Facial Soap with Neem Oil – 1 lb Test Batch

I have heard good things about using Neem Oil in soap & shampoo, but I thought it might be best to first do a test batch. You Tube video’s and articles have hesitantly said that the scent “isn’t too bad” and “you get used to it.”


Testing scents, color, and Neem oil in Facial Soap

Interestingly Neem oil is used as an insecticide on plants, but if you use it in too high a strength, it will kill the plant.

Out of the bottle it smells hideous – like really bad garlic and something dead. I don’t smell the nuttiness that has been described. Even using just 5% (.6 oz) in this batch (which seems to be the typical usage), it is still really awful and very overpowering.

Here’s what else I have found on Neem Oil:
A very effective antiseptic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral agent. Assists in the healing of skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns and acne. Considered a natural insect repellent. Has a very strong odor that is often described as a blend of nut and garlic. Rich in essential fatty acids, triglycerides, vitamin E & calcium; known to smooth wrinkles, reduce eczema and acne, stimulate collagen and relieve dry skin.

The Neem tree has been called “the village pharmacy” because its bark, leaves, sap, fruit, seeds, and twigs have so many diverse uses in the traditional medicine of India. As a member of the mahogany family, it has been used medicinally for at least 4,000 years and is held in such esteem that Indian poets called it Sarva Roga Nivarini, meaning “the One That Can Cure All Ailments.”

The uses of Neem are remarkably diverse: the seed and kernel oil for diabetes, fevers, fungal infections, bacterial infections, inflammatory diseases, fertility prevention, and as an insecticide. Neem oil is used in shampoos and conditioners to improve the health of the hair without leaving a thick residue.


The Plan:
Make a 1 lb batch of facial soap with 5% Neem Oil, divide the batter into four to do several tests. (I figured that if it continues to be as hideous as it is when mixed in with other oils, why not try out some different things.)

Recipe – 17.6 oz batch:
5%     Avocado Butter     .6 oz        17 g
10%   Avocado Oil          1.2 oz        34 g
5%    Castor Oil                 .6 oz        17 g
25%  Coconut Oil              3 oz        85 g
5%    Neem Oil                 .6 oz        17 g
20%  Olive Oil                 2.4 oz        68 g
25%  Palm Oil                    3 oz        85 g
5%    Sal Butter                .6 oz        17 g

8% SF Lye                      1.63 oz        46 g
Distilled water (.79 oz/ 20% disc)  3.17 oz    90 g (used 100 grams)
Sodium Lactate                                4 g

Divide Batch in four: 4.45-4.5 oz each:

  1. 3 1/4 ml EO Facial Blend (see below) with rose clay color
  2. 1 ml each Eucalyptus & Tea Tree with green sea clay color
  3. 4 ml Black Amber & Lavender with Plum mica & 2 ml NG CP Vanilla Stabilizer
  4. Unscented & Uncolored

Essential Oil Facial Blend:
1 ml Lime FO
3/4 ml Pink Grapefruit FO
3/4 ml Hungarian Lavender EO
1/2 ml Clary Sage
1/4 ml Litsea Cubeba EO


The Reality:
I mixed 114 degree Lye with 123 degree oils and stick blended to light trace; dividing into 4 containers. They all set up quickly to a medium trace. The batter was a yellow color.

I made 2 rectangular bars of 2+ oz each in the four planned combos above.

The rose clay batter turned peach colored; the green stayed a light green, the Plum turned pink, and the unscented/uncolored was yellow.

My first test was using my usual Essential Oil Facial blend at a very light rate, as it’s for your face. I also went with a rose clay, and with such a dark yellow batter, it turned into orange.

The next test was with Eucalyptus & Tea Tree, as so many people used this to “mask the Neem oil scent.” I colored it with green sea clay, which turned into more of a yellowish color, with hints of green.

Third attempt was to test a light scent and a new CP Vanilla Stabilizer from Nature’s Garden. (One whiff of this Stabilizer oob is almost deadly…a way to totally clear out your sinuses and give you brain freeze. Popping an ammonia capsule wasn’t as bad as this stuff.) The V Stabilizer scent is supposed to dissipate in curing, and using a 1:2 strength with FO (VS at half the amount of FO) was said to prevent most vanilla browning (if not, increase to a 1:1 strength with FO).

I thought it would be interesting to see if a fragrance like Lavender would make it through both the Neem & Vanilla Stabilizer, which I know was asking a lot. I used Plum mica, because I had some mixed up and I wanted to see what it would morph into with the dark yellow (I expected it might turn to brown).

The last test was to see what unscented & uncolored soap would be like (would it remain a dark yellow? How long would the Neem scent come through?)

I wrapped in towels with a little heat to gel. I forgot to take a photo until 2 hours later, and already the uncolored batter had lightened up (first soap on top):


Top to bottom: Unscented/uncolored; Black Amber & Lavender FO with Plum mica; Eucalyptus & Tea Tree EO’s with green sea clay; EO Facial Blend with rose clay.

24 hours later & 48 hours later I did sniff tests…The one that smelled the best was the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree – no Neem scent. All the others still smelled of Neem, just not as strong. (There was no Vanilla Stabilizer scent coming through). The colors all got lighter than the day before too.


