Monday, 25 September 2017

The Ugly Duckling Soap

Well, there is no other way of describing my last batch of soap but UGLY! Believe it or not I did have a plan. I wanted to use up some of the Fragrance Oils a friend sent me a while ago as she didn't like the 'foodie' scents.

The Fragrance Oil I chose was Brambleberry's Cinnamon Sugar which has a vanilla content of 14% and I knew it was going to darken the soap. If you want to know how much vanilla is in a Fragrance Oil then check out the Complete List of Brambleberry Fragrances which also tells you if an oil will accelerate trace or contains Phthalates.

As I had bought some new moulds recently, including an embossed silicone loaf mould which fits perfectly inside my wooden loaf mould, I thought that a plain layer of soap poured in first and which would become the top of the soap when unmoulded, would look like the icing on a dark coloured cake. The rest of the mixture had the Fragrance Oil and dried calendula petals added to it and was then poured on top. I used a medium trace for this.

I was quite pleased with being able to pour in the mixture without it become too gluggy but I knew it was going to be a soft soap so left it for a couple of days before turning it out. It still looked like a creamy colour with a little brown in it when I took it out of the moulds but it started to discolour very quickly and is now a dark brown. Unfortunately the second layer penetrated the first layer so there was no nice frosting on the cake look.

Still, it was a good learning curve and if I used the Fragrance Oil again I would add some cocoa or coffee to the mixture to make it a more solid colour.

As well as the loaf mould I bought some really cute rose moulds which looked just lovely on eBay but I didn't take any notice of the size and they are really, really small! I don't even know what you would use such a small cake of soap for...perhaps if you have an overnight guest. A pink soap made in this mould would be very pretty though.

I had seen some soap made with a similar mould to the one above with the bee in it in Jan Berry's latest book Simple and Natural Soapmaking and got excited to see one on eBay but once again, I didn't realise it was so small.

I quite like the soaps made in this mould though and next time will use a more pleasant colour perhaps with some of the clays I have or the madder root I was given by a soapmaking friend. In her latest blog post '15+ Pretty Silicone Molds for Making Handmade Soap' Jan Berry responds to questions that readers of her book have about where she bought her moulds if anyone is interested in buying them.  Mine were from Ornament999 on eBay.

As it has been so very dry here lately as we haven't had rain for ages many people are saying how dry their skin is so I asked on The Home Maker's Forum if anyone had made a nice soap for dry skin and one of the soapmakers there said she makes one with 80% olive oil which her mother loves. I did a search online for various recipes and came across a blog post about 'Formulating Soap Recipes for Different Skin Types' which was very informative and so I made up the following recipe:

Soap for Dry Skin 

800g Calendula Infused Olive Oil
20g   Castor Oil (that's all I had left)
80g   Coconut Oil
100g Lard
131g Lye
330g Water (using the Brambleberry Calculator)
 31g  Cinnamon Sugar Fragrance Oil
Dried calendula petals

There is a bit of soda ash on some of the soap but I found an interesting way of removing it if you wanted to improve the appearance of the soap mainly if you were selling soap or giving it away. I know most professional soapmakers would spray their soap with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol as explained in Explaining and Prevent Soda Ash by the Soap Queen but there are a couple of other ways including using How to Steam Ash off Soap by Amy Warden. She just uses a steam iron :-)

My next batch of soap will be pink ~ I think!


  1. I would call the soap interesting rather than ugly, the moulds are very cute but a shame they're so small, nice for a small gift though.

  2. I don't think it's too bad, Chel, it looks quite chocolatey on my screen. Your little moulds are lovely, especially the honeycomb/bee one. Meg:)

    1. They are nice moulds, ameg. A pity about the size of the roses though.

  3. actually they almost look like real honey combs! most are quite dark! still they look good, i did a rebatch on saturday but i don't think it's turned out very well.
    very cute molds!
    isn't it dry! it was still 31`c at midnight (last night) made it difficult to sleep. there's no rain expected til late december according to one source!
    thanx for sharing

    1. Selina I have started grating the soap for rebatching. My last rebatched lot is quite lovely to use thankfully. Yours might be okay down the track. Yes, it is much too dry and I think there are fires around too at the moment.

  4. I love it! It is rustic ... bloke soap :-)

  5. Mr.HM, the scent is a bit too feminine I think and I don't think the blokes would like it. LOL!

  6. I love the honey comb mold Chel and I don't think the soaps are ugly at all.

  7. Chel I could imagine that colour soap would work well the a chocolate scent. I was given a bar of soap some years ago that was a brown colour, and I think it was chocolate scented, it also had some petals through it and some gold coloured flakes on the top.

  8. Ugly? Oh no Chel, they are beautiful! I especially like the square ones, they have a rustic look.


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