Soapy Swirls with Unexpected Surprises

I’ve had so much fun creating different in-the-pot swirls and spoon swirls and drop swirls in soaps the last few months! So many factors affect the swirl: distance when pouring, consistency/thickness of the soap batter, which tool is used to create the swirl, additives (like oatmeal or coffee grounds), etc, etc, etc. It’s incredible how no two swirls are ever the same, and it’s really fun to find unexpected results when the final soap is revealed!

My latest surprise came when I cut into a loaf of Frankincense and Myrrh soap. I used a lovely forest green color, some cocoa powder to create a deep brown, and gold sparkle mica, together representing the 3 gifts of the wise men. I drop swirled each of these colors into the uncolored soap batter, then I spoon swirled all of it. Look what I found in a few bars:

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See the hearts?! It’s a little abstract here.

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But, you HAVE to see the hearts here, right?!

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These are the same bars as above, just sitting the way they were in the mold. How on earth did I get a sideways heart in there? It’s a complete mystery to me!

How appropriate to find hearts in the soap inspired by the gifts of the three wise men?! LOVE!

Here’s what some of the other bars from the same loaf look like:

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Frankincense & Myrrh soap

Isn’t it amazing how in the same loaf, every bar looks so completely unique? Gotta love soapy swirls! This is just another reason that I’m completely addicted to making handcrafted soap. It’s truly an art!

If you’re into art, keep looking. These are a few of my other favorite swirl reveals of soaps I’ve made recently.

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Intense Almond soap made with deep drop swirls


Pears & Berries soap in the raw with gorgeous wispy swirls on top. Inside that loaf is a super wispy in-the-pot swirl as well!

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Enchanted Apple soap with drop Holly swirls then spoon swirls and peaked tops


Blackberry Sage soap in the raw with a fun top! First I used a soap comb in both directions down the mold and across the mold, then I added big loopy swirls with a single skewer.

What’s your favorite kind of soapy swirl? Hard to choose just one favorite, I know! Stay tuned for another spoon swirl reveal this week… It’s almost Soap Challenge Club time again! 🙂

Pumpkin Soap

Because I’ve been so addicted to all things pumpkin lately, I just had to make a pumpkin soap! Full of great-for-skin vitamins A and D as well as antioxidants, pumpkin is a beautiful color and such a wonderful fall fragrance. Since I can’t wait to show you, take a first look!

Pumpkin Soap

Perfect Pumpkin Soap

There are several pumpkin soap recipes floating around in cyberspace, so I basically scoured and combined them, making up my own version. I decided to make a large double batch of this soap since I think it will be popular (if not with other people, then with me).

I began by making my lye solution with a slightly discounted amount of water, taking into consideration that I’d be adding in pumpkin puree which adds some liquid to the soap. I also added a small amount of sodium lactate to ensure that this soap hardens appropriately. Using my favorite recipe, I melted my oils and butters and let them cool to about 100 degrees. Then I added canned pumpkin puree (just pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling) and stick blended until smooth. 

When the lye solution and oils were at room temperature, I combined and blended them to very light trace. Because the fragrance oil contains a bit of vanilla which will turn brown over time, I separated off a bit of soap to leave unscented and color white. Then I added the lovely, spicy pumpkin fragrance to the rest of the soap and mixed it by hand in hopes that it wouldn’t accelerate trace too much. The soap turned out to be a soft orange color thanks to the pumpkin puree.

Next, the fun colorful swirls began! I colored one cup of soap a lovely bright orange, and another two cups of soap a deep red-orange. I added the bright orange to the deep orange cup, creating an in-the-pot swirl of the two colors. I poured about half of the main batter into the bottom of my mold, then added the orange colors from high above down the length of the mold. Right above the orange pours, I added in the white soap and then some more uncolored main batter. I added on the last bit of orange, white, and uncolored soap, then finished by swirling the top with a bamboo skewer. After a spritz of alcohol, I put the soap to bed in the slightly warmed oven. My house smelled like I was baking pumpkin pie! Yummy!

