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Epic Orange Cold Process Soap

January 19, 2020 12 min read

AN EPIC STORY

Once upon a time there was a beautiful welsh woman who owned a little market with her beloved (and dashingly handsome!) husband. Side by side, they worked hard together to lovingly serve the people of their community, as well as raise their two young children. The woman possessed many skills and talents, and she excelled at all of them! One skill in particular was that of soapmaking, as she herself was a soap maker (among many other things!). She would collect the trimmings of fat from the meat sold in the market, render it down and make soap with it. You see, this woman wasn’t just talented, she was very resourceful too! As a witness and survivor of extremely hard and meager times, where so many families were forced to try to make ends meet with so very little, it was instilled in her from a very young age that nothing went to waste, and that all things served a purpose.

Items which many people would regard as waste and needlessly dispose of (as they were fortunate to have never had to endure such hard times before) held value to the woman, so each shaving of fat the woman’s husband would skillfully trim away from the cuts of meat they sold to their customers, would be gathered and saved to make soap for their family. The soaps themselves were no great beauties by today’s standards, and they featured no added colorants and fragrances, but they were wholesome and pure, and made from scratch with love. They kept her family healthy and clean, which is what mattered most to the woman.

As this woman got older and became a grandmother, she would tell her grandchildren all sorts of wonderful and enthralling stories of her life’s experiences, and her grandchildren always listened intently, eager to hear more! One story in particular that she often told (because her youngest granddaughter always incessantly begged her to!) was the one about the oranges. As a child, candy and sugary treats were so extremely rare for the woman to have, that it was actually fresh fruits that were considered treats, and the woman’s most favorite treat of all was oranges! At this time in her life though, even fresh fruits were a very rare indulgence, but the woman would always share the story of how each year, her father would save his money and buy each child in the family an orange for Christmas. He would put a single orange in each child’s Christmas stocking, and as the woman retold this story to her granddaughter, she’d always do so with a twinkle of reflection in her eye and a smile on her lips.

She would tell her granddaughter how much she looked forward to that orange, and how she would savor each and every bite of it, taking her time to deliberately and slowly eat it so she could imagine it would last forever. Because of this experience and the fondness of looking back on it, as a tradition, each and every year on Christmas, the woman would place an orange in each of her grandchildren’s stockings. Because her grandchildren had never known such hard times before, the oranges were never received with nearly as much excitement, but it was very important to the woman that she give her grandchildren all the simple joys and bounties that she never had so freely as a child herself. It was important to her to share all the many talents and skills she possessed with her grandchildren as well, with a prayer that they’d never have to work as hard as she did, or ever know a life where they couldn’t have all the things that they desired.

This woman was my grandmother, Ila Worrell-Morris, and I loved and deeply admired her more than words could ever say! She was, and is my hero, and I’d like to think that maybe my own love and passion for soapmaking was instilled in me because of her; as if a little part of her still lives on inside me, though my love for this craft! This batch of soap was made in honor of my incredible grandmother! I truly hope I would have done her proud with this one!

AN EPIC PLAN!

When I started thinking about the ingredients for this batch of soap, I knew I wanted to incorporate lard into the recipe in tribute to my grandmother, who used to render who own lard for soapmaking from scratch. Of course, I can’t ever make things easy on myself though! I’ve got quite a bit of shea and cocoa butters on-hand as well, so I decided I’d go against my own “KISS” rule (you know, “Keep It Simple, Squirrel- a nickname my husband calls me!), and incorporate those into my recipe too! At the end of the day though, my grandmother was anything but a simple woman, so I think this recipe is very fitting for her! As for the scent, without a shred of doubt, I knew this batch needed to smell like true, authentic oranges!

No other fragrance oil on this planet could have been more perfect for this project than Nurture Soap’s “Satsuma Orange” fragrance oil! The moment I smelled this sensational citrus scent, I was hooked! This is orange at its absolute best! It’s a fragrance so juicy, fresh, uplifting and citrusy, its authenticity blew me away at first sniff! Think freshly squeezed oranges, with the most perfectly placed splash of actual orange rind too, and you’ve got this fragrance oil... It’s absolutely FABULOUS! In her own soap batches, my grandmother never added any additional fragrances or colorants, but as the spirited woman she was, she loved color! A super colorful batch in honor of her just seemed right, and on a personal note, I have been itching (badly!) to get Nurture Soap’s new Epic Color Collection into a batch of soap!

These jaw-dropping, stunningly vibrant mica pigments were made in-house by Carrie Thornsbury herself, so not only are they positively incredible, they’re also Nurture Soap exclusives! After my experience of using them in this batch, I can wholeheartedly say that it’s this soap maker's most sincere and honest opinion that you won’t find colors as extraordinarily vivid and captivating as these new colors are anywhere else! Seriously though, these colors are EPIC!!! After formulating a recipe I think my grandmother would've been proud of, and choosing a fragrance and colors I KNOW she would’ve loved, I set to the exciting task of transforming my soapy vision into a bubbly reality! Come along with me and grab your loaf molds... It’s time to make a batch of “Epic Orange” cold process soap!

