Busy Beeswax Soap Tutorial

This is day three of our Soap Crafting-inspired tutorials, and I’m particularly excited about this one because the result is visually stunning. This soap incorporates real Yellow Beeswax, which gives the finished soap a translucent and shiny texture. It also utilizes a fun spoon plop technique, which is easy to do and results in something that almost looks like an In-The-Pot-Swirl. The fragrance combo of our best-selling Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil and Black Cherry Fragrance Oil is dessert-like and sweet, and topping this soap off with a little gold mica gives it an elegant look. This is an advanced tutorial because of the beeswax addition so don’t soap this one until you’ve got a few recipes under your belt. It’s worth the wait =)

What You’ll Need:

3.5 oz. Sweet Almond Oil

2.8 oz. Yellow Beeswax

.7 oz. Cocoa Butter

7 oz. Coconut Oil

3.5 oz. Hazelnut Oil

8.75 oz. Olive Oil

8.75 oz. Canola Oil

4.5 oz. Sodium Hydroxide

11.5 oz. distilled water

2 teaspoons Cocoa Powder

Gold Sparkle Mica

10″ Silicone Loaf Mold

Fragrance blend of: 1.5 Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil and .6 oz. Black Cherry Fragrance Oil

Click here to add everything you need for this project to your Bramble Berry shopping cart! I didn’t put this awesome silicone spoon/spatula combo into the kit but that’s what I used in this tutorial. I highly recommend it.

If you have never made cold process soap before, I highly recommend you get a couple of basic and intermediate recipes under your belt before attempting this advanced recipe. Check out this (free!) 4-part series on cold process soap making, especially the episode on lye safety. Bramble Berry carries quite a few books on the topic as well, including my brand new book Soap Crafting in which you’ll find a ton of great info for new soapers and veterans alike.

FRAGRANCE PREP: In a glass container, combine 1.5 oz. Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil and .6 oz. Black Cherry Fragrance Oil. Set aside.

SAFETY FIRST: Suit up for safe handling practices! That means goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Make sure kids, pets, and other distractions and tripping hazards are out of the house or don’t have access to your soaping space. Always soap in a well-ventilated area.

ONE: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has fully dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that lasts longer in the shower and releases faster from the mold, you can add Sodium Lactate to the cooled lye water. Use 1 teaspoon of Sodium Lactate per pound of oils in the recipe.

TWO: Melt and combine the Coconut Oil and Cocoa Butter. Add the Sweet Almond, Hazelnut, Olive, and Canola Oils and the Yellow Beeswax. Heat the mixture until the Beeswax has melted entirely. Melting the Beeswax in the oils facilitates even distribution of heat for optimum melting. This oil wax mixture is very hot – above 160 degrees to keep the wax melted. Be careful removing it from the microwave or stove.

Note: Beeswax has a high melting point and tends to harden very quickly. This is an expert-level cold process recipe, and you’ll need to keep your oils above 170 degrees and work quickly to prevent the mixture from clumping.

THREE: Pour the lye into the oils and stir gently with a spatula or spoon. Switch to a stick blender and gently pulse until thin trace.

FOUR: Split the batch in half. In the first container, add two teaspoons of Cocoa Powder for color. Mix using a spoon or spatula. Leave the other portion uncolored.

FIVE: Add half of the fragrance oil to each of the portions, and mix well using a spoon or spatula.

SIX: Starting with the brown soap, use a spoon to plop three mounds of brown soap across the mold. Follow with three plops of uncolored soap, directly on top of the brown soap. Repeat this process, layering mounds of brown soap on top of uncolored soap, until you fill the mold. Tamp the mold intermittently on the table to eliminate any air bubbles. The Square Silicone Spoon/Spatula combo is ideal for this project.

SEVEN: Once all the batter has been plopped into the mold use a spoon or mini spatula to gently form two small ridges running from end to end in the middle of the mold.

EIGHT: Using a chopstick or dowel (or, in my case a dropper!), make tiny looping swirls on the top of both of the ridges. This will created a nice, swirled texture on the top of the soap.

