This simple, warm, wintery soap is just the thing for January. The first month of the year is typically hit with at least one cold snap here in Calgary, necessitating hot tea and warm baking and a general refusal to leave the house for anything less important than a tropical vacation (or a dog walk). I might, however, make an exception for some warm spiced bread pudding, good whiskey, and good company. While devoid of both whiskey and raisins, this Winter Custard soap can be your sudsy cold snap respite, with its lovely sparkly top and warm, creamy yellow colour. Mmmm.
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
These bars are pretty simple, so if making your own soap is one of your new year’s resolutions, this is a pretty good place to start. The batter traces well, but not too quickly, and we aren’t doing anything too fussy with it (other than some pretty toothpick swirls on top, which aren’t very stressful at all).
One of my favourite things about this soap is how it changes colour as it saponifies. When you’re making it, it’s a lovely creamy white, but when you cut it—bam! It has magically become a warm, custardy yellow. This is thanks to the inclusion of cinnamon bark essential oil, which I think is pretty darn nifty. The cinnamon bark essential oil transforms our creamy white soap into a custardy yellow soap that leaves me craving this one particular breakfast place that pours custard over waffles along with a mountain of fresh fruit. Swoon.
The rest of the essential oil blend is warm, woodsy Himalayan cedarwood, and bright, punchy peppermint. The cinnamon bark plays a surprisingly small role in the scent department considering its impact on the soap’s colour, warming up the blend and adding a hint of spice. If you don’t have cinnamon bark essential oil (it has gone up in price quite a lot since I purchased mine), you can try cinnamon leaf or cassia essential oils instead, though I can’t make any promises on if the colour change will still happen.
Alright—let’s go make some Winter Custard soap! If you’re new to soaping, I definitely recommend watching the video as well 🙂
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Winter Custard Soap
40% rice bran oil
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
20% beef tallow (wondering why?)
10% avocado oil
5% castor oil (USA / Canada)
Calculate to 5% superfat
Per 500g oils:
- 2 tbsp white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- 14g | 0.49oz Himalayan cedarwood (Cedrus deodora) essential oil
- 12g | 0.42oz peppermint (Mentha Piperita) essential oil
- 5g | 0.17oz cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) essential oil
- Blue mica, as needed
- White sparkly ultrafine glitter or mica, as needed
- Silver glitter or mica, as needed
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 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 then 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).
While everything is cooling, weigh out your essential oils, and measure out the clay. In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/2 tsp white sparkly mica/glitter and a tiny bit of blue mica with some extra rice bran oil.
Once the melted fats and lye water are just slightly warmer than room temperature, follow standard soap making procedure to bring them to trace. Once you have a relatively thin trace, blend in the essential oils and kaolin clay. Pour the batter into your mould and leave it to set up for 10–15 minutes before we do the topping.
When the batter has had the chance to set up a bit, scatter the bluish mica mixture over top, sprinkle with glitter, and finish it off with some toothpick swirls. Let the soap saponify in the mould for 2–3 days before slicing. Age for 4–5 weeks before using. Enjoy!
Beautiful Soap, Marie. Love it!
Thanks Kathleen! 🙂
Do you have a vegetarian version of this soap? I get why you use tallow in your soap, I’ve read your explanation however, if I’m making my own soap, I don’t want to lather myself with saponified cow fat.
No, I don’t. If you’ve read my explanation then you have also read my suggestions for plant based alternatives that are in that explanation 🙂
Thank you for responding regarding my question regarding substitutions for lard. I realized after I sent the message that the recipe was written in percentages not ounces, and that it is meant to be put through a lye calculator after I sent the message. So sorry. Thanks again!
No worries—happy making!
Thank you for your lovely recipe, I’ll be making this today. BTW: as much as I don’t like the cold (I live in so. Calif and I think 40 degrees F is cold!) your descriptions of going out and finding a friendly respite with the warm bread pudding and good whiskey makes me almost want to join you!!
Winter is nothing if not ripe for romanticization! I’d still prefer a world where 40°F is cold, though 😛
this is such a beautiful yellowish custard color….is that the rice bran oil that gives it that hue? it’s gorgeous!
UGH! I skipped the reading and went straight for the recipe. I see now that it’s the cinnamon bark. LOL
Sorry…and thanks for posting such a beautiful soap. I may have to revisit my cinnamon use.
That cinnamon bark reaction is SO cool! I was definitely a bit surprised when I cut these bars 😛
Instead of using tallow what other oil could I use I don’t have any tallow
Lard is a good alternative 🙂
Do you allow your soaps to go through gel phase?