EPIC EMBEDS!

As per my usual soapy style, I chose to make this a high-top batch, complete with fluffy soap frosting to pipe the top with, so naturally I wanted to get some decorative melt and pour embeds made up too! “Satsuma Orange” fragrance oil is fresh and citrusy, so I wanted my embeds to convey this as well. Using Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat Clear Soap Base, I set to “work” (or “fun” rather!) making lively orange slices in the incredible “Orange Marmalade” mica (I LOVE this mica color!). For the freshness of this scent, leaf embeds made with the jovial, lighthearted shade of “Hello Spring!” mica, turned out conveying this “vibe” perfectly! When all my embeds were made and looking positively pretty (I made 8 of each for my 2.5lb Basic Soap Mold), I set them aside and got started on making my lye solutions (one lye solution for my main batch, the other for my batch of soap frosting), as well as allowing them to cool down to room temperature. I did the same with my main batch and soap frosting batch oils as well, getting my hard oils melted down fully, then weighing and incorporating my soft oils, allowing these to cool to around room temperature too. While my batch oils and lye solutions cooled, I used this time to get the epically stellar mica pigments measured out and dispersed in a bit of light carrier oil.

EPIC COLORS!

The way these mica pigments look in the jar (I actually purchased mine in bags, then transferred them to jars I had on-hand) will have you thinking “WOW”, but the way they look once dispersed in a bit of carrier oil will have you audibly saying it (at least I did)! They truly came to colorful life as soon as I mixed them with oil, and not only did they look absolutely epic (there's really no better way to describe them!), but they blended and dispersed so effortlessly tool! Because of the gorgeous array of color these mica pigments positively pop with, I decided a rainbow-type theme would look amazing for this soapy design, with a hanger swirl tool finishing the job, and bringing some rockin’ swirls to the bars themselves. It was settled, and I was officially in love... This crafty project would feature seven beautiful colors in total (“Material Girl” mica, “Eye of The Tiger” mica, “Full Throttle” mica, “Force of Nature” mica, “Making Waves” mica, “Queen for A Day” mica and “Winter White” mica), and I couldn’t wait to see what these fantastic colors would look like in the completed batch!

As soon as my main batch oils and lye solution both reached about 80°F, I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer, and got started making my colorful, swirly-rainbow, epically-orange batch of soap! I added my sodium lactate to my cooled lye solution, then incorporated my lye solution into my batch oils, using my stick blender to bring my soap batter to a nice and fluid light trace. From there, I split the batch off into six portions, then colored my remaining soap batter in the bowl with “Winter White” mica. There just aren’t any words for how positively enchanting these new mica pigments look in cold process soap batter! As I blended each color into my portioned soap and saw magic happen right before my very eyes (these colors are UNREAL!), I thought I was going to have to stop and go looking for my jaw after it hit the floor!

AN EPIC POUR!

My colors blended in smoothly and beautifully into my soap batter, as did the fragrance oil too!  Holy wow does “Satsuma Orange” fragrance oil smell incredible! It is beautifully fragrant, authentic and true in cold process, and its behavior was OUTSTANDING! In every way, I went full-on lazy when it came to pouring this batch, simply because I could! The fragrance oil behaved so well, I was able to take all the time I needed while pouring (and then some!), and would have had plenty of time to spare too! Not only does “Satsuma Orange” smell downright mouthwatering, but its behavior in cold process is every soap makers dream! I poured each of my seven colors in a tiger swirl design down the center of my mold, alternating each color in a repeating pattern as I went. I continued until the mold was filled almost to the very top, then stood back to admire this sensory explosion of color! I could’ve stopped right there, and would’ve had zero doubts that the soaps themselves would turn out amazing, but I really wanted to get some swirls in this blatantly bright and beautiful batch, so it was time to grab my hanger swirl tool and make it happen (hopefully without mottling any of those fabulous colors)!

When it comes to the actual swirling and movement of the hanger tool, I’ve had a few, wonderful fellow crafters ask me what I do to achieve my swirls. It’s so difficult to explain, and then subsequently visualize, a movement though, especially when it’s a tool being moved though soap batter (oh if only for x-ray vision in these moments!), but I will try my very best! I also drew a little diagram, of sorts, that will hopefully help those soap makers who would like to try it in their own soapy designs at home. Keep in mind though that in no way, shape or form am I any good at drawing, so you have to promise not to laugh at my drawing skills! This swirl technique is one I’m unofficially calling “The Squirrel Swirl” (my husband has called me “Squirrel” since practically the day we met. It’s only when he calls me by my first name that I know I’m in trouble!), but essentially, here’s what you’ll want to do to achieve the hanger swirl used for this project: After pouring your tiger swirl down the center of your mold, take your hanger tool and bring it down into the top of your soap at a diagonal angle. Starting from the top, and gradually working your way down towards the bottom of the mold, move your hanger tool in large loops, making 4 loops before hitting the bottom of the mold with the hanger tool. As soon as you feel the tool hit the bottom of the mold, pull it up and out in a diagonal motion again, coming out on the opposite side of the mold from where you started. Check out the diagram here to get a better visual of how I executed this specific swirl.

