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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.