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Swirling or Marbling Soap


Swirling soap is a technique whereby you create two or more colours in a bar of soap by adding coloured soap to uncoloured or different coloured base soap. Put simply, you must remove a small portion of soap from the batch, colour it, and then swirl it into the remainder of your batch.

This gives the soap a marbled look, which is most often seen as white or a light coloured background with darker swirls and curls running through it. You can also do 'reverse' swirl whereby you allow the colour of a discolouring fragrant oil be the larger portion, and colour the smaller portion to a light or white colour. Every batch is individual and no two batches will ever turn out exactly the same!

Swirling MP Soap Instructions
Swirling CP Slab/Tray/Log Method Instructions
Swirling "In the Pot CP" Instructions

Instructions:

Swirling MP Soap

Achieving swirls or marbling Melt and Pour Soap is similar to swirling Cold Process Soap, but a technique which I personally find much more challenging!

Swirling MP Soap

Basically, you need to ensure that you use either an opaque (white) base and a contrasting colour, or simply divide the soap into two portions and colour individually. I prefer an uneven volume and balance of colours to achieve the best results. (Usually ¼ for the swirl and ¾ for the base colour.)

I will give instructions here for using a microwave, but you can alternatively use a double boiler to keep the soap in a liquid state.

Instructions:

  1. Measure desired quantity of Melt & Pour Base/s
  2. Melt it all down, making sure you have a separate container for each colour. I use ¼ of the weight of MP for my darker colour, and ¾ of the MP for my main base colour.

    Colour and fragrance the three-quarters portion of the melted soap and pour into a flat mould or loaf mould. Then Colour and fragrance the quarter portion of MP for the swirl colour. I like to use a small plastic jug with a lip which allows easy pouring.

    Now comes the tricky part - the temperatures and the timing!! Place the smaller portion into the microwave and set the timer onto medium/high or 70% for approx 20-30 seconds. (Or preset to 1 minute and be ready to stop during the time as soon as the soap is liquid.)

    Don't start the microwave yet!! **This is hotter than I usually recommend you heat MP soap on.

  3. Now you play the waiting game. The time you need to wait is entirely dependent on the volume of soap you are making. If you are making around 1kg it is usually 20 minutes for me, but if only using 500g or even less, the time will be considerably less. Also coming into play is the temperature - this takes much longer on a hot summer's day, than in winter! You will know when you have waited long enough when a thin/medium skin has formed on the base colour portion in the mould.
  4. Now hit "Start" on the microwave and re-melt until it is quite hot but still not boiling
  5. Use a skewer or toothpick to make some holes or small tears in the surface skin of the setting MP in the mould.
  6. Then quickly pour the hot swirl portion of MP in a crosshatch pattern or zigzag on the top of the mould. Ensure you are not too high above the mould, as gravity will drop too much soap to the bottom of the mould
  7. Take a toothpick or skewer and swirl or marble across the surface and drag the colour through the base. You must work quickly. If you have time, you can drag the colour end to end. Do the swirling GENTLY and you will have a lovely swirl. The thinner the utensil the better with MP. Chopsticks are often too heavy for this task, but bamboo skewers are often fine.
  8. That is about it! If you were too slow or it was too set, you will know! Simply melt down and start again. You can then practise by using a darker shade to try swirling again, or reverse this and swirl some new white/cream through the darker batch.

We'd love to see pictures of your efforts and I can post them into the gallery pages we are working on.

WHEN MAKING COLD PROCESS SOAP, PLEASE REMEMBER ALL THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AND WEAR AN APRON, GLOVES AND SAFETY GOGGLES TO MAKE YOUR CP SOAP

Swirling CP Soap

There are two techniques for swirling CP soap you might like to try. The first method is very similar to the MP method above. The second method is an "in the pot swirl" which is quite different. You will need a little time and practise to become proficient at swirling (or marbling soap). I personally find it much easier to swirl CP soap than swirling Melt & Pour as I have much more time to play around with it.

It is really important if using fragrant oils that you KNOW your oil and how it will behave, and that it will allow you some time to complete the procedure of swirling. Some fragrances will "seize" the soap very quickly, so make sure you have some knowledge of how the oils will react to avoid spoiling your batch.

