A friend of mine was all keen about soap and how to soap and what was my one vision I had of a bar of soap I’ve never made… but always wanted too. I have always loved the idea of a pure white soap with a brilliant navy blue across the top with some faint swirls of blue. I have been dreaming of this type of soap since forever. And I almost got it too if it weren’t for that dang love affair I’ve been having with oatmeal in everything of late!
So he unknowingly encouraged me to create just that, a gorgeous hard bar of soap. Thank goodness it is lovely for it is going to make one heck of an awesome Christmas present!
I decided to name this soap Arabian Nights for it reminds me of all those exotic middle-eastern pictures I saw growing up where everyone wore white tunics with just a wee hint of colour on their trim. And then to see them out in the deserts with said white tunics beneath a breath taking midnight blue sky… how could one not find some romantic notion with those images? And since soap is one fantastic way to take artistic liberties… how could I not?
So curl up with me with your mug of tea, light your fire, and let tug along!
1,001 Nights, also known as The Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights, is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales that were originally published together during the Islamic Golden Age.
Not to mention, these bars are just so dang pretty, they’d look real fantastic with a wee bit of navy blue ribbon tucked around them under the Christmas tree. Oh yeah. Guess where these are finding themselves this Christmas? In a bathroom? How’d you guess!
I knew this was going to be THE introductory soap to a good friend of mine so wanted to make sure that this bar packed all the best things about handcrafted soap making. I wanted it hard, I wanted it to be long lasting, I wanted it to leave the skin like a choir of freaking angles danced with a tub of yoghurt and it landed everywhere. Yeah, terrible imagery I know. But, can you kind of catch what I’m trying to say here? I wanted this soap to be amazeballs. So amazeballs that never again would anyone want to use any other bar of soap. And if they did? That I’d be coming up in conversation about how awesome that bar of soap was from Barb over Christmas 2018. I’d be the name of legend.
To make this bar of awesomeness, I decided to up the amount of lard… a fair bit and hit it off at 40%. There have been lots of people over the past few months talking about how lard based soaps are hard to work with in that they are sticky to unmould, or that when cutting you get a fair bit of soap left on the wire. Or even, that the soap batter gets too thick to work with so it prevents you from getting some gorgeous swirling in. To set your mind at ease, the only issue I have ever had with lard based soaps is the unmoulding. If I don’t up a butter or add some salt, it can make my corners mushy whilst unmoulding. But otherwise, I find lard soaps to be a thing of beauty to work with.
I use lard in soap because it is in my opinion one of the very best oils for soap making. I’ve tried probably hundreds of various oils, and probably a hundred times more than that in various recipe combinations. But I always go back to lard in my soaps. Tallow… well tallow and I have had a hit and miss love affair with brittleness. But lard imparts a wickedly hard bar of soap, provides a rich and creamy lather in your final bar, and the best attribute of lard in soap? It is a highly moisturising fat. And everyone who uses a lard based soap I make, their only complaint is that they need more.
I’ve not the balls yet to slather my skin up in a lard based body butter or a face cream, but if I were living in the Gobi desert again or in the Arctic, I would be!
Next up is some cocoa butter. And I used cocoa butter at an absurdly high percentage. 30%. The biggest reason I used such a high amount of cocoa butter is because I wanted too. I wanted an obscenely hard and long lasting bar of soap. A bar of soap that is wickedly bubbly and highly moisturising. And cocoa butter will help me to achieve this goal.
I’ve been having a huge love affair with all things oaty of late. And in my soap, I’ve been hard at work trying to find cheap alternatives to colloidal oats and I discovered that using oat “milk” juice is a lovely alternative. A pain in the ass alternative, but a suitable alternative. So far, I have to tell you I much prefer the awesomeness of oats in my soap over the goats milk. But to each their own.
To make the oat juice (or milk, but oats don’t lactate so not very comfortable calling it “oat milk”), you mix up 150g of crushed oats with 500g of hot water and blend it with your immersion blender. Mix that like there is no tomorrow, then strain it. I used some gauze like tea bags, but a nylon stocking would work just as well. When you mix up your lye solution, you will see that you get a real thick like batter. Almost like mashed potatoes consistency.
Then carry on making soap like normal. I found this recipe to take forever to reach any sort of thick trace.
Just in case you forgot: How to make soap
- Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with hot soapy water then spraying and wiping with some ISP 75%. Don’t forget to spray your tools, measuring tools, scales, cups/beakers and spoons.
- Don your safety gear!
- Prepare you oat juice by combining 150g of crushed oats to 500g of freshly boiled water and mix with your immersion blender for about 5 minutes. Then strain through a nylon stocking. Into your oat juice, weigh in your salt and sugar and blend. Once fully blended, add in your titanium dioxide and allow to cool.
- Weigh out your lard, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and castor oil into a bowl and place into your double boiler to melt.
- Once your oat juice mixture is cooled down, weigh in your lye and mix. Remember, that your lye solution will take on the texture of mashed potatoes. This is ok!
- Set both your now melted oils and lye solution to cool down to room temperature. This step could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple hours.
- Into a small container, weigh out your navy blue mica and add in a spoonful of your melted oils and mix.
- Once your lye solution and oils have cooled down to room temperature it is time to mix! Usually, you mix the lye solution to the oils, but due to the small amount of soap we are making, it is ok to do it backwards due to consistency of the lye solution. And mix with your immersion blender.
- Continue mixing till you reach a very light trace.
- Pour about 1/2 a cup of soap batter into your navy blue mica and stir.
- Pour about 3/4 of the soap into your mould, and then carefully pour the navy blue soap.
- Swirl! I take a chop stick on an angle and swirl in a circle like movement.
- Pour the remaining soap on top.
- Wait for your soap to thicken up (it took over twenty minutes to get to any point where decorating the top was possible) and do your topping.
- Let sit over night, you will find due the high cocoa butter content that this soap is wickedly easy to unmould, and will need to be cut almost immediately.
- Let stand to cure for about six weeks or longer before gifting.
Did you end up making this soap? What did you think? Don’t forget to share your photos so I can see your hard work!