Tuesday, April 14, 2009

swirling and briefly about milk soaps (long, sorry)

as i mentioned before, swirling is pretty easy. doing it well takes a lot of practice, but i personally think the concept in and of itself is pretty simplistic. in that previous post, i swirled lavender into my white base soap with pretty nice results. however i am not an excellent swirler which is why the color did not get all the way through the soap. i am not sure how to remedy this except more practice. i also swirled yellow, red-orange, and brown into tan soap with beautiful results.

you want to have your colorant(s) mixed up ahead of time. i use powdered oxides and ultramarines; they are very inexpensive and very stable in soap. they don't bleed, and you can mix them together to make interesting colors. oxides and ultramarines are oil-soluble only so they do need to be mixed ahead of time with a little bit of superfatting oil. they do have the drawback of sometimes clumping in soap so you have to be sure to mix them very well with the oil before stirring into your soap. almost all oxides and ultramarines are manufactured synthetically.

fd&c colorants are also available and come in liquid form. they are safe for soaping but do have a tendency to bleed. they're also pretty cheap. they are water-based, so you can't use them in a lotion bar or lip balm. micas are a kind of hybrid; they are powdered and usually work best in clear soaps or cosmetics. if you make your own cosmetics you need to be sure you use cosmetic-grade micas or those safe for lips (depending on what you are coloring). labcolors are another liquid colorant you can use; i've heard good things about them but i think they're kind of pricey.

you can also color with natural colorants. turmeric makes a great yellow color and is what i used for the yellow in the cedar & saffron soap. chlorophyll, kelp, and spirulina make great greens. alkanet root is wonderful for a dusty purply color.

the basic concept is: stir your soap to trace, usually a somewhat lighter trace than you might normally get to. this is partly so you can cut the color through, partly because it takes a bit of time to swirl and you need the soap to still be liquidy enough to be workable. you can add any fragrances or additives now or later, depending on whether you want them in the swirly part or not.

remove part of the soap from the original batch to a new (non-reactive) container. how much you remove depends on how you want your swirl to look. i generally prefer thin ribbons of color so i don't take out very much. because i don't like to deal with a lot of cleanup when coloring soaps, i pour my "to be colored" soap into a plastic cup and color it in the cup.

mix your additives and fragrances into the base soap, if you haven't already, and pour the base soap into the mold. in the lavender buttermilk castile soap, i added the lavender before removing the "to be colored" soap but added the buttermilk afterwards. in the cedar & saffron swirl, i removed three different cups of soap to be colored and then added in the fragrance and almond meal. the almond meal was not a huge issue, but i added the fragrance (and buttermilk in the other batch) separately because i was not sure how they would affect the coloration of the soap, and i did not want that to affect the soap i had added the colorant to. the cedar & saffron fragrance discolors to light tan; milks in general can cause browning and discoloration. you can also color the base soap if you want to; for example, if you were making a mint chocolate soap with cocoa butter, you could remove soap to be colored dark brown, color the base soap minty green, and swirl the brown into the minty green.

pour your colorant into your reserved soap and stir until well blended. then drizzle slowly into and all through your base soap in the mold. i think if you drizzle slowly and kind of thickly, more colored soap will get to the bottom, but i can't prove this. then get a knife or fork - or use the fork you stirred your colored soap with - and cut the colored soap through the base soap. you don't want to mix it uniformly but you do want it spread throughout. that's it! cover and insulate.

another very easy way to swirl is "in the pot." this doesn't produce a uniform swirl and you do have less control over the swirl but i still like it. to swirl in the pot, remove your "to be colored" soap but don't pour your base soap into the mold yet. color the reserved soap and then pour it back into the pot. i find this worked best when you dump the whole colored bit right into the center of the pot. do not mix the soap anymore. pour your soap into the mold, kind of moving the soap "pour" around the mold as you pour. the movement of the liquid soap from the pot to the mold will swirl the colors together. then cover and insulate.

a note on milk soaps: milk raises the temperature of soap, which is why milk soaps generally do not need to be insulated. this is also why milk soaps tend to discolor brown. personally i don't really mind this as i usually put milk in soaps with other stuff in it, like oatmeal and honey, almond meal, flax seeds, or other natural things. however sometimes a beautiful white soap is just what you want for a milk-based soap, like i wanted for my lavender buttermilk castile soap. the key is to use enough water (no discount) and to make sure your temperatures stay low. remember, it's nice but not crucial for your soap to gel.

with the lavender buttermilk castile soap, the mms lye calculator recommended 8-14 ounces of water (liquid). in my recipe, i used the full 14 ounces of liquid; normally i take a full discount (i'd use 8 ounces of water). i replaced 8 of those ounces with buttermilk, so i only used 6 ounces of water. i mixed my NaOH with the 6 ounces of water and then let it cool completely, i think i left it for 3-4 hours. i let my oils cool completely as well. i also let the buttermilk come to room temperature. i mixed the lye solution with the oils and added the buttermilk at trace, so there was less free NaOH floating around in the raw soap to react with the buttermilk. also, i usually put my soap into a warm (170º) oven for about an hour to conserve heat; this time i just left it on the counter. if you are careful in the way you manage your temperatures, you can make a beautiful white milk soap.

1 comment:

Tabitha (From Single to Married) said...

wow, you are patient!! :) At least you have really cool soap as your end result so I guess the hard work is worth it!