Embedded Heart Tutorial

April 14, 2016

I first made this soap in 2012 and it’s been a favorite of my customers (and myself) ever sense.  It’s a pretty easy soap design (just takes a bit more time than a typical batch of soap to make).

For the sake of this tutorial we’ll do a 2.5 lb batch of soap.  You can scale this up to a 5lb or 10lb if you want.

Recipe

Oil(s) Selected   –  2.5lb Batch
Castor Oil  – 1.40 oz
Avocado Oil  –  1.40 oz
Coconut Oil (76 Degrees) – 5.60 oz
Olive Oil  – 9.80 oz
Palm Oil  – 5.60 oz
Cocoa Butter –  4.20 oz
4% Lye Amount   –  3.90 oz
Water  – 8.25 oz
Yields –  41 oz

Additional Supplies

  • Heart Embed Mold
  • Loaf Mold
  • Colors (3)
  • Fragrance/Essential Oil

DAY 1

Since this design is using embeds it will be a two day process to make this batch of soap.  We first need to make the embeds, let them harden over the next 24 hrs, and then make a second batch of soap.

I get my heart molds from Bramble Berry, but any heart mold you have will work.  Each mold holds approximately 4.5oz of soap.

  • 2.5lb Batch – you’ll need 1 heart mold
  • 5lb Batch – you’ll need 2 heart molds
  • 10lb Batch – you’ll need 3 heart molds

For such a small amount of soap (4.5oz) I recommend just taking it from another batch of soap that you’re making.  Or, as I do, I plan out all the different embeds I want to use for a series of soaps and make a batch and separate it up to make the required embeds.  That allows me to get my embeds done all in one day.

I typically use white for my hearts and then two contrasting colors for the layers.  Because the heart is such a small amount of the overall soap in the finish bar I don’t usually add a fragrance to my heart.  This ensures that I also get a pure white heart because the fragrance can’t mess with the color.

Let your heart harden for 24 hours and then unmold.

1 embeds

DAY 2

Now we’ll begin the actual batch of soap.

Step 1

Make your batch of soap.  You make use the recipe above or your own recipe.  Once your oils are melted and cooled and your lye solution is ready mix them together to reach a light trace.

Step 2

Separate out 12oz of soap and set aside. This is going to be the top part of our soap.

Step 3

In the remaining mixture in your pot add the color you want to use for the base. Mix well.

2-firstlayer

Step 4

Add your fragrance to the base mixture.  Once it’s thorough incorporated pour the base into the mold.

Note: I add the fragrance to each portion separately.  I need the base to set up—to hold the heart embed—but I need the top to be fluid enough to pour over the base.  Some fragrances can speed up trace too. I want to avoid that for my top layer.  By waiting to add the fragrance it just ensures I have more time to create my design without problems.

Step 5

Once the base has harden up enough to hold the embed(s) gently place it in the mold/soap.

4 embed heart

5 embed

Step 6

Add the color to the top part of your soap. Once thoroughly mixed in add your fragrance.  Gently pour over the heart.  If you pour over the heart then the soap with spread out over the rest of the mold and you can minimize break throughs of the base layer and hence keep and nice clean line.

3 top layer mixing

6 pour top layer

Step 7 (Optional)

Add a mice swirl top.  Premix 1 teaspoon of mica with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil.  Using a dropper/pipette drizzle the mixture over the top of the soap.  Then using a toothpick of skewer makes circle/swirls through the mica lines. (Do not mist top with alcohol.  It was cause the swirls to run.)

8 mica top step 1

9mica top step 2

Note on Colors: I find contrasting colors for the heart and base/top work best, but you can do any sort of combination you desire.

These are some of my finished soap designs I’ve used with the Embedded Heart Technique.

Army Heart

pink heart

raspberry_vanilla (7)

Spiced_cranberry (9)

apple_orchard (11)

black amber lavender

cherry almond1

blackberry sage 1

santa

Then you can take this technique and do a number of variations on it!

pumpkinspice

soap black currant pomegranate

yuzu3passionfruit4

strawberry1

Bamboo (10)

As you can see, I’ve had a lot of fun with this technique over the years!


Creating & Testing a New Product: Shower Tabs

March 3, 2016

Shower tabs have been on my “to do” list since last year.  There are never enough hours in the day or days in the week or weeks in the year for me to get to everything though!  This year I was determined to experiment with them so they went to the top of my list.

It’s been interesting!  I had one recipe I knew would work (a variation from Holly Port’s book Make it Fizz.)  Then started the research. Over the past year I’d had been book marking a bunch of different pages I’d come across on making shower tabs.  From there I did some reading/research and then came up with five different recipes (six technically…but it was very similar to one recipe so I didn’t count it.)

