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
Calculate to 5% superfat
Per 500g (1.1lbs) oils:
- 1 tbsp white kaolin clay
- 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!