Soap Challenge – Week 1

Thank you to everyone who has shown interest in the weekly soap challenge!! We have nearly 50 soapmakers who are planning to join us – nine are newbies, 24 are intermediate, and 16 are pros. (Some of you claim to be intermediate, but I know better!!)

The challenge for this week is to create beautiful soaps with in-the-pot swirls. Here is the video tutorial (if you want to skip to the intermediate-pro version, it starts around 9:35):

A couple things about formulating your soap:

1. You are free to use any soap recipe that you like!

2. If you decide to use cocoa powder for your swirl, I recommend mixing it with a bit of oil (it won’t work with water) before adding it to the soap. It will clump if you add it without dispersing it first! Two teaspoons of cocoa powder per cup of soap will yield a dark chocolate brown.

3. Ultramarines and oxides are also great choices. Usage rate is much less than other colorants – 1/4 tsp. per cup of soap will give plenty of color! Some are water soluble, some are oil soluble. This varies from supplier to supplier, so the only way to know which is which is to test them yourself. If it works in water, I would go with water. It doesn’t change the outcome of the soap as much.

4. Clays are water soluble and usage rate varies, but you can start with half to one tsp. per cup of soap.

About sharing your work at the end of the week:

1. Be sure to take photos of your finished, cut soap! If you have a blog, please post about your soap challenge. If you like to make videos – even better!

2. I will post on Saturday with photos of my cut soaps and a linky deal where you can add the link to your blog post and a brief description. It will show a thumbnail of your photo (you can choose which one if you have more than one), and we can click over to your blog to read about your soap.

3. If you don’t have a blog, you can still upload a photo into the linky deal directly from your computer!

4. The linky deal will open at 6am CST each Saturday.

If you have any questions about the challenge, please post your comments on this post. (If the screen goes white or gives an error message when you submit your comment, don’t worry, I still got it! I have some sort of bug that needs fixing!) And for those of you who like to be able to plan ahead, here is a schedule of the next four weeks:

Week 2: starts March 25 – Milk soap
Week 3: starts April 1 – Piping Cold Process Soap (you’ll need decorating tips and a bag!)
Week 4: starts April 8 – Making soap with alcohol
Week 5: starts April 15 – Mixing your own essential oil or fragrance blends

Page with Comments

  1. I’m in. I don’t use my koinoniacommunity blog anymore. Maybe I’ll revive it.

  2. I learned much from this. I never knew about spraying alcohol on top. I still don’t know why SOMETIMES I get ash with the same base, but different fragrances. The last time I thought perhaps it was due to SLOW saponification without long enough insulation. Also, what percent fragrance do you use? I’ve been having quick traces lately, but also increased my EO/FO somewhat (from 3% of oils to 3.5%) and thought perhaps that was the problem. It’s been hard mixing colors and getting them into the mold on time, so I’m afraid to try so many colors. What’s odd is I’ve also increased my water quite a bit and I’m still having problems. I think it’s the fragrance. My temps are in the 90’s. Thanks for the push! I think I’ll try going beyond what I normally do this week to participate in the challenge.

  3. Oh, I’m hoping I can find the time to do this challenge this week! All of them look interesting to me, aside from piping soap but ya never know! 🙂 Thanks for giving me something fun to do soap-wise!

  4. @Tina – Fragrance oil usage depends on the supplier and sometimes the fragrance itself. Most are good at 0.5 oz. ppo (according to SoapCalc) I added 1 oz. to the 6-bar batch, and 4 oz. to the 24-bar batch. I’m guessing it could be the fragrance causing the problem. My temps are usually in the 90’s as well.

  5. Thanks, Amy! I’ll go back to my prior usage amounts which were equivalent to .5 PPO. These challenges are so awesome. I’ve just signed up for cake decorating classes at Joann’s because I want to experiment with cupcake and cake soaps. Your timing is excellent. God is good!