It was such a joy to make this soap! Unlike my other soaps of late, this soap did not accelerate too quickly. It was the perfect consistency to work with, giving me lovely fluid swirls until the very end of the molding process. AND… I remembered to add every single ingredient that I’d planned to add! Haha! Triumph! 

There was one small hiccup, and it was during incubation. I was away from home, so I couldn’t check on my soap! It overheated a bit and cracked down the center in the middle of each mold.

Pumpkin Soap in the molds

Pumpkin Soap in the molds. See the cracks down the center of each loaf?

Pumpkin Soap loaf

Here’s an up-close of the larger crack. It only affected a couple of bars after cutting, and it really isn’t too terrible.

The overheating also caused the white portion of the soap to crackle, and I love the effect it created!

Pumpkin Soap

These two bars have a lot of white, showing off the awesome crackles!

Pumpkin Soap

Look at these crackling white waves!

The final product turned out quite beautiful. The in-the-pot orange and red-orange swirls topped with white looks similar to the Holly Swirl technique.

Pumpkin Soap

Lots of beautiful swirls in this Perfect Pumpkin Soap.

I’m hoping that if the small amount of vanilla in the fragrance causes the soap to turn brown, perhaps it will still be different tones because of the colors. The white should remain white since I left it unscented. As usual, time will tell.

Pumpkin Soap

Another shot of Perfect Pumpkin Soap with dreamy swirls. It looks and smells good enough to eat!

Since this project was so fun, I’m really excited to start using more foods in soaps! What foods would you like to see? I’m thinking strawberries and cream, or maybe bananas and blueberries, or how about oranges? Maybe something that combines them all…

Yogurt, Soap and Candy Apple Red

As promised, I’ve just completed my first yogurt soap! And as always, I got more than I bargained for in the process. Here’s a first look at Enchanted Apple Soap.

Enchanted Apple Soap

Enchanted Apple Soap made with yogurt

Silvia of SoapJam has been raving about how wonderful yogurt soap is, and her soaps look divine! When I saw her posts, I started looking around the web for more information about making yogurt at home and then using it in soap. Apparently I’ve been missing out on yogurt awesomeness for years by paying for it in stores! I had no idea it was so easy to make. Why would I do this, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s much cheaper to make it than to buy it. One of our local discount stores has milk on sale for $1.49/gallon! That’s less than 5 cents per serving compared to the typical 50 cents or more per serving for store-bought yogurt. Second, I have the pleasure of making something myself. That’s one of the main reasons I make soap. I find sheer joy and satisfaction in creating things. Plus, yogurt is quite useful; I can eat it and make soap with it! Yummy and healthy, inside the body and out. Last but not least, it’s really easy! So why not try making it at least once? No harm.

There are recipes all over the internet on how to make yogurt. Some ways look a bit complicated, but I chose the seriously simple crock pot method:

  1. Put 8 cups (a half gallon) of milk in the crock pot set on low for 2 hours 45 minutes.
  2. Turn off the pot and let it cool for 3 hours with the lid on.
  3. Stir in half a cup of yogurt that contains live and active cultures. I tempered it first, then whisked it gently into the milk in the crock pot.
  4. Put the lid back on, wrap it in a towel (this is so much like insulating a soap mold 🙂 ), and let it sit overnight.
  5. The next morning, transfer the crock into the fridge.

A few hours later, voila! Homemade yogurt. Pretty cool, huh?

To make soap with yogurt, I followed Silvia’s (and many other soapers’) advice and made a 50% lye solution with water, added yogurt to the oils, then added the cooled lye solution to the yogurt and oils. I was going to do another two-color Holly swirl of red and white into plain base, then finish it off with white on top. Unfortunately, my fragrance sped up the process dramatically! I poured the main uncolored soap into the mold then worked quickly to get the other colors swirled. To match the Enchanted Apple scent, I wanted a bright red pop of color, but it was muted when I swirled it with the white soap. In the short time it took me to mix the red and white, the soap was already completely set in the mold. Once again, I got layers more than swirls, but it actually looks kind of pretty.

