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Monday, April 30, 2012

Soap Update!

Since beginning my soapy adventures blog, I’ve shared three batches of soap. All have been unmolded or cut, and I’m excited to show how they came out. 

Mr. Fabulous’s bastille came out of the mold pretty nicely. I was impressed! It was still too soft to cut though, so I saved that for today when I got home from my first day at internship (!!!!). It still has the consistency of firm cookie dough, but it cut beautifully and should cure out to be a fabulous soap.

My rose soap ended up being nicer than I thought it would be. It didn’t turn completely brown, but it did form some ash on the top.
Soda ash forms when the soap cools to quickly, at least that’s what I’ve been told and my experience thus far. I’m not surprised, however, because the chemical reaction in which the soap gets all hot and gelatinous and goes into “gel phase” didn’t extend throughout the entire mold. I also didn’t pop a towel over it as I wanted to see if just the wooden mold by itself would be enough. No worries, though. The soap is still perfectly alright to use, and the ash can be scraped, washed, or steamed off (though I’ve never had any luck with that last method).

Last, but certainly not least, is my lilac soap with the cellini blue mica. I’m going to have another go with the lilac, as my soap forum of choice is having a challenge for the month of May that has to do with floral scented soaps. It will be my first soap picture post there, which makes me excited. My current lilac soap, however, turned out better than I even imagined. The purple color is amazing, the smell is perfect (even has that earthy “dirt” quality that real flowers have), and the soap is just overall awesome. Yay!

I’ve got so much soap. This is just a little bit of it. I can’t wait for it to all cure so I can package it and give it away.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mother’s day is coming! And I’ve decided to make lotions for all my moms. But shhh, don’t tell them!  

I recieved a sample of “Sweet Meyer Lemon” fragrance oil in my latest Bramble Berry order, so I decided to give it a try in lotion. It smells deliciously sweet, almost like candy, and I love it my new lotions. 

In making soap, I narrowed down my oils and have a good mixture that I both like, can acquire fairly inexpensively, and are good to my skin. I have very sensitive skin, and having soap that won’t dry me out and turn me into an itchy red welt is important. I decided in designing my lotion formula to carry over some of those oils. So, in every bar of soap and every bottle of lotion I make, one will find avocado and grapeseed oils and shea butter. I find them to be very nice to my skin, and hopefully to my moms’ skin, too!

I have found lotion making to be almost as fun as cold process soap making, and this time it was no different. I really enjoy that I can customize my lotions and formulate them to meet my needs exactly. I can make a thicker cream for my feet and elbows and lighter lotions for everyday use. I know all my moms (my mum, my sister, and my fiancée’s mom) will enjoy this lotion.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Take on a "Spoon Swirl." Oh, Boy.

When I bought my lilac fragrance oil from Bramble Berry, I also grabbed another floral, “baby rose,” as well. Even though my lilac batch went smoothly, I was still concerned about my soap advancing too quickly, so I tried a swirl, but then I lost my head completely.

It started out nice. I mixed my pink (Electric Bubblegum Neon colorant form Bramble Berry) into my oils like before, just to give myself a few more minutes on the other end. Pretty!

Then, I added my lye, mix-mix-mixed, separated out the portion I wanted to make brown, stirred in my fragrance, and poured that soap! Then I swirled. With a teaspoon. I forgot to get a skinny whatsit to swirl with, and I ended up *stirring* it.

 The top is a bit on the ugly side. Let’s hope that the bottom stayed pink, or that my wedding guests don’t open their soap until they get home.

All and all, though, it smells fantastic, and I know it will get the user clean, and that’s really the point of soap, right?

Friday, April 27, 2012

My First Bastille Soap & a New Mold

When one hears the word “bastille,” one may think of France, Dickins’ A Tale of Two Cities, or the French Revolution. When talking soap, however, bastille is a term that is short for “bastardized castile.” That cleared it right up, didn’t it?

Castile soap originally was soap made from olive oil pressed from olives from the Castilla region of Spain. These olives were believed to produce the finest olive oil in the world. Today, it basically means a soap made with 100% olive oil. Don’t let tricksters trick, however. Some would have you believe that the term “castile” simply means an all-vegetable soap. It does not.

