Seaweed Soap

September 12, 2016

Seaweed!  NDA describes seaweed as follows:

Ascophyllum nodosum – a brown seaweed commonly known as knotted, knobbed or bladder wrack, or kelp – is one of many species which form part of the botanical order or algae.

I dislike the smell of seaweed.  So why I had this burning desire to use it in my soap I’m not sure, but I did.  The seaweed powder isn’t too bad (smell wise), but the instant it gets “wet” – as in it mixes with the oils/lye or the bar itself is used after it’s cured – it stinks!  That, I realize, is probably a personal opinion that not everyone will agree with me on, but I think seaweed stinks.  Even NDA describes it as having a “pungent odor.” (Notice they had a much nicer way of saying it stinks! Ha!)

Appearance: Greenish brown powder with a strong pungent odor.

New Directions Aromatics says the following about seaweed:

Benefits: Seaweed Powder is a rich source of vitamins including vitamins B12 (not found in land plants), vitamin E, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, and other nutrients. Seaweed powder makes for an effective cleansing and exfoliating agent. When applied to the skin, Seaweed treatments act as a powerful detoxifier that draws out toxins and impurities while adding beneficial nutrients. It helps to stimulate the body’s metabolism and circulation which gives skin a healthy, revitalize and glowing appearance. Seaweed contains fatty acids to combat skin irritation and inflammation; and may assist with skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Seaweed Powder is suitable for all skin types.

Application: Seaweed Powder can be used in face masks, detoxifying body wraps, soap making, body scrubs and bath powders.

Caution: Persons with an allergy to iodine should avoid using this product. This powder has a strong pungent odor that some may find offensive, so test product before using.

I don’t know what it was that initially made me want to use it in my soap.  I just know about a year ago I had the urge.  And I think after reading the benefits of seaweed I was sold.  I mean did you read the above benefits?  It just makes me sigh in delight when I read about all that natural goodness!  So, while I might dislike the smell I love it in my facial soap.

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These are the facial bars. Large and a travel size.

I couldn’t leave it at a facial bar though, no!  I decided to make a batch of body soap with seaweed. I scented it with eucalyptus and peppermint (two rather strong essential oils) hoping it would subdue the seaweed smell. I can’t say it does, but I think if you dislike a smell you pick it up more than any other smell.  The bar itself is a very nice bar!

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This bar smells like eucalyptus, peppermint, and seaweed! There’s no getting around that smell!

If you’re interested in trying some in your soap I used it at similar usage rates to clay.

I used about ½ to 1 teaspoon per pound of soap.  I premix it with a little bit of distilled water, but I’ve also just added it straight to my oils and used the stick blender to mix it in with great results.

I can say I love it in my facial soap!  I can’t quite deal with the smell as a body soap, though it is a nice bar.  And I haven’t been brave enough to make a mask of it yet. 😉


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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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😉

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


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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.


August 15, 2016

Avocado soap has been on my “to make” list for over a year now. I meant to make some last summer and time just ran out…which tends to happen on a regular basis for me.  That’s the one down side of your hobby being a full time business (with no one to do the work but you): you (as in I) have little time for experimenting.  Most of the time I’m just keeping up with making what I’m selling and there’s not a whole lot of extra time to play around.

Avocado (2)

I was in the store and walked by the avocados and they were having a special on them and I stopped and picked up a couple.  I figured if I HAD the avocados I’d have to make time to make the soap because I wouldn’t waste the avocados.

I’ve never cut an avocado before. That was interesting experience.  My friend told me the best way, which is not how I’d probably have gone about it ha, but her way was definitely less messy and worked like a charm.

I pureed the avocados and then went about making soap as normal.  I discounted some of my water to account for the avocado.  The soap behaved nicely and the end product looks good.  Can’t wait to test the soap in a week or two once it’s finished curing.  I’m sure the avocados added some yummy goodness to the soap, but I don’t expect it to affect the lather or anything else.

Avocado (1)

Will I make soap with avocado and sell it in the future…not sure.  Avocados add an extra expense to the soap, but it was fun to finally play around with some avocado in my soap.

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I put salt on the top of the bar and separating the layers…hence the slight discoloration between the layers and the salt sweats a little in this heat.

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

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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…)

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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

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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!

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.