The Un-molding:


Clockwise: Black Amber & Lavender with plum mica; unscented/uncolored; EO Facial Blend with rose clay; Eucalyptus & Tea Tree EO with green sea clay

The green sea clay, rose clay, and unscented/uncolored soaps lightened up quite a bit, while the Plum mica colored morphed to plum. I think the lightening of the uncolored soap explains the lightening of all the soaps and morphing of the mica to it’s true color. (The dark brown of the Neem oil has disappeared).

After 2 weeks of curing all the soaps but the unscented still had the Neem oil scent coming through – even the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree. One would think that the unscented soap would have the strongest scent of Neem oil, but there was no Neem scent to it – no scent at all.

After 3 weeks of cure, I tested the Unscented soap first. As soon as the soap got wet, the strong Neem oil scent came through – much, much lighter than when first poured, but not a great scent on the face.

The second test was with the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree soap. The EO fragrance was very, very light and the Neem scent came through on this one too, but not as strong as the unscented. (I put a light dose of Essential Oils in these, for use on the face, but more would be better in this case.)

After testing these for a week, I gave them to my Sweetie Pie, as he loves my usually facial soap – he hated both of these for use on the face due to the Neem smell. He then used them in the shower before an outbreak of Eczema, hoping to prevent the next occurrence, which helped some, but he still had a flare-up, just not as bad. He says it is helping, but finds that Pink Himalayan Salt bars help more.

At 4 & 5 weeks of cure, I tested the EO Facial Blend soap. None of the essential oil fragrance seemed to come through and there was just a light scent of Neem oil. I also tried the Black Amber & Lavender – the FO has dissipated too, and there is no vanilla browning coming through, thanks to the Vanilla Stabilizer.

At 6 weeks the Neem oil scent was very light, but still there.


Clockwise: Unscented & Uncolored; Black Amber & Lavender with plum mica; Eucalyptus & Tea Tree EO with green sea clay; EO Facial Blend with rose clay.


The Neem oil stench dissipates quite a bit and seems to be very mild and almost unnoticeable with a full 6 weeks cure. However, I don’t think I’ll use it in a facial soap. (If I had someone with facial issues like acne, I would make it for that specifically. I’m glad I have one bar of each left for anyone that is willing to try it.)

I will next put it in Pink Himalayan Salt bars, as I think the combo of the two will boost the healing powers of both. And I will use an Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Mint type scent – as these are all powerful essential oils that hopefully will mask the Neem scent even more at full strength.

Mango Melon Spritzer with Plum Butterfly embed

For this project, I was inspired by the Soapish You Tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2B-SxlDcE8


Mango Melon Spritzer

I used a similar and yet different technique a few years ago, doing a series of soaps with butterflies, drop & hanger swirls:

Looking at these photos from 2014 they look very crude to me…both my photography equipment and my soaping techniques have fortunately improved over the years.

Description of Bramble Berry Fragrances used:
Summer Melon Spritzer: Cantaloupes, Watermelons and Canary Melons come together in this fragrance for a sweet, summery delight. Supporting top notes of Japanese Grapefruit, Crisp Apple and Pomelo bring a bright and cheery melding to the bottom note of Tonka Bean. The secret ingredient to this fragrance is Tonic Water (thus the ‘spritzer’). CP: D – creamy tan; No A & R.
Fresh Mango: Fresh and green with citrus top notes, a supporting middle of ripe peaches and a sweet, lingering base of clean musk. CP: No D.


The Plan:
Use 3 lb (52 oz) silicone mold. Make 62 oz of soap, pour off 14 oz for embeds and use the rest, plus a 4.5 oz Plum Butterfly embed.
2 oz Summer Melon Spritzer and 1 oz Fresh Mango Fragrance oil.
Base color – Aqua; put down lines of drop swirl colors on one side; hanger swirl starting on top, with figure eights to the bottom – just on that side; add one more line of soap on top – white/yellow for contrast, then place embed on it & use hanger to push down embed slightly (so it’s not showing on top).
Top with: drops of Plum color on opposite side, pulling toothpick through for a string of hearts; do other side of top with Pink color & white dots; pull toothpick though; make two lines of staggered dots: Plum & Pink with yellow & white. Pull through with toothpick for hearts.

Master batch #6 oils: 44 oz Oils (Makes 62 oz soap)
Oils: 44 oz/ 1247 grams
NaOH/ Lye 5% SF: 6.26 oz / 178 grams
Distilled Water: (2.52 oz disc, 17.35% disc): 12 oz / 340 grams
Sodium Lactate: 12 grams
Kaolin Clay: 12 grams

Batter/Color/FO 3 oz:
36 oz Aqua Pearl Mica
3 oz Plum – CC Purple Play Date (Plum)
3 oz Pink – TKB #27 Red & Cosmic Carolyn
3 oz Yellow – BB Fizzy Lemonade
3 oz TD White

Soaped at 112 degrees Lye and 116 degrees oils, stick blended to just past emulsification and measured out the batter.

I worked on some embeds while waiting for my main batter to thicken up a bit. I prefer to let it thicken to the exact consistency on it’s own, rather than stick blending it thicker. If I stick blend to the perfect trace I want, the batter will keep stiffening a while after finishing blending and gets too thick at times.

By the time I finished my little projects (constantly checking on my main batter as I worked), the soap was just perfect. I poured the Aqua base, then 2 lines of each color in a drop swirl on one side of the mold: pink, plum, white, yellow. I then used a thin hanger tool (from BB) and swirled a bit. Added my Plum Butterfly on top and pushed it down into the loaf.

