Saturday, January 2, 2021

Viking Soap Series

My daughter's beau asked if I could make a Viking soap series and I thought it was kind of a cool idea!  Between Matt, my daughter Loren and myself, we came up with three soaps. 

We discussed scents mainly but their ideas started my brain moving into ingredients that may have been available to Vikings, or in some cases because they sound like they'd fit the soap.

One of the scents Matt suggested was Sandalwood but it can be a bit pricey. He also suggested birch. I purchased birch and definitely love the scent but it reminded me of the Beechnut Gum we used to get back in the day. The scent is really pleasant and I will use it for soap but it wasn't meshing with the Viking theme for me.  I went ahead and splurged on Sandalwood essential oil and I'm so glad I did! I love it!

The first soap I made for this series is Viking Sea Salt Sunset Soap. This is a salt soap and I wouldn't recommend it to folks with sensitive skin, though I used fine salt it is still exfoliating. (UPDATE: I've been using this soap for about a week and have not noticed anything but a very light exfoliating feel on occasion. It's not harsh at all!) Apparently salt soaps are often used in spas, never been so I wouldn't know from personal experience. 


The Viking Sea Salt Sunset Soap has Baikal clay that gives it a lovely blue-green color. It's from Russia and is used for a gentle exfoliant, detox, and some use it as an anti-aging mask. I can't make claims that it will make you wrinkle free, but it's pretty. 

The soap has Australian sea salt, oils, shea butter and a high percentage of coconut oil. Normally I try to keep the percentage of coconut oil under 25% in my soaps because it's so cleansing it has a tendency to clean the oils right off your skin and makes your skin feel dry. But, salt has a tendency to remove any lather/bubbly properties from soap and coconut oil makes for lots of bubbly, creamy lather. To keep the soap from making your skin feel dry the soap has 20% superfats, well above the 7-9% normal superfats. Another point, salt soaps are moisturizing and hydrating.  Weird, huh? I honestly though it would be drying.

I also added sea buckthorn oil to this soap...from Siberia...for the bit of orange sunset color in the soap. I have to say this oil has such a lovely scent and is a beautiful orange! I don't think the scent carried through the saponification process but the Sandalwood smells amazing. On top, I sprinkled a tiny bit of Birch smoked sea salt from Iceland (it smells amazing and the rest of the jar is going into the kitchen). The smoky scent has disappeared but it was definitely worth sprinkling it on the soap. It should wash off the first time the bar is used.

The next soap in this series was Viking Spiced Mead Soap. First let me say, it's not easy finding mead and I definitely wasn't prepared for the cost. But I did find it and cooked it down to get rid of the carbonation and as much alcohol as possible. 


Because mead is made from honey I wanted the soap to have a honey color and I used the sea buckthorn oil to achieve that. The soap also has flax oil and beef tallow...the Vikings could (possibly, maybe) have used these to make soap...if they made soap. 

The Viking Spiced Mead Soap is lightly scented with clove essential oil and also comes with a Hammer of Thor attached to the raffia on the bar. It was the symbol of the Viking god of thunder. 

The last bar in this series is Viking Shield Maiden Soap. We tried to find information on what things may have been important to Viking women. Not an easy task. I know that nalbinding (it predates knitting and it's a form of making garments with wool and a needle made from bone or antlers) was a Viking thing. This is something I tried to do years ago and loved it. But it doesn't lend itself to soapmaking. Instead I went a more natural ingredients route. 


The Viking Shield Maiden soap has yarrow flower, elderflower and mullein teas instead of plain water. Goat's milk, beef tallow, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, and rose absolute essential oil. I was aiming for a floral scent and when I read about the areas the Vikings inhabited there were a lot of flowers from the rose family, so I went for rose.  

The colors I chose represent the seashore that may have been visited by Vikings. Light sand, blue seas and pink wildflowers. Each bar will come with a rune bead that can be worn in your hair, a guy's beard, used to make jewelry or whatever you want to do to show your inner Viking!

The Viking soap series will be available at Joy's Handcrafted Soaps in February!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

TTRPG Soap Series

I've been working on a soap series for over a month, I'm very excited about it because it blends two things I am passionate about. Soap making and Dungeons and Dragons (table top role playing game...TTRPG). 

At the moment my son, daughter-in-law and occasionally two of my grandsons are at the end of our first campaign that we started over a year ago. My daughter and granddaughter were also playing but they've moved out of state.

The ideas for this soap series revolves around D&D because that's the only TTRPG I've played, but I can't use their name since it's trademarked so TTRPG it is. 

