Guest post by Amber Beltran of A Squirrel & A Scholar Soap Co.
WOAH! I DON’T DISLIKE THIS!
“Hate”. It’s such a strong word, I rarely use it, but when it comes to fragrances which fit into the “tropical” scent category... Well, let’s just say, they’re not my favorite. Now, please don’t get me wrong, you’ll find absolutely zero judgement here when it comes to other’s scent preferences, and I truly mean no offense or disrespect to anyone who enjoys these types of aromas. I’m really not picky about scents, and my own personal scent preferences are pretty darn vast, but I’ve always had a hard time finding a tropical-type scent that I liked (much less loved). For me (And this is strictly me just being the weirdo that I am!), tropical scents just seem to come off a tad too sweet, with many smelling like a combination of suntan lotion and fake, candy-like, mixed fruits to my nose. I absolutely love the scent of fresh fruits, but I guess you could say I have a harder time with overly sweet, candy-versions of them.
All this being admitted though, when it comes to living and making soap in sunny, tropical Florida, I do get many a request for tropical-smelling soaps. They sell really well here, so I’m always on the lookout for a compromise; a tropical scent that customers will love, but one which doesn’t overwhelm my senses while I’m making soap with it. I finally found “THE ONE”!
For the longest time, I avoided Nurture Soap’s “Island Oasis” fragrance oil like the plague! Every time I’d get to its product listing, I’d scroll on by without a second thought. I started thinking though... Not one single time (and I SERIOUSLY mean this!) have I ever purchased a fragrance from Nurture Soap that I actively disliked. Sure, I have my personal favorites, but with every fragrance oil purchase I’ve made, my nose has been able to find something beautiful about each and every one! I began to ask myself why this particular fragrance oil would be an exception. I finally went for it, and let me just tell you, I’m a changed woman!
Out of the bottle, I was pleasantly surprised (and admittedly, a little shocked) to find that I actually liked it! In cold process soap however, I LOVE IT!! Never in a million years did I think I would ever say that about a tropical-type fragrance! It absolutely “wows” me though, and when I smell it, the first thing I detect is the scent of fresh, juicy, REAL pineapples! Hints of NON-obnoxious mixed fruits settle in behind that luscious pineapple aroma, with a perfectly-placed whisper of coconut... Sometimes I can catch it, other times, it remains flirtatiously elusive! What I love most about “Island Oasis” fragrance oil is that there is this sensationally clean note to it that reminds me of soap bubbles, and it’s so dang good! For a moment, I even contemplated naming the soap “Pineapple Bubbles”! This surprisingly sensational scent needed to be used to make something extra awesome, so indeed, that’s what I set out to do!
There’s a soap recipe I’ve been making for years that both myself and my husband positively love, and without a doubt, I knew I wanted to incorporate “Island Oasis” fragrance oil into it. You may know it as “mechanic’s soap”, as it’s awesome for ridding dirty hands of grime, grease and oil, but in the Beltran casa, we know it as “pre-shave pumice soap”. Why “pre-shave”? Well, it makes for an awesome bar of soap to gently buff away dead skin, so you get the closet shave ever without clogging up your razor. Seriously, my legs love it, and my husband uses it twice a week to gently prep his face for his weekday morning shaves.
With a scent as fun and delightful as “Island Oasis” fragrance oil, I definitely wanted to make this a “high-top” batch, complete with soap frosting and decorative melt & pour embeds, but as always, this part of the project is totally optional. To begin the happy task at hand though, I got started by using Nurture Soap’s Small 9-Ball Silicone Mold and Low Sweat Clear Soap Base to make “pearls”, using “Gold Enigma” mica, and beautiful seashells in “Coral Reef” mica.
For the color theme of this project, I looked no further than a simple online search! Whenever I feel like I need a little help deciding which colors to incorporate into a batch of soap, I turn to Google! Doing a search for “tropical color palettes” yielded many results, and I simply chose the palette I liked best, then matched those colors with Nurture Soap’s micas! Whenever you’re feeling stuck on color choices for a soapy project, this is a great way to find easy inspiration! The tropical color palette that I chose equated to using the ever-stunning “Rose Pink”, “Rapture”, “Rise & Shine” and “Lime Appeal” micas. Since I already had my batch oils melted down and combined, I use a little of that to disperse these bright and cheerful colors!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it (pun intended!), let’s talk a little bit about pumice! Pumice comes from volcanic rock- magma to be precise. If we go back to high school geology class, we know that lava is what flows above ground, and magma flows below it, so pumice must be mined. It’s super lightweight and porous, and when ground, makes a wonderfully fine powder. It creates a sandy, gritty texture in soap, which as previously mentioned, is awesome for gently buffing away dull, dead skin, revealing a lovely, healthy glow! Italy is the world’s largest supplier of pumice, but in the spirit of the sensational scent we’ll be using in this project, I decided to call this batch “Mauna Loa”, named after the world’s second largest volcano, and one of five volcanoes that formed the island of Hawaii!
