Circling Taiwan Swirl Soap Challenge

What do you do when it’s below zero and snowy outside? I can’t think of anything more fun than making soap! Well, actually, traveling to some exotic and WARM location might be more fun…but if I have to stay home, soap it is!! So this month’s Soap Challenge Club was a welcome activity. I’ve done the Taiwan Swirl many, many times, and the results are always beautiful. (You can see some previous Taiwan swirls here and here.) But I always free-hand pour the soap that I swirl, and I only pour the soap one layer thick in a slab mold. This Circling Taiwan Swirl soap really did present me with challenges!

First of all, I don’t have dividers for my soap molds. I made some dividers out of foam board and covered them with packing tape in hopes that the soap would easily slide off of them. I also made them to fit very tightly in my molds, with hopes that they’d stay put as I poured the soap. I was wrong on both accounts! And furthermore, because I had to cut the edges and tape them up, they weren’t perfectly straight edges that sat flush on the bottom of the mold, so some soap seeped through as I poured. In fact, nothing about the dividers was truly straight! Take a peak:


Clearly, these dividers are far from perfect!

Overall, the dividers were my nemesis in this challenge! I’m sure that the lovely (and straight!) dividers that you can purchase are probably well worth the cost if for no other reason than to avoid all the frustrations that I had.

My next challenge was the universal soap-making challenge: trace. I was testing out 3 new recipes (which I realize is not the brightest idea when making a challenge soap). I found that my recipes probably contained a bit too many hard oils and butters, and probably too much castor oil, so all 3 recipes set up really quickly. I was scrambling to get the soap colors mixed and poured quickly, and then I fought my silly dividers like crazy! Even with blending the oils and lye at 85 to 90 degrees and only blending to emulsification, the soaps were still thick by the time I finished pouring them.

Soap #1: Lavender Fleur fragrance oil from with titanium dioxide, lavender oxide, black oxide, and green mica as colorants. I also added lots of goodies like yogurt, colloidal oatmeal and silk to the batch.


Yikes! SO THICK!

By the time I poured the soap and fought the dividers, it was difficult to swirl the soap. I started out with a skewer to create the first swirl, but then switched to the handle of my plastic spoon to circle around the outside.


It was so thick that it didn’t swirl much.

Soap #2: Black Raspberry Vanilla fragrance oil from Nature’s Garden with titanium dioxide, red mica and lavender mica blended, and black oxide, also with yogurt, colloidal oatmeal and silk. This fragrance typically gives me lots of time to work with the soap, but I fought the dividers again and ended up with thick soap. I used my spoon handle to swirl the entire soap this time.


Another thick soap that didn’t swirl as much as I’d have liked.

Soap #3: Pixie Dust fragrance oil from with Mad Oils micas in blue, pink, yellow, and purple. I included milk and yogurt in this batch along with silk and colloidal oatmeal. I added extra liquid to this batch in hopes that it wouldn’t set up as quickly, but it did exactly the same as the first 2 batches.

This soap was thick too, but I liked the swirls more here.

This soap was thick too, but I liked the swirls more here.

After these 3 frustrating batches, I gave up for the day and came back fresh the next. I decided to go with the tried-and-true slow moving recipe that Amy gave us in several of her tutorials throughout the Soap Challenge Club years. It works like a charm every time! And I love the feel of the soap after a good long cure.

Soap #4: Satsuma from Wholesale Supplies Plus with Mad Oils micas in pink, orange, and yellow as well as an uncolored stripe. I included milk and yogurt in this batch with silk and colloidal oatmeal. I still fought my dividers, but this time the soap was nice and fluid the entire time I poured. This fragrance is so incredibly yummy, and I really think it slows down trace. It’s a soaper’s dream! I used a skewer to swirl this one nice and tightly, and I must admit, it was highly satisfying to finally get one “right!”


Raw Satsuma soap with lovely wispy swirls! Yay!

I was almost dreading cutting into the soaps from the first 3 batches. I expected to find lots of air pockets since the soap had been so thick, and I didn’t know if the divider problems had wreaked havoc on the soap lines. Imagine my surprise when I cut into all the soaps and found very few bubbles and awesome results!


