Handmade Swirly Soap

Make your own decorative soap in your kitchen!

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Project by Mark Smithivas from Chicago, Ill.

Mark's first duty in life is to serve as a part-time stay-at-home dad to his adorable little toddler. His second job is as a department assistant at Northwestern University. And somewhere in between those two duties, he indulges his passion for aromatherapy and crafting by making soap. His artistic flair reveals itself in multiples as he handcrafts scented soap right out of his kitchen. Staying clean was never so much fun!


16 oz. olive oil
8 oz. palm kernel oil
8 oz. soybean oil
8 oz. coconut oil
5.7 oz. pure sodium hydroxide (lye)
15 oz. distilled water
aromatherapy or fragrance oils
nonreactive pot (stainless steel)
large heat-proof glass measuring cup
two candy thermometers
plastic mixing bowls
heat-resistant spatulas
violet oxide/ultramarine colorant
soap mold
pastry cutter, clay wire or sharp knife
digital scale
rubber gloves
electric stick blender
safety goggles and rubber gloves


1. Turn on digital scale and tare out the weight of container for lye. All raw materials must be measured by weight (ounces), not by volume (fluid ounces).

Note: Lye is VERY caustic! Work in a well-ventilated area while wearing proper eye, hand and skin protection.

2. With rubber gloves on, measure lye into plastic container or bowl. Set aside.

3. Tare out weight of heat-proof glass measuring cup. Measure distilled water in glass cup.

4. Carefully and slowly pour lye into water and stir to dissolve. Mixture will get very hot. Avoid breathing the vapors from the solution.

5. Set lye solution outside to cool. Keep away from children and pets. Put one of the candy thermometers into the solution to monitor temperature.

6. Measure out olive, soybean, palm kernel and coconut oils into nonreactive pot.

7. Place pot on stove and turn on burner to low.

8. Once palm kernel chunks melt, turn off burner and place second candy thermometer into pot to monitor temperature.

9. While lye solution and oils are cooling, blend aromatherapy or fragrance oils in a separate container.

10. Line soap mold with wax paper if you are not using a professional mold.

11. Once lye and vegetable oil temperature drops below 120 F degrees, they are ready to be mixed together. Pour lye solution into the pot of oils and begin stirring mixture with spatula.

12. Insert stick blender into mixture and pulse for 10 to 15 seconds or until mixture begins to take on creamy appearance.

13. Pour off approximately 2 cups of main mixture into secondary mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of colorant into secondary mixture. Using spatula, blend colorant into mixture. Add more colorant if you want a deeper shade. Pulse this colored mixture for another 10 to 15 seconds until it begins to thicken. Set aside.

14. Add aromatherapy scent blend to main mixture and stir with spatula. Pulse main mixture with stick blender for 10 to 15 seconds until main mixture also thickens. Once mixture thickness approaches pudding-like consistency, stop blender.

15. Pour main mixture into soap mold until it covers bottom of mold to a depth of approximately 1/4 inch. Using spatula, drizzle colored mixture into mold on top of main layer. Continue to alternate main and colored layers until all the mixtures have been poured into mold

16. Insert reverse end of spatula, a thin-bladed knife, a chopstick or other pinpoint object into center of mixture and swirl the layers together in random directions.

17. Cover mixture with towels and let rest for 24 hours. After 24 hours, turn mold upside down to release block of soap from mold. At this point, you can cut the block into whatever size bars you wish using pastry cutter or heavy knife. Optional step is to bevel each edge on a soap planer. Allow soap to air dry and cure in ventilated area for another 3 weeks before using.

Website: www.badkittensoaps.com

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