I needed some Rosemary Lavender Eucalyptus Pink Himalayan Salt bars. Then I got the urge to add Tea Tree to it, as I feel like I need more experience soaping with that essential oil. I used a ratio of 1.5:1:1:1 – Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree: 1.5 oz, 1 oz, 1 oz, & 1 oz – blended together and added to the soap batter.
I have a recipe that I have used a half dozen times and find it works quite well.
Recipe: (50 oz oils; 74oz/ 4.6 lbs – plus salt)
10% Apricot Kernel Oil 5 oz 142 grams
2.5% Castor Oil 2.5 oz 71 grams
70% Coconut Oil 35 oz 992 grams
10% Palm Oil 5 oz 142 grams
2.5% Refined Shea Butter 2.5 oz 71 grams
10% SF Lye 7.47 oz 212 grams
(no disc) Water & Aloe juice 1:1 16.5 oz 468 grams
Oat Extract .5 oz 14 grams (IN OILS)
Fine Pink Himalayan Salt 2.75 cups
I have used a variety of oils for the first ingredient: usually mixing & matching 5% of: Apricot Kernel, Avocado, Grapeseed, Olive, and Rice Bran oils or Cocoa/Mango Butter.
I have always used single bar silicone molds and my 9-bar mold with dividers. This time I used the 9-bar mold and a 6-bar mold without dividers, plus impression mats. I have never cut salt bars, so it was a new experience.
I usually discount my distilled water/Aloe juice, but did not this time. I used LabColors and then realized I should have done some discounting to allow for the water in the dilution of the LabColors.
After letting the Lye water & oils cool to 115 degrees, I blended them to emulsification – dividing evenly into 4 containers and added BB LabColors: Fuchsia, Lavender (plus a little leftover TKB Fox pigment in oil), Eucalyptus mist green & a hint of Apple green, and Aqua blue.
I poured a little of the colored soap batters into four tiny paper cups; blended them with a mini mixer to thicken up a bit, and then poured over the top of a negative flower impression mat in my 9-bar mold and a peacock (positive) impression mat in my 6-bar mold. (Tired of all the impression mat blogs? So sorry, I’m still playing with them a bit.)
I wanted to try to get a smoother finish on top of the bars, than what the gritty salt gives you.
I added my blended scents to each container, mixed thoroughly, then added 5.5 oz (by volume) of fine pink Himalayan salt to each of the 4 containers (22 oz total) and poured diagonal & horizontal lines of soap into the 9-bar mold (using about 55 oz of batter). It was very thin and got really dark & muddy looking, so I did not do any swirling on top (which will end up being the bottom anyway).
I wanted to let the batter thicken up for the 6-bar mold, but it seemed to take forever, as I cleaned up my work area, put things away, etc. – while checking on my batter ever 30-60 seconds.
So while waiting, I decided to brighten up my colors a bit.
I tried a new technique I had just read about: heating the oil before adding the pigment to it. I first did the blue, using my mini-mixer as usual and and it really worked well – I didn’t have to use a tea strainer like I usually do for the blue to prevent clumps & streaks in the soap. I also used it on the Electric Bubblegum and after adding it to the Fuchsia batter, I realized I had picked the wrong pink, as this turns to a redish-pink…I had wanted the Fired Up Fuchsia pigment. (I even had Red written on the Electric Bubblegum container!)
In total, I incorporated BB Ultramarine Blue pigment, BB Electric Bubblegum pigment, BB Easter Purple LabColor, and more BB Green Apple LabColor.
I should have taken a before & after photo with the first LabColors, which looked very muted compared to these:
After what seemed like 30-40 minutes, my batter was a little thicker and I poured horizontal & vertical lines of soap in my mold, then did a Taiwan swirl all the way through and attempted to do a circling Taiwan swirl, but after only 4-5 circles, the batter was getting really muddy on the sides, so I stopped and added a couple swirls through the middle.
I was surprised that I still had some batter left and wished I would have added more in my 9-bar mold to compensate for the extra water that will evaporate.
But I made 2 more soaps using rectangular silicone molds: pink & purple leftover batter (that looks more red & burgundy), poured into a wedge/triangle and swirled. And blue & green leftover batter, poured on the diagonal, and swirled.
When I poured the soap into the 9-bar mold, the pre-poured, unsalted soap worked it’s way up, along the sides of the mold. You can see that that is were most of the bright colors have gone:
I removed the soap from the 9-bar mold 9 hours after pouring, but the 6-bar mold was still too soft. I unmolded and cut it 19 hours after soaping and fortunately it was easy to cut.
In the past, I have waited too long to take the soap out of the 9-bar mold and the sides would stick to the dividers and come away very rough looking (even when I used cyclomethincone on the dividers.) So this was a great lesson learned.
The soap that I had pre-poured onto the impression mat was too soft and stuck to the mat – so that experiment was an utter failure. I think I would have needed to pour soap onto the mat and let it sit for a couple days for this to work.
This may have to be the bottom of the soap bars.
Close up – you can see the gritty under-layer that has the salt in it, and what’s left of the smooth soap on top (without salt). The design came through better on the left side.
Even after weighting down the peacock impression mat & trimming it, it still curled under a bit, which caused the soaps to be a bit concave, like a soufflé that has fallen (not visible in the photos.) I had hoped that the weight of the soap would flatten it out more.
I have never tried to trim up the edges of salt bars and I was met with mixed results doing this. Some of the bars were still soft enough to run my fingers over the edges and smooth them out, but many left a rough planed, salty looking edge.
First batch: these photos were all taken after cleaning up the soaps & steaming them:
Some of the back sides of the impression mat were more colorful than the front. Even after cleaning & steaming, they are still rustic.
Second batch: the colors are bolder, but only half the bars with the peacock impression mat look decent enough to call the top. I am pleased that the pink stayed bright and did not turn to a redder color.
The 2 bars in individual rectangular molds were too soft to unmold for several days and by then, they were covered in soda ash. I learned that planing off the top is not the way to go – it made it much, much worse – making it look really rough and covered it in white salt speckles to the point that the design is no longer visible.
The pink & purple soap still has some ash even after steaming. The green & blue soap is too coarse to use as the front. The back side of both are very smooth and more presentable.
Next time I would like to try the Brining method – adding salt to the lye water (which dissolves) – with additional salt at trace to see if it will produce a slightly smoother bar.
Very little salt is used in Sole Seife bars (brine soap), so I’m not sure how much Pink Himalayan salt benefits would transfer (as PH salt seems to be a miracle worker with skin issues), but that would be interesting to try on it’s own too. (See Feb 11, 2016 Soap Queen Blog for Brine soap).
I look back on these and see how terribly “rustic” they are. But with practice comes more experience and lots of improvement.
Check out more successful Salt Bars on the links below:
Unscented Pink Himalayan & Dead Sea Salt Soap – with Clay & Plant Colorants; embeds on top, negative impression mat on bottom
Pink Himalayan Salt Test Soap Batch with Tamanu & Neem Oils
Eucalyptus Mint Tree with Neem Oil & tiny embeds
Grapefruit, Kumquat & Lime with tiny embeds
2 Batches: Unscented and Lavender, Moroccan Mint, Tea Tree, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage & Black Tea Blend
Orange Lemongrass Patchouli & Unscented
Lemongrass, Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint
Peach Mango Kumquat with Aloe & Coconut water
POGY: Pineapple Orange Grapefruit Yuzu
For Salt Bar Recipes, click on the links below:
Salt Master Batch Oils #1
Salt Master Batch Oils #2 (“Everything But the Kitchen Sink”)