Lavender Fleur soap. This is the end cut with the lotus flower shape in mirroring bars.


Lavender Fleur bars from the inside of the log. The dividers did better than I thought they’d done. The stripes are very distinct!


Black Raspberry Vanilla mirrored end cuts.


These are cuts from the inside of the log. Love love love these swirls!


Pixie Dust end cuts.


The inside bars of Pixie Dust soap. These colors are so vibrant and beautiful, just like the fun and bright fragrance.


Satsuma soap end cuts. Because this soap was much more fluid, the swirls are more feathery and there are more petals to the flowers.

Even with all of the frustrations, I am so happy with how these soaps turned out. After cutting them, my challenge has been with which one to choose to enter! I’ve settled on this soap:


Black Raspberry Vanilla Lotus Soap Challenge Club entry!

Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap Challenge Club entry! It came down to the contrast of these soaps.

The contrast of these soaps was my final deciding factor. The colors really pop, and the white flower on the black background is just really pretty. 

Which one is your favorite? I made myself wait to look at everyone else’s soaps until I submitted my entry, so I’m excited to see the beautiful soaps! I’m guessing there will be lots of stunning results. I’ll definitely be making more soaps with this technique (after buying some good dividers, that is)! Thanks to Amy and everyone else who helped with this challenge technique. It was so much fun!!

Ebru Soap Painting

Soap painting has always intrigued me, so I was excited to see that this month’s Soap Challenge Club is based on the art of Ebru paper marbling. After watching many, many videos of both paper marbling and soap making using this technique, my head was spinning and full of ideas!

I really like this Soaping101 video showing multiple Ebru designs, and I especially like watching the making of flowers like this. Such beautiful and intricate designs! The flowers are especially inspiring to me, and I had some delicious Apricot Freesia fragrance on hand that I’ve been wanting to use. Perfect! I looked up some photos of freesias, and this one in particular really spoke to me, so I wanted to design something similar in my soap.

I used Amy’s slow-moving recipe, adding a bit of sugar to the lye for a bubblier lather, as well as some milk, colloidal oatmeal, and silk for their luxurious benefits. Colorants included activated charcoal, titanium dioxide, green mica, yellow oxide, and blue oxide. My goal was to set a leafy backdrop with dark grays and greens, and then to make some white flowers with yellow accents.

First, I poured gray soap into the mold, and then I added drops of two different green colors, as well as a few drops of black and yellow for contrast.


Adding green soap to the gray base.


Making some leafy swirls as a marbled backdrop for freesia flowers.

Using a skewer, I made long strokes down the entire length of my mold, back and forth in an attempt to make leaves of tall grass. I learned from this that less is certainly more. I added too much soap, too many drops, too close together.

Next, I added pools of white, trying to fit one flower into the space for each bar of soap in this 9-bar Brambleberry slab mold.


I was a bit overzealous with my pouring!

Next came some yellow spots for accent coloring inside the flowers.


Again, overzealous with the pouring!!

My husband lovingly noted that it looked like eggs over easy. Yep. The super un-appetizing kind!

The last step was to turn the eggs into flowers. Hopefully.

IMG_8596 (2)

First flower is pretty! Yippee!

Since the soap was still very fluid, the white soap that I dropped on top spread more than I anticipated, especially after I added the yellow, so I didn’t have a lot of room to play. My “backdrop”  ended up mostly covered, and the flowers… well, they’re not the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen. Haha!


Apricot Freesia raw soap

It smells wonderful, and I’m sure it’s going to be lovely to use, but I’m a bit disappointed. It’s not what I was envisioning, but it’s not the worst I’ve ever made either!


Here’s a closeup of some flowers that shows the detailed marbling of the background base soap. It’s not that “leafy,” but it’s pretty nonetheless.

