It happens to everyone, doesn't it? That one soapy catastrophe that makes us all pout and cry on our loved ones...
Maybe it's just me that cries on my loved one (my husband, who I am sure thinks I'm insane). Just kidding! There was no crying. There was, however, an immense amount of moping.
With the autumn season just around the corner, I decided to make some nice fall inspired soaps. Cue the ever-traditional pumpkin spice soap, which I made last week, that is currently making my basement smell amazing! Pumpkin spice by itself just wasn't enough for me, though. I wanted something else...Maybe some kind of mulled cider. Yes! Mulled cider soap! That would be awesome, I said to myself!
I came up with my fragrance combination, going with Cinnamon Sticks and Arabian Spice for my "mulled spices" and Crisp Anjou Pear & Red Apple for my cider part. The pear has a really nice deep, sweet fragrance to it, which perfectly complimented the tartness of the apple fragrance. I used the Maniacal Pea from Mad Oils (which is a fantabulous mica name, by the way, just have to throw that out there!) and of course the ever-trusty brown oxide. All of my fragrances are from Brambleberry, which I normally have zero trouble with as far as FOs are concerned - The website tells you what to expect, and I appreciate that. The plan was for the pear & apple to go into my green with the spices going into brown since they'll discolor from the vanillin anyway. I soaped at near-room temp, approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and everything was going great. Until it was time to add the apple & pear fragrance combo.
Catastrophe. Utter and complete failure. I feel like at some point in every soap maker's journey to perfect their craft, a failure is inevitable. A right of passage, even. Everyone has a failure story, right? Everyone has had something go awry at one point or another. For me, it was this damn pear and apple fragrance combo. On their own, each fragrance oil performs absolutely beautifully. No acceleration, no ricing, no seizing, nothing. Just beautiful. Together, though? Like the fiery bowels of Hell opened up and took a shit in my soap. I have no idea what it is between the two fragrances that when combined causes them to 100% separate my soap batter and laugh in my face.
Suddenly, I found myself dealing with gritty water. You know that texture when you freeze milk, and as it's thawing out in your fridge and you go to pour yourself a glass, you get that nice gritty milk-water with ice crystals floating in it? Yeah, that was my soap. Only it wasn't milk. It was just green grit water. I stick blended for five minutes straight. Grit water. I stick blended more. Grit water. I tried Soap Queen's Hot Process Hero method and dumped it all into a stock pot together. That shit came to a BOIL. Since I'd added the brown to the mix (which behaved 100% perfectly and as expected - no complaints there), I ended up with brownish black watery gritty clumpy looks-like-sewage in a pot. The fragrance was AWFUL on the heat, and we had to open the windows on an 80 degree summer night.
Needless to say - I let it cool a bit, stuffed paper towels in the pot to absorb any oil that had slicked to the top (the green's portion slicked to the top, the brown sank), and dumped it right in the garbage. That was my first failure resulting in a total loss. I don't know what happened! I made two test batches, and individually, the fragrance oils are wonderful. But something about that combo just wasn't working and ruined my soap.
So anyone who might like to combine these fragrances - DON'T!
Tomorrow I will be making the soap again - only this time I'm only using Red Apple FO and putting the pear fragrance back in my cabinet for another time. ;)
Elizabeth is a new to soap making, and wishes to share her journey in learning to make cold process soap with the hope that it will help other newbies who may stumble upon this site as a resource. From swirl techniques, choosing colors, combining fragrances, embeds, toppers, and textures, she chronicles her lessons and stories here.