These soaps involve some new techniques and ingredients so it's been educational as well. On to the soaps...

TTRPG Tavern Mead Soap. Player characters in any TTRPG need to meet somehow. Or maybe they already know each other. However, many parties meet for the first time in a tavern. It's a place where people congregate so, why not? Maybe a fight breaks out and the strangers ban together to help. Or maybe a stranger shows up looking to hire a few people to help with goblins who have been attacking his farm and stealing his chickens. Somehow the players will ban together and form a party.

The TTRPG Tavern Mead Soap has ale, which gives great lather to soaps. My son Tyler gave me the mead idea, I knew I wanted the soap to represent an old tavern wood floor but my idea didn't go any further and his suggestion was very helpful! The soap has honey because that's what mead is made from. I looked at various mead flavors and ingredients, juniper berry seemed pretty popular. So juniper berry essential oil is the scent for this soap. 


I used the wood grain soap pour and was extremely happy with the results, especially since it was my first time trying it. In order to have a bar with a long enough piece to see the wood grain, the cutting of the soap is a bit different. Because of that, the outside side of the bar needs to be planed...which is fitting since its a wood grain bar. 

On with the story. The players decide they want to ban together to form a party to work together for the greater good and to earn gold. Somehow they find out that there is trouble brewing in a cave in a nearby mountain range so they prepare themselves for their first adventure and begin to make their way towards the mountains on a cold evening just as it is twilight and the stars are coming out. 


The TTRPG Mountain Terrain Soap represents a mountain range at dusk, with stars appearing in the sky. The soap is scented with Ho Wood essential oil. Its a bit difficult to describe the scent, its light, slightly like licorice...real licorice root, not candy licorice...slightly floral and a bit sweet. I sprinkled some tiny biodegradable glitter on the very top.

Whenever a party treks through the wilderness there is usually some type of encounter. A raiding band of goblins, stirges, wolves...inevitably something is going to attack. The third soap is TTRPG Roll for Attack Soap. Whether you're swinging a blade or casting a spell you first need to roll a d20 (20 sided dice) to see if your attack actually hits before you roll for damage. 


This soap represents that nighttime battle with damage being dealt. And each comes with a d20 imbedded on top that I purchased from Easy Roller Dice (no affiliation). The essential oils in this soap are lemongrass and peppermint. Both are great for waking you up and giving you energy, something necessary for every battle!

The last soap in the series is TTRPG Who's Got Healz Soap. Parties may not always have a healer, or maybe someone ran out of spell slots and can't heal. Every adventurer needs to carry a healing potion in their inventory because somebody is going to get hurt. 



This soap comes with a tiny healing potion that will be attached to the label. There are also two "d4" melt and pour imbeds in the soap they also have biodegradable glitter inside...because everyone needs glittery d4's...and d4's are used for rolling the amount of healing done. One clear, glittery d4 imbed is in the black and blue part (think bumps and bruises) and one in the white half. Scented with tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils, both known for helping with skin issues, it's both a woodsy and fresh scent.

Here's a shot of the clear imbeds with a light shining through...



So that's the TTRPG Soap Series! It will be listed at Joy's Handcrafted Soaps at the beginning of January 2020. 

My next Soap Series is in the planning stages and I can't wait to start on it!



Saturday Morning Cartoons Soap

I love this soap, it smells great, has awesome beneficial oils and cocoa butter and it was fun to put together!

The essential oil used is litsea cubeba. I've never purchased it before and though I had read that it was citrus-ee I wasn't sure what to expect. When I opened it I was pleasantly surprised to find that it smelled like fruity cereal. I knew immediately it was going to be a soap that had something to do with cereal.

The scent took me back to my childhood Saturday mornings and watching cartoons before there were channels dedicated to them.

Once everything was planned I made four very small batches of soap in green, red, orange, and yellow (kind of) with natural colorants.


I then cut the small slabs of soap into tiny pieces and rolled them into pebble-shaped...pebbles. This is actually a thing, when soap is at a certain moldable consistency it can be used as soap dough...kind of like kids Play-Doh. It took a wee while and after three episodes of The Curse of Oak Island, that was done. I let them dry out a bit before starting the milk portion of the soap.


I have this thing where my brain doesn't understand spatial relationships or sizes, it's how I ended up with a 20-quart stainless steel bowl that I can't use and the worlds largest roll of biodegradable bubble wrap (that might be a slight exaggeration). I ended up making twice as much pebble soap than I needed. I poured the pebbles into my soap mold just to check, way too many. After some quick recalculations I continued on and hoped it would look how I had planned it once it was sliced. It did!


