So it’s June. And it’s hot. And my air conditioner is underpowered at best, and at worst, gives up and goes on strike. I prefer heat to cold, but this is a little rough. My mind deals with this by granting me relief at night with dreams of icy winter forests with naked trees, blowing snow, and bitter winds. Silver ice clings to rough trunks and branches, and my numb fingers reach out to touch – and I’m awake. It’s going to be 150 degrees today. Time to rise and shine. But the images and the sensations lingered, bright, and simple, and icy cold. It wanted to be soap, and I wanted to see how close I could come to the vision.
I like this one. It’s easy, and you could choose a different accent color, or none at all, if you wanted something different. It is also an important lesson in the proper use of titanium dioxide. Let’s begin.
White Base Soap
That’s it. Enough to fill your mold. I think that on this one, for the best effect, you’re going to want your lightest colored formula. In fact, after mixing in my TD and water, it didn’t seem white enough, and I threw in a little extra and hit it with the stick blender. It’ll be fine. (It won’t.) I considered letting this one get really hot and try to form glycerin rivers. The crackled effect would be especially wintery. Though the titanium dioxide I used can help them to form, I went in a smoother direction, though I might go for it in a second batch. It’s a little unpredictable, and the glycerin fairies only visit me when I don’t want to see them. That’s how they are. But I poured two very small amounts off this batch and then made a decision about fragrance.
I went with Mad About Mint Fragrance Oil. It’s straightforwardly minty, and behaves perfectly, which you will need. Almost anything would work if it doesn’t discolor or accelerate, and Nurture Soap has 4 sets of ‘Perfect Performers’, if you want to see some that you won’t need to worry about. Or you could embrace the golden discoloration and use Jeweled Fir Fragrance Oil. I’m not obsessed with Jeweled Fir. It’s not like there’s a Jeweled Fir Fan Club or anything. (We meet on Wednesday afternoons.)
Here they are. The Kaolin Clay isn’t a colorant, so much as an additive. I put it in all my soaps now, after some experimentation, it really does seem to anchor scent, and I love the feel of it in the finished soap. Activated Charcoal is a great grey/black colorant, and everyone loves My Red Obsession. But the red could be traded for any strong color.
The technique is similar to the Crystal Purple Persuasion. Set the mold up about 40 degrees on the long angle, and fill the mold so that the highest part of the soap is about 2/3 up your mold. Then pour a single thin line of the charcoal soap and a thin line of the red on top of it. Just one line of each. Once it’s placed, move quickly. Remove the support, lay the mold flat, and pour the rest of the white soap on top. Insert a swirling tool into the side you poured on, and move horizontally across the soap in figure 8 shapes, at the place where you can feel the stripes in the soap. Then lift cleanly out at the other side. I finished the top with a swirl of Red Obsession mixed in oil, and a single stripe of charcoal in oil. It looks like peppermint swirls.
Winter Chill (In the Fridge)
I chill all my soaps at least 12 hours. My formula, home, and microclimate seem to lend themselves to partial gels, and now, in the heat and humidity of summer, my soaps are slow to harden. On top of that, heat and humidity in the air will sometimes swell the wood of the mold enough that I can’t slide the liner out. So I chill to about 40 degrees in the soap fridge for 12 hours, cure in the liner at room temp with a fan for 12 hours, then out of the mold in front of the fan for 12 hours before cutting. A dehumidifier is in my future, but for now, this is a working system. Then I cut, cure another day, and do the beveling and whatnot to finish.
A Delicate Dream of Winter – and What Went Wrong
It turned out pretty, but close inspection will reveal a flaw. Tiny spots of unevenness in the white. It’s harmless, but it is an imperfection. Why is it there? Remember when my soap wasn’t quite as white as I liked? Close inspection will show the trouble here: speckles. TD needs to be blended with water to make smooth white soap. That extra TD has left me with tiny white on white spots. The solution? Blend all of it with water before adding. You can use one of these mini blenders to make sure it’s entirely blended. Blend it well, then blend it into the base with the stick blender. I made a second batch.
A Second Dream
Smooth and white. That’s why proper blending matters. It’s a small detail, but it really makes a difference in the appearance of the finished product. Stay cool, bubbly friends.