Welcome to holiday soap (and holiday theme) #2 for 2020; Ice Palace Soap! This year’s Ice Palace theme is all about embracing the cool, sparkling beauty of ice and ice sculptures. This cold processed soap channels dazzling wintery wonder with wispy cool-toned swirls and a generous topping of colour shifting micas, and it’s the first of many icy DIYs I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks!
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Because I wanted the soap to be white, the oils I’ve chosen are on the paler side—no big doses of dark green hemp seed oil or bright orange sea buckthorn oil here! The bulk of the soap is a blend of two white saturated fats—beef tallow and refined coconut oil. You could easily use lard instead of tallow. I haven’t soaped with palm oil before, but I would think a refined palm oil would also do the trick. To learn more about why I use tallow in my soap (and other tallow alternatives), please read this blog post.
The rest of the fat blend is a combination of soybean oil and castor oil. You could easily use a different pale liquid oil instead of soybean oil, but please leave the castor oil—it’s a very unique oil in soap, contributing both beautiful lather and creaminess. I did opt to bump the castor oil from my usual 5% to 7% for even more rich, creamy lather!
The colours of this soap were inspired by the beautiful and ephemeral colour shifts of snow and ice around dusk and dawn. Pure white shifts to sparkling blues, purples, pinks, and golds as the sun rises and sets each day, and it is stunning. To really embrace the chilliness of this theme I decided to focus on the cooler colours—blue, pink, and purple. The soap itself has soft, wispy, swirly bits of those colours throughout a white base, and the top has some subtle matching swirls and a liberal dusting of colour-shifting biodegradable glitters.
I opted to leave this soap unscented since ice doesn’t smell like much, but you could easily incorporate a scent if you wanted to. Just make sure whatever you choose isn’t going to colour the soap—large amounts of orange essential oil (or other coloured essential oils) will give you a creamy yellow bar instead of a white one. You’ll also want to research any fragrance oil you might want to use to make sure they aren’t going to accelerate trace or cause the bar to discolour (avoid vanillin—that’ll shift brown over time). If the supplier you purchase your fragrances from doesn’t list information on how the fragrance oil performs in soap, google the name of the fragrance and see if you can find that information from another supplier or the manufacturer.
The making of this soap is fairly simple; I’d say it’s an intermediate soap. If you’re comfortable identifying a thin trace, taking the time to create several different colours of batter, and spending most of your making time on the pour, you’ll be golden (or should I say icy?). Happy making!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Ice Palace Soap
Calculate to 5% superfat with the water at 34% of the fats
Per 500g fats:
To colour (all as needed):
- Purple (Lilac Whisper) mica, pre-dispersed in extra castor oil
- Pink (Blushed Pink) mica, pre-dispersed in extra castor oil
- Blue (Neptune) mica, pre-dispersed in extra castor oil
To top (all as needed):
- Silver-white (Glamour Silver) biodegradable glitter
- Purple (Reflections Lilac) biodegradable glitter
- Pink (Reflections Pink) biodegradable glitter
- Blue (Reflections Blue) biodegradable glitter
Kick things off by calculating out your recipe for the amount of soap you’re making to get the finite amounts of the fats, lye, and water. Unsure about how to use SoapCalc? I made a video to walk you through it! Please ensure you’re familiar with standard soap making procedures before diving in (click that link if you aren’t!).
Put on your safety gear; gloves + eye protection of course, and an apron is also a good idea. The Humblebee & Me branded apron you’ll see in the partner video was gifted by Rush Order Tees (thanks!).
Prepare your mould—you’ll want a loaf mould for this soap. Melt your oils together in your soaping pot, and have three extra containers with pouring spouts handy (I use these awesome funnel pitchers). Let your oils cool to slightly warmer than room temperature. Mix up your lye water and let that cool to about room temperature (you can use ice for part of your water to speed up the cooling process).
Arrange your work area so you can easily grab your micas. Prepare your mould by lining it, if required, and then propping one long edge of it up on something about 0.9”/2.5cm tall—the angle created by this propping is what will create our angled corner. Ensure the mould is stable and well balanced, and that it’s sitting somewhere you can easily access it, but won’t need to move it immediately after pouring.
Now you’re ready to get started! Blend the titanium dioxide and kaolin clay into the fats, and then add the lye water to the melted fats and bring the batter to a thin trace. Pour approximately 1/8th of the batter into each of the three secondary pitchers and leave the remaining 5/8ths of the batter in the main pot.
Using the pre-dispersed micas, colour one of the small parts purple, one part pink, and the last part blue. Leave the bulk of the batter (the stuff in the pot) uncoloured (white).
Now it’s time to pour the soap! Pour the batter in this order: (watch the video to see it in action!)
- And so on… the precise order isn’t super important, just be sure to layer white between each colour and don’t do the same colour twice in a row
When you’ve used up almost all of the coloured batters but still have a single layer of white batter level, level out the mould and use the remaining white batter to create a solid white top. Dot small amounts of coloured batter across the white top, and swirl together with a toothpick. Liberally dust the surface of the soap with the glitter, and leave it to saponify and harden for about three days.
To slice: be sure to slice the soap through the side, rather than through the top, so you don’t drag glitter through the bars (I found it worked best if I used a wire slicer rather than a knife). If you’d like to bevel the edges with a vegetable peeler I’d recommend letting the bars sit for two or three days before you do to reduce the chances of pushing a fingerprint into any of the bars. Leave the soap to age for 3–4 weeks before using or gifting. Enjoy!
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- Before you can make this soap you’ll need to calculate it out with a soap calculator to get finite amounts for the fats, water, lye, and add-ins. I have a tutorial on how to do this here.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil or fragrance you definitely can—include it in your soap calculator calculatrions. Make sure you read the post for things to consider.
- Please read the blog post for information on fat swaps.
- You can use different colours and micas, just make sure whatever you choose will be stable in soap/high pH environments.
- You could use mica instead of glitter on the top of the soap. You also don’t have to use all the different glitters I did—one would be more than sufficient!