Soap Palooza


In the past week or so, I’ve made a whole bunch of soap. I played with some new fragrances and some natural pigments I wanted to try. It was fun–but I’m so over soap at the moment. (Next up: homemade body sprays. I’m on a quest to put together gifts of matching scented candles, soaps, and body sprays. Before you ask, I got the fragrance oils and pigments from Wellington Fragrance. You can see the pigments I’m talking about here.)

First I made sage and chamomile soap to match the sage and chamomile candles I made. I used a bit of crumbled dried sage from my garden and some sage and chamomile fragrance oil. The look I was going for was part natural-colored soap and part pale green. I put part of the soap into the soap mold then put a small amount of soap in a bowl. I added the natural pigment to the small bow of soap and mixed it in.

Then I put it back with the remaining soap in the pot and mixed it all together.

This was hard. The powder doesn’t mix very easily with cooked soap. Eventually I worked it in and put the colored soap on top of the natural soap in the mold.

At first there was some distinction between the layers:

But within a few days, the organic coloring effect of the herb took over and it now all looks pretty much pale green.

Still, it came out pretty, so that was okay, just not exactly what I had envisioned.

Second, I made some “apple swirl” soap. This time around, I mixed some red powdered pigment with some extra fragrance oil to dissolve the powder in something else before adding it to the soap.

I added the rest of the fragrance oil to the cooked soap then again put a small amount of soap in a bowl. I poured in the extra fragrance oil (about half an ounce) with the dissolved pigment into the bowl of soap, mixed it in, then added it back to the pot.

I didn’t mix it in thoroughly because I wanted a swirled effect, so I just stirred it around randomly then put all the soap in the mold.

This came out okay.

The soap isn’t all red, which I didn’t want. It has a random sort of swirled look. I thought I used too much of the pigment, though, and it wasn’t that easy to mix it with the fragrance oil. I used a lot of the apple-scented fragrance oil and this soap smells so good.

The next time, I made these sugared citrus-scented bars by dissolving a small amount of yellow pigment and red pigment together in about a tablespoon of olive oil. I warmed the olive oil in the microwave. After the soap cooked, I added the sugared citrus fragrance oil then stirred in the colored olive oil. I stirred the color in more than I had done with the apple soap, but not quite completely. I wanted the soap to be a light orange–but not perfect.

I was pretty happy with how this one came out. (And I thought the olive oil worked best for dissolving the powdered pigment.)

A note about fragrance oil and hot process soap–I took the temperature of my hot process soap at the end of my cook time after experiencing my fragrance oil disappearing in one batch a while back. (Not any of these soaps, but previously.) I discovered the temperature of my soap at the end of the cook time is 220 degrees. (You will have to test your own to see how your crock pot cooks.) To avoid losing my fragrance, I use only 200 degree flashpoint fragrance oils and I bring down the temperature of my soap before adding the fragrance. To bring down the temperature, I remove the crock from the pot and stir it up several times over the course of 5-10 minutes. I can quickly bring the temperature down to 160 degrees before I add my scent.

Temperature so far has not been a problem for me when using essential oils, only when using fragrance oils. Always check the flashpoint of a fragrance oil before purchasing and test the temperature of your soap, bringing the temperature down if necessary. (I found the flashpoints of various fragrance oils from Wellington Fragrance on this page.)

By the time I had finished all my gift soaps this week, I was a little tired of making soap for now, but I decided to make some soap just for me before I put all my soapmaking stuff away and moved on to the next project. I look at other people’s soaps and I’m always amazed at how beautiful they are. For the life of me, I can’t make pretty soap. I just don’t think it’s in me. That apple swirl soap is probably as pretty as I get. And after all my efforts in the past week or so to make the “pretty” soap that is simply beyond me, I was ready for something easy.

I made a plain milk soap, using milk from my cow, swirled with huge dollops of honey from a local farmer. That’s all. No pigments, no fragrances. I kinda wished afterward that I’d gone ahead and added a little fragrance, and maybe next time I will, but in the end, of all the soaps I’ve made in the past week or so, this is my favorite soap.

Rustic. Simple. That’s all.

It’s just me. And my cow.

(We’re tight like that. We make cheese, too.)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 9, 2010  

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53 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-9

    Suzanne, your soap is beautiful! natural and rustic, thats how mine turns out, and people love it! I also have had a hard time with the powdered pigments and blending, I had it all over the kitchen one day. I think its hard to blend with hot process soap, so how I just stick with spices and herbs. Love the SOAP!!!!

