Using Diagonals in Soap Design

May 15, 2016

Using Diagonals in Soap Design

You see horizontal lines in soap designs, and you see vertical lines thanks to many suppliers now have these nifty vertical dividers!  What you don’t see a lot of though are diagonal lines used.  It’s really not that hard to do (maybe a bit more time consuming) and you can create a variety of looks by using diagonals in your soap.

This tutorial walks you through a simple two layer diagonal soap, but you can get as crazy as you want with the number of layers you use!

Additional Supplies

Loaf Mold
Colorants (2 different contrasting colors)
Jojoba Beads
Mini Sifter
Fragrance/Essential Oil

Step 1
We’re going to make a 2.5lb batch of soap.  You can use the following recipe or your own.


Oil(s) Selected 2.5lb Batch
Castor Oil 1.40 oz
Avocado Oil 1.40 oz
Coconut Oil (76 Degrees) 5.60 oz
Olive Oil 9.80 oz
Palm Oil 5.60 oz
Cocoa Butter 4.20 oz
4% Lye Amount 3.90 oz
Water 8.25 oz
Yields 41 oz

Prep your mold.  Find something that will allow you to tilt it as a 45 degree angle. I found that my box of wax paper works really well for this, but anything will do, just make sure the mold is steady and will hold in the angled position when you pour your soap.

Step 1

Step 2
Once your oils and lye have cooled go ahead and mix them to a very light trace.  Do not add any color or fragrance at this point.  Separate out half of the mixture into a glass measuring cup (1 lb 4oz).  Add your colorant.  I used white for my first color.  I then added purple 1 teaspoon of jojoba beads to the mixture.  1) It will give the soap a gentle exfoliant.  2) I love the added speckled look you get with the color beads in a white soap base.  After those are mixed together add your fragrance.  I typically use .7oz to mix with a pound and four ounces of soap, but follow the suppliers suggested usage rate for the fragrance you decide to use.

Step 2

Step 3
Pour your soap into the mold. It should create a clean diagonal and fill half your mold.  You’ll notice how I have a little too much soap and so some of my soap fills up more than half the mold (that’s just because I measured out 1 lb 6oz of soap and didn’t take out the extra 2oz…not the end of the world!)

Step 3

Step 4

Step 4
This is an optional step.  Depending on your design you might want to add a pencil line (or layer of mica) between the layers.  I typically don’t do it for just two colors, especially since the mica line tends to get lost in this design. For the sake of the tutorial I added it though.  When I really love to add mica lines is when I used multiple layers (3 or more) and I can use a contrasting mica color between the layers of the soap like I did in the Pomegranate Cider soap (pictured below).

Step 5


You can see how the brown mica layers between the different shades of orange make this soap pop and stand out even more!

Step 5
I’m going to let that set up for a bit before I do anything with the second part of my soap.  The fragrance I used moved fairly quickly so the soap set up and was ready for the second pour in about five minutes time.

Step 6
Mix you second colorant and about a teaspoon of jojoba beads into the remaining soap.  Then add your fragrance.

Step 6

Step 7
At this point your soap in the mold should be pretty set up and you should be able to rotate the mold so that you can change the angle to the opposite 45 degrees.  You’re going to pour the remaining mix into the mold.  Start by pouring it into the bottom and let it fill up over the diagonal side. This will help ensure that you don’t have any “punch throughs” and you keep that nice clean line.

STep 7

Step 8

And there you have it! Insulate it, then unmold and cut it 24 hours later. Put it on your cure rack and wait patiently (yeah, I know that’s hard) for 4-6 weeks.  And here you have the finished soap:

raspberry_porter (7)

Here are some different color variations and examples on using multiple diagonal layers to create different affects!


wisteria (8)

gardenia (7)

Embedded Heart Tutorial

April 14, 2016

I first made this soap in 2012 and it’s been a favorite of my customers (and myself) ever sense.  It’s a pretty easy soap design (just takes a bit more time than a typical batch of soap to make).

For the sake of this tutorial we’ll do a 2.5 lb batch of soap.  You can scale this up to a 5lb or 10lb if you want.


