News & Soap Making

Oatmeal Milk & Honey Soap Cupcakes Piping Soap Challenge September 12, 2016 09:56 5 Comments

September's Great Cakes Soap Challenge is soap piping.  Currently, there are less than ten days left before this challenge closes and I have barely an idea of what I am going to do.  The guidelines for this challenge are as follows.  The soap must be made with cold process soap only.  It must have at least one component of your piped soap that has more than one color in one bag.  The only embellishment your soap can have is body safe glitter.  You can use any type of mold you wish.  The challenge is divided into two groups, newbies (making soap for less than two years) and experienced (more than two years).  That puts me in the experienced category, but unfortunately, I have only piped soap one time before, more than a few years ago and that didn't look real great in my opinion.

After watching the tutorials, I headed over to the neighborhood Michaels to see what I could find.  I came out with silicone cupcake liners and a Cake Boss piping set that was on clearance.  I don't even have a clue what 99% of these piping tips do.  Over the next few days, I watched many YouTube videos on piping and really starting to feel overwhelmed.  Definitely out of my comfort zone.


Since I am using the silicone cupcake liners I first had to figure out volume and times that by how many liners I have. I have eight of these liners which hold approximately 4.4 oz, so I would need to size my recipe to around 35 ounces just to fill them, not including the piping part.  I am thinking I will need about two ounces minimum for piping on each, times eight will make the total soap weight for my recipe around 52 ounces.  Next up was figuring out what recipe to use.

I went back read and watched the tutorial again and decided to use one of Amy's recipes with substitutions as a guide, swapping out certain ingredients for comparable ones. 

  I got right to work making the smaller batch for piping.  It came to medium trace very quickly.  I separated out the soap into my measuring cups so that I could color it with the mica that I had selected for my flowers.  Once I had the mica in, I began trying to stir it into the soap.  The batter had seriously gotten way to firm to even stir and mix the micas in.  AARRGHH!  I said a few choice words then scraped the hard soap into a mold to rebatch at a later date.  Now, thinking back Amy used the recipe above for the Russian tips.  I remember her saying that the soap batter needed to be pretty stiff for those tips.  Well, I don't have any Russian tips so I looked through my soap recipes and decided to use my shea butter recipe.  I resized it into the amounts for piping and for the cupcakes.  Time to start all over and make the soap for piping flowers.  This time, I went ahead and premixed all the mica I had chosen which was yellow vibrance, orange vibrance, my coral mica, red vibrance, wisteria purple, kumbo green and super sparkles mica.  The bright orange is a combination of orange vibrance and my coral mica.  The maroonish color on the far right is a combination of red vibrance, my coral mica and wisteria purple. Super sparkles mica went in with the orange, yellow and maroon colors.


I also prepared my piping bags, tips and I cut small squares of freezer paper to place the piped flowers on.


Time to make soap.  I was much happier with the results from my shea butter recipe.  I had plenty of time to mix colors and get the soap into the piping bags.

I used the technique of using saran wrap, placing the soap on, spreading it out, then adding the second color on top to achieve the dual color when piping.


Ready or not here I come, super greenie with all this cake decorating stuff.  I've never piped anything but a star and they were ugly.  Here goes nothing.  I began by applying a tiny amount of soap on the cake nail, then added a square of freezer paper.  I then piped a small swirl of the white (uncolored) soap for a base to start making the flowers.  Next the dual color for petals.  I kept making more and more flowers.  Some were pretty ugly and got scraped back into the bag.  Maroon flowers, yellow-orange flowers and leaves over and over.  I think I must have spent over two hours messing with them.  I finally had to stop because I couldn't squeeze the soap out of the bags anymore so I started to clean up the huge mess that I had made.  I really made a BIG mess!  All the soap that was left in the bags I put in with the other soap for rebatching.  I think I have a good two and a half pounds of soap from that just from today.


I had to soak the piping tips overnight.  No fun doing dishes.  I left my flowers on the table to firm and harden up before I made the cupcake part of the soap.

The next morning I gathered my ingredients for the shea butter cupcake soap.  I used one tablespoon of ground oats, one teaspoon of French yellow clay and the fragrance oil I chose was oatmeal milk and honey which I purchased at Natures Garden.