  2. 12-9

    Simple is my favorite too. I use either goat’s milk (purchased) or Willow’s milk. I do cold processed so I have to semi-freeze the milk so it won’t get too dark or cook when the lye mixture is added.

    The only EO’s I have used are a mix of lavender and rosemary.

    I started making soap just to use leftover oils, fats and home rendered tallow and lard so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on ingredients. Now, I buy the lard because I want my non-hydrogenated lard for cooking!

  3. 12-9

    I think your soaps are pretty!! I feel your frustration though, my GoatsMilk Honey and Oatmeal soap was mistaken for poop in the shower by one of the kids LOL I dont think I ground up the oatmeal enough so it was a little chunky :)

  4. 12-9

    I don’t know what you are talking about, your soaps are so very pretty! Anybody I know would love to receive one as a gift!

  5. 12-9

    I think they’re beautiful!!! And the milk and honey soap sounds wonderful!!!

  6. 12-9

    I think they are lovely- and they sound like they smell wonderful.
    I know how you feel, though- the distance between what you envision and what you end up with can be a little disappointing.

  7. 12-9

    Would someone hurry and invent Smell-A-Vision so we can smell your wonderful soap!!! I think they look fantastic, rustic and homemade,which is what you were going for.

  8. 12-9

    Suzanne, I, with the others I think your soaps are beautiful and I am not a person who likes blended colors. I like stark bright colors and you inspire me to make soap. Especailly when I can make it for BO, he likes fragrances.
    I need a question answered, however, it seems with because you use lye that you need to keep the crockpot as one used only for soap, is that right?

  9. 12-9

    holstein woman, I do use this crock pot just for soap, but I wouldn’t be concerned with using it for food. It’s enamel and can be washed in the dishwasher. Also, I make hot process soap so by the time the soap is finished and taken out, it’s soap, nothing caustic left.

  10. 12-9

    I think your soap is beautiful. I love the rustic look of hot process soap. I have found that I want beautiful swirls and colors I have to use cold process but I love the look of hot process just as much. I call mine my country soap and city soap LOL! Right now I’m back into making country soap because it’s so close to Christmas and I don’t have time to let the CP cure!

  11. 12-9

    Love your site!
    The soap looks great–I’m sure it smells wonderful:)
    I have got to start making Christmas gifts-you’ve inspired me!

  12. 12-9

    Who needs pretty when you got beautiful! Seems to me that no matter what you get with soap it is still great stuff even if it is not exactly how you envisioned it. My favorite is also the last one. Color is warm and inviting and as a bonus I actually prefer just the smell of soap over scented stuff.

    I’ve never made soap before, but yesterday stopped at the natural food store and bought some supplies to give it an experimental attempt. Today I’m off to the local hardware store where they tell me over the phone they carry lye for soap makers. You just have to ask because they keep it behind the counter like contraband. Goggles and gloves are on my list too. Slowly getting all the stuff together.

  13. 12-9

    They all look absolutely wonderful! I bet they smell great too! I would love to try to make soap. But,still a little afraid to jump right in. Hope to find the courage one day! :yes:

  14. 12-9

    I LOVE the smell of homemade lye soap – just plain. No other scents added. It’s intoxicating to me – like antifreeze to a dog or something…

  15. 12-9

    I think your soap is lovely. Simple and rustic, and that’s the beauty of it. I have yet to try my hand at this, but all your instructions and trials/errors are very helpful. :yes:

  16. 12-9

    I love soap making because you never know exactly what you’ll end up with. I’ve been using the liquid lab colors from Brambleberry and I think those work well for blending and coloring with hot process soap.

  17. 12-9

    all the soaps are just beautiful, lucky people who get these in their stocking!My favorite would be the milk and honey…yum!

  18. 12-9

    Absolutely love the apple swirl soap! Too bad you can’t smell it through the computer. Wish I wasn’t too chicken to try to make soap. One of these days I’ll give it a try.

  19. 12-9

    FYI, My favorite soap right now is Lemon verbena-peppermint. It smells heavenly in the shower!! I crush the dried verbena and use peppermint essential oil. The lemon verbena makes it the most beautiful pale green.

  20. 12-9

    What do you mean, you can’t make pretty soap? The honey and milk bars are GORGEOUS. I love them. I want them. If I ever get my act together soap-wise, that is totally what I am making.

