I had so much fun with Amy’s soap challenge last month that I wanted to do this month’s challenge. The soap challenge for January is the Taiwan Swirl. For the Taiwan Swirl design, a base of uncolored soap is first poured into a mold. Stripes of color are then poured along the length of mold. The colored stripes are swirled to produce the design. The soap mixture needs to be very thin so that the colored stripes flow through the base soap. After the soap is cut, all the bars should have some sort of design.
I used the same formula suggested in Amy’s demo – 80% olive oil / 20% coconut oil. I also used the full water amount (26% lye solution). For the fragrance, I used lavender essential oil.
For kicks, I wanted to try three colorant stripes. For the colorants, I used Celini red mica, green chrome oxide and a 2:1 mixture of ultramarine violet and ultramarine blue.
This was a very workable formula for this type of design. I poured at thin trace and still had ample time to swirl the colors.
This is what the soap looked like after it was just poured and swirled.
After 24 hours, I removed the soap from the mold. It was so soft that I couldn’t cut it without damaging the soap. I waited another 24 hours to cut the soap to check to see if the colorants made it into the center (see the pictures below).
Curiously, the red mica made it through 3/4 of the soap base but the green and violet colors were not as consistent. For some parts of the soap, the green and the violet made it halfway into the soap base. However, in other parts, the green and violet only made it through 1/3 of the soap base.
I was a bit nervous to see how the soap looked when I cut the blocks lengthwise. Below is the soap after I made the final cut through the center of the block. Success! We have color!
Here is a beauty shot of the design on top of the soap.
I also noticed that this formula produces more soda ash than other batches I have made in the past. Soda ash while not harmful is cosmetically ugly. I first tried steaming the soda ash off with an iron with little success. I was able to successfully scrub the soda ash off the final product with a wet nylon. I typically like to pour at medium trace and use a lot of solid butters that help keep the soap batch more viscous. This seems to help reduce or even eliminate soda ash for me.
Feeling confident, I wanted to give this another go. I made another batch using the same 80% olive oil/ 20% coconut oil formula but discounted the water to produce a 30% lye solution. I have had success in the past with using 30 – 34% lye solution and like how it helps shorten the cure time. I was hoping that it would also help reduce the soda ash.
For this second Taiwan Swirl batch, I used Ylang Ylang essential oil for the fragrance and Celini red mica and bubble gum pink pigment for the colorants. When the batch was emulsified but just before thin trace, I added the Ylang Ylang EO.
It was at this point that I realized that I should have followed Amy’s admonition “If you are unsure how your fragrance will behave in your soap, don’t use it!!”. I knew Ylang Ylang was a floral scent but I shrugged it off since the first batch went so well.
The soap batch thickened instantly after adding the Ylang Ylang EO. I knew I had to move FAST! I quickly poured off a cup of soap for each of the colorants and whisked in the mica and bubble gum pink pigment for a few seconds. Then I hastily poured the soap into the mold. I ended up alternating layers of the colored soap with the base uncolored soap. I then poured colored “stripes” on the top of the soap. The soap had the consistency of toothpaste at this point. I did do a swirl pattern on the top with a chopstick but this was no “Taiwan Swirl”.
This is how the soap looked after removing it from the mold 48 hours later. Although it is not really a Taiwan Swirl design, it is still good-looking and a keeper. No soda ash too! 🙂
I want to try this technique again with a slab mold. It is more challenging to use a log mold with the Taiwan Swirl and I don’t want to bother with pouring at such a thin soap emulsion just to make sure that the color seeps through the soap.
Overall, I love this technique and want to experiment with it a bit more. I am also looking forward to seeing the other challenge participant’s soaps!