July 2016 Soap Challenge – Pipe Divider Swirl

This month’s Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge is the Pipe Divider Swirl – a fun technique.


Grapefruit Smoothie – soap submitted in challenge contest.

If you want to skip the practice batches & fails, scroll down to: Fourth Batch – Grapefruit Smoothie.


First Batch:
Juniper & Green Tea in 6-bar mold


Of course, the first time I tried this technique, it turned into a disaster! I was under some time constrains, but hoped I could just whip up a practice batch in my 6-bar slab mold. (Yes, I was delusional!)

I needed some Juniper & Green Tea soap and though white & green on the outside of the pipes and blue & purple on the inside would be great.

Very rarely do I add my Fragrance Oils to my fixed oils, but since neither one of these has ever given me any trouble – and since so many people use this technique, I thought it would be the simplest and quickest way to go. (I used NG fragrances.)

I added my lye-water to my oils when both were at 118 degrees and stick blended to just emulsified, figuring I would need to wait a bit after adding the colors to get it even thick enough to pour. Boy, was I totally wrong! I barely got the colors mixed in before it was a gloppy mess.

I pressed on and poured & plopped my colors into the pipes & mold until I wasn’t able to even accomplish that anymore. Then I attempted to swirl it all and banged it to death.

Top of soap on left, bottom of slab on right:


The Cut:

Since these turned out so thin, I cut them into 6 – 2.5 oz bars for samples:



Glad this was my “practice run.” I have no idea why these fragrances accelerated so much, when they have never done that in the past for me. It’s a conundrum! But I figured it was just “Murphy’s Law,” as I was really squeezed for time and thought I could “just whip up a batch!”


Second Batch:
Rosemary Mint in 9-bar mold


Master batch #4 oils: 35 oz oils (992 grams) = 50 oz /3lb soap:
5% Lye: 4.95 oz / 140 grams
1.5 oz disc water: 10 oz / 284 grams
Sodium Lactate: 10 grams

Use 9-bar slab mold to make 8 bars, about 48 oz.
Mark the mold for where bars will be cut (for placement of pipes).
Dip Pipes into a melted combo of Cocoa butter and Shore Butter and place in mold.
Set in fridge to hardening the butter. Take it out to get the mold close to room temperature before using. (I’m not sure if this step is necessary, as the pipes did not stay completely “glued” to the silicone liner – a paper liner might hold them better and/or keeping them cold longer.)

Scent Blend:
1:1 BB Rosemary eo & BB Moroccan Mint fo = 1.5 oz / 43 grams of each; 3 oz/ 85 grams total.

Batter & Colors:
14 oz Leftover Green: TKB Pearl Green & Ye Olde Neon Green
14 oz TD White
12 oz Leftover Pink: CC Purple Play Date (Plum) & Ultramarine Pink
12 oz Leftover Purple: TKB Magic Violet & BB Ultramarine Violet


Colors: Green, Pink, Purple, White.

I completely forgot to actually do the math to figuring out how much soap to use for the inside & outside. It seemed like I had a Lot of pipes in the mold, but that was deceiving. In hindsight, I should have used about 19 oz of soap for the outside and 7 oz for the pipes.


Pipes arranged in mold & “glued” with Shore Butter.

I ran out of white & green colors and ended up with only 39 oz in the mold, which made 6 – 6.5 oz bars (after trimming & planing, they were about 6.25 oz each).

This time my batter was nice & fluid and I was very happy with how the soap turned out.

Below: after removing Pipes & before swirling; after swirling; closeup of swirl:

I unmolded this too quickly – less than 24 hrs (I usually give it 2 days), but I wanted to use the mold for one more try.

Part of the bottom stuck to the liner and ripped. You can see that in the bottom of the first photo. The second photo is a close up – I like the fun, flowery look of it:

The Cut:

I cut these into 6 bars instead of 8 and got nice designs on each:



I think these turned out looking very summery & cheerful – and they smell wonderful!