Oil(s) Selected   –  2.5lb Batch
Castor Oil  – 1.40 oz
Avocado Oil  –  1.40 oz
Coconut Oil (76 Degrees) – 5.60 oz
Olive Oil  – 9.80 oz
Palm Oil  – 5.60 oz
Cocoa Butter –  4.20 oz
4% Lye Amount   –  3.90 oz
Water  – 8.25 oz
Yields –  41 oz

Additional Supplies

  • Heart Embed Mold
  • Loaf Mold
  • Colors (3)
  • Fragrance/Essential Oil


Since this design is using embeds it will be a two day process to make this batch of soap.  We first need to make the embeds, let them harden over the next 24 hrs, and then make a second batch of soap.

I get my heart molds from Bramble Berry, but any heart mold you have will work.  Each mold holds approximately 4.5oz of soap.

  • 2.5lb Batch – you’ll need 1 heart mold
  • 5lb Batch – you’ll need 2 heart molds
  • 10lb Batch – you’ll need 3 heart molds

For such a small amount of soap (4.5oz) I recommend just taking it from another batch of soap that you’re making.  Or, as I do, I plan out all the different embeds I want to use for a series of soaps and make a batch and separate it up to make the required embeds.  That allows me to get my embeds done all in one day.

I typically use white for my hearts and then two contrasting colors for the layers.  Because the heart is such a small amount of the overall soap in the finish bar I don’t usually add a fragrance to my heart.  This ensures that I also get a pure white heart because the fragrance can’t mess with the color.

Let your heart harden for 24 hours and then unmold.

1 embeds


Now we’ll begin the actual batch of soap.

Step 1

Make your batch of soap.  You make use the recipe above or your own recipe.  Once your oils are melted and cooled and your lye solution is ready mix them together to reach a light trace.

Step 2

Separate out 12oz of soap and set aside. This is going to be the top part of our soap.

Step 3

In the remaining mixture in your pot add the color you want to use for the base. Mix well.


Step 4

Add your fragrance to the base mixture.  Once it’s thorough incorporated pour the base into the mold.

Note: I add the fragrance to each portion separately.  I need the base to set up—to hold the heart embed—but I need the top to be fluid enough to pour over the base.  Some fragrances can speed up trace too. I want to avoid that for my top layer.  By waiting to add the fragrance it just ensures I have more time to create my design without problems.

Step 5

Once the base has harden up enough to hold the embed(s) gently place it in the mold/soap.

4 embed heart

5 embed

Step 6

Add the color to the top part of your soap. Once thoroughly mixed in add your fragrance.  Gently pour over the heart.  If you pour over the heart then the soap with spread out over the rest of the mold and you can minimize break throughs of the base layer and hence keep and nice clean line.

3 top layer mixing

6 pour top layer

Step 7 (Optional)

Add a mice swirl top.  Premix 1 teaspoon of mica with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil.  Using a dropper/pipette drizzle the mixture over the top of the soap.  Then using a toothpick of skewer makes circle/swirls through the mica lines. (Do not mist top with alcohol.  It was cause the swirls to run.)

8 mica top step 1

9mica top step 2

Note on Colors: I find contrasting colors for the heart and base/top work best, but you can do any sort of combination you desire.

These are some of my finished soap designs I’ve used with the Embedded Heart Technique.

Army Heart

pink heart

raspberry_vanilla (7)

Spiced_cranberry (9)

apple_orchard (11)

black amber lavender

cherry almond1

blackberry sage 1


Then you can take this technique and do a number of variations on it!


soap black currant pomegranate



Bamboo (10)

As you can see, I’ve had a lot of fun with this technique over the years!

Stamping Soap

February 15, 2016

Stamping Soap

Stamping soap is super easy and can create a really cool looking soap!  There are two key tricks to remember when stamping soap: 1) Don’t use too much colorant.  2) Stamp just after you cut a batch.  The rest is really up to your imagination.

Let’s get started with a step by step walk through!

Step 1
Make your batch of soap.  When you make your soap think about the stamp you are going to be using.  Is it a large stamp that will fill an entire bar?  Or is it a smaller stamp?  Is it square or rectangular or some other shape?  The shape of your stamp should dictate your design.

Example Small Stamp
Honey Bee

Example Vertical Stamp
Flowers with Embedded Cube


Example Full Bar Stamp
Solid Bar/One color


Step 2
Prepare your color and stamp.  Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of mica (or other colorant) onto a sheet of wax paper.