  21. 12-9

    All of these soaps are beautiful and rustic. I would be so proud to make something like this and have them available for my guests. And the apple swirl sounds fabulous! And it is VERY pretty. But I really like your green soaps, too. I wonder if crumbled mint would give the same green effect that sage does?

  22. 12-9

    Those soaps ARE pretty! Whatchoo talkin bout, Willis?

  23. 12-9

    Isn’t it funny, everybody has a different idea of what is pretty? I love the way your soaps turn out, they are unique and beautiful. Now if you want a uniform “perfect” looking bar, you can pick those up at any grocery store.

    Keep making them the way you do!


  24. 12-9

    All your soaps are beautiful! You are amazing, I wish I had half of your energy. Just think how good these soaps are for your skin and the environment! Your gift recipients will be estatic, anyone would be, you put your heart and soul into each gift, such a blessing!

  25. 12-9

    I think the soaps are beautiful and more importantly, you made them. Your friends are will be the lucky recipients of some pretty terrific gifts. Will you be sharing the recipes for these in the future?

  26. 12-9

    kellyb, I used the same recipe I’ve already posted–it’s the same recipe I used for the lavender basil soap and the chocolate spa soap (minus those additives, but same oils etc).

  27. 12-9

    I’m sure your friends and relatives will be tickled pink to recieve any of those! I personally like the look of the chamomile/sage soap the best. It looks like granite, very pretty! Now I am in the mood to try this. You are always an inspiration! I have been rendering tallow all day to make suet for the birds and I will have a lot of it left over. Maybe I will try making some lye soap? :butterfly:

  28. 12-9


    I love that recipe. I made my version with lemon balm and lavender EO. It smelled good enough to eat, I did restrain myself from taking a giant bite. I hope I can squeeze in time this weekend to make another batch. Your soap is beautiful, one of a kind and you should be very proud of it.

  29. 12-9

    I wish I had the umm guts to make that. I just started candles which Suzanne thank you for all your help, between the tutorial and getting suggestions on colors they have all turned out beautiful! Just have to wait until I have a little more money here to start soap. When you are starting with no supplies it is a little expensive. That and my hubby does not want me doing it here at the house, we have a 2 year old he thinks is going to get hurt somehow?!?!

  30. 12-9

    I think all of your soaps look gorgeous and naturally pretty. I am so jealous of your skills :pirate: I hope to try my hand at soap making one day, you are an inspiration! :)

  31. 12-9

    I like the homemade look. They all look good to me, and would be fun to have. Maybe it would be better not to have a planned, preconceived idea of how you want it to look. Just create and have fun with it. Lucky recipients I’d say. :clover:

  32. 12-9

    Wow, the sage green soap is absolutely gorgeous. So rustic, simple, yet elegant. I can even envision the scent!!!
    I still have to get up the courage to try the process. yes it is a bit expensive to get started. I just don’t want to use my regular cooking equipment. I have a stick blender, but it has a metal part on it. I don’t know if it is stainless or not. :cry:

  33. 12-9

    I’ve never made my own soap but I have it on my List of Things I’d Like to Do. I was thinking of a lavender and orange combination because of the aromatherapy characteristics.

    I think your soaps look great and anyone would be happy to receive some.

  34. 12-9

    Suzanne, your hot process soaps are as pretty as hot process gets. Smooth and creamy is cold process soap. Color is always an issue with hot process. I have had “better” luck using the gel colors. Just to share a tip, I dump my freshly finished hot process soap out of the crock pot into a plastic bowl to cool and wait for 145F before adding color and fragrance.
    There will always be real advantages to hot process over other methods but the disadvantages have to be adjusted around. Cold process is much more forgiving to work with.
    P.S. watch the amount of honey you are using. After a while it has a tendency to ooze out of the soap. Start with a teaspoon per pound of oils and work up to one tablespoon depending on your recipe and how hot your working. It also blends easier if you heat it in the microwave just a teensy before adding it to the soap.

  35. 12-9

    Love the soaps. My hot process batches are always less photogenic than my cold process ones, too. I love the rustic way that they look, though. I actually prefer them to be all a little different rather than uniform. That’s how we all are, right?

  36. 12-9

    By the time you are a grandmother, children will clamor to get you to help them with their science fair projects. Your kitchen is a LIVING science fair project.

  37. 12-9

    I personally think all of your soaps turned out beautifully. I just wish there was some sort of smell-o-vision to my computer, so I could take in all the fragrances too.

