Tips when soaping with lilac fragrance oil

IMG_2080copyThis post was going to be about how smart I am but then I had to change the theme because, it turns out, I am not that smart, after all.  I thought I had conquered this fragrance but it tricked me, again.  Oh, well, next time.

Those who read this blog will remember I have had a bit of trouble with Bramble Berry’s Lilac Fragrance Oil.  It smells divine but … The first time I used it, my batter both seized and riced.

043copySeizing is where you blink and your batter goes very firm.  Too firm to pour.  If you are lucky, you will be able to spoon your batter into the mould.  My batter went so hard I could barely get it in.  Remember this picture?  This was nothing like I had intended but it was the best I could do.

Ricing is where the batter separates and looks a lot like rice pudding.  Riced batter can be saved by re-mixing with a stick blender.

Anyway, I love the fragrance so I decided not to give up on it.  I had read that one must learn to work with difficult fragrances.  If you have a fragrance that you know will misbehave, choose a simple design like solid coloured soap or simple layers.  It was suggested that layers are perfect as each layer will firm up before you do the next one.  I decided to try it.

I am pretty happy with the results but… if you look carefully at the top photo, you can see some lines through the white part of the soap.  They are glycerine rivers and shouldn’t be there.  There are a lot of things that can cause glycerine rivers, including problem fragrances.  For some reason, they are more likely to occur where titanium dioxide is used.  This didn’t happen the last time because I didn’t use titanium dioxide in that batch.  They are no big deal.  Your soap is perfectly usable.  It just means it will not be as pretty as it would, otherwise, have been.

My tips for using a fragrance that you know will accelerate trace (seize, rice, create rivers, etc) are:

  1. Make sure you choose a recipe that does not move quickly, ie, no palm kernel oil – and, maybe, use extra virgin olive oil rather than pomace olive oil.
  2. Only mix the batter until very thin trace.  You do not want it thick to start with – it will thicken soon enough.
  3. Choose a very simple design, either one colour or layered soap.  Certainly, no swirls.
  4. Add the fragrance at the very last minute.  If your design requires the batter to be divided: divide the batter, colour it and then add the fragrance to the first portion to be used.  Pour the first portion into the mould and then add the fragrance to the next portion to be used.
  5. Do not mix in the fragrance with your stick blender.  Mix it in by hand.
  6. Don’t use titanium dioxide to whiten your soap.  Glycerine rivers are more likely to occur where titanium dioxide is used.
  7. Plan on doing a textured top.  Your batter is sure to be very thick and, therefore, it will be hard to get the surface smooth so go for obvious texture.

For those interested, this is what I did.  If the glycerine rivers worry you, don’t use the titanium dioxide.  Instead, keep those layers plain.  The recipe makes enough for the small mould Maus made me when I first started out, though the peeks do show a wee bit over the top.  Because of this, I had to put a cut-off cardboard box over the mould to insulate it.  The internal dimensions are 9.5cm wide, 15.5cm long and 6cm high.

For the base soap, I used the same recipe as last time.  It is from Anne-Marie Faiola’s book, Soap Crafting.

  • 113g palm oil
  • 113g coconut oil
  • 396g extra virgin olive oil
  • 85g caustic soda
  • 206g water
  • 4 teaspoons Bramble Berry lilac fragrance oil
  1. At light trace, split the batter into 4 equal amounts – small plastic jugs are just perfect for the job.
  2. To one portion, add ½ tsp titanium dioxide mixture*.  Mix it in with a whisk.  Once mixed, add 1 tsp of the fragrance oil then mix well.  Pour batter into prepared mould.
  3. To the next portion add ½ tsp ultramarine blue mixture** and ¾ tsp ultramarine mauve mixture***.  Mix it in with a whisk.  Once mixed, add 1 tsp of the fragrance oil and mix well.  Gently pour the batter over the first layer.  Pour batter onto the back of a spatula so that it does not penetrate the previous layer.  Smooth the layer with the spatula.
  4. To the next portion add ½ tsp titanium dioxide mixture*.  Mix it in with a whisk.  Once mixed,  add 1 tsp of the fragrance oil then mix well.  Pour batter over the previous layer as described above.
  5. To the last portion, add 1¼ tsp ultramarine mauve mixture***. Mix it in with a whisk.  Once mixed, add 1 tsp of the lilac fragrance oil.  Pour batter over the previous layer.
  6. Take a teaspoon and, using the back of the spoon, scoop the batter into the centre, creating little peeks as you go.
  7. If desired, spinkle cosmetic glitter on top.
  8. Spray soap with hair spray.  This makes the glitter stick.
  9. Wrap your soap in a towel and leave for 24 hours.

* Titanium Dioxide Mixture – 1 tsp titanium dioxide to 14 tsp olive oil.

**Ultramarine blue mixture – 2 tsp ultramarine blue with 4 x 15mil tablespoons olive oil.

***Ultramarine mauve mixture – 2 tsp ultramarine mauve with 4 x 15mil tablespoons olive oil.



12 thoughts on “Tips when soaping with lilac fragrance oil

  1. You are making some lovely soap. Are you just awesome or is there a lot of dodgy ones you’re not showing us 😉 I find glycerine rivers are more likely to occur if you are very heavy handed with the titanium dioxide, which I usually am cause I like the white. So I live with the glycerine rivers. I gave up on lilac the first time it riced so I am glad to see you can soap it if you are careful.

    • Hi Tania – I am awesome 🙂 Nah, I am still learning but it is fun. Every time you make one batch I want to make another to test something else out.

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