Column Pour Challenge

The design Amy presented this month’s Soap Challenge Club is the column pour.  This is where you select as many colors as you would like and then alternate pouring them over a column(s).  The pattern will appear depending on the shape of the column you use.  When all the soap batter is poured you simply remove the column(s) and then decide whether you want to add interest by swirling the pattern.

I chose Kumquat from Brambleberry for my fragrance since it is supposed to behave well in cold process soap (i.e., it does not overly thicken the soap or change the color of your soap).  Plus it smells wonderful.  Since kumquats look a lot like oranges, I decided my colors would be orange (BB’s Tangerine Wow), yellow (BB’s Fizzy Lemonade) and green (Chrominum Oxide Green and Starlight Green mica) with white (BB’s TD) for contrast.  Note to self – the Starlight Green looked great when first mixed but morphed to a split pea soup color so don’t use it in CP.  Here are the pictures of the process and results.

All set up and ready to go.

All set up and ready to go.

Soap batter divided up for colors.
Soap batter divided up for colors.

In the middle of pouring

In the middle of pouring
Poured and swirled

Poured and swirled

Dividers in and ready for to be wrapped up to gel.

Dividers in and ready for to be wrapped up to gel.

24 hours later

24 hours later

Out of the mold and removing from dividers

Out of the mold and being removed from dividers

All lined up like little soldiers

All lined up like little soldiers

This was another fun challenge.  Thanks Amy for all your efforts and Brambleberry for sponsoring this month’s challenge.

Fun with melt and pour

Recently Stephenson Personal Care posted a link on their Facebook page to #AOLetsSoap competition.  Of course I was intrigued – I always love a competition – so I popped over to the AO at Home site (http://blog.ao.com/how-to-make-soap-and-win-prizes) and signed up to participate.  It was not long until I received a package from Stephenson with a two pound package of  their natural high foaming soap base to use for the project.  Not only that, they also included a mold.

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I was so happy about receiving the surprise mold that I decided I would use the cavity that has their logo and try to match their logo colors.  The detail of their logo is indented rather than pushed out so I couldn’t just pour the colors into those sections.  I had to pour the red and blue on the outside of the mold, then remove it and place it in the cavity part of the mold.  To make this part easier, I put the mold in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the soap.

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IMG_2508Here I have placed the soap pieces inside the mold.

IMG_2528_DSC0365 And the finished logo soap.

Now for the soap I had planned to make for the competition.  I love the combination of clay and charcoal in soap and I often make charcoal and sea clay (or Dead Sea mud) soap for my facial bar.  I have some rose clay and rose pedal powder that I wanted to try with charcoal.  I also decided to splurge and use my Rose Absolute essential oil.  I think pink and grey is such a pretty color combination.  I gathered my ingredients.

IMG_2493            IMG_2494Soap base on cutting board ready to cut

The first layer is rose clay.  I dispersed it in alcohol to make it easier to mix into the soap base.  Not the shade of pink I was looking for but an interesting color.

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After that layer set up, I prepared the next section by dispersing some activated charcoal in a little alcohol and poured that layer.

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The final layer is the rose pedal powder.

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But as you can see, it looks just like the rose clay.  So to get the contract I wanted, I added some pearly white mica to this part.  It was still a little brown looking.  I added just a little rose mica.  The combination of micas gave that part of the soap a lovely swirled look.

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While I didn’t get the pink that I expected, I really, really like this look.  The best part is the soap base is wonderful — it is a natural base that is sulfate free and it produces lots of suds and leaves my skin feeling moisturized.  Thank you AO at Home and Stephenson for sponsoring this competition.  I will definitely be ordering more of this base.

Learning to deal with soda ash on my soap

One of the things I enjoy about soap making (and it is the same thing that can be so frustrating at the same time) is that no two batches are the same.  You can use the exact same recipe and measure ever so carefully and the soap will be slightly different.  There are a number of variables of course – the temperature of the room or oils and lye, humidity……

One of the things that can happen to soap is soda ash.  This is a white powdery looking substance that appears on the top of you soap.  There are a number of theories of why this happens.  And a number of things that are suggested to stop it – cover your soap, spray it with alcohol several times during the first few hours, use beeswax in your recipe are a few.  There are draw backs to each of these.  So if you make more than a few batches of soap, you are bound to have soda ash at some point.

What is soda ash and does it matter?  Soda ash is sodium carbonate that formed when sodium hydroxide (lye) in the soap contacted carbon dioxide in the air.  It is completely harmless.  In some cases it adds character  and interest to the soap. Other times it is unacceptable.

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This is an example where soda ash added interest to the top.  This is Castile Soap that is slightly yellow from the olive oil and the ash is a nice white.

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But soda ash definitely is unacceptable on this soap.  It is just plain unappealing.  So what to do?  I wanted to save this soap and I didn’t want to plane the top of the soap so I searched for answers.  There are several ways suggested besides planing the top:

1.  Steam.  I used my portable clothes steamer

2.  Spray with alcohol

3.  Rinse under cool running water.

4.  Dip in vinegar water

Here are the results:

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The best results were obtained by the rinsing the soap under running water followed by steaming it.  Perhaps if the ash was not so thick the other methods would have worked better.  This soap cleaned up nicely but not without a lot of effort.  One important point – be sure you wear gloves when handling your soap avoid finger prints.  Also have a rack to drain and dry the soap ready.

In conclusion, the most difficult method proved the most effective and the easiest way (spraying with alcohol) the least effective.  No surprise there.