August 2016 Soap Challenge – Dancing Funnel

Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge this month is the Dancing Funnel technique, with guest teacher Tatsiana Serko who taught the March 2016 Rimmed Soap Challenge. (See March 19, 2016 Blog for more information on that challenge.)


Apple Sage Herb Garden – soap submitted in challenge contest


Scroll down to the Second Batch to skip over the big fail.


First Batch:
Sugar Plum in 6-bar mold

Have you ever felt that you were SO Not in the Groove? I always know that if I feel that way, it’s not a good time to soap. However, sometimes I have a very limited window for soaping and this was the day, so I pressed on. Obviously you know the end of the story…

This was definitely going to be a practice batch, as the scent I was using was new to me (Plum Tea) and a little suspect as to it’s behavior. Of course it behaved very badly – accelerating and ricing. Just in case, I had planned for this by covering the bottom of my mold with a peacock positive impression mat.


I had really wanted to try this fragrance, as it is being discontinued. Here’s the description of BB Plum Tea: This clean fruity floral has been described as “autumn rain on flower garden.” After a lovely white tea, damask plum, and herb notes, this fragrance is beautifully supported with sweet notes of honeydew melon, quince apple, lily of the valley and chamomile. The scent finishes with a touch of black tea to add depth and tamp down on the sweetness. (And it smells wonderful!)

But two of the reviews said there was a slight acceleration. Several mentioned how light the fragrance was (so naturally I added more, which of course upped the acceleration factor.)

I also added a hint of BB Cinnamon Sugar.

The Plan:
(See August 1, 2016 Blog for soap recipe.)

Master batch #4 oils: 30 oz oils (850 grams) = 44 oz /2.75lb soap
5% Lye: 4.26 oz / 121 grams
Distilled water (no discount): 9.9 oz / 280 grams
Sodium Lactate: 9 grams

Batter/ Colors/ Scent:
35 oz for main/base in BB Radiant Plum color with 2.5 oz Plum Tea FO.
9 oz for edge/outer in TKB Blaze Orange, with .25 oz Cinnamon Sugar FO & .25 oz Vanilla Stabilizer (to counter the discoloration)

Soaping at 110 degrees, I put all of the Plum Tea in my oils and stick blended the lye into the oils for a few seconds – stopping before emulsification. The acceleration did the rest – and then some.

I separated out 9 oz for the orange and colored the rest with Plum. I always mix up way too much color, and this time I wanted to mix up the correct amount – why get picky now? I don’t know…return to the first line about not being in the groove!

Of course I used up all the color and needed more. But things were moving too fast to stop and prepare any. So the plum is more of a pink.

I added my colored batter into squirt bottles and practiced putting down my circles until it was too stiff to continue. I glopped in the rest of the batter and put into a 150 degree oven for 2 hours, turned it off and let it sit for 8 hours, un-molding the next morning.

I use 150 degrees instead of the recommended 170 degrees because I live at an altitude of 6000 feet, and 150 worked the best in the past (water and everything else boils at a much lower temperature at this altitude.)

It was also good practice putting down my dots & circles. And I found it easy to mistakenly put the orange directly on the plum color – oops…practice, practice.

The Un-Molding:

It’s fascinating to see how those little dots of orange took over the entire area because they were so thick that the other color couldn’t penetrate it. I also didn’t take into account that with the very stiff soap, it would not go into the finer areas of the impression mat:


The Cut:



I have since dusted the tops with BB Copper Sparkle Mica, which has pulled out some of the fine lines in the impression mat and make them look a little snazzier. (It’s so nice to be able to “make lemons into lemonade!”)



FYI on Fragrance Blend: I would not recommend the Cinnamon Sugar with the Plum Tea. I was looking for something to sweeten the Plum up a bit, but the cinnamon is not quite right. Fortunately, it is only in the orange color, which there is very little of. (I should have taken the time to make a test bar.)


Second Batch:
Apple Sage Herb Garden in 6-bar mold

I feel like it’s time to start thinking about fall and some autumn scents (and colors), so I wanted to soap with a combo of Sunny Herb Garden and Apple Sage fragrances.