Swirling CP Slab/Tray/Log Method

This technique is really very similar to the MP one and quite simple, it's the practice that can be a little more difficult to perfect!

Instructions:

Most importantly, have EVERYTHING prepared, measured and ready to pour.

This means:

  • Have your safety equipment ready.
  • Prepare the colours you wish to use. If using powders, mix these in a little water so they are ready to include into the traced soap.
  • Measure out the fragrant or essential oils you will add.
  • Have the mould box or tray lined and ready to pour.
  • Have a "swirl container" ready to mix the colour and thinly traced soap you remove into.
  • Have spatulas, chopsticks, pop sticks and spoons at the ready.

Let's Go!

  1. When your batch is at thin/medium trace, remove a portion of soap into an ice cream container (swirl container).

    **Tip: If making quite a small batch, you may like to try using an old cottage cheese container that has a snug fitting lid. By FIRMLY securing the lid, you can shake the soap with the colour until mixed if you have a nice thin trace.

  2. Add the pre-mixed colour to this and mix well until you achieve a shade you are happy with.
  3. Mix second colour (if using) into the remainder of your batch, mixing quickly.
  4. Add fragrant or essential oils to the main batch and ensure all are well blended.
  5. Pour half or all of the base colour soap into the mould.(complexity of colour swirl is up to you).
  6. Carefully pour, from a little height above the mould, the second colour soap you had set aside. Gravity will help this thin stream of coloured soap to penetrate well down into your mould.
  7. Then, if you are "sandwiching" the darker colour between two lighter layers, pour the remainder of the base colour on top as evenly as you are able.
  8. Then use chopstick, pop-stick or spatula to swirl or "marble" the two colours together. Now drag the utensil (and colour) across the length and breadth of the tray (as pictured). Try not to overdo this process because the more your drag the colour through, the more blended the colours will become. **TIP: Ensure the swirling utensil is at the base of the mould the whole time to ensure you have an even flow of colour.

  9. Cover and insulate as usual.

We'd love to see pictures of your efforts and I can post them into the gallery pages we are working on.

Swirling "In the Pot CP"

This will occasionally produce quite fine swirls, but mostly, you will have larger blocks of colour than a hand done swirl. This method uses gravity and the direction you pour from the pot in to mix the two colours in the mould.

Again, most importantly, have EVERYTHING prepared, measured and ready to pour.

This means:

  • Have your safety equipment ready.
  • Prepare the colours you wish to use. If using powders, mix these in a little water so they are ready to include into the traced soap.
  • Measure out the fragrant or essential oils you will add.
  • Have the mould box or tray lined and ready to pour.
  • Have a "swirl container" ready to mix the colour and thinly traced soap you remove into.
  • Have spatulas, chopsticks, pop sticks and spoons at the ready.

Let's Go!

  1. When your batch is at thin/medium trace, remove a small portion of soap into an ice cream container (swirl container).

    **Tip: If making quite a small batch, you may like to try using an old cottage cheese container that has a snug fitting lid. By FIRMLY securing the lid, you can shake the soap with the colour until mixed if you have a nice thin trace.

  2. Add the pre-mixed colour to this and mix well until you achieve a shade you are happy with.
  3. Mix second colour (if using) into the remainder of your batch, which is still in the pot, mixing quickly.
  4. Add fragrant or essential oils to the main batch and ensure all are well blended.
  5. This is where you change the technique.
  6. Pour the coloured soap from the small container from quite a height above the pot (about 20cm or so) into the main pot. Keep this in a very thin stream and try and criss cross the pattern so as to colour most areas in thin lines. The higher up you pour from, the further down into the mix the soap colour will travel.
  7. Now with the chopstick, skewer or a spatula, stir JUST ONCE to semi-mix the two colours together. Don't cross hatch as you would in slab mould.
  8. Then, pour into the slab, tray or container you are moulding into in such a manner as to mix the colours a little more. Ie. Now you can pour in a figure eight or cross hatch manner to better mix the colours without manually doing this.
  9. Cover and insulate as usual.

We'd love to see pictures of your efforts and I can post them into the gallery pages we are working on.

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