  38. 12-10

    You soaps are beautiful…you say that your soaps do not look like other “pretty” soaps?? Are you sure that you are looking at Hot Process soaps? There is a real difference…now for a hint. Some color additives mix with oil and the others with water.
    I think that Wellingtons mix with water. In Hot Process, it takes by far less color than cold process…its in the cooking. I thought that you liked the rustic look? There is a way to get around most of that in Hot Process. Find someone to either cut you a piece of pine board that will fit into you mould, get yourself a really thick piece of very firm cardboard. Cover it with wax paper. After you get your soap in the mould and slam it on the floor a few times to get the air out of it, put the “top” on and firmly press to make your soap flat. You will have to hurry with this while the soap is still hot. Then place in your oven that is preheated to 170. Bake 1 hour and let sit in the over overnite. Do not peek…Next morning, take out of oven and let it sit until the mould is completely cooled off. This may take a bit. Then pull your soap out of the mould, THEN take the top off. Slice and see what you think. Oh, BTW, I would be more than glad to take all your soap off your hands if it bothers you that much. I don’t want to see your suffer! LOL

  39. 12-10

    Opps…I typed wrong…either a wooden top “or” a thick piece of cardboard. Not both…
    Also, your milk and honey soap look just like Amber…just beautiful.

  40. 12-10

    Lord! I’d love to have some of your “ugly” soaps. They look lovely and I’m sure they smell wonderful! So…just ship them straight to my little spot of Texas!!! I wish I had your talents! My only foray into soap making was pretty sad.

    Susan ~ Patchkat in TX

  41. 12-13

    I wish I had a portion of your energy.

  42. 12-13

    What do ya mean, you can’t make pretty soap? I think all of the soaps you’ve shown here are gorgeous! Lovely colors and textures.

  43. 12-14

    Have you ever tried coloring your soap with colored sugar? I did this with a batch of peppermint and added about 1/4 cup of red colored sugar and poof pink swirly soap!! only after did I read somewhere that you shouldnt use food coloring to color soap but it worked great for me :) maybe because it was mixed with sugar ???

  44. 12-17

    I’m pretty new to the blog/forum…can someone direct me to where I can find the basic soapmaiking recipes?

  45. 12-17

    Leah’s Mom, in each section of my blog, if you look at the top of the sidebar, there is a square green button for the archives for that section. If you’re in my Crafts section, you’ll see a button at the top of the sidebar that says Crafts archives. Here is the link (just wanted you to know where to find it again next time!):
    Click on Soap and you’ll find all my soap tutorials.

  46. 12-25

    Hi, I just tried the honey and milk soap recipe. This is the first time I have made soap and was wondering if I broke it. I know the lye stinks, but is it supposed to smell the whole way through? Even up to the point you put in honey and fragrance into your soap mixture? I was wondering if my crock pot (even on low) was too hot? I did my absolute best, :no: I hope I didn’t mess up, Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want stinky soap. :hissyfit:

  47. 12-25

    Angelina, it should smell like your fragrance after you put that in. See how it smells after you take it out of the mold.

  48. 12-26

    Hi Suzanne, my soap still smells, but not as bad. I thought about it and maybe it’s because I used canned goats Milk? Maybe it got too hot, when I added the lye. I read that it can scorch? I will try again though. I can do it, I know I can, I know can :happyflower: Thanks so much!

  49. 12-26

    Angelina, when using milk, you should get it almost frozen before adding the lye–sort of slushy-frozen–otherwise it scorches the milk.

  50. 12-26

    Ooooh, I had it cold and a little slushy just around the edges. I am sure that is where I went wrong, I was impatient. Now I know that it just makes stinky soap. Patience Grasshopper! Thanks so much and I am going to succeed :P thanks for all of the great advice. I think I will use fresh milk next time too. Canned just is not natural. LOL!

  51. 1-28

    would you pretty please post your recipe for the milk and honey soap you made? It sounds divine and I’ve been dreaming about making it, please, please, please?!

  52. 2-14

    I love your help. Thank you so much. I would like to make the milk & honey soap but cant seem to find the recipe. Did I miss it somewhere on here?

    thank you

  53. 2-14

    Amber, I used the same recipe that’s here:

    Except I used milk instead of water, and instead of lavender and basil, I added honey, just a couple of big dollops off a spoon, maybe about 1/4 cup or so, I didn’t really measure!

    You can see how to use milk in place of water in a soap recipe here:

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