  • BB Sunny Herb Garden: There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh picked herbs. This fragrance combines the fresh aromas of rosemary, thyme, sage, and basil with a soft lavender undertone. No A or D.
  • BB Apple Sage: A refreshing blend of sweet, juicy apple and herbaceous sage.  Top notes of pineapple mingle with a touch of coconut water and an rich, earthy base. This fragrance is sweet, fresh and mouthwatering. No  A, D, or R.

The Plan:
Same master batch oils, lye-water, and sodium lactate as previous batch.

The Plan: 1:1 Apple Sage FO & Sunny Herb Garden FO – 2.6 oz total: 1.3 oz of each FO.
The Reality: (I ran out of Sunny Herb Garden)
.8 oz Sunny Herb Garden
.1 oz Basil EO
.4 oz Neroli & Shea Blossom
1.3 oz Apple Sage

I knew I might not have quite enough Sunny Herb Garden, so I had the other scents ready. It’s amazing that with only .1 oz of Basil, it seemed to over power the other scents. I judiciously checked all four fragrances and none had even a hit of acceleration.

Batter/ Colors:
9 oz TKB #30 True Red
12 oz BB Green Apple LabColor
12 oz TKB Blaze Orange
12 oz TKB #10 Lake Yellow

Yes, my colors were very ambitious. I had my lye water and oils at about 112 degrees when I combined them and stick blended for 5 seconds or less. I heated up my fragrance and added it to my batter after mixing the colors. The soap was so watery I thought I should wait a while before starting. But fortunately I didn’t, and they all started thickening up as I started to pour them into my bottles.

This seems to be a theme lately with my soap challenges. When I’m not doing them, I wait & wait with my batter as it’s too thin to do anything. But not when I’m doing a challenge!

Heating my fragrance was the only thing I did differently (it’s supposed to help prevent or slow down acceleration – in this case I think it did the opposite.) I would love to hear from anyone that has had any experience with this.

All planned out and after the fact:

The pours seemed to go well. I think a few of my red dots might have been a little big. The yellow doesn’t stand out much in this photo, even though the colors were very distinctive. I carefully tapped down my mold, but it seemed to mess up my design on the top edge. (You can also see that my batter got a bit thick in the end):


I covered & put the mold in the oven at 150 degrees for 2 hours, then turned it off and un-molded it the next morning. Top & Bottom:

My usual way of gelling is in my small bathroom, wrapped in towels, with a space heater on for 2 hours. It will stay warm generating it’s own heat and I un-mold the next day. I prefer that method, as I don’t get the “wrinkled old man” effect that happens in the oven.


The Cut:

The first cut was halving the loaf…It looks cool when the two edges are put side by side:


The Finished bars: (planed, edged, & steamed)


Photo submitted in Challenge Contest

Different Background:


This technique was both challenging and fun, and was a lot harder than it looks.

A record 361 soapers signed up for this event: 290 from the USA and 71 from several other countries. 100 submitted their soaps for judging in two categories: 28 in the all-natural group and 72 in the synthetic. I entered in the second category finishing #14.


34 comments on “August 2016 Soap Challenge – Dancing Funnel

  1. Amy Warden says:

    Great job, Sly! I’ve never tried heating my fragrance before, so that was interesting – especially if it actually did the opposite of the intended. 😛 The final soap looks fabulous though!! I just love that Apple Sage fragrance and your color palette is perfect for it. (We actually had 71 soapers who are outside the U.S. – how many countries are represented, I couldn’t say. Still an amazing turnout!!)


  2. soapsbysly says:

    Thank you for your very kind comments.
    I appreciate the correction on the countries – I obviously miss-read that and I will rectify it.
    It Really is an amazing turnout! I can’t wait to see everyone’s soaps!


  3. I think they’re both pretty! The colors are fabulous. I wish you good luck on the challenge! I think Sly, and I may be wrong, but you had mentioned to me on April Copeland of Essentera Soaps blog about a salt bar, quite a few months back. I tried commenting but I have such trouble commenting on blogs for some reason! I did end up making a successful salt bar. And if that wasn’t you, I apologize!!! I do talk to April and her family sometimes and she’s doing well in her recovery.


