Making Lemon Poppyseed Cold Process Soap

Making Lemon Poppyseed Cold Process Soap

The Design

Lemon Poppyseed soap made in 2022

I LOVE all things lemon! I made a lemon poppyseed soap last year (pictured on the right), so of course I wanted to do it again, but this time I had a few changes to the the design.

  • I wanted a bolder yellow than last year's soap. The Dark Yellow mica I had from Windy Point Soap Supply is lovely but results in a softer yellow, so I decided to punch it up with a bit of neon yellow pigment.
  • I wanted to add a bit more complexity to the design. In addition to the poppyseeds, I decided to add a hanger swirl with a paler shade of yellow. For this colour, I left out the neon colourant and replaced it with some Titanium Dioxide
  • The "icing" on top of last year's lemon soap was a bit thicker that I would have liked, so this time I reduced the amount of white soap. I also wanted to pipe the soap, giving it more of an "icing" look

The Making

Check out my YouTube video to see how this soap was made!

Mixing soap colourants with olive oil

I started by mixing my colourants with a bit of olive oil. Using the plexiglass sheet and palette knife helps to make sure there are no clumps in the colourants, so it can be blended into the soap batter quickly and easily.

I use the Elements Bath and Body colourant calculator to figure out how much pigment to add to each portion of the soap, which is a really helpful tool when making soap with multiple colours. The oil adds to the superfat (extra oil that doesn't get saponified by the lye) of the soap and helps to colourants to mix into the soap easily without extra blending. I don't normally measure the amount of oil I use to do this, mostly looking for a good consistency.

Bottle of Verbena and Lemon fragrance oil

The fragrance oil I used is Verbena and Lemon, which I purchased from Fizz Fairy Krazycolours. It has a really wonderful lemon fragrance, very lemony and not too sweet with some really lovely herbal notes. It doesn't discolour, but I think it did cause the soap to thicken quite quickly (something I wish I had remembered!)

I had a masterbatch of the oils/butters and the lye solution that I used for this soap, which really sped up the time I needed to make soap. Since soap making often happens after my kids have gone to bed for the night, anything to make this process more efficient is great! I'm definitely more of a morning person

Mixing poppyseeds into the soap batter

Having forgotten about the thickening power of the fragrance, I wasn't too concerned about over-mixing the soap. As soon as the oils/butters and the lye are combined, the soap will start to thicken. The more aggressively the soap batter is mixed, the quicker it will thicken. For this soap, I actually wanted it to be on the thicker side before pouring. The poppyseeds in this design need the thicken to keep from sinking to the bottom of the soap - not the look I was going for. 

Once I added the fragrance oil however, the soap really started to thicken! If I was going for a layered design, that would have been great. For a nice swirl design, it was less than ideal. The first pour of the bright yellow was ok, but the first pour of the pale yellow sat on top and barely broke through the first layer. The second pour of each colour needed WAY more scraping to get out of the pitchers than I usually need to do. At this point, panic starts to set in and I go into "get the soap in the mold STAT" mode!

I still wanted to try for the hanger swirl, but at this point I was a bit worried that moving the soap with my hanger tool would result in gaps or holes as it passed through the soap. Maybe a clear soap mold might have been easier to see what was going on below the surface, but I only had what I had. I should have given the mold a tap on the counter, but in my panic to get the soap done, I completely forgot.

Once the yellow soap was in the mold, I could focus on the white "icing". I didn't intend to add fragrance to this soap (in hindsight, I'm not sure if that was a good choice or not), but I needed the soap to thicken enough to hold it's shape when piped on top. I blended and blended. And blended. And blended. I waited and blended and washed the dishes and blended and waited some more.

The disadvantage of making soap at night as a morning person is that by this point in the process I am feeling very tired and the soap would not get thick enough on its own! I didn't want to add any fragrance at this point because I was concerned it would quickly become so thick I wouldn't be able to get it out of the piping bag! So plan B.

Close up of textured soap top

I decided to pour the white soap on top. No piping this time! I was so over making this soap when it was time to texture the top that I ran the spatula back and forth across the top to create a ripple across the bars. I was rushing through to get it done so I could go to bed, but I actually really liked the result! I also intended to add a sprinkle of poppyseeds on top, but I completely forgot about that as well. Oops!

The Verdict

I still love the fragrance of this soap, but I would definitely plan a different design the next time I use it! Thankfully there are many designs that would work really well with a fragrance oil that accelerates (thickens the soap quickly). Flat, angled or textured layers have so many really great possibilities! The hanger swirl didn't leave any gaps in its path and there was definitely no danger in sinking poppyseeds, so I'm pleased with that!

Finished bars of lemon poppyseed soap

I also think that piping soaps should be kept for times when I have lots of time to wait for the soap to get thick enough or if I make a small, separate batch of soap icing beforehand. Not a great choice for the end of the day or when I need to be finished by a specific time. Sometimes the soap just doesn't want to cooperate with my timelines!

I'm also looking for a different yellow colourant. This is a lovely yellow, but even with the neon pigment added, it didn't have the "pop" I was hoping for.

Thanks for reading!

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