Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a celebration leading up to the season of Lent at the end of winter. Mardi Gras is generally a lively time of indulgent parties, parades, costumes, music, food and drinks. While the city of New Orleans puts on the biggest and best Mardi Gras celebrations, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on this fun tradition! These soaps use micas to represent the classic colors of Mardi Gras– yellow, green and purple–and are swirled for a fun bit of NOLA flair.
It’s a good idea to have a few batches of soap under your belt before attempting a 3 color swirl like this soap. That way you can be confident about your ability to control trace and handle any unexpected turn of events. It’s also a good idea to test your fragrance oils with your specific recipe to see how it will behave. Fragrance oils are the biggest factor that contribute to soap fails, so do yourself a favor and don’t depend on online reviews! Test for ricing, acceleration and discoloration! There’s a place for every fragrance–even the naughty ones–but you have to know what to expect first!
The soap recipe I used is great for swirls because it is slow to trace. If you have a slow tracing recipe you prefer, feel free to use that. If you make any substitutions to this one, then make sure you run your changes through a soap calculator first! Always wear gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear and follow lye safety when making soap!
- Gloves, Eyewear, Long Sleeves
- Mini Mixer/Milk Frother
- Stick Blender
- 3 Measuring Cups
- Skewer or Chopstick
- Individual Cavity silicone molds (I used Bramble Berry’s 12 cavity mold–cut in half to make it more manageable)
- Cookie sheet (to place silicone mold on)
- Coconut Oil (17%) – 106 g
- Lard (33%) – 205 g
- High Oleic Canola (32%) – 199 g
- Avocado Oil (11%) – 68 g
- Castor Oil (7%) – 43g
- NaOh Lye – 85 g
- Distilled H2O – 237 g
- Fragrance (5%) – 19.5 g
- Sodium Lactate- 1 tsp
The Micas I used for this are all from Muddy Soap Company. I love how reliable and bright these colors are! They never fail me in soap. In the same way I suggest testing your fragrance, you should also test your micas before depending on them to nail a project! Yellows, greens and purples are all known to be problematic. Watch in the photos as the yellow mica turns orange in the batter, and the green appears muddy and olive-toned, yet the finished soap will be the perfectly bright colors I’m looking for! The micas I used are as follows:
- Green- Frogger
- Yellow- Bee in My Bonnet
- Purple- Lollipop Guild
Bring your soap batter to a light trace and split it into three equal portions using your measuring cups.
Add ¼ tsp of mica to each cup and use a spatula or mini mixer to blend the colors in. Alternatively you can use a small amount of oil to help mix your mica. One key to keeping soap batter fluid is to mix your colors and fragrance in by hand instead of stick blending once you get to trace. When you’re done splitting and mixing you should have yellow, green and purple batter.
When your colors are fully incorporated you’re ready to mix in your fragrance oil. I used a blend of Mango, Orange, Papaya, and Coconut FO’s for a fun tropical scent reminiscent of the classic Hurricane cocktail. No matter what scent profile you choose, make sure it gives you plenty of time to work. Add the fragrance into each measuring cup and stir by hand or with a mini mixer until it’s nicely blended.
Set your silicone mold on a tray so that you can easily move it once your soap is poured. Since my pan is aluminum I covered it with freezer paper to prevent any chemical reactions from the lye.
Now you’re ready to pour! Simultaneously pour a small amount of yellow and green, then switch and pour a small amount of purple. Alternate back and forth until the cavity is full. Depending on how thick your trace is you might need to jiggle your mold a bit to help the batter settle. Continue until all the cavities are full. If you have trouble keeping each color in its separate area, it’s just as much fun to randomly pour the colors onto each other. Remember that Mardi Gras is a rowdy and jubilant time, so it’s ok to get a little crazy with your pours too!
Next grab your skewer and place it in the batter of one cavity. Start in the center and slowly spin outward, or start at the edge and slowly spin to the center. Either way, make sure your skewer is touching the bottom of the mold and isn’t just swirling the top layer! Continue until all the soaps have been swirled.
Spray the top with 99% rubbing alcohol to help prevent soda ash and set your soaps somewhere safe to finish the saponification process. To help the colors get nice and bright, and to assist in getting the soaps out of the mold you might want to force gel. There are several ways to do this, and you can check out this Lovin Soap article for more information on that!
Depending on your recipe, if you gel your soap and if you used sodium lactate, you should be able to unmold in approximately 18 hours! While I generally plane my soaps, I left the lovely texture on the tops of these. My soaps will cure for 4-6 weeks and end up weighing approximately 3.5 ounces.
They will be ready just in time for a local Mardi Gras Festival and Second Line Parade! How will you celebrate?
About Robyn French Smith
My name is Robyn French Smith! I studied fine art at the University of St Thomas and the Glassell School of Art in Houston TX, and graphic design at The Art Institute of Houston. I started dabbling in DIY bath and body products over 10 years ago after moving to Alaska. While I knew how to make basic soap for several years, I didn’t start looking at it as an art form until about 4 years ago when a neck and shoulder injury made it almost impossible for me to draw and paint. I needed a place for all that creativity to go, and I found it in soap. I received my Basic Soapmaker Certification from the HSCG in 2019 and plan on pursuing further levels of certification.