Smoky Bay Cold Process Tutorial

For this sensuous soap, we may or may not have been inspired by a certain best-selling book that references multiple (or 50) shades of grey in its name. This Smoky Bay soap features clean, straight layers colored with four perfect gradients of grey. The orange in the middle provides the perfect burst of color!

This soap is scented with Indian Sandalwood Cybilla Fragrance Oil, which is remarkably strong in cold process soap. It does not discolor or accelerate trace and keeps its scent brilliantly. For a robust scent on the masculine side, this is a go-to stand by.

What You’ll Need:

4.5 oz. Apricot Kernel Oil

13.5 oz. Canola Oil

9 oz. Coconut Oil

9 oz. Palm Oil

2.2 oz. Palm Kernel Flakes

6.7 oz. Rice Bran Oil

6.2 oz. Sodium Hydroxide

14.8 oz. distilled water

Titanium Dioxide

Black Oxide

Tangerine Wow

Brick Red Oxide

2.8 oz. Indian Sandalwood Cybilla Fragrance Oil

ELF 4 lb. Wood Log Mold

Click here to add everything you need for this project to your Bramble Berry shopping cart!

If you’ve never made Cold Process soap before, stop here! I highly recommend checking out our FREE four part SoapQueen.tv series on Cold Process Soapmaking, especially the episode on lye safety. And if you’d rather do some reading, Bramble Berry carries a wide range of books on the topic, including my newest book, Soap Crafting. You can also checkout the digital downloads for that instant gratification factor.

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.

COLOR PREP: Disperse 2 teaspoons of Titanium Dioxoide and 2 teaspoons of Black Oxide into 2 tablespoon of liquid oil each (we like Sweet Almond or Sunflower). Disperse 1 teaspoon of Tangerine Wow and 1 teaspoon of Brick Red into 1 tablespoon of oil each. Prepping your colors in the beginning will allow you to work quickly and give you more time to work with your soap. Use the mini mixer to get all those clumps worked out smoothly.

ONE: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water, and stir until clear. Set aside to cool. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that lasts longer in the shower, 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 Apricot Kernel, Canola, Coconut, Palm, Palm Kernel Flakes and Rice Bran oils in a large glass container. Once the lye water and the oils have cooled to 130 degrees or below (and are ideally within 10 degrees of each other), add the lye water to the oils and stick blend until thin trace.

THREE: Separate the batter into 5 containers. In 4 containers, pour off about 400 mL (13.5 oz). These containers will be colored with the shades of grey. In the fifth container, pour the remaining 200 mL (about 6.7 oz.) of batter. This will be colored with orange.

FOUR: Add the following colors in the following amounts (from left to right). Mix them in with a wire whisk or spoon:

  • 1/2 tsp. dispersed Black Oxide
  • 1/2 tsp. dispersed Black Oxide + 1/2 tsp. dispersed Titanium Dioxide
  • 1/4 tsp. dispersed Black Oxide + 1 tsp. dispersed Titanium Dioxide
  • 1/8 tsp dispersed Black Oxide + 2.5 tsp. dispersed Titanium Dioxide
  • Orange: 1 tsp. dispersed Tangerine Wow + 1/8 tsp. dispersed Brick Red + 1/8 tsp. dispersed Titanium Dioxide

FIVE: Using a whisk or spoon, stir in your fragrance oil to the 5 containers. You don’t have to be exact and eyeballing it is okay.


SIX: Stick blend the darkest grey color for a few seconds to thicken it up. You want this layer to reach a thick trace so it can hold up the following layers.

SEVEN: Repeat the process of stick blending the batter and then pouring into the mold. If you need, gently spoon plop the soap into the mold so as to not break though the later below. (Why yes, that is my favorite silicone giant square spoon spatula awesome tool playing a starring role).

EIGHT: After you’ve poured two grey layers, pour the orange layer. Stick blend to thick trace.

NINE: Gently pour the orange soap into the mold. You might also want to pour over a spatula or spoon so as to not break through the layers below.

TEN: Resume pouring the grey layers. Stick blend the third grey container to thick trace and then pour.

ELEVEN: Gently pour the final grey later over a spatula to finish off the top.

TWELVE: We didn’t stick blend this layer so our batter was liquid enough to do a fun swirl design. We obtained this top design by making small loops horizontally down the length of the mold.

Spray the entire top with 91 or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol to reduce soda ash. Cover and insulate for 24 hours and unmold after 3-4 days, and allow to cure for 4-6 weeks. Enjoy!

Soap Queen Lab!Want to hold this soap in your hands? If you’re a tactile and visual learner, we have another way for you to learn. Click here to grab one of these soaps for your very own, complete with a full color instruction sheet, from the Soap Queen Lab Etsy shop.

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20 Comments

  1. cheryl says

    I happen to have on hand all the oils you call for w/the exception of the apricot. can I substitute that w/adding more of one of the other oils,w/out changing the lye content?
    also, not pertaining to this particular recipe, but if I used chlorophyll as a colorant will it absorb the scent of whatever I use?same goes w/charcoal?
    thanks, can’t wait to hear from you so I can get soaping!

  2. cheryl says

    thank you Amanda! what would you suggest for a NATURAL green colorant that stays but is also easy to work with. I know I don’t move fast enough to mix powders on the side then add them back before pouring. are there NATURAL liquid colors that I could just pour into the soap as I mix, & not just green but other colors as well? thank you for pointing out about the fading, this is why I love working w/this company & support you by buying your products. it makes me feel very comfortable in my learning process. & who doesn’t like being comfortable!!

  3. Debi says

    Just wanted to ask, when you add fragrance oil and it has flashpoint of 140 degrees, should it be added to trace under 140 or over 140 degrees? Wondering if that would make the soap separate and not mix well?

    • says

      Hi Debi!

      The flash point of a material is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air. Measuring a flash point requires an ignition source. If there is no source of ignition, the material may not burn even if it reaches this temperature.

      When soapmaking, the flash point of a fragrance or other material is honestly not something to be too concerned with. The flashpoint of a product is mostly listed for shipping purposes. Because the soap does not provide a source of ignition, it’s not something to worry about, but if you want to be extra cautious, I would recommend adding the fragrance below the flashpoint. Keep in mind you want your oils and lye water to be within 10 degrees of each other as well :)

      I hope this helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  4. patti mincher says

    I just love all of your tutorials my only wish was there were more for slab mold. I use your 18 bar mold to make all of my soaps. Maybe you could do two versions one for loaf molds and one for slab.
    Just a thought.

  5. Laura says

    I just made this soap. It thickened up so fast I just wonder what I did wrong? I mixed the batter to a very light trace before I separated it into the color containers. I mixed my lye water and the oils at about 125 to 128°. I followed the instructions almost to the letter. The only thing I did differently was, I had my colors in my containers before I poured my batter. This is only my second attempt at making soap; the first batch came out perfectly.

    • says

      Hi Laura!

      When you say you had the colors in the containers, do you mean you added the fragrance first, then the colors? The longer the fragrance is in the batter, the more is will begin to set up. This is why we like to add our fragrance into the batter at the very end. Let me know if this is not what you meant, I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot further! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

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