    • soapsbysly says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you talk to April. I think of her often, especially when I use her soaps & lotions. I’m so glad to hear that she is doing well…the recovery must be so difficult and I hope she is in high spirits. Please say hi to her for me and give her my best regards.
      I understand about commenting on blogs – I try too and it’s frustrating when they don’t go through. The Facebook ones seem to rarely work for me.
      Thank you for your kind words.


  4. What a bright and happy color palette! These are amazing.


  5. Very stunning, love you color and scent selections


  6. Lovely bright colors, and it seems to fit your choise of fragrance. Love your blogpost, very informative. Good luck!


  7. Holly says:

    Your colors are so bright and beautiful! The soaps are just stunning. Good luck! 🙂


  8. Naomi Fraser says:

    I think your soap looks fantastic. Lots of fun colours!


  9. omneyaswish says:

    Your soap looks so juicy!!! I love it..Amazing job Sly 🙂


  10. Helene says:

    Your soap makes me happy 🙂 Such bright and fun colours!!


  11. Edmonds says:

    Fantastic job Sly! I like your planning for the first batch, and it worked out very pretty! The colors on your entry are so nice and intense! It reminds me of fruit salad with Pineapple, cantaloupe, melon, and strawberry jello. I wish I could smell it! 🙂


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you so much!
      The “fruit salad” colors are a little out of my usual, as I’m more into purples, pinks, turquoise, etc. But I knew that wouldn’t do with Apple Sage and Herb Garden scents. Plus it’s always good to try new things!


  12. Bonnie Howard says:

    I love the bright sunny colors of your entry. So pretty. I have never tried heating my FO’s before but I might give it a try. I can tell you though that the only time I used Sunny Herb Garden I mixed it with a Pine scent and I did get acceleration. I have been afraid to try it again.


    • soapsbysly says:

      I used Sunny Herb Garden a year ago and did a complicated zebra swirl with 6+ colors…no acceleration. And the Apple Sage did not accelerate when I used it before either.

      I’ve heated FO’s with oil before and didn’t notice any change, so maybe it had no affect at all.

      I knew I was taking a chance on the Plum Tea, as several people reviewed it with “slight acceleration” and faint scent. I figured more scent would equal more acceleration and of course it did.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments.


  13. Claudiva says:

    Sly, I love your color choices — such a cheerful, happy soap, and looks like it’s on fire!

    I know it’s not relevant, but I got distracted by your impression mat, as I adore all things peacock. Where did you get it?

    (BTW, I’ve never heard of heating an FO, but it didn’t sound like it worked. I read that lecithin can slow things down, but haven’t tried it. I have a few FO’s that decelerate, and I usually add in one of those, like half. I try to soap at < 80F if I can, and gel at 140F for 2 hours. It seems like I always plane off the tops with this kind of swirl, but I didn't notice any wrinklies at that temperature.

    Also, I am totally overwhelmed by the number of oils you include in your master batches. I usually stick with simple recipes, but cheat by letting Costco improve on olive oil with their mediterranean blend. I mostly go by the fatty acid profiles of the oils, and ignore everything else, so it would be very interesting to compare them…)


  14. Lisa Rapp says:

    Beautiful, I just love red and the soap looks great both of the impression mat soap is very nice too.


  15. Debi says:

    Thank you for such great information, Sly! Boy, your practice batch is truly stunning! I am just drooling over the colors and the design and that mat is fabulous!

    As for your entry soap, INCREDIBLE! The colors remind me so much of our aspens in the fall. You did a really great job on the technique too. I like how well defined the layers are from the sides (mine just kind of squished together and look extra ugly) I love the chunky cut of the bars too.

    Another winner!


  16. soapsbysly says:

    You are extraordinarily kind and generous with your praises – Thank you so very much!


  17. carmeniclodean says:

    Oh Sly!! I’m in love with your choice of colors!! And both of your soaps are stunning!!!


  18. Nicole says:

    wow, your soap is definitely the brightest one!! i absolutely love the colors and how you chose such a bright color for the outlines, it is stunning


  19. Cris Bean says:

    Nice job on your selection for the challenge. Nice save on that first batch too.


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