The results were quite interesting.

Test 1: Baking Soda
I didn’t believe in this method from the get go.  I just didn’t think it would get hard enough or stay hard enough to last any significant amount of time in a shower.

First, despite experimenting with different amounts of water I couldn’t get these to hard up.  I tried putting them in the oven too.  Nothing worked.  They just never harden up much.  I could get a couple out of the mold mostly intact, but many ended up like the picture below.  Plus it took very little pressure for me to break them.  I wasn’t convinced they last through even half a shower.  I didn’t even bother testing these.

They were so soft I just broke up the baking soda and reused it in other batches.

Test 1

Test1_in mold

Test 2: Baking Soda/Citric Acid
(Please disregard the misspelled “backing”…my brain apparently wasn’t working when I was making the pictures.)

I did a couple variations of baking soda and citric acid.  This batch I put in the oven (mostly because I was curious to how they respond).  I didn’t think it would work to put them in the oven with citric acid, but I’d read a lot about people doing that.  All I can say: Complete disaster!

They grew and grew and grew.  It was kind of funny actually.  They still work and they’re quite hard, but they do dissolve faster.  In part because I think they’re not dense and water just goes through the entire tab, hence it’s dissolving faster.

Test 2

For your amusement: You can see just how MUCH the tabs grew in the oven. I tried the same recipe (with one minor alteration in Test 3) and as you can see they turned out much better.

Comparison - Test 2 and 3

Test 2 - Oven

Test 3: Baking Soda/Citric Acid
These were essentially the same as Test 2 (one minor change to the recipe).  I didn’t not apply any heat to these.  These are probably my favorite of all the trial ones.  They work well. They seem to last a full ten minutes in the shower (if I control how much water hits them) and they release a good aroma.

Test 3

Test 4: Baking Soda/Citric Acid w/ Oils & Butters

These worked mostly ok.  They were much softer than test batch 3 though and didn’t unmold as well.  Testing wise they work as well as Batch 3 for me, but they are softer and I think they last maybe a tad being less than Test Batch 3…is so insignificant an amount of time that it probably doesn’t matter.  The oils make them more expensive and I’m not sold on them being worth it in a product that basically is being washed down the drain.

Test 4

Test 4 Unmolding

 

Because these were much softer than Test 3 (with the only difference being the oils/butters) I did a second round adding more alcohol to them.  They were a little harder, but still softer than Test Batch 3.

Test 4a ADDED Alcohol

Test 5: Altered Recipe from Make it Fizz

These worked perfectly.  I like them, but I have one major problem with them. They’re SO EXPENSIVE to make (compared to the other four test batches).  I mean like 3-4x more expensive. And I have a hard time using such nice oils in a shower tab.  The oils just go down the drain…and to me that’s such a waste.

Test 5

There you have it.  I’ve got friends testing them for me now to see if they find the same results I do when they use them.  Overall, I think Test Batch 3 is my favorite of them all.


Stamping Soap

February 15, 2016

Stamping Soap

Stamping soap is super easy and can create a really cool looking soap!  There are two key tricks to remember when stamping soap: 1) Don’t use too much colorant.  2) Stamp just after you cut a batch.  The rest is really up to your imagination.

Let’s get started with a step by step walk through!

Step 1
Make your batch of soap.  When you make your soap think about the stamp you are going to be using.  Is it a large stamp that will fill an entire bar?  Or is it a smaller stamp?  Is it square or rectangular or some other shape?  The shape of your stamp should dictate your design.

Example Small Stamp
Honey Bee
honey-almond

Example Vertical Stamp
Flowers with Embedded Cube

juniper_sage

Example Full Bar Stamp
Solid Bar/One color

FullStamp

Step 2
Prepare your color and stamp.  Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of mica (or other colorant) onto a sheet of wax paper.

Step2

Note on Colors: I love to use micas.  Their shimmer and sparkle always make the soap look just a little extra special to me.  I also find micas stamp the best for me.  You can use other colorants though.  Oxides and pigments work, but I find they can be a little harder to get a clean smooth/uniform stamp with sometimes.  Titanium Dioxide works, but can be very difficult to stamp cleanly.

Note on Stamps: There are different types of stamps: Rubber (commercial or hand carved), acrylic, and metal.  From experience I find that the rubber stamps work best.  Their surface area is typically larger and they hold the colorant to them.  That said I have stamped soaps with metal and acrylic stamps reasonably well.  There’s just not as much color stamped on the soap with them.