Third Batch:
Karma Detox in 6-bar mold


Since I had so much fun doing the second batch, I dived right into another one, using BB Karma Essential Oil. I love this scent, but hadn’t soaped with it in years, as it is so expensive.

Karma is a blend of: Patchouli Oil, Orange Oil, Lavendin Oil, Pine Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Elemi Oil, and Gardenia Extract. It is inspired by Lush’s Karma fragrance and smells deeply sensuous and alluring, with base notes of Patchouli and Orange. Many of the reviews on it suggest adding Orange eo to approximate the scent better, which I think would be nice to try next time. It is very earthy – in a good way, and it smells great on it’s own.

For the outside colors I used BB Yellow Silt Clay & BB Green Sea Clay with touch of Spirulina. Inside the pipes I put soap colored with BB Rose Clay & Alkenet Root Powder. It has been a while since I used the Alkenet Root powder, and it turned to black, instead of the dark purple I was expecting.

This was another big fail – I could barely swirl this time. As soon as I added the Karma eo, it accelerated like crazy. I thought I read all my notes on this blend, but apparently not, as when I went back into them – there it was: Accelerates Trace. (I bolded & highlighted that note for next time!)

Karma in mold & close up; and the bottom after unmolding.
(I actually like the look of the bottom best):


The Cut:

This is very masculine looking (except for small areas of pink), and reminds me of camouflage soap.


Bottom & close ups:



Fourth Batch:
Grapefruit Smoothie in 9-bar mold
(Grapefruit, with a touch of Pineapple, Orange Valencia, Lime, & Lemon EO)


Photo submitted to soap challenge contest.

After that fail, I just had to give it one more try.

We were only allowed to use four colors and I wanted to try to “legally” get a fifth color. I went with a Tetrad on my color wheel: 4 colors: Violet, Green, Yellow, and Pink (Red with white). I was confident the pouring of yellow & pink would mix a little to create orange. And according to the color wheel, violet & green make blue – however, confined in such a small space in the pipes, I didn’t really expect this to happen. Plus I wanted to do a wall pour in the pipes to create a layered look. (If I would have poured the two colors on top of each other they may have had a better chance to blend.)

I also thought of doing a spin swirl before removing the pipe dividers, but I wasn’t sure that was permitted for this challenge. (A fun idea for a future project.) I already had a lot going on in this one, so I didn’t want to muddy the waters – literally & figuratively.

Batter & Colors:
19 oz BB Leftover TKB Shimmer Lemon Pop & Florescent Strong Yellow
19 oz BB Fired up Fuchsia Pink
7 oz BA Violet Purple
7 oz Leftover Green: TKB Pearl Green & Ye Olde Neon Green with hint of BB Apple green LabColor.


My Colors.

I marked the liner where I would cut the bars. This helped in the placement of the pipes.

I arranged my pipes in the mold again; dipping each one in a mix of Cocoa & Shore Butters (I used this combo because I only had shavings of Cocoa Butter left.) I then put it in the fridge to harden for a couple hours and took it out 30 minutes before using. (This seemed to work the best of all my attempts – they really stayed “glued” to the liner, where in past attempts there was a little slippage.)


Pipes arranged in mold and “glued” with Cocoa/Shore Butter mix.

I used fewer pipes this time and did not use the tiniest ones, as they seemed too small.

My batter was very thin – I mixed & waited for about 30 minutes before starting to pour.

The video by Soapish was very helpful – I used Tania’s technique of pouring, then stopping the pour with my finger. That was especially important to do as I filled my pipes – it prevented a lot of dripping.

In the photos below, the pink looks orange and the green looks darker than it really was. I made very small pours, and it took a long time to fill the mold.

Finished pouring with pipes still in (left); pipes removed (right).
(This actually would be a really cool look with some
different colors – the circles could  be planets):

I started swirling with the large end of a big chopstick, then switched to the small end of a little chopstick for finer aspects. I might have gone a little overboard in the swirling – but I was having so much fun with it (and I like the intricate details it created):


The base looks very orange, but there was a lot of pink that didn’t well show in the photos.

