Well, I finally did it – I entered The Great Cakes Soap Challenge! For you non-soap makers out there—the challenge is a monthly event in the soaping community where a new technique is introduced through some great video and written tutorials. Yup, there are some prizes awarded – but the best part is discussing new techniques with other soapers, challenging yourself with soaping techniques, and of course – seeing all of the wonderful soaps that were created!
This month’s challenge was Piped Soap. Just like you would pipe frosting onto a birthday cake, you can pipe cold process soap! Fun right? That what I thought too.
Step one – learn to make some frosting piped blossoms!
I immediately pulled out my cake frosting gear, washed it up, tossed it in boiling water to sanitize it, and dubbed it my new soaping equipment. My kids all converted from birthday cake lovers to pie lovers many years ago, so this is gave a new life to some old tools!
I ran down to the local grocery store and bought some generic brand frosting to practice my piping skills. It had been a long time since I piped frosting. Once I felt comfortable squishing frosting out into pretty flowers, I graduated to a few test batches of soap batter.
I used a basic recipe consisting of:
- 70% olive oil
- 30% coconut oil
- 8% super fat
I soaped very cold (that means I didn’t heat the oils and dissolved the lye solution in an ice bath).
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for colors, but I did know I wanted to play with all of the lovely cherry blossoms I saw while browsing youtube for cake piping tutorials.
Here are the results of those first tests / practice batches.
Left to Right Top to Bottom:
- Yellow from annatto infused olive oil, and I sprinkled some activated charcoal along the inside of the bag to edge the tips of the flowers. It was VERY messy! I might come back to this idea for another spring piped soap next year. We shall see!
- A mix of each of the batches showing some of the rather deformed “flowers” I was making.
- Paprika infused olive oil with a small portion darkened with madder root. Not bad, but I wasn’t up for a peachy colored flower.
- Next, I tried madder root in two tones. The color was OK, but lots of soda ash developed (that’s the white powdery looking stuff on the flowers. It’s completely safe, but not the look I was going for). I attribute the soda ash to bring the soap batter to only a thin trace and letting it thicken to piping consistency over the course of the day.
- The final blossoms colored with madder root and a small portion darkened by blending in a touch of activated charcoal. I thought they were just a lovely rose and purple shade that I decided to make a lavender scented bar – Success!
Oh, one final note — I had two other batches that came out pretty swell… but I left them in the oven to harden up and ended up melting them! I spent a few hours crying over melted soap that day. /sigh
Step 2 – Embedding flowers onto a bar of soap!
Once the blossoms set up (we are in week two of this adventure now), it was time to assemble the soap! I made a very simple soap with cocoa butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. The olive oil was infused with alkanet, and I added madder root and a touch of activated charcoal to the final soap batter after reaching trace. This helped ensure a deep purple.
Once the base soap was poured, I let it set up for a few hours and placed blossom all over the top. It was so fun!
Step 3 – Leaves!
The next day, I made yet another batch of soap using the same recipe as the blossoms and colored it green with indigo powder and french green clay.
Using a leaf piping tip, I placed leaves all over the top of the soap to provide contrast from the base and the blossoms.
So here we are after a few weeks of practice, and a few days of waiting for soap to be decorated. A lovely Lavender Renaissance soap!
I’m sure I’ll be doing this again, but not often. It’s a very rewarding technique, but very time-consuming.
A big thanks to everyone in SNIF (Soap Making with Natural Ingredients Forum on Facebook) for helping me with the name, and a giant thanks to Great Cakes Soapworks for pushing soapers to expand their soapy horizons.
If you have any questions about how I made the soap, please post in the comments below.
If you want to snag up a bar for yourself, you can pre-order them here. They are currently on the curing rack, and should be ready for bath time in early October! Sold out as of 12/18/16