Fall Soaps: Pumpkin Lager w/ Beer

September 29, 2016

I’m a pumpkin fan…especially when it comes to pumpkin and baked goods!  This is probably my favorite pumpkin scent of all the pumpkins I’ve tried in the past years and of the ones I’ve made this year (which include: spiced pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and pumpkin lager).  Of course I had to make this soap with beer😀.

Wholesale Supplies Plus describes it:

A seasonal malt blend of fresh picked pumpkin, nutmeg and finishing notes of fermented warm vanilla.

So yummy!  This is another one that I knew would morph. I added orange mica to it so the soap didn’t become dark brown but has that orange hue to it.  Then I stamped it with a like orange mica and it really pops!

Prior to discoloration:

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I actually think the soap looks better fully cured and with the darker brown orange.  It makes the stamp stand out more.

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Fall Soaps: Oatmeal Stout w/ Beer

September 22, 2016

I love this scent.  I’ve used it once before, and I don’t know why I stopped using it.  It’s just down right yummy!  Bramble Berry describes the fragrance as follows:

This fragrance smells positively edible! It’s a full bodied and smooth beer fragrance blended with Creamy Oatmeal, Orange Peel, Butterscotch, Farm-fresh Milk, Nutty Almond and Rich Vanilla.

I knew the vanilla content was high and I planned my design accordingly.  The white layer is unscented.  The dark brown layer has no color (the fragrance did all the coloring there).  Then the top layer I used TD.  With the vanilla it ended up a medium brown.  I added mica lines between each later (in hopes of preventing some of the bleeding of fragrance (and hence color morphing) into the white later.

As a side note:  Look at this soap just after I cut it and what the finished soap ended up looking like.  Crazy how much it darkened!

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Just after I cut the soap.

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.😉


Avocado!

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.

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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.

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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!