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