Bottom & top after unmolding (the pink really stands out more on the bottom
and you can see the melding of the colors more clearly):


The Cut:


The wall pour into the pipes created a nice look on the sides of the bars too:


I love the back sides too:


I chose this soap to enter into the challenge because of it’s complexity, uniqueness, intricate details, and because it looks and smells lovely too!



There were 190 soapers that joined the challenge, with 71 submitting a soap for judging. (I finished at about 24.) This was a great technique that everyone was able to master and all the soaps turned out beautiful – a very difficult choice to pick a winner.

An Aside:

I had some leftover batter in each batch – enough to make some extra soap designs for fun:


Juniper Green Tea – Man on the Moon soap

Rosemary Mint Victorian Heart soap.

Karma Detox soap in Celtic & heart designs (dusted with gold sparkle mica).



Grapefruit Smoothie soap in Celtic design (dusted with gold sparkle mica)



18 comments on “July 2016 Soap Challenge – Pipe Divider Swirl

  1. Amy Warden says:

    Love the final batch, Sly! The colors are bright and beautiful and the wall pour was definitely a great idea! A spin swirl would be super fun to add to the mix at a later date – another great idea!! Really appreciate you taking the time to document all of your batches. I have to wonder if 118 degrees might have been too warm to start your first batch?? You know me – I love 90!


  2. soapsbysly says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful comments.

    RE: the first batch…After contemplating the acceleration, I realized that I tried this same scent combo in the Clyde Slide swirl Challenge and it had mild acceleration then…I don’t know why it was such a quick acceleration this time. It could be the temperature, although I typically soap between 100-120 degrees (usually in the 110 range.)

    I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s creations!


  3. Sally says:

    Thanks for all the information and beautiful pictures! It’s a great way to give a a greater appreciation of all of the hard work and creativity that goes into making each bar. I love each soap that I have had the opportunity to try and am looking forward to trying different types in the future.
    Keep up the creative genius:)


  4. That was a great post with all the ups and downs of your various batches – much appreciated! I love the colors you chose with them. I had the acceleration problem on a couple of my batches too – one with the fragrance, one because I thought I was smarter than the oil blend. 😉 The way that last one pops is fantastic. Beautiful soaps!


  5. Lisa Jane says:

    I always love your soaps, Sly, and I particularly love this one. I love how you’re brave with colour. I even like the bottoms – that is just so cute! What a great scent combo, too. I find myself using a grapefruit theme for many of the challenges, coincidentally, and the scent really goes with your colour scheme.


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like my soaps.
      Citrus is so nice in soap – both the scent and the behavior. I, too love to use it, especially grapefruit.
      Good luck on the challenge!


  6. omneyaswish says:

    I personally loved all your soaps. Didn’t see a fail but the last one did have a special pop to it😊. Only the creator can determine what they are satisfied with , and you did great. Thanks for the journey


  7. Debi Olsen says:

    Wow, Sly! They all turned out really beautiful, but the last one, your entry soap is STUNNING!! The colors are incredibly vibrant and I love how that, combined with the delicate swirls worked together perfectly and made for an absolutely gorgeous masterpiece!

    I’m going to try this technique again and again and again, that’s for sure! I also thought about spinning the batter but completely forgot because I was too caught up in trying not to screw it all up!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you for your very kind words!
      I’m so excited to try this swirl again too! There are so many possibilities with it. I’d like to try it in a loaf mold, with a horizontal cut too.


  8. Cris Bean says:

    Really nice last batch but also like the rosemary mint colors (and a favorite blend of mine!)


  9. I thought the sane way about the pour, wanted to do a spin swirl but wasn’t sure I should! The results with the pipes in a spin would be really interesting. I love how the bottom came out.


  10. Lisa List says:

    WOW! I’m so glad you decided to make it once more because the colors in this are so bright and vivid. Love it! I also love where you’re going with all the possibilities with this technique 🙂

    Best of luck with the contest!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you so much!!
      I can’t wait till I have time to try it again…so many possibilities! It’s great to know a technique that gives you more ideas!


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