Note on Colors: I love to use micas.  Their shimmer and sparkle always make the soap look just a little extra special to me.  I also find micas stamp the best for me.  You can use other colorants though.  Oxides and pigments work, but I find they can be a little harder to get a clean smooth/uniform stamp with sometimes.  Titanium Dioxide works, but can be very difficult to stamp cleanly.

Note on Stamps: There are different types of stamps: Rubber (commercial or hand carved), acrylic, and metal.  From experience I find that the rubber stamps work best.  Their surface area is typically larger and they hold the colorant to them.  That said I have stamped soaps with metal and acrylic stamps reasonably well.  There’s just not as much color stamped on the soap with them.


Step 3
Cut your soap.  Lay it on a flat surface.  Gently tap your stamp in the mica.  Make sure all the flat surfaces are covered.  You want a thin layer of mica on the stamp. Too much and you won’t get as clear a stamp/imprint.  If you have too much colorant on the stamp gently tap it on your work table to remove some of the excess mica.



Step 4
Firmly (and evenly) press the stamp into the soap.  Play around with the pressure you need.  Too little and you will get a light or partial imprint on the soap.  Too much pressure and you could distort the detail and leave deep marks in the soap.



For each soap you stamp reapply a layer of mica to the stamp.

These are some examples of different stamps I’ve tried. Some have worked great and others not so much.

Acrylic Stamp: As you can see there’s really not much color on the stamp part.  What did transfer was the color that was on the outside of the stamp.  Another lesson you can learn from this picture is I used the wrong size stamp for this soap.  I really needed a stamp that was more square shaped to fill the entire black space.


Titanium Dioxide: I’ve never had a huge amount of success when using TD to stamp soaps.  This one isn’t awful, but it definitely lacks any type of wow factor too.


Activated Charcoal: This is still (to this day) one of my favorite soaps.  The charcoal stamped the soap so nicely and it just pops!

black and white1

Neon Pigment: This stamp is a hand carved stamp. I find they don’t quite have the same ability as commercial stamps when stamping soap. You have to be a bit more meticulous when stamping with them.  I used a neon colorant here which made it even harder.  I love this stamp. I don’t get the crisp clean detail as I would from a commercial stamp but it’s still a pretty stamp.

white_tea (7)

Small Stamps: I love this honey bee stamp. Worked out perfectly on my little travel soaps.


Calculating and Using Percentages to Formulate

August 26, 2014

AuswertungenUnderstanding how percentages work when calculating a recipe is very important.  It’s one of the biggest questions I get asked from new soap makers.  How important is it?  The HSCG has questions on their certification exam on this topic!  That should tell you just how important it is.

It’s a question I’ve answered enough times that I figured it was worth taking the time to write a blog post about it.  This way I can refer questions back to it and potentially help those who don’t know who to ask for help.

I’m sure you’ve seen recipes that look like this:

20% Coconut Oil
20% Palm Oil
50% Olive Oil
10% Shea Butter

What does this mean though if you want to convert the percentages into ounces so you can make soap?  First step is to convert  the percentage into a decimal.

So you take the percentage and divide it by the total percentage of all items.

In this case: 20 + 50 + 20 + 10 = 100

20 / 100 = .20
50 / 100 = .50
20/ 100 = .20
10/ 100 = .10

Once you’ve converted the percentages you can then determine the amount of oil you’ll need. You simply take the weight of the batch and multiply it by the converted percentage.

With that in mind let’s go back to the problem on hand.  Let’s say we have a total weight of oils of 28oz.  We take that and multiply it by each percentage.

.50 x 28 = 14.0
.20 x 28 = 5.6
.20 x 28 = 5.6
.10 x 28 = 2.8

If we did our math right then 14 + 5.6 + 5.6 + 2.8 should add up to 28.  Woohoo! We did our math right.  Now you can take the ounces and plug them into a soap calculator to calculate the amount of water/lye you’ll need.

Part 2

Now if you understand this then you can calculate recipes even if you just know the weight of one of the oils! So we know that olive oil makes up 14oz of the recipe and we know that olive oil is 50% of the recipe. Before you can proceed you have to determine the total weight of oils this recipe will make.

