How to Dark Specks

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ResolvableOwl

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Sooo … I'm wondering for a good way to get subtle dark (brownish) specks into CP soap in a controlled way. Doesn't seem difficult, because so many soapers have got them, and usually want to get rid of them 🙄. Not me this time. But I'm kind of negative-creative at the moment, and seem to only come up with ideas that I expect won't work at all.

I'm searching for a halfways reliable way to get a fine speckled texture into CP batter. Like a sandstone look. The additive shouldn't impede fluidity (not interfere with swirls), but be just a “colour texture”. Not scratchy if possible.

(Background: I'm eventually about to get my hands dirty with a OPW-style wood grain soap. But FWIW, all recipes I've seen so far disappoint me somewhat, due to smooth batter colour. IMHO that doesn't quite match the speckled look of real wood.)

Things I've considered and/or tried before, but didn't convince me:
  • Coffee grounds. I have used those, and while they look okay, they're really scratchy and qualify as “heavy-duty exfoliants” more than I'd like them to. What about other botanicals (like black tea, or the calendula and mint that @Mobjack Bay did not so long ago?)
  • Dark soap confetti: too coarse (and sometimes bleeding). Maybe grate & dry a dark soap, and then grind it with mortar/pestle into a powder?
  • Poppy seeds: too coarse, scratchy
  • Sand, soil, compost
  • Deliberately badly dispersed/clumpy colourants (mica, clay, cocoa powder, pigments, turmeric) – unsure if they wouldn't disperse “too well” after all (late batter stirring, swirling), and become solid (rather than spotted) colourants. Also: reproducibility.
  • Grated bar/baking chocolate: melting point too close to batter temperature (must avoid gel/CPOP out of question)
What I've found that comes close to my conceptions is the walnut shell powder that @Todd Ziegler is using in his “Swarm” soap. But I guess it's not as easy as taking a file and grinding up some walnut shells, sifting them, and stirring into CP batter? The
 

ResolvableOwl

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Lol, it just popped into my mind that I do have some chocolate malt (very dark roasted/burnt rye) at hand. This is something I definitely should/will try out, before listening to advice of people with proper know-how on beautiful soap 🙃.
 

dibbles

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I have used walnut powder, but it was given to me a long time ago and a supplier here wouldn't help you anyway. It is very fine and mixes in easily without pre-dispersing. It isn't scratchy in the amount I use, but I don't use a lot - just enough to add a bit of variation to 'sand'.
 

Zing

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I love poppy seeds with coffee grounds! Note to self, no gardener's soap to @ResolvableOwl .

What about rosehips? It's more a dark brick red, see Rosehips
P.S.: I use 3/4 teaspoon per pound of oils. I have read the warnings about scratchiness but I've used this proportion before and not noticed any scratchiness. The thing is, it is not like other colorants. When you first put it in, the batter can look uncolored and plain and you have to resist the temptation to add more. The color comes into itself after the cut. Have I said it's trippy??!!
 

ResolvableOwl

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What about rosehips? It's more a dark brick red, see Rosehips
Good pointer! Colour wise I was somehow pondering how to push an olive-brown base hue into a more reddish direction, for some unknown reason (*empty stare at beechwood tabletop*). And I happen to have rosehip powder at hand too. Paprika? Turmeric? Black tea? Chocolate malt? Guess someone has got a few over-ambitious plans for tonight 🙂.

And yes, PLEASE NO gardener's soap for me. Please NO SOAP AT ALL for me!!! :nonono:
Joke aside, I'm not generally opposed to exfoliating soap. I'm just aiming to keep scratchiness and speckled look apart.
 

TheGecko

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What I've found that comes close to my conceptions is the walnut shell powder that @Todd Ziegler is using in his “Swarm” soap. But I guess it's not as easy as taking a file and grinding up some walnut shells, sifting them, and stirring into CP batter?
I would be more than happy to send you (no charge) most of a 3 oz bag of Walnut Shells that I purchased from BrambleBerry a couple of years ago if you want to play around with them. They are very fine, but you will want to put a warning on your labels for those who have nut allergies.

An option...Vanilla Bean Powder; Soma Sundries is very reasonably priced. Also, I have gotten speckles from adding dry Brown Oxide to my batter.
 

Mobjack Bay

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Almost any pulverized flower powder will work for brown speckles. I’ve used lavender buds and chamomile flowers. Do you happen to have assorted mesh sizes of Nitex screen? If so, you can have powder in predetermined size ranges. IMHO, flower powders are not scratchy like spice powders. I guess there’s less structural material in a flower. The peppermint tea I used is in thin plate-shaped bits. Most of the bits have the flat side oriented parallel to the face of the soap. I can feel them, but they don’t feel gritty or scratchy.
 
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Ugeauxgirl

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I made a soap with chamomile tea, then opened the bag and sprinkled the contents into the soap- it was a pretty speckled, natural looking bar- not scratchy either. I also did some dried crumbled mint in a batch- it was also not scratchy but was nearly black whereas the chamomile bits were a softer medium brown.
 

bookworm

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Sooo … I'm wondering for a good way to get subtle dark (brownish) specks into CP soap in a controlled way. Doesn't seem difficult, because so many soapers have got them, and usually want to get rid of them 🙄. Not me this time. But I'm kind of negative-creative at the moment, and seem to only come up with ideas that I expect won't work at all.

I'm searching for a halfways reliable way to get a fine speckled texture into CP batter. Like a sandstone look. The additive shouldn't impede fluidity (not interfere with swirls), but be just a “colour texture”. Not scratchy if possible.

