Saturday, March 19, 2016

Want a bite?

I know, these don't look like most rimmed soaps. I did make two other batches that are more traditional (included at the end). But with this one, I was inspired by a fragrance oil (Snickerdoodle Latte from Nature's Garden) to make myself a fancy dessert. I hadn’t planned on submitting it -- as I made it just to see if I could -- but I think it turned out the most interesting.


I went with ABS pipes for the cylinder molds because I had them, and I'd been meaning to try Clara Lindberg's tutorial on making an oval soap mold (here). The two wider ones shown below are 3" in diameter, and the smaller one is 2". I cut them to a length of 3.5" on my miter saw, and heated and squished a few of the 3" ones into an oval shape:

The short height matched the width of the rim mold I chose -- Nurture Soap's Basic Loaf Mold, which is 3.5" x 2.5" x 9":


In my first rim batch, I followed the tutorial more closely, and used the recommended high amount of water (30% of oils). But with the second, I learned that if I unmolded and sliced the rims while the soap was still warm, I could use less water, and they wouldn't be so soft and sticky. 

This was my recipe, both for rims and centers:
  • 42% Lard
  • 22% Costco Mediterranean Blend Oil 
  • 25% Coconut Oil 
  • 11% Castor Oil

It has an excellent profile, so I’m going to try using it even after this challenge:
  • Hardness: 40
  • Cleansing: 17
  • Condition: 54
  • Bubbly: 27
  • Creamy: 33
  • Iodine: 57
  • INS: 154

Can you tell I’m trying to work on the more technical aspects of my soaping? More numbers:
  • I soaped at 85° F, with an 8% lye discount and water that’s 25% of oils for the rims
  • For the centers, I dropped the lye discount to 3% and the water to 22%
  • I also added 1 oz/ppo fragrance oil 1 oz/ppo sodium lactate and 0.5 oz/ppo of WSS's vanilla stabilizer to the centers
I’m really glad I didn’t use the fragrance on the rims, too, as it really accelerated on me!


The dark brown is Espresso mica, and the latte is Aztec Gold, both from TKB Trading and both at 6g/ppo. The inner ring is brown swirled with white (I'd skip the swirl next time, as it just looks messy), which I just poured as the bottom layer.

The centers are the natural color of the FO + the vanilla stabilizer, with 1 heaping T/ppo of ground coffee.


I had planned to do a mantra swirl, and was tired of trying (and failing!) to keep my foam core sheets in place with rubber bands as I poured. So I made this fairly robust divider insert:

It's made out of flat PVC that I meticulously measured and cut on my table saw then very sloppily super-glued together into one unit. It makes perfect bands, as you pull the whole thing out at once!

When I finished the swirl, it didn't look like much, so I added some random flourishes:

Processing the Rims

The swirled rim batter sat on the counter for 30 minutes to thicken up (thank you, Clara!), went into a 140° F oven for 2 hours, and then stayed in the cooling oven for another 2 hours before I started gently pressing on it to see if it was hard enough to be unmolded but still pretty soft. I didn’t keep track, but I think it had about another hour before I took it out.

In my previous batches, I’d had trouble cutting the rims evenly, even with Tatsiana’s handheld wire cutter. So for this one, I made a simple sled for my homemade wire log splitter, such that the bottom of the soap loaf slid just 1/4" below the wire, like this:

I sliced, trimmed and then rolled each rim using a silicone mat and a bottle narrower than the cylinder mold. It’s a lot like making sushi rolls, and I found with enough pressure and the support of the bottle, they wouldn’t crack at all. 

It was so much easier to put them in and seal the seams when the cylinder molds were only 3.5” tall, but the oval and 2" pipes, plus the double layer, were still quite a challenge!

BTW, I found that if I used petroleum jelly instead of plastic to line the molds, the soap came out easier and much smoother. Normally I don't need any liner with PVC when I use sodium lactate and low water, but I couldn't do that here.