After all that, my soap colors were a little firm and I had difficulty using a pipette to add drops of color on top (solution for next time: cut off the end of the plastic dropper to create a larger hole.) I pulled a toothpick through for rows of hearts on top:



Top of loaf

I don’t like how thick the second line got, that the two colors I used merged together, and that I couldn’t commit to the direction I wanted them to go in:


Close up


The Cut:
Although I like the different designs on top of the loaf, I think they are too linear and my usual swirls would have flowed better:



I’m not that excited with the look of these soaps…I feel like there is too much empty space in the Aqua and next time I would pull the hanger a bit into that empty area for a few wisps of color:


I love having leftover soap to make sample and travel sized bars (and not having to worry about running out of batter while working on my main loaf). I have been practicing with a new leaf mold and this one has turned out the bast so far:


Mango Melon Spritzer Leaf soap (4 oz)

Juicy Watermelon with Poppy Seeds in coconut water

Why Coconut Water? Coconut Water has B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folate to help nourish and hydrate skin and hair. It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. The lauric acid gives cold process soap extra hardness and promotes a luxuriously fluffy lather. Research studies suggest that cytokinins in coconut water was found to have significant anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic effects.


Nature’s Garden Fragrance Description:
Pink Watermelon: A fresh, crisp watermelon beginning with top notes of watermelon and strawberry; followed by middle notes of jasmine, rose, and green notes; sitting on base notes of cassis, oakmoss, white woods, and vanilla. CP: No A, R, D. (No acceleration, no ricing, no separation, no discoloration. .1% Vanilla.) Good scent retention. 2 reviews: behaved badly; seized (other reviewers had no issues).


The Plan:
Make 62 oz of soap, pour off 10 oz for samples and embeds (for future projects).
Use 52 oz for 3 lb mold

Loosely following the May 19, 2016 Soap Queen Tutorial for Watermelon soap. I resized the recipe, incorporated different colors, (as I didn’t have the exact colors), and utilized my Master Batch oils recipe, instead of the SQ one (which looks really nice).

I also decreased the green rind by about 1 oz and the layer of white by about 2.4 oz, as they both seemed a bit big.

Master batch #6 oils: 44 oz Oils (Makes 62 oz soap)
MB Oils: 44 oz/ 1247 grams
NaOH/ Lye 5% SF: 6.26 oz / 178 grams
Frozen Coconut Water: (2.52 oz disc): 12 oz / 340 grams
Sodium Lactate: 12 grams
Kaolin Clay: 12 grams

Batter/Color/FO (3 oz):
1st Layer (rind):
7 oz BB Chrome green & Hydrated Chrome oxide (dark green) 8 ml FO
7 oz CC Mojito Green (light green) 8 ml FO
2nd Layer:
5 oz TD white 5 ml FO
3rd Layer:
33 oz TKB #27 Red & TKB Cosmic Carolyn (dark pink) remaining FO
2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds (about 8-9 grams)

Some info on Poppy Seeds: They add a delightful visual addition to soaps. Some say it’s a comforting home remedy for dry and itchy skin. Poppy seeds are a large exfoliant, used for the body (not face) and should be added to soap at trace. (Exfoliation is key to maintaining smooth, soft and healthy skin. The process of exfoliating involves using a “scrubby” material coupled with manual scrubbing to remove dead skin. Removing dead skin allows moisturizer and other skin care products to absorb better. Removing dead skin also create a more even and radiant skin tone.)

I was a little suspicious of this fragrance, as it was a new one to me and even though it got a lot of good reviews, there was one that said it behaved badly and one that said it seized.  I decided to be cautious and soap at a lower temperature.

I used frozen Coconut water, with the lye at 98 degrees and oils at 108 degrees – but I should have been patient (waiting longer) and soaped at even lower temperatures.

I stick blended past emulsified – just before light trace, and poured off the batter into separate containers for each layer (plus 10 oz for embeds for future projects). I colored the greens first and they were a bit thin, so I stick blended them a little more.

I added about 8 ml of FO to the 3 oz of each green and they both riced – however it wasn’t a complete ricing, more like someone threw in several rice grains that were stuck together. I stick blended this out in the light green (with my mini mixer) and was able to blend out by hand in the dark green. Then it started to accelerate, so I alternately poured my greens and tried to combine them a bit with a chop stick, but they were already too thick.

I then mixed up the white layer, which was a touch thin. I added about 5 ml of FO and poured it in the mold before waiting for the ricing or acceleration. It seemed to be okay in the mold and firmed up well.

I prepared the next layer with my color and added the poppy seeds. The color looked spot-on for watermelon. I added the rest of the FO and stirred, stirred, stirred the ricing out, then poured it into the mold.

I tried scalloping the top a bit, but it was too thin. I waited and tried again several times. It seemed like it went from too thin to too thick, so I just added some iridescent glitter on top:


Top of loaf – got a little heavy-handed with the glitter


The Cut:

You can see how much the pink color changed (compared to the top of loaf above):




This was a fun, quick soap to make. I’m not sure about the fragrance – I find it to be very perfumey, not what I was expecting or wanting, and not the deep, watermelon scent I was hoping for. The main body of the soap also lightened up a bit, so it doesn’t have that perfect watermelon color to it any more.



