Soap Conference: Arizona Part 3

June 6, 2014

The conference offered some interesting classes. I learned a few new things. Had things I already knew reinforced and overall enjoyed the classes I took.

Tuesday Highlights:

I think the two classes that I got the most out of were “Mastering the Bath Bomb” and “Formulating Fantastic Body Scrubs & Whipped Butters.”  I’ve never had a “loving” relationship with bath bombs, but I think that there is potentially a truce coming in the near future between me and bath fizzies!

I learned about some new ingredients to try in the scrubs/butter class.  I’m going to try a variation of the sugar scrub Maria Bosworth gave us.  I’m super excited about it actually.  I think  I might actually be able to make a sell a scrub over the hot summer months!!

Stay tuned.  I plan to do blog posts on my experimenting over the next few weeks!

night cactus

Wednesday Highlights:

I LOVE Kevin Dunn.  He has a way of explaining science that just makes sense.  His talk last year kind of transformed my understanding of soapmaking.  This year, with a year of knowledge, researching, experiments, reading behind me I have a vastly greater understanding of the chemistry of soap.  I think because of this I enjoyed his chat even more than I potentially would have if he’d given the same one last year.  I’d love for him to do some of his “basic” (or introduction to the chemistry of soap) classes again.  Not as a key note for the day, but just as small hour/hour and a half seminars so all those new soapmakers out there can hear him talk and benefit from his knowledge and the advance soapers can do a different class.

The second highlight of the day was “Making Transparent CP/HP Soap” but Kerri Mixon.  Yes, I wasn’t really too excited about it at first, but after the class I couldn’t wait to get home to try it out.  It’s not as hard as it seems (I’d read about it before and my eyes glazed over at the work that seemed to be involve with it).  I have all these ideas on how to mix transparent CP and regular CP soap together.  You’ve been forewarned!  You will be seeing more on this topic from me in the future.


Thursday Highlights:

By the time Thursday arrived I was exhausted. Lack of sleep was catching up with me. I’d “worked” hard the previous two days at the conference. And my brain was almost on overload at that point. What I remember most from Thursday was my Color class and additives class. Both were interesting. I knew a lot of the information presented, but I definitely took away some new information, so that was fun.

At the awards dinner that night I was not really 100% there. The guild does a series of ten questions. They’re questions about things that happened at the conference, about the people there, and the local area we’re in. The first question the asked was: At the start of this conference how many members did the soap guild have. They’d told us this at the member lunch on Wednesday. I sat there thinking and three numbers popped out in my head: 2, 5, 6. I knew there were 2500+ members. I couldn’t remember exactly how many there were though. I put down 2,556. The answer was 2,560. I was off by four! Anyway, I went through and answered the other questions (in which, surprising myself) I got them all right.

Soap samples from the "Exfoliants in Soap" class.

Soap samples from the “Exfoliants in Soap” class.

They collect the answers and they take all the people that got all ten right (which usually isn’t that many) and then they pull a name from those. You win a soap guild goodie bag. It’s just something fun. Well, I knew I’d gotten one question wrong, but it didn’t click when they got up there and say that no one had got all ten questions right, so they took the two who had 9 out of ten right. When they called my name I just sat there and looked at Jesse going, did they really just call my name.

hotel 2

All in all it was a good conference. I was up at 3am the next day to catch of 6am flight. I made it home (finally) Friday around 5:30pm.

Next year I won’t be attending the conference. I really want to attend a wholesale trade show and I only have a budget for one trip, but the following year I plan to head down to Tampa, FL for the 2016 conference.


(Pictures are from the hotel and its landscape.)

Soap Conference: Arizona Part 2

June 5, 2014

Once I arrived at the hotel I got settled into my room with my two awesome roommates (Jesse and Sister Hope). Registration was at 4 and the first part of my soap exam was at 6. I KNEW the information that was on the advance exam. I’ve been making soap for almost five years now. I’ve read, studied, and continued to expand my knowledge on soapmaking. And despite all this I was still nervous. :D I stressed over whether I’d know the answers.

When I got into the test I went through all twenty questions in ten minutes. I went back to reread and double check all my answers. All that stressing for nothing :) Tuesday morning I learned I passed the multiple choice section of the exam. I had to wait till Wednesday afternoon to learn if I’d passed the second part (making my own soap). I have to say I really like the recipe I created. I used Shea butter in almost all my soaps, but I have a couple customers who are allergic to shea. The recipe I created was formulated for them. I used cocoa butter in place of shea. I altered some of the percentages of the oils I used and the end result was a really creamy bar that had small bubbles, but still lots of lather. I love washing my hands with it. They feel silky every time after I use it!

I’m happy to say I’m now an advanced certified CP/HP soapmaker! I’ll do the MP tests this year, just because. I figured I’m teaching classes on both MP and CP that I might as well get the certification for them. And maybe one day in the future I’ll start working on the Master certification. Okay, maybe not “maybe” but probably :) You know me. I want to be the best I can be at my craft and I think the Master test will push me even further.


Soap Conference: Arizona Part 1

June 4, 2014

I’ve finally recovered from my AZ trip (mostly). It’s amazing how much work piles up when you go away for a week. As most of you know I went out to Arizona for a week to visit with my aunt and to attend the annual soap makers conference. I had a lovely time out in Arizona, but I’m glad to be home again.

I was excited to attend the conference, especially after my experience at last years conference. It was my second conference and I can say I learned some new things, got to hand out with old friends and meet some new ones.

Let’s backtrack though and start a few days prior to the conference. My aunt lives in Tucson and I figured if I was going to be in Arizona I had to visit! The trip started off on a not so great note! At 1:30 in the morning I was rudely awoken by a phone call informing me my flight had been canceled and they’d rebooked me on a flight for Sunday. I spent the next half hour on the phone trying to get through to someone to reschedule my flight for that day. It worked out in the end. I got a later flight, just barely (and I mean barely) made my connecting flight. I arrived in Arizona exhausted, but there.

I was greeted with 100 degree temps. It was LOVELY. I love the heat. Saturday was a day to just hang out and try and stay up past 8pm. I managed to stay up that evening, but I woke up every morning between 5 and 5:30 while I was there. There was nothing I could do to make myself sleep. Three hour time changes aren’t the most fun!

Sunday we went to Saguaro National Park. I got to learn more about the history of Tucson, it’s landscape, clime, and habitat. I saw a baby javelina and (yes I realize this makes me geeky) see a jojoba plant. Yes, that excited me greatly. I love jojoba oil and use it in my products.

saguaro 10

Monday we went to Sabino Canyon. We took the trolley up the canyon and walked back down, enjoying the natural beauty of the canyon. We had a nice picnic lunch and then it was time to head to the hotel for the conference.

Sabino 1

Sabino 14

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. :)



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