To finish up, after I completed my hanger swirl, I simply added any remaining soap batter to the top of my loaf, then made a pretty swirl design using a bamboo skewer. If you’d like to omit the soap frosting part of this project, you can stop right here, and your soaps will look just as beautiful! The new mica pigments from Nurture Soap are so bright, pigmented and breathtaking, they certainly don’t require a piped-top to create a truly glorious work of soapy art! As I played around with the top of my own soap batch, I couldn’t help but think of how much it looked like confetti! There was definitely a party going on in the soapmaking kitchen that day!

EPIC HEIGHTS!

To continue on with my wonderfully colorful, citrusy tribute to my grandmother, I got started on my soap frosting. Using the same recipe that I used for my main batch, I added “Heart Breaker” mica to my soap frosting batch oils and fell head-over-heels in love! “Heart Breaker” mica is a deliciously flirty shade of bright hot pink with the most gorgeously sultry red undertones, and I have to admit that my biggest reason for incorporating it into this project is because it’s a mica I just recently purchased and have been hankering to get into a batch of soap... It’s just too pretty to pass up!

After blending my soap frosting batch to a good, medium-ish trace, and then allowing it to set up on its own to a nice, pipeable consistency, I piped the top of my loaf with the coquettishly seductive shade of “Heart Breaker” mica and realized exactly why this mica is called “Heart Breaker”! It truly IS a stunning shade of pink, with heartbreakingly beautiful red tones coming through exquisitely in application! Once I finished piping the top of my soap, a dusting of “Snowflake Sparkle” mica was the cherry on top, making this project come to sparkly life!

For the final embellishments, the fabulously bright orange slices and fresh, green leaf embeds I made earlier made for the perfect finishing touches! It was time to lightly spray the batch with 91% rubbing alcohol (to help prevent soda ash), get it lightly insulated overnight with a towel-draped cardboard box, and hope with all hope that my vision of intensely colorful swirls turned out as planned. So far things were looking great though! The mica colors I’d used had already exceeded my expectations, the fragrance oil behaved exceptionally well, and my workspace smelled divine... Just like fresh, juicy oranges!

EPIC OUTCOMES!

The next morning came and it was time to unmold my “Epic Orange” cold process soap batch! Everything about making this batch went so smoothly, I was actually a little worried that I’d used up all my good luck, and I’d cut into disaster! I couldn’t have been more wrong, or happier about being wrong! From the very first cut I made I was floored!! The hanger swirl itself came out perfect, but those colors... OH MY GOODNESS, THOSE COLORS!!! Now I see more clearly than ever why these new mica pigments are called “Epic”! The magic of saponification did nothing but intensify their beauty (which was already pretty unbelievable to me!), as each and every color looked even MORE bright, even MORE intensely vivid, and even MORE boldly pigmented than they had looked when freshly poured! I mean, these colors just came to life, and for a rare moment there, I was speechless! From one soap maker to another, I just have to say, these micas are INSANELY AWESOME, and as I write this blog post, I’m giving Carrie Thornsbury a standing ovation for creating these world rocking colors! In every way, they are pure “WOW”!

As a soap maker herself, I think my grandmother would’ve been proud with how this batch turned out, and my only wish is that she was still here to see it... To see the batch of soap made in her honor, and scented in the memories she left behind. This specific project was made with an epic aroma and some pretty epic colors, but it feels fitting because she was one epic lady herself! As crafters, we have this amazing blank canvas with which we can “paint” all kinds of different things on... A scent that evokes a beautiful memory or moment in time; a color scheme that sets a mood or awakens a feeling; a theme which honors a loved one; a sensory experience that can put a restless mind at ease, or wake one up! This “blank canvas” I’m referring to is the incredible craft of soapmaking! Your oils and your lye, your additives, fragrances and colors... All these are your canvas, but it’s YOU who paints upon it. It’s YOU who takes those raw ingredients and an idea, and brings it to life with your own creative imagination! Happy imaginative soapmaking my amazing fellow artists!

MAKE THIS RECIPE:

MAIN BATCH:

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat

Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration

30% Coconut Oil

30% Olive Oil

10% Castor Oil

10% Cocoa Butter

10% Lard

10% Shea Butter

Sodium Lactate @ 3% Usage Rate

Satsuma Orange Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate

Mica Colorants: Material Girl Mica, Eye of The Tiger Mica, Full Throttle Mica, Force of Nature Mica, Making Waves Mica, Queen for A Day Mica, Winter White Mica

SOAP FROSTING:

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat

Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration

30% Coconut Oil

30% Olive Oil

10% Castor Oil

10% Cocoa Butter

10% Lard

10% Shea Butter

Satsuma Orange Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate

Mica Colorants: Heart Breaker Mica, Snowflake Sparkle Mica (Dusted on Top)

OPTIONAL EMBEDS:

Low Sweat Soap Base (Clear), Orange Marmalade Mica, Hello Spring! Mica