Set your sights on swirls!
In the fabulous world of soapmaking, you can create homemade soaps of all kinds, colours, and shapes. You can tackle many exciting challenges, dream up recipes, and try out new combinations! Of course, when you’re just beginning, it’s not easy to know where to start. But we’re here to help you out! This article will teach you how to make “My First Swirled Soap”: a cold process soap recipe that unravels the mysteries of creating lovely swirls in your DIY soaps.
The pattern is beautifully simple and easy to achieve. You can of course change the colours, scents, or even the number of hues. Feel free to make the soap that appeals to you!
Please don’t hesitate to share your photos of your very own “My First Swirled Soap” by email or on our Facebook page. We love seeing your amazing creations!
How to make your own swirled soap
Before you begin
You’ll notice that we make no mention of superfatting in the ingredients list or steps to follow. This is simply because we decided to superfat this soap recipe by reducing the volume of NaOH. However, please note that this recipe uses strawberry aromatic essence: not only does it smell delicious, but it will also contribute to superfatting, as aromatic essences are oil-based. We advise against replacing it with an essential oil, which won’t have the same effect.
You can, however, replace the strawberry aromatic essence with another aromatic essence of your choosing, but keep in mind that some are known to accelerate trace, including honey, pineapple, hibiscus, pomegranate, and jasmine. You should avoid using them in this swirled soap recipe, especially if you’re a beginner soapmaker.
Sodium hydroxide solution
Oil and butter mixture
- 200 g (19.23%) coconut oil
- 50 g (4.81%) shea butter
- 75 g (7.21%) cocoa butter
- 330 g (31.73%) olive oil
- 75 g (7.21%) castor oil
- 2 scales, accurate to 1 g and 0.1 g
- 1 large Pyrex measuring cup or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) jar for the sodium hydroxide solution (with a minimum capacity of 500 ml)
- 1 jar for weighing the sodium hydroxide
- 1 pipette
- Components to make a double boiler
- 1 measuring funnel pitcher (900 ml)
- 1 large stainless steel bowl
- 1 thermometer
- 1 silicone loaf mold
- 1 ramekin
- 1 immersion blender
- Several spoons
- 1 regular silicone spatula
- 1 small silicone spatula
- Personal protective gear
Good to know!
- To make swirled soap, you normally want to work with a light trace. If your batter reaches medium trace right away, don’t panic! It will still work; just use the spatula instead of the immersion blender as soon as you reach medium trace. That should give you enough time to swirl the soap before it’s too thick!
- Pink clay not only colours the soap but will also make it even gentler on your skin.
- The saponified oils provide this soap with beautiful properties:
- Coconut oil hardens soap, cleanses, and provides great lather.
- Shea butter hardens soap and provides a silky, creamy lather.
- Cocoa butter hardens soap and provides creamy lather.
- Olive oil makes soap much milder.
- Castor oil hardens soap and provides a creamy, stable lather.
Steps to follow
- Prepare and disinfect your equipment and workspace.
- Take the necessary precautions for handling sodium hydroxide safely.
- Prepare the sodium hydroxide solution: weigh the water in a Pyrex measuring cup or HDPE pot, weigh the sodium hydroxide, pour the sodium hydroxide into the water, mix well, and set aside to cool.
- Using a pipette, weigh the aromatic essence in a ramekin.
- Weigh the coconut oil and shea and cocoa butters in the large stainless steel bowl. Melt on the double boiler. Once melted, remove the mixture from the heat and add the olive and castor oils. Mix together and set aside.
- Weigh the pink clay in the measuring funnel pitcher.
- Add two to three tablespoons of the oil and butter mixture to the clay. Disperse the clay thoroughly using the small spatula.
- When the oil and butter mixture and the sodium hydroxide solution have both cooled to 37–45°C, pour the sodium hydroxide solution into the oil and butter mixture while stirring with the spatula. Continue to stir with the spatula until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Mix with the immersion blender at the machine’s lowest setting. Stop the blender every 20 seconds and check for trace. Taking breaks helps prevent the blender’s motor from overheating and helps avoid reaching thick trace. At thick trace, it’s difficult to create swirled patterns.
- At thin trace, add the aromatic essence. Mix well with the spatula first, then with the immersion blender, still on the machine’s lowest setting, until homogeneous.
- Pour about half of the mixture into the measuring funnel pitcher containing the pink clay. Mix with the small spatula and then the immersion blender, again on the lowest setting, until the batter is evenly coloured.
- Pour the pink batter into the uncoloured batter, in the bowl. Using the spatula, stir one or two circles in the bowl. The more circles you make, the more swirls you’ll create. Be careful: if you stir the batter too much, the colours will begin to blend.
- Immediately pour the batter into the mold. Tap the mold on the table or counter to push any bubbles to the top and to distribute the soap batter evenly throughout the whole mold.
- Cover the soap for 24–48 hours.
- Unmold the soap while wearing gloves. Cut and leave in a cool, dry place to cure for four to six weeks.
Use and conservation
This cold process soap recipe is formulated for body use. It is suitable for all skin types.
Store your soap in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. When made in optimal sanitary conditions, your homemade soap will keep for at least one year.