I’m ready to have another go at creating more flowers in soap. If I’d given myself more time, I probably would have made another soap to submit for my challenge entry. BUT, such is life with a nursing baby and five littles running around on summer vacation! I’m happy to be participating at all!!! 😀

The great thing about the Ebru technique is that the design possibilities are absolutely endless. In fact, many of the other designs that I’ve used in soap probably originated with this ink marbling technique. It’s going to be fun to see all of the other members’ soaps this month! Thanks for another fun soap lesson, Amy!


Confetti Soaps

In a large box in my garage, I’ve been stockpiling the shavings and end cuts left over from cleaning up the edges of my soaps. Since the box of leftovers and scraps was about to overflow, I decided I needed to do something with those things. We’re talking at least 15 pounds of soap here. Not for the faint of heart!

First, I divided up the shavings, some into like colors, and some into like fragrances. And then came the fun part. I spent some time planning out what fun I could have incorporating all those shavings into new designs and new scents.

After lots of weighing and calculating, I had several plans ready to go. The first soap I made was actually two-in-one. I divided a large loaf mold in half with a piece of cardboard, made enough white base soap to fill it, then divided the white soap into 2 bowls. Into one bowl went some Energy fragrance oil along with scraps of pink, orange, and yellow Satsuma soap (similar citrus scents). Into the other bowl, I added Elements of Bamboo fragrance and scraps of green and tan soaps of various earthy scents like Green Clover & Aloe. I poured both bowls into the same mold, one on each side of the divider. Here are the resulting soaps.

IMG_3032 (2)

Energy Confetti Soap

IMG_3047 (2)

Elements of Bamboo Confetti Soap

Notice that I also got to practice oil and mica swirls on top of these soaps!? 🙂

IMG_3011 (2)

Raw soap with gold mica in oil swirls on top

My next batch of soap was a mixture of lots of bright-colored soap scraps that had been sitting around for quite some time, as well as some pretty recently made soaps. To make sure the older shavings would incorporate into the new soap, I spritzed them with distilled water, mixed, and let them sit to soften for about half an hour before making the new soap. To this batch I added a sample of Black Cherry Bomb fragrance oil, and I colored the base soap an awesome shade of neon pink. I added the shavings to this base, stirred and poured into the mold.

IMG_3060 (2)

Other than those pesky air bubbles, I like the results!

IMG_3069 (2)

Notice the hot pink swirls on top of the left bar? I experimented with neon pink colorant in oil swirls. Apparently, neon works just as well as mica in oil swirls!

With the remainder of my scraps, I decided to hot process rebatch. It was a hodge-podge of scraps containing some red, black and dark green soaps, but mostly consisting of natural tan-colored soap shreds left from Oatmeal Milk & Honey soap as well as Almond and Vanilla soaps. I put 4 pounds of scraps in a big crock pot on high, added 5oz distilled water, and stirred every 15-30 minutes. After about an hour, the soap seemed a bit dry so I added 2oz of milk and 2oz of water. Some of the larger chunks never melted, while the majority of the small tan shavings did melt. After about 2 hours in the crock, it appeared like the soap was ready to mold. To add more interest, I stirred in some more chunks of red, black, and white soaps, then I added a sample of a different cherry fragrance oil, stirred it all up, and plopped it into my mold.

thought the cherry fragrance would compliment the strong undertones of Oatmeal Milk & Honey and Vanilla soap scraps, but I was wrong! I also thought the miscellaneous colors would make the soap look more fun and interesting. Wrong again! This one gets the prize for “Ugliest Soap I’ve Ever Created.”

IMG_4141 (2)

Is it bad fruitcake or cat vomit? Can’t quite put my finger on it. And don’t want to. Haha!

This rather yucky soap has an awesome lather, though! And with various milk and yogurt soap scraps plus more milk added, it should be extra nourishing.

So what do you do with super ugly soaps that have already been rebatched and still turned out badly???

Just chalk it up as a good learning experience and chuck it, I suppose! Or wear a blindfold and nose-plug while showering. 😀

Thankfully it was all just scraps anyway. Not like I was ruining a large batch of new oils and butters with a fragrance that I absolutely loved! It’s not a total failure. I have actually had success hot process rebatching other soaps, and I’ve come up with other creative ways to use scraps, like this fun embed soap I made a few months ago.

