Kaolin Soap Collection

Alexandra, my friend who invited me to join her and her group on a field trip to Jingdezhen last February, asked me if I could make a soap collection inspired by our trip. She suggested  Jiangxi Orange for which Jingdezhen is famous for (aside from porcelain), and Green Tea. Naturally, the soaps must contain kaolin clay – a key ingredient in porcelain and a wonderful soap additive.

Kaolin Collection 1

Front to Back: Green Tea, Jiangxi Orange, and Blue Jeans

The first soap I made was Green Tea. For the entire formula of 1,500 grams of oils, I used 20 grams or 2 Tbsp of kaolin clay, and 5 grams of titanium dioxide.  I mixed these into a paste with some of the yogurt I used in the recipe, maintaining my lye concentration at 37%.  The result was a very hard bar of soap! It was a bit brittle, but not crumbly.

Kaolin Collection, Green Tea

Green Tea

I made a lovely Taiwan Swirl for the top, but I was so disappointed to find traces of pink.  I loved the celadon-ish green (1/4 tsp green chrome oxide to 1000 grams of soap batter containing kaolin and TD) and the pattern from the drop swirl. To salvage the soap, I chopped off the tops.  I wish I had taken photos of the mysterious pink, but by the time I was going to take photos a few days later, all traces of pink had disappeared.

Kaolin Collection, cut tops

Pretty tops cut off. They originally had pinkish stains but disappeared after a few days.

Has anyone experienced getting pink from out of nowhere on the surface of their soap? I used my standard recipe and tried-and-tested fragrances. I am wondering if it was my yogurt that was quite sour? I got more pink appearances on a remake batch of Citrus Berry I made the following day. Same thing happened – it disappeared after a few days.

Next, I made Jiangxi Orange. The colour of my first try came out peachy. I made another batch, and this time it came out reddish-orange – not what I imagined – but I was happy with the way it looked.  I mixed 18 grams of kaolin and 5 grams of TD with extra water.  I mixed the kaolin and TD paste into a little more than half of the soap batter.  With the extra water, this batch was not as extra hard as the Green Tea.

Kaolin Collection Jiangxi Orange

Jiangxi Orange

Even though my friend asked for only 2 kinds of kaolin soap, I made a third one that is supposed to be a Ming blue. I mixed 3/4 tsp ultramarine blue and 1/16 tsp black oxide into 900 grams of soap batter. It is scented with Yuzu, Vetyver, Black Tea and Tangerine – a fresh, sporty, and masculine blend. Everything about this soap screams Blue Jeans. Sorry, it ain’t a Ming.


Kaolin Collection, Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans

I find that at my usage rate of 2 tsp kaolin per 500 grams of oils or 1.33% of my oil weight, the soap’s lather is very fine, but noticeably less. It would make a nice and gentle shaving soap, but personally, I prefer a sudsier bath soap.

For more on kaolin clay, Maya of Infusions Blog and Gordana of Moj Sapun have written about their experiences with it.


23 thoughts on “Kaolin Soap Collection

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Sharrielynn! Kaolin is a nice soap additive. It’s good for the skin, helps hold the scent, and gives soap a more opaque look. I hope you give it a try.

  1. DivaSoap

    They really make a wonderful collection, inspired by your recent trip. I like your soaps,they always look so clean, precise and smooth. I’m eager to see how you will pack them, are they going to the wooden tray?

    1. soapjam Post author

      I still have a lot of the wooden tray, but my soaps have grown a bit bigger, so now they don’t fit in the tray! I have to find another use for the trays. Thank you for your compliment, Maja. I try to make my soaps as clean and smooth as possible, but I do have my share of rejects! I had a few batches of rejects two weeks ago. I was starting to get discouraged, but luckily the soaps I made last weekend turned out well.

  2. Monica Glaboff

    Gorgeous colours Silvia! So fresh and pretty. Your swirls always come out fantastic. I think my favourite is the green, it’s such a clean looking soap but you’ve also nailed the Ming blue.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thanks, Monica! Sigh, I wish the swirls always came out pretty. I like risking with new scents, and I suffer the consequences. I still have to learn to make small batches with new F.O.s.

  3. Gordana

    Silvia, this is really gorgeous! I can’t imagine that any soap can have better swirls than yours! You really inspired me to try mixing kaolin with colorants!

  4. soapjam Post author

    Thank you for your generous compliment, Gordana. 🙂
    Please do try mixing a little kaolin with colors. I feel it’s a nice variation. I really like the way the green oxide with kaolin clay came out in the green tea soap.

  5. Sly

    What beautiful soaps! I love your swirls! I love the green tea & Ming (I’m not a fan of anything in the orange family). Did you do a drop swirl?
    Thanks so much for the info on Kaolin Clay. I tried it in two of my batches a week ago. I also added a little TD in first batch and have never had such a beautiful white before. Thay also popped out of the molds much easier & cleaner, with no breaking or crumbling. I did notice that the soap seemed to trace faster, which I need to take into account when I want to soap at emulation for intricate swirling.
    I did not know that Kaolin would produce a smaller or less lather. It will be interesting to try when they are cured.
    I vaguely remember having some soap that got a little pink, but then it went away….I wish I payed attention to the circumstances. I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced this.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. soapjam Post author

      Hi Sylvia! Do you have a blog? I would love to read about your experience with kaolin, and about your soapy creations. 🙂
      Like you, I like using kaolin clay together with TD.
      Yes, the technique I used for this collection is the drop swirl.
      Thank you for your comment and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

      1. Sly

        Sadly, I do not have a blog & I am too busy with full time work plus we a building a new house too. You can contact me directly at my email address (do you see that on here?)
        I have a group of people that are interested in purchasing my soaps and I send them a weekly email of new soaps available. I have been selling this way and to a couple groups I am involved in.

  6. soapjam Post author

    Among the 3 soaps, Green Tea soap contains the highest amount of kaolin without extra water to compensate for it. Freshly cut, the trimmed ends of my soap are normally flexible, but with the Green Tea soap, it was stiff and hard. No crumbling though.

  7. anne-marie

    Gorgeous soap, as always =) The chopped soap looks great. I wonder what that pink was? It’ll forever be a mystery.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Anne Marie!
      I was hoping you’d be able to shed some light on the pink stuff. 😉 soap making will always keep us on our toes with its mysterious ways. 🙂

  8. Jenny

    Wow, those are all such gorgeous soaps, Silvia! I love those swirls. The mysterious pink sounds so interesting. I wonder what that was all about? Soap does crazy things sometimes.

  9. Anonymous

    Hi! Love your soaps! I too am a soap maker in the ph. I’m so curious about the pink spots in your soap. I am experiencing the same thing now w/ my usual oils, unscented and just swirled w/ a bit of td. I made a soap w/ gm, cream and coco milk. I’ve been asking other soap makers and no one can figure it out the culprit for the pink spots. Glad your’s disappeared, gives me hope 🙂


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