Blue Aspen Originals

aspen leaf
Fine soaps hand crafted in small batches

How to Swirl

in the pot technique

This tutorial has taken me several batches of soap to get all the photographs, hence the differently colored soaps pictured.

1. Swirling is where you create color in your soap by adding pigments, usually ultramarine or oxides to a small portion of soap and swirl it into the larger batch. This gives a soap that is mostly white (or whatever color you choose for your base) and colored. I aim for a large portion of my soap bars to be white and finely swirled with color so it looks marbled. No two batches turn out exactly the same.

Yuzu scented green swirled bar This is an example of my swirling method
with green pigments on a white base.

2. I mix my pigments with a tablespoon of water and liquid oil (subtracted from the oil used in my recipe, usually the olive). I mix it with water and oil even if the manufacturer says it's water or oil soluble because I have found this to dissolve them much better than what they recommend. I use a small Tupperware container or recycle a plastic food container to mix this in. The recycled one is best because then you can just throw it out and save the hassle of cleaning that mess. For me, smaller is better, I only make up about 1/8 cup of colored soap to swirl with. You don't want this in too big of a container or you will spend too much time scraping it out when your soap has traced and you need to hurry adding the colorant before it gets too thick to pour into the mold. I put the lid on the container and shake to mix the colorant, water and oils.

Dissolving the pigment in water and oilHere I have about 1/8th of a teaspoon of pigment mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and 1 Tablespoon of my recipe's oils.

3. I continue on and weigh out and melt my oils, mix my lye and line my mold. I shake the container every now and then while I am doing these other soap making steps.
4. When my lye water and oils are fully mixed together, usually before or right at very light trace, I take a big spoonful out and add it to the pigment container. Make sure the lid is on very tight and shake it as you continue to stick blend the soap in the big pot.

Adding soap Here I am adding a big spoonfull of pre-trace soap to the container of oil-water-pigments that I have been shaking.

5. After trace and after adding in the fragrance, pour the container of colored soap into the pot. I do this by pouring it in a very thin stream from pretty high up so it sinks down into the soap in the pot. I try and get color to all parts of the soap pot and not just one big glob of color in one place. I usually do not scrape out the colored soap container as usually there are bits of colorant still in it but mostly I don't want to mess with it. I put it in my sink and run water to overfill it for later cleaning.

Ready to pour into soap batchHere is the pigment mixed and ready
to be poured into the batch of soap

Pouring in the color

Pour in the color from up high so it can sink down into the soap. Pour it thin and all over the soap.

6. Now depending on how well I got color to all parts of the soap pot I will stir 1 time the colored soap into the base color or I won't. Usually I have gotten color to most of the soap pot but if I feel the soap was too thick and the coloring didn't sink far enough down I will. Now I pour the soap from the pot into my mold letting the pouring process swirl the soap for me. I use a long mold and when I am pouring I move the pot back and forth along it to help distribute the swirling to the whole mold.

Stir one timeStir one time if you don't think the colored soap got down far into the base. Usually this happens when the soap is at thick trace when you add the color otherwise don't stir it. Let the pouring process swirl the color for you.

6. How the soap looks marbled in the mold.

Soap swirledSoap swirled.

7. Finished bars

Indian summerIndian summer (Tradewinds)


Rebel (Tradewinds)

Emerald SeaEmerald Sea (Tradewinds),
they don't all turn out cool.