Before I started making soap, I used to purchase handmade soap from a farmer’s market near my house. I actually started making soap because I didn’t think it would be practical to order it from this soap maker anymore, and I found her soaps so interesting that I really wanted to try making my own. I actually researched for some months before I made my first batch.
One of the soaps this soap maker at the farmer’s market sold had a cute honeycomb effect, and I wondered how on earth she achieved it. As it turns out, it’s pretty easy. She used bubble wrap!
I use bubble wrap on some of my soaps. My Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey soap is a big favorite, and here is a tutorial for achieving a honeycomb effect in this soap.
The ingredients in my Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey soap are olive oil, goat milk, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, fragrance, castor oil, finely ground oatmeal, honey, whole oats.
You can purchase colloidal oatmeal, or you can grind it very finely in a coffee grinder. I use a coffee grinder. The fragrance I use is an Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey fragrance.
First off, start with frozen goat milk and slowly add your lye, a little bit at a time, making sure to incorporate all of it. Don’t rush through this part.
If you are using milk, it’s best to freeze the milk and add the lye to the frozen milk. This might sound stupid, but I figure other people might not know it, so I’ll share: frozen goat milk has the same mass as liquid goat milk. So you can freeze it in ice cube trays first, then weigh the goat milk. You don’t have to weigh out goat milk portions and freeze in portions, but you might find it convenient.
I also use a stainless steel pot every time I mix my lye with any liquid because I can more easily control the temperature. Pots are made for that sort of thing, after all. I got this idea from Anne L. Watson in her book Milk Soapmaking.
Some soap makers don’t freeze the milk all the way and just let it get slushy. I find my temps stay lower if the milk is completely frozen. When the temps stay lower, the milk is less likely to discolor. If the temperature is too high, the milk scorches and turns orange.
I prepare my mold by laying a sheet of bubble wrap in the bottom of the mold. To add interest, I sprinkle a few oats on top of the bubble wrap.
When I add the milk to the oils, I try to make sure the oils are 100°F or lower, but I no longer worry about the temperature of my milk. For the record, it’s usually in the 70°-80°F range. At this stage, the milk and oils are emulsified.
At trace, I add honey diluted in distilled water. I am so lucky! One of my co-workers is a beekeeper, and she trades me honey for soap, so I can use raw, locally harvested honey in my soap. Honey turns the soap a pretty golden color. After the soap saponifies, it turns a golden brown. Honey will discolor soap, but it is a humectant that draws moisture to the skin and also boosts the lather in soap. Honey is amazing in soap!
Once the soap reaches a good trace, but is not too thick to pour evenly, I pour it into the mold. Notice I removed the dividers. I think it is easier to pour the soap in and then add the dividers, but you don’t have to do it that way.
Then I put the dividers in. Bang the mold on the counter or table to make sure the bars are even. I sometimes rock this mold gently from side to side before putting in the dividers just to even out the soap.
I like to sprinkle oats on the top, just as I did on the bottom bubble wrap. It adds some interest and gives the soap a “homespun” look.
Here’s the soap entirely covered in oats.
I cut pieces of bubble wrap to fit the bar tops and gently press them into place.
And here is the soap with the bubble wrap in place. You can also do this with log molds. Just cut strips of bubble wrap that fit the length of the mold and place one strip in the bottom of the mold and another strip on top of the poured soap.
The finished bars are a golden honey color. They smell awesome! The honeycomb effect totally makes the soap. And it’s so easy!