I didn’t end up using all 15 pounds of my scraps, but I sure used a lot of them! Making confetti soaps was pretty darn fun, and I have enough scraps left to make a few more soaps. Here’s to a new day of soaping.



Sometimes simple is the most beautiful.

IMG_2515 (2)

Milky Baby Mild raw soap


Milky Baby Mild loaf of soap, fresh out of the mold

The mildest, creamiest soap, Milky Baby Mild is made mostly with nourishing olive oil, as well as a bit of coconut oil and castor oil to add some luxurious bubbles. And we couldn’t forget the milk! Lots of skin-soothing milk in the mix. No scent. No color. Just simple, milky goodness.

IMG_2969 (2)

Milky Baby Mild Soap

Drop Swirls Galore

Once again, it’s time for the Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club! The challenge for March was the drop swirl technique, one that I’ve actually done many times in the past. Every bar of soap turns out unique and usually beautiful, and the possibilities for colors and fragrances are endless. That being said, choosing fragrance and color was truly my challenge this time around!

I threw caution to the wind and made lots and lots of soap! Seven batches this week to be exact (which is quite a lot of soap for this busy mama). SO. MUCH. FUN!

Here’s one of my favorites.

IMG_1607 (2)

Candy Shop Soap made with yogurt

The scent is a blend of Fresh Fruit Slices and Bite Me fragrance oils from Nature’s Garden, making it reminiscent of Mike & Ike candies, Fruit Loops, and Now & Later candy chews. That’s why I chose the bright orange base color with yellow, pink, green, and purple accents. Candy! It reminds me of some scent from my childhood that I can’t quite put my finger on.

The raw soap was so beautiful!

IMG_1575 (2)

Candy Shop raw soap in the mold

It got very hot, very fast. During gel phase, the soap was almost transparent.


Candy Shop soap in gel phase

The colors did turn out nice and bright, but I’m disappointed with the large amount of tiny air bubbles that are throughout this one. Darn it!

IMG_1590 (2)

Candy Shop Soap

My next favorite is Pears & Berries soap. Here’s a peak at it!

IMG_1644 (2)

Pears & Berries Soap made with yogurt

This is a Majestic Mountain Sage fragrance oil that I truly love. It’s a sweet, bright scent that just smells happy! And I included yogurt in this soap to make your skin just as happy as your nose! The main soap batter is uncolored, then I dropped in swirls colored with gold mica and green oxide to represent the pear peels and flesh, plus a hint of cranberry red color.


This raw soap was beautiful, too!

I love how several bars came out with drops that actually look like pears!


This cut revealed pears complete with stems (far left and far right)!

IMG_1633 (2)

The bottom bars looks like a green pear and a gold pear to me as well! Can you see it, or am I trying too hard? Haha!

Now we pause for a brief intermission.


Miss Lydia. How could that sweet face not brighten your day!?!?

Just making sure you’re still here, and giving you a dose of happy!  🙂

My final “favorite” drop swirl is this one:


Intense Almond Triple Milk Soap made with milk, buttermilk, and goat milk

Intense Almond fragrance (also from Majestic Mountain Sage) is one of my favorite scents of all time. I want to eat it. Not just sniff it incessantly. EAT IT. It’s that good! It smells just like almond extract. Sweet. Yummy. Like The Pioneer Woman’s favorite sugar cookies (which, yes, I have actually made).

Have you noticed that all of my favorites have a theme? I must have been very hungry this past week! Food and candy, candy and food! I made 7 different drop swirl soaps, and 6 of them are food scented. Cookie, anyone?


Intense Almond Triple Milk Soap

This soap really isn’t all that exciting or interesting in color profile, but I just love the way the swirls dropped in. The main batter was uncolored, then I dropped in some white soap (made with titanium dioxide) and some brown soap (colored with cocoa powder). I like the soft beige as well as the light and dark contrast. And…did I mention how delicious this scent is?!


