Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Been A Long Time

I haven't done a soap review in a long time. I have soap makers waiting for reviews but I have some problems with their submissions.

I have a baggie of two soaps on my window sill with no labels, nothing to identify who they belong to. Now, I run a business and have two kids so I am busy and I try really hard to be organized, but sometimes I will open a package and throw away the outer package to eliminate clutter. This is why a soap band or sticker is important to affix on the soap. These window sill soaps are now anonymous. They could be yours and you'll never know if I liked them or not. Maybe you should email me.

I also received a bag of three soaps from a lovely woman. None of the soaps were labeled so I don't know which one is which. If I loved the purple one, I wouldn't be able to elaborate on it. Also, They all ended up smelling alike. I don't know if they smelled alike when they were put in there to begin with or they ended up smelling similar, but it made me re-think my own packaging. I just sent out my three soap gift set in a cello bag with the soaps each only separated by a card. Hmm.

Please let me be clear about how you need to send your soap so I can get the best shot at smelling the true scent of your soap and that I know it's from you. If you send soap to me, please make sure that each soap is individually wrapped or labeled with its own scent and/or name and your company name so that if it gets removed from the group of your soaps it can still be identified.

Also, if you want me to review your soap and you want me to try multiple soaps, you only need to send one full sized bar and quarter bar samples of the others (also labeled with scent and company name!) I do not need a full bar of each scent. It is costly for you to mail them and it certainly isn't necessary. The full size bar shows packaging, size and weight. That's all I need. Everything else is scent and feel and I can use the samples for that.

If any of you have any questions about soap you have sent or soap you would like to send please do not hesitate to email me. jo (at) productbody (dot) com

I loved doing the soap reviews and I am ready to do them.

The list of fragrances that my head can not deal with has grown. Now migraines are spiked from:

"Champagne" and "Energy" fragrance oils

Other than that lavender is not a favorite of mine.


s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p s o a p

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frankincense and Myrrh Holiday Soap Porn

Without getting religious on you, which I don't ever do, frankincense and myrrh happens
to be a part of Christmas stories, and happens to be a part of a lot of Christmas offerings
so I thought I'd include some very pretty soaps I found this morning since I woke up for no
reason at 5:00 am.

Gifts Of The Magi Bath Bar by Scubology Soap
Green, blue and golden gem-like shapes glisten in an amber-colored matrix
scented with Frankincense and Myrrh

Kings Soap by Elegant Rose Boutique
Frankincense, myrhh, and sandalwood

Flaming Heart by Panhandle Girl
frankincense and myrrh
(loving the label design!)

Hope you enjoyed the holiday soap porn. Back to work, my holiday soap addicts.... :) Love!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Falls Here

Snow Falls in North America...
Here are some pretty soaps I found while sipping on warm coffee.

scent of fresh snow, festive lights, cozy winter spices and caramelized fruits.

The 3" snowflake sits on a bed of snow (also made soap,unscented) inside a lovely transparent boutonniere box.

There is a homegrown nasturtium flower pressed in the top of the bar.

Basmati Rice is aromatic, sweet, a little earthy.

A crisp essential oil blend of Peppermint, Spearmint and Pine, Lavender, Sweet Basil,
Rosemary and Lime add a smoothness that makes this the ideal holiday blend.

Thank you to the artists for their creativity so that we could rest our eyes on something unique and beautiful today.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Epic Fail


I tried the cold process oven processing method (CPOP) yesterday and I think I failed miserably at it. I guess no matter how many years you soap, when you try a new process, it's like getting on a bike for the first time and falling off, scraping all the skin off your knees and feeling the burn. O.O

I am announcing Gift Sets on my website today and I really was hoping to add soap to them because my soaps have flown out of my shop and every time I have replenished them a wholesale customer has swept them up. Oh it's great news, but not so great for my poor retail customers who want them. My plan was to whip up CPOP soap and have it be included in the sets and all would be right in the world for them.

And so.

But no.

This is what I found after 2 hours of cooking and 12 hours of remaining in the oven.

I pushed down the freezer paper so you can see the excess oil (black and white shows the oil more clearly):

excess oil pool on top of the 3rd loaf pan

I wiped the soaps down with paper towel so they weren't as slippery as a freshly bathed infant and I am letting them sit. This picture was AFTER I sucked all of the oil away. The crispy-like effect it created on top is nice. It did exactly what I had hoped. I sprinkled brown sugar on top before I stuck the soap in the oven hoping to get a crunch or crisp on top and that's what it looks like to me (and smells like). Sadly the whole soap was oily and soft.