StampsTypes

Step 3
Cut your soap.  Lay it on a flat surface.  Gently tap your stamp in the mica.  Make sure all the flat surfaces are covered.  You want a thin layer of mica on the stamp. Too much and you won’t get as clear a stamp/imprint.  If you have too much colorant on the stamp gently tap it on your work table to remove some of the excess mica.

Step1

Step3

Step 4
Firmly (and evenly) press the stamp into the soap.  Play around with the pressure you need.  Too little and you will get a light or partial imprint on the soap.  Too much pressure and you could distort the detail and leave deep marks in the soap.

Step4

Step5

For each soap you stamp reapply a layer of mica to the stamp.

These are some examples of different stamps I’ve tried. Some have worked great and others not so much.

Acrylic Stamp: As you can see there’s really not much color on the stamp part.  What did transfer was the color that was on the outside of the stamp.  Another lesson you can learn from this picture is I used the wrong size stamp for this soap.  I really needed a stamp that was more square shaped to fill the entire black space.

orangeamber2

Titanium Dioxide: I’ve never had a huge amount of success when using TD to stamp soaps.  This one isn’t awful, but it definitely lacks any type of wow factor too.

beer1

Activated Charcoal: This is still (to this day) one of my favorite soaps.  The charcoal stamped the soap so nicely and it just pops!

black and white1

Neon Pigment: This stamp is a hand carved stamp. I find they don’t quite have the same ability as commercial stamps when stamping soap. You have to be a bit more meticulous when stamping with them.  I used a neon colorant here which made it even harder.  I love this stamp. I don’t get the crisp clean detail as I would from a commercial stamp but it’s still a pretty stamp.

white_tea (7)

Small Stamps: I love this honey bee stamp. Worked out perfectly on my little travel soaps.

HoneyBee


What type tutorials would you like to see?

January 14, 2016

Last year I wanted to do some tutorials…and then life got in the way.  This year I want to be better about it.  I have a few ideas for tutorials that I want to do, but what would you like to see?  Share with me!


Frankincense & Myrrh (a.k.a Starry Night)

December 2, 2015

Frankincense & Myrrh (a.k.a Starry Night) is one of my favorite winter soaps.  The design is just lots of fun (though a pain to make!)  Once again I had to change fragrances this year.  The original blend I used last year got changed.  And the new blend no were near as good.  I ended up blending two different scents to get this mix of Frankincense & Myrrh:

First:

Frankincense & Myrrh: Traditional riches of blended frankincense with myrrh.

Second:

Three Wise Men: A classic favorite of frankincense, myrrh, patchouli and warm, powdery sandalwood.

The two together really work well.  I call this my “church” soap.  It just reminds me of church time over the holidays.  If you like Frankincense and Myrrh scents I think you’ll enjoy this soap.

Those pesky annoying star embeds!

square star embeds

frank

Listed HERE!


Fresh Snow

November 9, 2015

When cool ideas don’t turn out quite how you wanted…that was my Fresh Snow.  I tried to make snowmen to embed in this soap.  I was able to make buttons on the body of the snowmen, but I couldn’t get them to go in perfectly straight.  They ended up twisting and so I have snowmen with buttons that are all over their bodies!

The initial idea:

2014-08-06 11.08.01

The result was cool, but not sure if it was worth the work.

snow

I decided to make more bodies and just leave out the buttons.  I’m happier with those.

Fresh Snow: is a very ozone-y fragrance, reminiscent of clean laundry or fresh cotton. The actual notes however are intriguing; this fragrance has a crisp heliotrope top with supporting notes of spring water, juniper berry, vetyver and sandalwood.


Apple Balsam Pine

October 31, 2015

I saw this light bulb mold and thought I could make a really cool soap with it. I DID NOT expect the fragrance to set up super fast.  It meant I didn’t get to embed the light bulbs at a leisurely pace.  Inside didn’t quite end up how I wanted it to, but the top is cute and I like it.

Apple Balsam Pine: A unique blend of juicy apple, cassis, jasmine and Siberian fir.

It started off with me making LOTS of light bulbs.

2015-08-24 08.13.12

I then figure out the exact order I wanted to put them in the soap in and had them lined up and ready to go (not that that helped much with the acceleration!).

2015-08-24 08.35.39

This was after I poured and pipped the light bulb strings. My goal was to make it look like a string of Christmas lights.

2015-08-24 11.20.44

2015-08-24 11.20.32

And here you go: I had to add some real lights to the picture!

Apple Balsam (21)

Apple Balsam (9)

Find them HERE!


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