July 2020 Soap Challenge Club Entry: Natural Marble Soap
The Soap Challenge Club, hosted by Amy Warden, is a group of soap makers who come together to learn new techniques and engage in a little healthy competition each month. Amy shares a tutorial and soap makers have the month to practice the technique, ask questions, share tips, and finally enter a soap for competition. For July, the challenge was to create a soap that looks like naturally occurring marble or river rocks. I chose the marble technique.
After a Google search for inspiration for natural marble, I decided on a soap with a white base and black, gold, and brown veins. There was no specific pouring technique for this challenge. We could pour the soap in any way we wanted, as long as the result produced a natural look. I colored my soap with titanium dioxide for the white base and used black, gold, and brown micas for the "veins". I used an in-the-pot swirl technique to pour my soap. Instead of coloring the soap batter with the gold and brown micas, I used a mica drizzle, which means I mixed the mica with olive oil, instead of soap batter. This will allow the mica to keep its sparkle and look metallic in the "marble". The trick is to use a very small amount of mica drizzle so as not to create mica streaks in your soap when you cut it.
I made two attempts with this marble technique and decided to enter my second one. In my first attempt, I used too much of the black, gold, and brown colors and the resulting soap looked too "busy" for marble. (Amy warned us of this in the tutorial too!) I soaped at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit and my batter got a little thick and the veins didn't look as fluid as I would have liked. In my second attempt, I soaped at 80 degrees and used the same colors, just less of them. I also adjusted my recipe a little so it would stay fluid longer. (For tips on controlling trace in cold process soap check out my previous blog post.) This produced a soap that had fewer and more fluid veins and closer resembled marble. I used a mix of rosemary, peppermint, and lavender essential oils to scent the soap.
A horizontal cut of the soap produced a soap that more closely resembled marble. We normally cut our soap logs vertically into bars, but I found the horizontal cut favored a more fluid marble look. It takes a little thought beforehand on how to cut soap horizontally and still have similar sized bars, but it was definitely worth the effort on this soap!
I enjoyed this technique and am happy with the result of my soap. I am grateful to Amy Warden for hosting the Soap Challenge Club and am looking forward to the August challenge.