Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Puro Soaps is joining The Great Soap Challenge!

Yup, this is very exciting. 65 soap makers from all over the world both amateur enthusiasts and professional makers have signed up to join the Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge!

I am really excited as I have not made much soap for a while and am feeling very frustrated so to bring back a bit of challenge to me and my soap making I decided to sign up too.  Basically over the next 5 weeks we are being set a series of soap making tasks, one each week.  The final soaps will be cut up, photographed and displayed on a special blog with all the other people taking part, this will happen every Saturday and there will be a link so you can all have a look too.  There are no prizes but that is not what it is about.  Imagine how lovely it will be to get an idea of how everyone has tackled this challenge and how different the resulting soaps will look?  I can't wait!

So, this is week one and the challenge is to produce a beautiful soap using the in-pot-swirl method.  Sounds easy doesn't it?  well, I have made many, many soaps over the last few years and lots of them have been quite technical swirls etc. but I have NEVER made an in-the-pot swirl, gulp.  I have always used another method in which you swirl coloured soaps inside the mold itself.  This time I have to swirl coloured soaps in the main mixing pan, the one where the oils are melted and mixed with the lye solution, then tip this into the mold and hope for the best.  Of course, none of us will have any idea how our soaps will turn out until they are out of the mold and cut up, so its a nerve wracking 24hrs ahead.  The following 4 challenges look like this:

Week 2: starts March 25 – Milk soap
Week 3: starts April 1 – Piping Cold Process Soap (you’ll need decorating tips and a bag!)
Week 4: starts April 8 – Making soap with alcohol
Week 5: starts April 15 – Mixing your own essential oil or fragrance blends

I have photographed my progress today, here goes......

Firstly I had to decide on the colours and fragrances I will be using.  I have some lovely peppermint essential oil lurking in my fragrance cupboards since I made my Salgado Azule salt spa bar last year and I have been dying to use it again.  I love the freshness of peppermint and using it meant that I can then work on using my bugbear colours in soap making, blue and green. I never seem to be able to get these right and I really love blue/green soap.  This time I decided to use Ultramarine Blue and Green Oxide, both natural pigment colours and very vibrant.  I know that they mix well and the colours usually stay true in cold process soap but I have not used them very often so it would be a challenge to come up with the right shades.
Mixed colours, fragrances and mold all ready
The two lighter shades to the left have been mixed with a little titanium dioxide and I have also added a sea green mica and pearl blue mica too, hopefully to give a little sparkle to the swirls.  mica does not always work well in CP soap so it may be a bit wasted, we will see.
This is my oils and goats milk and lye mix waiting to be amalgamated.

 Oils and lye mix added together.  Notice how creamy it looks, that is the fab goats milk I use.  I have, at this point, only blended the two together, they are not at trace yet and I want them to stay like that.  I like my soaps to be nice and runny for a swirl.  I have also added the essential oils, peppermint and bergamot.

 All the colour pots blended with about 300ml of the soap and fragrance mix - still lovely and runny.
All the colours are now added to the oil mix which has been coloured with a little bit of titanium dioxide to make a really good contrast.

The mix is then swirled very lightly in the pot.  I'm happy with the colour combinations at the moment, lets hope they stay like this!!

This is the soap now in the mold (it went a bit muddy looking so I hope there will be enough of a contrast when cut).  I then dribbled over the remaining coloured soap, which is by now setting up nicely.

The top is them simply swirled with the point of a skewer, problem is, I don't like flat soap!!  so I decided to carefully peak the top lifting soap up from well beneath the swirl on top so the peaks were still showing swirled sides.  I think it has works, it looks a bit like waves I think.  I then glittered the whole thing to give some sparkle and voila.......

I really love the way the top looks, just can't wait to see what the rest of it will look like cut up.
Hey, I have just noticed that this soap matches the blog!!!

You will all have to wait until Saturday, I will post the link to the challenge reveal site on this blog and our facebook page as soon as I get it from Amy.

So keep your fingers and toes crossed that it has come out well. I am so happy to be creating again, I really need to do things like this, it keeps me fresh and on the ball - so thank you Amy for organising this fun event.

Let me know what you think of this and also if you have any ideas on how I might tackle the next 4 challenges (shown above).


  1. Lovely color combination-what a nice swirl too!

  2. this looks lovely!! I made my ITP swirl tonight and it was a total disaster as the soap set really fast in their jugs and it riced on me :( (Raspberry FO, not one to try again).

    I can;t wait to see your cut soaps xx

  3. Wow, this looks amazing. can't wait to try some!

  4. This looks gorgeaous, the colours are wonderful.


  5. Thanks everyone, I am very happy with the final bar too. It smells wonderful, very fresh and clean smelling. The swirls have come out very nicely, all in all I am really chuffed with it. Photos will be out on Saturday!!

  6. Ishbel - it's soooo beautiful!! Can't wait to see the cut pics!! And, we'll probably have more challenges past Week 5 if you'd like to continue on...I just wanted to give everyone a heads up of what was coming next! :)

  7. Oh my Amy, We here at Puro are so into pushing our boundarys, give us more!! I did see some posts today saying the challenge was going on for weeks......!