Welcome to the second soap (and the second theme) of the 2017 Christmas DIY-ing season! These beautiful bars have a striking pale blue corner that contrasts the creamy white majority, and the whole lot is topped with a double glitter topping. These aren’t beginner bars, but if you’re a comfortable soaper with a solid handle on what a thin trace looks like, there’s nothing too complicated going on here. And, as an added bonus, this Snowflake Soap is a pretty hard formula that’ll age up pretty quickly, so if you’re a procrastinator you’ll definitely want to keep them in mind!
I’ve dubbed our second theme “snowflake”, and I decided to do something a bit different. Many of my Christmas themes in the past have been quite scent focussed, and often food-themed (Cranberry Sauce, Fruitcake, Chocolate Orange…), but I wanted this theme to be more visual and textural. This one is more about rich, creamy whites—channeling snowdrifts at dawn, heavy-flaked snowfalls, and the glee of leaping into a pile of deep, fluffy powder. I don’t associate a lot of smells with these memories as they’re typically quite cold (my nostrils may or may not have frozen shut), so scent is taking a back seat with this theme. I’m endeavouring to keep things in the soft/herbal department, though some projects may warrant something different. We’ll see how it goes 😃
When it comes to this soap, there’s a couple tricky-ish things to keep in mind and have sorted before you start. The first is that we will be bringing our soap to trace in two parts; one quarter and three quarters. This means you’ll need to know exactly how much your water-lye-clay solution weighs, exactly how much your fats weigh, and what 1/4 and 3/4 of each of those weights are. Write those numbers down so you can easily refer to them as you work.
The second thing is a twofer; you’ll need to pour each part at a very thin, completely liquid trace. However, the fat blend for this soap is quite prone to making a beeline for a thick trace as it contains quite a lot of tallow and coconut oil (I did this on purpose to create a really white base for our white soap), so you’ll need to keep that in mind. Ensure you are not soaping all the way at room temperature (I made sure my fats were just a little warm to the touch) to slow down thickening, and pour as soon as you’ve got both a thin trace and the colour you’re going for.
Once you know we’re working in batches and pouring at a thin trace, the how-to for the corner bit starts to make a lot of sense. The first think you’ll do is prop one of the long ends of your mould up on something that’s about 3cm/1” tall. Then you’ll bring the first quarter of the batter to a thin trace, add a touch of blue, and pour that really thin batter into your tilted mould. Because it’s completely liquid it’ll settle into a perfectly flat top, but in your mould that’s actually an angle. Bam! Next up, leave that to sit for twenty minutes before tracing the white part of your soap and pouring that on top (you’ll need to right your mould to prevent overflow). Give that another ten minutes so the white batter can thicken up enough to swoop it around with a spatula and cover it with glitter, and you’re golden! Now—onto the soap!
Snowflake Christmas Soap
35% rice bran oil
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
30% beef tallow (wondering why?)
10% castor oil (USA / Canada)
Calculate to 5% superfat
Per 500g oils:
- 10g | 0.35oz white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- Titanium dioxide, pre-dispersed in rice bran oil, as needed
- Blue mica, as needed
- Ultrafine white glitter, as needed
- Iridescent Super Sparkle, 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 (click that link if you aren’t!).
Prepare your mould—you’ll want a loaf mould for this soap. Melt your oils together in your soaping pot, and have one container with a pouring spout handy (I use these awesome funnel pitchers). Let your oils cool to slightly warmer than room temperature. Mix up your lye water and let that cool to about room temperature (you can use ice for part of your water to speed up the cooling process)..
The set-up for this soap is a bit more involved. As your lye water is cooling and your fats are melting, it’s time to do some math. Add up the weight of the lye, the water, and your clay. Write that number down. Now, divide it into four, and make note of what 25% (or 1/4) and 75% (or 3/4) of that weight is. Do the same for the weight of the oils. So, if you were making a batch with 1000g of oils, the numbers you’d have for the oils would be 250g for 25%, and 750g for 75%.
You’ll also want to ensure all of your colours are all ready so you aren’t left scrambling and don’t potentially end up with too thick of a trace. Lay out your work area so you can easily grab wee dishes of your different pigments, and be sure to pre-disperse the clump-prone titanium dioxide in some extra rice bran oil so you don’t have to over-blend the batter to smoothly incorporate it.
Prepare your mould by lining it (if required), and then propping one long edge of it up on something about 1”/3cm tall—the angle created by this propping is what will create our angled corner. Ensure the mould is stable and well balanced, and that it’s sitting somewhere you can easily access it, but won’t need to move it immediately after pouring.
Now you’re ready to get started! Begin by blending the kaolin clay into the lye water. Now, pour 25% (by weight!) of your lye solution and fats into a secondary container. Add some blue mica and bring the lot to a very thin trace. Pour that into your mould (take care not to pour down the sides—pour straight into the bottom on the mould), and then leave it for twenty minutes (set a timer).
After twenty minutes have passed, bring the remaining 75% of the batter to a very thin trace, adding some titanium dioxide to ensure it’s nice and white (err on the side of too little, though—too much can cause glycerin rivers). Level out the mould, and pour the thin white batter into the mould, breaking its fall by pouring it over a spatula held close to the surface of the blue corner.
