The first rule of Soap Challenge Club is . . . no wait, wrong club.
I’ve been watching the monthly challenges on Great Cakes Soapworks. Each month there is a different theme or soap-making technique, and soapmakers from around the world enter and compete to be chosen as the winner. I thought that one of these times, just for fun, I should try the technique of the month. Not to compete; I’m not ready for that.
Well, the September challenge rolled around, and the challenge was to make a soap using the Clyde Slide, a technique used by the awesome soapmaker Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap. Clyde has wonderful videos on YouTube. Go watch them. There’s something soothing about his voice. He’s like the Bob Ross of Soap.
Anyway, before I even watched a single video of his, I found myself registering for the challenge. What?!
There are seriously talented people making breathtaking soaps, and while I’m proud of the soaps I make, the aesthetic is not my main focus. I want them to make skin feel good and smell great. I play around with color, but it’s all a happy accident. This is Soap with Intention.
The mark of the Clyde Slide is beautiful featherings of color in the soap. So, Amy, she of Great Cakes Soapworks, said the key was to have a very light trace (how thick the soap is) for a successful Clyde Slide. There are several factors that contribute to this, so I decided to try all of them.
- I used a very slow-to-trace recipe. This is accomplished by using ingredients, like canola oil or sunflower oil, that slow down how quickly the soap thickens when mixed. I swapped out olive oil for canola oil in my recipe.
- I used a well-behaving scent – Sweet Orange essential oil. The scent you use can have a huge effect on how quickly the soap thickens. Some fragrance oils will make the soap ‘seize’ or set up quickly. Others, like citrus essential oils, keep the soap thin.
- I soaped cooler. When you mix lye with water, there is an incredibly powerful exothermic reaction. I’ve never checked it right after mixing, but I know within a short time, it registered 170 degrees. The lye water needs to cool down, as do the oils after you heat them to get them all to a liquid state. For this recipe, I let them both cool to about 100 degrees.
To make the swirls, I used these colors, plus added a little white (titanium dioxide) to the base.
I divided out the four colors, mixed the white into the main batch, then poured about half of the color of yellow, orange, pink, and purple in that order along one handle side of the pot, one on top of the other, added some reserve white, then poured the remainder of rest of the colors one at a time through the same order. I then poured, so that the color was at one side, lengthwise in the mold, with a few passes.
How did it work? A little too well.
Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that soap. It’s pretty cool, actually. But there is way too much movement and definitely no feathers.
So, back to the drawing board. Things I did different:
- I used my usual recipe with olive oil.
- In addition to the Sweet Orange, I added it some Jasmine and Sandalwood fragrance oils. Florals are infamous for speeding up trace, and I needed a little thicker batter to behave better.
- I soaped at about 105-110 of lye and oils.
Much better! See those feathers? Now, it was probably still a little too thin, even with the adjustments. But this is a technique I will definitely play around with more in the future.