Snow Falling on Cedars – Phase 2

Well this isn’t embarrassing at all!  Phrases like ‘unmitigated disaster’ and ‘what was I thinking’ spring to mind.  Never mind, we learn by our mistakes and those of others, so in the interests of sharing the learning I’m still going ahead with my entry.  (‘Glutton for punishment’  is another phrase that’s just popped into my head … good thing I’m laughing about it :-).)

So, to recap if you haven’t read my previous post … I came up with the great idea of doing a land-scape style soap for the February Soap Challenge.  Going for the all natural category, it was to have spirulina coloured cedar trees with snowflakes falling through a lilac-grey sky (coloured with alkanet infused oil).

Now close your eyes … try to picture it … pretty cool, eh?

Okay, you can open your eyes now and behold what actually happened …

20160220_115853Don’t worry, I’m chortling about it too.

Things probably started to go wrong with the original mix.  Three days after being in the mould I tried to cut the embeds but after the first cut I could see it was still too soft.  I could also see the outer surface was starting to oxidise and turn brown (apparently this is common with spirulina) which you can see on the edges of the  second from left tree (yes, those are meant to be trees 😊).  So I decided not to cut until I was ready to make the final soap in the hope of retaining some of the green colour.  This at least worked! Yeah!!

Next came making the snow.  I’d made a block of white soap in a plastic takeaway container, but could I get it out?!   Ten days later it was still the consistency of butter, and not even straight from the fridge butter.  Even the eternal optimist in me realised that carving pretty little snowflakes wasn’t happening.  So instead I decided to go with plan B and try making shreds of soap.  Grating the soap wasn’t going to work so instead I tried …

Method one – lemon zester :  okay result but shreds tended to curl up.

Method two – garlic press :  finer strands but tended to stick together.

Method three – oral syringe :  found this lurking in the back of the cutlery drawers from when the boys were little; gave a good effect but far too tricky to get the soap into it.

Method four – potato ricer : basically just a big garlic press, good for making a lot of shreds at a time, but they all stick together 😕  (It is, however, the best thing ever for making mashed potatoes so highly recommend you consider getting one if you don’t already own one!)

20160219_104205So eventually I was ready to make the main soap and assemble the whole thing.  If you, haven’t made alkanet infused oil before, it really is the most gorgeous cherry red.  However, once mixed the lye it turns a dull grey.  But, as it oxidises it takes on a lavender shade.  Don’t you just love the alchemy of soap!  I had previously used this when doing a soaping session with a friend, who assured me her soap had matured into the lavender-grey shade I was hoping for.

So I made my basic soap batter which turned ….  green!  20160219_112709You can see it starting to happen in the picture on the right.  Please comment if this has happened to you – I’d love to know where I went wrong.

Undaunted, I ploughed on regardless. I cut up the rest of my trees (soap still too soft, made them too small, snow effect not really working) and laid them in the mould with a few strands of snow.

After this I alternated my main soap with layers of snow shreds (sorry no pics as I was working fast at this point – ‘snow’ was a pain in the @*% to handle and the green ‘sky’ was beginning to set up). Anyway, finally got everything in the mould and textured the top. Think this was probably my soap’s finest moment … at least it looked okay when wet … if a little green 😊


Next day, it was time to cut and reveal the horror that is ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’. I think the snowiest thing about it is the lovely layer of soda ash forming on the top!

As I finish this post, about an hour after the images were taken, the strange green is slowly turning the sort of teal/aqua colour you can see at the top of the bar. So that’s nice! In a week or so I may post another picture so you can see how it ended up, but in the meantime the deadline for the Soap Challenge is today. Even though the soap hasn’t really worked out and, having seen some of the other fantastic entries, I know I’m going to get nil points (hey, I wouldn’t even vote for it and I made it 😂 ), I’m still going to enter simply for the practice of linking a blog for the first time.

Never mind, there’s always next month.




Soap Formula: 30% coconut oil; 30% rapeseed (canola) oil; 20% olive oil; 10% castor oil; 10% sweet almond oil

Colours:  spirulina for trees; white clay for snow

Main soap

Soap Formula:  30% coconut oil; 30% olive oil; 15% shea butter; 15% sunflower oil; 10% castor oil; pinch Tussah silk; 1 tbspn honey powder; 2 tbspns goat’s milk powder

Colour: alkanet (infused in sunflower oil)

Fragrance:  natural and organic oil blend from The Soap Kitchen which contains cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, black pepper, patchouli, mandarin, orange, ginger and coriander essential oils




17 thoughts on “Snow Falling on Cedars – Phase 2

  1. Oh, I do hope the entire soap turns that lovely shade of greyish-blue!! What an ordeal! I do appreciate you sharing all your methods and things that may or may not have worked. We’ll call this a practice round and next time will be so much better!! Canola oil tends to make soft soap, and I rarely use more than 5% castor as it can make the soap soft also. I’ve had some issues with sunflower oil as well, but it tends to depend on the supplier from what I’ve heard from other soapmakers. Hope that helps!!


    1. Hadn’t really intended the partial gel – it spent the night in my very cold garage! Still, you have to love a happy accident 😉 I didn’t think of hand rolling. Might try that next time … if there ever is a next time lol.


  2. Great job, Carol! I wish I had documented all my trials with my soap. I went through something similar, trying new things, them not working, trying again. Your soap turned out fabulous despite your trials! I really love the color variation created from the gelling in the center. Well done!


  3. Oh bless your heart for laughing about it! We have all been there with at least one (or 10) batches. One thing I have learned is that soap making is as much about what not to do, as it is what to do. I like your soap. It reminds me of when snow first starts to fall and the sky reflects that light in different shades of the night’s sky.


  4. I’m so sorry your soap gave you such a hard time, but I’m laughing right along with you since my last few challenges have been pretty much the same! I still think your soaps are very pretty, and I really admire your creativity with the snow. I never would have thought about using my garlic press or potato ricer. Awesome! 🙂


    1. It hadn’t occurred to me to raid the kitchen cupboards either. Thought the soap would have been harder (although looking at the recipe it was always going to be a slow mover 😄). Still when life throws you lemons ….


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