Enchanted Apple Soap

Each bar is so different than the next!

Enchanted Apple Soap

There are a few little air pockets, but for the most part (to my great surprise) it turned out smooth.

Since the colors didn’t mix quite as I’d hoped, I thought I’d try to add some pizzazz to the top of the soap with some peaks and gold mica sprinkles. In my typical klutzy fashion, I spilled the gold mica right on top of one end of the loaf. A few bars will just be extra sparkly! My girls will love it, I’m sure.

Loaf of Enchanted Apple Soap

See that sparkly spill of gold mica? It’s not as noticeable now that it’s cut into bars.

Now, here’s the extra kicker that I wasn’t expecting. As I was cleaning up my soaping mess, the triplets woke up from their nap. And I was home alone with them. I had already put away the lye, the oils, and anything that I thought might be even slightly dangerous to leave out and about. But apparently I missed one little sample jar: the candy apple red dye powder. BIG. MISTAKE. While I had my back turned, Chloe must have sneaked in and stolen that little jar of horror. She also must have thought that it was some form of food, because she ate it! In a matter of seconds, she’d eaten some of the colorant, then tried to spit it out, wiping her tongue off with both hands, and spilling the remainder of the powder on my living room carpet. She came running into the kitchen with what looked like blood spilling out of her mouth! I panicked, ran water in her mouth and over her whole face. It was obviously not blood, but was staining everything red. So I ran into the living room looking for what might have caused this, saw the spill on the carpet and immediately knew what she’d done. I was so thankful that it wasn’t blood, but I was also so mad that I’d accidentally left that jar within her reach!

This was a monster of a mess. I put Chloe in the bath tub and scrubbed her down. After a long soak, the red stain finally disappeared. Then I had the task of attempting to clean my carpet. That’s still a work in progress. Candy Apple Red dye powder is as fine as dust, easily spreadable, and darkens upon contact with liquid. Oh my! Believe it or not, it’s only a very faint pink now! That Bissell carpet cleaner is the best tax refund money I’ve ever spent.

Candy Apple Red water from my carpet

After cleaning my carpet for the third time, this is what the water still looked like coming out of the cleaner! If I hadn’t been so mad, I might have thought to take a picture of the carpet before I started cleaning it!

It’s amazing what soaping has brought into my life. I now know how to make yogurt and how to clean red dye out of carpet! (#thingsineverthoughti’ddo) I’m hoping this yogurt soap will be as wonderful as everyone says, making this mess worth it!

Dreamy Swirl Success

Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap with Holly SwirlsI did it! The Holly swirl was a success! It’s amazing how excited I get over making a beautiful soap. After my first try didn’t work out quite as I’d planned, I was super antsy to try again. A lavender and vanilla scented soap has been on my list of things to make for quite a while. I need something calming after chasing around those energetic kids all day! So I wanted to go for a dreamy nighttime swirl of colors in hopes that some night I can sit in a bath tub relaxing with my soapy creation. (I’d also settle for a quick shower while the kids are napping. Have I mentioned how much I love nap time?)

For this batch, I made sure to soap at lower temperatures and not to blend too much. After adding the lye solution, I poured off a bit of unscented soap to color white. Then I added fragrance to the main batch and only mixed it in by hand. I separated out more soap to turn light blue, and some to turn midnight blue. The main batter is a lavender/bluish/gray color, similar to the nighttime sky at dusk. While everything was still very fluid, I poured the white and midnight soaps into the light blue pot. I put about three-quarters of the main batter into the mold, then poured the mixture of 3 colors into the mold from high above.

