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Soap Challenge Club: Collaborator Challenge

Soap Challenge Club isn’t entirely new on this blog – if you search using the tag soap challenge club you will find posts from the previous entry. But this time the challenge had a different spin: to make a soap with a collaborator!

The task was to teach someone who has never made soap before how to make soap, using one of the two techniques allowed in the challenge; either three pencil lines or drop swirls. The new soapmaker needed to make lye and pour the soap themselves (I was allowed to help before the soapmaking with the recipe etc.). The contribution to the competition has to be the first soap of either of the two techniques.

I asked my husband Knut if he wanted to join this time, as he has never made soap before. After nagging asking quite a few times he agreed 🙂 And thus I’m handing it over to him.

*taking over keyboard*

I had to dive in and give it a go. Hanna Maja thinks this is super fun and finds a lot of joy in doing this, so perhaps there is something to it =).

There are many steps in a soap making process for a beginner … Before you even start you have to read and consider safety and precautions. Then one has to plan what to do and prepare the work surface. It is important to have a lot of space, especially when you as a beginner is going to handle several containers of soap batter!

Then you have to choose technique (preferably the very first thing you do) and then think of what you imagine will turn out to be a good design. Pick colors and shapes you want to try. Think completely freely here, or rely on others’ experience or be inspired by for instance YouTube. Choose scent if you want a scented soap (personally I think that unscented is completely fine and I generally prefer unscented cosmetics) because different oils will affect the saponification process and that can have an impact on which designs are achievable.

Once everything is decided and everything is prepared, work with the lye (be careful here) and work through the recipe/process until you end up with a lot of soap batter!

The new soapmaker in action. Triple pencil line coming up!

Then begins the fun mayhem where you juggle the soap batter in different containers and add scent and color according to the design. You have to baby sit the different containers at the same time as building the design in the mold. This is where you really _make_ soap, and it is good fun! I understand how people can get addicted to soap making as it can be a very satisfying creative process. You make something and even though everything should go wrong, the thing you are making is meant to be used. It is not like making a bird house – no, cutting board! – no, chop sticks! – no, tooth picks … There was no frustration if something didn’t go as planned, just acceptance that something turned out different. I believe many could find good therapy in soap making =)

Anyways, we had a good time and worked together for a couple of hours and ended up with a pretty nice soap. I am very happy with the result. My idea was a stylistic tropical pineapple/mango design with a fresh/fruity scent. Ideally I wanted it to smell like the soda Lilt, if you have ever been to the UK and tried it (don’t know if you can get it other places). At least it existed when I was a kid and hopefully still does.


I was super happy with the result, and proud of his effort! This design is pretty complicated, with the slanted layers in addition to the pencil lines. The layer in the mold has to set up enough to hold the next layer without it breaking through the pencil line, while the rest of the batter needs to be kept pretty fluid. Controlling trace is very important.

I had made a new recipe for this challenge, using some oils I normally don’t use in soap making. (I don’t use sweet almond oil, as almonds require massive amounts of water for growing, but I got a bottle by a mistake and wanted to try it in soap).

25 % coconut oil

31 % lard

7 % canola oil

14 % almond oil

5 % argan oil

8 % cocoa butter

10 % olive oil, calendula infused

For 800 g oils:

112 g NaOH

150 g water

70 g coconut milk

Scent: Essential oils of juniper berry, lime (distilled), grapefruit, litsea, nutmeg. Mango fragrance oil (accelerating). He wanted pineapple but this was the closest one I had on hand.

Colors: Various micas, green chromium oxide, titanium dioxide, and cocoa powder for the pencil linces.

I made the recipe, but he picked out the colors (with some guidance), made the lye solution, mixed the batter to trace, weighed and colored the different portions, added scent, poured each layer, and covered the newly poured layer just enough with a dusting of cocoa powder.

He did great! But most important – we had fun. We listened to some eighties music, danced, and had a good time. And judging from the reports in the Facebook group for the challenge, this was the case for most others who had done the collaborator challenge. That is, not eighties music, but a good time!


  • Amy Warden

    What a fantastic collaboration you two! I love that you both wrote about your experiences – the soap is fantastic! Excellent job manipulating the batter and creating the pencil lines, Knut! Hanna Maja, you’re an excellent teacher – sounds like perhaps you’ve inspired him to make more??

    • hannam

      Hi Amy, thanks for reading our post! I agree that the soap is fantastic, I’m really proud of him 🙂 Maybe I should hire him as an assistant in my soap lab 😉 Thank you for a well-thought-through challenge! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the contributions.

      • Debi Olsen

        These are truly amazing, Knut! I love the vibrant colors against the contrast of the pencil lines. I really enjoyed reading about the experience through your eyes as well! Hanna, you are an awesome teacher! I’m so glad you kept nagging…er… asking him to participate!

    • knut

      Hi, Amy!
      Thank you so much for your kind words!
      Yes, she is a very good teacher, though sometimes she had to clench her fists to not touch! I liked that part of the challenge =) although my first idea was to combine the two techniques and go for a drop swirl in one of the middle layers. I’m a physicist so I wanted to test my intuitive understanding of the viscosity and try to get the height right so that the drops would swirl only one layer! =) I’ll probably make more soap in the future =)

  • Tatiana Y.

    Love the choice of colors and the design! Beautiful work! I could not convince my husband for this project: he did not respond to bribery or threats 🙂

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