These richly scented, pink swirly bars of Strawberry Rose cold processed soap were so much fun to make, and I’m so excited to share them with you today. They’re a continuation of our Strawberry Rose serum and pair a decadent fragrance oil with pink clay hanger swirls for some beautiful bricks of fragrant, juicy goodness. The swirl inspiration came from watching Zahida of Handmade in Florida work her magic at the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild annual conference in Dallas back in May—if you haven’t swooned over Zahida’s work yet, I highly recommend doing so!
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Our oil blend is designed to give us a decent amount of working time to create those swirls while still ageing up relatively quickly. It’s mostly olive oil, at 45%. Most of the motivation for that choice was the fact that I have way too much olive oil on hand at the moment. Rice bran oil would be a good alternative if you prefer. Beef tallow hardens our bars beautifully, while coconut and castor oils give these bars their fluffy, rich lather.
Colourant-wise, we’ve gone all-natural with a blend of clays. For the pink shades, I used Australian pink clay. I love its dusty pink hue, and if you’ve made soap with me before you’ll know I love the creamy slip clays add to soap. If you don’t have Australian pink clay I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it just for these bars—it’s quite highly pigmented and even though I’ve had my tub for years I’ve barely made a dent in it.
An easier, more versatile alternative would be to use white kaolin clay for all of the creamy-clay-goodness, and a high-pH-stable pink mica of choice for the colour (not all pink/red pigments are stable in high pH environments, so make sure you’re checking with your supplier to ensure the mica you choose won’t morph if used in soap). You could also use a different red/pink clay, though tread carefully with Australian red clay—it is very red and can create bars that can stain towels if you aren’t careful. The creamy white base of the soap is loaded with white kaolin clay, which doesn’t give a ton of whiteness to the bars but is definitely the best choice of clay for a bar that you don’t want to be any other colour.
Our scent comes from a beautiful LUSH-dupe fragrance oil called Rose Jam, which is a beautiful blend of rose and strawberry with a rich, honey-vanilla base note. The other projects in this series are getting their rose-y/strawberry-y notes from fragrant, natural hydrosols, but when it comes to making a strawberry rose soap I chose this fragrance oil in the interests of both cost and efficacy. Hydrosols and distillates are not inexpensive (especially the strawberry one!), and for something as scent-hungry as soap, a fragrance definitely seemed like the way to go. Everyone who smelled these bars remarked on how utterly delicious they smelled, so if you like sweet & juicy scents, I highly recommend giving this fragrance a try.
If fragrances aren’t your jam (ha) I’d probably recommend leaving these bars unscented, or perhaps trying something like white grapefruit essential oil for something that’s still juicy/fruity while being all-natural. If you opt to use a different fragrance oil, make sure you look up how it behaves in soap so you know if it might discolour or accelerate your batch.
I had some hanger-swirl fun with these bars as well, using a Nite Ize gear tie to do my swirling. I love this little hack—gear ties come in a variety of lengths and diameters. They’re flexible and covered in silicone, so you can easily choose the weight & length, twist and bend it to your heart’s content, swirl away, and then wash it completely clean for easy re-use. The thicker your swirling tool the more drag it’ll have, giving more noticeable swirls, meaning a plain ol’ wire hanger doesn’t have much drag and leaves pretty subtle swirls.
The finished bars smell delicious and I love how the swirls turned out—all wispy and colourful and pink and lovely. I definitely need to play with more hanger swirls in the future!
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Strawberry Rose Soap
Calculate to 5% superfat with “water as % of oils” at 38%
Per 500g fats:
- Australian Pink Clay, pre-dispersed liquid oil (as needed—see pre-amble for alternatives)
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 two containers with pouring spouts 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).
Lay out your work area so you can easily grab your fragrance and clays. Prepare your mould by lining it, if required.
Now you’re ready to get started! Begin by blending the white kaolin clay into the fats. Once that mixture is smooth, add the lye water and bring to a thin trace. Stir in the fragrance oil and pour approximately 1/4 of the batter into each of your two pour spout containers.
Using the pre-dispersed pink clay, colour the two 1/4 portions of batter—one a pale pink, one a darker pink.
Now it’s time to pour the soap! Start with all of the white/cream batter, and then alternate the pinks. I poured lengthwise, half dark, half light, the second half of the dark, and then finished with the second half of the light. Watch the video to see this in action! Up next is our hanger swirl—I used a a Nite Ize gear tie as my swirling tool. I did a plunge-and-scoop swirl, and then used my spatula to sculpt the top into some subtle foldy goodness. Definitely watch the video to get a better idea of what I did, as it’s hard to make it clear with words alone!
Leave the soap to set up for about 48 hours before slicing and leaving to age for at least three to four weeks before using. Enjoy!