2 BEER SOAPS: Milk & Honey Oatmeal Stout Beer in Layers & Tiger stripe PLUS Cedarwood & Spiced Amber Ale Beer in Wood Grain Impression Mat

I knew this would be a very busy and complicated soaping session, simultaneously making two different batches of soap with two different soap batters. I tried this technique once before and did okay with it (see Sept 19, 2016 Blog). I just didn’t realize how difficult it could become.



The Plan:
Make two soap batches, one with home made beer and one with distilled water. The reason for two batches is to have soap that is not discolored by the dark beer – to add color for design. This was done very successful before (in Sept 19, 2016 Blog).

Master batch #6 oils: 42.3 oz Oils + Plus 1.7 oz Pumpkin Seed Oil (Makes 62 oz soap)
Oils: 42.3 oz/ 1199 grams
Pumpkin Seed Oil (3.8%): 1.7 oz/ 48 grams
NaOH/Lye 5% SF: 6.23 oz / 177 grams
Chocolate Oatmeal Stout Beer (cooked & frozen, 2.52 oz disc): 12 oz / 340 grams
Sodium Lactate: 12 grams
Kaolin Clay: 12 grams

Master batch #6 oils: 44 oz Oils (Makes 62 oz soap)
Oils: 44 oz/ 1247 grams
NaOH/ Lye 5% SF: 6.26 oz / 178 grams
Distilled Water: (2.52 oz disc): 12 oz / 340 grams
Sodium Lactate: 12 grams
Kaolin Clay: 12 grams

There will be 7 oz of beer batter left and 21 oz of white batter left for embeds & samples after using a combo of these two batches.


The Reality:
I added my NaOH to Frozen Beer, when everything was melted and combined, I put in my additives (Sodium Lactate & Kaolin Clay). While that was going on, I mixed up the second batch of NaOH & distilled water and put it into a ice bath.

I started with my beer batter, combining 95 degree lye & 100 degree oils. As soon as I started the stick blender it got thick. I divided out the soap and quickly soaped the other batter at 112 degree lye and 100 degree oils, blending to emulsified.

Since the beer soap quickly turned to pudding, I had to modify my plans a little (less colors), but what I really needed was an alternate plan, which I didn’t have, as I didn’t expect the beer to be so unruly. (You should always have a back-up plan!)

I did shift things around a bit – pouring the first layer of my first batch, then moving on to my second batch. (The second layer of colors for the first batch were too thin to use right away.) When that was complete, I came back to the first batch and finished it.


First Soap:
Milk & Honey Oatmeal Stout Beer Soap
in Layers & Tiger stripe

Description of Bramble Berry Scents:
Oatmeal Stout: This fragrance smells positively edible! It’s a full bodied and smooth beer fragrance blended with Creamy Oatmeal, Orange Peel, Butterscotch, Farm-fresh Milk, Nutty Almond and Rich Vanilla. CP: A & D, 7.7% Vanilla.
Oatmeal Milk & Honey: Sweet & toasty, with warm Oatmeal flavor with creamy milk & honey. CP: A & D – greenish-brown. 2.5% Vanilla. (Did not Accelerate last time used).


The Plan:
Use 34 oz beer batter & 20 oz white batter
FO: 2 oz Oatmeal Stout & 1 oz OMH

54 oz Batter/Colors/FO: (34 oz beer batter & 20 oz white batter)
1st Layer: 20 oz beer batter & BB Cappuccino mica
1.2 oz Oatmeal Stout FO – mix quickly & pour
2nd Layer: 20 oz regular batter (use 15 oz/ 3 oz per color for layers & 1 oz for top)
1 oz OMH FO distributed in all but white
5 oz TD White NO FO
5 oz BB Burgundy
5 oz BB Oxide Yellow
5 oz BB Tangerine Wow Orange
3rd Layer: 14 oz beer batter & TD white
.8 oz Oatmeal Stout FO – mix quickly & pour


The Reality:
I originally had five colors for this batched, but quickly shortened it to four to simplify it a bit.

I mixed up the first layer with a touch of Cappuccino mica, added the FO, quickly stirred and poured into the mold. (I then went on to the second batch and came back to this one after it was completed).

When I mixed in my colors, my Oxide Yellow got very stiff and the Burgundy accelerated a bit too (this was before adding the FO). I have seen this happen before and realized that those colors had been sitting around in oils since making holiday soaps, so they were probably too old to use. (After this project I went through all my colors in oils and threw out most of them, just to be on the safe side, as several were 4-6 months old.)

Because I had two stiff colors & two at very light trace, I modified my plan for my tiger stripes. I poured the colors down the middle, but they were very uneven, so I swirled them with a chop stick in a swirl similar to a spoon swirl (only in the middle layer.)

I gave up on the plan to use some of these colors for the top and lightened my 14 oz of beer batter with TD for a “foamy” kind of look.

I mixed up this batter – added a little extra olive oil to thin it out a touch, put in the FO, gave it a quick stir and ladled it on the top.

I put this in fridge to prevent overheating.


The Cut:


The top of the soap started out very light, and has done some interesting things as it’s been curing: darkening, lightening back up, then darkening again – but not the light, “foamy” look that it originally was when poured (due to both the beer and the FO discolor).