I have two tips ready for piping the "glue" to stick my flowers on with.  I couldn't decide which one at first but ended up using the open star tip.  I am wishing it was larger now.

My oils and lye are ready to go.  Time to stick blend.

Once I had trace, I added the ground oats and incorporated them in.  I poured off around six ounces for the "glue", then continued on adding the yellow clay and fragrance oil.

The batter was thicker than the batch I had made for piping.  Obviously, the fragrance oil helped that out.  I filled up the cupcake liners and smoothed the tops and put the other soap I had measured off into the piping bag.

I piped a circular mound on top of the cupcakes one at a time, then added the flowers and leaves that I made, arranging them the best I could.  Ultimately, I am not really happy with what I made, but I sure learned a lot. 

So here's some pictures of them after I finished.  I will pick out the best ones and take close up pictures for my entry.


Here they are out of the silicone liners and cleaned up.  I kept spraying them with alcohol to get rid of the ash.  I think this will be as good as mine will get for this soapy challenge.



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Tangerine Dancing Funnel Swirl Soap August 8, 2016 08:00 21 Comments

This month's Great Cakes Soap Challenge was the dancing funnel swirl technique.  I really enjoyed this challenge and do plan to make more soaps using what I have learned. The guidelines were as follows.  The soap had to be made using the cold process method in a slab mold.  The outline color was to remain the same and no embellishment added to the soap.  There were two categories to enter into, either all natural or synthetic.  I chose the all natural category.

My recipe consists of:

25% coconut Oil, 20% palm oil, 15% apricot kernel oil, 15% babassu oil, 15% sunflower oil and 10% shea butter.  I used a water discount of 30% in this recipe.

I began by infusing olive oil with my chosen natural colors, black walnut hull powder, and paprika.  I used my crock pot with some water and placed it on the warm setting for a few hrs, then turned it off and let it cool down completely and strained the oil.


Next, I lined my mold and gathered the rest of my ingredients to begin making the soap.

 Besides, the infused oil for color I opted to use the straight herbs/spices as well for a more concentrated color.  The scent I chose was tangerine essential oil.  


With my squeeze bottles all ready to go, I was ready to make soap.  I did not use a stick blender to achieve emulsification of the soap batter, I hand stirred, which took me 27 minutes.

 Here is the soap batter in the squeeze bottles.  From left to right, colored with black walnut hull powder, colored with paprika powder, colored with paprika infused oil, no color added to the last bottle on the far right.

So I began making my dots as in the tutorial, once finished I placed plastic wrap over the mold and put it in the oven for approximately one hour on the warm setting of my oven, which is about 150 degrees to ensure gel.  I completely forgot to take a snapshot of it before I put it in the oven.  The soap batter was VERY fluid and I had to take it up two flights of stairs to my kitchen from my soaping room without giggling it too much.  Adrenaline rush!  

After that, I started clean up.  I had a bit of soap that was stuck in the bottles so I filled them into some column mold to use later for embeds.

    I did not gel the embeds.

On to the cut.

 I measured and cut the slab into four bars, plained and beveled the edges.  I really liked the way this soap turned out and the tone of colors that I achieved with the combination of straight herb and infused oil.  The contrast is quite dramatic.


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Almond & Honey Pipe Swirl Soap Challenge July 15, 2016 12:22 7 Comments

This month's soap challenge was the pipe swirl.  In the guidelines, participants were restricted to using only four colors, a slab mold, and the soap had to be made using cold process soap only.  I actually made my slab mold for this competition because my old slab mold has a warped bottom.  I went to the local Home Depot, purchased the lumber and three different sizes of PVC pipes.  Once I had my mold made,  I calculated the volume of it and the pipes so that I could resize my soap recipe.  With all of that completed, I was ready to begin this challenge.  I began by lining my mold, choosing my colors and melting cocoa butter to adhere the PVC pipes to the mold.


The colors I chose are from TKB Trading, Nurture Soap & WSP.  

 From left to right.  Arora Mica, Sahara Gold Mica, Titanium Dioxide & Black Pearl Mica.  The fragrance oil I chose to use for this soap was Almond & Honey from WSP.

