August 12 in 12

August 31, 2017

E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D!  I’m so tired.  While I’m pretty much settled in from the move and finally getting caught up on making everything, I still feel like I’ve run four marathons back to back to back…  A lot has been going on.  It’s just that time of year where the craziness starts and it won’t slow down until Christmas comes.

August 4th: The Corner Spot 

The first two weeks of August I set up in a little pop-up (affectionately called “The Shed”).  This was part of a town initiative in Ashland to create a community space.  They created a park area, and the shed for local artisans and food to come in set up for a time and sell their products.  I had applied to be a part of this back in February when they sent out a call for proposals.  I figured it would be a good experience–especially if I wanted to one day have my own store front.  Here’s my set up. I’ll have a full post soon on more about my time there.

August 7th: Restocking 

One thing I was able to do while set up in Ashland was work.  It was nice to have a space to do stuff when the shop was slow.  I restocked on my Gifts for the Magically Inclined. Going to have to make more soaps! But hopefully I’m restocked for the moment.

August 8th: Soap Soap Soap!

I continued on my crazy soap making spree in August.  Here’s lilac in the mold.  I finally got (mostly) all my restocks made and my fall soaps done.  Now I can start thinking about making the winter soaps ha! It never ends.

August 9th: Baby Shower Favors

Baby Shower favors! I adore these.  The customer wanted an earthy green and it was so much fun to be able to do something just a little different than my normal colors!

 

August 1oth: Bath & Body Class

I had classes all week  while at the corner spot.  This was a teen Bath and Body class that day. It was lots of fun making product with the girls! Hopefully inspiring some young girls too!

 

August 11th: Custom Anchor Soaps

Aren’t these pretty! I love the simplicity of them and can’t wait to design the labels to go with them.

August 13th: Pranks

I house sat for my parents while they were gone in August.  And my dad (an Army guy) played a prank on his neighbor (an Air Force guy) while they were on vacation in July.  Well I walk out on the deck to water some flowers only to be startled by this lovely rat. Ha! Go Army! I was raised right ;).  I know who’s the best.

 

August 14th: Lip Balms

Oh my! If I never see another lip balm tube again. Ha!  It too me a week, but I restocked on all 16 flavors I offer.  Almost 1000 lip balms made. I’m hoping they’ll get me through the winter season, but I have a feeling I’ll be making lip balms again before the year is over.

 

August 15th: My Happy Place: The Dance Studio

Despite all the work and craziness I’ve made time to make it to ballet each week.  It’s my happy place–where I can just forget about all the worries for an hour and lose myself in dance.

August 17th: Transparent Soap!

I make a pink grapefruit soap with goat’s milk. I make my soaps go through gel phase. This soap went through an intensive gel phase! 24 hours after I made it-completely cooled and it has this glassy slightly transparent look. I’ll be interested to see if this changes as it cures! I’ve NEVER had a soap stay this transparent looking!  It’s super cool. You can see my finger behind the soap!

August 18th: Designing Custom Labels 

 

I had a couple custom orders this month. They’re so fun to do for me.  Remember the anchor soap for a few photos up…well I got to design labels for them. I was really happy with how they turned out. This was my initial sketch I started with before I put them into Photoshop.

 

August 21st: Mini Vacation Starts (Sort of) 

Every year I take the last two weeks of August off from shows (I cheated a bit this year I did schedule two weekend farmers markets…but the other 12 days are mine).  I need this time to 1) Work on Winter  Soaps and restocking products and 2) to recoup and relax! I am utterly exhausted by the time I get to the end of August and crazy show season is just about to start.  I need that break to get through the coming four months.  This year more so that normal! I have plans to do some work (what needs to get done) and then I’m doing some day trips, exploring my new town, and just enjoying life and some time off.

Oh…one last thing if you haven’t heard. I offically (finally) started an Instagram account! I know, I know it took me long enough. You can find me here: jennifer_soap

Advertisements

Using Tallow in Bath Products

April 7, 2017

I’ve been on a kick lately with this whole tallow in products.  First it was soap (which I really am likely and am SERIOUSLY–though it’s the last thing I need right now–considering a line of tallow soaps)!  Now it’s bath products.

In February mt friend’s sister asked if I made tallow lotion. I don’t make lotion, but I said I could probably do it in a body butter or balm.  And that kind of sparked my interest in tallow.  I started doing more research.  Products in soap work (to some degree) similarly in bath products, but they are also completely different products from soap.  My research lead to a number of discoveries.

