I first made these last year as a seasonal special, and because the response to them was so good, I’ve brought them back this Christmas once again for you to savour in the shower.
Here are some photos that I managed to take while in the process of making Christmas Warmth this year.
Â After adding the lye water to the oils and working the mixture with the stick blender briefly, I separated a portion of the raw soap so that I could have two different colours for the design. Here I added a little bit of titanium dioxide (I made sure that they were not micronized, or also called “nanoparticles” over which there has been much concern on its ill effects on health) to get the mixture to be more white. My recipes tend to yield slightly yellow soap because of the natural golden hues of the oils I use for superfatting – jojoba and macadamia nut, for example. This ‘batter’ that you see in the mixing bowl is what the soap looks like after I’ve left it to stand for about 10 minutes after using the stick blender to mix the raw soap to a light-medium trace. It already contains the superfatting oils and essential oils.
For the bottom layer I used french red clay for its colour, and I left it to set for about 15 minutes before I added the white layer on top. The remaining red portion of the soap was glopped onto the white in patches (because I didn’t want to waste any soap, as far as I can possibly manage). Then I used my rubber spatula to tease the surface of the soap into these peaks that you see here. I’ve seen much prettier textures from other soapmakers (a prime example is Inner Earth Soaps), so I’ve got a loooong way to go in learning how to master this! Still, I was quite happy with the results. This photo was taken about 30 minutes after the soap was poured/coaxed into the mold.
Â Here’s one of the logs after being pushed through the first slicer. In the bottom left hand corner of the photo, you might notice what looks like condensation on the surface of the soap. I usually do a pH check on the exposed (outer) and cut (inner) surfaces of all my soap, and the condensation registered a very definite pH level of 14 (highest possible). The inner surface had a pH reading of 10, which is the normal pH level for most cold process soap. A week later I checked the readings for the same slice of soap again and this time both the exposed and cut surfaces had pH levels of somewhere between 9 and 10. All my soap batches demonstrate this behaviour but I really don’t know why there should be an initial difference in pH levels between the exposed and cut surfaces. Any ideas?
After being sliced into individual bars, the soap went onto the curing rack. I loved walking into my office even more for those few weeks because the lingering scents from the soap was just delicious. Cinnamon, clove leaf, ginger, nutmeg, peppermint and sweet orange, ahh… I found myself taking sniffs at the trays every so often while taking my mini-breaks from work, and often walked away feeling a tad more sprightly.