Time to soap, pour and swirl!  Once I had my soap batter emulsified, I separated it out into four portions.  Before I began, I had already calculated the amount of soap that would fill the pipes and subtracted that from the total so I knew exactly how much soap batter to reserve.  I then added my colors and mixed part of the fragrance oil into the two larger portions I had separated out.  I waited to add the fragrance oil to the other two colors until I was ready to pour them.  After all the batter was in the mold, I removed the  PVC pipes and did a freehand swirl.  Here's what it looked like after the pour and swirl.  I also sprayed the top with 90% alcohol to help prevent soda ash.

 I calculated my recipe to be double thickness so as to end up with twice as many bars.  The mold I built is 9" x 9" , so I ended up with 18 bars of soap once the slab was cut into logs, then double sized bars and again to regular bar sizes.

Here they all are after the final cut.  I planed the top and beveled the sides to clean them up.

Here is my opinion about this soap technique.  If done correctly the results are beautiful, on the other hand, doing the dishes afterward was totally not fun. PVC pipes are a pain to clean out and scrape all the soap left on them.  I ended up with enough leftover batter to make another bar of soap.  Guess that one's for me.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to do so below.

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I have also made a video documenting the whole process of making Almond & Honey pipe swirl from beginning to end through the cut.  I will post a link on here once I have all the editing finished.







Snow on Mauna Kea, My Second Great Cakes Soap Challenge February 19, 2016 11:52 11 Comments

At the beginning of this month, I was a bit nervous for February's soap challenge.  As I read the email with the guidelines and watched the demonstration videos I knew that I would spend a good amount of time figuring out what I was going to do.  The theme was winter wonderland and the guidelines were to create a soap that had an element of snow, that it must be made primarily of cold process soap and but if you wanted you could add small embellishments not made of soap if you wanted.  There were two different categories to  choose from to enter in, all natural category or synthetic category.  I knew for sure that I would enter the all natural category.  I started looking for molds to give me inspiration.  I went on Ebay browsing and found two silicone molds of snowflakes that I thought would be perfect.  When the finally arrived at my home I was shocked to see the size difference from what I thought I had purchased.

   The orange snowflake mold I thought would be much smaller.  Geez, this was so much bigger and the pink mold I thought would at least twice the size of this tiny little thing.  Ugh, now what was I going to do?  I tested the tiny pink mold with melt and pour and was not impressed.  I became ever more frustrated, so I spent a few more days trying to figure this puzzle out.  I knew that if I used the tiny pink mold the soap would have to be really high in solid fats to get the soap hard enough for me to be able to unmold the snowflakes and hold their shape.  My mind kept rolling all of this around.  The only soaps that I knew that would get really hard really fast are sea salt soaps.  I was willing to give it a shot, and if it worked I would have to make multiple mini batches of sea salt soap with this horrible tiny mold.  I resized my original sea salt soap recipe and went to work.  I wanted to use different colors of salt beside plain white sea salt so on the hunt again and found pink Himalayan sea salt and Hawaiian black lava sea salt to go with the white.  First, I made a mini batch, split it in half and used the plain sea salt in one and the pink sea salt in the other using the "huge" orange snowflake mold.


Here they are, cute but as you can see I didn't stop there.  Boy, I'm telling you my brain can get me into some kinds of messes!  Yes, I did go there.  I started carving those snowflakes out, at first with just a knife.  

Once they became too hard I had to trade in my knife for a Dremel tool.  Holy cow!  What have I gotten myself into?


There were sea salt soap powder and chunks everywhere.  I did have a couple of them break so now I was short a few.  This was a couple of days worth of work and my little Dremel tool kept overheating.  It's funny, the vision in my head looked nothing like this.  With those snowflakes finished it was now time to start with that OTHER mold.


I made three batches of these torturous tiny things.  One batch with the plain white sea salt and two more with the pink Himalayan salt.  That was about all I could stand.  They drove me crazy and as you can see they still broke and I had to trim them with a knife as well.  Now you see what I mean about getting myself into messes.

If anyone is reading this I'm sure you are confused about what my actual plan is for this winter wonderland soap, so close your eyes and imagine that you are on vacation in Hawaii and your tour guide takes you to go skiing on Mauna Kea.  You see snow, you see lava rock and because you have a great imagination you see those wonderful snowflakes that have all the detail in them.  That was my vision and here's what happened.