I typically try to avoid it as I like the milky non-gelled appearance 🙂
Huh. Rice bran oil at 40%. MUST TRY!!!!
Did you use refined or unrefined rice bran? I seem to be on a massive rice bran kick at the moment so this recipe might be bad. But in a good way!
Fantastic recipe Marie!
This is my rice bran oil—New Directions says it’s refined 🙂 With that jug I have to be on a rice bran kick! 😛
Refined. Mine is such a deep dark brown. And it was cheaper than lye.
Ohhhh have I a recipe for you! Almost though. I am trying one more batch to see if it was a fluke that got me such fantastic feeling stuff! It’s a butter, so you’re only going to use a few grams of rice bran though!
Ooooh, neat! You really do get the coolest treasures over there 🙂 How will you cope when you move?!
I’ve always had an “ew” reaction to using animal fat in soap. Thank for linking to your article on why you use animal fat. I’m going to give this a try. I found your article on how to render tallow in your encyclopedia. Looks pretty straight forward. Thanks for the recipe – it looks beautiful!!
I’m glad you’re going to give it a try! Tallow and lard have a very long history of use in soap and they really do make a beautiful product 🙂
I love the color! I totally get the custard food brain link….personally my mind went to creme brûlée….YUM
Oooooh, now I want creme brûlée… and rice pudding… and bread pudding… and… I basically just want a lot of fat, sugar, and carbs haha!
I noticed the different recipe has an increase in Rice Bran and No Olive Oil or Shea Butter. Have you used this soap recipe batter before? I’m leery to try something new as the other recipe was so good. I’m going to “bite the bullet” and go for it!
I have—you’ll see it in my Vanilla Spice Soap as well 🙂 I formulated this batter to be looser for longer so you can do fancier things. It’s not really required here, but I have a ton of rice bran oil I need to use 😛
Ah. I’ve been using your Poppyseed Menthol recipe for most of my soaps. But I do have notes that it does tend to thicken too fast for when i’m using multiple layers. I was finally able to get tallow at a good price.(i’ve been using lard) I’m itching to remake some soaps. I’m glad you responded and will try this new recipe. Thank you for what you do. -A
Yes, that one definitely does like to thicken up ASAP! Enjoy soaping with tallow—I love the bars it creates 🙂
It looks really nice! And it has the soft yellow colour I was going for when adding turmeric infused oil to my soap. It came out less yellow than this (still nice, but somewhat disappointing). Might have to try with cinnamon bark next time! I probably have to remake that one anyway since I had to wing it with the oils (not enough coconut oil so I filled up with more olive oil, which of course threw the superfatting off so I’m not sure it’s usable even though I did run the new numbers through soapcalc afterwards and it turned out ok).
The soft yellow was, admittedly, a surprise 😛 A happy accident, perhaps! As long as whatever soap you’re making pairs well with cinnamon it’s a pretty neat trick, though!
I’m wondering if the beneficial properties of the essential oils survive the soapification?
Give this article a read—straight from the experts!
Hi Marie….question.I am weary about using cinnamon /cassia eo. Here you used roughly 0.17 oz to roughly 1 lb of oils. I really want to make a christmas spice soap but other recommendations i have seen for cinnamon and clove have been much less PPO,roughly about 0.08 oz ppo due to eugenol content(Ifra & modernsoapmaking). My fear is with using your the amount of cinnamon eo as recommended by your recipe,that itll cause skin irritation.
Hey! After all I’ve learned since making this soap I definitely understand where you are coming from. I haven’t experienced any irritation with cinnamon bark EO in soap, and I wonder if that is due to lack of exposure (as in it could still happen later, or because it’s a wash-off product), or if it is because something in the saponification reaction alters/reduces the irritating compounds. I definitely need to do more research into this, thank you!
Hi Marie, I make soap as a hobby and I’m thinking of making this for holiday gifts but splurging on custom-made labels … maybe saying Happy Holidays with my name or something. I can’t find any links to any suppliers for this on your site. Any recommendations?
I should have explained I’m looking for what they call “band” labels. When I try and cut my own they look sloppy. 🙁
I suspect you need to upgrade to a cutting mat and exacto knife + steel ruler rather than scissors. That’ll give you a really clean line!
I print my own belly bands at home so I’m afraid I don’t have any specific recommendations for that sort of thing. In general I’ve been happy with the folks at JukeBox printing in BC for my professional design work, though:)