Friday, February 29, 2008
Mmmm, cake, too. I love the little pink swirl in the center.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I could smell it as soon as I unwrapped it. The swirls of chocolate peeked out from under the soap wrap and called to me, "You there, come smell my chocolate-y self!" When soaps call to me, I must not ignore, for my senses get all fired up and eager, like a puppy with a tail that moves the body.
The bar was lightly scented and smelled like cream and chocolate. The bar was a good size and was really pretty with dark brown chocolate swirls throughout a cream colored bar. I went to the tub for a spin. The soap lathered quickly, had nice slip and worked beautifully on my skin. The shaving test was a success with no Psycho shower scenario. That is a key test. If it doesn't irritate my skin, it gets an E.C. for extra credit.
They have a cool offering on their website: Happy Endings (which is NOT what you think!) They take bits and pieces from the ends of their soap loaves and offer them for purchase. You get 5-6 ounces of various available soap bits (their choice) for only $4.00. This way, if you don't know what you want, you can try out a bunch of scents! Go check them out!
Monday, February 25, 2008
Safety first: When making soap from scratch, you need to use lye - it’s not optional. It’s available in the plumbing section at your local hardware store (it’s used to clean drains, I understand.) When mixed with water, lye produces noxious fumes, and if even the tiniest bit gets on your skin, in your eyes, etc., it can cause serious burns. Store it in a safe place, far from children and pets, and always wear safety glasses and gloves when using it. Always add your lye to your water or other liquid, to avoid splashing. Seriously, folks - this stuff is scary. Please be very, very careful, and make sure that your liquids are cool before adding lye - it can cause a volcano if the liquids are hot, and this is extremely dangerous for you and your furniture. It’s a good idea to mix it outside, if that’s possible. Vinegar neutralizes lye, and for that reason, keep a spray bottle of plain white vinegar handy while soapmaking. You will use this to spray your tools during clean-up.
Tools: Before beginning, make sure you have all of your ingredients for your recipe and tools exclusively for soapmaking handy, including safety glasses, gloves, two glass thermometers, two spatulas (silicone works well), containers for your oils and one for your lye mixture, an accurate scale, molds, and a stick blender. Prepare your molds by greasing them in one way or another. I spray a light mist of olive oil on my molds.
Weigh your lye and water in separate containers. I prefer to use a large glass jar (rather than plastic) for mixing my lye. Slowly add your lye crystals to your water, while stirring gently. The mixture will be cloudy at first, and will get very, very hot. Carefully place a glass thermometer in your lye jar, and set it aside to cool. I happened to have lots of snow outside, so I placed my jar in a pile of snow to lower the temperature quickly (more on that in a second.) Place any lye-tainted tools you’re finished with in an empty sink.
Next, weigh your solid oils. An accurate scale is a must! The solid oils will then need to be melted. This can either be done on the stovetop or in the microwave.
I most often melt my solid oils using the microwave, and add my liquid oils to the melted solid ones afterward, slowly stirring with a spatula. This usually brings the oils down to a good temperature for blending with the lye mixture. (Note: if you’re using beeswax in your soap, the stovetop seems to be most consistent - melt all of your oils (liquid and solid) in there together.)
Check the temperature of your oils and lye mixture. Your recipe should indicate the ideal temperatures for your lye mixture and oils to be when mixed.
When they have reached that temperature (it’s often around 100 degrees fahrenheit) you will pour your lye mixture slowly (in a drizzle) into your oils, while stick blending. I usually stir with the stick blender (not blending, just using it as a stirring utensil) at first, and blend for a minute here and there as I’m adding the lye.
After you’ve added all of the lye mixture, blend until the soap “traces”. When the blender is lifted up, some soap will leave trails on the surface. It should look something like pudding.
At this point, add any botanicals, essential or fragrance oils, colour, etc., according to your recipe. Stir by hand until incorporated, and pour into prepared molds. Before cleaning up and washing, spray all of your containers and tools with vinegar to neutralize any active lye.