Yes, I am sticking with the sea salt soap recipe still for the base of my soap and the essential oils that I used were ylang-ylang and sweet orange.  Once my soap batter was at thin trace I added the essential oils then split the batch in half.  The first half got the Hawaiian black lava sea salt and some activated charcoal.  The second half was the plain white sea salt and white kaolin clay.  Holy moly,  this accelerated so fast, so once everything was mixed in I started plopping the soap in my silicone mold as fast as I could.  After that, I started putting in the large snowflakes as fast as I could and then the little tiny ones.  Arghh!  My soap looks like ****.  I apologize that there are no pictures of my accelerated soap disaster but I would have had to sprout another head and four more arms.


 I was able to cut them 15 minutes later and get them out of the mold.  Totally crazy!

I am not too happy this how this turned out, but it smells really good.  Here are the two best out of the whole batch.  Friday I will take a few photos that will hopefully show more detail and yes I am going to be a sport and still enter my soap disaster.

 Here is the picture of my entry that I will upload for the soap challenge.  Did I have fun?  Well, yes and no.  Making soap is always fun to me, but I was hoping for better results. February's soap challenge was definitely a challenge. 



My journey through Great Cakes Soap Challenge January 18, 2016 08:50 1 Comment

I have been following great cakes soap challenge for a couple of years now.  In the past, I have used it for a resource and inspiration.  I looked forward to seeing each months new soap challenge and all of the beautiful soaps that were made.  This past December I decided to take the plunge and sign up for January's challenge.  This is my very first soap challenge/competition even though I have been soaping or making soap for over seven years.  January 4 was an exciting day,  I was so excited when I entered the soap challenge.  The very next day I began making batches of the circling Taiwan swirl with three dividers and three colors.  It took me a bit to figure out which one of my recipes would be the best to use for this technique.  There was also the issue of fragrance oils causing acceleration of the soap batter.  Needless to say, I did have a few failed batches that didn't quite turn out as pretty as expected or I had to abandon the plan altogether because of the fragrance accelerating my soap batter into super thick pudding.  Oh, the woe's of the soap maker.  Seriously I have had a blast making all eight batches of soap.  Yes, you read it right I did say eight.  The soap challenge has been a great experience for me so far in creativity and color scheming, thinking about how the end soap would look once it was cut with those certain colors I had chosen or was thinking about choosing.

Here are what the judges are looking for in the circling Taiwan swirl.  The batch of soap is to be cut differently than you would normally cut a batch of soap.  Instead of making regular slices, the log of soap is to be cut double thick (the size that would normally be 2 bars of soap), then it is turned on its side and sliced in half again.  This cut reveals on the end inside pieces a lotus flower when matched side by side.  You will understand as you read and look at the photos below.

So here is the very first batch that I made for the soap challenge. 

Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations Soaps    I made this with my rice bran soap recipe and scented it with lemongrass sage fragrance oil from Elements Bath & Body.  Colors used were all mica from Nurture Soap.  My oils were at 93 degrees and my lye was at 103 degrees with this batch.  This accelerated and set up quicker than I had anticipated.  I used a chopstick to do the swirl and thought from the look on the top that the inside would come out better than it did.  Once I unmolded and cut it into bars I knew that this one was not going to be submitted into the challenge so I beveled the edges and stamped them as you can see. Soap smell fresh and clean.

Batch No. 2

    Sometimes your color scheme doesn't turn out like you planned either.  This batch was scented with a blend of Georgia peach fo and mango sorbet from Elements Bath & Body and Wholesale Supplies Plus, which was a little bit better than the first batch.  Colors are all mica from Nurture Soap.  I used a chopstick again to do the swirl. This soap smells really good to me but, it is just horribly ugly.  I can say that because I made it.  Not submittable again.  I used my same rice bran soap recipe.

Batch No 3

    Awww, now I was getting somewhere with this technique, or an improvement anyway.  I made this batch with my olive cocoa butter soap recipe.  It is scented with Irish green tweed fragrance oil from Elements Bath & body.  Once again all color are mica from Nurture.  Yes, I love their mica!  I used a chopstick for the swirl on this batch also.  Not sure I'm liking the effect that I get, though. This batch performed better but was extremely soft when I took it out of the mold.  I had to let it set for another day before I could cut it.  Okay, so I'm thinking I will make another batch still because I know I can do better.