Once the white batter has been poured, leave it to set for ten minutes before scooping and sculpting the top with a spatula, and liberally sprinkling it with glitter. Leave to saponify for 24 hours (don’t wait much longer—these get really hard, really fast!) before removing it from your mould and slicing; be sure to slice it through the side so you don’t drag glitter trails through the bars from the top down. Place the soap somewhere cool and dry to age for at least three weeks (though if they ended up being only two weeks old when you gift them, that’s ok—these bars harden up fast!). Enjoy!
Once again, Marie! you have read my mind 🙂 I have a friend that is allergic to most fragrance and I was trying to come up with a list of things I could make with a mild fragrance so she could enjoy a decadent handmade Christmas too.THis is perfect!
Woo! I’m already having so much fun with this theme, I hope you and your friend love it 😀
Thanks, Becky! 🙂
What a lovely looking soap Marie. I think I might add a touch of peppermint if I try this. I know I’d be able to smell the tallow or imagine I smell it. I must say thank you for influencing me to get back to using tallow in soap. I got caught up on the vegan band wagon and for years stopped using it and replaced it with palm. I get my tallow from either Can Wax (my favorite) or Voyageur and its great stuff, makes beautiful soap and is cost effective.
Thanks, Lynne! Peppermint would be a super appropriate scent note; when I was toying with having the Snowflake theme smell like something that is exactly what I was thinking of 🙂 And I’m so glad you are loving tallow soaping again—I am so hooked, and I just love diving into a big beautiful box of creamy white goodness whenever I make soap!
MARIE ! ! ! You did it again. Oh my gosh Marie your Snowflake Christmas soap is so pretty.
Thank you for sharing another great recipe with loads of “how to details”.
Have a wonderful week.
Thanks so much, Darlene! Happy making 😀
My condolences on the passing of your Grandmother. We will be praying for you and your family.
Thank you 🙂
Do you find that your soap smell like tallow when it’s done? I tried tallow once in CP soap and I could smell it in the final soap. The tallow smell was strong enough to cut through the essential oil blend I used for the soap. I am all for using tallow over palm oil but the odor is what turned me away from tallow.
Not at all, whether I’ve bought it or rendered it myself. I’ve been purchasing pre-rendered tallow from Voyageur lately, and it doesn’t really smell like anything other than generic fat to me. Theirs has been deodorized so that might be up your alley 🙂
Thank you! I will look into the deodorized tallow. Maybe one of these days I will try to render it myself again and see if my soap still smells “beefy”.
I’ve read that rendering it with a potato can help reduce the smell, as can rendering it multiple times 🙂
1. Adding the clay to the lye water instead of the soap batter. Is this a new technique for you? What is the advantage of this order? Any concerns about blending the lye water without fats for our immersion blenders?
2. When I bring the separate portions to trace at different times, have I already combined the fats and lye water (and simply wait to blend the white part for 20 min)? Or is this a matter of not combining the lye water and fats until I’m working with each section? I’m guessing the latter, but when you talked about the remaining “batter” I was unsure whether it had already been combined.
1. Some readers recommended it; it allows one to blend in the clay before the batter is at trace, meaning you can work with a thinner batter post-trace (blending in the clay tends to thicken the batter). No concerns about the blender.
2. You are bringing the portions to trace at different times, not combining the lye water and fats until you’re working with each section. The “remaining batter” in that respect still needs to be turned into batter 🙂
If I were to leave the blue layer out, would it be a good beginner soap?
I wouldn’t recommend it; it’ll still trace quite quickly, and you’d have to juggle temperatures. This bar done at room temperature would be a much better choice 🙂
Hi Marie, just simple elegance! I was wondering is there a reason you started using rice bran oil? I’ve used it before and can’t really tell a difference.
Also, I noticed you upped the % of castor oil from 5% to 10% does that give the soap more lather? thx
I bought a big jug of it, and I was trying to avoid getting a green tint in these particular bars. That’s also why I included more castor oil—it’s clear. It’ll also give a richer lather, and can make for a softer bar, but given all the hard oils in here I wasn’t that worried about that 🙂
Thanks for your quick reply. I wanted to make it today and I’m out of rice bran oil. I just called all the stores in my area and no one sells it :/ I could have ordered it on line but that’s what happens when you don’t plan ahead….I made a batch of mint soap with my olive oil and it turned out a pretty white, no yellow at all. I’ll use my olive oil in your recipe, thx
Happy soaping! 😀
Made a soap last year with tallow, and LOVED how it turned out, so this looks wonderful!!
I am still somewhat new to making soap (about a dozen batches so far) so how much fragrance would you recommend adding? Or, maybe a better question is how much can I add before it messes calculations up?
The general rule of thumb is 30g per 500g oils 🙂
Thank you for this wonderful article! I just started out to create my own soaps so this seems to be a bit too difficult for me yet but I’ll save it for later. It looks so wonderful I really want to try it. 🙂
Happy soaping! I’m sure you’ll be here in no time 🙂
I’ve recently read that titanium dioxide is a class 3b carcinagenic. Is there anything safer to whiten soap?
“The European Chemicals Agency (Echa) has concluded that titanium dioxide may cause cancer if inhaled.” is from this article. And Marie has posted about TD here as well.
If you are looking to substitute always take a look in the HumbleBee&Me encyclopedia.
I notice in your newer formulas you have a water discount, what is you usual water as a percent of oil ratio?
My default is 38%—the default in SoapCalc 🙂