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.


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.😉

Aloe Vera!

August 22, 2016

Aloe, oh aloe!  I’d read about aloe.  I’d watched some videos about using aloe.  I figured I was ready to try it.  My mom has had this HUGE aloe plant for I don’t know how many years and I’ve always said I was going to make some soap and use some of that aloe in it.  I don’t know how many years I’ve been saying that, but I finally did it.

aloe (2)

Quite the aloe plant isn’t it?

Took some aloe, sliced it up, and then pureed it.  No matter how much I pureed I still had some small bits of the skin.  No one had ever said anything about the skin and so I figured it would be ok.  Well after I made the soap and cut it I was no longer sure that it would be okay.  Those tiny flecks grew in the soap and I didn’t trust that.  I had a feeling that they would be cause for concern. The last thing I wanted was moldy soap!

aloe (4)

Can I make a random comment? Aloe has a very distinct smell when cut and I can’t say I like it very much!

aloe (5)

No amount of blending completely pureed it. Might be I need a different (better) blender.

Thank goodness for FB Soap Groups.  After posting my soap and the process I got a lot of feedback on how to make aloe soap and that this batch probably was probably going to be a lost.

2016-08-03 12.02.44

Here’s a small piece of the soap. You can see the small specs of aloe practically tripled in size.

I’ve been watching the soap as it cures and the green spots have slowly kind of morphed to a brown color.  I’ll keep watching it and probably test out a bar using it and seeing how the water affects it over time.

Second batch I took my new found knowledge (advice) and didn’t use the leaf, but just scoped out the aloe and blended that with a little bit of water.  This soap is void of the troubling green specs and I’m excited to try it.

Look at this yummy, messy process😉

2016-08-10 12.14.23

Sliced off the top of the leaf and scoped out the aloe center. Quite a messy process.


2016-08-10 12.26.24

Then I blended the aloe with some water. Lovely looking! Not a green spec insight! Now to make some soap with it!

No green specs.  No worries this batch.  I’m excited to use this soap. Not sure if I’ll notice a difference between it and my normal soap, but I’ll know it’s got all the aloe-y goodness in it.

As a side note:  You may laugh at me; it’s okay.  I never knew that I could just cut the leaf/stem off the aloe and leave it be (the plant that is) and it would “heal” itself. I felt so bad looking at the oozing stem where I’d cut it, but I needed my aloe!  Well a few days later I went back to look at the plant and it had closed itself right up! Haha. I know; I’m silly.  I found that quite fascinating to see.  And now I don’t fee so bad about cutting pieces from the aloe plant.

Dancing Funnel Technique: Challenge

August 12, 2016

This month’s challenged fascinated me and I knew I’d have a bit of time to actually attempt some soaps with it so I signed up.  The design is cool, my attempts—not so much.

Attempt 1: WAY to liquidy-runny

2016-08-06 16.38.02

They said you needed a really light trace…and that the soap shouldn’t be thick. I did super thin trace and well that was a disaster.  I ended up halfway through stopping the batch I was making going back to my liquids and stick blending them to thicken them up some and then starting a new loaf.  Still wasn’t thick enough and you can see how fluid this batch looks as everything just kind of ran into everything.

Attempt 1a: Left over soap…

2016-08-06 16.38.32I had some left over soap from some embeds I was making for a custom order so I decided to practice the technique some more.  Soap was still to runny though to make the technique work properly.

Attempt 2: *shakes my head* (That is all I can say…)

2016-08-07 16.46.12

I didn’t have any clean skirt bottles so I thought I’d use piping bags…You should have seen the mess I made…hence the head shaking.  This soap was better than the first but still didn’t turn out great.  First off the black got a little too thick and the white was still too runny.  It was not a fun combo to work with.