The Saturday Morning Cartoons Soap is in the shop at Joy's Handcrafted Soap!


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Priority Shipping...

I thought I should explain why I ship Priority USPS. It isn't the cheapest way to go, that's for sure. 


To send a package First Class with one bar of soap it would cost the buyer around $3.50 (I'd love to offer free shipping but it's just not feasible). Most people purchase more than one bar at a time, postage goes up as the weight goes up. It only takes a bar or two more to reach Priority prices.

I can get up to 8 bars of soap, possibly more depending on the size of the bars, in a flat rate envelope. There are boxes called Scotty Stuffers that are made to fit inside one of these envelopes, just had to order more. I get the flat rate price with a bit of protection for the soap.

Priority is better for timing. I work compacted work weeks, 12-hour days, 3 days on 4 days off, then 4 days on 3 days off. When I receive orders on the days I work I can print Priority labels and get the package ready when I get home. The package is picked up by the postal worker the very next day. Shipping quickly is very important to me. Priority labels are the only labels I can print at the moment. 

Priority is faster by a few days.

I can get free Priority boxes and envelopes from the Post Office, they deliver them to me for free, too. Anything I can save is reflected in my soap prices.

Sometime soon, maybe at the beginning of next year, I plan on signing up at an online postage printing site. For the most part I would still ship Priority but if it's cheaper for my customers I will be able to print First Class postage.

So there you have it. I want to offer the best service possible to my customers and to get orders on their way quickly, Priority shipping is my only option at the moment. 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Who do You Tube?

There are only three things I watch on YouTube. Soap makers, to get inspired to make soap,  Dungeons and Dragons terrain videos to get ideas for...building D&D terrain, and a few streaming D&D games to get Dungeon Master tips...which includes watching Critical Role.

Everyone has their likes and dislikes of the various YouTube shows, stars, genres, etc. I'm going to share some of my favorite soap makers with you...not in any particular order. A lot of people find it relaxing to watch the soap making and cutting process, some of us find it inspiring.

Not affiliated with anyone below...well...we're all soap makers so we're kindred spirits.

Katie Carson at Royalty Soaps. Katie is the epitome of quirky. She's funny, lively and extremely artistic. Her soaps are colorful and fun and each month she releases several batches that reflect a theme. Recently the theme was Disney Villians. She also does a secret soap series where she makes a different soap each week for several weeks and gives hints. Viewers can guess in the video comments and the secret is revealed with the last soap in the series. Katie also has a great tutorial on how to make soap (including this one on using lye) and she uses two recipes, one is basic and less expensive, the other takes it up a notch or two.

Clyde Yoshida at Vibrant Soap. Clyde's gift with color is amazing and it reflects the fact that he's an artist. He's actually well known in soap maker circles for the Clyde Slide soaping technique where you mix several colors of batter and alternating the colors, gently pouring them down the side of a large bowl in layers. Then pour that into your mold. The results are very thin, colorful layers. Beautiful!

Tierra Hayes at Gypsyfae Creations. Tierra does some pretty creative fandom soaps! She's done a Golden Snitch soap as well as the various House soaps from Harry Potter. There were also Star Wars fandom soaps. She makes gorgeous seasonal and cupcake soaps! 

Billie at Hippie Mumma Artisan Soap. Billie is an organic dairy farmer and soaper in Victoria, Australia. She uses the organic milk from her farm in her soap and her soaps all look amazing. She's great at making beautiful bars. I also love that you hear the occasional rooster crow when watching her videos!

Keeley at Soy and Shea. Another Australian soap maker, Keeley is fun to watch and isn't afraid to share videos where things go wrong. Usually it's a battle with a fragrance oil that moves the batter too quickly. But, she always manages to get a beautiful bar of soap no matter how stubborn the fragrance oils are and she does it while keeping her sense of humor. It helps other soapers learn how to deal with these types of issues. She, like others in this list, make gemstone soaps and sharing geological interests in such things I find her discussions on the gemstones very interesting. 

Lastly, but definitely not least, Valerie Mosher at Shalebrook Handcrafted Soap. Valerie is a soap maker in Canada and she uses some of the most unique ingredients I've seen of any soap maker. Many of which I'd like to eventually incorporate into some special soaps for my shop! Sea buckthorn oil, a variety of teas and milks. Things that are great for your skin! I believe the majority of her soaps are hot process and most, if not all have maple syrup. 

