This Morning Frost soap was inspired by a beautiful walk I took back in November with the oh-so-friendly Scotch—potentially the world’s nicest goldendoodle. Scotch and I were out in the morning, walking down one of Calgary’s bluffs into a valley. This was before real snow and winter set in, but it was one of our first colder days, with frost and a bright blue sky. The leaves of autumn were long gone, so the valley was covered in wilted golden grass and naked trees—and every surface was covered in the most stunning frost. It was big, flaky frost that caught the light in every direction, making the entire valley glitter. This kind of frost is called hoar frost, and you should definitely check out this blog entry of beautiful photos of it so you know why I got so excited about it. Anyhow, I didn’t want to call these bars Hoar Frost soap … so Morning Frost Soap it is!
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Colour-wise, the scene was excellent inspiration. A bottom layer of gold echoes the fading prairie grasses, beginning to wilt and sag under the weight of more and more frosty nights. Above that, blue and white swirl and bob, like blue skies and passing clouds. Last but not least, the swirly top is generously dusted with silver-white mica for that diamond-coated touch.
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When I was dreaming up a blend of essential oils I was thinking minty, but I ended up settling on camphor instead—mint seemed to fresh for a crispness that comes from cold and the onset of winter, when the only thing that is really fresh is the air. Camphor is really clean and fresh, but in a fresh air sort of way rather than a fresh herb garden kind of way. To that I added some warm benzoin and soft cedarwood for a final blend that is fresh and cool, with warm, woody base notes.
I decided to soap this in two parts, bringing 1/3 of the batter to trace and then the other 2/3, but I’m not convinced this was really necessary. That’s how I wrote it out, but I suspect you could get away with bringing all the batter to trace at once and then diving that into thirds, rather than doing it the way I did. My aim was to get a smooth, thinner trace for the first layer so it would be perfectly level, but that didn’t happen, and in the end I rather like how it turned out, uneven as it is.
The finished bars are really lovely. I think the scent is my favourite part—it’s lovely, but hard to pin down. It’s warm, and sweet, and a little spicy, and definitely crisp as well, but it’s hard to tell what kind of warm it is, and where the spice comes from, and I love that in a scent blend. I’m also a sucker for mica dustings, so there’s that, too. Let’s make some Morning Frost Soap!
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Morning Frost Soap
15% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
35% beef tallow
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
20% rice bran oil
5% castor oil (USA / Canada)
Calculate to a 5% superfat
Per 500g (1.1lbs) fats:
- 1 tsp silk peptides (wondering about substitutions?)
- 2 tbsp white white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- 10g | 0.35oz camphor essential oil
- 7g | 0.25oz benzoin essential oil
- 13g | 0.46oz cedarwood essential oil
- Gold micaoryellow iron oxide, as needed
- Titanium dioxide, as needed
- Blue ultramarine, as needed
- White-silver mica, as needed
- Extra rice bran oil, to disperse the pigments, 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.
Prepare your mould—you’ll want a loaf mould for this soap. Weigh out your essential oils into a container with a pouring spout. Melt your oils together in your soaping pot, and have a container with a pouring spout handy (I used a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup and that was perfect). Let your oils cool to room temperature. Mix up your lye water in a container with a pouring spout (I use a pitcher that is only ever used for lye water) and let that cool to room temperature as well (you can use ice for part of your water to speed up the cooling process).
While you’re letting everything cool, add up and write down the weights of the oil part, the water + lye part, and your essential oils. Divide each of those numbers by three, and write those numbers down as well. Keep all that handy while you soap. You’ll also want to measure out some of each mica and pigment into small dishes and whisk in some extra rice bran oil to create a liquid pigment solution for easier pigment incorporation later on (I’ll often skip this step with micas, but it is pretty darn useful with oxides and ultramarines).
To kick things off, weigh 1/3 of the oils and 1/3 of the lye water into your smaller container (I used a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup). Bring that to trace, and then add 1/3 of your essential oils, and approximately 1/3 of the silk and clay. Blend all that together until smooth. Up next, add just enough gold mica or yellow iron oxide to get a soft gold colour, and pour that batter across the bottom of your prepared mould.
Combine the rest of your oils and lye water, and bring that to trace. Add the remaining essential oils, silk, and clay, and blend until smooth. Now, divide that batter roughly in two. Add titanium dioxide, as required, to one half, until you have a soft white colour. Add blue ultramarine, as required, to the the other half, until you have a soft blue.