Adding the centers

The rest was pretty standard, although I never found an easy/quick/cheap way to seal the bottoms of the cylinder molds. I did learn that a wire slicer works much better than a blade for keeping the coffee grounds from dragging tracks across the cuts, and that if I waited a few days for them to harden (I'm not good at waiting ;), I could plane them cleanly.

Previous Batches

For my first two batches -- which I'm not counting! :) -- I tried the single layer method without success because: 1) I couldn’t get an even enough layer and 2) they dried out too much to be pliable enough to bend without cracking.

For my next batch, I used Tatsiana’s tray mold and wire slicer method, and got my first success:

For the next one, I switched to the loaf mold, dropped the water content and tried a decelerating fragrance oil on the rims (White Tea & Ginger, from Nature's Garden):

These are a bit better, but the FO decelerated the batter so much that that the pattern turned out blotchy in the bottom layers and I was going for greenish-yellow, not yellowish-green. I got just one good one (the colors are more true in this shot), but it's an oval, which doesn't count:

Next Time?

In the future, if I make more of these, I will probably make a silicone mold to seal the bottoms like the one I use for pvc pipe embeds:

I think red and white swirled rims with plain white centers -- scented in peppermint -- would make a cute holiday gift:
I'd also do the swirl with a stronger diagonal element, as I think it would have the most impact.


  1. They look perfect - Two rims too! I like the browns you used and the interior.

  2. I was looking forward to seeing what you'd come up with! The double rim is just brilliant.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE your rimmed soap, my favorite colors are the natural black and browns etc. I'm impressed it was a challenge just getting one rim and you accomplished two. Awesome!!! way to go!!!

  4. Thank you! This was a really fun challenge because it was so difficult, but with lots of room for creativity. I wasn't a huge fan of round soap before, but rimmed ones have an irresistible whimsy to them!

  5. I love your style. Thank you for sharing all that you've done. I really enjoyed seeing your soap...the double rim is awesome.


  6. Well done, Claudia! Each one of them turned out so unique and beautiful! I'm glad you went ahead and entered. All of them are fantastic but your entry is particularly fabulous! I love the color combo and the design. Another winner!

  7. Claudia:
    I always look forward to your blogs and I love all the detailed technical stuff too - numbers are good! (Anyway to subscribe to your blogs so I don't miss any?)
    All of your soaps look really lovely - I'm always drawn to purples. And the one you submitted is my favorite - the extra black rim & coffee grounds inside are awesome!
    Just to clarify...did you make additional black rims to fit inside the multi-colored brown?
    I love that you have so many cool PVC pipes too.
    Thank you for the informative blog. Can you get Amy to change the link so everyone can find it?

  8. Thanks Sly, as I didn't know there was a problem with my link-up! I don't know how I managed that one...

    The extra rim was just the dark brown swirled with some white, which I poured in the bottom of my mold before pouring the stripes on top of it. Then, I just sliced off the bottom layers, curled them and set them aside before I cut the main rims.

    I just added a Subscribe link, but I don't know much about how it works, yet. I will see if there is a better way!

  9. Fantastic, Claudia! I didn't know you were so handy with the power tools! Very creative and fun soaps!! Love those swirls, and the fragrance sounds like one I'd like to eat!

  10. I love these! Your shop must be amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  11. What a wonderful result!! Thank you for the insight on your process. It really inspires me to think outside the box to achieve spectacular results -or at least ones that I won't end up turning into confetti ;). I saw your soaps from last month on the Soap Queen round up the other day. Congrats again on your landscape, and congrats on this one too!!!

  12. I love your double rimmed soaps Claudia and the oval one is gorgeous! so clever, well done x

  13. This was so much fun to read, as well as your soap being a feast for the eyes! I love the coffee look and how unique it is. Love the double rim. Love the way the fragrance must smell. Awesome!

  14. I notice you love the Mediterranean blend from Costco. Where do you enter it on the soap calc?

  15. What? 60% SL? Is this a typo? 1 oz/ PPO is more like 6%