queen’s swirl recipe sized to fit the mold, but using three colors instead of four.

One of our concerns was that the previous batch hadn’t emulsified (thus the oils leaching out), so we took this batch to a very light trace, split it into three pitchers, then poured the white entirely in the bottom of the mold. Then we took the Radiant Plum Oxide and poured two lines of color just off center, with a line of Black Oxide right down the center.

Then she had the honor of swirling the soap, which she did with a chopstick. As you can see, the results are gratifying. Not exactly as beautiful a Taiwan Swirl like we’ve seen other soap makers do, but at least we’re making progress. We used lemongrass essential oil, which we’ve used and know doesn’t accelerate trace.

Result: Big Bars

Today we cut the soap, only we did it wrong, so got only six bars and they’re too large. Also, we didn’t bang the mold enough while pouring, so there are many tiny bubbles. We should have waited another day or two to cut since it’s still a bit soft even with using sodium lactate.

Lessons learned: 1. Always test a new fragrance oil, and/or research how it behaves. If the FO comes from Brambleberry, their website will tell how it behaves. 2. Add scent at the last possible moment, like when mixing colors. 3. Cut silicone mold in fourths instead of thirds before making crosscut to get a better sized bar, and more bars. (These bars weigh 7-to-8 ounces. Four ounces is preferable.)

So we ended the day on a high, happy note! Yay!

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