The May Soap Challenge is the Teardrop swirl. 286 soapers from around the globe signed up for this challenge (the 2nd highest membership ever).
I have started a friendship with one of our challenge members, April (Blog: Essentera – https://essentera.wordpress.com), via our blogs & emails, and I would like to dedicate my entry to her, as she has been wanting to work more with brighter colors. (She was in a very serious motorcycle accident last week.) I hope these colors will cheer her on a tiny bit with her lengthy recovery.
This is my second attempt and my entry in the competition:
This has nice big drops and light on the tears, but I love the bright colors of this soap.
First Attempt: Blue Man
For my first attempt, I was looking for something dramatic and chose a black base with a blue & white teardrop, using Bramble Berry Blue Man FO. This fragrance discolors brown and I have made it several times with a blue/white/brown theme, so I wanted to go with something a bit different.
Here’s the description of this scent: This is a duplication of the popular men’s cologne, Aquolina Blue Sugar. The base note of Black Patchouli blends perfectly with Orange Peel, Sparkling Mandarin, Coriander Leaves, Star Anise and Venezuela Tonka. It’s surprisingly sweet and majorly masculine.
I decided to go ahead with my usual oils & butters (Master Batch Oils #3 – see April 29, 2016 Blog for recipe), as they seem very well behaved and produce a hard bar of soap:
37 oz of soap for 2 lb mold:
26 oz oils/ 737 grams
3.69 oz Lye/ 105 grams
11 oz/ 312 grams Distilled water (1.27 oz disc)
12 grams Sodium Lactate
Batter and Colors:
24 oz – BB Activated charcoal (FO only) Base (divided into 3 – 8 oz containers)
2 oz – BB Ultraviolet Blue
2 oz – BB Ultramarine Blue
2 oz – BB 1982 Blue Mica
2 oz – BB Blue Raspberry Mica
4 oz – BB TD White
I mixed up my oils & lye water; divided up the batter for each color and split the black evenly into 3 containers. I added about 1/3 of the FO in the first container, but had a difficult time getting the black thick enough to pour – I felt like I stick blended it to death.
When finally ready, I poured the black and began laying down the colors, starting with white, two blue colors, white again, two blues, white, etc.
The first thing that transpired was that the white immediately sank into the black and disappeared. I tried a blue and the same thing happened. I also could not get a semblance of a straight line no matter what. I switched to putting down a line with a spoonful of batter and that did the trick – the soap stayed on top of the black and I got some really nice straight lines, contrary to what the photo below looks like:
I waited to add the rest of the FO into the other two containers of black, as one review of the scent said it accelerated trace a bit. However, I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I did an outstanding job of the wall pour with the black, using containers with long spouts, but I was unable to fill the entire mold.
I had separated out 2 oz for each color and only used about 1 oz, so I had a lot of leftover colors and hadn’t saved enough batter for the black.
I liked the look of multi-colored teardrops on top of the loaf (done by Sergio Masala in his video) and attempted to do that with mica oils in silver, blue raspberry, and 1982 blue, but as I layered the oils on top of each other, they sunk into the black and disappeared. I gave up on that idea and just used the mica oils to create a swirl.
After cutting, I steamed these several times to help make the black even brighter:
I was very surprised that even though I used 4 different blues, only 2-3 are very distinctive.
Second Attempt: Mangosteen Coconut
I got a Mangosteen FO from Bramble Berry when it was discontinued a couple years ago. I loved it so much that I wanted to buy more, but it sold out right away. So I have been using it very sparingly, as I just didn’t want to run out. However, after two years some of the top notes might start to fade, so I need to use it or loose it!
Here’s the description of Mangosteen: A blend of mangosteen, guava, & green melon swirl to unite with a succulent undertone of juicy yuzu nectar & coconut palm. I decided to add a little coconut for more of a tropical scent.
I used the same 28 oz of Master Batch #3 Oils and frozen Coconut water in place of distilled water.
Batter and Colors:
28 oz – BB Pale Fizzy Lemonade with TD (FO only: 1.5 oz Mangosteen & 1 oz Coconut Cybilla FO)
2 oz – CC Purple Play Date
2 oz – BB Ultramarine Pink with TD
2 oz – BB TD White
2 oz – BB Ultramarine Violet
2 oz – BB LabColor Apple Green with TD
I used a lot of FO, as the Coconut Cybilla is very weak.
When adding my Lye to my frozen coconut water, it got a bit orange and the highest temp I could get was 48 degrees. My oils were 84 degrees – I have never soaped with such low temperatures and such a big disparity between the oil & lye water (I try to keep them within 10 degrees and usually soap at 100-125 degrees). If any one has any experience on this, I would love to hear about it.
I stick blended my lye water into my oils until a very light trace and poured off my batter for colors. The little cups of colors got very thick, while once again, I could not get my base to thicken up. I waited & waited and stick blended & stick blended.
I first poured off 1/3 of the base and added 1/3 of the FO to this, as my notes say the Mangosteen accelerates trace a little. No acceleration at all. I poured this all back into the main batter and added all the FO and waited and stick blended and repeated this wait & blend process.