No one’s allowed to get grossed out over tallow! Got it?? 😀  It’s no different from ANY vegetable oil we use it’s just fat from an animal as opposed to a plant!  And it’s good stuff! First, what is tallow? It’s definition:

tal·low (n)

  1. a hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fat, used in making candles and soap.

Tallow comes from cows, deer, mutton, and the like.  Lard is from pigs.  The tallow I’m working with is beef (cow) tallow.

It’s fatty acid profile: (obviously there is variation here from one batch to the next, one animal to the next, but this gives us a general idea.

  • Saturated fatty acids
    • Palmitic acid(C16:0): 26%
    • Stearic acid(C18:0): 14%
    • Myristic acid(C14:0): 3%
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids:
    • Oleic acid(C18-1, ω-9): 47%
    • Palmitoleic acid(C16:1): 3%
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids:
    • Linoleic acid: 3%
    • Linolenic acid: 1%

So, why is tallow so great?  Well let’s take a look at tallow and its properties.

Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hard and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard. ~ source beeftallow.com

We all know (and have probably heard endless numbers of times) that our skin is the largest organ of our body.  It absorbs a large amount of what we come in contact with (both good and bad).  Tallow closely resembles our own cellular makeup and it seems like a smart ingredient to use on our skin.

MommyPotamus has done research on tallow and has this to say:

Tallow is uniquely compatible with the biology of our cells. About 50% of the structure of our cell membrane comes from saturated fats, with remaining amounts consisting of monounsaturated and to a lesser degree polyunsaturated fats. According to Nourishing Traditions, it is the saturated fats that give cell membranes the “necessary stiffness and integrity”  necessary for proper function (p. 11). The saturated fat ratio of tallow is 50-55% saturated fat, making it uniquely compatible with our skin. (source) It also contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which support cell membrane structure and therefore help skin hold in moisture. (source 1source 2)

Tallow contains skin nourishing ingredients that plant-based oils do not. Tallow contains an abundance of naturally occurring fat soluble vitamins (A,D,K and E), Omega 3 fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

All of this makes tallow a really good fat to use on our skin!  After my research I was excited to get started on experimenting.  The two products I’m currently experimenting with are a tallow body butter and a tallow foot/hand balm.

My first though when formulating recipes was: How much do I use??? There’s so little information out there.  I looked at blogs, books, YouTube and people don’t use tallow. A lot of times when I formulate I start by making notes of recommended percentage usages of the ingredients I want to use for a specific type product.  Then I’ll jot down other ingredients I know I want/need in the product and their recommend usage rates and then from there start formulating.

Once I have a couple rough formulates I’ll go online and research other recipes that are similar to the product I’m making.  I couldn’t really do this step this time.  There just aren’t any recipes out there.  Which wasn’t a big deal.  It just meant a bit more experimenting on my part and making some (logical) deductions.

I ended up with two body butter recipes each using a different percentage of tallow.  I added Shea butter to both recipes.  I was afraid to do a straight tallow recipe.  My initial though was it would be too brittle (thinking tallow is a hard oil like coconut), but I realized after I made my recipes that tallow, while solid at room temperature, is actually softer than Shea butter.

  1. Recipe 1 used 25%
  2. Recipe 2 used 40%

Both have a wonderful LOVELY consistency to them right now–though I love the 40% feel more than the 25%.  The 40% (recipe 2) one is definitely softer than the 25% one (recipe 1) and I don’t know how well it will hold up in the summer heat.  I have a feeling that it might be too high a percentage of tallow and potentially melt or go VERY soft come summer.  It’s something I’m going to pay attention to and take note on.

My thoughts after testing these for about 6 weeks:

Recipe 1: This was actually preferred by my testers. I liked it, but it was a bit stiff. Probably will bode well for the summer and warmer weather. Overall, it moisturizer well and went on smooth and wasn’t overly greasy.

Recipe 2: this one I liked,  it it wasn’t preferred by my testers. They felt it was too heavy and didn’t absorb in as well. I think not adding any fragrance to it didn’t help as it had a tallow-y smell to it.

Using it on my Face: I loved recipe 2 as a heavy duty face moisturizer. It kept my dry flaky skin nice and if I put it in at night by morning it was absorbed in and I could put make up on and get thru the day without my skin flaking.