If olive oil is 50% then we need to account for another 50% in oils. Simple math tells us that if half is 14oz then just add another 14oz (or double 14) to it and the total weight if the recipe is 28oz.  Now that we know this we can apply the same method as above:

.20 x 28 = 5.6
.20 x 28 = 5.6
.10 x 28 = 2.8

Part 3

Okay, now that you understand that I’m going to make it harder!  What if it’s not “simple math” and you can’t go oh I know 50% is half?  Then just set up your problem as an algebraic equation: Let’s look at a NEW recipe.

An oil blend is to contain 50% olive, 20% palm, and 30% coconut.  How many pounds of olive oil should be used with 8 pounds of coconut oil?

What your recipe has: (converted to decimal)
50% olive oil (.50)
20% palm oil (.20)
30% coconut oil (.30)

What we KNOW for actual weights of oils:

50% olive oil = ?
20% palm oil = ?
30% coconut oil = 8lb

Let’s set it up as an algebraic formula:
You need to determine: 8lb is 30% of what (x)?

So, 30% = .30

8lb = .3x (x represents the total weight of the batch)

Then just solve the formula: (to get “x” on its own you have to divide each side by .3)

8/.3 = .3x / .3

(the .3 cancels out leaving you with just “x”)

x = 8/.3

x = 26.6

Now that you know the TOTAL weight of the recipe you can calculate 50% olive oil.

50% x 26.6

(convert the 50%)
.5 x 26.6 = 13.3lb

If you’re studying to take the Certification Test you’ll see questions like this:

An oil blend is to contain 50% olive, 20% palm, 20% coconut, and 10% Shea Butter.  How many pounds of palm oil should be used with 6 pounds of Shea butter?

You can answer this question by doing the above math.  Figure out the TOTAL WEIGHT OF THE OILS in that recipe.  Then once you know that you can CALCULATE the percentage of whatever oil they’re asking for!

Learn to understand percentages! It’s really important and will be an invaluable skill for you in your soap making career.  I offer an advance class on Formulating a Recipe that goes over percentages.  If you’re local to Massachusetts and are interested in it watch my calendar page ( I offer the class once or twice a year.

So, give it a shot?  What’s the answer to the above question?  how many pounds of palm oil should be used?

Side Note

Most molds hold either 2lb, 2.5lb, 3lb, 5lb or 10lb of oils.  Part of the total weight of a batch will be made up of the lye/water solution.  So, a 2.5lb batch of soap doesn’t have 40oz of oils total.  Only a percentage of that will be oils. The rest will be your lye/water.  To help you get started with your own recipe calculations I’ve calculated the amount of oils needed for each mold weight and am sharing it with you.  Here’s a little “cheat sheet”:

Oil Cheat Sheet
2.5lb Batch  = 28oz oil
3lb Batch    = 34oz oil
5lb Batch    = 55oz oil
10lb Batch   = 110oz oil

Dusted Mica Top

February 22, 2014

I’ve seen soaps that have dusted their tops with a thin layer of mica.  I’ve tried multiple times to mimic the look and I’ve never quite been able to and in the process I make a massive mess (because it always involved me blowing…and blowing on mica…not the smartest idea!)

The other day I wanted to try and dust layers of mica on a batch I was making and couldn’t find the sifter tool I typically used.  So in a pinch I grabbed a bottle I had sitting around and filled it with some mica hoping it might work in a pinch.

It didn’t quite do what I wanted for the layers in the soap, but oh my word it gave me that shimmery mica top finished I’d tried and failed to do soooooo many times before!!

Find a bottle like this: (sorry picture is awful!)

Mica Squirt Bottle

I get my bottles at US Plastic (if you’re interested).

Fill it with some mica.  Gently squeeze puffs out of it over your wet soap and you will get a nice coating like this!  So simple! So pretty!  I love it when I randomly stumble upon ways to do things!

TIP: Do this outside (if you can).  I’m still cleaning up pink mica!  It gets in the air and it settles all over the place!

mica dust top


Dusted Embed Soap Tutorial

February 6, 2014

This is really an easy technique.  It just requires two days to do it because you need to create embeds the day before.  What I’m loving about this is there are so many different ways you can use this technique!  I’ve played around with a couple options and will post pictures of them at the end.

Let’s begin!