You would think with all this time on my hands I would have thought of taking some photos, but I was so intent on this issue, I never snapped a picture.
Finally, the soap got to thin-medium trace and I started working quickly, as my colored soap was very thick by now and the little paper cups seemed to be melting. As I was doing that the rest of my main batter got very thick too.
I figured it might end up being more of a Sergio Masala Geyser soap than a teardrop. I once again tried the teardrops on top, but the soap was too thick, so I just went with a swirl.
After the cut:
Some have more “tear” than drop, others more “drop” than tear.
Of all the batches I did, this one is my favorite – the look, the colors, the scent.
Third Attempt: Sweet Berries – with a very berry Hogwarts Sorting Hat
Back to the drawing board with another teardrop attempt. This time I used a combo of 3 FO’s: predominantly Sweet Berries – a sample that I have no info on, but have used in MP and it smells nice. Then I added some Voodoo Berry (a multitude of berries, peach, cherries, orange, grape, etc.) & and a hint of BB Berry Wine (blend of fruit & wine; Merlot, raspberry, blueberry).
I used the same 28 oz Master Batch #3 Oils recipe with distilled water.
This time I poured out 12 oz for colors into a glass container and prepared the base soap, adding the FO combo and some Titanium Dioxide. I put 1/3 into the mold and divided my colors into plastic cups (that didn’t melt).
Batter and Colors:
28 oz @ With Some TD White
2 oz @ BB Blue Raspberry
2 oz @ BB Ultramarine Violet
2 oz @ BB Radiant Plum with TD
2 oz @ CC Purple Play Date
I also had some black batter, but decided against using it. My colors stayed very thin. I spooned them into the mold and got some nice lines (and of course I forgot to take photos).
Everything went as planned until I went to pour the rest of the base soap into the mold. It had gotten very thick, discolored a darker yellow than I had wanted and was a little separated. I mixed that out as best I could and poured.
I got the teardrops on the top of the soap too, but by the time I took this photo, the colors had gotten kind of runny and miss-shaped. I don’t really care for the look, but since I had tried to do this three times and was finally successful, I left them, hoping that the sliced bars might look more interesting.
My base soap color lighted up quite a bit when gelled and I ended up with what looked like some Hogwarts sorting hats inside:
Fourth Attempt: Espresso – A Smokin’ Cuppa Joe
Wash, rinse, & repeat – same as the third batch! (I had planned to use Goat’s Milk in this, but didn’t have any frozen, and thought it best to not add complications as in the 2nd attempt).
I used 1.2 oz of Bramble Berry Espresso FO; .3 oz BB Dark Chocolate FO, and .5 oz Essential Depot Cafe Mocha FO for a total of 2 oz of fragrance for a 2 lb soap. This scent combo smells mostly of Espresso, with a slight hint of chocolate.
Here is the description of Espresso: This comforting and familiar scent smells just like that good ol’ cup a Joe. The fragrance entices the senses with opening notes of bitter-sweet chocolate, coconut, and almond. Middle notes of honey and caramel while finishing off with notes of roasted coffee bean and burnt sugar. Discolors med-dark brown.
I added 1 TBSP of finely ground coffee beans to the main batter for variety and slight exfoliation.
I used only 2 colors: CC Brown Sparkle Mica & Titanium Dioxide. I split the soap for the teardrops into 3 containers: one with a tiny bit of TD; another with lots of TD and a little brown mica; and the 3rd with lots of brown mica and a little TD. I used Brown for the base (even though these fragrances discolor brown – giving me a uniform dark brown.) This gave me three distinct colors for the teardrop, with a darker soap base as the back ground.
I had the same issues as the 3rd attempt, with the main soap getting too thick and the tear drop soaps being too thin.
I saved some of the three colors and added the white on top (after thickening a little in the fridge), with the two browns swirled in and a little ground coffee sprinkles.
After cutting, these look like a Smokin’ Cuppa Joe:
I like the unusual smokey effect inside, and what better scent to have this in!
When I starting cleaning up I discovered a possible contributing cause for my issues with all these soaps – my stick blender fell apart in my hands. (This is the 2nd stick blender I have killed in less than a year. The same problem with both: the plastic gear mechanism fell apart. Could “burping” the sick blender contribute to the inside breaking?)
It had felt like the low speed was really slow and the high speed (which I never use) didn’t seem to be working great either. I had just replaced this blender less than a year ago, so it never occurred to me that was the problem – it still felt new!
In researching blenders, everything under $50 seems to have plastic gearing. I do have a heavy-duty blender (which weights a lot and is very big & clumsy to use), but the lowest setting is too energetic for soaping.
If I were soaping every week, I may have recognized this change in my blender…or it may have been like looking at yourself in the mirror everyday – you don’t notice getting older until all of a sudden you see your mom looking back at you! Yikes!!
As a hobbyist, it’s difficult to stay “current” with all the nuances that happen while soaping. I’m always trying to challenge myself with something new and while so focused on that, I miss the tiny things, as what was happening here.
I’m pleased that I ended up with some nice soaps, but I did not get the beautiful teardrop I was hoping for. This is one technique that needs more practice!