Today we’re making a type of soap I haven’t made before—cold processed soap with wine! As a continuation of our rosé series, I’m using rosé wine as part of the water for this soap, complementing it with a fresh rose fragrance oil and some gold and pink whorls.
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I made a couple of different decisions knowing this soap would contain wine. Wine contains sugar, and sugar is a complicating factor in soap batter that can lead to acceleration, curdling, and heaving. Decision #1; using a cavity mould rather than a loaf mould to lower the heat capacity of the batter. If all the batter is in one big loaf it can hold heat much better, making heat + sugar related consequences more likely. Cavity moulds help the batter stay cooler throughout saponification, reducing the chance of curdling and other unpleasantness.
Knowing I wanted to use a cavity mould, I used a harder blend of fats than I often do. My oval cavity mould is quite sturdy, and I’ve damaged soaps trying to unmould them when the bars were too soft. I left these in the mould for a full week before unmoulding, and even with a week in the mould and a hard fat blend a few of them ended up with a thumbprint in them.
I also opted to make my life a bit easier and not use 100% wine for the water part—I used a blend of wine and water. I soaped quite cool (close to room temperature) to slow things down and reduce the chances of over-heating, and I made sure to choose a fragrance oil I’ve soaped with many times so I knew it wouldn’t accelerate trace.
For colour, I aimed for a gold/pink/beige trio, but ended up getting more of a beige/pink/beige. The batter was darker than I knew the finished soap would be, making it a bit tricky to judge if the amount of gold mica would be enough, and in the end, it obviously wasn’t. I’d recommend erring on the side of more gold mica than you think you need, and you could also consider incorporating some titanium dioxide into the beige part for a stronger contrast. Something else that could be fun is using different clays for each part—white kaolin, pink Australian, and beige zeolite would probably look great!
After unmoulding the soaps I gave them a day or two and then took a vegetable peeler to the edges to tidy them up. The batter was pretty dang thick for the last pour, creating some thin ridges along the edges of the bars—the peeler helped smooth those out and make the finished bars look a lot better. It’s also way more fun than it probably should be to peel and shave away at soap 😄 The little curly shavings that come away are just so dang satisfying. Highly recommended as a stress relief activity!
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Calculate to 5% superfat with “water as % of oils” at 38%
Per 500g fats:
- 10g (0.18 oz) zeolite clay or white kaolin clay
- 100mL (3.3fl oz) rosé wine
- 15g (0.5oz) rose fragrance oil
The day before you make your soap, simmer the wine for about 7–10 minutes, let it cool, and then freeze it into cubes. It’ll reduce noticeably, especially if you’re working with a small amount of wine.
When it’s time to soap, 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!).
Weigh your fats into your soaping pot, gently heat through to melt, and leave them to cool until just above room temperature. Because there’s quite a lot of solid fats in this mixture you won’t be able to go all the way down to room temperature or they’ll be a bit too solid. You are aiming for as cool as possible with the fats still being clear. If you’re getting cloudiness, gently reheat.
Now it’s time for the lye solution prep! You won’t have enough wine cubes for the full water part, and that’s ok. Top it off with some water—that’ll make things a bit easier. For my 1500g batch, I needed 570g water. 130g of that was concentrated rosé cubes, 400g was ice cubes, and the rest was liquid water. More wine makes for a more challenging soap; I took it pretty easy.
Don your safety equipment, make sure your dog can’t get in the way, and take your frozen wine + water mixture outside. Slowly add the lye to the ice cubes, stirring between additions. Things won’t melt much initially, and then suddenly you’ll realize you’re getting a liquid slurry, and you’ll be on your way to wine-lye-water. It’ll stink. This is why we’re outside. Don’t inhale the fumes. Yech.
Once your lye solution is room temperature and the fats are at that “as cool as possible with the fats still being clear” point, we’re ready to soap!
Ready your work area so you can easily access your micas, fragrance, and clay. Set your cavity moulds out on trays so you can move them easily (trying to move a floppy mould full of liquid soap batter = no good). Remember that aluminum reacts with raw soap, so if you’re using aluminum cookie sheets, line them with some parchment paper.
Now you’re ready to get soaping! Begin by blending the clay into the fats. Once that mixture is smooth, add the lye water and bring to a thin trace before blending in your fragrance. You will notice your soap batter is a pretty dark brown—it’ll lighten as it saponifies, don’t worry! Blend until you reach a light trace.
Divide the batter into three parts. Colour one part gold, one part pink, and leave one part unpigmented. I found the gold part hard to judge with the brown colour of the batter, and once the bars saponified I found I hadn’t used enough gold mica to get a strong contrast between the gold part and the uncoloured part. If I were to do this again I’d use more gold, and might also incorporate a bit of titanium dioxide into the uncoloured part to create more contrast. Alternatively, I’d use white kaolin clay instead of the beige-ish zeolite clay I used.
With your three parts coloured, it’s time to pour! I put gold at the bottom, pink in the middle, and uncoloured on top, letting the weight of the batter pouring into the mould create some inter-mixing. I smoothed the tops of the bars a bit with my spatula and left them to saponify and harden some before unmoulding.
I ended up leaving these bars in the mould for about a week before unmoulding; this wasn’t intentional, I just ended up doing other things and then was out of town for a couple of days. When it does come time to unmould, be gentle. It’s easy to accidentally jab a thumb through the bars as you attempt to loosen them from the mould. If you’re finding the bars are too soft, give them some more time. After unmoulding, I left them for a day or two and then used a vegetable peeler to tidy up the edges and pretty them up a bit. The peeler part is very fun and highly recommended 😂
You’ll want to let these bars age for at least three weeks before using or gifting. Enjoy!
The gold mica was gifted by YellowBee.