The Making of the 25 Color Cold Process Swirl

This past weekend I had the talented and super fun Holly Port at my house.  She came to help me with a soap class and knock out some soapy projects.  (Really I just wanted to see her…the class was just an excuse!)  I thought we needed to do something crazy…something extraordinary…something challenging while she was here.  So I decided on a 25 color (+ white) 18 pound cold process soap swirl!  I invited over a couple of local soapers to give us a hand…Theresa and Yolanda!  I knew the four of us could pull this off!  It was on!  Here are some picture from the event.

Thanks – Yolanda, Theresa & Holly for coming over and tackling this with me!  Thank you to George who brought us snacks and a celebratory drink!  And thank you to Mike for taking pics!  It didn’t happen without pics!  There’s nothing better than spending an afternoon soaping with friends!

Happy Soaping!


This post was written by Amanda Gail

Amanda Gail is a soapmaker, author and blogger.

28 thoughts on “The Making of the 25 Color Cold Process Swirl

  1. How exciting! Hanging out with Soaping Friends + Experimenting New Things + Good Food + Good Times = Satisfaction and Awesome Results.

  2. Amanda, I met you and Holly at the Alabama convention (though I was from Arkansas.) I have tried your Peacock Swirl but soda ash took over the design. How do you prevent soda ash from your beautiful creations?

  3. OK what is the trick to keep the soap so thin during the entire process, do you increase water in addition to pouring at VERY thin trace? Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow! I had no idea that could even be done!! It looks awesome! I had the same question as some of the others, what recipe did you use that stayed at a light enough trace? ALL of my recipes seem to be tracing really fast these days!

  5. Hi Amanda,

    first of all – very, very nice! I have tried something similar – just with 4 colors, but my batch went all crumbly.

    I did pour in light trace, of course, I am sure it was trace, but I did not insulate my soap after. I think that might have cause troubles. The soap turned to have a 1-2cm (0.5-1 inch) of what I would call ‘heavy soap ash layer”, being a bit caustic (phenophtalein test) and very good, heavy, almost waxy type of soap on the bottom – non-caustic.

    I cut the soap ash layer off the soap and played a bit with it making balls.

    Funny thing is that this ball of soda ash, or whatever it was kind of finished the saponification reaction and later was not anymore crumbly, neither high ph. In contrast, the soda ash soap that I did not work into a ball was still too basic.

    (you can have a look at my blog, it is called “Four colour swirl soap (that went crumbly :( )”

    So my question would be – do you think that in this case the thick soda ash layer was caused by the fact that while pouring (which was in general), the lye reacted with the air?

    What do you do to avoid it?

    I did not try something similar since, as I fear the same problems…

    Thanks a lot, keep soaping,


    1. Hello,

      Your issue with the crumbly/chalky soap is a mixture of water amount used, temps and oils used.

      High amounts of hard oils (you have 50%) plus no gel stage = high ash
      High water amounts = soft mushy soap upon unmolding
      No gel stage and high water = longer to time for the soap to go through saponification and if you are letting air hit during that time it help create more ash

      So what would I change?

      I would create a recipe with higher amounts of soft oils (especially olive) and use less water (2 times lye). This will reduce ash, keep the recipe slow moving and will be harder sooner after unmolding.

      Let me know if you need more details or want help modifying your recipe to a good slow moving swirling recipe. :)

      (your blog is wonderful!)

      1. Thank you so much, Amanda! This information is very helpful.

        You made me review my own recipe for the ingredients :) True, I use too much of hard oils. The water was as from soapcalc, although I know it is not always the best option.

        Did not know that a high amount of hard oils + no gel stage gives the ash problem, your experience is much appreciated!

        I might have read about the water and low temperatures slowing down the saponification in the K. Dunn book, but I think I need to re-read again (one forget so fast!).

        I would happily let me to be advised on a good “a lot of colors swirl” recipe – you just gave me a motivation to try it again :)

        I do prefer soaping without palm oil. do you think that 70% of olive oil and 30% of coconut might work?

        What is your favorite recipe for swirling?

        Thank you again, have a nice soapmaking day!


        PS: Thank you for visiting my blog (I feel so proud that you like it! :)), I recently moved it from a blogspot domain so some of the old posts are badly arranged as from the automatic transfer, but I am working on it to make it more readable….

  6. You are so lucky to have “soapy” friends. It would be so nice to have a friend come over to make soap and experiment.
    I want a ginger smell to my soap, like the Orgins line. Do you have an idea of how to do that?
    thank you so much and God Bless Texas! My husband had a bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson in Houston TX. Texas is the friendly state I have ever been in.


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