To give credit where it is due, my son designed this soap. (Quick disclaimer: He is old enough to handle caustics safely, and to fully understand the consequences of not doing so. In case any reader is unsure, cold process soaping is NOT a safe activity for young children. There are some melt and pour projects on the market that are more suitable for younger kids, but they also require heavy supervision.) We were cleaning up my drawer of soaping goodness, and he was sniffing at things in the same way that I do and handed me a bit of the tissue we set aside for experimenting with fragrances. I happen to love Bourbon Street Fragrance OIl by itself. It’s woody and smoky, very unique, and very masculine. But he had added a bit of the Apple Fragrance Oil to it, which is a pure, sweet, apple fragrance. Together, they smell like a barrel of fresh apples, oaky and sweet. In all my soap sniffing, (I sniff at every artisan soap I find. It’s probably embarrassing to other people.) I’ve never found anything quite like it. So we decided to use it. He sketched out a soap that looked like oak barrels, and I think we came close. It turned out very well, and very fragrant, like a barrel of fresh apples in the rain. I really recommend this project.

Soap Formula

I’m experimenting with formula these days. The good thing about playing with oils is that as long as you get the right amount of lye, you will definitely have useful soap when you are finished, even if it is a little weird. My family and friends receive weird soap all the time. Remember this? Someone who likes me got those sad squashed end pieces, and still speaks to me. Weird soap still gets people clean, so I encourage extensive experimentation until you find something you really love. So this soap is:

  • 50% Olive oil
  • 35% Sustainable palm oil
  • 10% Coconut oil
  • 5% Castor oil

It’s pretty good. I’m tempted to push the castor oil to get a few more bubbles if I can.  It gave us time to work, but hardened up enough to unmold in about 24 hours. It isn’t a very white soap, but for this, that wasn’t important. It’s light enough in color to be used for most projects.

Oak Barrel Colors

 After blending, the soap went into three buckets. The largest was colored with Maya Gold Mica.

The rest was divided in half. One half was colored with cocoa powder.

The other with Firefly Yellow Mica.

Barrels Of Fresh Apples

We went with a 50/50 blend of the fragrance oils. In retrospect, I might weight the proportions slightly more toward the Bourbon Street, but that’s largely a matter of taste. We divided the fragrance blend more or less into thirds and put it in the three buckets.

Swirl Negotiations

There were some intensive negotiations regarding what type of swirl might result in the most wood grain pattern. Ultimately, we went with a pot swirl. The firefly and the cocoa went into the Maya gold bucket, we took a couple of quick swirls in the pot and then poured into the Nurture Soap 2.5 Pound Basic Mold. It wasn’t quite as pretty as I like, so, after scraping the bowls on top, we mixed a little bit of cocoa powder in some olive oil, and a little Gold Dust Enviroglitter in a little more olive oil, and poured stripes down the length of the soap for swirling.

Gold Dust is glitter, for sure, but it is so fine that it appears more like gold leaf when it’s used this way. In the camera light, it seems more like discreet particles than it looks here. It has a lot more shine than sparkle. As always, I let my soap spend its first night in the fridge. Almost without fail, I get partial gels unless I force a full gel phase. Regardless of formula. It doesn’t hurt the soap, but we worked hard for this appearance, and I would like to keep it. After its chill in the long dark night, we removed it, and let it sit for several more hours before cutting.

We were pleased. It may still discolor slightly from the Bourbon Street; I’ve used it before, and though it does discolor, it is a mild tan discoloration. Not too important in my brown and gold soap. It also takes quite a while to fully develop. The last time I used it, it took almost two weeks to take on its final color. It’s a close approximation to wood grain visually, and we were both really pleased with it. I highly recommend that you try this fragrance blend.

Happy Soaping!


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