NINE: To put the finishing touches on this soap, use your gloved hands or a powder duster to sprinkle Sparkle Gold Mica across the top of the mold. Then, gently blow on the mica to press it into the soap batter. Be careful because this part can get messy! Be sure to have 99% Isopropyl Alcohol on hand to clean up any mica spills.

Unmold the soap after 4 -7  days and then allow to cure for 4-6 weeks. Enjoy your busy bee soap!

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  1. Amanda says

    Hi guys, I have have come up with my own recipe that uses Coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, avocado oil and 3.5% beeswax. But I wanted to also add honey and some pollen, as well as BB’s honey and oatmeal fragrance oil (as it is a honey themed soap) Do you think using both honey and beeswax will make the soap heat up too much. I was planning to chuck it in the freeze straight away like I do milk soap to prevent overheating. But I am a little nervous about it as I don’t want to waste a whole batch of soap. I know I might have to try it to find out, but I am just interested in your thoughts?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Amanda!

      I think as long as you put the soap in the freezer it should be OK! Because you’re soaping at hotter temperatures with beeswax and adding honey, which has natural sugar, that soap will get pretty hot. I would recommend making a small test batch and popping it in the freezer for 24 hours. That way you can see if it overheats before making a full batch. :)

      Also, that soap sounds lovely! Oatmeal Milk and Honey is such a warm, comforting scent. I love it!

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil: http://www.brambleberry.com/Oatmeal-Milk-And-Honey-Fragrance-Oil-P3931.aspx

  2. Leanne says

    I add beeswax to most of my soaps at 1% of the oils, which really helps them pop out of the individual molds (I also add sodium lactate and sometimes 1% stearic acid). While it takes high temperatures to get the wax melted, it does not clump when it cools to warm, and the oils stay clear and liquid (usually a combination of coconut, tallow/palm, olive, cocoa butter, hemp, soy and castor). Basically, I soap as usual, with no problems (I don’t measure my temps; if the lye water and oil containers feel “lukewarm”, I mix). Beeswax appears to be about 8% of your recipe. Have you tried letting the oils cool a bit? Does the wax start to harden? Also curious about the cocoa powder. Does it make for brown bubbles? Is it exfoliating? Or does it stay smooth?
    Just curious! I love the shine of this soap, and would like to try a batch with a higher percentage of beeswax.

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Leanne!

      That sounds like an awesome recipe! In our tests and recipes, we’ve found cooler temperatures make that beeswax harden up on us. Soaping around 160F or higher has given us the best results, but everybody’s preferences are a bit different!

      Also, cocoa powder is a fine powder. It adds a beautiful brown color, but no scrubbiness. Also, cocoa powder can create brown bubbles if too much is used. This recipe had nice clear bubbles. :)

      Dutch processed cocoa powder: http://www.brambleberry.com/Dutch-Processed-Cocoa-Powder-P5537.aspx

      Hope you get a chance to try the recipe! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  3. says

    Hi Sly!

    Oh no, I’m sorry to hear this recipe didn’t work out for you! This recipe can be a little tricky because of the beeswax content. I’m happy to hear you were able to save it for the most part :). You’re right, it probably wasn’t the fragrance oil. It may be a temperature issue, volcanoes can occur when your soap is really hot, and because the beeswax requires a lot of heat to melt…this could have been what led to your volcano! It’s always the “easy” recipes that surprise us, right? 😉

    -Amanda with Bramble Berry

    • Sly says

      Thanks Amanda…I think you are right on – I have found some info on the web that says using beeswax can cause the soap to really heat up – and I was starting really hot to begin with. (Wish I would have read that before!!)
      I’m still calling this a win, and think in spite of it, the recipe did work. The soap looks pretty nice and smells divine.
      Thanks again for being there!!

