Friday, November 20, 2015

Pumpkin Gingerbread Vertical Swirl

It is autumn, which means that it is time for pumpkin-flavored and pumpkin-scented everythings.

I love pumpkin season. Mostly because of the eating of the pumpkins. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin lattes.

Pumpkin soup.

But also pumpkin soap.

Here is my contribution to Pumpkin Mania: a pumpkin-gingerbread swirl soap.

I knew that I wanted to make a pumpkin-themed soap. I went to my fragrance cabinet to see what was there and I discovered that I had an ounce of Bramble Berry's Pumpkin Pie Cybilla fragrance oil, which it appears they no longer carry. (It had been hanging around for a few years and I forgot that I had it.)

The Pumpkin Pie fragrance oil would most likely discolor brown, though, due to the vanilla content. I didn't want a brown soap. So I wondered, how can I make the brown work to my advantage?

That's when I decided to combine it with a Gingersnap fragrance oil. My plan was to make half of the soap orange and unscented, and the other half scented with both the Pumpkin Pie and Gingersnap fragrance oils. The unscented half would stay orange, and the scented half would turn brown. I suppose that I could have used just the Pumpkin Pie fragrance oil, but a) I didn't have enough of it for the whole batch, and b) the Gingersnap fragrance makes the brown color make more sense (or scents?), at least in my mind anyway.

I'm calling it Gingerbread, though. Just cuz I wanna.

Next I had to decide on a design. I remembered this tutorial from the Soap Queen blog using Bramble Berry's vertical mold to make a half-circle design in the soap.

The idea is to pour one color into each side of the vertical mold. Then you lift the divider out just enough to get it out of its groove, twist it 180 degrees, and then carefully pull the divider all of the way out. It is supposed to make half-circle designs on each side of the soap; in this case, orange soap with a brown half-circle on one side, and brown soap with an orange half-circle on the other.

Here's a video of me making this soap:

My design didn't turn out as crisp as I would have liked, but it is still a neat look. I think I just need more practice.

For this project, I went with 50% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, 15% avocado oil, and 5% castor oil with a 5% superfat figured into the recipe. It seemed to trace slowly for me. I wanted the trace to be at about medium to help the design stay crisper, so I had to stickblend for quite a while, which is something I usually have to stop myself from doing.

Before adding the lye solution, I stickblended three ounces (84 grams) of pumpkin puree into my oils to get it really well incorporated. ( I also subtracted three ounces of water from the recipe to make up for the water content of the pumpkin.) Then I added the lye solution and brought the soap to trace. I split the batch in half and colored one half with orange mica, mixed with a bit of oil pulled from the total to work out the clumps. I added all of the fragrance oil to the other half and left it uncolored since the fragrance oil would turn it brown. The scented half got a little thick with all of that fragrance oil in it, but it was manageable. The unscented orange half stayed pretty loose.

Then I poured the orange soap into one side of the mold and the scented soap into the other side. I like to pour the two halves simultaneously to keep the divider from coming loose and sliding around. After pouring, I twisted the divider as described above.

While this recipe has a nice slow trace, it does make a soft soap initially. I left it in the mold for a long time - about two weeks - which is probably much longer than I needed to. I'm just lazy. But it probably does need to sit a little longer before cutting to let some water evaporate and allow the soap to firm up a bit.

I had some trouble getting the plastic liners to come away from the soap because it was so soft, but I was able to remove them after putting the soap in the freezer for a few hours. Then I let the soap sit for a couple more days before cutting. When I did finally cut it, it cut well and didn't seem especially soft anymore.

I've tested an end piece and some of the leftover soap and it is very nice! It feels great on the skin and smells delicious.

And the soap pairs nicely with my pumpkin-scented body lotion. Always have to buy some of that this time of year!

Oh, and what to do with any leftover pumpkin puree? Pumpkin Blondies! (I just swapped pumpkin for the sweet potato.)

Are you a pumpkin fan? If so, what is your favorite way to incorporate pumpkin into your projects?


  1. I like it! Kinda reminds me of a lava lamp. ;D And pumpkin pie FO sounds fabulous! Ooh, pumpkin blondies, I like the way you think! Definitely have to try out that recipe, thanks!

    1. Thanks, Monica! You're right, it does look rather like a lava lamp. I love pumpkin, especially this time of the year, and I want it in everything. It's nice in soap, but really good in blondies! I hope that you like the recipe. :)

  2. OMG, I bet that soap smells incredible! And I love the twist to it, the vertical mold is on my wish list :) Happy holidays Jenny!

    1. Thank you, Sue! The vertical mold is fun. Happy holidays to you, too!

  3. What a great bar of soap for this season! That vertical half circle design looks great with that pumpkin color. =)

    1. Thank you, Anne-Marie! This is definitely a nice soap for autumn. And thank you for the vertical twist tutorial!


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