November Soap Challenge Design: Go Illinois!

I-L-L-I-N-I!!! We’re big Illinois fans around here, so I decided to make a soap to match for this month’s Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club. November’s challenge was to make a design on the bottom of the soap using squeeze bottles. High contrast colors work really well to show off the design. What better than orange and blue?

Illini Energy Soap

Illini Energy!

I used my usual soap recipe with the fragrance “Energy,” which smells just like oranges. Perfect in both name and color, right?! It’s a nice bright scent, great for both guys and gals who love the Fighting Illini.

According to Amy’s (awesome-as-usual) instructions, slab molds will show more of the squeeze bottle design. My problem: no slab mold. So, of course, I improvised. I have an old tupperware container that’s about 5 inches wide and 13 inches long, but it is slightly curved and has a funky texture on the bottom. To straighten and flatten it out, I bolstered the insides and bottom with a few layers of thick cardboard.


I folded up my freezer paper to fit my mold, measured out where my soaps would be positioned, then drew a big “I” on the wrong side of the freezer paper where each bar of soap would be. I was able to get 5 bars of soap in my mold.

By the way, have you ever tried to figure out how much oil to use to fit your mold? I found a great formula for it a few years ago. (Sorry, I can’t remember where I found it; five kids + lots of missed sleep = mommy-brain memory loss). It’s really simple:

width of mold x length of mold x depth (or height of soap) x 40% = ounces of oils to use

For my make-shift slab mold, the formula was:

4″ x 13″ x 1″ x 40% = 21 ounces of oils

After making my soap, I divided it into 3 separate cups for my orange, white, and navy colors. I used white and orange soap in my squeeze bottles, putting the white border in my mold first, then filling in the “I” with orange soap. The most difficult task was creating straight lines of uniform thickness with the white soap. They are certainly not perfect lines, but they’re not too bad for my first try!

Making Illini Energy

Straight lines are difficult, especially with squeeze bottles! And square corners are hard, too!

After letting the design set for a few minutes, I carefully spooned on the navy soap.

Making Illini soap

The navy soap was pretty set up already as I tried to get it into the mold without disturbing the orange and white. I kind of made a mess!

With the remaining orange and white soaps, I did an in-the-pot swirl for a bit of added interest. The final result is orange and blue from every angle.

Illini swirl

Illini swirl

Unwrapping Illini soap

Unwrapping my Illini soap was exciting! I actually had dreams about this unmolding!

Illini Energy

I think I may have overheated the soap in the oven. It has a bubbly film (maybe glycerin) all over the navy and orange bottom. Interesting. It’ll be gone after one use of the soap, leaving a nice smooth and shiny surface.

Like I said, it’s not perfect, but it sure is fun! Great soap for all of those Illinois fans around here.

Illini Energy

Go Illinois!

I’m going to try another squeeze bottle design soap again soon. It was fun to do, and now I want a real slab mold. There’s always something else to build or buy, isn’t there?!