Let the soap set in a warm place for 24-48 hours. Unmold, and cut into bars. If bars need to be trimmed, it is best to wait a couple of days until the soap is a bit firmer. Then, let cure for a couple of weeks for the bars to dry and become firm. This will also make them last longer. Some people suggest insulating the soap as it sets, but with these molds, I don’t find it necessary. Happy soaping!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The soaps shown are:
The swirls AND stripes in the pink grapefruit soap are so perfectly swirled and colored, the Lavender one with the chocolate brown sphere in the center reminds me of a rising moon in another world. The mosaic soap looks impossible to make. This one must have taken patience beyond belief. In Sher's blog, she writes,"Next, a soap that is truly one of a kind - yep, there's just one bar. Like mosaic tiles, each piece in the design is placed by hand to create a unique pattern." I might be completely off, but it looks like the face of it is melt and pour glycerin soap with the carefully placed embeds and then the cold process soap poured on top of that. What do you think? The last one is a colorful festival called Island Splash where the colors work well together. These soaps are so much fun, I wish I could learn a thing or two from Sher. If these smell and work as good as they look, I'll be hooked.
So check Savonara out.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Birch Bark handmade soaps are lovely. Sherrie, Birch Bark's creator, sent me a few bars to try. Each one of them was wrapped up in a stamped natural cotton bag tied with twine, just like the photo. This is the first time I have seen this presentation in person. It is pure, unique and almost rustic, which adds to the sense of the pure and natural approach she takes with her soaps. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband (great photographer, btw!) and makes soaps at home.
I had the pleasure to try her Chocolate Peppermint soap with cocoa butter which was smooth as ever and smelled like a York's Peppermint Pattie. It wasn't overpowering, but gentle on the nose and perfectly scented. This soap felt smooth and had great slip with zero drag, and created bubbly foam immediately, which I loved. I do like the thick frothy suds that come alive quickly like that.
Here is the description they have on Etsy: "This is the richest soap we could come up with! Full of moisturizing cocoa butter, along with brewed chocolate mint tea and real cream, it is suitable for mature and/or dry skin. Essential oil of peppermint along with cocoa butter give this a delicious, mild chocolate-y mint fragrance. This makes an excellent shaving soap because of its intense moisturizing and fluffy lather."
The ingredients are: olive oil, cocoa butter, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, castor oil, brewed mint chocolate tea, cream, sodium hydroxide, peppermint essential oil. I love that they use brewed tea. I think that adds such a nice touch and smell.
The picture below really shows how smooth and creamy it feels.
You can read her blog, which has amazing photographs of her works in progress and final soaps. To purchase them, check out her Etsy shop here.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Here are a few pictures to show what happens when I make CPHP. Your results may vary, though!
Please note that this tutorial is designed for those already familiar with cold process soap making.
Melt oils and mix up lye solution as you would with CP. You don’t have to worry about controlling the temperatures. Add the lye solution to the oils as soon as you’re confident the lye is completely dissolved. You can stick blend them together right in the crock pot:
After you’ve reached a nice, thick trace, put the lid on, check the crock pot is set to low, and entertain yourself for about a half an hour. Obsessive folk like me might return to the pot every five to ten minutes for a peek, but there probably won’t be much happening. After about thirty minutes (more or less, depending on your crock pot’s temperature), the edges will begin to gel:
Check back in about ten minutes and the gel will have spread from the edges toward the centre. I usually refer to this as ‘raw soap island surrounded by a gel ocean’. Unfortunately, on the day I decide to take photographs, we have ‘raw soap island being overrun by a gel tsunami’:
Five minutes later, raw soap island is gone:
It is at this time I remove the pot from the heat source and give a quick stir just to be sure the gel is complete. If it isn’t, you’ll find a chunk of lighter-coloured raw soap floating in the gel. If you still have raw soap, pop it back in the heat source and cook for another five to ten minutes. This one has completely gelled:
Now you can zap test the soap by taking a little bit out and rubbing it between your fingers to help it cool. It should feel waxy. Once the soap has cooled, lightly tap your tongue with it. If you get a sensation that feels like a 9-V battery, you have active lye in your soap and will need to cook it some more. If not, you can move on to the next step.
When making HP, I add my additives at the end of the cook to avoid having the kitchen smell like the monkey cage at the zoo. Any milks, honey, fruit or veggie purees, etc should go in after the cook. Oils and butters added after the cook will not be saponified, so you get all of their benefits. Today I’m superfatting with a bit of jojoba:
And now a lovely oakmoss fragrance goes in:
While you weren’t looking, I removed a cup or so of soap from the pot and dyed it green. This has been added back to the soap:
And lightly stirred to make an in-the-pot swirl:
And then spooned into the molds to cool:
When the soap has cooled, turn it out and you’re done!
