This pretty Love Lines Valentine Soap is great for use all year, but the pretty red mica veins in it are quite lovely for Valentine’s Day, as are the pretty shimmery swirls on top. It also smells like roses and vanilla—yum!
I tried a few new things with this batch of Valentine soap. The most obvious one is the mica veins, which are quite fun and delightfully easy to do. I love the look of them and have meant to give them a go for ages, and finally got around to it!
The second thing is a new (to me) variation on room temperature soaping. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I tend to soap by letting my oils and lye water cool to room temperature, rather than trying to juggle them to meet somewhere around 43°C (110°F). Since I started doing that I’ve had a few readers tell me about a version where you don’t melt anything first, letting the heat of the lye water do that for you. Because lye + water is an exothermic (heat releasing) reaction, the idea is that you could put your oils in your pot, mix your lye water, and add that hot lye water to the oils. The heat from the lye water would melt the oils, and you could just go straight to trace from there. Colour me intrigued!
One of my concerns about this method was getting all the butters to melt easily. I didn’t want to be put in a position where I’d have to heat up a pot of soap batter, so after I measured out all the oils, I creamed them with electric beaters like I would if I was making cookies. This gave me an amazing, creamy pot of butters and oils that made me think I should use my soap formula for whipped body butter, but it also gave me a big pot of easily meltable oils and butters.
Up next was making the lye water. Simple enough, though I quickly remembered just how noxious lye fumes are since I usually stir and walk away, and here I was working with the water fairly quickly after mixing it up. Learn from my dumb—hold your breath during the initial dump and stir, and then walk away for a few minutes before getting back into things. Also be sure to work in a well ventilated area.
A quick check of my thermometer showed that my lye water was around 70°C (160°F) when I poured it into the oils. Because I’d whipped the oils there was a fair amount of foam to start with. That did go away by the time the batter had traced, but I would recommend making sure your ingredients only fill up about half of your pot if you’re going to do it this way so you can leave room for that head foam.
I stirred the mixture with a spatula as I waited for the oils to melt, which they did quite obligingly. Once everything had melted together and I had a thin, opaque mixture with no noticeable chunks in it, I broke out the immersion blender to bring it to trace. The batter didn’t trace as quickly as I thought it should, considering it was warmer than I usually soap at, but it still came together fairly quickly.
From there it was time to dress it up and turn it into a Valentine soap with clay and titanium dioxide (so it would be nice and white) and essential oils (I did use rose fragrance oil here to avoid spending $300+ on the real thing). And then it was time for mica veins! To start with, we want to be sure your batter is around the cake batter thick; not too thick, but able to support its own weight. Put some batter down, and then use a sieve or flour sifter to dust a fine layer of mica over the soap. Gently spoon and spread another layer of soap batter over top, and repeat. If you want to be very tidy, use rubbing alcohol to wipe down the sides of the mould so the mica doesn’t smear the edges of your soap (confession: I was lazy. My edges are smeared and spotty.). Soap Queen has a great tutorial here as well.
Love Lines Valentine Soap
25% olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
30% beef tallow
15% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
5% castor oil (USA / Canada)
Calculate to 5% superfat
Per 500g (1.1lbs) oils:
- 1 tbsp white white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- 2 tsp titanium dioxide
- 15g | 0.53oz rose essential oil or fragrance oil
- 15g | 0.53oz benzoin essential oil
- ~2 tbsp red or pink mica (I used this one)
Begin by running the recipe through SoapCalc to determine exactly how much of all the ingredients you’ll need.
Ensure you’re familiar with basic cold process soaping how to—if you are, the instructions above about room temperature soaping should be more than enough to get you going! If not, give this a read.
Once your soap has reached a cake batter level of trace thickness, we’re ready to dive into the pouring and veining.
I did three veins, but you’re more than welcome to do more or less. For three, start by pouring soap into your mould until it’s about one quarter full (three veins go in between four layers of soap batter). Spread that soap out so it’s reasonably smooth, and then dust it with a thin layer of mica (take care—too much and the layers can separate after the fact!). I used a sieve to do this, but a flour sifter would be great, too. After each dusting, carefully wipe down the walls of your mould with isopropyl alcohol to remove any stray sprinkles of mica.
Repeat this, gently spooning the new layers of soap on to avoid denting your seam.
For the swirl topping: mix about 1/2 tsp of mica with a bit of liquid oil (whatever you have on hand is fine—I think I used more castor) in a small dish. Pour lines of it across the top of the soap. Then, take a toothpick and drag a checkerboard in the soap—back and forth and then up and down.