You can see how the top layer has some lighter & darker spots, which adds interest and texture:


The leftovers were enough to fill one Eye of Horus mold:



Second Soap:
Cedar wood & Spiced Amber Ale Beer Soap in Wood Grain


Description of Bramble Berry & Bulk Apothecary FO/EO’s:
BB Spiced Amber Ale FO: Starts with a fresh citrus top note and has a warm, exotic finish. The base is a wonderful synergy of pine, clove, honey and vanilla. This beer fragrance is not meant to smell like beer on its own, but does compliment beer-type recipes. CP: no discolor or acceleration.
BA Cedarwood (Texas) EO: This essential oil has the wonderfully sweet, earthy aroma, with a balsamic wood scent. It’s said to have benefits in aromatherapy applications involving inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract and scalp conditions. It’s also suggested that it is helpful for those with oily, acne-prone skin. No info on behavior in CP. (S/b water white).


The Plan:
5 lb mold lined with freezer paper and wood-grain textured mat- for a single layer of soap. (See Oct 13 Blog, Soap Challenge: Wood Grain Technique for more details). Clyde-Slide swirl (fax funnel pour into bucket and then mold – back & forth over mold).

Use 21 oz beer batter, 21 oz white batter.

FO/EO Blend: 1.2 oz Amber Ale and.8 oz Cedarwood Texas.

42 oz Batter/Colors/2 oz FO – divided into all batters: (21 oz beer batter, 21 oz white batter)
7 oz BB Cappuccino mica (beer batter)
7 oz BB TKB #40 True Red (beer batter) with TD
7 oz BB Sienna mica (beer batter) with TD
7 oz BB dark Plum (regular batter)
7 oz BB Yellow Oxide (regular batter)
7 oz BB Nuclear Orange (regular batter)


The Reality:
With such an extremely thick beer batter, the Clyde slide swirl was not a possibility, so I just poured & plopped lines of batter as quickly as possible. The regular batter was very thin and the beer batter was very thick, so this was a difficult process, but I needed to work as quickly as possible.

I had not planned on using Plum in this batch, but ended up just grabbing what I had on hand (I had mixed up the plum for embeds).

This was very dissatisfying and did not go well – and seemed to take forever!


The Cut:


You can see air pockets from too thick soap batter


A full half of this soap has brown in it (with cappuccino brown, red, and sienna added to brown beer batter) – so where did it all go? I think when using this soap, it will reveal itself.


The “dark Plum” color is more of a bright bubble-gum pink/purple…far from what I was going for. I would call this batch a definite “fail.”



An Aside:
When I finished both batches, I started on my embeds. By this time the leftover regular soap was not as thin as I would have wanted, but it seemed to work okay for the embeds. (I had hoped to make gun embeds, but that would have involved two colors and the batter wasn’t thin enough to get the fine details on the guns.)

I then made a few test samples and went back to my leftover beer batter and made some soaps for my Sweetie Pie.

Leftovers, Embeds and Test soaps:
3 Leftovers: Cedarwood & Spiced Amber in Oval, Round, and rectangular guest
1 Anise & 2nd Distill Peppermint Confetti soap 4:2.5 in Victorian Heart (pale blue & pink)
1 Deadly weapon with Cedarwood Texas, Confetti soap 2:2 in Victorian Heart (dark Purple)
1 Fruity Fusion in Flur-de-Lis (dark plum)
25 Raspberry Embeds
25 Blackberry Embeds
20 Blueberry Embeds


This was a complicated soaping session if everything went well; with the beer soap accelerating to thick trace, it made it a very difficult and unhappy soaping experience. I worked as quickly as I could, but it seemed to take forever to complete these two batches. (And in reality, it was a very long soaping session and took quite a while to make each soap).

It was frustrating and exhausting, constantly dealing with the very thick beer batter. I did add some olive oil and even distilled water, which helped thin it out a tiny bit, but there wasn’t much else to do, other than give up and dump it all into one mold with one scent. Which is what I maybe should have done – but that would have felt like giving up without even trying, so I persevered. (I was aware that adding more oil would increase my Super Fat and adding water could slow the cure time).

It would have been so much better to make smaller batches of beer and regular soap and only make one beer soap with the two batches. Alternatively, I should have first prepared the regular soap – separated out the batter and colored it, then made the beer soap by hand mixing (without stick blending).

Raspberry Peach layered, with Tiger Stripe Swirl

I absolutely loved the effect of two plain layers with a multi-colored tiger swirl in the middle, which I got from my last batch of Four Thieves soap (See Feb 13, 2017 Blog) and I wanted to try it again with some variations:


Description of Bramble Berry scents used:
Sun Ripened Raspberry:  This is a basic raspberry with a “ripe” note to it – like a berry that is just ready to fall off the vine into your hand. CP: Moves very quickly.
Southern Peach:  A softer, more rounded peach with some white floral notes and supporting softer tropical notes (think guava, mango and ripe papaya) thrown in to make a complex, sweet peachy dessert scent. CP: goes yellow; accelerates a bit – soap under 120F or may separate & rice. (I found this to be an extremely light fragrance.)

The Plan:
Make 77 oz soap.
Pour off 23 oz batter to make embeds and tube molds for later projects.
The rest – 54 oz for 3 lb mold:
Over 1/3 of the batter with half the FO, in a light, pale pink.
A middle layer with a wall pour of bright colors: pink, red, orange, yellow, & mojito green.
Last layer with half the FO in a light, pale peach-yellow.