Step 1: Make your embeds.  You can really use any recipe you want for this.  So, pull out your favorite one and whip up a batch of embeds.  I typically use either of these molds (CUBE or SQUARE) from Bramble Berry, but really it doesn’t matter what mold you use because you’ll be chopping them up.

ready to go

You’ll notice that this aren’t cut up in to small chunks.  I was experimenting with bigger pieces when I was making this batch for the tutorial.  I have pictures coming though of the typical size chucks I use in a few steps.

Step 2: Once the embeds are made you’ll need a large plastic sandwich/storage bag and about 1 tsp of mica.  I love mica because of 1) the ease in which it coats the soap and 2) it’s got that sparkle/shimmer to it but I love.  You can use any colorant you want though.  I’ve tried using activated charcoal and Bramble Berry’s neon colors so far and the technique has worked the same.  Some times it’s a bit more work (and colorant) to cover the pieces, but you still get the same end results.

I find that for about 1-2lbs worth of embeds I need around 1 tsp of mica.  A little bit really does go a long way–with micas!  Other colorants you’re going to have to play around with.  I’m finding that some will need more than a teaspoon, but I always start with about that much and then add if needed.

mica usage

Add the mica and the embeds to the bag.  Make sure you capture some air in the bag and then twist the top shut and shake the embeds around making sure they all get coated in the mica.

air in bag shake

The pink/black embeds were from the first batch I did.  You can see I used way more mica than I needed! (Especially activated charcoal…it goes a long way!)

examples 2

This is what my embeds look like after I’ve coated them.

dusted embeds

examples 1

These were from a different batch I made.  You can see these pieces are probably a fourth of the size of the purple ones. I like this size best.  I think it creates a prettier soap (you get more embeds and hence more of the dusted effect).

TIP: Removing the pieces from the bag can make the BIGGEST mess.  If you have a set of BBQ Tongs they make removing the pieces soooo much easier and less messier.


Step 3: Once you’ve done that set aside your embeds and make a new batch of soap for these to go in.  I recommend picking a relatively SLOW moving fragrance/essential oil.  I was trying to use a free sample floral fragrance when I was making this small batch to create a tutorial out of.  Florals are not slow movers ha!  You need to have time to pour layers, get the embeds in, and repeat.  So, yeah!  Use a slow moving fragrance!

I pour about a quarter to three-quarters of the batch into my mold.  Again, this all depends on what you’re going for image wise.  If you’re doing one solid color batch and embeding the color embeds in this ratio works.  You’ll see one I did with three different layers/colors so obviously I did a third for that…just play around.

first layer of soap

Next put your first layer of embeds in.  Then add more soap, and repeat with adding more embeds, and repeat again if necessary.

place embeds in soap

This batch I did much larger embeds than I recommend.  I like the result the smaller embeds give, but I was experimenting myself here.

Step 4: Once all the soap is used and the embeds in, put your soap to bed.  And cut it the next day!



This soap I used pink and black embeds in a white batch.


This one I really like the idea:  Three layers, three colors.  Next time I might try and do the embeds a little lighter than the layer they’re going in. I think it would have helped make everything pop a bit more.


Last, but not least (as you’ll be seeing more of this technique from me I’m sure) are my hearts!  I was playing around with embedding dusted hearts and trying to do a drop swirl (which didn’t quite go as plan because the fragrance thickened up on me faster than I expected).  But I think it’s still a cool looking soap.


Embedded Heart Tutorial

May 2, 2013

This really isn’t a hard soap to make.  It just takes two days to do.  I love embeds.  I have a patience for them that not everyone does.  I plan out my soaps in advance and then make the “parts” I’ll need to create the whole.

STEP 1: The first step in this soap is making the heart embeds.  I use this heart mold from Wholesale Supplies Plus: Heart Mold.


If you fill all 8 of the small hearts it takes about 12-14 ounces.  This mold can be a pain to unmold.  I have a recipe I love to use for embeds because the bulk of the rcipe are solid oils/butters and so it makes for harder embeds, which in turn makes it easier to unmold.  I usually leave the hearts in the mold for a full 24 hours and then before I try unmolding them I stick them in the freezer for about an hour or so.

