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Soap Challenge Club February 2021: The Kiss Pour

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 February, the challenge was a technique borrowed from acrylic pour painting called the "kiss pour". Joanne Watkins was our guest teacher for this challenge, sharing her tips and tricks for applying the kiss pour technique to soap making. 

In acrylic pour painting, the kiss pour technique is performed by layering paint of different colors into two different pouring pitchers. The layered paint from these two pitchers are slowly poured onto the canvas simultaneously so that the streams of paint are barely touching, or kissing. This technique can be easily adapted to soap making. Instead of paint of different colors, it is colored soap batter that is layered into the pitchers then poured into a slab soap mold. 

The true "challenge" of this month's Soap Challenge Club is controlling the trace of the soap batter. Once oils and lye are mixed to create a soap batter, they are reacting to form a solid soap. The soap maker must be familiar with how to manipulate the soap batter so that they would have enough time to separate into colors, layer into pouring pitchers, then pour into the mold. If the batter is too thick, then the ideal wispy layers don't happen. If the batter is too thin, then the colors mix or even muddle together. You can read more about controlling the trace of soap batter in this previous blog post. Selecting the right colors is important as well. Mixing of colors often happens with this technique, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, red and blue will mix to form purple, but red and green mix to form a brownish gray. 

I attempted this challenge one time. I used Joanne Watkin's recipe, except for substituting shea butter with cocoa butter. Her recipe was not all that different from one of my own, except for the higher water content. The higher water content helped to keep the soap batter fluid longer, giving me more time to separate into colors, layer the colored batter into two different pitchers, then pour into my slab mold. I used a rosewood musk fragrance that I was familiar with and knew would not accelerate trace. This is probably the most important part of this technique- the choice of a non-accelerating fragrance. The colors I used were dark blue, medium blue, and light blue alternately layered in one pitcher, separated by a little white between each layer. In the other pitcher I alternately layered purple, dark pink, and light pink, with a little white in between. Here's a picture of the mica colorants I used. Aren't they pretty?

mica colorants
When I poured the soap batter into my slab mold it was at a medium trace. I was worried that this was too thick, but it ended up being about right. It was fluid enough to pour, and not glop, out of the pitchers, but thick enough not to mix and muddle. Here's what it looked like in the slab mold after pouring. (I did use a chopstick to swirl the very center, where the pouring stopped, but the rest of the swirls are achieved only by the pouring technique.)
kiss pour soap challenge
I had quite a bit of batter left in the pouring pitchers. Soap makers are used to scraping out every bit of batter into their molds, but that would have messed up the swirl. Unlike a loaf mold, the design for a soap in a slab mold is on the top and not inside. I scraped out the remaining soap into a small mold and was able to get 4 bars for my personal use. A much welcomed bonus!!!
The extra water in this recipe meant the soap was quite soft and needed to stay in the mold longer than usual for me, despite the use of sodium lactate. I left it in the mold 4 days before cutting, then waited another 4 before beveling and planing. Having the patience to wait to cut and bevel was hard for me! I was excited about how it looked in the mold and was anxious to see it finished. Cutting the soap was also a bit of challenge as I cut it by hand with a knife. I'm used to the precise cutting of loaf molds with my wire cutter. To cut this slab soap, I measured out and cut 9 bars, but they were quite large. This meant I had plenty of room to plane and fix crooked edges (because I cannot cut soap straight manually!). Here's my final result of my kiss pour soap, my entry for the February Soap Challenge Club.
kiss pour soap challenge
If I were to do this technique again, I would choose colors that had more contrast, more light and dark, but I am quite pleased with my first attempt. Thanks to the Soap Challenge Club for the opportunity to learn and grow!

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  • Love the way each bar looks! Most of us don’t realize how much work goes into beautiful soap making. This is lovely.

    Sheila Zeringue
  • What a wonderful write-up about your beautiful soap!! I’m so glad you started early so you had the time to wait ever so patiently for it to set properly. The results are stunning! Such gorgeous, wispy swirls. I love that every bar is unique!

    Amy Warden

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