Soap Challenge #3: Mica Tops

April 13, 2013

I’ve never done this method before…though I’d been hearing a lot about it and would probably have been tempted to try it sooner or later.  Amy’s challenge just made it sooner!  I tried it on two soaps this week.  I had to make a soap for Bramble Berry’s soap swap.  I already knew what I wanted to do for that soap design and it just happened that it actually worked out perfectly with experimenting with a mica top.

I was just going to use one colors but decided it needed to be two (two match the inside).  I’m glad I went with two! (Who needs to play it safe first attempt???).  Ha, luckily I knew the fragrance I was working with wouldn’t set up too quickly so it all worked out.  Lesson learned: A little bit goes a long way!  I used a bit too much.  The oil does “spread” out as it starts to settled and I ended up losing some of the swirls I had because of it.

Batch 1: Blackberry-Sage Fragrance / Teal-White-Gray Color Scheme

Wet Top:

micatop1

micatop2

micatop4

Here you can see the oils moving and messing up the nice swirl (too much oil).  I also learned don’t spritz with alcohol.  It also affected the swirl making it kind of shift the oils together.

toomuchoil2

Dry Top:

dried-teal

You can see where the spritzing it with alcohol ruined the swirls…kind of made it all blur together.

notquite perfect

Cut Bars:

blackberry-sage

IMG_3485

teal

tops

This soap is going to be submitted to Bramble Berry as part of the Soap Swap…but don’t worry!  I made a 10lb batch!  So I’ll have plenty of bars left over. They’ll be listed on my webpage in about 6 weeks time!

Attempt #2

Then I made a pineapple-mango batch…this was supposed to be a kids soap…but the initial embeds I was making were NOT working so I ended up just dumping it into some of my individual rectangular silicon molds.  The color them was black and pink (not exactly “pineapple-mango” colors, but like I said it was supposed to be a kids soap that I ended up turning into a normal batch).  Love the fragrance.  And I love the design/colors even if they don’t make me thing “fruit.”

One thing I learned is that this fragrance ACCELERATES! (It’s why I had to abandoned the first project).  I set aside a small amount that I didn’t add any fragrance to so I could pour it on top and still do a nice mica swirl.  Thank goodness I did!  It’d have never worked otherwise.  It was was too thick.  I had some left over and I poured it into a smaller 2lb batch. I tried the mica swirl just to see and it didn’t work!

Batch 2: Pineapple-Mango Fragrance / Pink-Black-White Color Theme

Wet Top:

pinkblack1

pinkblack2

Dry Top:

top3

top2

This is what happens when you try it on soap that’s super thick…not really very pretty!  These bars will be going to family member anyway as they’re less than perfect.  The main batch came out lovely though so I’m happy.

toothick

Here’s one cut with the top.

cutbartop

Cut Bars:

IMG_3516

IMG_3506

IMG_3509

Okay…that’s enough pictures.  I just couldn’t narrow down my choices this week!  I really like this technique.  You can fancy up a soap pretty easily!  You’ll be seeing more of it in the future from me!


Felted Soaps

October 25, 2011

I decided I wanted to try felting some soaps.  I had a bunch of rejects that were perfect for this.  Plus I like the idea of a soap that had it’s own washcloth and was a gentle exfoliant :D

So off I went doing reserach.  Came across a couple  blogs that described the process and an article in Saponifier (those helped).  Asked questions.  Bought wool roving.  Then set to work.

My first attempt didn’t go so great.

I think the wool was too thick.  Once it dried I thinned out the thicker portions and then stretched it over the soap and refelted.  It worked better.

This worked a little better but I still think it was too thick.  Going to also try using a nylon to start with as I’ve seen suggested in a couple places…I hope that will help me get started better.  So with those lessons in mind it’s off to try my next felted bar of soap!


Lessons I learned while making bath fizzies…

August 29, 2011

I’ve learned a lot over the past 2 weeks as I delved into attempting to make bath fizzies.  I’ve gotten some great feedback from some awesome soap makers and I’ve figured out a few things to make my life easier when making fizzies.  I want to share that experience with you.

My first piece of advice to you is do not attempt to make your first bath fizzies on the most humid day of the year.  This is not conducive to successful fizzies :)

My first problem as I was making fizzies was I was filling the whole mold (each cavity) and then going back and trying to get them out and of course they wouldn’t come out or they came out broken.  What I didn’t realize was you needed to make one fizzy and then remove it from the mold right away.  The longer you wait the harder it is to get it out of the mold.

First piece of advice: Make one fizzy and remove from mold immediately after.

The next problem I was having was the bath fizzies would start to bubble and expand on me as they picked up the moisture in the air.  It seemed that by the time they were hard enough to pick up it was too late because they’d already picked up the moisture in the air (again humid days, not the best time to experiment with bath fizzies!)

My solution: I cut strips of the plastic knitting/sewing sheets and removed my fizzie on it.  Then I was able to pick up the fizzy without ruining it.  I slid it and plastic sheet into the bag and tied it tight.