See how every bar is so different?

Though it’s been a difficult decision, I’ve decided to enter Pears & Berries Soap for the Soap Challenge this month. Here’s another look in case my crazy long post has made you forget!

IMG_1631 (2)

Pears & Berries Soap

I’m so excited to see all the entries since this technique always produces such fantastic results. There are so many talented soapers from around the world participating in these challenges, and I’m very grateful to be a part of such fun! Thanks, Amy!!! And thanks to everyone for stopping by! I hope you’re having a happy day!

Rebatching My Big Batch

Rebatching soap is something I’ve read a lot about, but I’d never tried it until now. It was never necessary until now!

Remember that triple batch of milk soap that I made a few weeks ago? When I cut the soap, it seemed to be perfectly fine. No big air pockets, no zap, no drying or burning when used on my hands. But after a few weeks of curing, I picked up a bar and found some large crystals that had seeped out of the soap. Since I made the soap, I’ve had this nagging feeling. You know? That gut feeling that something was wrong. I examined every bar and picked out one bar that had a large amount of seeping crystals. I dug into the soap, and sure enough, I found a small pocket of lye. As I had feared from the beginning, there must have been some undissolved lye in the milk when I added it to the oils. Oh, the horror! Soap that can burn your skin! What to do, what to do?

Rebatch! Save the soap!

When I originally made that triple batch of soap, I measured and remeasured, and remeasured again. I am absolutely certain that I used the correct amounts of oils, lye, and milk. The lye simply didn’t get completely dissolved before going into the oils. Since I knew the exact problem, I knew I could save my soap, all TWELVE pounds of it!

I went back to the drawing boards, did some more research, and came across this post about rebatching from the Midlife Farm Wife, an awesome fellow central Illinois soaper. (By the way, Donna is infinitely funnier and cooler than me. You should definitely check out her blog! I’d love to meet her, but we live about 3 hours apart and both have farms to run. Her farm is real with pigs and cows; I’m raising five messy babies on mine.)

Since Donna’s method seemed pretty simple, I decided to try the crock pot to rebatch my soap. Like the good girl that I am, I followed her instructions for my first rebatching experience. I grated up 8 bars of soap, added 4 ounces of milk (about half a cup) and 1 ounce of sweet almond oil to the pot, set it on high, covered, and stirred it all about every 15 minutes.


Check out that sliver of soap. It’s lighter in the middle where it hadn’t fully dried out yet, and it was much softer. Soap is awesome! Grating it all up is not so awesome…

After about half an hour, the pieces were beginning to melt. Then after about an hour and a half, it was all melted and gloppy. It never fully gelled again like in Donna’s picture, but it seemed to be getting dry and was beginning to burn around the bottom edges.

Rebatching soap

Here’s the gloopy, gloppy soap after about an hour and a half.

I added a tiny bit more milk, making the soap more fluid, and I also added a splash of green apple fragrance. After a good stir, it went into my medium sized mold. The scent is absolutely divine! The original oatmeal, milk & honey scent comes through with the finishing bright notes of apple. I’m calling it Honey Crisp Apple. YUM!

The first batch went extremely well, but it left quite a bit of room in my large crock pot once melted down. For the second batch, I grated up 12 bars and increased the milk and oil accordingly. It took a bit longer to get completely melted, but everything else went just as anticipated. At the end of the cook, I added some more oatmeal, milk & honey fragrance, molded it, and pressed in some bubble wrap to get a honeycomb look.

Since I’d been cooking soap for 4 hours already, I thought I might as well finish it all in one day! For the third and fourth batches, I used both a large and a small crock and cooked it at the same time. Into the small pot went 5 bars grated soap, and another 12 bars went into the large pot again. My arms and shoulders were actually sore the next day from grating all that soap! I added some lavender essential oil to the small pot to get Lavender Milk & Honey soap, very comforting and relaxing. To the last large batch, I added some vanilla fragrance, yielding Vanilla Milk & Honey.

These pictures show the differences in size and shape of some of my handmade wooden molds.