Now I want to try and new blend that is a mix of the two recipes. Add a little more Shea  utter and cut back on the tallow from recipe 2. We shall see what the results are.


Tallow Recipe Formulating: Part 2

March 7, 2017

Testing Time!  I sent out 8 batches to long time users of my soap to test.  Note: These soaps were made in October 2016 and sent to testers.  With most of the results in here’s what I found.

I asked them the following questions:

Conditions of Use: Hard/Soft Water?  Do you wash with soap on skin or use a washcloth/poof?

As you used: (they used a ranking system)

  1. How long did the bar last?
  2. How did the bar lather?
  3. Did you like the “feel” of the soap?
  4. What did you like about the bar?
  5. What did you dislike about the bar?
  6. Did you have a preference/favorite?
  7. Rank the bars from favorite to least favorite.
  8. Do you have any other comments you wish to add?

Results: So, I get results that go from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m used to this. Part of why I ask people their skin type/water type/how the wash is because that can greatly shape why someone likes or dislikes a soap and it helps me hone in on what the results really are saying.

Overall, no one really DISLIKED any of them, but people definitely had preferences.

Bar #5 was probably the least favorite for everyone with the exception of one tester who love it.  This doesn’t surprise me.  It was the bar with 70% tallow.  I got a lot of: “it lasted a long time, but the lather wasn’t great.”  And also, “too much of a squeaky clean feeling”.  It was definitely my LEAST favorite.

Tallow makes a great hard bar, but it lacks the ability to add lather and isn’t the most conditioning of fats.  I tried a 70% tallow bar because when I was doing my initial research there were a number of people who said they used up to 70% and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that much tallow being a nice bar so I decided to try one for myself.

Bar #2 and Bar #3 weren’t disliked or loved, but just weren’t favorites.  Both of these recipes used 50% tallow.  People with oily skin actually liked this bar better than those with normal to dry skin.  I wasn’t impressed with the lather.  In part that was because I cut down on the amount of coconut oil I used to accommodate the additional tallow.

Bar #1 and Bar #4 just about ended up in a tie.  Either way they were the top two finishers for most of my testers.  Bar #1 used 19.4% tallow and was my standard recipe with a straight sub of tallow for palm.  Most liked the lather, the feel on the skin, and the feel after showering.  All around it was generally liked.

Bar #4 was 25% tallow.  And I think that might be a magic number for me with using tallow in a recipe.  The one down side is this bar seemed to go a little faster.  I had people test travel size bars (I tested a full size). To me the full size bar lasted about as long as my standard bar.  Travel bars are smaller and thinner.  I actually think the reason that this bar went a little quicker was because I kept using it (longer than an of the other bars) each time I showered. I just LOVED the feel of it on my skin (as did many of my testers).

End thoughts: I went into this thinking Bar #1 would be my favorite. I LOVE my current recipe and that bar was just a straight sub of palm for tallow.  I didn’t make any other changes.  I was sure nothing else would stand up to that bar.  And while I did like Bar #1 (19.4% tallow) my favorite was Bar #4 (25% tallow).

Ultimately from this experiment I would recommend a usage rate between 20 and 25% of tallow in a recipe.

Thank you to all my testers!  I appreciate your help.

 


Tallow Recipe Formulating: Part 1

March 6, 2017

I have wanted to make tallow soap since I first read about animal fats in soap.  I wish I could remember the book I read about them in (it was one of the many I devoured when I first started making soap and was requesting every soap book my library had.)

When I started making soap to sell I’d formulated a recipe that was free of animal products and was a really nice bar. I love it.  My customers love it and at this point I wouldn’t change it, but I have still had this burning desire to play with tallow and formulate a new recipe…maybe an additional or specialty line of soaps one day.  Either way I knew I’d love using them and my family and friends would too.

I set to work creating different recipes.  The first one I did was a straight up sub of palm oil for beef tallow (run through a lye calculator of course).  Then from there I started playing. I had six different recipes by the time I got done.  And I realized some were a little too similar and so I managed to narrow it down to three recipes (so I was left with four total).

The biggest differences in these recipes was mainly the percentage of tallow I used.  I’d done a lot of reading and research and come up with a wide range of percentages to use in a recipe: from 25% up to 75% (in fact I think one person even told me they use 80%).  That’s a huge range and so I decided to do testing.  At first I didn’t go above 50% in my four test batches, but I decided a couple weeks later that I would do one more test batch with 70% tallow, mostly because I was really curious how a bar with 70% tallow would turn out.

