I’ve kept up with my experimentation in scenting, coloring, and soaping temps…and, so far, I’m happy with my results! The most important conclusion I’ve drawn is that soaping at a higher temperature helps me achieve a harder, less sticky bar sooner. All of my previous soaps have been fine, but I mixed the oils and lye/milk while temperatures were relatively low (between room temp and 80 degrees) resulting in sticky bars at unmolding. Slicing sticky bars is a bit of a challenge and makes the final bar less pretty. Theoretically, allowing the soap to sit longer before cutting may solve the sticky problem, but I’ve been trying to soap more regularly and I need my molds to be available. Bumping my soaping temp up to 100/110 degrees has allowed me to get a firmer bar after 12-24 hours after soaping.
After receiving my sizable order of essential oils, I’ve started trying to produce “Autumn” scented soaps. Think nutmeg, clove buds, and anise. Yum! Less autumny, but still delicious is the Ginger Grapefruit that I batched last night. I’ve also tried several coloring and swirling techniques that have been more or less successful. The first soap pictured was made with an oil infusion of annatto seed. In person, the soap is more of a buttery yellow. The color change was subtle but, when compared to uncolored soap, the yellow is there. You’ll also see a cream and blue soap–it’s pretty and obviously has more than one color in it. I’m counting it as a success even though it was originally supposed to show three different colors (one of the infusions didn’t create much of an effect). The Ginger Grapefruit, which I haven’t sliced yet, is pictured below. I tried another swirling technique. The top of the loaf is pretty but I doubt, once cut, the swirls will be as prominent. I tried mixing paprika directly into the soap rather than infusing it. I used a conservative amount of powder this time because it was my first attempt–I didn’t want the soap to get too scratchy. Overall, it’s not exactly what I had wanted but it’s still interesting and pretty (and smells amazing!).
A side bar on a near disaster…after I poured my soap last night I started cleaning up my supplies. A few minutes later I realized that I hadn’t tightened the mold well enough and the soap was oozing everywhere! Because I was trying a swirling technique, I hadn’t mixed to a very thick trace so the soap was extra liquidy. It was a mess, but I was able to tighten the mold before too much was lost. A mistake I will (fingers crossed) never make again!