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Marbled Soap

Get your loved ones in a lather (the good kind) with marbled soaps that cleanse gently and smell incredible. Our recipe combines skin-softening shea butter with spa-like eucalyptus oil or sweet almond honey, plus coral- or golden-colored natural mica powder to deposit a soft shimmer. 

marbled soap bars

Photography: Kate Mathis

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2020

Introduction

Learn how to make marbled soaps using basic soap-making techniques. Our recipe combines skin-softening shea butter with spa-like eucalyptus oil or sweet almond honey, plus coral- or golden-colored natural mica powder to deposit a soft shimmer. This recipe makes 10 full-size bath bars, each 3 1/2 by 1 by 2 inches. Enlist an extra pair of hands to help pour the soap into the mold.

 

For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of handmade gifts and an introductory guide to melt-and-pour soap-making.

materials

  • Soap straight cutter (ArtMinds Soap-Making Straight Cutter, $11, michaels.com)

  • Plastic cutting board

  • Two pounds shea butter base (ArtMinds Soap-Making Shea Butter Soap, $12 for 2 lbs., michaels.com)

  • Three glass measuring cups

  • Plastic cup

  • 99 percent rubbing alcohol

  • Organic mica powder, in Orange and Gold (Mad Micas Ethically Sourced Mica, in Golden Buddha Gold, Goldfinger Gold, and Koi Orange, $5.50 for 1 oz., madmicas.com)

  • Plastic spoons

  • Soapmaking fragrance (ArtMinds Soap-Making Fragrance, in Eucalyptus Mint, $5, michaels.com; ArtMinds Simple Serenity Soap-Making Fragrance, in Honey Almond, $5, michaels.com)

  • Three wooden dowels (Creatology Wooden Dowels, 12" by 3/8", $3 for 4, michaels.com)

  • Soap-making loaf mold (ArtMinds Soap-Making Loaf Mold, $32, michaels.com

  • Two soap-mold separators (ArtMinds Soap Swirling Set, $6.79, michaels.com)

  • Waxed paper

  • Hemp cord (Hemptique Hemp Cord, in Orange, $5.84 for 205 ft., dickblick.com)

steps

  1. Using straight cutter and cutting board, chop soap base into thirds. Cut each third into 1-inch blocks. Divide blocks evenly among measuring cups.

  2. To make dye, put 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol in plastic cup, then add mica powder for color as desired. (Note: For gold soap, we added 1 teaspoon Mad Micas Golden Buddha gold mica; for peach soap, we added 1/2 teaspoon each Mad Micas Koi orange mica and Goldfinger gold mica.) Stir with plastic spoon until dye is evenly mixed with no visible clumps; set dye cup aside.

  3. Individually microwave each measuring cup of soap for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Take out cup and stir contents with a dowel. Continue microwaving in 30-second increments until soap is liquid and has no clumps. Alternatively, melt all the soap in a large pot on the stovetop using a double boiler; then divide equally among measuring cups.

  4. Working quickly (as melted soap will immediately begin to solidify), evenly distribute fragrance among measuring cups of soap. (We used a 1/2 ounce of fragrance total; for a lighter scent, use 1/4 ounce total.) Stir reserved dye, then pour into one measuring cup of soap. Stir all three measuring cups of soap with a clean dowel, moving to the dyed cup last to avoid mixing plain and dyed soaps.

  5. Place separators in loaf mold so that it is split into three equal sections. Ask your helper to hold the separators firmly in place. Pour one cup of plain soap into one end section, the cup of dyed soap in the middle section, and the second cup of plain soap in the other end section. Have your partner hold one of the separators while you hold the other; simultaneously lift the separators and set aside. Swirl soap by moving a clean dowel from one end of the mold to the other in a figure 8 motion, ensuring dowel is fully submerged and touches bottom of mold to swirl evenly. Continue this motion until you're happy with the marbling. (Avoid over-swirling; you want the marbling to stand out.)

  6. Refrigerate loaf mold 3 to 4 hours, or let stand at room temperature overnight to allow soap to solidify.

  7. When solid, place loaf mold on cutting board; remove screws and bolts to loosen, then remove soap. Working from left to right horizontally, use straight cutter to slice soap into 5 equal pieces. 

  8. Turn each piece onto its side, and cut from top straight down middle to make two equal bars. Don't worry about making perfect cuts; imperfect edges make the bars look homemade. 

  9. Wrap bars in waxed paper and tie with cord.

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