How much pumice powder one wishes to incorporate into their soapy projects just depends on how gritty or “scrubby” you’d like your soap to be. It’s completely personal preference, but a great “starting out” usage rate is 1 tablespoon per pound of oils in your recipe. I personally find this amount to be perfect for the level of scrubbiness I want to achieve in my soaps, but feel free to adjust this amount to fit your needs and preferences!
As for the recipe we’ll be using for this soapy project, I decided to go with a classic, “go-to” recipe, which is very tried, true and loved! We’ll use coconut oil for its wonderful cleansing properties and big, fluffy lather; RSPO palm oil for bar hardness, and abundant, creamy lather; olive oil for its mildness and excellent moisturizing/conditioning properties; and castor oil for its awesome humectant properties and lather sustainability. Some of the recipe’s total amount of olive oil will also be substituted for a little rice bran oil. I LOVE rice bran oil! Not only is it chock full of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants (making it great for mature and sensitive skin!), its smaller molecule size means it easily penetrates the skin without leaving behind a greasy residue. In soap, it adds a bit of a “sheen” to the bars themselves, and helps offset some of the cost of olive oil, as it’s an inexpensive oil which yields quality results! When purchased from reputable suppliers and stored properly, it has a shelf life of up to two years. There’s really nothing I don’t like about this oil, so we’ll be substituting 5% of this recipe’s olive oil for rice bran oil. You can substitute in more if you’d like, as I personally feel it’s awesome when used anywhere between 5% to 12% in soap recipes.
When it comes to incorporating pumice powder into soap recipes, here’s the part where I personally go a little bit “against the grain”, but remember, very few “rules” in soap making means that if something just works better for you and still produces the results you want, then by all means, go against that grain and do what works for YOU! So, some of you may have been instructed to incorporate pumice powder into your recipes when your soap batter is at a thicker trace. The reason for this being so that the powder suspends itself throughout the soap batter. While there is absolutely nothing wrong about this advice, it doesn’t quite work for me, and what I want.
When first incorporated into soap (and I recommend incorporating it little by little, rather than all in one go), pumice powder is so fine that it will clump. It’ll clump regardless of if your soap batter is at emulsion, thin trace or a thicker one. The only problem I personally have with adding pumice to my recipe after my soap batter has been blended to a thicker trace is that I will then need to blend it even more, to smooth out those clumps. This will take my soap batter to an even thicker trace, and I’m a sucker for lots of colors and pretty swirls. That’s not as easy to accomplish if you’re starting at a thick trace. Pumice is so light, it will actually float in water, so I’ve never found the need to add pumice powder to my recipes at a thicker trace, and I’ve never had any issues with it not being fully dispersed throughout my soap bars.
Always, always, always do what works best for you, but for me, I like to incorporate the pumice powder right after I’ve added my lye solution to my oils, and before I begin blending it to light trace. Adding a little at a time, I stir the larger clumps out by hand, with a spatula, and don’t sweat the smaller clumps; my stick blender will take care of those, no problem!
Once I’ve stirred all the pumice powder in by hand, then I'll go ahead and use my stick blender to break up any smaller clumps left behind, bring my soap batter to a light, workable trace, and get that pumice powder evenly distributed throughout my soap batter. While I do make sure to blend past emulsion, I stop blending when my soap batter is still fluid and workable; looking nice and creamy... and sandy too!
MAKING TROPICAL SOAP... AND LOVING IT!
Now that we’ve added the pumice powder into our recipe and have blended our soap batter to a beautifully light, creamy, workable trace, it’s time to get our soap portions poured off and colored! Pouring off four accent portions, I colored the remaining soap batter in “Winter White” mica, then added those vibrant tropical hues to the smaller portions. This was all “eyeballed”, and if you’d like to try this sudsy project at home, there’s truly no right or wrong amount to pour off for your colors! Any way you do it, it’s going to look bright, happy and beachy!