DSC03665 (2)

Small, medium, and large wooden molds filled with rebatched soap. I’m not crazy about the tops, but that’s what happens with most hot process soaps as they’re smushed into the molds.

Bars of rebatched soap

Bars of rebatched soap. From left to right: Honey Crisp Apple, Lavender Milk & Honey, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, and Vanilla Milk & Honey.

Bars of rebatched soaps

See all the pretty speckles in the different soaps? Lots of oatmeal and honey goodness packed in every bar!

I’ve tried out several different widths of molds in an attempt to find my favorite size bar of soap. I think I’ve settled on 3 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 1-1.25 inch thick. What’s your favorite size?

I’m quite happy with my final products. Even though I didn’t add any interesting bits of colored soap like Donna did, I’m pleased with the simple marbled look of my soaps. The darker bits of soap speckled throughout must be from the honey as it heated and caramelized during rebatching. Dear ol’ hubby likes the looks of these bars better than cold process. After a week of curing, they’re back to being very hard, creating a bubbly, yet very creamy lather.

Rebatched soaps

Not only are they different sizes, but different colors as well. You can already see how much adding vanilla browns the soap. The soap on the far right (Vanilla Milk & Honey) will eventually turn a rich, deep shade of brown.

I hope that I don’t need to rebatch again anytime soon, but I will definitely do this again. This hand milled soap has a look all its own, and the final bars really are very lovely to use. Now that I know that I can do it, I can have some fun trying new scents, colors, and additives that don’t hold up well during cold process soaping. Once again, I’ve found lots more to try! It’s never-ending.

A Big Batch of Soap

There’s a running theme in my soap making experience. Expect the unexpected; things never seem to go as planned! Even the best made plans don’t go as anticipated, and changes abound. Maybe it’s the excitement of making a new soap or trying a new technique that makes my brain run haywire in the middle of a batch. I’m not sure why this happens so frequently, but I’m hoping things will get a little easier with more time and experience. What’s really encouraging is the fact that no matter how many changes I make in the middle of a soap, somehow the combination of fat, water and lye still turns into soap. It’s a little miracle every time!

All of this was true in my recent attempt at making a triple batch of soap. My typical recipe uses 3 pounds of oils to make 4 pounds of soap, and I pour into a loaf mold that makes 12 bars. I recently had a large order placed, and it included 3 loaves of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap, so I thought I’d try to make it in one big batch. In my mind, it would be easy to measure out three times the ingredients, and it would take less time overall to get it done. Wrong on both accounts!

The first thing I didn’t anticipate was how long it would take to make the lye solution with 100% oat-milk. I made it very slowly in my usual pitcher, but it was much more difficult because of the large amount of lye and milk. It took f.o.r.e.v.e.r! I had the pitcher sitting in an ice bath, but due to such a large volume, the milk heated up quickly and turned darker than usual. Because I’d infused the milk with oatmeal, it was lumpy and soupy and very much like pudding. It was quite difficult to stir, and I couldn’t really tell if all of the lye had fully dissolved. Lesson learned: use a bigger container to make large amounts of lye solution!

After finally finishing the lye solution, I added it to my giant pot of oils a tiny bit at a time, looking carefully for chunks of undissolved lye. Lo and behold, I found a few! Oh no! I mixed and stirred and took out a few pieces that simply wouldn’t break apart and blend in. This soap will be a bit more superfatted than I intended, but I think it’ll just be that much more moisturizing.

The next thing I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it is to simply manage the weight of such a large volume of oils. Stick blending the soap to light trace took longer than normal.

Big Batch of Soap in the making

The entire tip of my stick blender was completely immersed in the batter when I tried to reach the bottom of the pot. With my current equipment, I couldn’t make a batch any bigger than this one (and I don’t think I’d want to try any bigger anyway).

I usually separate off a bit of soap to turn white, add honey and fragrance to the main soap, then do an in-the-pot swirl and pour the soap into the mold. In this instance, it was difficult to pour just a small amount of soap out of my giant heavy pot, but I muscled my way through! (I’m such a klutz; in my mind’s eye, I can see myself spilling this entire pot of raw soap all over my kitchen!) I added honey to the main soap and blended it in. After I colored the smaller amount white, I added it right back to the main pot. I was excited about how everything was turning out, going smoothly. Hubby was taking pictures for me. Life was good.

