The part of the world I currently live in is not known for having amazing summers. Amazing summer days? Sure. But summers on the whole? Reliable beautiful days, all in a row, without question? Not so much. We’re moreso known for “Monsoon June”, mild to severe flooding, crazy car-destroying hail and thunderstorms, and then the odd beautiful day that makes you forget it all. Our reprieve is often September, and sometimes even early October, which can be downright beautiful. That’s what this soap celebrates.
This period of time can be known as an “Indian Summer”—a rather dated term. It is generally acknowledged to be a spell of unseasonably warm weather after a hard frost. Last year we had a solid dump of (unseasonably early) snow in early September that was soon followed by temperatures close to 30°C/86°F—I’d say that qualifies. The Farmer’s Almanac has several other defining characteristics, including “As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.” I liked that bit.
So, to start with this soap is blue, fading to yellow and gold, like the autumn sky fading into the foliage. I’ve gone with paler tones to avoid making a bar of soap that leaves you wondering where that striking yellow streak on your thigh came from some morning in the shower.
The scent of the soap is bright, warm, and spicy, with a hint of smoke. It’s both intriguing and comforting. A blend of fresh camphor, spicy cinnamon, smokey cade, and sweet benzoin comes together for a nice “hmm… what is that?” sort of blend that’s really lovely.
There are four distinct layers in this soap, though you could do more if you were feeling inspired. Because the soap batter ends up being a bit golden on its own I started by colouring a good portion of the batter blue, laying down a blue layer, and then adding some uncoloured batter to the remaining blue to fade the colour towards yellow. The center layer is plain ‘ol batter toned, and the top layer has yellow iron oxide added to amp up the golden hue.
A golden swirl topping is easy enough to do—just blend about half a teaspoon of golden mica with whatever liquid oil you have on hand. Drizzle that over the top of the soap, and then drag a toothpick about in it until you have a bunch of lovely swirls.
All in all, if you’re reasonably comfortable with cold process soap I think you’ll find this a reasonably simple soap to make—and a beautifully layered one to unmould and share 🙂
Second Summer Soap
Per 500g (1.1lbs) of oils:
- 1 pinch tussah silk or ½ tsp silk peptides
- 2 tsp sodium lactate (optional—hardens the bars)
- 1 tbsp white white kaolin clay
- 13g | 0.46oz camphor essential oil
- 10g | 0.35oz cinnamon bark essential oil
- 6g | 0.21oz benzoin essential oil
- 2 drops cade essential oil (vetiver essential oil or birch tar essential oil are good alternatives)
- Blue ultramarine
- Yellow iron oxide
- For the gold topping swirl: ½ tsp gold mica + 1 tsp liquid oil of choice
2020 update: Given the irritation potential for cinnamon essential oil, I’d recommend using a cinnamon-y fragrance oil rather than the essential oil. Please refer to supplier documentation for maximum usage rates for the particular fragrance oil you’re using when used in soap/rinse-off products.
Kick things off by calculating out your recipe (unsure about how to use SoapCalc? I made a video to walk you through it!) for the amount of soap you’re making to get the finite amounts of the fats, lye, and water. Ensure you’re familiar with standard soap making procedure before diving in.
Follow my standard soap making instructions. Add the tussah silk to the lye water, pulling it apart into smaller bits to encourage it to dissolve. If using, add the sodium lactate to the lye water after it has cooled and stir to combine. If you’re using the sodium lactate I strongly encourage you let your fats and lye water come to room temperate before combining. I haven’t tried using the sodium lactate above room temperature, but I do notice a much, much faster trace than I would usually get at room temperature, and it’ll only get faster at higher temperatures.
Once your soap batter has reached trace, blend in the clay and essential/fragrance oils. Then, pour about 1/3 of the batter into another bowl.
Using an immersion blender (important! Don’t do this without a blender if you want even, uniform colour), blend a small amount of blue ultramarine into the batter until you have a pale, yet distinct, blue. You’ll be amazed at how potent the ultramarine is—you can see in a photo above how much I used.
Pour about 70% of the blue batter into the bottom of your mould and smooth it out. This is your deep blue layer.
Add some more of the uncoloured batter to the remaining blue and combine. This is your paler blue layer. Add a wee bit more ultramarine if you need to. You’re aiming for a colour that’s roughly halfway between the blue and the uncoloured batter. Spread the pale blue over the dark blue, taking care not to stir the layers together.
Use about half the remaining uncoloured batter to create your next layer (the first yellow layer). Blend a bit of yellow iron oxide into the last of the batter (go by eye—add and blend until you have something slightly but noticeably darker than the previous layer) and use that to create your top layer.
Be sure to firmly rap your mould against the counter to knock out as many air bubbles as you can—this is especially important if your batter is very thick.
For the topping, drizzle the gold mica/oil mixture lightly over the top of the soap, and then swirl the drizzles into pretty patterns with a toothpick.
Cover and let the soap saponify for at least 24 hours before removing it from the mould and slicing. Let the soap age for at least 3 weeks before using. Enjoy!