Recipe 1:  19.4% Tallow

2016-08-07 16.47.04

This recipe was kind of my control recipe in the sense it was the exact same as my normal bars, but I subbed tallow for palm oil.  I wanted to see if there were any differences people picked up.

Recipe 2: 50% Tallow / 20% Olive

2016-08-07 16.47.25

Recipe 3: 50% Tallow / 15% Olive

2016-08-07 16.48.05

 

Recipe 4: 25% Tallow

2016-08-07 16.47.43

 

Recipe 5: 70% Tallow

2016-08-15 10.11.41

All recipes used a water discount of about 15%.

Initial reports from the five recipes is that each created a fairly hard bar (to the touch after a four week cure time), though Recipe 5 was definitely the hardest (even after just 48 hours!  Seeing that it was made with 70% tallow I wasn’t surprised with those results.


The Making of Safari Themed Soap Favors

November 22, 2016

First, let me say I am INSANE.  There is no other word to describe me trying to create animal favors during crazy show season when I don’t have time to do anything but constantly restock for my business.

I was told to just get the rubber safari ducks and embed them in a soap base and use those as favors.  They would have been cute and worked, but they just weren’t what I imagined.  So…out came the notepad as I started to brainstorm and sketch some ideas.

2016-10-28-12-07-48

This image was my inspiration. (I looked at so many safari themed cupcakes in trying to figure out how to make these soaps).

2016-09-10-09-48-56

I would normally make all the embeds first and then make the bases, but I was super short on time and I knew if they were going to have enough time to cure before the party I needed to make them asap.  So I made the bases and then started figuring out the embed pieces I’d need.  Eyes…ears…whiskers…faces…noses…mouths…oh my word! There were a million little different pieces I needed for each different animal.

2016-10-21-17-23-02

2016-10-25-12-45-33

These were the bases that I was gonna have to attach a million tiny pieces to…

Once I figured that out there was then the challenge of cutting them all out. I needed an oval cookie cutter that I didn’t have.  So I sacrificed a piping tip and shaped it into an oval.  It worked in my hour of need, but piping tips don’t make good cookie cutters.

Piping tips as a cookie cutter...the brain figures out how to make it all work ha!

Piping tips as a cookie cutter…the brain figures out how to make it all work ha!

All those tiny circles?  Those are the other end of the misshapen piping tip.  Again, not a great cookie cutter ha, but it worked.

2016-10-24-18-41-24

2016-10-25-12-45-37

Once the circle were cut I started playing around and realized I could imprint a circle into them and then fill them with a “wet” mica to add extra color.  I also used a skewer dipped in wet mica to make the whiskers marks on the tiger.  THE-MOST-ANNOYING-THING-EVER.  I was ready to pull my hair out.

Was it worth it? Yes.  The added extra touch just makes the soaps, but OYE!!

Because I didn’t make the embeds first I had to “embed” them onto already hard soap.  Which meant an extra step of putting wet soap on one side and then putting it on the hard soap.  Could have saved myself time if the embeds had been done before, but I didn’t know what I was going to need and I was in a crunch for time so the bases had to get done before everything else.

The final step was the piping.  Oh so much piping.

Giraffe: I had to pipe the spots and horns on him.  I love him. He’s so so so stinking cute!

2016-10-25-13-23-04

Lion: Piping his mane turned out so much better than I thought it would.  When all the pieces came together I was in love with him too.  The stringy mane/hair just totally did it for me ;).

2016-10-25-13-12-43

So many different stages to piping the lions. I still had the eyes and mouth left to do once I got to this point. Have I mentioned these were an incredible amount of work?

2016-10-25-13-22-53

Tiger: If I ever do these again I need to find a better way to do the stripes.  It was tedious to do these and it’s not as clean looking as I wanted, but it was the best I could do with what I had.  They’re still cute.

2016-10-25-14-41-19

Gorilla (which was supposed to be a monkey):  There was somr major improvising that went on with these when I started to pipe them.  What I wanted to do wasn’t happening and on the fly I just said…let’s try this and it worked.  I really do think these are cute.  Disaster averted!

2016-10-25-14-40-54

Zebra: The first couple I did were really bad.  It took a while to get the hang of these.  Piping straight or curved lines that need to come out steady and even is a hard hard thing to do.  They’re not bad looking. Not perfect and a few things I’d change next time, but I love them. I especially love the ears.  I happened to have the perfect mini cookie cutter to use as ears and the little pink in them just makes them stand out.

