Easy Cold Process Soap Rocks – Palm Free!

This post was written by the always talented and creative Amanda from Lovin’ Soap. If you can’t get enough of her creative outlook on soap projects, click here to pick up a couple of her soap E’Zines. They’re practically instant gratification since you’ll be able to download them within a day of purchasing.  ~Anne-Marie

The magic of this realistic soap rock tutorial is all in the layering and the mica/oxide lines.  You can play around with different shades for the rock using gray, brown or even black and different shades of mica/oxides for the lines.  For the mica/oxides lines you can use bright colors such as pink, blue and green to get amazing looks.  So let’s get to it!  If you are new to cold process soapmaking START HERE  (and pay extra attention to the lye safety video). This is probably one of my all time favorite palm free recipes. This recipe is high in olive oil. Olive oil makes for a softer soap upon unmolding but cures into a bar that is as hard as a rock! (pun intended!)  The “softer soap upon unmolding” characteristic of this recipe is what gives us the perfect base for squishing, forming and creating our rock shapes.

Olive Oil – 12 oz
Coconut Oil – 8 oz
Rice Bran Oil – 6 oz
Cocoa Butter – 4 oz
Castor Oil – 2 oz
Water – 9 oz
Sodium Hydroxide – 4.4 oz

You’ll also need
2 teaspoons Vintage Gray Mica (since we are out-of-stock of this, you can just use a pinch of the Luster Black Mica)
1 tablespoon Brick Red Oxide
1.5 oz Plum Tea Fragrance Oil
Small Tea Strainer (or jar covered with pantyhose to dust mica)
10″ Silicone Loaf Mold

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Gear up in your goggles and gloves.  Be sure to follow all safety precautions when working with sodium hydroxide and caustic soap.

Step 1 – Weigh out the water and lye.  Carefully pour the lye into the water to make the lye solution.  Set that aside to cool down.

Step 2 – Weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter.  Melt.

Step 3 – Add the castor oil, olive oil and rice bran oil to the melted solid oils.

Step 4 – Add the Vintage Grey mica (or Luster Black mica) and fragrance oil to the oil mixture.  Go ahead and zap it with the stick blender to get the mica all mixed up.

Step 5 – Bring soap to a light trace.

Step 6 – You can make as many layers as you want.  I did four layers total which allowed me to have three mica/oxide lines.  Pour about 1/4 of the mixture into your mold.

Step 7 – Dust with the brick red oxide.  There are several ways to dust mica/oxide on a layer of soap.  You can use a tea strainer like I do or you can cover a small jar with panty hose.   Have your dusting color ready to go before you get started.

VERY IMPORTANT!  When dusting layers with mica, oxides or other powders be sure to not over do it.  I like to keep plenty of the soap peaking through.  You can see plenty of grey peaking through the red oxide in the picture above.  If you do too much…the layers will simply break apart.

Step 8 – Pour the next layer.  I like to gently scoop out the next layer with my spatula.  If you just dump/pour it…you run the risk of it breaking through the bottom layer.  I tested a small bit and it broke through so I simply let the soap sit for about 5 minutes and it was ready to go.Repeat this until you get all four layers poured.  Do not dust the top with mica or oxide or the mooshing/forming step will be super messy!

Tip – I like to gel this recipe so I put my soap on a heating pad and covered it with a cardboard box to help it along.  I think it helps with the color and also the texture when we’re mooshing/forming the rocks.  It is a personal preference though.  Here the soap is going through gel phase.

Step 9 – Let your soap sit for 24 hours and unmold!

Step 10 – Now it’s time for the mooshing…the squishing…and the forming of the rocks.  Cut your soap into 1-2″ bars and then cut the bars into two or three pieces.  Its all a matter of how big you want your rocks.  I did several sizes which I think looks better when on display.

Step 11 – Using your hands, form the pieces into rock shapes. If your soap gelled you are probably okay to not wear gloves. If your soap did not gel and still might be a bit zappy – use gloves. Don’t worry about getting them completely smooth or perfect. More organic and rough shapes turn out looking the best.

Step 12 – Once you get the general shape that you want…take it over to the sink and polish it under some water. This helps to smooth it out a bit and really look realistic.

Step 13 – Set the wet rocks onto a paper towel to dry.

Tip – Check out the mica/oxide lines!  I think that is what really sets them off and makes them look real.  Cure these as you would your regular bar soap.  I like to cure mine a good four weeks.

Holiday Soap Design Tip:  This concept would be great for making coal soap around Christmas time.  To get a darker black I like to use charcoal powder with a pinch of black oxide.  Charcoal powder is less likely to bleed (on a washcloth) but the pinch of black oxide helps to darken it up.  Another great way to get a good black is to soap with an alkanet infused olive oil and a bit of charcoal or black oxide.  To make your black soap dark…be sure it goes through gel phase.

Happy Soaping!

Amanda Griffin, www.lovinsoap.com

PS from Anne-Marie – I actually have some of this great soap in my greedy little hands and it is just as lovely and unique-looking in person. Fantastic technique Amanda! Remember, if you like Amanda’s flair for soap design, she has THREE E-Zines for sale here. Her projects are fun, inventive and inspiring.

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  1. Emma Jane Molloy says

    You refer to using an heating pad to help the soap to Gel. Can you please let me know which setting and for how long roughly you leave the soap on the heat pad…. PLEASE! I hate partial gel and decided after seeing pictures on the internet that this would be answer and yet being a newbie, I’m pretty sure I’m “cooking the soap”. Thanks XxX

    • says

      Hi Emma!

      When we place the soap on a heating pad, we set the heating pad on the low setting, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. We also usually cover the soap with a towel or blanket. That usually does the trick! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  2. Mary says

    I was wondering if I could substitute the mica and oxide for more natural colorants like
    Indigo? Do you have any suggestions for the red lines? Thanks for your help.

  3. Spoil Me Spa Products says

    I think we need a “Soaping” Channel on Satellite t.v. I bet we could all vote for our favorite soapers for our channel. :)

    • says

      Good morning!

      What a great idea, I can think of a lot of people who would be glued to the TV all day! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  4. says

    In you pun above, you mentioned that it will turn rock hard……. right?

    Another question. Would this recipe be a good swirl recipe? I’m having the hardest time keeping my soap from setting up before finishing my swirls, layers, etc.

  5. says

    I made these last weekend and I love them. Didn’t like the red oxide though, as it seemed to get over everything. I put some deep red mica in one layer as a trial and it worked out great! This recipe I made with a man FO. Think next time I’ll use different colour mica and see how that goes!

    Thanks for this great idea!

    • says

      I’m so glad that you had fun making these, I think they are a blast, and so easy. Thanks for the suggestion with the deep red mica, I bet that really makes the rock veins stand out.

      I’m quite curious to how yours turned out, do you have any pictures of your soap rocks? If so, I’d love to see them, you can share them on our Facebook page!
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  6. says

    Oh wow, luv these, they are incredible! you are soooo clever to be able to get them to look so realistic.

  7. says

    These would be great soaps to sell at science and natural history museums! What a terrific springboard to all the different types of rocks that you make (like Donya’s idea, for example).

  8. Donya says

    I live in the foothills of California (aka – gold country). I’m going to use this recipe to make white quartz rocks with gold veins. Thanks for the idea!

  9. Peta says

    I’m strictly melt and pour now but if I still did CP I’d be having a go at these. Great tutorial. Thank you.