I’m so excited to share these beautiful bars of soap with you guys! I tried a new technique—a gradient (or ombre) pour—for the very first time, and I love how it turned out. These bars are inspired by all things lemongrass, with that herbal-citrus scent and a slow fade from yellow to green, just like a stalk of lemongrass. An ample dusting of gold mica on the top of the bars is mostly creative license (I’ve yet to find any gold-capped lemongrass in nature!), but I couldn’t resist 😝
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The general gist of the pour pattern is this: start with a thinly traced batter that’s the colour you want on the bottom of the bars (in this case, yellow). Gradually add pigment to shift the batter towards the end colour (green for these bars), pouring small portions of the batter between each addition. These small additions will blend a bit as you pour (make sure you pour over a spatula held close to the surface so they don’t blend too much), and between the slight shifts in batter colour and the small, slightly-self-mixing pours, you get a gradient effect!
As you can probably guess it’s important to maintain a pretty liquidy trace throughout this process so the batter can inter-mix, giving a fade instead of distinct layers. For this reason my batter features a lot of liquid oils and no water discount. This means the end bars are pretty soft at the time of slicing and will need longer to age, but it’s worth it!
Once the pour was complete I let the batter sit in the mold for about twenty minutes to gain a bit of viscosity before scooping and swooping it a bit with the back of a spoon and giving the whole thing a very generous dusting with some gold mica. Tapping the mica through a sieve ensures a fairly even layer, but I’ve also seen people use powder sprayers like this one to get the same effect.
I let these bars saponify for about 48 hours before slicing, but I’d recommend giving them longer if you can—mine were still nerve-wrackingly soft when I sliced them, and a few ended up with inadvertent finger dents from gentle handling. This is a pretty good soap to make before going away on a long weekend! Being out of the house will stop you from slicing them earlier because you can’t wait to see what the insides look like 😄
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Lemongrass Gradient Soap
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
25% beef tallow (wondering why?)
45% olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
5% castor oil (USA / Canada)
Calculate to 5% superfat with “water as % of oils” at 38%
Per 500g fats:
- 30g (1.06 oz) lemongrass essential oil
- 5g (0.18 oz) white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- Green mica or pigment pre-dispersed liquid oil (as needed)
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 procedure before diving in (click that link if you aren’t!).
Prepare your mould—you’ll want a loaf mould for this soap. Melt your oils together in your soaping pot, and have one container with a pouring spout 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).
Lay out your work area so you can easily grab your essential oil and pre-dispersed mica. Prepare your mould by lining it, if required.
Now you’re ready to get started! Begin by blending the kaolin clay into the fats. Once that mixture is smooth, add the lye water and bring to a thin trace. Stir in the essential oil and pour a small amount of the batter (approximately 10%) into the bottom of your mold.
Now we begin the fade towards green! Add enough of your green mixture to slight the batter ever-so-slightly greenish, transfer about 10% of it to your pour-spout container, and gently pour that overtop of the batter already in the mold, breaking its fall with a spatula. Repeat until all the batter is gone—each pour will be progressively green. Take care to work relatively quickly so the last few pours aren’t too thick to blend with the previous ones.
Leave the soap to set up for at least 72 hours before slicing and leaving to age for at least four weeks before using. Enjoy!
Lemongrass is literally my favorite scent ever and this recipe might just get me over my fear of soaping. It’s beautiful and I adore the mica on top. [Insert ‘I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED!’ gif from Invader ZIM here]
AWwwww yeah 😀 This is probably not a straight-up beginner recipe, but at the same time… if it’s not quite as pretty as you were hoping, who cares? It’s still soap, you still made something, and it’ll still smell like lemongrass 😀
I love your written and video tutorials! Just got into making my own soap and I am excited to try this. With the dispersing of pigment in liquid oil, does the amount need to be taken off from the total fats needed?
To answer your question, my only reply is both yes and no. If you are making for sale, then yes as you would need to account for everything going into the pot. If you are just a hobbiest, then it is just really accounting for how much oil to how much mica you are using so you can replicate it if you need too. Some people will remove some oil from their batch and use that. Hopefully this helped you out!
Hi. I just wanted to know when you say the percent. Is it better to convert into grams. Or how do you calculate the percentage.
Check out the video linked in the instructions about SoapCalc—it’ll do all the work for you!
How does this soap lather up?
Really nicely! I’d call it a mid-level creamy lather with bubbles up to ~1.5cm, lovely soapy slip, and beautiful rinse-off.
Just a follow up to my question and your answer. In terms of lather, how does this soap compare to the “Shave it up: Homemade Shaving Soap” that you posted on Oct 5, 2011?
The lather would be very similar. The Shaving Soap might have a bit more delicate bubbles though. If you are looking for a denser lather for shaving, might I suggest this one? I make my soaps usually with a lot more kaolin clay than Marie for I prefer a denser lather! Happy Making!
It looks absolutely stunning!
I was actually just wondering the other day what to do with some olive oil I have and want to use up before it goes rancid, and the 45% olive oil is such lovely news to me!!!
Karina… the answer to all life’s problems is soaping. Oh yes. Soaping. I have to know! Did you make it? And share the pictures on Instagram at #humblebeeandme
can tallow be replaced by palm oil?
Yup! It sure can! Just don’t forget to put your recipe through SoapCalc! And let me know how it turns out #humblebeeandme on Instagram!
Ombrè Soap ROCKS!!! And is so hard not to go ohhhh I need to cut that sucker today!!! LOL! I’m dying to make a yellow and green ombrè one with my neon pigments. And scent it in something wickedly citrussy for summer.
For the mica tops, I find spraying the soap down with rubbing alcohol then a nice thick coating of mica, blowing off the excess. My favourite ones that end up looking like a liquid top, I spray way too much alcohol, then thick coating of mica and moving the soap around- hoping that the soap is finally thick enough and won’t ruin my tops!
How did you find your lemongrass essential oil in your soap? Was there any acceleration? How has the scent lasted?
Oh goodness yes, the temptation to cut it was SO STRONG! I would probably advise making this soap before going away for a long weekend if you’ve got an itchy slicing finger (hand?) LOL.
I LOVE the mica idea and I must try it! The liquid top sounds soooo dang decadent and beautiful—swoon.
I didn’t notice any acceleration with the lemongrass, and I do find it lasts well. This soap is only about 6 weeks old at this point, but it definitely still smells lemongrasssy. Past soaps I’ve made with lemongrass essential oil have held their scent well for a year (if I’m remembering correctly—possibly longer?)—and in any event they do much better in the scent-lasting department than any kind of pure citrus! Dang you, pure citrus and your flightiness in soap!
Marie i think that lemongrass has a way lower usage rate than 5 %!
Good morning Martina!
There are two ways to look at this:
1) When you look at Marie’s formula, she states that per 500g of fats. Then you would add the water and lye and clay on top after running your formula through SoapCalc. If you toss the recipe as is through SoapCalc using 500g of fats at the percentages she lists, you arrive at 775.89g for the total soap weight before cure. Then add in your 5g of clay, and to make it easy, I’m going to just say 800g final soap weight before cure. If you take 30g and divide it by 800, you arrive at 3.75% which is permissible by Cosmetic Assessors here in Europe (depending on the allergen count that is).
2) If you’d prefer to just take a look at just the fats and go by those alone, you are taking 30g of lemongrass essential oil and dividing it by 500g which gives you 6%. This amount is well below the recommended usage rate as outlined in Essential Oil Safety Edition 2 by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young who recommend a dermal maximum of 0.7% for Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil.