Oil Comparison: Olive, Rice Bran, or Sunflower Oil?

September 16, 2013

If you haven’t noticed the cost of olive oil is going up.  Every time I go to the store it seems the price has increased.  Olive oil makes up about 40% of my oils in most of my recipes–so the price increase IS affecting my costs significantly.

I’ve been researching oils and trying to figure out my best option for alleviating some of the cost increase from olive oil.  The question: How can I use less olive oil and still get the same properties in my bar of soap.  This includes: lather, conditioning, moisturizing properties as well as shelf life.  My options are:

  • Olive Oil Refined
  • Olive Oil Pomace
  • Rice Bran Oil
  • High-Oleic Sunflower Oil

I pulled out my latest oil spec sheets from the last batch of oils I bought and did a comparison:

Oil Comparison
Palmitic Stearic Oleic Linoleic Shelf Life
Olive Oil Refined 14.8 2.7 69 12.7 2 years
Olive Oil Pomace 14.5 2.5 70 12 2 years
Rice Bran 16 1 44 35 1-2 years
High Oleic Sunflower 5 4 81 9 3-6 months

At first glance it would seem like high oleic sunflower oil is the best choice.  I love sunflower oil.  I use it in a couple recipes, but sunflower oil has a short shelf life.  I haven’t noticed any problems with the longevity of my products where I use sunflower oil, but then I’m not using them at a usage rate of 40% of my total oils.

The next best choice (if I want to not use olive oil) would be rice bran oil.  I actually use rice bran in some of my recipes (I do a 20:20% ratio of olive:rice bran instead of a straight up 40% olive oil).  I haven’t noticed really any difference overall.  Problem is rice bran has a much higher percentage of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic) than sunflower or olive.  I use avocado oil in my recipes which is also fairly high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids.  I try to keep a balance recipe of saturated/unsaturated fats when making a recipe. I don’t want to get rid of avocado oil (I LOVE that oil).  Anyway, I’m hesitant to use rice bran oil as a complete replacement for olive oil partial because of this.

So, the question is: What do I do?  I won’t cut olive oil out completely, but I do think I need to sub a portion of the oil for another (cheaper oil).  my gut says go with a combination of olive oil and sunflower oil (despite sunflower’s shorter shelf life). I do add ROE to my oils when I get them, so I think overall my shelf life of each bar won’t be affected too much, but still…  So, the question remains what do I do?

Have you been dealing with this same problem?  What are your thoughts and opinions? I’d love to hear what you do/think/like?

Soap Crafting, by Anne-Marie Faiola

September 11, 2013

I admit I was hesitant on buying another soap book. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it would be an awesome book it was that I have a SHELF FULL of soap books (and everything in between from hydrosols to cream soap).  Every time I get into research something new I end up with a new book.  So, I was like do I need another book???  Umm…yeah I did.  :D  Let’s face it, you can never have too many books (especially if they’re good)!

I’m glad I bought the book.  It’s gorgeously presented…I wish some of the books I used when I first started soapmaking had been like this one!  The basic information is similar to many of my other books, but presented in a manner that is a bit more friendly and explains certain aspects better.  For example the fact that you NEED to melt down your palm oil.  Something I didn’t learn about until about a year into making soap and even then I stumbled on it completely by accident.

The reason you REALLY want this book on your shelves (if you don’t already have it) are for the recipes!  It’s not just different recipes, but step by step directions (with pictures) on how to do each recipe…something you’ll find most soap books lack.  There’s a wide range of recipes covering everything from coloring to using natural ingredients.

I remember when I first started out and I researched (what felt like) hundreds of recipes.  I was still learning about oils and didn’t have a clue how to formulate my own recipe.  Nor did I know how to tell if a recipe I found was good or not.  That alone led me to numerous failed batches.  This book would have been so helpful back when I was starting out.

That said, it’s still a cool book to have now, even though I don’t necessarily need all the recipes.  If nothing else it’s a nice base for me and I know how to alter the recipes to what I want so it will save me some trial and error too.  There are definitely some recipes/techniques I’m going to try…of course I’ll end up putting my own spin on some of them.

Stay tuned for future posts as I try out my take on the following recipes from the book:

  • Stained Glass
  • Cupcake Cuties (I’m finally going to try whipping some CP soap! It’s only been on my list to do for over a year :D).
  • Pumpkin IPS
  • Coconut Milk Bars
  • Calendula Cleaning Bar

Deodorant Test Results

September 5, 2013

I have also been experimenting with deodorants.  I tried three different recipes.  Two were solid bars and one was a cream.  And the overwhelming favorite of everyone who tested it was the cream/paste.  And I’m in totally agreement there.

  1. It’s a deodorant, not an antiperspirant.  I do still sweat some, but I don’t smell.  Even when I work out.
  2. It’s not sticky or clumpy and it doesn’t leave a residue.
  3. I actually found I didn’t mind the cream. I know most people cringe when they hear they have to apply it with their finger…but really I actually kind of liked it over the stick.  And if you think about it, we use our hands to apply every other product to our body.

I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on it too:

Worked all day. It smells a tad strong but I like the consistency. – Shielagh

I preferred test sample #3.  I didn’t mind it being in a jar.  I actually preferred the jar over the tube, because I noticed I didn’t use as much.  I liked the light fluffy feeling of the deodorant.  It did burn, but only a mild burn more like a tingling.  I did use it right after shaving.  Even after sweating a lot after a workout I didn’t smell and I didn’t feel sticky. There was no residue on my clothing either. – Jessica

I’m super excited about this.  I did have a mild burning sensation when I used it right after shaving.  Which is probably my only complaint about the deodorant, but I also have super sensitive skin.  I actually was able to kind of work around it too by shaving at night. Then by the time I used it in the morning I didn’t have that problem.  All in all I’m really excited about the deodorant.  I now have an all natural deodorant!  Which was the last item I really needed to add to my skin care to completely switch over from store bought/chemical products.

I’m still having more people test it.  I want to see what people think over a long span of time, but I’m hoping that I can add it to my product line sometimes this year.

More efficient work space…

August 20, 2013

I finally sacrificed my dining room to create a more efficient work space for myself.  After not having been able to USE my dining room for the past year because every chair had stuff on it and under it and not being able to see the top of the table there was so much stuff on it (oh and we won’t even mention trying to move around the table there were so many storage boxes) I decided it was time to just turn the space into a functioning work space.

Business has been growing, which is great, but it’s meant I’ve needed a much more efficient work space.  I ordered some heavy duty storage shelves and a stainless steel work table.  The dining room table is now taking up residence in my parents basement.  I miss my table!  But I love my new work space.  The plan is to one day be in a bigger space and have a dedicated work room, but for now this new space works well!

I didn’t get a picture of the space when everything was pulled off of shelves, boxes and what not and all dumped in the middle of the room.  I wish I had…it looked like a complete disaster zone!  But things started to get organized once my shelves arrived.  Here’s a look at the space with the two new shelves.


And here’s the new work space with the stainless steal table.  Yeah I’m a happy girl!  Can’t tell you how much happier I am working in this space.

work space

Oh and I had to add another dry rack ha!  Fall/winter is going to be busy!

Getting those hearts OUT of the mold!

July 31, 2013

Remember my “Embedded Heart Tutorial“?  Well I’ve had a couple people say they can’t get the hearts out of the mold in one piece.  They ARE HARD to get out.  I tell you it’s my least favorite part of making these soaps.  Here’s some tips and tricks to help you.

1. FREEZE the soap!  Keep it in there for 30min to an hour (longer is ok).  If you have multiple molds you’re going to be unmolding just take one out at a time.  You’ll notice that condensation will form right away on the mold (if it’s summer).  Take a paper towel and wipe that off.

1 condensation(not sure if you can see the condensation on the mold here, but wipe it off or it’ll be near impossible to get your hands to hold on tight enough to push the heart out.)

2. Next you’re going to have to push the heart soap up at least 3/4 of the way.  It’s not fun and it’s not easy and your wrist will get a work out and a half.  Your fingers will be sore!  It is possible to do this though.  If the bottoms are deforming put it in the freezer longer.

I can’t stress here that you REALLY REALLY REALLY need a recipe that is going to produce a harder bar (immediately).  I use a recipe where about 3/4 of the oils/butters are solids.  (See the original tutorial for the recipe).

2- push three quarter

3. Once you’ve got it mostly out using a paper towel wrap it around the heart and “gently” pull it out of the mold.

Side Note: If you have the original “pink” mold it’s much easier to get the soaps out of this mold than the new white ones.  The white ones are so much stiffer. You have to work harder but you can do all these steps and still get the soap out.

3- paper towel

4.  You’ll be (most likely) left with the mold inside out.  That’s fine. It’s not going to hurt it. Just push it back in when you’re done.

4- reverse mold

It can be done!  It’s not an easy process though.

Craft Fairs are always more fun with a friend!

July 29, 2013

A couple weeks ago a friend and I carpooled down to Falmouth (2 hours away) for an event on the cape.  This involved getting up at 4:30AM getting to her house by 5:30…loading my parents van (minus three of its seats)…and then driving down (thankfully against rush hour traffic–the event was on Wednesday) to Falmouth.

The drive seemed to fly by with someone to talk to!  And oh it was so much fun fitting all of our stuff in one car.  Two tents…four tables…all our product and display items…tent weights :D  But we made it all fit!

car load (1)

And there was getting back to he place at 9PM…after a very long day.  I missed taking out her garbage cans by millimeters as I backed into her driveway to unload her items!

car load (2)

Yup I was a tired girl.  But we got a good laugh over it and it was a fun day made more so by having a friend with me :D  We’ve got another “carpool” event coming up in September as we head up to the middle of nowhere (or so it feels) New Hampshire :D


July 15, 2013

I like hot…I really do…but there’s a point where hot is too hot!  Especially when I have to be outside at markets this week and the predicted low is 92 for the week (which was yesterday).

Yesterday I dealt with a 92 high.

Tuesday a 93 high.  But wait it gets better!!!

Thursday 95 DEGREES!  Seriously?  Lip balms, body butters…I think it’s safe to say those are staying home this week. :)


“Oye Moment”

July 12, 2013

I buy my coconut oil in a 50lb tub.  In the summer it melts (and is a pain in my backside).  So I transfer it into Bramble Berry’s 7lb plastic bags.  LOVE THEM!  Makes it so much easier.  No mess (once I get the coconut oil into them).

Well was working on that and I kept telling myself DO NOT SET THE LADLE DOWN!  It will sink into the full tub of coconut oil. I was practically chanting this to myself because I swear I just had this premonition I was going to do it.

Well the funnel slipped on one of the bags and a little coconut spilled out and what do I do?  Panic, drop the ladle (into the coconut oil) and grab the funnel.  Down it went.  OYE!

coconut oil

Vinegar Infusions

June 30, 2013

It’s been my goal this past year to find ways to slowly replace all the “chemical” products I use in my house.  I’ve either been working on creating my own recipes for items or changed the brand of items I was buying (mainly my toothpaste!).  I’ve got a all natural deodorant I’ve been using and I really like (it’s almost ready to be launched!!).  I’ve changed my facial moisturizers.  And my next big change has been household cleaners.

I’ve been working on infusing different vinegar blends to create different scented vinegar cleaners.  My first blend was “Orange, Grapefruit, Cloves, and Cinnamon.”  It’s currently infusing.


Then at one of my events I was RIGHT across from a “Fresh Lemonade” stand.  I saw them going through soooooooo many lemons so about half way through the day I went over and asked them what they were going to do with the rinds.  They said “throw them out” so I was like can I have a box?  They gladly gave me one (and would have given me more if I wanted).


This box had about 75 lemons in it and I spent hours removing the skins from the rind. I got three crammed pack bags of rinds!  I used one bag to start four jars of infusions.  The rest went in the freezer to use throughout the summer to make more infusions.

lemon peels

Then my friend has given me free access to her “fields of mint” (and I really meant fields of mint!!!!) whenever I need it.

mint field

So lemon-mint infusions are made!  Now it’s just a matter of waiting four weeks for them to be ready!

Next on the list are to get more oranges and limes (which I have a “source” for those too).  Woohoo for resourcefulness!  Between getting the rinds from people, the herbs/mint from friends and family all I’ve had to buy to make these are the spices (cloves and cinnamon sticks), vinegar and bottles.  All in all not bad! Can’t wait to use these!

lemon-mint infusion


June 21, 2013

How about a little break from all these soap posts? I know this blog is mostly about soap, but occasionally I like to change it up a bit!  So…

Trapezing! (or more accurately “flying”)

I took my first class (a two hour session) years ago.  I really really liked it.  Since then I had done a class here or there (usually when I a friend was visiting.  I’d drag them along an we’d have lots of fun!).  The trapezing school by me offers these ten week intensive classes.  I really wanted to take one for a while.  I finally signed up for a class in April.  We’re nearing the end of the ten week session now and can I say I AM IN LOVE!

There is something magical and exhilarating and just plain fun about flying through the air and trying to get your body into positions it doesn’t want to ha!  My biggest goal for this class was to “catch” the pullover shoot and learn my swing (which you need to really advance on to any of the tricks after the basics).  It’s taken me five weeks but I’ve finally started to conquer the pullover shoot.  Once I got the trick the next stage was the “catch” it.

Last week (6/14): This was one of the best tricks I’ve done. Everything was right. The catchers timing (it was a different catcher from who we usually have) was off so we just touched hands.

This week (6/21): Success!

Now it’s on to working on the swing.  I’m so sad the class is ending but I’ll be back in the fall when classes resume again.


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