Creating Holly Swirl

Everything was perfectly fluid, and I knew immediately that this was exactly what I’d been going for! Pure satisfaction! To finish it off, I painted the top of the soap with splashes of each color and had fun swirling it as well.

Raw loaf of Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap

Oh, the joy of cutting into a loaf of soap that you’ve worked hard at planning and making! Each slice of the soap was fun to study. I had a hard time deciding which beautiful swirl was my favorite. And I love this scent blend. So much so that I may just schedule time for myself in the bathtub very soon. I will most certainly continue to use this technique in soaps. Success looks (and smells) sweet!

Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap

Soaping Marathon turned Soaping Sprint

On the weekend, when Daddy’s home, Mommy gets to play! I have more time to make a mess all by myself since he can help keep the kids at bay. I started getting my supplies out while the little ones were eating lunch, and then I was able to get started right after the triplets went down for a nap. And amazingly, the baby went down for a nap at the same time! I made three big loaves while they were in bed (which is a lot at once for me)!

Three loaves made during my soaping marathon!

Three loaves made during my soaping marathon!

First up was Baby Bee Buttermilk. Check out my previous post to find out about that awesome creation! Next was another batch of Black Raspberry Vanilla soap. That’s a super popular scent that I can’t keep in stock, and it’s one of my personal favorites too. Here’s a peak at this batch.

Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

After making 2 big loaves of soap, I knew that I’d have to work really quickly to get in another batch before nap time was over. I’ve been wanting to try out the Holly Swirl technique (named after Holly of Missouri River Soap Co) that was last month’s Soap Challenge Club challenge. Though I missed out on the actual competition, I would love to master this beautiful technique.

I knew it was risky to try out a new fragrance and a new technique at the same time, but I only have one day a week to make soap while the sun’s still up and I’m not bone tired! It seemed like an OK idea at the time, but things never seem to go as planned. Green Aloe & Clover was the scent of choice, and I planned to create a light green main batter, then make some dark green and some white to swirl together. The plan was to pour about two-thirds of the light green soap into the mold, then pour in the dark green/white swirl, then pour in the last of the light green soap to finish it off.

Here’s what actually happened. I added the lye solution to the oils with fragrance. About 5 pulses of the hand mixer, and trace was already reached!!! Oh no! Must work faster! I poured off two cups into two containers and colored one dark green and one white in all of 20 seconds. I glopped the white soap into the dark green and had to stir with a heavy spatula to mix it. Then, I turned the main batch light green as fast as I could and slapped it into the mold.

First layer of Green Aloe & Clover

First layer of Green Aloe & Clover, still almost fluid.

Second layer of Green Aloe & Clover

Second layer of Green Aloe & Clover, sitting firmly on top of the first layer.

When I pushed the dark green/white mixture into the mold, I knew immediately that it was going to be a stripe instead of a beautiful fluid swirl. And then, I had to spoon in the rest of the light green on top. It nearly seized in my bowl! Since it was already so set up, I made some peaks on top to give it more character. 

Final layer of Green Aloe & Clover being pushed into the mold!

Final layer of Green Aloe & Clover being pushed into the mold!

Did I soap it at too high of a temperature? Was it simply this fragrance? I’ll have to try it again and see what happens next time. Making soap is always an exciting experience! Prior to making this batch, I had asked Matt to take some action shots for me. He was quite befuddled at my muttering and frantic movements. Am I the only one who talks to the soap as I’m making it?

Green Aloe & Clover SoapEven though it didn’t work out like I’d hoped, I think the final creation is actually pretty cool. The dark green and white swirl turned into rolling waves, and the scent is fresh and clean. 

Green Aloe & CloverI’m sure that other soaper’s accidents like this one have turned into new techniques. Or maybe that’s just how I console myself when I have a big fail! But at least it’s soap. It’ll still get me clean! Now I’ll be trying this technique with a scent that I know doesn’t accelerate trace.