  6. Amy, This looks like so much fun!! Unfortunately I don’t have the time at this point to participate but I will be following avidly and maybe at some point in the future!!! Awesome! xo Jen

  7. This is such a great idea and I appreciate your doing this! I am an adventurous soaper-willing to try any technique so this series will continue to broaden my horizons…I don’t have a blog yet, but plan to start one soon, but I will definitely be playing along at home. Thanks again!

  8. Hi there Amy, can we all have a go or do we have to be chosen as such? I think I did try to send you a request but it did not post on the site, probably as you had so many posts to your original call!!! Can I take part? Id love to shift the February blues by doing some experimental soap making and this will force me to do it. Can you let me know?

  9. Hi,

    I am new to soaping and I only know m&p. Can I use this technique with m&p or does this give instructions for me to get started with cp? This seems so fun I hate not to join

  10. @Monique – This is probably not going to help you learn cp…I would check out SoapQueenTV on YouTube or to get the basics of cp before joining the Soap Challenge.

  11. What a great, fun journey to enjoy with other soapers! Count me in! Thanks for organizing all of it! 🙂 Good luck to all the participants!

  12. I did cphp. Hope that’s ok. I’ve been striking out with scents in my usual recipe. I did try some swirls with no fo. Can’t seem to make that work with fo.

  13. I would like to join the challenge! I am a beginner with only 10 batches of cold process under my belt (and not all of them were successful)! I hope I can learn some new techniques and problem solve the batches that do not go well with others in the soaping community.

  14. Just wanted to say that it’s never too late to join the Soap Challenge!! Each week will have a different technique, none of them building on the others, so anyone could jump in wherever we happen to be. 🙂

  15. I think this challenge is a wonderful idea -what a great way to practice, focus & try something NEW! 🙂 I’m hoping to participate in most if not all (that is if I’m not too late!) Great video, boy you’re great at knowing WHEN to QUIT stirring! -Don’t you always want to give it “just one more stir” ?? ~Becky

  16. @Becky – Woo hoo!! So glad you’ll be joining us! I dunno about the stirring thing…the reason I know not to over-stir is because I’ve definitely done it!!

  17. I’d like to try this too. I’ve been making soap since last August, but don’t have a lot of spare time so haven’t yet tried all the techniques I’ve seen. My swirls so far have been disappointing so this will be good practice!

  18. I am a newbie, just been soaping since last August. This challenge sounds like fun. I did the soap last night using 4 colors, but no scent. I thought it might be less confusing since I had only tried one color before. It has been all I can do to wait the 24 hours to cut it. I am looking forward to the coming weeks. Loved your video, it sure helped. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

  19. I’d like to be included…better late than never? I have an ITP swirl I attempted on Tuesday, I’ll post pics this Tuesday (my day off)…looking forward to the next challenge!
    I guess I am an intermediate beginner!
    Thank you Amy, for all the work you’re putting into this. I am considering it Soap School!
    lather up,

  20. I am a intermidiate soaper and I would love to be a part of this. I don’t have a website though and I am not that computer savy.

  21. @Barbara – Glad you will be joining us! It will be a lot of fun!!

    @Venus – Not everyone has a website – it’s not a requirement to be part of the challenges. You can just upload a photo of your soap! (I can help if you need it.)

  22. @Kimberly – Your soap looks great!! I’m glad you finally decided to cut it – you never know what you’ll find inside. Sometimes it’s the best surprise! 🙂

  23. Im a beginner soap maker pretty much! Can’t wait to try the challenge. Will be doing it at my own pace 🙂 Thank you for encouraging people to try different things 🙂

  24. Hi,

    My swirl portion got very thick on me and I couldn’t pour it. Was there something that I could have done to save it?

  25. @Yvonne – Probably not to create an in-the-pot swirl. When this happens to me, I just end up smushing it all in the mold and hoping for the best! After a batch goes wrong, then you want to try to figure out what happened so you can (hopefully!) prevent it from happening the next time – it’s all a learning experience! 🙂

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