Saponification: Visually

January 11, 2014

I get asked quite often how you make soap.  People don’t understand the chemical transformation that the oils/lye go through most of the time, no matter how I try to simplify it.  Well the other day I came across this image and LOVED it.  It’s a simple visual explanation of what I try to explain :D  It will be printed and kept with me at fairs to be pulled out every now and then. :)


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

Soap Conference: Part 2

May 28, 2013

I’m CP/HP Certified! Woohoo!!!  I passed my test :)


Now it’s on to the advance test.  I’m super excited about the advance test. I get to actually formulate my own recipe and record myself making it and submit a bar of soap to the Guild :D  There is also a multiple choice question section too I’ll have to pass.  I’m not that worried about it. Now that I’ve got the first one out of the way the stress of the unknown is no longer there.

I’ve been asked quite a few times now if you “need” the certification tests.  You don’t really, but I teach soap classes all the time and for me these tests allow me to add a certified in my author bio for these classes and I like know that I’ve a way to prove to students that I really do know what I’m talking about when I teach them :D

As an added bonus the conference offered a couple classes that I participated in that I know will help me with the Advanced test too.  So I say bring it on!

Soap Conference: Part 1

May 27, 2013

I’m still trying to process everything from the 2013 Soap Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It was an amazing trip (and EXHAUSTING!).

There were a lot of awesome classes offered. I think my favorites though were:

  • Kevin Dunn’s “Superfat of Discount? Identical of Different
  • Kerri Mixon’s “Chemistry of Fatty Acids & Oils”

I learned the most from those two classes and I just found them fascinating!  Who’d have thought the girl who hated chemistry in high school would be absolutely enthralled with it today??  Guess it just had to be chemistry of soap to pull me in.

See science can be lots of fun!!


Other classes I really enjoyed (and got some good information out of) were:

  • Kat Hackney’s “Advance Colorants”
  • Marla Bosworth’s “Natural Shampoo”

Ann Evanston’s keynote address was inspiring and definitely gave me some stuff to think about and things to think about changing.

The soaps submitted to the Soaper’s Showcase were all pretty amazing this year too.  I loved the packaging category. There were some inspiring soaps there!  Here’s a couple pictures!

soap entries


cake 3



Submitting Photos for Juried Craft Fairs

August 21, 2012

If you do a lot of craft fairs you’ve probably run into the words “juried event.”  I don’t mind having to go through a jury.  It usually means there’s going to be high quality work at the event and if I get a spot I’m happy.  Jury basically means you have to submit three (sometimes 4) images of your work for the committee to use as a reference for when they get together to decide who they are going to allow to a show.

Of course the hard part is choosing three good photos that are a good representation of your work.  I’ve learned a few thins over the past two years of markets when it comes to submitting photos.

  1. Take the time to take really good pictures.  Most of us do this anyway, but don’t just pull out three pictures that you happen to have on your computer.  Trust me, everyone else who is applying to the show is going to be putting forth their best pictures.
  2. Show a good variety of what you offer.
  3. Choose pictures/items that will make you stand out.
  4. Change up your pictures.  Twice a year (sometimes more often) I update my pictures.  I am always coming up with new soaps.  I try and change them up for the seasons.  I also never use the same pictures two years in a row.  I apply to many of the same events year after year.  I want to show the jury panel that I’m always updating my product and bringing something new and fun to the event.

I do mainly CP soaps.  I am also known for my cupcakes and Soap Sundaes.  Yes I do bath products, but they’re maybe 5% of what I offer.  And honestly…bath products aren’t all that interesting to look at.  My soaps, like many of yours, are “works of art” for me.  I put the most time and effort into those.  I think long and hard about designs.  I sketch them out and plan in advance before I pour a batch.  They are what get people to stop at my booth.  That’s what I need to feature.

When you can only upload three images it’s hard to choose just one soap bar.  I’m lucky, I was trained in Photo Shop and know how to use it well.  Because I have photo editing skills I’ve created a three image collage of my bar soaps and the same for my cupcakes soaps.  This allows me to show 6 pictures instead of just 2 and it gives the jury a great idea of what I do, the uniqueness and variety I offer.

It can be frustrating to not be selected, but give yourself the best chance by submitting awesome photos!  It’s worth all the extra time and effort.

These are my current submission photos:

Soap Bars

Cupcake Soaps

Sundae Soaps

Bug Off Lotion Bar and Spray

August 19, 2012

I totally forgot to tell you all about the success of my “Bug Off” spray and lotion bars.  I’ve been selling them at my markets all summer.  It’s lots of fun when people come up and tell me how it “really” worked!  I’ve been using it myself this summer and (granted I don’t go out that often, but when I do I get bit) I haven’t gotten bit this summer.

Thank you to all my testers and those that gave me great feedback!  You’re comments helped me tweak recipes a bit and make a great product!

The “Unmolding”

July 18, 2011

I finally figured out HOW to get the soap out of my PVC mold!

Step 1: Cut out card board circles the diameter of the PVC.

