We admit it. We’re guilty of staring at beautiful soap pictures posted online by other soapers. We’ve wasted precious time wandering social media and pintrest admiring bright colors, gorgeous decorations, amazing designs and more from soap makers around the globe. We’ve gotten side tracked for a half hour in a conversation about what colors you get from infusing herbs into oils, how to mix them for pretty natural soaps, and longed to be the one with the amazing soaps everyone admires. But one day while working with a tempermental new fragrance, we realized how long it had been since we saw anyone spotlight the failed soaps. We’re going to fix that.
It’s no secret that all soap makers have failed batches. When we test new combinations of essential oils, fragrance or color samples, or an infusion we made of herbs & oils, we sometimes don’t get that wonderful bar of soap we imagined. I was testing a few new scents and colors this summer for a customer request and managed to get pictures of most of the process to share with you. What I didn’t know then was that I was documenting a really cool failure in the making. As you can see, I started with one of our tried and true recipes. All the oils were measured, melted, and combined as needed. Lye solution behaved as normal and everything mixed smoothly. I poured off a bit of straight soap base into the mold for a plain bottom and split the rest of the base into thirds. Everything was normal in my soapy world.
I whisked in a bit of green and blue colorants into two of the soap portions and then finished blending them in with a spatula. The kid in me still loves to swirl the colorant into the white and watch it disappear. These pictures were taken somewhere in the middle of me playing around. I took the uncolored reserved soap base, split it in two, and added the fragrances I was testing. They didn’t play very nicely once they were put into the soap base and I had to quickly get the soap into the mold. (I wasn’t really surprised that they seized up on me as the reviews on the fragrance had warned me.) I then turned back to the colored soap portions and started layering them over the uncolored soap layers in the mold. The plan was to get some sort of lightly swirled layer on the top of a white base with some parts dipping into the white. Unfortunately, I seemed to not have gotten the colored portions thick enough to get what I wanted and they flattened a bit.
Unmolding the next day was an interesting reveal. As you can see, the very bottom had a really neat unintentional swirl pattern in it. The seized scented portion was clean looking and a creamy color. The swirled area had green, light blue, and a touch of the darker blue scattered. The scent was non-existant in one log while the other was not pleasant and the entire batch had slight weeping in the bars. Visually, I had a soap that reminded me of a beach and was an unexpected happy sight. There was just no saving those scents at all and the weeping wasn’t helping. So I made my notes on the recipe log and set it aside to see if we could recover them. They eventually found their way to being rebatched. These pics below are from when I chopped them up and was putting the chunks into the crock. On a good side, I have great notes on working with those new colors and can get a beachy looking soap made. This wasn’t too bad of a failure.