September marks the kickoff month for the new Soap Challenge Club hosted by Amy Warden. This months challenge was the mini drop swirl. I kid you not – this. was. hard. In the essence you have to prepare a soap batter that stays very fluid whilst you fill squeeze bottles with different color and carefully squirt the different squeeze container colors into a solid color base soap. Sounds simple, right? NOT!!!
At this point I haven’t even added the lye water to my oils and I’m already frustrated with getting my colors right and oh so worried about over mixing the batter leaving no time to do the squirting part.
Have a look at my setup for making the drop swirls at different levels in the soap – this is the requirements for the advanced challenge for this month. Why I decided to go for the advanced category in the first place escapes me now. This month is the first time I’m entering the advanced challenge! Anyhow there are different lengths of straws taped to my squeeze bottles just like shown in the technique videos provided when the challenge started.
A few more details about my attempt need to be shared. I have a small herd (about 20) dairy goats so I simply have to use goats milk in all my soap recipes. I have always colored my soap using various colors of oxides, I’ve since learned that micas are a much better choice for this technique. I only had about two days available in my schedule to work on this challenge. I ended up making two batches. After I finished making the first batch I was very worried that I might not have mixed to true emulsion so while waited for the first batch to come out of the mold I started a second batch. Well I have no pictures from that batch because the soap thickened up so fast I was only able to get two full length squirts into my mold! The rest I added with a spoon, scraping big hunks of very thick soap batter in to the mold looking nothing like the mini drop swirls I was hoping to produce.
Well, luckily my first batch didn’t crumble when I cut it so I must have mixed it to a true emulsion state. But the soap came out of the mold looking and feeling very greasy. Given the time constraint I was under I had decided to try using the oven process step after putting my soap into the mold. First time for that too. As far as I can tell from the reading I did after I cut the soap, it’s likley a combination of things that led to the greasy, oily result. I’ve been led to believe that the oil will be reabsorbed during the curing process.
I tried wiping the oil from the surfaces of the soap so the final photos would look better but as far as I see it’s still pretty obvious that the surfaces are oily. The oiliness made taking a good photo very difficult as you can clearly see in the photo above.
So my final verdict on the mini drop swirl challenge: this technique takes time and patience to master. At least I met the requirements of having at last three completely separate drops in my entry – yeah!!!
For my entry photo I choose the dark background as I thought the drops stood out more. One last thing, I had never done the swirl technique on the top of the soap before – very neat. Not too bad for my first try.