Friday, April 30, 2010

Beeswax and Oatmeal Swirled Soap

Happy Monday! Last week I played with adding beeswax to a 2# cold process soap batch. I used Oatmeal Milk and Honey fragrance oil, titanium dioxide for whitening my oils, yellow oxide for a second color to swirl, slow cook oatmeal for a scrubby additive and white beeswax in addition to my oils.

Working with beeswax can be tricky business. It is known for accelerating trace and overheating the soap. You only need a little bit-- about 5% of your recipe. Too much beeswax makes a sticky, gummy bar that inhibits lather. Beeswax is an ester like fats and oils, which means it can be saponified and needs to be added to recipe and go through the lye calculator just like if you were adding an oil or butter. This is unlike adding the oatmeal, which is a secondary ingredient who's purpose is to exfoliate and does not contribute to the actual saponifying process.

I added the melted beeswax to my low temperature soap (around 90 degrees F) as it reached a very light trace. I noticed the wax begin to slightly solidify at first (beeswax has a much higher melting point than the oils--close to 140 degrees F), but continued stick blending and it evened out into a nice, smooth texture.

In the Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch, she adds the beeswax right in with the other oils so that it can saponify along with them, which I think I might try next time to see how that reacts in comparison to the method I used of incorporating it after the oils and lye had been mixed.

So, what's the benefit of beeswax in soap? Mainly, it adds to the hardness of the bar and the smell of honey is very pleasant.

Here is the recipe I used:

8 oz Distilled Water
3.38 oz Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
8 oz Canola Oil
8 oz Palm Oil
6.8 oz Coconut Oil
1.2 oz White Beeswax
1.4 oz Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance
1 teaspoon Titanium Dioxide
1/2 teaspoon Yellow Oxide
1.4 oz Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil
1/4 cup slow cook oatmeal. Instant oatmeal will actually cook in your soap with such high temps!

Other supplies:

Rubber spatula and reed for swirling
Assortment of Pyrex measuring dishes for oils, water, splitting the batch to swirl, portioning sodium hydroxide, etc.
Stirring utensils for mixing lye solution
Laser thermometer
2 pound wooden loaf mold lined with freezer paper
Stick blender
Digital Scale
Rubber Gloves
Safety Goggles

I like to lighten up my oils with titanium dioxide before adding in the lye solution because all the stirring to break down any clumps doesn't change the thickness of the oils. I have all the time in the world to make sure the color integration is just right without worrying about reaching trace too soon. (Trace is the word used for the critical point when your mixture of lye and oils begins to thicken up like pudding. This signals the time to add fragrance and then pour into your mold.)
I also added a little more titanium dioxide after mixing in the fragrance once the lye and oils were combined because Oatmeal Milk and Honey does discolor to a tan.

Above is my mold all lined and ready to go. Make sure to have your workspace organized and planned out so that all you have to do is grab and mix.

Voila! My poured soap with swirl pattern and oatmeal mixed in. The beeswax seemed scary at first as it changed texture, but with continuous mixing, it was super easy to handle-- even enough to create a lovely swirl pattern. Mmm, and it smells delicious!



  2. Hello! I want to make swirl soap too, and I don't like soap without fragrance, I am afraid that the fragrance will accelerate trace even though I asked my supplier and he told me that it doesn't. I made a soap with the FO and it accelerated trace but before i added it, the soap was already at high trace. Maybe it's normal for a fragrance oil to accelerate a little bit. what do you think?

  3. Rusny: You will want to use 3.38 oz lye. Thanks!

    Andrea: Some fragrances are known for accelerating trace, or discoloring the soap, etc. But I really don't want that to discourage you from swirling. If the supplier has tested it properly and it does not accelerate, it should work great. If I am going to swirl with a scent that I know accelerates, I first split my batch into different cups to color them (at a very light trace) and then hand mix the scent in each of the portions of soap at the very end, right before pouring. I hope this helps! Also, Bramble Berry has notes with each fragrance oil to tell you how it performs in CP.