Cover and let saponify for 24 hours before cutting. I recommend cutting this soap through the side rather than down through the top so you don’t drag the topping and the seams down across the pretty white soap bit. Age for at least three weeks before using. Enjoy!
Thank you! 🙂
I used to soap using the lye water to melt my hard oils, it works great in the summer, but come fall, winter, and cool spring, I discovered I had to microwave my hard oils (especially lard/tallow) just a bit – like a minute – to keep from getting clumps of unmelted oils. Really though, creaming them together is just an extra step that can be skipped. I haven’t paid attention to soaping temps since my first batch of soap. I tried it once (ain’t nobody got time for that), and went straight to using the lye water to melt. Now I masterbatch my oils in 6lb qty’s, so it’s a loose lotion consistency (I use right around 45% liquid oils) at room temp. I just measure the oils, wait for my lye liquid to become uncloudy, and then slowly pour the lye water down the stickblender shaft. It works beautifully!
When I first discovered soaping, the room temperature method was the first I tried and I had great success with it! I never thought to cream the butters – I just would cut my shea butter into small pieces as the coconut oil always melted much more easily. It really is a simple way to get into soaping. However, I discovered that during the winter months, I was getting a false trace (and sadly had to rebatch a few soaps). I realized that with my recipe of about 50% solid fats they were starting to solidify faster than I could reach trace! But unfortunately it looks the same and I would only tell once I started to unmould.
My solution that I’ve tried in the last few months is I suppose a hybrid between room temperature and cold process. I set up a double boiler and I melt my solids. When they are just melted, I prepare my lye mixture and then I combine. I don’t bother checking temperatures – I figure I’ve just given the solid oils a boost so I don’t get a false trace anymore! This has been working beautifully for me in these cold Canadian winter months 🙂
Awesome, thanks for sharing 🙂 I’ve definitely heard from professional soapers that the temperature matching bit really isn’t important, which I find rather amusing considering how much it’s presented as “gospel truth” around the internet!
In response to your comment about foam, I never heat my oils and have not seen any foam when I add the lye.
Yes, I presume the foam is all from the creaming; it certainly introduces a lot of air into the mix.
Beautiful soap Marie! I can’t wait to try this technique. I’ve seen it on Soap Queen too and think it makes a beautiful bar of soap. I just love how you’ve done it in Valentine’s Day colors! I must tell you, your All in one soap recipe is my go to recipe when I soap. It is, hands down, the best recipe I’ve ever made and it is a treat for the skin! The last batch I made I put a pinch of Tussah silk in the lye water and mixed kaolin clay, French pink clay, aloe Vera 200x powder, oat powder and goats milk powder in the oils, brought to trace, and scented it with bergamot and pink grapefruit. That is one yummy bar of soap! Thank you for sharing all of your creations!
Thanks, Belinda! I’m so glad you’re loving the All in One soap, I use it all the time and it’s such a fantastic base for everything 🙂 Your silk + oak + goat milk bar sounds utterly divine!
I cant do that method because I use goats milk as my liquid and I have to keep that pretty cooled down or the sugars in the milk burn and turn a orange color. But if I make a batch with an herbal tea I definitely will try this method. Marie, do you insulate all your soap so it gels or do you let it sit and harden without it being insulated? Or do you put it in the freezer so it doesn’t gel? Your soap is always so pretty and decorative and doesn’t look like its gelled at all. Just wondering what your method is. Been following you for a bit and have made some of your recipes. I use vegetable Crisco in my soap but and it hardens pretty good but its made with some palm oils but would love to use tallow if I can find it. All I can find in our stores is lard and I really don’t like that stuff but mite give it a try. Anyway your great and thanx for all the wonderful recipes.
Yes, this definitely isn’t a good method for a milk soap 🙂
I don’t tend to insulate or really fuss about gelling, I just leave the mould on the counter and let it do its thing! My house is pretty cold, though, and dips to ~15°C overnight.
Ask your local butcher for tallow! They have it, but it’s usually a waste product. You’ll have to process it yourself, but it’s not hard 🙂
Well as always you never fail to amaze. Your skin care products are always beautiful. This soap is amazingly pretty. You are talented and have a great imagination. I look so forward to all your emails.
Thank you Marie.
I do hope you are having a wonderful day.
Thank you so much, Darlene! 🙂
Hi, I think it is great that you use tallow in your soap. I see many “eco” type soaps with just about nothing except palm oil in them advertising themselves as “free from nasty animal fat”. I fail to see what is nasty about animal fat; Makes a great soap, environmentally friendly.
