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Catching Waves: 8th And Ocean Cold Process Soap!

January 14, 2020 9 min read

CATCHING WAVES… AND A BREAK!

Making soap in Florida comes with its own challenges, as does making soap anywhere really! There’s so many different factors that can affect the final outcome of one’s soap batches, with where you live playing a role too! For example, in hot, humid Florida, lye absorbs the moisture in the air, sometimes faster than you can get it weighed out and incorporated into your liquid; your coconut oil is only solid maybe two months out of the whole year; and getting your soaps cured can be the biggest challenge of them all! If I didn’t have a dehumidifier running in my curing room, I truly don’t know how long it would take for my soaps to fully cure (too long for this impatient soap maker!), and during the summer, its 3 gallon bucket needs to be emptied twice a day- that’s how wet the air is! All this being said though, to my southwestern fellow soap makers- I tip my hat to you!

I did not realize just how challenging it would be to make soap here in the mountains of northern Arizona until my last two batches turned out being complete disasters! I’m used to making soap around sea level, and I’ve gotten into a good “groove” doing so. I wasn’t prepared for just how much elevation plays a role until I actively began making soap at 5,400 feet! Static electricity fills the dry air here, causing my lye beads to become jumping lye beads (unfortunately not nearly as fun as jumping beans!), and the elevation… Well, let’s just say that my first batches of 2020 did not get off to a good start at all! I’ve now officially seen things in cold process soap that I’ve never seen happen in all my years of soapmaking, and can’t even fully explain!

As I experienced one soapy disappointment after another, I was really starting to feel the frustration and readiness to catch a break! There’s a quote wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein (it was revealed he never actually said it, but I like it anyway and think he would’ve agreed!) which states that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”, so with this in mind, I decided I needed to make some adjustments, but also stop expecting the same results I get back home in Florida too. Instead, I would fully embrace the results I got right here, in the nosebleed section of beautiful, northern Arizona!

As a tribute to the warm, Sandy beaches back home, I decided a beachy, seaside theme would be perfect for this specific project, and when it comes to beaches, no other fragrance oil felt more fitting than Nurture Soap’s 8th and Ocean fragrance oil! I really needed to redeem myself from my recent soapmaking flops, and with sensationally juicy notes of fruits, a sugarcane-type sweetness and breezily blended essences of fresh florals, 8th and Ocean just makes my soul happy! It’s exactly what this soap maker needed to get out of her soapmaking rut and get her groove back! It was time to catch a break, and catch some soapy waves!

THE DESIGN PLAN

Of course this batch needed to include some soap frosting too, so I decided I’d make a sandy bottom layer, ocean waves in the middle, and plenty of “seafoam” on top. To embellish this, beautiful shell embeds were a must! Using Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat, Clear Soap Base, I made my shell-bellishments (sorry, I couldn’t resist a pun!) using the aptly perfect Velvet Pearl mica, and the ever-incredible Honey Blush mica. So far, so great, as this color combination turned out looking positively perfect for my melt & pour seashells!

I had a vision in mind of exactly what I wanted my seaside soap design to look like, so it was time to start executing it! I really wanted my bottom “sand” layer to be nice and firmly set-up before pouring my “waves”, but this posed a small concern… I wanted my “beach” to be firm, but my “ocean waves” to be nice and fluid. If I made these portions all in one go, as my beach set-up, time would become of the essence for my “ocean waves” to remain super fluid. The solution? Simple… Just spilt my soap batch into 2 soap batches! This would allow me plenty of time to work with both my sand and sea portions at two completely different consistencies.

I decided I wanted my beach portion of the project to consist of 1/3rd of my total soap recipe, and my ocean to consist of the remaining 2/3rds. I split my total recipe of 30oz of batch oils into two separate batches, with 10oz of my batch oils now being my beach, and 20oz being my ocean. This meant that I needed to make three lye solutions in total: One for my 10oz batch, one for my 20oz batch and one for my 15oz soap frosting batch.

Using a trick I learned from Carrie Thornsbury herself (thank you Carrie!), I used a dryer sheet to wipe out the containers with which I used to weigh out my lye (to eliminate static electricity), and it REALLY works! No longer were my lye beads jumping all over the place, and I was able to make my three lye solutions with ease! I really love using aloe juice as an alternative liquid in my recipes, so I made two of my lye solutions with aloe juice, and the lye solution used for my soap frosting recipe was made with distilled water.

As I waited for my lye solutions to cool to room temp, my next step was to get my colorants prepared and dispersed. For my 10oz soap batch, no other mica color was more perfect to represent a warm, sandy beach than Honey Blush mica! For my 20oz batch, which would represent beautiful ocean waves, Nurture Soap’s Titanium Dioxide, paired with Blue Vibrance, Caribbean Blue and Synergy micas, looked stunningly seaworthy!

LIFE’S A BEACH!

With my three lye solutions and batch oils cooled down to room temperature and ready to go, it was time to start making my beachy design! But what’s a beach without sand? I decided that for the 10oz portion of my batch, I’d add some walnut shell powder to it and make a proper beach out of it! The walnut shell powder would give this portion of my project a lovely sandy look, while also providing wonderful exfoliating properties too! It doesn’t take much walnut shell powder to give a nice, “scrubby” feel to one’s soaps, so for this portion of my batch, a little less than a half teaspoon was perfect! As I incorporated Honey Blush mica and the walnut shell powder into my soap batter, I began to see the beach come to life!

After adding the divine 8th and Ocean fragrance oil and blending my sandy soap batch to a good, medium trace, I poured the whole thing into the bottom of my 2.5lb Basic Soap Mold and allowed it to set-up a little more… Just enough to take my spatula and add a bit of fun texture to the top of it!

As I allowed this layer to firm up, I moved on to my remaining 20oz soap batch, blending it to a beautifully fluid, light trace, incorporating more 8th and Ocean fragrance oil, splitting it off into four equal-ish portions, then adding my fabulous ocean-like mica colors!

Already, a carefree ocean scene was taking shape within my soapy project, and with the exquisite aroma of 8th and Ocean fragrance oil behaving perfectly, I began pouring my ocean-like colors over top my layer of “sand” in a tiger swirl design, alternating each eye-catching color as I went. I wanted to create the look of rolling waves in motion, so once I completed pouring my tiger swirl, I grabbed my hanger-swirl tool and did a few swirly passes with it through my soap, being careful not to go too far down and disrupt my “sand” layer below.

Naturally, my remaining soap batter was added to the very top of my soap loaf (must get every last drop of soap on there!), and a pretty swirl design was made with a bamboo skewer, just for fun! With my soap already looking beautifully beachy, and smelling positively lively and refreshing, it was time to get some “seafoam” added to the top with some fluffy soap frosting!

SEAFOAM & SEASHELLS

This soap design would look just as awesome with or without a piped-top, so adding soap frosting to the top is completely optional. If you’d like to add soap frosting to the top of your own 8th and Ocean, seaside-inspired soap batch though, that’s perfectly great too! For this batch of soap frosting, I used a total of 15oz of batch oils, and used the very same recipe as I did my main batch of soap. I just allowed it to set up to a nice, thick, piping consistency and allowed my inner soap artist to take the lead in creating a wonderfully “foamy” piped-top, colored with Nurture Soap’s Titanium Dioxide. When I was finished, I simply couldn’t resist adding some mesmerizing shimmer as well, so a hearty sprinkling of the phenomenally captivating Mystic Blue EnviroGlitter added the perfect sparkling touch!

To complete this fun, ocean-inspired creation, the seashell embeds I’d made earlier made for the cutest embellishments, bringing the whole project together, and creating a fantastic seaside escape… An escape you can take right into the shower with you, wherever it is that you call “home”! Everything went beautifully, smoothly and according to plan with this batch (so far!), so it was time to get it insulated for the night, and then wait to see the results that morning would bring!

OH THANK GOODNESS!

With such befallen bad luck with my previous two soap batches, I’ve got to admit, I was apprehensive and completely nervous to unmold and cut this batch… Who knows what horrors might’ve been waiting for me on the inside! As I cautiously made my first slice and took a look at that first end-piece, I let out a huge sigh of relief! Finally a batch with no unexplainable anomalies I’d never had happen before… Just a pretty representation of a beachy landscape, and precisely what I had in mind for this project- whew! For a moment there, I was contemplating adding a little shell embellishment to the face of the bars as well, but ultimately decided not to push my luck!

This cold process project taught me a valuable lesson… It taught me that bad luck and soap ruts don’t last forever… eventually the soap gods do ease up on you and cut you some slack! Is it my most perfect soap project to date? Nope, but it most certainly makes me smile, and has me realizing that soapy ruts do come to an end! Will I get caught in another soap rut again? You better believe it (that’s just part of soapmaking)! Will I eventually find my way out though? ABSOLUTELY! So, my amazing, wonderful fellow soap makers… If you find yourselves on the unfavorable side of soapmaking, where things just aren’t going your way, you’re not getting the results you worked so hard for, and you feel you’ve fallen into that rut as well, I hope you’re able to use my experience as inspiration! Challenges and undesired outcomes come to us all on occasion, whether you’ve been making soap for 20 days or 20 years. The curveballs of soapmaking will always find a way to keep you on your toes and confuse the ever-living daylights out of you! Try to look at these moments as opportunities for continued growth, because no matter how frustrating they are, those moments WILL pass. The storm clouds will always eventually part, and perhaps they’ll even part to reveal a beautiful, sunny beach! You just never know with this incredible, awesome craft we all know and love as soapmaking!

MAKE THIS RECIPE:


SAND/BEACH PORTION (1/3RD OF YOUR TOTAL RECIPE):

Lye @ 5% Superfat

Aloe Juice @ a 33% Lye Concentration

35% Olive Oil

30% Coconut Oil

15% Shea Butter

10% Castor Oil

10% Cocoa Butter

Sodium Lactate @ 3% Usage Rate

8th and Ocean Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate

Walnut Shell Powder @ 1/2tsp PPO

Honey Blush Mica @ 1tsp PPO


OCEAN PORTION (2/3RDS OF YOUR TOTAL RECIPE):

Lye @ 5% Superfat

Aloe Juice @ a 33% Lye Concentration

35% Olive Oil

30% Coconut Oil

15% Shea Butter

10% Castor Oil

10% Cocoa Butter

Sodium Lactate @ a 3% Usage Rate

8th and Ocean Fragrance Oil @ a 6% Usage Rate

Mica Colors @ 1tsp PPO (Blue Vibrance, Caribbean Blue, Synergy)

Titanium Dioxide @ 1/2tsp PPO


SOAP FROSTING RECIPE:

Lye @ 5% Superfat

Distilled Water @ a 33% Lye Concentration

35% Olive Oil

30% Coconut Oil

15% Shea Butter

10% Castor Oil

10% Cocoa Butter

Titanium Dioxide @ 1/2tsp PPO

8th and Ocean Fragrance Oil @ a 6% Usage Rate

Mystic Blue Enviroglitter

Decorative Melt & Pour Embeds in Honey Blush Mica & Velvet Pearl Mica(Optional)

Ateco #868 Piping Tip