Big Batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

The in-the-pot swirl was going perfectly, with nice fluid soap.

And then I realized that I’d forgotten to add the fragrance! At this point, I knew that the distinct in-the-pot swirl was out the window. I dumped in my fragrance and lightly mixed it into the soap, turning the entire batch a lighter color, with a only a few wispy swirls of white to be found. I again muscled my way through pouring the soap into three molds, then covered the top with bubble wrap and stuck them all in the oven.

Big Batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

From this vantage point, you can still see some white swirls in the soap. Unfortunately, it’s not as noticeable in the final cut bars of soap.

As usual, I had no idea what to expect when unmolding my soaps the next day. Would there be chunks of undissolved lye in there, ruining the whole big batch? Would there be any swirls left at all? Did I mix the fragrance in well enough? Would it even be soap?! 

After cutting through all 3 loaves, I’m happy to report that I found no lye pockets! The pH is great! Woohoo! I did find a few tiny pools of fragrance next to small pieces of oatmeal, but they are disappearing as the soaps cure. I’m not sure if they reabsorb or evaporate out, but they are disappearing. Immediately upon cutting them, most of the bars didn’t have a noticeable swirl, but the colors are changing a bit as they cure, showing off more white! They have a nice gentle look overall.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (Big Batch)

See the wisps of white in there? I’m so happy that a few still came out!

I have made so many different batches of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap, and not a single one looks like another. Consistency is apparently not my strong suit, and I’m learning to be OK with that. It simply means that each batch is unique, individual, a small work of art. That’s the definition of hand crafted, right?

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (Big Batch)

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

I’m amazed at people who are able to create soaps from large batches. This batch that made 12 pounds of soap isn’t even very big compared to others I’ve seen online. And this soap isn’t too terribly intricate, either! Not lots of colors, no difficult technique. I can’t imagine trying to do a fancier soap with this much to work with! I think I’ll try about 8 pounds next, but it’ll be a while before I try to make another triple batch.

To my fellow soapers out there: How big are the batches that you typically make? Have you found it easier to make smaller or larger batches? Do you have any tips for making big batches? Pros and cons? I’d love to have a conversation about this with others who have experience!

My First Goat Milk Soap

I’ve finally done it: goat milk soap!

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

I’ve been looking for a local source of fresh goat milk for over a year now, but I don’t think I know the right people. I can’t locate anyone, but I’m certain that there are people around here who must have goats! I drive past pig farms and multitudes of cows every time I go to the grocery store. Surely someone has goats! I’m fairly close to Amish country, so I may have to go that route to find what I’m looking for. Once I do find it, I’m wondering if I can afford it! This stuff is expensive! I finally gave in and coughed up the money for a can of concentrated goat milk at the store.

For this batch, I used the same half and half method that I used to make yogurt soap. I began with a 1:1 lye solution (which takes an incredibly long time to cool down), then I added concentrated goat milk to my oils and butters. I also added some colloidal oatmeal at the same time and blended it all until it was nice and creamy. I really like this method of milk soaping; it’s much easier than freezing the milk and making the lye solution in slow motion! I planned not to add any color to this batch, but I just couldn’t help myself. At the last moment, I colored some soap purple, put a simple layer on top, then added some swirls down each side. I like the looks of it. Simple, with a touch of color to give it some interest.

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat's Milk Soap Loaf

Loaf of Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap.
I love to unwrap a loaf of soap from it’s mold. It’s like Christmas morning every time!

I used a lovely blend of bergamot and chamomile to give this soap a light and calming scent. I must say I’ve noticed every goat milk soap has a distinct smell that’s somewhat pungent to my nose, and the soap I made is no different. It’s not overwhelming, but I do notice that particular goat’s milk scent. I wonder what’s in there to make it do that? I find scents absolutely fascinating!