Thank you so much, Mia—obviously I agree with you 😉
thanks for this beautiful tutorial. I always soap room temp cold process.Love it. In the winter, I set my hard oils by the heater so they are softer and it works great. I add lye over hard oils, stick blend then add liquid oils. Does benzoin smell like vanilla and hold up in soap? I have been searching for a natural, not fo, vanilla scent.
Thanks for the tips, Alane 🙂 And yes, benzoin is vanilla-y and holds up quite well in soap. It’s also pretty inexpensive as far as EOs go!
Just wondering if this new method of soaping is integral to this recipe (as in how it looks as it came out) or if its just a fun thing to play with that can be duplicated to other recipes? Thanks!
Hi Jade! It’s just a fun thing to play with 🙂 You will need to CP this recipe to get the veins, but you’re welcome to that in any way you’re comfortable with.
Do you think it’s possible to use clay (e.g. red) instead of mica here?
Hmm… probably. I haven’t tried it, but I look forward to hearing about it if you do!
Okay, I gave it a try using red Australian clay, and I do not recommend it! What a mess!! The clay does not “set” (for want of a better word) and when you cut, it pulls the clay through the soap and makes it streaky – even if you cut it on its side and be very very careful. Plus, a small amount of powdered clay goes a long way… Oh well. Luckily my family aren’t fussy
Thanks so much for sharing, Belinda! This is great to know 🙂 I guess the low pigmentation of mica has its advantages here. I wonder if diluting the red clay in something like sericite mica might help? Hmmm. Anyhow, thanks so much for giving it a go and letting me know what happened, it’s muchly appreciated!
Super random but I noticed NDA no longer sells titanium dioxide anymore which is a little concerning for me considering titanium dioxide is already a controversial topic. Any thoughts on this?
Yup, I wrote an FAQ on it! And, from watching NDA change over the last 5 years, I’d chalk it up more so to them moving more into the bulk butters and oils market and away from cosmetics; they’ve stopped selling many of the ingredients I use for cosmetics in the last 4 years, and they’ve also stopped selling sample sizes for many things.
H, Marie! First off, I LOVE this recipe! Thanks for sharing it! 🙂
I have a question regarding your mold, though. What size mold did you use? I have a 10 inch silicone, which holds appx. 50 oz. of soap. In running everything through SoapCalc, I ended up (using ounces) with 2.5 oz. Castor Oil, 12.5 oz. Coconut Oil, 12.5 oz. Olive Oil, 7.5 oz. Cocoa Butter (that’s what I currently have on hand), and 15 oz. Palm Oil (again, what I have on hand, and in place of tallow since I don’t use it).
SoapCalc has me sitting at 19 oz. of water & 7.10 oz of lye. Weight before cure is 79 oz. That’s 29 oz. over what my mold will hold, of course, and I’m just wondering if all of this seems correct? Thanks so much!!
Hey Maevyn! Here’s an overview of my mould 🙂 It does sound like the batch size you ran will be too large for your mould, so you should probably scale it down.
Beautiful soap! My batch has finally cured and love using this bar. One observation, the red oil swirl on the top bleeds/stains with fierce intensity.
I deviated from your recipie slightly and used some liquid red pigment from TKB (red oxide in castor oil) in my stash. Wondering if your soaps were doing the same thing (red mica vs red oxide)? Mica oil swirl tops are so gorgeous, would hate to have give them up. Thanks!
Thanks, Renee! The staining you’re encountering is because you used red oxide instead of the mica; oxides are significantly more pigmented than micas.
As one of those who commented on this on earlier posts, I’m thrilled to see you finally tried it! 😀 I just want to say though, I actually prep my lye the night before and let in cool overnight and then do my oils and blending in the morning. It’s great to learn I can actually just wait for my lye to clear and then go to town! ^_^ I’ve also never used a thermometer in soap making at all. The minute I found your original room temp post, I was sold. No thermometers meant I could jump right into soaping sooner, without bothering about yet another item to buy!
That said, I’ve not yet had any issues with my tallow not melting in your All In One recipe – but, our house is kind of ridiculously warm, even in winter (my dad’s a wuss about cold). I did have to heat my last batch a bit, but it was ALL tallow, so there was considerable more to melt. Those bars have come out wonderfully, btw, and we’re looking forward to using them next time we need a new bar in the shower. We’re also planing to try them on our dog when it’s time for his next bath.
I also don’t fuss with insulating or trying to force gel. I tend to put my mold in the oven (with the oven OFF) to avoid the odd family member messing with my soap (as I just use light, aluminum, disposable bread pans), but my bars come out a very similar consistency and texture to what yours look like in your photos. I assume gelling forces the mix to clear somewhat? But I love the creamy look of an opaque bar, so I doubt it’s something I’d ever bother fussing about with.