2016-10-25-14-41-06

And there you have it.  My absolute madness…and all this during prime busy season for me when I barely have two minutes for anything outside of the business.

The final soaps:

safari1

giraffe2

gorilla

lion3

tiger

zebra1


Brine Soap a.k.a Soleseife

September 5, 2016

On my list to make has been brine soap.  What is that you ask?  Brine soap or Soleselfie (German and pronounced: zo-luh-zigh-fuh) is soap made with salt, but instead of adding the salt at trace you mix the salt in with your lye-water solution and let the salt dissolve.  You end up with a super hard bar like a salt bar, but not the super scratchy bar of a typical salt bar.

A few things you have to remember:  Salt takes more water to dissolve than lye and so the amount of salt you use can only be 25% (max) of your water.  And you have to take in to consideration that the lye requires at least a 1:1 ratio of water to dissolve.  You’re not using nearly as much salt as you would in a traditional salt bar, but the results are still pretty awesome.

EXAMPLE:

Say my recipe calls for 10 oz of water and 3 oz of lye.  I need at least 3 oz of water to dissolve my lye. That leaves me with 7 oz of water. I take 25% of that and that’s how much salt I can use if I want it all to dissolve.  You can’t take 25% from the 10 oz.

I’ve seen soapers use traditional salt bar recipes (majority of recipe is coconut oil) for brine soap and I’ve seen them use standard recipes with multiple oils.  I think my preference is towards the latter.  I have to cut my soap sooner, and the lather is much smaller (but creamier), but I really like the end result.

A few months ago I made a seaweed and brine facial bar. I used mostly dead sea salt (it’s all I had on hand). I KNEW it would make a soft soap, but it was a small batch and I wanted to play and so I did it.

It took days before I could unmold the soap it was so soft (almost crumbly).  And when I did unmold it the bars ashed over (thickly).  But I put it on my dry rack and forgot about it for a couple months.  Then one day I went to check it and the soap was rock hard (just like a salt bar). I was pleasantly surprised.  I started using the soap and I loved it.  It didn’t build a big lather—I used my standard facial recipe and not a traditional salt bar recipe—but it was oh so creamy and for washing my facial it didn’t bother me the lack of big bubbles.

When I was playing around with aloe and avocado I thought I should make another batch of brine soap.  I had sea salt on hand this time and I liked the previous bar so much that I thought it was good enough to sell.

The facial soaps turned out great.  I made some body soaps too in a loaf mold where I had to cut the soap about 4 hours after I poured.  If I’d waited a full 24 hours to cut like I usually do the batch would have been rock hard!  I can’t wait to see how these set up and to try them once they’ve cured.  I might have some new soaps I add to my line!

Experimenting is fun!  These past couple weeks I’ve played around with aloe, avocado, salt, and tallow.  I need to do this more often!


Salt Bars

August 29, 2016

Salt Bars!  Since I was playing around with brine soap I figured I’d play around with salt bars too.  It has been years (like four or five years!) since I last made salt bars. I wasn’t a fan of them the first time I made them and never had any burning desire to make them since.  That is until recently.

I had some extra pumpkin from a batch of beer & pumpkin soap I’d just made so I decided to use it in my salt bars.  Used a traditional recipe high in coconut oil with a little bit of Shea butter and a 10% superfat.

salt bars (2)

This is less than two hours later and they’re solid.

salt bars (1)

I’m squeezing these as hard as I can…and not even a minor dent. These bar are rock hard! (Note it took them less than three hours to go from soapy liquid in the pot to hey here’s a bar!

Testing: And once again I’m just not a fan. Low, low lather. Super scratchy.  Just not for me, but I know some of my customers will love it.

I couldn’t leave it at that.  I made another batch with a slightly different recipe (replaced shea with avocado) and no pumpkin.  And I tried to push the limits of using dead sea salt (with a blend of sea salt) and it didn’t work.  I mean the bars are hardening up, but they were very soft and crumbly…didn’t come out of the mold pretty. *sigh* I should know better.  The bright side, is my desire to make salt bars is gone. Ha!  So I’m probably good for another five years when it comes to making salt bars ;).

One thing that amuses me to no end with salt bars is how fast they set up (when you use the proper salt).  Within three hours of being poured my bars were rock hard.  I mean you could do some serious damage with them. 😉