Any idea why they are so oily? They went into the pans in perfect trace harmony. I would love your feedback. I can take constructive criticism. People should learn from my mistakes.

And so should I.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Smart Soapmaking

I got slammed this year with last minute wholesale customers who want hundreds of bars of soap cured...ummm. yesterday and now and chop chop.... so I try to accommodate as much as I can, of course. In the tornado of formulating and keeping p with my retail and wholesale orders in addition, Gift Sets fell to the way side this year for the holidays. O.O

Yesterday I was racking my brain about what I should offer and I came up with some great ideas, but none of them had a soap inclusion because we only have a few of each scent of soap. There isn't one bar we have tons of except the chai soap that just looks marbled and turned out too cinnamon-y spicy. (there is a point to this story, hang in there)

So as I finished pouring soap for a customer, I had a lye mixture set aside for 2 batches just waiting there for me to use. Perfectly measured and waiting for me to add fat and make the magic soap with. Oh the fantasy...

my glowing magical stick blender

I picked up one of my books, Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson, which I always have lying around, but rarely pick up anymore. Read the whole book in 20 minutes. Great book. If you haven't read it or haven't read it in a while, pick it up and re-read it. It's a great overall look at the art of soap making. She is refreshing and not so rigid as so many pros are. Anyway, I looked at her CPOP (cold process-oven processing) description where one makes cold process soap and then cooks the loaf molds in the oven (covered) for two hours in 170-200 degree heat and then stays in the oven with the oven off for 12 hours. Now Dreaming Works Soap recommended that the soap cure for 2 weeks after that. This author mentioned that the soap was ready for use after it was unmolded but also mentioned that it would get harder with time so depending on its hardness depends on when you want to serve it up. So my lack of soaps in my gift set got me to trying the CPOP process. I didn't want to do the hot process this time. I wanted a new thing. I also find hot process too waxy for me to work with. But that is me. Other people love it. I can see all the benefits. And I love them! I just have a hard time physically maneuvering the glop. AND I burn myself every time. What's that about?

I suppose we need to check. I have two batched in the oven now. Covered with a wooden cutting board which is now completely warped. I might have to find something else to cover CPOP molds in the future that work better than that. Good thing they were cheap (Ikea).


I'll keep you updated on my CPOP batched. Pics to come.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Spot Of Tea

Time for tea....

mango lychee boba tea soap by NEA Soap Works
I went to her blog but she hasn't been updating since 2009. I don't think her soaps are available right now, but this was floating through cyberspace and I plucked it for you to see. Gorgeous!

white tea calendula soap by Lake House Soap Works

These are all so beautiful. I need to get on into the studio and make myself a true tea blended soap. Here I come, stu-stu-studio!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Food For Thought

South Mountain Rd, New York, 2002
Personal archives.

We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.
We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Give Away Winner Is.....

Carrie of Under The Willow ~ Congratulations!

You will receive:

2 plastic loaf pans, three 1 ounce fragrance oils from Brambleberry
and your choice of one of my perfume oils.

Thanks to everyone who participated. There will be more give aways closer to the other holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Blogs

Some of you are having trouble remembering how you designed the last holiday soap... "Did I embed it with green stars or were they red...?" Well, a while back I started a blog to keep track of my soaping history. Partly because I didn't take enough pictures of people who are gone and partly because when I look back, I can truly remember each pour and the challenges on that day.

That's what this blog is about:

Soap History - This is actually a great idea for some of you who keep journals in oil stained books (ahem). I set this up for myself to remember the ones I liked. I didn't photograph al of the ones I liked. There was a big batch of time that I totally forgot I even HAD that blog. Oh well. Anyway, If you don't already have a blog just for your soap photos as a soap journal and not your blog blog, you can even send people to it if you get to the point when you are asked to do private label or someone wants to carry your soaps. You can direct them to the soap journal blog and they can see the range.

So get yourself a blog. It is easy and you can upload your work without all that talk. :)

Product Body - Obviously this is where I update folks about my business and announce new offerings or discontinuations.

And then there is this baby... The Soap Bar, which is the MOST fun of all!!

Love you!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Heirloom Soapworks Ended Up In Jersey

Sarah won the last giveaway which was the 3 bar soap stack provided by Heirloom Soapworks. Sarah has her own blog: bennyville love blog and posted about the soaps. She loves them and describes and photographs each one. I swiped the photo above from her blog, and gave her credit, of course.

Say hi to Sarah for me!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Soap Bar Give Away!