Attempt 3: Too thick

2016-08-06 16.37.37

After the previous failed attempts at a really like trace soap I finally tried a batch at a medium trace.  That ended up being too thick.  I just couldn’t win.  And oh my the glycerin rivers on this soap!  All I did was wrap it in a blanket to insulate this one and I got this craziness. I swear the fragrance had to affect it somehow because I’ve never quite seen rivers like this, though I do wonder if it could be the TD (different supplier than I normally use).

In the end I really wasn’t happy with any of the soaps.  This method is super time consuming and doesn’t work for my loaf soaps, so it’s not one I’m likely to do again, but I gave it a go!

Using Diagonals in Soap Design

May 15, 2016

Using Diagonals in Soap Design

You see horizontal lines in soap designs, and you see vertical lines thanks to many suppliers now have these nifty vertical dividers!  What you don’t see a lot of though are diagonal lines used.  It’s really not that hard to do (maybe a bit more time consuming) and you can create a variety of looks by using diagonals in your soap.

This tutorial walks you through a simple two layer diagonal soap, but you can get as crazy as you want with the number of layers you use!

Additional Supplies

Loaf Mold
Colorants (2 different contrasting colors)
Jojoba Beads
Mini Sifter
Fragrance/Essential Oil

Step 1
We’re going to make a 2.5lb batch of soap.  You can use the following recipe or your own.


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

Prep your mold.  Find something that will allow you to tilt it as a 45 degree angle. I found that my box of wax paper works really well for this, but anything will do, just make sure the mold is steady and will hold in the angled position when you pour your soap.

Step 1

Step 2
Once your oils and lye have cooled go ahead and mix them to a very light trace.  Do not add any color or fragrance at this point.  Separate out half of the mixture into a glass measuring cup (1 lb 4oz).  Add your colorant.  I used white for my first color.  I then added purple 1 teaspoon of jojoba beads to the mixture.  1) It will give the soap a gentle exfoliant.  2) I love the added speckled look you get with the color beads in a white soap base.  After those are mixed together add your fragrance.  I typically use .7oz to mix with a pound and four ounces of soap, but follow the suppliers suggested usage rate for the fragrance you decide to use.

Step 2

Step 3
Pour your soap into the mold. It should create a clean diagonal and fill half your mold.  You’ll notice how I have a little too much soap and so some of my soap fills up more than half the mold (that’s just because I measured out 1 lb 6oz of soap and didn’t take out the extra 2oz…not the end of the world!)

Step 3

Step 4

Step 4
This is an optional step.  Depending on your design you might want to add a pencil line (or layer of mica) between the layers.  I typically don’t do it for just two colors, especially since the mica line tends to get lost in this design. For the sake of the tutorial I added it though.  When I really love to add mica lines is when I used multiple layers (3 or more) and I can use a contrasting mica color between the layers of the soap like I did in the Pomegranate Cider soap (pictured below).

Step 5


You can see how the brown mica layers between the different shades of orange make this soap pop and stand out even more!

Step 5
I’m going to let that set up for a bit before I do anything with the second part of my soap.  The fragrance I used moved fairly quickly so the soap set up and was ready for the second pour in about five minutes time.

Step 6
Mix you second colorant and about a teaspoon of jojoba beads into the remaining soap.  Then add your fragrance.

Step 6

Step 7
At this point your soap in the mold should be pretty set up and you should be able to rotate the mold so that you can change the angle to the opposite 45 degrees.  You’re going to pour the remaining mix into the mold.  Start by pouring it into the bottom and let it fill up over the diagonal side. This will help ensure that you don’t have any “punch throughs” and you keep that nice clean line.

STep 7

Step 8

And there you have it! Insulate it, then unmold and cut it 24 hours later. Put it on your cure rack and wait patiently (yeah, I know that’s hard) for 4-6 weeks.  And here you have the finished soap:

raspberry_porter (7)

Here are some different color variations and examples on using multiple diagonal layers to create different affects!


wisteria (8)

gardenia (7)

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.


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


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


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.


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


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


soap black currant pomegranate



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.