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This Just In: December Soap Challenge Complete

This Just In: December Soap Challenge Complete

The December Soap Challenge Club’s theme is Black Tie Affair. Soapers must use black and white plus one accent color to create their masterpieces.

Majestic Mountain Sage is sponsoring this month’s challenge, and we are very excited to do so! The creativity in the group is inspiring! I’m not entering any soaps for judging, but I am making soap for fun and maybe to inspire other soapers.


I set out to make a soap for the advanced category with two design possibilities in mind. The criteria for the advanced category is that the soap must be primarily black and white plus one accent color that must gradually ombre from dark to light or light to dark. The soap must feature a combination of at least two different techniques; however, the ombre of your accent color is not included in this count, nor any decorations or swirls on top of the soap.

My first thought was to do some sort of in the pot swirl for the accent color. The Clyde Slide technique is a variation of an in the pot swirl created by Clyde Yoshida, and I thought that I could probably get away with using that to make the ombre.

However, I also liked the idea of doing a vertical divider in my loaf mold to make the black and white be side by side instead of horizontally layered. I was not sure how the Clyde Slide would work in that scenario, as I was planning to do three layers, switching the position of the black and white colors on the top layer. I was afraid the swirled middle layer that would be divided vertically would not look good.

The design I ended up making was the vertical divider with horizontal layers. Bottom would be black on the left and white on the right. Then I’d do the accent color ombre, dark to light, as equally as possible on both sides. I’d finish with the top layer being white on the left and black on the right. That was the first technique.

For the second technique, I planned a hanger swirl.

I don’t have a divided loaf mold, so I made my own divider with a piece of cardboard wrapped in duct tape. It worked surprisingly well!


Since I didn’t need a super fluid soap batter for this design, I went for a simple recipe using the 6-5-4-1 method. I used our Lye Calculator to figure the amount of lye and water, and I used the Fragrance Calculator to determine the fragrance usage rate.

Recipe in Percentages

35% Soybean Oil
25% Palm Kernel Oil
30% Olive Oil
10% Castor Oil

44-ounce Batch

15.4 ounces Soybean Oil
11 ounces Palm Kernel Oil
13.2 ounces Olive Oil
4.4 ounces Castor Oil
6.06 ounces Lye (5% superfat)
17 ounces Water
0.77 ounces Green Clover & Aloe Fragrance Oil (moderate usage rate)


Black and white are necessary for this challenge. I used Black Onyx to make the black and Titanium Dioxide to make the white. I used Rocket Red Day Glo Color as the accent with the intention of going from a light hot pink to a deep hot pink in 4 increments.

All my colorants were premixed in glycerin, and I added them to the soap batter from squirt bottles. (The lightest got 1/2 teaspoon of color, and I added 1/2 teaspoon to each successive color for the ombre.)

I divided the main batter into three equal parts; one would be white, one would be black, and the third part would be divided into four more parts for the ombre.

Splitting the batch to make the different colors.

Creating the ombre hues with the accent, Rocket Red Day Glo Color.


The homemade divider worked out better than I expected! It didn’t stay put as much as I wanted it to, but it was not a problem to push it where it needed to be.

In all the reading and video watching I’ve been doing lately, I ran across the tip that is your waiting soap batter gets stiff while you’re doing a different pour, stick it in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it loosen up. I remembered this trick when I found my black and white soap batters reserved for the final layer had become nearly solid. Uh oh! Then my memory tossed up that tip, and I gave it a try. WOW! It worked perfectly! I sure wish I could give credit for that tip, but my memory won’t oblige. Fickle thing, memory.

Black Onyx made a fantastic black! I’m very pleased with the deepness of the hue.


I should have used less soap for the accent color ombre. I didn’t realize that until I cut the soap. There was way too much of the accent color, and the black and white are not as prominent as they should be for this challenge.

The deep maroon color happened because I didn’t realize just how much a little dab of black will darken a color! I felt like the last two increments in the ombre were not different enough, so I added a little black to the last one to darken it. Uh oh! My hot pink turned maroon, and then I was stuck with maroon as my accent color. I think starting with a much lighter shade would have been smarter – then I would not have run into the problem of the darkest color not being dark enough.

The finished soap. I am happy with the vertical divide, but I should have used less accent color.

The hanger swirl worked somewhat. It’s obvious my homemade divider had moved a bit on the bottom layer.


I put the soap in the oven (preheated to 170 degrees F, then shut off) to make sure the soap went through gel phase. It camped out there overnight. When I removed the soap from the oven the next morning, it was still too soft to unmold and cut, so I put it aside until the afternoon.

When it was hard enough to unmold and cut, I was excited and apprehensive to see the design.

My first impression was that the shades of color in the ombre were not differentiated enough. There was also a lot more of the accent color than I’d envisioned. (Dividing the batter into equal parts turned out to be an error.) The black and white were well colored, so that made me happy. I’m not thrilled with the hanger swirl effect. It did not come out as swirly as I’d envisioned, but I was afraid to swirl it too much and muddy the colors. It’s hard to know when enough is enough!

Rarely have I made a batch of soap that did not teach me something, and this was certainly no different. I hope you’ve learned something, too! If you have, please leave a comment.

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