Step 2: Combine the two pieces together and wrap in wax paper.

Step 3: Find a cup that would fit inside the mold and then cover it with wax paper.

Step 4: Insert cardboard in mold.

Step 5: Insert cup in mold.

Step 6: Push…and push…and push and make very little progress.

Step 7: Push some more and start making more progress.

Step 8: Catch soap as it’s coming out of mold.  All in one piece! Yay! Success!

Step 9: Slice soap and let it cure for 6 weeks!

Salt Bars you say?

July 15, 2011

The first time I heard someone say “salt bar” my first thought was you’re crazy!  How can you have soap and salt together?  They’re like opposites.  Salt KILLS lather in a soap.   Off to reserach I went.  I had a lot of questions I wanted answers to.

Why would you want salt in your soap?

Salt is moisturizing, healing and overall great for your skin. It’s also a fabulous exfoliant.

How do you get a decent lather with soap in your bar?

As I’ve mentioned before coconut oil is a staple in almost every bar of soap.  A 100% coconut oil bar of soap could still lather even in salt water.  Pretty awesome!  There’s a downside though, coconut oil does dry out the skin.  Salt bars have a high percentage of coconut oil. This allows them to lather nicely with the salt in them.  The salt helps moisturize, but what really helps is adding some skin loving oils to the bar like castor oil or avocado oil.

Were there any other benefits to a salt bar?

I found a couple of interesting comments on this.  Apparently if you have troubled skin with acne breakouts or really oily skin, the salt helps clear it up in a matter of a week or two and helps keep it pretty and clear.

I’m interested to see if this is really true.  If it is that’s awesome!  One thing I’ve noticed throughout my reserach is everyone claims it’s a great moisturizing soap.  I’ve very excited to try this soap and hope it lives up to the endless praise I’ve found all over in my reserach!

I made a batch of bars with lemongrass essential oil.  Love the smell of lemongrass but it was way too strong for me.  So I made a second batch this time with Orange essential oil.  Much milder (orange eo isn’t a strong scent and it’s even hard to keep it strong in soaps.  Perfect for me who wanted a very mild soft scent).  I like both bars.  I think I’ve got strong from those that love strong and soft and mild for those looking for a gentler fragrance.

Lemongrass EO

Orange EO (I didn’t use any colorant.  The orange EO gave this a nice yellow color and I used pinked salt to give it a fun speckled look.)

Sugar Scrubs (Version 2)

July 13, 2011

Nothing will take the place of the sugar scrub cubes for me.  They are decadent, with sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, shea butter and vitamin E!  They’re also more expensive to make than a simple liquid “in the jar” sugar scrub.  So per a couple requests I did some research on the liquid sugar scrubs.

The first one I made just involved sugar, sweet almond oil, and Vitamin E.  I like it.  It gets the job done and left my skin still feeling nice and soft.

I wanted more than just sweet almond oil and vitamin E in my scrub though.  I wanted something more like my sea salt foot scrub and then it occurred to me: Why not use that recipe just replace sugar for salt and maybe a powder color rather than jojoba beads as I really didn’t want to have to deal with washing those off me (plus jojoba beads are an exfoliant too and as a body scrub I think the sugar was plenty) and the sugar really takes on a nice color with a miniscule amount of colorant added.  Now I’ve not only got sweet almond oil and vitamin E but I’ve added in jojoba oil.  Voilia! I had a nice skin pampering sugar scrub!

You can see there are more oils in this batch, but again I can add more sugar to make it less oily.

What I love about the scrub is the versatility I get with it.  I can use fine grain white sugar for a gentle scrub.  I can use brown sugar for a slightly more exfoliating scrub or large sugar grains for a rougher scrub.  I can also add more or less sugar depending on whether someone wants an oily scrub or not so oily!

Couple more pictures just because!

Cucumber Melon Experiment

June 3, 2011

I’m really enjoying layers in my soap.  I’ve been experimenting with different ways of layering and seeing what I get.  I like it. I think it just adds a bit of fun to the bar and sometimes (like with my creamsicle bar) it just fits the bar perfectly!

I had to restock on Cucumber Melon soap so I thought I’d try layering three colors.  In between two of the layers I added a “dusting” of one of my “powder” colors.  I have different coloring methods.  Some are liquids I add to the soap.  And some are powders that I mix into the soap to get the color.  The powders are fun to sprinkle a light layer in between the actual layers of the soap (so I’m not actually mixing the powder in with the soap, just dusting a layer on top of poured soap).

Well I did it with this batch.  It was supposed to be the pretty green you see in the jar in the picture.  Well this powder reacted to the lye BIG TIME and I got instead of a thin green line a deep purple line as the color soaked into the bottom and top layer of soap!

Powder color I added to the soap.

If you look at this picture below you can see the iridescent bit of green that didn’t get touched by the lye.  Wanted that between each layer, but what I got still made a kind of interesting and cool soap :D

You can see the iridecent color in the middle of the purple.

Now I know why this color is only for Glycerin MP soap.  The lye totally affects the color~


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