…funny story about the oven, my mom actually turned it on without thinking last time, even though she knew I’d made soap earlier – I caught it very quick, but I think she freaked out more than I did. The saran wrap was a bit melted, but no harm was done to the soap. ^_~
Anyway, great to see you reporting on your experience with this room temp method! I might have to try pre-beating my oils myself.
Thanks, KM! I wish my house was that warm 😛 As is, it’s perfect for getting long shelf lives out of my oils haha.
In my experience a gel does make for a more vibrant, somewhat clearer looking interior, but like you I love the dusty opacity I get with my bars… and I hate fussing with things more than needed haha.
I think I might make another batch of soap using this method in the next few days 😀 It’s been far too long since I’ve made soap with all the book writing I’ve been doing!
I will never soap any other way. ^_^ In fact, this week I’ll be doing a double batch of beer soap at room temp, and my first batch of beer soap was the first I ever tried this method with.
Happy soaping! ^_^
Hi! I just tried this recipe. I love using tallow and had just rendered 10lbs. Of beef fat last week. Exciting! So, a friend of mine made a mold for me that holds 108oz. Of fat/oils. That’s a lot of soap! I didn’t have any mica, so I used activated charcoal for the veins and in addition, mixed that with some oil and soap to add to the top (I also added the titanium dioxide and kaolin clay to the base soap). So, since it wasn’t a mica, I’m wondering if the lather will be gray? Do I need to be concerned about this? I havent worked with the activated charcoal but once, so I’m leery about it and hoping I didn’t just ruin a huge batch of soap! Help?
Also, just an FYI – I was the one (probably of many) who wrote to you about the lye water melting the solid fats. I’m still doing that and loving it. Haven’t used a thermometer yet.
Hey Shari! I would expect your lather to be a wee bit grey, especially when you’re first working it up, but unless you used a lot of charcoal it shouldn’t be problematic 🙂 I have made bars of soap that bled colour, but I did a lot more than seam that!
And I’m so thrilled you’re loving the room temperature method!
Do you ever do a water discount? If so, why? Or if not, why not? Also, with this recipe, why a 5% super fat and not a higher one like 6-8%?
Thanks!! Love your stuff!!
Hey Shari! I don’t generally water discount as it’s just another variable, and I’m really not fussed about my soaps needing three weeks to age; they usually get much longer than that without even thinking about it as I have so much soap! I’ve found 5% to work well for bars as a balance between hardness and hydration; some of my higher SF bars ended up with DOS after a couple years 🙁 Higher SF bars also tend to be softer and take longer to age.
Have you ever had a partial gel in one of your soaps? I’m in Sask, so in winter, my house can be a bit chilly. What’s your thermostat set at? I’ve had a few batches that had partially gelled, so now I’ve been insulating my soaps, but I do like the creamy opaque look better.
I have, I usually aim for no gel, though. My house is pretty chilly—about 21°C in evenings and mornings, and 15°C during the day and overnight. If you want to force gel you can also try popping your mould on top of a heating pad for the first few hours after pouring, and if you want to avoid it, do the opposite—pop it in the fridge or freezer (or outside, ha—Canada, the world’s fridge!).
Can I substitute Tallow with LArd in this recipe?
I bought your rose meringue soap
i loved it
but i don’t see the recipe in your blog
could you please post it
Nope! I’m keeping that one to myself 🙂
I have a giant bag of dried lavender buds. I have been working on lavender recipes recently in a process of putting together a gift basket for someone who said lavender was their favorite scent. You have lots of great bars that I could have just repeated but I have been captivated by the idea of the ribbons of color in this soap. I first did an oil infusion and made everything else on my list then put what was left in this soap. I to dried lavender buds and ground them up in my DYI coffee grinder and powdered the layers. Then took what was left and mixed it with almond oil and swirled it into the top. Then realized I forgot to add the lavender essential oil but with all the dried lavender in the bar, I’m hoping it will carry a pretty good scent any way.
That sounds so pretty! Did any lavender scent come through in the end?
They have a gentle sweet smell and are very pretty but I need to get a better sense of when to cut the bars so they aren’t too soft. I just get excited and want to see them the next day but I’m thinking they would turn out better if I could hold my horses and wait a second day.
Ahhh, interesting. I find I’m getting rather lazy with my soaps and often leave them in the mould for three or four days before getting around to cutting them, ha! It helps if you make the soap right before going away for a weekend 😛
I’ve found a Love Lines Valentine Soap in the archives and a question presented itself regarding the topping of red mica and a small amount of oil that its mixed with. If there is no lye mixed in with the oil, will the beautiful red topping stay on the top of the bar and eventually get hard?
It all works out just fine 🙂