Today I made bastille soap by special request. My fiancée wanted an uncolored, unscented soap to take camping. Because we do that, evidently. He wanted castile, and I wanted to use my new shipment of shea butter. So we compromised with a 95% olive oil/5% shea butter formula.  

I took the opportunity while at the local big box hardware store to check out their PVC pipe. I wanted to be able to make round soap without all the pouring that individual round molds require. I ended up with a nice two foot section for about $3. I decided that this soap would be the first one I made in my new round mold.

Carefully, I lined the bad boy up with freezer paper. I could grease it with mineral oil, since it doesn’t saponify, but there’s no way my arm was going to fit in there!  Then carefully, I poured the soap, and left it to sit. I’ll check it tomorrow when I get home from work, and then slice it up and give it a good long cure. Generally, I like to cure my soaps for 4-6 weeks. Olive oil soaps, or soaps with high olive oil content, however, do better with a much longer cure. So this is one treasure that just may have to wait.

The Packaging Conundrum . . . .

I’ve been fervently making soap for my June 23rd wedding. I wanted to have personalized favors, not the same old things that everyone else has. Bubbles are great for kids, but not so much for grown-ups. My most favorite wedding favors of all time are the mini maple syrups and peach preserves that my friend had at her wedding last fall. They were adorable! (I tried to find a picture of them, :o( but I couldn't.) 

Since I would eventually like to turn this hobby into a business, and since I need my products to be tested by those I trust enough to give me their honest opinion, I thought that soap wedding favors would be perfect. I have my favors taken care of and can get feedback from my friends and family. Yay!  

But how do I package a bar of soap? The bars are too big for boxes, shrink wrap bands require an additional investment in a heat gun, and I tried waxed paper. Fail. Then I found these awesome coffee filters. In my cupboard! Sweet. I’d used them before for round soaps, but I’d never thought to wrap my rectangular bars with them.  They’re absolutely perfect for it, though.

I found a groove, and went to town. I got 27 bars of soap wrapped with my new technique, and watched 3 episodes of "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" while I was at it. So I'll need to work on my speed, but the finished bars look so cute, I don't even care how long it took.

Coffee filters and No-Wrinkle Elmers Glue Gel, my packaging best buddies :o)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lilac Soap!

I absolutely luurve the smell of lilacs. There was a very large lilac bush next to the kitchen window in the house that I gew up in, and I always remember looking forward to when it would bloom. I found a lilac fragrance oil one night while absent mindedly surfing through, and I just had to have it.

If I was going to make lilac soap, however, I wanted it to be purple. It's kind of hard to make purple soap since the base oils used to make soap are often very yellow. Yellow and purple make brown. I did not want brown soap.

Enter Cellini Blue Mica!!

Since I used a floral frangrance oil, which usually have a tendency to speed up the soap making process, I mixed my mica into my oils before adding my lye. I didn't want to over-mix my raw soap and end up with a thick, gloppy mess. I've been there. It's not a fun place to be. Micas are mined from the earth and cut and polished to shimmer and shine. Mineral make-ups are made with micas. This blue is lip safe, which means I can use it to color lip balms and lip sticks if I were so inclined. I can also make some awesome electric blue eye shadow with the right ingredients. But for now, I'll stick to the soap.

Blue mica makes purple soap? Well, this mica does. It morphs the raw soap into a glorious pink color:

Then, as the soap saponifies, it turns purple. This soap is in gel phase and it's starting to turn purple!

This is what it looked like when I got home from work:  a glorious deep, translucent-looking purple that smells absolutely divine!

Now to just wait six weeks to use it . . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wonderful World of Soap

I make soap. It's sort of new. For the past four months I've made a bi-weekly trip to Paris Farmer's Union to buy lye from the drain cleaner section. Today I got my first shipment of lye from an on-line supplier. 8 pounds of food-grade lye, which will soon be lovely, lathery, fragrant soap. I can't wait!

I'm not entirely sure how I decided to make soap. I remember wanting to try it last summer, but last summer was one I'd rather forget, and I had no time to take up a new hobby. I wish I would have, though, because it's so much fun. I love everything about it. From formulating the recipe to pouring my raw soap to enjoying the finished product, there is not one thing about this hobby that I don't like. I just wish I had more time to do it in.

So this is where I talk about it. My trials. My tribulations. My triumphs. This is where I share my soap story.