Master batch #6 oils: 55 oz Oils (Makes 77 oz /4.8 lbs soap)
MB Oils: 55 oz/ 1559grams
NaOH/Lye 5% SF: 7.82 oz / 222 grams
Distilled Water: (3.15 oz disc): 15 oz / 425 grams
Sodium Lactate: 16 grams
Kaolin Clay: 16 grams

FO’s: 2 oz Sun Ripened Raspberry & 2 oz Southern Peach. This is a lot of FO for 3 lb soap, but the peach is such a light scent, it’s almost non-existent. (I have since learned from BB that this may be due to my FO being 2 years old. Check future blogs for a sample soap with new Peach FO.)

54 Batter/Colors/FO:
1st Layer: with 2 oz Raspberry FO:
20 oz Pale pink
2nd Layer: 20 oz total (use 15 oz – 3 oz per color for layers & 1 oz for top)
4 oz BB Fuchsia Pink
4 oz CC Mojito Green
4 oz TKB #40 True Red
4 oz BB Fizzy Lemonade Yellow
4 oz BB Tangerine Wow Orange
3rd Layer: with 2 oz Peach FO:
14 oz Pale Yellow (BB Fizzy Lemonade & TD)

Top with leftover colors & swirl.

I first prepped all my colors for my main batch and embeds, mixing in a light oil.

I soaped with 98 degree Lye & 102 degree Oils; stick blended till emulsified; then poured off 20 oz and 14 oz for the 1st & 3rd layers, plus 23 oz for leftovers. Stick blended rest of batter till light trace.

The first thing I did was mix up a little of the 23 oz of batter for embeds, using Snowflake Sparkle mica, and spooned that into gun handles of 6 gun embeds to create a pearly handle. I then put the mold into the fridge.

Back to my main soap: To get a light pink, I mixed a tiny bit of CC Purple Play Date (same color as BB Radiant Plum) into 20 oz batter, then added the Raspberry FO and poured into the 3 lb mold. I then mixed up my colors for my second layer – by the time I was done doing that, the first layer was very stiff.

I tilted the mold and did 5 pours of the five colors in this order: Fuchsia Pink, Mojito Green, True Red, Fizzy Lemonade yellow, and Tangerine Wow orange. (Sadly I had stick blended this batter a touch thick, but I was still able to do a good pour). I then righted the mold and put into the fridge to stiffen up and took out my gun embeds.

For Embeds: I poured off 3 oz of embed batter and mixed Activated charcoal (in oil) into it and poured into my gun embeds. I checked my 3 lb mold, but it still needed a little more time, so I poured off another 7 oz of embed batter, adding the rest of my snowflake sparkle mica oil and TD, then poured embeds of Easter Island Heads. I also mixed up some more Mojito green and made 10 Citrus slice embeds.

Back to my main soap: I took my 3 lb mold out of the fridge and the 2nd layer was very firm, so I mixed up some Fizzy Lemonade yellow into the 14 oz for the third layer. I wasn’t satisfied with the color and added a touch of Tangerine Wow orange. The color was a perfect light peach, but when I added the Peach FO it turned back to yellow (I forgot that it discolors yellow). I may have had time to adjust the color again, but didn’t want to take any chances, as I knew the batter would accelerate – and it did. I waited almost too long before pouring, but poured the soap over a spatula into the mold, then topped with leftover colors, which had gotten very, very stiff.


After adding colors on top of the 3 lb mold


The swirl


Close up


The Cut:



The bottom of the second layer got a little blurred, with not as much color definition as the rest:


Back to the completion of Embeds and Samples:
I had a little leftover Peach FO batter, and poured it into a leaf mold with some of the other leftover colors for some contrast & highlights.

For Embeds: I continued with my embed batter, making a long tube heart with BB Gold Sparkle mica and wide heart tube with Purple Play Date Plum. Unfortunately, I ran out of batter with 1.5 inches to go on the wide heart, so I just used some leftover true red from my loaf and mixed in plum (which created a wonderfully, deep red/cranberry color).

I had so many colors from all these projects, that I later ended up finding some white (from the Easter Island Heads) and some Silver (from the pearl handles). If I didn’t have so much going on, I could have used that for the wide heart tube (but then I wouldn’t have discovered such a lovely red color). I took these leftovers and colored them Plum and tried out a new sample fragrance I just got: Fruity Fusion, (adding some leftover colors from the 2nd layer of the loaf too).

Embeds, Tube molds, & Leftover Batter:
6 – guns: white handles, black guns (.5 x6= 3 oz batter)
9 – Easter Island Heads – white/cream (.8×9=7.2 oz batter)
1 – skinny long heart tube in BB Gold Sparkle mica (5.5 oz)
1 – wide heart tube in CC Purple Play Date Plum (4.5 oz)
10 – Citrus slices in Mojito green (2.3 oz)
1 – Southern Peach in guest square Leaf (3 oz)
1 – Fruity Fusion in Flur-de-Lis guest sample (3 oz)


Raspberry Peach: I really like the technique I used in the 3 lb mold – I think it is especially great with fragrances that accelerate trace. And putting the mold into the fridge after pouring the second layer really helped it thicken quicker.