After 24 hours I reopened the bag and removed the plastic then retied.  This creates some extra work, but I get nice fizzies now!  I’m hoping with the change of weather I can remove this step, but for now it works.


Tea Tree Soap Failure and Lesson Learned

June 4, 2011

I was so excited to make my soap with silk and almond milk in it only to have it fail!  Four pounds of soap!  My soap was extremely brittle.  So hard I couldn’t even slice it it just split into pieces.  I wasn’t sure what I’d done wrong.  So I did some research and discovered that brittle soap means too much lye.  This is a first for me.  I’ve had grainy soap, liquid goop soap that never turned into anything (I had too much water in it) and all other variations of failed soap.

These pieces are big enough that they can probably be used for something...not sure what. They're lye heavy so you can't use them on the skin and I'd wear gloves when using them for whatever else.

I think I’ve just about had experienced it all now.  Anyway I went back to my recipe and reran it through the lye calculator and realized that somehow my lye calculations were off.  By over 2 oz!!!! No idea how I messed that up, but I did.  I will probably give the soap another go cause I was so excited about this facial soap!

The soap just flaked whenever I tried to cut it.


Lessons Learned: Vanilla Stabilizer is IMPORTANT!

April 21, 2011

I’m constantly learning new things when it comes to soap making.  The most recent lesson I’ve learned: Vanilla Color Stabilizer is VERY IMPORTANT when you’re using any fragrance oil that has vanilla in it.

Vanilla is by nature a dark oil.  It’s a pain because colors the soap in wonky ways, typically making your colors go darker than you intended.  That brown comes through and eventually shifts the colors of your soap.

So what is “vanilla color stabilizer” (hence forth referred to as VCS)? VCS is a liquid that is designed to keep soap a nice white or ivory color (or any color used to color soap). It can be used with any brown coloring fragrance, not just vanilla.

VCS is really meant for Melt & Pour soaps.  It works marginally well in CP soap for up to 4 to 9 months before the fragrance eventually turns the soap brown.

Most fragrance oil (FO) that have a “baking” fragrance of some kind (and I have a bunch of those FO) have vanilla in them. So from now on when I do my MP cupcakes VCS will be my new best friend!  There’s nothing wrong with “brown” soap, it’s just not as pretty.

Here’s an example of a MP Cupcake I made with “Buttercream” Fragrance oil where I didn’t use VCS.  The first two weeks is was super pretty…then the color started to shift and this is what I ended up with!!


Shaving Soap Update

March 24, 2011

I don’t know if you all remember back to two weeks ago (I can barely remember what I did two days ago usually!) but I was trying out a new shaving soap recipe!

It seemed like everything was working great until I poured and the oils started to separate. After getting frustrated that yet another batch of shaving soap was failing on me I decided to be stubborn. I kept mixing the oils back together every 30 minutes or so until I went to bed that night.

Woke up and the oils were still separated. In one last effort I mixed them back together before I headed to work. I expected to come home to find the oils separated again and was prepared to dump the batch, but surprise, surprise they hadn’t separated! I didn’t know what to expect at this point…but figured I’d leave it in the mold and see what happened…well two weeks later and it’s starting to harden! It’s almost to the point where I can probably attempt to take it out of the mold, but it’s still super soft.

Last night I attempted to pull the sides away from the mold to see if it came away cleanly (or crumbled like my previous failed batch did). The sides seemed to remove cleanly! I’m going to give it a few more days in the mold but I’m crossing my fingers that maybe my stubbornness saved this batch…

Sides of the mold removed cleanly...this is a good sign!

It’s so soft that I image it’s going to take months (if it does remove from the mold) to completely cure before this soap is usable…but I’ll wait months if it means the batch didn’t fail on me!

If the batch worked (that’s still a big “IF”) the first three people to comment on this post can be a tester for this soap (a couple months from now probably…but sign up it you want to :))


Every batch of soap teaches me something…

March 1, 2011

Lesson learned this go around: Don’t double batch the batch size for my Shea Butter recipe.  I do okay when I half recipes (though after one disaster I always double check my lye and water measurements).  But doubling batches doesn’t always work.

I wanted to make more Shea Butter soap since my trial batch came out so nicely.  I wanted more than just six-eight bars though so I figured I’d double it…it did okay until the very end then it started to get a little grainy.  I quickly poured the soap and prayed for the best…I was hoping that the heat from the poured and covered soap would heat up the mixture enough to do away with the grainy look.

Bottm has a slight grainy look to it.

It worked.  The very top of the exposed sides of the bars have a slight grainy look but the rest of the bars smoothed out and look good.  I did a little bit of trimming and ended up with a not so bad bar or soap, that should work great!

The rest of the bar came out nice and smooth! I embedded some flowers for flair.

I love the little embedded hearts in this bar.

A little bit of fun!

Finished soaps!


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