Thursday, March 21, 2013

Neon Cold Process Soap Project

This week we have a guest post from Tawnee, who was recently experimenting with our Neon Soap Colourants and came up with this fabulous idea for funky, neon soaps! 

Neon used to remind me of big hair, spandex and leg warmers but nowadays it has come back in a big way!  It seems like fashion from the 80's can be found in every mall with retro neon t-shirts, shoes, and sunglasses as well as neon nail polish and makeup.  To encourage this neon revival we brought in 4 different Neon Soap Pigments that are bold and bright: Yellow, Red, Green, and Pink.  These pigments are pre-diluted in glycerin for ease of use, and they worked fantastic in this Neon Cold Process Soap project using our brand new column mold!  The soap recipe we used has a high shea butter content, which helps lay down a protective barrier on the skin, for a bar that's medium-hard with lots of lovely lather.  Here's what you'll need to make one 3lb batch of neon soap:

150 grams Sodium Hydroxide
375 grams Soft or Distilled Water

263 grams Coconut Oil 76
338 grams Palm Oil
375 grams Sunflower Oil
75 grams Shea Butter

Step 1. Get your equipment ready.  You'll need gloves, a scale, 2 measuring cups, 4 mixing bowls, a whisk, and a hand mixer, as well as plenty of paper towel.  Be sure to wear long sleeves and safety goggles. 

Step 2.  Put on your gloves and safety goggles and measure out your lye into a measuring cup.  Be very cautious, lye is a caustic chemical and will burn your skin if it comes into contact!  Measure your water into a SEPARATE measuring cup, then slowly pour the lye into the water.  Remember, ALWAYS pour your lye into water, never the opposite!  After the contents have been fully poured out, gently whisk the solution until no solids remain.  When lye comes into contact with water it spikes up in temperature, so ensure the container you're using is heat resistant. It also releases fumes which are not good to inhale (and painful!), so make sure you're breathing away from the solution.

Step 3.  Put your lye aside in a safe place and start weighing out your soap oils.  Choose a container that is big enough to hold all the oils and mix them in.  After all the oil and shea butter have been weighed out, heat up the oils in the microwave or in a double boiler.  The oils need to be a temperature between 120 - 130 degrees F for this recipe.

Step 4.  Check the temperature of your lye solution.  It needs to be between 120 - 130 degrees as well, within 10 degrees of the melted oils.  If the oils are at the proper temperature but your lye is still too hot you can put it into a cold water bath like this one:

Step 5:  Once your lye water and oils are withing 10 degrees of the same temperature (between 120 - 130) you can pour the lye solution into the melted oils.  Your instinct will probably be to whisk them while you pour, but this could cause splashing so just pour the whole container of lye water in slowly in one fluid motion.  

Step 6.  Whisk the mixture gently for 10-20 seconds.  This will start to activate the saponification process!  After your first round of whisking, use the hand mixer for about 15 seconds, then rotate back to the whisk for 15 seconds, and keep alternating until the soap starts getting visibly thicker.  The reason behind alternating between whisking and mixing is because while blending the soap with the mixer speeds up the process with its faster agitation, it doesn't actually mix the oils as well as hand whisking does.  Using both mixing methods ensures that it doesn't take too long to bring the soap up to the proper consistency, but that all the ingredients are getting mixed evenly at the same time. 

Step 7.  Stop mixing when you reach a light trace.  The "trace" stage refers to the thickness of the soap; the perfect consistency is when you can just start to see the trails that a whisk leaves behind when you drag it through the soap.  When the mixture has reached the trace stage you are ready to add your fragrances and colourants.  Because we are going to be splitting up the soap into 4 separate batches you don't want to add the colourants yet, but you can add the fragrance to the whole batch at this point. 

Step 8.  After adding the fragrance give the soap a good whisking until it has been blended in evenly.  Remember: although the soap mixture might look like inconspicuous pudding at this time, it does still contain active lye and can burn your skin!  Keep baby wipes on hand if you get any of the soap on your skin.  At this point you will want to split up the soap into 4 even batches using mixing bowls or measuring cups.  They don't have to be exact, I just eyeballed it!  Individually add about 3 grams of a neon soap colourant into each bowl, so that each bowl is coloured with a different pigment.  Stir well with your whisk to combine.  

Step 9.  At this point your soap is ready to pour!  Before starting, make sure that the liner inside the column mold is not overlapping, and that the mold is pushed all the way down onto the end cap.  Then pour your first layer as close to the center of the mold as possible, and count to 3 while pouring to ensure consistency of the layers.  Repeat with all the colours, rotating between each pour.  

Here's a look at what our mold looked like about halfway through:

Remember that the thicker the soap is the more distinction will be between each colour.  If you pour the soap at a very light trace where the consistency is very thin, the soap will have more integration between layers and it will look more swirly.  I poured this at a medium-heavy trace so the circles would be more defined, mimicking the shape of the circular soap.  

After finishing all your layers cover the top of the mold with a tea towel, cardboard, or freezer paper.  In order to push the soap through a gel phase (which means that it loses its heat as slowly as possible) I insulated the mold very well with many heavy towels, which made the colours brighter in the end.  If you do not insulate your mold it will lose its heat quicker and may not go through the gel phase, making the colours a bit more muted and pastel-like.  

After 24 hours, de-mold the soap by gently twisting the end cap away from the tube.  After the end cap is off it is very easy to grab the liner and slide it out of the tube, then peel back the liner gently and remove your soap loaf!  You can cut the soap within 24 hours of de-molding, then let the soap cure in an area with good air circulation for 3-4 weeks.  

This soap smells so yummy and is incredibly eye-catching!  My favourite part of these soaps are that each bar is unique and the front is different from the back of each bar.  

I also tested out the neon soap pigments in our Melt and Pour soap bases and found the following results:

The neon colourants stay pretty true to their tone in Melt & Pour.  The only one that had a slight issue was the green pigment, I found that it has a tendency to speckle so it's important to mix it really well.  When used in clear soaps they have more of a fluorescent colour whereas in white soap they are slightly more muted and pastel-toned.  Either way, these colourants look absolutely lovely!  I can just imaging mixing them with micas and other pigments!

Happy soaping,

Voyageur Soap & Candle


  1. Thank you for sharing! So pretty! May I ask where you get the big mixing bowls for the four colors?


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