Remember that any HP needs to cure for at least one week, preferably two. It’ll get harder and milder in this time.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing!!
I came across these photos on her blog of her beautiful soap blocks with gorgeous embeds and needed to share them with you. Gracefully, Elizabeth agreed that I could share her photos. Please click on them for a bigger, closer look!
These soaps were made with offcuts and embeds. The one on the left is scented with rose, and the one of the right is amberwood. I absolutely love the blue-green colors she used in the amberwood block.
gracefruit: I would love to share a hot process tutorial with photos if you'd like to make one!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
(For some reason, their site is down. Maybe all the traffic from being the winner has made the server go nuts. Their phone number is 818-487-9805 and the website address is burntmillcrafts.com for when the server comes back to life.)
Has unique feel, sort of smooth and creamy, foams pretty well, slip has some drag, but felt super soothing. In addition to the Dead Sea Mud, it contained pure essential oils of Palmarosa, bergamot, geranium, Bulgarian lavender, and Guaiacwood and honey. This would be a great facial soap. Loved the way it made my skin feel.
So there you go. It was a hard soapy journey, but someone had to do it- ;)
We are so clean and squeaky you could smell us a mile away!
Happy soaping, and watch for more fun coming soon.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
After hours of bathing and careful consideration, our top 3 Yummiest Soap Contest winners:
1st place is
Burnt Mill Soap
2nd place - KristinesShower
3rd place - The Soap Smith (The Mud Bar)
Pictures of the soaps that won will be posted in the morning.
The Yummiest Soap Contest winner will be announced today. Crystal, of Cute Indie Finds and I are basically in agreement with the soaps. I'd like to thank everyone who sent in their soap entries. They were all lovely!
You can read the Yummiest Soap Contest rules posted here and here. The winner will be announced by the end of today. Thanks!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I received a couple of soaps from Micky Byrd a month or two ago and I have only just tried them. Now they sent a soap called Jelly Bean and Almond Decadence soap, neither of which are available anymore on the website, but these are the ones I am reviewing today.
Overall, I think Micky Byrd makes nice soap, but I wish the names matched the scents a little more.
Isn't this pretty? It is clary sweet on their website. Nice layering in the center and adorned with calendula! Thank you, Viola for sending me these lovelies!!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Patounis has been hand making olive oil soap by the traditional stamped method for over 100 years, and is one of the very few factories left in the world. You can visit and see the process, and also buy the products.
OLIVE OIL SOAP (taken from hellasworld)
A traditional, functioning, and accessible olive oil soap factory is on the Ionian island of Corfu. Just off the main square of the "new town" (five minutes walk from the old town), it has a showroom housing a laboratory, together with displays of soap which is available for purchase. Unfortunately, no factory tours are available as the small number of staff who work at the factory are too involved in the manufacturing process.
The main types of soaps are:
|"Green soap" made from crude (unprocessed) olive pomice oil. The latter is obtained by extraction from the ground flesh and pits of the olives after pressing. It contains olive chlorophyll; hence the green colour of the soap when "fresh". This green colour fades as the soap dries and matures. The "green soap" is used mainly for household chores (especially clothes). It also had a good reputation for its disinfecting and healing properties on skin infections, allergies, bed sores, and strained muscles.|
|"Asper green soap", which is a stronger formula of the "green soap". It has free alkali in its mass (increased pH). This makes it effective for clothes washing.|
|"White olive - palm kernel soap" , which is made from pure Virgin olive oil (lampante grade). Edible palm kernel oil is added during the manufacturing process. This soap is used as a gentle personal cleanser ( face and body). It lathers well.|
|"White olive oil soap" is as the white soap above, without the palm kernel oil. It has limited lathering ability and it is recommended that it be used with soft water.|
The factory is run by the affable Apostolos Patounis. It has been in the family for 150 years.
Subscribe, renew, or extend your subscription, and Saponifier magazine will take 30% off the price. This Valentine's Day offer is also valid if you want to give someone a Valentine gift subscription. (hint hint)
The magazine comes out every other month with loads of information for soap and candle makers including regulations, marketing, and establishing industry connections.
Happy Valentine's Day (early) ;)