But I have a couple issues: I am not pleased with the tiger stripes getting so muddied on the bottom. And by the time I can garnish the top with left over colors (from the second layer), the batter is very stiff. A couple solutions would be to color the top with mica oils or to just leave plain and scallop it. I would welcome any other suggestions.

Embeds: I used to make embed toppers with MP soap – it is much quicker and can be more detailed. Plus the option of using clear soap for a transparent look is nice. However, even living in the high desert of Colorado, I have found Low Sweat MP to perspire after wrapping tightly in plastic. And have experienced color bleed, when using non-bleeding color (especially red and black colors).

I wasn’t happy with the color of my citrus slice embeds – I used too much green mica and they got too dark. However they lightened up a bit in curing, so they still may work for a future project (stay tuned!)

Also, I had seen a CP heart tube mold made with Gold Sparkle mica and the gold and sparkle really came through. I contacted the soaper and found out it indeed made it through the CP process, so I wanted to give this a try. However, my heart tube mold came out a beige color, with no gold or sparkle coming through. So this was a fail. I can attempt this again with much, much more mica and see if that makes a difference.

Karma Sea Clay Avocado Detox Buttermilk in Drop & Hanger Swirls

I made this last summer, with less then stunning results (see July 11, 2016 Soap Challenge). But I love the scent and wanted to try my hand at it again.


Not thrilled about this one – need more work coloring with clay

Bramble Berry Karma Essential Oil Blend: A mixture of patchouli, orange, lavendin, pine, Lemongrass, & Elemi Oils, and Gardenia extract. It is inspired by Lush’s Karma fragrance and smells deeply sensuous and alluring, with base notes of Patchouli and Orange. CP: Accelerates and discolors beige/honey brown.


The Plan: 62 oz total batter
Add Argan Oil to Master Batch oils
3 lb mold, 50 oz, In The Pot swirl
Pour off 12 oz for sample & guest molds

42.3 oz Oils + 1.7 oz Argon Oil (44 oz Total Oils)
Master batch #6 oils (Makes 62 oz/3.8 lb soap)
Oils: 42.3 oz/ 1199 grams
Argan Oil (3.8%): 1.7 oz/ 48 grams
NaOH/Lye 8% SF: 6.04 oz / 171 grams
Frozen Buttermilk & Distilled Water: (2.52 oz disc): 12 oz / 340 grams (6 oz of each)
Sodium Lactate: 12 grams
Kaolin Clay: 12 grams

I added Argan oil for it’s skin loving attributes: Argan has similar properties as Chia & Jojoba oil – it’s high in antioxidants, with essential fatty acids that are nourishing & moisturizing.

I also bumped up the Super Fat so this can be used as a facial soap.

50 oz Batter/Colors/ 3 oz Karma EO:
26 oz Yellow Silt Clay in water
8 oz Green Sea Clay in water
8 oz Red Brazilian Clay in water
8 oz Indigo Powder in oil


The Reality:
It’s always a huge bonus when things turn out better than what you planned.

Thanks to the frozen Buttermilk & distilled water, my lye-liquid was at 94 degrees for soaping with 108 degree oils. (I used a strainer to filter the lye, in case some did not dissolve in the milk.) I stick blended to emulsified and divided my batter, then colored it before adding the EO.

I expected the fast acceleration I had gotten last summer, but it didn’t happen, staying at a light trace. I did not mark down the temperatures I soaped at last time, so these lower temps may have made all the difference.

Since the batter didn’t thicken, I decided to take advantage of this and do a drop & hanger swirl (instead of ITP swirl). As I was scrambling for my gear tie for the 3 lb mold, the batter started moving a little faster. But it was just the right thickness for this swirl, which I quickly accomplished.

Top after pouring & swirling:


I put it into the fridge (due to the Buttermilk) and worked on my guest molds.


The Cut:


Fortunately the soap colors lightened up a bit.


I obviously need more practice with using clay. I think these look a little rough and got too dark. After cutting the loaf, the soap lighted up a bit, but is still too dark for me. I need to use clay a little more sparingly.


Guest/Sample size soaps with 1 oz Karma eo:
1 – Leaf mold square
1 – Heart in round
1 – Love square
1 – Guest Victorian Heart
1 – Rectangle with leftovers


Four Thieves layered with Tiger Stripe Swirl

I have made this soap ten times before, and always with the Zebra Swirl (see August 22, 2016 Blog and December 14, 2015 Blog, where I won Sponsor’s Choice award).

I am constantly fighting with the acceleration of the batter, due to the essential oils used, so I thought I’d try something different – layering with a Tiger Swirl in the middle.


Interested in the Story behind the Four Thieve’s Blend? See the bottom of the Blog.


The Plan: 106 oz total batter
Pour off 16 oz for samples/guest size soaps.
84 oz, 5 lb mold in 3 layers: 1st layer white with EO; 2nd layer tiger wall pour (no fo, 6 colors); 3rd layer white with EO

I wanted to add Medowfoam Oil, as I used this in the past in this soap. It has some nice qualities: it is moisturizing & rejuvenating; makes a creamy lather; adds a silky, smooth feel; provides great emolliency without being overly greasy; and absorbs quickly. It’s also composed of fatty acids with a very high level of oxidative stability.

I stopped adding this oil because it’s so expensive, but I have some in my freezer, and wanted to use it.

