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Soap Challenge: Final version

(This is the English version of this post)

Now was the last chance to make THE soap that I was happy to submit to the challenge. The two previous batches had at least one pointy layer, but were not good enough, and I needed a better plan based on the experiences I had gained. The morning after the next day we would leave for the holidays, and I needed to make the two halves, let it set, cut it and take pictures.

The two first trials had really shown the importance of having the right trace to get pointy layers. The major portion of this soap was colored with titanium dioxide, known to thicken the soap batter, so I knew I had to be careful. Too thick trace, and the layer you pour in will not break through the layer under to get the tops, and too thin trace will swirl the layers too much. I chose a lovely, phthalate free fragrance oil I knew would behave well, Gin & Tonic from The Soap Kitchen UK, so I wouldn’t have to worry about acceleration, ricing or discoloration.

As I was out of lard (which I had used in the other batches), I had to make a new recipe. To increase hardness I added shea butter and more coconut oil than previous batches, and upped the superfat to compensate. Shea butter can increase the speed of tracing, but as it was only 15 % and I planned to soap cool I was pretty certain that this recipe would be OK. To avoid getting stearic acid crystals from the shea butter I made sure to fully melt the solid fats before cooling. 

Recipe 3

10 % canola oil

5 % castor oil

30 % coconut oil

15 % shea butter

40 % olive oil refined

Water was 1.8x the amount of sodium hydroxide

Additives per 450 g oils: 1 tbsp powdered sugar in 15 g water, 1 tsp sodium lactate, 7 g Gin & Tonic fragrance, hydrated chromium oxide, chromium oxide, titanium dioxide. The pigments were predispersed in olive oil.  

The concept was the same as the second batch: Make half a batch, with one pointy layer, let it set and turn upside down. I poured a green and white in-the-pot swirl first when making both halves, so that the second green layer would sit on top of the first, while the points would go in opposite directions. 

This time I measured the premixed colorants very carefully, and wrote down the weight of each colorant added a well as the weight of each portion to be colored, so I could replicate the first half and avoid getting different colors. After pouring the first half I let it set overnight in room temperature. 

The morning after it still wasn’t hard enough to unmold, so into the freezer it went! Meanwhile I prepared everything and once I was able to unmold the first half and turn it upside down. I then quickly made the top half. To encourage gelling I put it in the oven at 60 C for a couple of hours, but could not see any hint of a gel phase. Hopefully it would still be hard enough to cut in the morning before going away! 

Fortunately, I was able to unmold the next morning, and cutting was quite nerve wracking – what if it didn’t work? 

But hooray! It worked! Third time’s the charm, apparently, and I took pictures in a hurry before packing into the car and leaving. In hindsight I should have brought some soaps with me to our destination, as the soap was a bit out of focus in most pictures. I hope the picture I ended up with conveys the cool elegance of the design. The light and refreshing scent with citrus and herbal notes matches the look perfectly.

Gin & Tonic soap

I am so happy to be able to participate in the challenge for the first time. There are almost 300 participants from all over the world, and I know many are brilliant soapers, so I don’t have my hopes up for winning any category. It’s just fun to have something to present, something with a twist that I haven’t seen before (although it might have been done before – it probably has!), and I think this soap is quite pretty! 

What do you think?


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