(Background: I'm eventually about to get my hands dirty with a OPW-style wood grain soap. But FWIW, all recipes I've seen so far disappoint me somewhat, due to smooth batter colour. IMHO that doesn't quite match the speckled look of real wood.)

Things I've considered and/or tried before, but didn't convince me:
  • Coffee grounds. I have used those, and while they look okay, they're really scratchy and qualify as “heavy-duty exfoliants” more than I'd like them to. What about other botanicals (like black tea, or the calendula and mint that @Mobjack Bay did not so long ago?)
  • Dark soap confetti: too coarse (and sometimes bleeding). Maybe grate & dry a dark soap, and then grind it with mortar/pestle into a powder?
  • Poppy seeds: too coarse, scratchy
  • Sand, soil, compost
  • Deliberately badly dispersed/clumpy colourants (mica, clay, cocoa powder, pigments, turmeric) – unsure if they wouldn't disperse “too well” after all (late batter stirring, swirling), and become solid (rather than spotted) colourants. Also: reproducibility.
  • Grated bar/baking chocolate: melting point too close to batter temperature (must avoid gel/CPOP out of question)
What I've found that comes close to my conceptions is the walnut shell powder that @Todd Ziegler is using in his “Swarm” soap. But I guess it's not as easy as taking a file and grinding up some walnut shells, sifting them, and stirring into CP batter? The
I've seen Oephelia's Soapery use a lot of vanilla bean powder recently. She gets this from Soma Sundries.
 

Ford

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Hi,
Walnut shells are used for blasting metal parts (sandblasting). Automotive store's carry blasting media. Already crushed somewhat.
Browns/dark tones soap. Steric spots for your texture?? Purposely create, of course. 🙄
I am leaning towards one of the powder's mentioned. Just my $00.02.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Didn't make it yesterday, but that's probably not a bad thing. Just organising myself what'll probably happen tonight instead:

Must-try: rosehip, black tea, chocolate malt (ETA: I just realised that what I thought was rosehip is really a blend of rosehip with hibiscus, matcha tea and aronia. I'll try it anyway)
Unsure: walnut shells, other botanicals (camomile, calendula, turmeric, peppermint, rooibos), bran, ground rice (black, purple)
Not so convinced: vanilla (thanks for the idea, but the vanilla dots aren't quite what my conceptions in this particular case are like).

Total: 72 g oils. (Ideal batch size for some easy-peasy ITP fun 😬)

@Ford: Be assured that every stearic spot, always, is placed very deliberately and on full purpose 😝. The issue with stearic spots is that they compete with conditions (temperature, oil blend) for swirls. And they're light rather than dark.
 
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ResolvableOwl

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rosehip.jpg Hibiscus/rosehip/matcha/aronia powder – 1.5% TOW
tea.jpg Black tea (ground in mortar) – 1.9% TOW
chocolatemalt.jpg Chocolate malt (grain mill, not the finest setting) – 0.7% TOW
walnut.jpg Walnut shell (filed) – 1.0% TOW

And this is how they look when stirred into soap batter at the above percentages.
speckled_batter.jpg

The rosehip mix was a bit disappointing hue-wise (turning dirty brown), but I'll give it a chance to get “trippy” as @Zing's. Black tea appears weak, but I possibly was too gentle with grinding it. The walnut shell sawdust appears like a total failure, it turns yellow rather than brown.

Anyhow. I'll give each of the additives its fair chance to impress me. For now, the soap is :swinging:-ing in the CPOP oven, and I'm about to :swinging: in bed, and have a look tomorrow.
 

dibbles

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My powder is very dark brown and very fine. I think I have black walnut hull powder. I'm sorry I was too lazy to check for you before I posted.
 

ResolvableOwl

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T+12h_annot.jpg

I will give this trial soap another day or two to let the adjuvants decide how to like to look in the end. But these things I already noticed (from bottom to top in pouring order):
  • Rosehip = trippy indeed! Just during transfer of the photos from the camera to the computer, the bottom part already morphed into a darker and more deep magenta colour o_O.
  • Tea goes strong! It had looked so weak, but the leaf crumbs are actually bleeding into the soap, and “growing”. Definitely “rustic”, very dark specks, with a yellowish aura. Not sure how it would look if I had pulverised the tea as finely as possible.
  • Chocolate malt is easy to dose, and I can adjust the grain size in a reliable way. Got some purple hue. It's probably what I'll be going for.
  • Walnut shell powder (light) has stayed invisible.
ETA: Sorry for the untidy look. My oils upset me, so ITP was impossible. But I spontaneously decided to at least give it a simple spoon swirl.
 
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ResolvableOwl

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Oh folks. This time I had an exceptionally hard time keeping my fingers away from these bars 🤣. I just wanted to know how all this will be going, and I started lather & scratchiness testing one mere day into cure (thrid bar).
T+7d.jpg
A few things to note:
  • The red hue of the rosehip mix lost much of its brilliance, and instead turned deeper brown, with little of the initial “speckliness” remaining.
  • Tea leaf crumbs have a rich black appearance and are continuing to “spread”, as if they were rust stains. It's an interesting effect, but not what I'm after right now. The tea leaves also are noticeably scratchy/“exfoliating”, another noteworthy quality, that I however am not aiming for atm.
 

earlene

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Yes, I find that tea leaves, even ground as fine as my spice grinder can manage, are always too scratchy for any of my body parts, except the soles of my feet (which are always quite rough because I wear zories most of the time.) So I rarely make soap with tea leaves anymore because how much soap do I need to exfoliate 2 feet?

I wonder if the rose hips are scratchy? They start out so hard when fully dry, I expect that they would be just as scratchy as tea leaves.
 
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