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Now that I’ve made soap using almond milk, cow’s milk, breast milk, yogurt, and goat’s milk, I’m feeling rather like a pro! I know it’s only a few batches of each, but milk soap isn’t nearly as daunting to me now as it was a year and a half ago. I’ve got several other recipes in the works with new milks and combinations of milks, creams, and yogurt. The more soap I make, the more soap I want to make! The sky’s the limit with ingredients, techniques, scents and colors. This is so much fun!

Oat-Infused Milk Soap

While perusing other soap making blogs the other night, I found this lovely Oat Milk Recipe for Soap over at Oil & Butter. It’s a simple recipe that calls for soaking oats in water, blending, and straining. I’ve used this same basic process to make almond milk. Simple. Fast. Inexpensive. Great!

Seeing the recipe inspired me to make a batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap with a new twist. I typically only use milk in my recipe, but did you see my post on Mama’s Milk Soap? I love how it turned out, and the benefits of breast milk are staggering. So I decided to use heavily fatty breast milk and infuse that with rolled oats. I guessed that soaking oats in only milk would create a very thick mess, so I cut the milk with water first. Here’s what I did: two parts distilled water, two parts milk, and one part oats. The oats soaked in the milk water in the refrigerator for a day, then I blended it up and strained it using a tea strainer (since I couldn’t find any cheesecloth). Boy, was that a mess! The milk was stringy and sticky with tiny bits of oats floating around. I strained it again twice, but somehow the tiny oats remained in the mix.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

Here’s a first look at the new Oat-Milk & Honey Soap.

I froze the oat-infused milk, then used it to create my lye solution. As with any milk soap, I added the lye very slowly, one tiny bit at a time with the pitcher sitting in an ice bath so as not to overheat and curdle the milk. Because there were still tiny bits of oats in the milk, I was worried about the lye dissolving properly, so I stirred and stirred and stirred. It looked like a mess of disfigured rice pudding! After about half an hour of stirring off and on, I thought it was time to take a deep breath and attempt to make the soap. I had to carefully glop the pudding mess into the oils. To my great surprise, the soap traced at the same rate as usual, didn’t seize, and didn’t cause any other problems either. I poured off a few cups to turn white, then added fragrance to the main batter. A simple in-the-pot swirl resulted in a very beautiful soap. In my excitement, though, I forgot to add the honey! I remembered the bubble wrap for the top and bottom of the mold to make it look like a honey comb, but I forgot the honey! Darn. Despite that, I really love the look of this soap. And I’m still calling it Oat-Milk & Honey Soap because the fragrance has a hint of honey in it.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

I just love a good in-the-pot swirl. Every bar is so unique!

I’m honestly thrilled that I could even cut this loaf! I was afraid that the wet oats might leave me with a soppy goo rather than a hard bar, but so far it’s hardened wonderfully. The bits of oatmeal add great texture to it. I’m not usually a fan of exfoliates in soaps, especially large chunks of oats or loofah. But these bits of oats are so tiny that I hardly feel them and don’t mind them at all. I’m hoping that this soap will be even more moisturizing and soothing because the oats were infused directly into the breast milk. As always, time will tell. I got impatient (what soaper can wait for the full cure?) and used an end cut to lather up, and it’s just delicious! It starts with a super bubbly lather, then turns rich and creamy. It leaves my hands feeling like silk!

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

See the specs of oats in the soap? They look bigger than they feel, and they add great texture without being harsh.

Now that I’ve tried this infusion, I’m excited to delve deeper into the giant world of milk soaps. I’m going to experiment some more with infusions, different kinds of milk, and using multiple milks and creams in the same recipe. I’m seeing more and more blogs and recipes that include a combination of milk, cream, and/or powdered milk in the same soap. And there are so many ways to add it into recipes. The half and half method. The frozen milk method. The hot process add some milk or cream after the cook method. (I’m making up names for methods here, but you get the point, right?) I want to try them all! Next experiment: yogurt soap. I’ll be posting about that as soon as I make it!