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Taiwan Swirl Technique

Learn the cold process soap technique of Taiwan Swirls. 

Slow Moving Recipe
The Taiwan swirl technique works best with a slow-moving recipe. The more fluid the soap batter is; the more it will swirl. There are five ways to slow down trace.
 
Choose Oils and Butters Wisely
Oils and butters used in a soap recipe affect the tracing speed. Most liquid oils move slowly with olive oil and sweet almond oil known to be the slowest. Oils that are semi-solid such as palm oil, coconut oil, and babassu oil as well as butters speed up trace. An exception to the rule is castor oil. Castor oil is liquid, but it speeds up trace. When formulating a soap recipe for swirling, we recommend using 60% slow-moving oils.
 
Use Full Water
Using the full water amount in a soap recipe creates more fluidity and contributes to a slow-moving soap. Using the default ‘38% water as a percentage of oils’ is considered a full water amount. If you prefer ratios, a 3:1 or even a 4:1 water to lye ratio is also a full water amount. The disadvantage to more water is that it softens soap. Soap made with a full water amount may need to sit in the mold for a few days until it is hard enough to unmold. Also, the soap may take longer to cure because there is more water that needs to evaporate out of the soap.
 
Choose Additives Carefully
Additives can drastically change the speed of trace. When picking a fragrance oil, read the cold process test results and read the reviews. Avoid fragrances that have any indication that they accelerate, separate or rice. Fragrances with clove are notorious for accelerating. Clays, liquids with sugar, milk and honey are other ingredients that can accelerate trace.

Slow Down Mixing
Blend the bare minimum with the stick blender. The more the stick blender is on, the quicker the soap will trace. Blending in short bursts works well to minimize the amount of mixing. Use a spatula to hand mix when you can will also slow down trace.
 
Lower the Soaping Temperature
Higher soaping temperatures speed up trace and lower soaping temperatures slow down trace. For swirling soap, soap at around 100ºF or at room temperature. Even lowering by 10ºF from your normal soaping temperature can make a big difference!
 
Dividers
Dividers partition the soap until you are ready to perform the Taiwan swirl. The trick with using dividers is to hold them down while you pour. This prevents the soap from seeping under the dividers. Also, pour from a pitcher with a narrow pour spout to ease pouring into the small slots.

Swirl
Now to swirl! Use a skewer and poke it into the soap at the very edge of the mold. Drag the skewer back and forth until you reach the end of the mold. (See Figure 1) Next, circle the mold four times to further swirl the soap.






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