  4. Sly says

    I just made this recipe today – it seemed fast and easy. Ha! Ha! Then I turned my back on my 3 lb mold to put the leftovers and scraps in some little molds. When I went back to my loaf, it had started volcano-ing in the center. I immediately put it in the freezer – it was on a roll and kept going for a while, but finally stopped. I was able to “tap” it hard numerous times and it all settled back down. I’m keeping it in the freezer, but it’s now got a bit of a crater down the middle and two cracks lengthwise. I was glad I was able to save it (so far!!). I was definitely surprised.
    The only change I made to the recipe was using Chipotle Caramel FO instead of Black Cherry, but I don’t really think that’s the culprit…It was Murphy’s Law, as I thought it was so easy-peasy!! Ha!!

  5. Sly says

    RE: Busy Beeswax Soap Tutorial Aug 15, 2013:
    I love the idea of this Beeswax CP soap…
    Question: Can I line my mold with bubble wrap to get a bee hive design on the soap? Or will soaping at these high temps (160-170 degrees) be too hot and melt the bubble wrap?
    I recall seeing a tutorial using bubble wrap and heavy mica on it, which transferred to the soap and gave it a really nice look (used both on the top & bottom of the soap), but I have looked everywhere and can not find the instructions…other than in SQ M&P tutorials.

  6. says

    I am also new at soaping, and looking at different recipes you have on your website.I like the way this one looks and will add it to my Recipe List. I have all the ingredients except for the beeswax.
    Do you have to use beeswax or can you omit it?

  7. says

    Just wondering if the beeswax makes this bar harder, aka easier to get out of the mold? I make a triple butter soap, with no sodium lactate it unmolds like a dream after 24 hours. Also great on the skin!!
    Going to try this soon, tho, looks great!

    • says

      Hi Dawnia!

      The beeswax definitely results in a harder bar, and because of this will probably make it easier to remove from the mold. Your triple butter soap sounds awesome! If you give this soap a try, I’d love to see photos on our Facebook page :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  8. Diane says

    I just did my first batch of this soap. I noticed as soon as I added my lye mixture to my oils it was cooling too fast. That lead to my layers being too big to rush things along. It was like stiff gravy when I got to the final layer. I’m not sure how to correct the problem. I watched my lye temp. It maxed out at 174. Can you help? I’m on a mission to get this soap perfected.

    • says

      Good morning, Diane!

      We are so excited that you have started soaping and can’t wait to help you out. Could you tell us a bit more about the recipe that you were working with — including the fragrance and/or essential oils you were working with? The more we know, the more we can help troubleshoot what happened with your batch! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  9. Karen Casabianca says

    Made this soap last week. I’m a newbie to soaping and to on this challenge. Only four batches under my belt. Read the step by step instruction numerous times, then took the plunge. They came out great!

  10. ankhanang says

    Can we mix Lye solution into oil and bee wax melted at 170 degrees ? Should Lye and oils with bee wax be the same temperature degrees when we mix them ?

    Thank you in advance for your answer :)

    • says

      Good morning!

      When adding your Beeswax into this recipe, you will need to melt it with your oils, and this will make the mixture very hot (above 160 degrees to keep the wax melted). Once you’ve melted your oils, make sure your lye water is still within 10 degrees and you can start soaping. This is a more advanced cold process recipe, so you will have to work fast because of the higher temperatures. I hope this helps! =)

      Happy Soaping!
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  11. Sly says

    This looks wonderful!!
    At what temperature is your lye water when you add it to the 170 degree oils? I’ve always been advised to have the two within 10 degrees of each other.
    Do you have some other scent combos that would work well? I’m assuming that the scent of the beeswax will come through the soaping, or does that dissipate?
    Thank for the great toutorial!

    • says

      The lye water and oils within 10 degrees of each other is something that many soapers adhere to. I’m a bit more loose with it (though in my new book suggest 20 degrees). I think you’ll be good at within 30 degrees and the lye water naturally gets up to 140 really easily. =)

      Oh any dessert-y scent or vanilla would be amazing – Vanilla Select, Chai Tea, Chocolate …. oh yum! Anything in this section would be amazing: http://www.brambleberry.com/Sweet-C170.aspx


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