On to batch No 4

Oh my GOSH!  I wish I had pictures of this fail!  I used my olive cocoa butter recipe for this one as well and used the scent Narcissist from Natures Garden.  I read the info online about this fo stating that it didn't accelerate in their soap recipe that they tested it with.  I soaped at around 95 degrees with this and as soon as I added this fragrance, instant super thick pudding.  So I hurried and glooped it into my mold with the other two colors, ran a hanger swirl through it then sprinkled some intergalactic glitter on top and put it to bed.

  Not the best picture, but some things you try to forget.

Moving on to batch No 5

Okay, by now I'm starting to get frustrated.  If you know me, when something is giving me a hard time I obsess about it more than a little bit.  Well, I did obsess about it so much that I made a new recipe.  Talk about stressing yourself out.  Now I have a new recipe that has never been tested so I don't know how it's going to act, but it looks like it's going to stay thin enough to let me do what I need to with this technique.

      I was right, it did behave much better.  I had plenty of time to get it done.  This one I scented with Lime Cilantro fro Elements Bath & Body, colors are mica all from Nurture Soap.  This time, I used the end of my soaping spoon that I've had since I started making soap.  I got this gadget from Majestic Mountain Sage.  I like the results better than all the previous batches that I made so far for the challenge although I do have a bit of soda ash on the top as you can see from the picture in the bottom right.

Batch No 6

      Now we're talking.  On this batch, I used the new recipe I created again and scented it with Vetiver fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus.  Colors are mica from Nurture Soap again, turquoise and firecracker red.  I used the spoon handle again to make my swirl.  This batch was soaped at 88 degrees.  I think they do look pretty, but still having issues with soda ash on top of this recipe and am wanting more petals on my lotus flower so I will make another batch.

Batch No 7

Good ole' #7 don't fail me now.  I decided to go back to my olive cocoa butter soap recipe and instead of soaping at a higher temp like I had previously done with a few of the other batches I just soaped at my regular mid 80 degrees.  I realized that I was overthinking and putting way to much pressure on myself with this challenge and I should just do it how I normally do things.

     I was so right!  I really like this one!  This batch I scented with lavender essential oil and used iris purple, purple vibrance, and super sparkle mica all from Nurture Soap. I used the end of my spoon handle again for the swirl.  I am super excited with the results of this batch!   I am still wanting more petals, so I made another batch.

Batch No 8

I went on to the challenge club site and read some of the questions and answers that had come in from other soap makers.  One question caught my interest in particular.  The question asked if you could use four colors instead of just three.  The answer was Yes!  I went right to work on hopefully my last batch for this competition.  I used my emu hemp soap recipe for this batch and soaped at around 85 degrees.

 I am sure you can see the bright orange color in the mold.  That is not the color that I wanted.  Morphed color! Not again. Ugh!  I used yellow chiffon mica (that orange color), laurel green mica, sea green mica and kumbo green mica all from Nurture Soap.  I scented this batch with apple slice fragrance from New Directions Aromatics.  The swirl, this time, I used the chopstick again for the zig-zags and the spoon handle to do the circling.  The next day to my surprise the orange had morphed back to the yellow it was supposed to be.  Thank goodness!

   It seems that the color morphing has also affected the laurel green too, not just the yellow chiffon mica.  Right now I think ist is the fragrance oil that did this.  Very weird.

Now I get to choose which of these soaps to submit.  Honestly, I really would like to submit two of them but I don't think I can,  so it's off to social media to help me make a decision.  These are the pictures I put up on my Facebook page for everyone's opinion.

    It was very close between the green (top left) and the white (bottom left), but white was the soap of choice.  Thanks to all who commented and helped me decide.

I am still torn a bit, I like them all, but I have decided that my submission for the great cakes soap challenge will be the white.

 Inside cut view.

 Top view.

 Right after the pour.

I will let everyone know how I did.  I will be able to submit on January 20th and judging will be on January 24th.  The winners will be announced on January 27th. 

Wish me luck!