I've been wanting to have a give-away for a long time, but I have been so swamped I can't even believe it. I know, this is a luxury problem. Being busy is a GOOD thing and I have no right to complain, which I am actually not doing... I'm actually just giving a reason why I haven't run a give away in a while.

So, no more excuses!

I bought 2 great plastic soap molds to make life easier for me so I wouldn't have to line molds anymore. Brilliant! Well, these molds don't release very well with cold process soap. They really were meant for melt and pour, however, it isn't marketed that way, so perhaps I am doing something wrong. Really wrong. These molds are WAY durable, not flimsy like milky way molds. Oh no! Here is a picture, except these molds that I have are translucent, not clear as pictured.

This is what's up for grabs:

Two of them!

OK, so I used them once, but they have been clean and bleached, but if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't even know they weren't new.
But there is more!

I am also including: UPDATE!!!!!! ANNE-MARIE told me that these are one ounce bottles. I am so sorry. I eye-balled them. They look bigger than the one ouncers I have from other companies.

Forgive my mistake.

ONE OZ of Brambleberry's Raspberry Porter fragrance oil
ONE OZ of Brambleberry's Honey Ale fragrance oil
ONE OZ of Brambleberry's Pumpkin Lager fragrance oil

Also included in the prize is a perfume oil of your choice from my shop.

So here is what you have to do (yes, a little dancing for me). I'd like more soap makers to find out about this blog. Why? Because I think we benefit from each other. Not because I want to be popular. I keep learning from all of you. And I'll tell you, from the comments and emails I get, we are touching each other all around the world. Trust me.

So bring people here.

Leave a comment and if you bring someone new (by way of facebook or twitter or by telling your neighbor, I don't care how. No need to prove to me. Don't care...) Just tell them to comment and to mention that you sent them here. That will get you an additional entry. You can only get one entry by commenting, but you can get as many entries from comments of others that you send here who mention you.

Winner will be randomly selected on the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday November 24th.

Good luck!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quick Suds Fix

A quick soap porn fix... Thursday. Let's pump out more creativity today, people. Let's BRING IT!

(pic 1 of 2) so cute!
The Whole Log Please
by Prunella soap
I love your dogs!

Soap In Sheep's Clothing
by Sheepy Hollow

by Pitter Pattern Designs

Thank you my soap friends, for the fantastic visuals this morning.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How To Make Hot Process Soap in the Microwave

Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks wrote this tutorial on her blog and allowed me to re-post it here. I think it is extremely valuable especially during this busy holiday time when we are all so busy doing a million things. Some of us may use it.

Making soap in the microwave is a great way to make a small batch of hot-process soap. It’s probably not any more dangerous than making hot processed soap with any other method. However, I must make some necessary warnings and cautions before we begin. This method is an advanced soap making technique, and should not be attempted by anyone who is not familiar with cold-process soap making, or anyone who is not prepared to watch the microwave continuously while the soap is cooking inside! I made my entire one-pound batch of soap in about an hour. Watching the microwave took about 10-15 minutes. Please read through the entire tutorial and familiarize yourself with the process and photos before you begin.

Formulating a recipe: I use my regular soap recipe, and calculate a one-pound batch using This is a great size because it is small enough to fit inside the microwave (must have room for expanding soap), and large enough that I can still submerge my stick blender. I use the water amount recommended by Soapcalc, which is 38% of oils.

Equipment needed: The same equipment you normally use for making soap is what you will need to make soap in the microwave. Since you’ve made soap before, you know what this is, right? The only thing that is different for me is that I use a 64-ounce pyrex batter bowl to melt the oils, and mix and cook the soap. You must have a bowl that is clear so you can see the soap climbing inside.

Let’s begin!

The first thing you must be acquainted with on your microwave is how to set the power level to 5, or half power. I NEVER use full power to melt the oils, or cook the soap. On my microwave, I have to push “time cook”, then the time, for example: “2 “0 “0 for two minutes, then “power level” then “5 and “start”. Yours might be different.

The buttons on my microwave

Step 1: Measure and melt the solid oils and butters. Using half power, I melt my oils a minute at a time, stirring after each minute until they are mostly melted. Then I stir until the rest melts, and add the remaining liquid oils.

Solid oils & butters are mostly melted

Step 2: Measure and mix your lye solution. Mine is a simple water and lye mixture. Be sure to start with cold liquid!

Lye solution in a plastic pitcher

Step 3: This is the best part about making hot processed soap – you can add the lye solution directly to the oils as soon as it is properly mixed without paying any attention to the temperatures.

Lye solution has been stirred into the oils with a spoon.

Step 4: Stick blend the soap until it’s too thick to blend any longer. Now it’s ready to cook!

