My Taiwan Swirl Adventure

I am so thankful for the Soap Challenge Club that Amy Warden hosts every month.  It gives me the perfect opportunity to learn new techniques in the good company of other avid soap makers.  This month’s Taiwan Swirl challenge is my third time to join the club, and my favourite technique so far.  I submitted my second try but went on to make more. I am really enjoying this technique, especially so with my wooden slab mould. The gorgeous creations of the other participants have also inspired me to aim for thinner, finer swirls.

I normally work with a 37% lye concentration, and even though I knew I needed a very fluid batter, I stuck with the high concentration and relied on slow moving fragrance oils. I used my normal yogurt recipe with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter.

My first attempt, scented with Black Tea, Yuzu and Tangerine, ended in failure. I worked too slowly, had too much coloured batter for the lines, and didn’t pour high enough. I also decided to try CPOP for the first time since I was not sure the shallow slab mould would provide enough insulation for a full gel.  It looks like the heat morphed the orange (neon orange pigment, yellow oxide, and Piccadilly red oxide) into a brownish colour because it didn’t look like that when it went into the oven.

Taiwan Swirl - Black tea and Yuzu

Black Tea and Yuzu

Not very pleased with the results, although it smells wonderful, I chopped up a few bars and made them into embeds. The new soap is scented with a combination of Lick Me All Over, Neroli and Lemon, which I’m naming Summer Crush.

Embeds - pink

Summer Crush

My second try came out a lot better, but the swirls were thicker than the ideal. Nonetheless, I love the way it turned out.

Puppy Love - My entry to the Soap Challenge Club.

Puppy Love – My entry to the Soap Challenge Club.

For my third try, I aimed for a tri-coloured swirl of periwinkle blue, blue ultramarine (made darker with a pinch of black oxide), and charcoal. I mixed Vetyver, sage, and grapefruit for a masculine scent. I think I mixed the white base with titanium dioxide a tad too long because it thickened up slightly as I was pouring the lines midway.  I wanted the white part to show on the surface, but the swirls covered most of the top. I still like how it turned out and I also really like the scent.

Taiwan Swirl -Vetiver and Sage

Vetiver and Sage

Vetiver and Sage

Wait, there’s 2 more!

For my 4th try, I risked using Pomegranate Mango, an untested fragrance, and I still used a 37% lye concentration. The fragrance was relatively well-behaved, but for the Taiwan Swirl which needs a very fluid batter, it fell a bit short. I thought I had mixed a nice pomegranate colour, but what came out was more pink than reddish-pink. The smell though is quite nice – bright, fresh, and tart.

Pomegranate Mango

Pomegranate Mango

Now, for the 5th Taiwan Swirl that I made last night, I thought I finally nailed it. I lowered my lye concentration from 37% to 35%, and used both yogurt and coconut cream. I made a floral-citrus scent combination using OMG Olive, Neroli, Lily of the Valley and Kumquat, and thought of naming it Olive Bouquet.

Taiwan Swirl - Green yellow brown

Taiwan Swirl - green brown yellow 2

Lye heavy Olive Bouquet.

I love the colours, scent, and fine swirls. Alas, it is lye heavy!

A day before, I already prepared the oils for 3 batches of soap. Summer Crush was the first one I made, second was Olive Bouquet, and third was an old favourite called Wake Me Up. When I weighed the remaining oil for the last batch, it was over by 100 grams. I couldn’t figure out whether one of the earlier batches was short by 100 grams, or if I weighed an extra 100 grams of oils.  I was hoping for the latter. The following day, I weighed the soaps before cutting them. Sure enough, it was my pretty Taiwan Swirl that was missing 100 grams.  Sigh. I will let it cure and use it as laundry soap.

And my Taiwan Swirl adventure continues. As the saying goes, it is not the destination, but the journey that matters.  It’s a good thing I am enjoying every minute of it.

21 thoughts on “My Taiwan Swirl Adventure

  1. DivaSoap

    All gorgeous soaps,Silvia, I like you opted for all different colours and yet, I don’t know which combo would be my favourite. I see you’re having so much fun creating and your dedication really pays off. I’m just sorry to hear that your last batch is lye heavy, but knowing you, the more beautiful is on its way…

    1. soapjam Post author

      Awww, thank you for the vote of confidence, Maja. 🙂 When I like something, I really get into it. I was like that too with the Dandelion Swirl/tilted tiger. I still love that technique. 🙂

  2. mijnzeep1

    Lovely, Silvia! My favourite soap is the green one, Olive Bouquet soap! Sorry to hear your experience with this soap… it happens to us to forget some important ‘details’.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Natalia! I will remember now to weigh my ingredients every step of the way. I got careless. I normally recheck but this time I did not.

  3. Amy@10th Ave.

    Oh my! You have been a busy person! I love seeing all your versions; you’re super persistent! I think your vetiver/sage is my favorite and I really adore your Summer Crush. More than anything else, I wish I could smell your fragrance combos, though!

  4. Vicki

    Oooh, looks like you caught the Taiwan Swirl bug 😀 I love the combination of black plus a bright colour. Sorry about your Olive Bouquet though – it’s a shame to think of such a beauty being chopped up for laundry soap (though your clothes will smell awesome!!)

    1. soapjam Post author

      Yeah, I caught the bug, just like I did with the Dandelion Swirl. 🙂 I also like using black because it provides a very good contrast.
      I will hang on to the Olive Bouquet for a bit longer before it becomes laundry soap. 🙂

    1. soapjam Post author

      The trick really is to have a very fluid batter. This technique is addicting with mesmerizing results. LOL! Thank you for stopping by, Gail. 🙂

  5. Gordana

    All of them are so beautiful! I am really impressed how many batches of soap you made! It is a pity for the last one but as you sad: mistakes are learning opportunities. I recently had big “learning” myself when I measured lye in ounces while my recipe was created in grams. It took me a while to realize what was the root cause. Now I have 1,3 kg of luxury soap which will be used for laundry. What I learnt was not to make soap when I am tired 🙂

    1. soapjam Post author

      Oh no! Sorry to hear about your lye heavy soap, but at least your laundry will experience a touch of luxury. 🙂 I tend to make mistakes too when I am tired or if I am distracted, so I try to stay away from making anything!

  6. Jenny

    All of your soaps are lovely, Silvia! I like the confetti look of Summer Crush. And the Olive Bouquet soap is so pretty – sorry to hear that it was lye heavy! That’s a bummer. Puppy Love is gorgeous. Best of luck with it in the soap challenge!

  7. Monica

    Each attempt you made is so beautiful in its own unique way. You definitely have a great eye for colour combinations. Sorry about your lye heavy soap, but on the bright side, you can always use laundry detergent. 🙂

    1. soapjam Post author

      You’re always so sweet and positive, Monica. Thank you! I’ve always felt colour-challenged although I think I have improved a bit. I have to work on mixing colors and being able to estimate the usage amount to get the results I want. Love my laundry so much I made them some lovely soap. LOL! 🙂


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