August 19, 2019 4 min read
“To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green…”
-John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV
Digging through my favorite English literature, I found Milton, and his lost paradise. Also Dante and his strange travels through the earth, but we’ll leave him for now. I also have this lovely picture of a pink and blue sunrise, tinged with gold, and it inspired this soap. This one is uncharacteristically math heavy, so buckle up and bring a calculator. It also takes some time, so if you’re going to do it, you may want to make an evening of it. Onward and upward.
I’m not a big measurer. Every batch is different, so I don’t expect bars to be identical from batch to batch. Once I’m certain the lye/oils are precisely correct, (this measurement is critical for safety – always do this one carefully) I don’t generally worry about exactness. But for this one I did, because I have made several attempts at it, and I always ended up with proportions with which I wasn’t pleased. So I actually did math. What I wanted to accomplish was to make 40% of one batch, pour it, then make 60% of a batch, and pour it, after the first part has set. In this weather, in my part of the country, my recipe just won’t set fast enough for me to do this any other way. If your soap sets better in heat and humidity, you can skip this part. I made several efforts without it, and got it wrong. Here are the numbers you will need:
Each oil in your recipes (in ounces or grams) x 0.4 =
Lye x 0.4 =
Water x 0.4 =
Fragrance x 0.4 =
Then do the same calculations, but with x 0.6. Check your work – they should add up to the totals for your full batch.
Figure the 40%, and blend your soap. You’re going to have a little less than half your batch here.
You’ll need at least two shades of green here, and that 40% of your total fragrance oil. I used The Devil’s Door Fragrance Oil. I do see the irony here, but it is perfect for this project – a little bit of smoke and wood to undercut the sweetness of the other oils involved. It did discolor yellow just a tiny bit. There isn’t much in it. Ordinarily, I would add fragrance oil after coloring, but I wanted this to set up as quickly and firmly as possible, so I fragranced the whole batch, then separated off a little less than half. First, I used the Celadon Green Mica, and hit it hard with the stick blender.
I set it on a notebook to hold it at an angle, and since I had blended it, it was easy to spread it a bit up the side. Next, the Green Vibrance Mica, with a little bit of Neon Green Pigment for brightness. It also got a good blending, and went on the other side, also propped on the notebook.
Then it sat while I blended the rest of the soap. I tried doing this in one batch, but I either lost the fine swirls of the sky, or it mushed into the verdant fields. It is, and I cannot stress this enough, extremely hot and extremely humid right now. Autumn, I await you with as much patience as I can muster.
Blend the other part, the 60% of the batch that would remain. I wanted a sweet fragrance for this one, but a little spicy, too. And it had to behave. After much experimentation, I came up with a blend of Red Wine Fragrance Oil and Comfort and Joy Fragrance Oil. BUT. Red Wine Fragrance Oil is very strong. It smells exactly like opening a bottle of Zin, which is beautiful, and I have made a very simple soap with it, and I love it. However, I wasn’t going for that in this soap, I just wanted the background of rich sweetness to play off the spicier Comfort and Joy. So…calculate 60% of the total fragrance oil for the batch, then take that number, and multiply it by 0.25, and that will give you the amount of Red Wine to use. Subtract that from the total to get the amount of Comfort and Joy. Set it aside. It shouldn’t give you any trouble in terms of acceleration, but it’s almost always better to add fragrance last. (Almost. See above.)
Let’s add a sunrise sky. You’ll need to blend a fair bit of titanium dioxide in water to pastel out these colors. You’ll need three containers: one, at about half of the total, and then divide the other half into two.
In the largest bucket, Brilliant Blue Mica, with a little titanium dioxide to lighten.
Next, Purple Vibrance Mica, with titanium dioxide.
Finally, Hollywood Pink Mica, with titanium dioxide.
Last, but never least, Shimmer Gold Mica in a bit of oil. I don’t have to use this in every soap. It’s a choice. Pour them together into a bucket.
Pour into your mold, gently. I hit the poured soap with a spray of alcohol first, just to make sure it stayed together. Then pour the last of the gold on top and swirl until you’re happy.
I held back a little on the gold here. I usually do not show this kind of restraint when it comes to top swirls. Is there ever enough?
Lavender, pink, streaks of gold. The fragrance oil will yellow your greens a bit, but I think it’s entirely worth it. These have already been stolen from my soap stash. Happy Soaping!
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|Erin is a writer living quietly in the Appalachians, making soap and writing health care articles and horror fiction. She's obsessed with fragrances and the moods they evoke, and uses her soap to inspire her fiction, and her fiction to inspire her soap. She's probably baking delicious cupcakes right now. Or soaping them!|