72.12 oz MB Oils PLUS 2.88 oz Meadowfoam Oil 75 oz Total Oils
Master Batch #6 Oils (Makes 106 oz/6.6 lbs soap)
MB Oils: 72.12 oz/ 2045 grams
Meadowfoam Oil (3.8%): 2.88 oz/ 82 grams
NaOH/Lye 6% SF: 10.47 oz / 297 grams
Distilled Water: (3.75 oz disc): 21 oz / 595 grams
Sodium Lactate: 21 grams
Kaolin Clay: 21 grams

This is my recipe for the Four Thieves Blend:
5 oz – 142 grams Four Thieves Oil: (accelerates trace)
34% Clove:         1.7 oz        48 grams
30% Litsea:        1.5 oz        43 grams
16% Cinnamon:  .8 oz        23 grams
12% Eucalyptus: .6 oz        17 grams
8% Rosemary:     .4 oz        11 grams

The original blend has Lemon, but I replaced it with Litsea, as it is 1/4 the price of 5 Fold Lemon. I used to use 5X Lemon, as it would stick well, but a few years ago the price quadrupled and is no longer viable to use (16 oz cost close to $130.) Non-folded Lemon disappears in CP, as do many citruses.

90 oz Batter/Colors/ 4oz EO: (use 84 oz batter & rest of colors for samples)
1st Layer:
38 oz TD white 2.2 oz EO
2nd Layer:
24 oz total (use 18 oz: 2.5 oz in tiger pour of each color, .5 oz for top; save 1 oz for samples) No EO
4 oz BB Ultramarine Violet Purple
4 oz BB Fuchsia Pink
4 oz TKB #40 True Red
4 oz BB Zippy Blue
4 oz BB Hydrated Chrome and Chrome Green (got too thick, switched to CC Green Mojito)
4 oz BB Nuclear Orange
3rd Layer:
28 oz TD White 1.8 oz EO

Top with swirl of colors.

I combined the Lye & Oils when both were at 88 degrees, hoping the lower temps would help slow down the acceleration (which it did). I stick blended to emulsified and poured off 38 oz for the first layer and 28 oz for the third layer. Stick blended more, then weight out 4 oz for each color and 16 oz for guest soaps.

Added TD to the 38 oz container, then 2.2 oz of EO blend; blended quickly & poured into mold.

I then mixed up my colors. The 1st layer was already stiff enough pour on; I did a tiger stripe wall pour with the six colors four times over.

In the first layer of colors. the green batter had gotten so thick, that after one pour, I realized it was messing up my whole design, so I quickly took 3+ oz from the 16 oz container and mixed in some Green Mojito coloring. I used this for the next 3 series of color pours. (The first green I used had been sitting in oil for a couple months. I suspect it had gotten old.)


You can see a bit of the dark green on the upper right – it was so thick, that the subsequent soap pours got snagged on the green and went a bit wonky.

The colored batter seemed to keep getting thinner, so while I was waiting for it to thicken up, I made my sample & guest size soaps, adding some TD to the dark green, to help lighten it up and used it for 2 guest Victorian hearts (adding extra batter and more EO blend). For the rest of the soaps, I used some color on top, then added white batter with EO blend and swirled in a little more colors for the bottom. (I mixed in the EO separately for each individual mold, because of acceleration.)

It took about an hour for the second layer to set up enough to add the last layer. All my leftover colors and the 28 oz poured off at emulsified stayed thin until about the last 15 minutes – then everything really thickened up fast. But I was still able to add the EO blend and pour the 3rd layer, then added blobs of color on top of that and swirl:

I added some fine, iridescent glitter to jazz it up a bit.


Close up


The Cut:


I am very pleased with how these turned out. It makes sense not to fight the acceleration, but incorporate it in the design.



I first tried a straight cut on these, but found the crinkle cut to make it much more interesting:


Sample/Guest size:
22 oz (1 oz of each color from above & 16 oz with 1 oz EO blend)
1 – String of pearls mold
2 – Flur-de-Lis
2 – Guest Victorian Heart using thick green lightened with TD
2 – Guest Victorian Heart


The Story behind Four Thieves Blend:
The Bubonic Plague wreaked havoc in Europe off and on for about 600 years before peaking in the 1300s. Century after century, as late as the 1700s, outbreaks claimed up to half the population.

During the plague a group of four brothers began robbing the dead. At first, they were largely ignored, as everyone knew they would eventually pay the price by catching the contagion themselves but, to everyone’s surprise, they managed to avoid the plague and continued robbing graves, amassing a great deal of wealth. They became legendary and everyone wanted to know how they evaded the sickness.

When they were finally captured, they were asked for their secret during questioning. After much debate between them, they agreed to share it in return for their pardon. This offer was accepted.

These men were the offspring of a perfumer and herbalist. They learned about essential oils from their parents during their childhood. They knew these oils would protect them so they rubbed them on their bodies and used them to clean anything they brought back. The powerful blend is now called Four Thieves Blend. (An aside: they used these oils & herbs in vinegar, and the vinegar probably played a big part in their wellness too).

An interesting note: There is a period of time when physicians wore dark robes, wide-brimmed hats, & masks with long beaks. These beaks held dried herbs, spices and essential oils which the physician breathed. The robe was doused with a similar fragrant concoction. (Scientific evidence today is building support for this behavior.)