The Enemy From Within…

     This month’s soap challenge from Amy Warden, really was a challenge. I strongly dislike secret feather, I’m not kidding this swirl can go live where the sun doesn’t shine, one of those deep dark turd holes that my dog digs in the backyard. I did it 3 times 3! Do you have any idea how demoralizing that is to me? Yes, yes we all know I like to jump in at the deep end when it comes to things like this, but I didn’t even try to do it that way this time. I honestly, just thought, finally, a simple swirl that I can bang out in a few hours and will look pretty. But, Noooo, this had to be the pain in the ass design that made me feel like a damn jackass about my skills. Seriously, I was doubting all my life decisions because of this stupid technique. How could something so simple be sooo hard?  I’m mean I did wood grain, tiger stripes, I even talked someone else through making soap and couldn’t do this! Inconceivable! (lol, name that movie). 

The Enemy From Within...
This is what it should look like. By Handmadeinflorida

It all started with me trying to kill two birds with one stone. My cousin had a baby and I was making a few soaps and scrubs for her since I didn’t even know abut the pregnancy till super late and didn’t have time to make anything for the baby shower. Long story short, I was planning on making this soap for the challenge and for her. 

I actually, tried 3 different recipes, thinking it was something do with me. Recipe 1:

It all started with this jar of ground organic oatmeal sitting in distilled water overnight. I was gonna make oatmeal baby soap, but didn’t want the exfoliation factor that whole oatmeal adds to the bar. So I made “oat milk” or at least my version of oat milk. Not sure I’m gonna do that again, it took another 24 hrs for it to filter out properly. I wasn’t impressed with the payoff.

but it was just enough for what I needed, just enough. I replaced all the water with the oat milk 

Oat Milk – 38%    Coconut Oil 

Castor Oil        Olive Oil 

obviously, I figured that with all that Olive oil,  and a superfat of 6.3%, I’d have tons of time to work this soap. I even got fancy for my cousin and infused some olive oil with annatto seed for a little extra color. What was I thinking?



Everything seemed to be going well, as more insurance I soaped at a low 90’s temp. I then added ¼c. of goat’s milk powder.



I then did some fancy math, with the help of my mom. since we all know that somewhere in high school my math skills went out the door, strange i know. anyway, we figured that to get it right you have to divide the weight of the whole batch into 3 and then divide that number in ½ to get the right amount for the feather part. sorta like this:

   2.06* lbs × 16 = 32.96oz ÷ 3 = 10.98oz. ÷ 2 = 5.49oz.

I then added the infused Olive oil to the large batch along with a fragrance oil blend




and mixed away

Somewhere around this time it all turned to pudding. Yep, pudding. One minute it was nice and liqud-y the next pudding consistency. But I persevered and kept trying to do the pour with my obviously hand made dividers 


did my alternating pour in the center, but it was more like plopping with some sort of grace and style.  It took almost 3 days to harden enough to even attempt to cut, thanks to all that olive oil and the superfat.

I wasn’t sure whether to call it invisible grease stain or ghost in the shell.

Second try went much the same way. I thought hey, maybe it was the new recipe. So I went back to one I knew, KNEW was slow moving. I had used it for the tiger stripes challenge

Ghee         Olive Oil 

Coconut Oil    Castor Oil 


With a 30% lye discount and a superfat of 6%, I also decided that I wanted a darker color from the annatto, and by I, I really mean my mother. So I tried again and soaped at an even lower temperature (low 80’s this time) added salt to harden and sugar to keep it fluid and changed the fragrance to a blend of patchouli, lavender and orange essential oils. I figured that maybe that was the reason it had gone all pudding-y on me the first time. But this time it wouldn’t happen because I had a tested recipe, right? Wrong!

I set up my dividers again and even added rubber bands for more stability

 didn’t help, just as I was ready to pour…PUDDING again! I mean COME ON!! this was a tested recipe why would it turn to pudding?! I really just wanted to cry at this point,

but I kept on and finished the swirl…

or so I thought…


I call this one secret bars. how do you miss the whole thing? THE WHOLE THING!!!!  I’ve never wanted to throw soap before, but I wanted to with this one.

They say 3rd time is the charm, I really, really, really hoped so. I was running low on lye, typical. I tried again. with a new recipe another that I was also sure would give me time to work, but my confidence was shot by this point. 

Castor Oil      Safflower 

Coconut Oil    Grapeseed Oil

Super Fat – 8%


Turned out it worked, it was so fluid that I wasn’t sure that there would be any differentiation in colors. I took all the fragrance out and stuck to Moroccan red clay and charcoal for colors, things I KNEW would work. The down side is that this recipe takes days to harden up enough to even think about taking out of the mold. So  I chose to do a CPOP to speed up the process. Warmed up my portable oven and stuck it in there overnight. 

The next morning, I took it out ready to cut. Guess what, it was still soft, of course it would be. So I heated up my oven again and stuck it back in there for a little bit. Bad idea. Thank god it only cost $1.


In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that this swirl is just not for me right now, and maybe one day this the far distant future, when I’ve been soaping for 20yrs instead of 6 months I’ll revisit it. I’ve called is one black coffee and milk.

Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Safflower Oil (High Oleic), Distilled Waster, Lye, Castor Oil, Activated Charcoal, Moroccan Red Clay

Thank you for reading.


*made up weight for the sake of the math problem


4 thoughts on “The Enemy From Within…

  1. Jamila Fagan says:

    Thanks Amy, I'm also learning that everything is a learning experience that I can use for something else. I'm thinking that maybe I can use this with a true black coffee and milk recipe in the future.


  2. Jamila Fagan says:

    Thank You!!! I'm learning to like it too. I honestly have no idea how I created that texture, it might be the double CPOP that I had to do in order to cut it and the butt load of 91% rubbing I sprayed on it so that I wouldn't get soda ash. Might have to test that again. I'm so glad you and your family enjoyed my post.


  3. Debi O says:

    I feel so bad for you that you had such an exasperating time with this particular technique, Jamila! That being said, I have to say I absolutely LOVE your entry and so does my entire family! The surface has such a unique and beautiful texture to it and I honestly love how the way the main batter formed around the contrasting color. I think it is really a stunning soap. Had I not read your (hilarious) blog post I would have thought it was all on purpose! Thanks for sharing your experiences and thanks for making me laugh harder than I've laughed all week! 😀


  4. Amy Warden says:

    Don't be too hard on yourself – the last batch definitely resembles the feather technique!! Soapmaking is inconsistent. So many things can affect the batter, and truly for only making soap for 6 months, you are way ahead of the game!! Making your own oat milk? Seriously, awesome!! Every batch is a learning experience. It doesn't always go as planned, and we don't always know why at the moment. Just keep practicing! 🙂 And thank you for posting your entry even though you weren't 100% happy with it because it gives the rest of us a chance to support you!


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