Nature's Garden. One of the scents I bought was their Bubble Luscious FO. Out of the bottle, it smells to me just like pink bubble gum, and the scent stays true in soap, too.
Sometimes you can smell a scent and know right away how you want to soap it. Other times, you have to think on the design for a bit. And sometimes you know what you want your soap to look like and you have to find a scent to go along with your plan.
With this fragrance, I saw colorful gumballs embedded in a white soap. A few years ago, I picked up this ice cube mold at a kitchen store and had yet to use it. This mold makes cylinders of ice for water bottles, but it's great for soap, too! I figured I would use it to make cylinders of melt-and-pour soap and embed them in my cold process soap. When cut, the soap tubes will look round, like gumballs!
Soap balls would have also worked great for this project, but I didn't have the energy to make a batch of CP soap and roll it into soap balls. I thought about using my silicone ball molds (Bramble Berry carries them in small, medium, and large sizes), but since I had only two of them I decided to use the ice cube mold instead.
But melt-and-pour soap offers flexibility, and embeds can be made quickly and easily with it. So, M&P was my go-to for embeds once I planned this gumball soap out in my head.
For my embeds, I chose clear M&P base and Fizzy Lemonade, Tangerine Wow, and Electric Bubble Gum neon colorants from Bramble Berry. (Tip: These pigments are best mixed with glycerin to work out the clumps before adding them to the soap. Don't disperse them in rubbing alcohol - it doesn't work.)
I chopped up the M&P, covered my container with plastic wrap to prevent the moisture from evaporating, and nuked it in the microwave for 30-second bursts until melted. Then I added my colorant and poured the soap into the ice cube mold. Because I had only one ounce of the fragrance oil, I didn't scent my M&P embeds. But I totally would have if I had had more FO. (Another tip: There is one cylinder in the center of the mold that does not have an open bottom. It's got this crisscross design instead, making it impossible to get the soap out. Avoid that particular cylinder. I had to soak my mold in water for, like, an entire day before the soap disintegrated enough for me to remove it. I don't know why it's like that or what it contributes to the mold - stability, maybe? - but there must be a reason for it. Just wanted to give you a heads-up.)
Ideally, I would have made my embeds the day before and allowed the soap to cool overnight. Of course, I didn't do that, so I was pressed for time. After pouring the M&P, I put the mold in the freezer for about 30 minutes or so to make the soap harden faster.
After I put the M&P in the freezer, I made my CP soap. I opted for a one-pound batch using a palm-free recipe from The Nova Studio Blog. I used the first recipe listed, which uses 40% vegetable shortening, 30% olive oil, 28% coconut oil, and 2% castor oil. If you give this recipe a go, make sure you read the vegetable shortening label carefully! Some shortening contains palm oil, which would totally defeat the purpose if you're trying to go palm-free. Look for a soybean/cottonseed blend. (SoapCalc has "Crisco, old" on their list of oils, and I used that to run the recipe using soybean/cottonseed shortening through their lye calculator.)
I added the FO to the cooled base oils, along with some titanium dioxide dispersed in glycerin to whiten the soap.
By the time my CP soap was ready, the M&P was due to come out of the freezer. Once the soap was hard, I partially pushed it out with my thumb and gripped it with a paper towel to pull it the rest of the way out. I also used said paper towel to dab away the condensation on the surface of the soap.
When the CP and M&P soaps were both ready to go, I poured enough CP soap into my loaf mold to create a base to nestle a few cylinders of M&P end-to-end. I covered the embeds with more CP, and then laid some more embeds. I did three layers of embeds total, and topped the loaf off with the end pieces I had trimmed from the M&P cylinders.
Here is a video of the process:
I placed the soap in the freezer overnight to avoid gel phase because I feared that the M&P soap might melt if it gelled. I also soaped cool - around 95 degrees F.
And I love Bramble Berry's neon colorants! The colors are so bold and bright, and they really pop against the white.
The soap held up fairly well in the shower. I worried that skipping gel phase might cause the embeds to not adhere as well. Once the soap got worn down and became thinner and more pliable, a couple of embeds came loose near the end of the bar's life. No biggie for me, though.
Have you combined melt-and-pour with cold process soap before? How did you like it?