Layer and swirl the blue and white parts on top of the gold layer; I poured my first addition over top of a spatula to break the batter’s fall to try to minimize the displacement of the gold layer.
Once you’ve got all the batter in the mould, rap it firmly on your counter to bonk out any air bubbles. Swirl the top a bit with your spatula, and then dust the surface of the soap with silver mica by tapping it through a fine sieve, as if you were dusting a cake with icing sugar.
Leave to saponify for at least 24 hours before slicing; I recommend slicing this soap through the side so you don’t drag the mica topping through the bars. Leave to age for at least three weeks before using. Enjoy!
That was a lovely recounting of a frosty morning. I just love your blog and am planning on becoming a patron. Never would have considered trying a blend with camphor in it!
Thank you so much, Lori! I really appreciate it 😀
The gold reminds me of the wheat fields where I grew up in Michigan. Or the salt marshes where I lived in Savannah. Gosh, I remember just sitting in the Fall, listening to the dry rustling both those places sang. I don’t know why those sounds made me think how good life was, how perfect God was and how I could live forever listening.
And I remember hoar frost! I actually saw some down here growing up from the orange dirt, this winter. I’d forgotten what we called it.
Lovely soap, Marie.
Fancy! Still my favourite looking soap you’ve ever made was a Valentine’s Day soap I think it was. It was a stunning white background with a faint red line.
Lovely as always! Growing up I saw that kind of frost a fair bit, but we always just called its frost! Who knew! Beautiful blog referral!
I do feel like hoar frost needs a better name LOL. Something a little less… harlot-y 😛
Thanks, Cristie! I have added hoar frost to my short list of ok winter things 😛
There are OK winter things?!?!?!⛸
A few, I suppose. Cocoa. Mukluks. Being indoors 😛
What is a substitute for Tallow?
I love your recipes and always learn something new.
Hey Karene! Read this 🙂
Hey there – just a quick head’s up. The percentages of carrier oils add up to 95%.
Whoops! Thank you so much for catching that error, it’s been fixed 🙂
This has nothing to do with the soap above, though I did make it this morning and can’t wait to unveil it! Will let you know how it comes out. I’m actually very excited! I’ve had to stop myself from cutting it too soon.
I think I used a little too much ultramarine oxide, but time will tell.
How about coming up with a simpler version of this?
Think it’s possible? Or even warranted?
Whew, that ingredient list. It’s exhausting! I’m guessing the 1% line is at Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, if not earlier, so for the most part that looks to be a really expensive lotion with super teensy amounts of a bunch of fancy sounding ingredients, most of which I’ve never seen for sale. I wouldn’t bother—the ingredients are too hard to source and you’d spend a fortune trying to get them, only to turn around and use them in minute quantities. If you’re going to buy all those posh oils, show ’em off! Don’t dilute them with a bunch of water and modified coconut oil!
This soap looks wonderful and I am hoping to try the recipe soon! Can you tell me if the camphor essential oil is safe to use in CP soap that will be used by children, I am reading a lot of scary things about this EO but I want to try it in this soap very badly. Thanks
I think what you are reading about is pure camphor, not camphor essential oil (Cinnamomum camphora), which only contains about 2.4% camphor according to Tisserand.
Essential oils in soap not only go through saponification (which is quite a harsh chemical reaction that definitely impacts EOs, though different ones are impacted differently), but they also have quite a lot of time to evaporate off/dissipate/weaken during the aging process, and soap is a wash-off product. It’s hard to estimate the concentration of any EO in a finished soap because of how saponification and evaporation impact the oil, but if we say the final, aged bars have 500g fats + 100g water/other EOs/clays/pigments, and NO camphor essential oil evaporates (which wouldn’t be the case), these bars would have a 1.6% concentration of camphor essential oil, which means they would contain 0.03% camphor. I referenced Tisserand for toxicity information; the documented cases of seizures and death typically involved large amounts (15g+) of pure synthetic camphor being ingested or applied to the skin—many, many, MANY more times than is in this entire recipe. Camphor essential oil was “tested at 20% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing” (source).
So, yeah—you’re fine! It’s always good to check, though 🙂
I just watched this video and I enjoyed it. But I have a question. Why do you only line the bottom and 2 sides of your mold and not the ends. I have a terrible time trying to line these wooden molds all 4 sides. This doesn’t have anything to do with the particular recipe you’ve shown us, but I am really curious!
Hey Carol! I always chop off the first 3-5mm of the loaves to separate them from the end pieces, and not lining the ends saves some time 🙂