Soap is at heavy trace

Step 5: Cooking soap in the microwave involves a repetitive process of cooking, watching, and stirring. With a one-pound batch, I start cooking the soap in the microwave for two minutes at half power. Since different microwaves cook differently, you will have to watch your soap carefully the first time you make it in the microwave. This is what my soap looks like after cooking two minutes at half power, and stirred down:

Soap after cooking for two minutes in the microwave.

Then I cook it another two minutes at half power. The soap was still actively bubbling when I took this photo:

Soap is bubbling up after the second two minutes of cooking

Step 6: Continue cooking, watching, and stirring. I set the time for about five minutes at half power – BUT I DON’T LET IT GO THE ENTIRE TIME. Watch. When the soap looks like the photo below, OPEN THE DOOR OF THE MICROWAVE IMMEDIATELY AND STIR. (You don’t have to let the soap get this high to open the door and stir it down. This was getting precariously close to volcano stage!)

View through the microwave door of the soap bubbling up.

Stir down the soap each time it bubbles up.

Stirred down soap

Continue to cook, watch, and stir.

Time saving tip: If you just open the door of the microwave and don’t hit “stop/clear/off” each time, then you can just put the soap back in the microwave and hit “start”. You won’t have to re-set the time and power level each time. If the time is running out, I hit the “add 30 seconds” button a couple times to keep it going.

When the soap is mostly translucent after stirring it down, it’s done! (This process varies each time I make soap in the microwave. This time it took about 2-3 times of cooking and stirring down before it was done. Sometimes it takes a lot more.)

Step 7: Add color and fragrance. I didn’t add fragrance to this particular batch. You will want to test the temperature of the soap and know the flash point of your fragrance before adding it, so it doesn’t burn off. As a general rule, you will use less fragrance for hot processed soap than for cold processed soap. If you normally scent your CP soap at 0.8 oz per pound of soap, you can back that off to about 0.5 oz. per pound. I add colorants at the same rate as cold processed soap.

This is going to be plain RED soap:

After the fragrance and color is mixed in, you can mash the soap into your mold and let it sit overnight. You may be able to cut it the next day, but if it’s still soft, you might have to wait a little longer. When I make soap balls, I let the soap cool in the bowl, then scoop it out with a spoon and form balls with my hands. I can get consistent sizes by weighing soap pieces on my scale before I form them.

Technically, hot processed soap is ready to use right away. You may want to let it cure out some of the excess liquid if it’s still a bit soft. However, if you’re planning to make soap balls to put in another batch of soap – it’s ready as soon as the balls are rolled!

Thank you Amy for a super tutorial! Go visit Amy a her shop and her blog. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Soap Complaints In My House

Written August 2009 by Bradford Schmidt, my husband of 14 years. He writes two blogs, Bone In The Fan, The Meatist and writes for the newspaper, The Florida Weekly. Follow him on Twitter! @BradfordSchmidt He's funny...

Soap Duds

In which I’m lazy and use an obvious title that rhymes with a common plural noun.

You’d think that being a partner in a company that makes fresh, handmade soaps and body and bath products would pay off in some way. That the years of work, the thousands of dollars invested, the cabinets filled with awesome soap that Joanna made would be worth a little something.

And yet.

And yet, I still found myself in the shower tonight asking Joanna “Jo, do we have any soaps that don’t hurt?”

Really. There are a half dozen soaps in our shower, none of which are made by Joanna, all of which are some kind of exfoliating bar (if you define exfoliating as abrading various parts of your body). Look: I’m as happy as the next guy to have a little texture in my soap (the soap I use for soaping, that is), but what kind of crack-smoking psychotic makes soap with something approximating glass shards added as an exfoliant?

And don’t get me started on the little loofah soap dealie. You’ve seen ‘em: slices of soap with loofah inside them. Made by jamming a loofah into what’s effectively a fat tennis ball can, then melting and pouring translucent soap into it. Let it harden, pop it out, slice it up, and you have a delightful looking piece of soap that’s utterly useless unless you’re a masochist.

See, the soap melts away, leaving the loofah raised up above the surface, but not soft at all – so you can’t use it as soap, you can’t use it as loofah, but you can use it at Gitmo to replace waterboarding.

Looks like a slice of tomato. Feels like a giant steel cat tongue.

So Joanna finally handed me a piece of soap (though inexplicably still not one she made) without rocks, sand, glass or hardened loofah in it, and it stank like a South Florida grandmother with a bad perfume addiction.

I really need to talk to Joanna about this.

(this piece was originally written on his blog. I've linked the title back to his blog)