When it came to pouring this batch, naturally, I couldn’t resist doing my all-time favorite design! I’m definitely a “hanger-swirl” girl all the way... It’s just such a fun and super easy way to add a ton of bright, colorful swirls to your soapy creations! Alternating the colors as I went along, and pouring them in a repeated pattern, I began my pour with a classic, down-the-middle tiger-swirl. Once the mold was almost filled to the very top, I completed four large loops with my hanger tool, gradually moving the tool lower and lower as I completed each loop. As soon as my hanger tool touched the bottom of the mold, I brought it back up in a zig-zag motion.
Honestly, though, I really don’t think there’s any way to mess up a hanger swirl! No matter how you swirl it, your soaps are going to come out looking awesome, with each bar being so beautifully unique from the next! “Island Oasis” fragrance oil behaved so well in this recipe, I was able to take my time pouring the batch, then swirling it to my heart’s content! “Rise & Shine” mica did turn a rather gorgeous shade of orange in this recipe, but if this happens in your own recipes, don’t panic! I promise as soon as saponification is complete, that lovely orange will go back to being the sunshiny yellow it originally was!
Once I’d completed my hanger-swirl, I poured every last remining drop of soap batter on top of the loaf, then gave it a quick swirl with a bamboo skewer for no other reason than for the pure joy of it! This fragrance oil already had me at first sniff, but in cold process soap, it’s DIVINE! If you’d like to try this recipe and would prefer to omit the soap frosting portion of the project, that’s absolutely A-Okay! Just get that batch insulted for the night, and be prepared to fall in love with this fantastic fragrance when you unmold your soap the next day!
For the soap frosting part of this project, I had a specific shade of light blue in mind, and was able to get it spot-on by mixing two parts “Winter White” mica with one part “Proud Peacock” mica. With a dash and a dusting of Nurture Soap’s “Mystic Blue” Enviroglitter, this color just sang! “Mystic Blue” Enviroglitter was the perfect shimmery, sparkling accompaniment to this blissfully-blue, fluffy top!
The very last step was to carefully place those decorative “pearl” and seashell melt & pour embeds on top, then call it a day! This batch of “Mauna Loa” pre-shave pumice soap had behaved as wonderfully as it smelled, and was looking perfectly in-theme with what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye. It was time to get the batch lovingly insulated for the night, then impatiently wait to unmold and cut it the next morning!
SHE SELLS SEASHELLS...
Dang it! I can’t even read that correctly in my mind! I guess I should be grateful that I sell soap and not seashells- so much easier to pronounce! After making this batch of soap though, I’m really curious to know who this woman who sells seashells is, and if she sells changes of hearts too, because I’ve certainly had one! I must’ve passed by “Island Oasis” fragrance oil about a hundred times (What can I say? Nurture Soap is my favorite supplier in the whole, wide world... I visit the website a lot!), and just assuming I wouldn’t like it, I never even considered giving it a chance. It took having to remind myself that I’ve never smelled a fragrance oil from Nurture Soap that I didn’t like (or LOVE) to finally go for it. I’m SO HAPPY I did though! I found a fantastic tropical-type fragrance that I truly and actually love, and it just so happened to have been perfect for this specific soap project too! Give this recipe a try in your own soapy adventures if you’d like! I guarantee your mouth will water when you smell this juicy-fresh, fruity-clean aroma, and your skin will glow with the help of that pampering pumice powder! HAPPY
- Lye @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration
- 30% Olive Oil
- 30% RSPO Palm Oil
- 25% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 5% Rice Bran Oil
- 6% “Island Oasis” Fragrance Oil
- 3% Sodium Lactate (*Optional. Added to cooled lye solution)
- 1TBS/PPO Pumice Powder
- “Winter White” Mica @ 1.5 to 2TSP/PPO
- “Rose Pink”, “Rapture”, “Rise & Shine” & “Lime Appeal” Micas @ 1TSP/PPO
- Lye @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration
- 30% Olive Oil
- 30% RSPO Palm Oil
- 25% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 5% Rice Bran Oil
- 2 Parts “Winter White” Mica to 1 Part “Proud Peacock” Mica (*Blended to equal 1TSP/PPO)
- “Mystic Blue” Enviroglitter (Dusted on top)
- Melt & Pour 7/8” Ball Embeds in “Gold Enigma” Mica
- Melt & Pour Seashell Embeds in “Coral Reef” Mica
- Wilton #1A Round Piping Tip