How to Make Color Swirls in Your Soap

Making Bars of Soap into Works of Art

For years...even centuries...people have been completely satisfied with plain white soap. It may have been a bit beige, or cream colored, or even "Ivory" - but it was basically white...all white...the whole bar.

With the renaissance of homemade soap, though, the bar of soap has become a canvas for crafters to create magnificent works of soapy art. While the colors swirled through the soap don't change its cleansing or moisturizing qualities, they certainly change the aesthetic nature...MORE of the soap.

Here are a collection of videos and tutorials to help you create swirls in your own bars of soap. Some are simple and some are more complex. Give them a try. With some experience, you'll be a master swirler in no time!

(Now, if what you want is plain, white soap, there are ways to make your soap whiter.)

  • 01 of 08
    Adding the Colorant to the Soap
    Adding the Colorant. David Fisher

    The basic one-color "in the pot" swirl is a great place to start swirling. It's the technique I use in my basic "How to Make Soap" tutorial. The video is technically a "two" color process - but one of the colors is mixed throughout - and one is swirled.

    In my Double Butter soap project, I do a two color in the pot swirl.

  • 02 of 08
    Two color in the mold swirl
    Two color in the mold swirl. David Fisher

    This technique layers two colors into a loaf mold and then allows you to swirl them together to the degree that you want. You can leave it just lightly swirled, or really mixed together well.

  • 03 of 08
    Column Pour Swirl
    Column Pour Swirl. David Fisher

    This swirl technique became an instant sensation when it this Italian Facebook video was discovered back in 2011 which shows an artist doing a column pour with paint. Of course, we soap makers said, "I have to try that with soap!" The principle is pretty much the same - pouring multiple colors of soap over a column.

    Here is another example of a column pour swirl using natural clays.

  • 04 of 08
    Four color in the mold swirl
    Four color in the mold swirl. David Fisher

    This tutorial uses a square slab mold and mixes four colors together. It's just a variation on the basic technique of swirling, just with more colors mixed in.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    This tutorial from Soap Queen Anne Marie at Bramble Berry shows how to do the "mantra" swirl - an advanced "in the mold" technique that gives a really cool effect. You'll need some cardboard cut to the length of your loaf mold - and an extra set of hands is a big help too!

    And for a variation, here's a modified mantra swirl video from Kenna at Modern Soapmaking.

  • 06 of 08
    More drag/swirls through the soap - as many or as few as you like. David Fisher

    This swirl technique is similar to the column pour in that it incorporates multiple colors poured into the middle of a slab mold. However, instead of pouring them over a wood or plastic column, they are poured directly into the center of the mold through a funnel. The effect is very similar, and an extra set of hands to hold the funnel is really helpful.

    Here is another funnel pour swirl in a round PVC soap mold.

  • 07 of 08

    This swirl, a close cousin to the funnel and column pour swirls, is here shown in modified, easier version by Kenna at Modern Soapmaking, is really cool. It looks, just as the name implies, like a tiger's stripes.

  • 08 of 08
    Irene Linauer's DVD Marbling Techniques for Cold Process Soap
    Irene Linauer's DVD Marbling Techniques for Cold Process Soap. Irene Linauer

    I’ve had the opportunity to see Irene Linauer teach soap making several times. Irene was one of the first well-known soap makers to really make an art of swirling. For years, Irene’s marbling techniques have been passed along in the soap making community from soap maker to soap maker like an old time oral tradition. She finally captured several of her swirling techniques on a DVD.

Swirls do best with micas, oxides, ultramarines or natural colorants that aren't going to bleed. But there are so many available, and they're very affordable. I encourage you get a sample of a few and just play. You can't do anything "wrong" to your soap with the colors, and you may create a wonderful soapy work of art!