Oil(s) Selected

2lb Batch

Castor Oil

2.25 oz

Shea Butter

9 oz

Coconut Oil (76 Degrees)

6.75 oz

Olive Oil

9 oz

Palm Oil

9 oz

5% Lye Amount

4.90 oz


11.88 oz


36 oz

This is a 2lb recipe.  You can shrink it to a 1lb batch if you’re just going to do heart embeds.  I am always making embeds so I use the 2lb batch.   I’ll use the leftover soap to create embeds for another project.  It just saves me time in the long run.

I don’t add a fragrance to these hearts and I use titanium dioxide to color them.  Not adding fragrance doesn’t affect the overall batch.  By not adding fragrance it ensures that I don’t get any discoloration in my nice white hearts.  Feel free though to add fragrance if you’d like.

STEP 2: Unmold hearts!


STEP 3: After I’ve made and unmolded these soaps I’m ready to make the actual loaf.  I use a five pound mold and I need four and a half hearts to get them to go the entire length.

I use this recipe for the loaf.  It’s one of my favorite moisturizing recipes, but you can use any recipe you want.  This is for a five pound batch of soap (you’ll need 4 and half hearts to fill the loaf).  In this tutorial just did a 2.5 lb batch (where I only needed two hearts).

Oil(s) Selected


Avocado Oil

5.4 oz

Meadowfoam Oil

1.35 oz

Coconut Oil (76 Degrees)

10.75 oz

Olive Oil

21.50 oz

Palm Oil

10.75 oz

Shea Butter

5.4 oz

5% Lye Amount

7.5 oz


18.15 oz


80.65 oz

STEP 4: Once you’ve mixed the oils and lye and the batch has reached a very light trace it’s time to split the batch up.  I split about a quarter of the batter out and set it aside for the top.

TIP: Unless I know I’m working with a slow moving fragrance I do not add it to the soap before I split the batch.  I’ve found by not adding the fragrance to the part I set aside it gives me more time to work with it and it makes for a more fluid soap which in return makes it easier to create nice crisp and clean lines between the two layers.

STEP 5: In the bottom layer (which should be about three-quarters of your soap) mix your color and fragrance together.  Pour it into your mold.

first layer

(I did a side view, instead of a top view) so you could see that you’ll fill approximately 3/4 of the mold.)

You can use any color you want.  The first batch I did I used a teal and gray.  I love this soap!  I didn’t have any more blackberry-sage fragrance oil on hand though so the batch you’re seeing pictures of is Orange & Amber.  I went with orange as the base color and black as the top (a little Halloween-y, but hey I like it!)

STEP 6: I let this set up a bit before I add my hearts in (unless it’s setting up fast then I put them in right away).  Next I go back to my top layer and add my fragrance and color.  Once it’s mixed together I go back to the base and add the hearts and then pour the second layer over them.

hearts embedded

I used Orange Peel in this batch.  First time I’ve used it.  If you want a slowwwwww moving fragrance this one’s for you.  I had to wait and wait and wait (despite a lot of stick blending) for this soap to set up enough to hold the heart embeds on top!

poured soap

STEP 7: If you want you can add a mica top.  I love the look of the mica tops with these soaps.  My mica top didn’t quite work out as planned.

TIP: Here’s some free advice from my trial and errors!  Don’t spritz your soap with alcohol right after doing your mica top.  And don’t spritz your top and then try and do your mica top!  The first time I tried the mica top I had a lovely swirl pattern.  Out of habit I spritzed the top and it caused the micas to migrate and mix together.  The second time I made soap with a mica top I did my mica top and then came back about 30 minutes later AFTER the oil had absorbed into the soap and spritzed.  Worked great.  No smudging…but I did get a small amount of ash on one of my tops.

So this time I decided to try spritzing it before I did the mica top in hopes of no ash.  Well, the alcohol kind creates a layer over the soap and while I was able to pour the mica on top (see pic below) when I went to swirl it it did not work!  Moral of all this, if you’re going to spritz do so only after the oil has absorbed into the soap.

mica top

Here’s the kind of sort of salvaged top.  It’s not an elegant one, but I think it kind of actually works for the orange/black theme I’ve got going!


STEP 8: I insulate my soaps. I like them to go through gel phase, but you don’t have to.  After 24 hours I unmold and cut and admire the pretty bars!

orange (1)

orange (2)