There are many more amazing soap makers out there! If you've ever thought about making your own soap to create something good for your skin it can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it. My first soap was shortening, water and lye. And it was pretty awesome. Coconut oil can be inexpensive at places like Big Lots and 100% coconut oil soap can be one of the best soaps for your skin! Do your research, use a lye calculator to make sure your soap isn't lye heavy and I highly recommend Katie Carson's Royal Creative Academy videos. With a few inexpensive tools you can make soap for your family and friends!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Changes...

No affiliation with any of the links below...except the ones that take you to my soap shop.

It has been too long since I blogged, I guess I don't feel the need to write about everything I think in my head. Do y'all have that thing where your thoughts bounce around like a ball in a pinball machine, too? 

I've been making some changes in the ol' soap business, mainly converting all my recipes from hot process to cold process. I'm finding I like the resulting bars much better. Still a bit rustic, though!

Another change I've made is the beveling of edges on my bars. My granddaughter pointed out that they were too sharp at first. I still don't plane them so there will still be cut marks or drag marks from botanicals on or in the soap. I will use all of the shreds from the corners that I've been saving for a confetti soap sometime in the future.

I also purchased a "joyssoaps" stamp from ThreeDGeek over on Etsy. I'm really happy with the quality, it's exactly what I was wanting! 

I'm wrapping a wee bit differently... 


So, here's the thing about that, soap continues to evaporate off water after it's cured. If I label the soaps once they had finished curing after 4-6 weeks, the soap would still shrink up a bit and the labels would slip off. Before the change, I basically had to label everything when I got an order. Hopefully this new way of wrapping, with a dab of glue to affix the label to the raffia, will allow me to have things ready for orders. My next option is wrapping the soap in biodegradable cellophane bags. 

In addition to all of that I've been making imbeds with organic melt and pour... 

Sunshine imbeds!

It's quite a bit of fun to find cute things to add to the bars. It's slightly challenging getting natural colorants to disperse well but the imbeds are looking pretty cute!

This was a harder change to make. Titanium dioxide. It drives me cray not to be able to make white soap. Titanium dioxide is used in practically everything white, medical creams, sunscreens, ointments, toothpaste, makeup...soap. Does that mean it's safe, or maybe used too much? I really can't answer that.

But, I've spent some time looking into this and found a titanium dioxide that is 99.5% TiO2. It's non-Nano, Food Grade, nonGMO...and vegan. I'll probably only use it in soaps that require a white-white, which not many of my soaps do.

I'll be shifting some things in my shop, some soaps will be discontinued and placed in the Sale Bin. If you've not tried handmade/handcrafted soap this would be the time to check it out. I've talked with a lot of people about handmade soaps, and not necessarily mine, I have never heard a single complaint about handmade soap being worse than store-bought. Always the opposite, it really is worth a try. 

One change that should hit my shop in the first two weeks of November (I can't believe it's almost November!), Andee's Facial Spa Soap is shrinking from a rectangle to a heart. After talking to my daughter about it, we thought a face soap bar didn't need to be as large as a body soap bar. It's still the same recipe, just a bit smaller and it will also be less expensive. This is the most expensive bar in my shop and one that goes pretty quick so being able to drop the price and make more bars is pretty exciting!

I hope everyone is staying safe, and to steal a quote from Critical Role's Matt Mercer, "Don't forget to love each other."

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Learned something new today but I'm not sure what...

I've been planning a line of coconut oil soap for a wee while now. Coconut oil soap is probably the most lathery soap I've used. It's also very moisturizing. I've made hot processed coconut oil soap, there are still a few bars in my shop, but I am trying to switch back to making cold process soap.

I prepared my base recipe that I'll be using (coconut oil, coconut milk, essential oil, lye, water) and ran the numbers through SoapCalc to get the proper amounts of water and lye.

I removed four ounces of coconut oil and halved it, two ounces would have alkanet root as a colorant, the two were left plain.

I melted the coconut oil then added the coconut milk, blended it well.

I made the lye solution with the lye and water.

When the lye solution and oil were in the 80-85 degree F, I blended it to emulsion, added the lavender essential oil then blended together to almost a medium trace. I split the batter in half and added the alkanet oil to one half and the plain oil to the other half and stirred them each well.

I decided to try an "in the pot swirl" and poured the lavender batter into four different spots into the plain batter, gave it a quick stir and poured it into the mold, giving it some swirls on the top.

Looking kinda pretty!
I check the temp of my soaps frequently to watch for anything unusual...


Definitely starting to heat up...it's been about 5 minutes since it was poured. As soon as I put the thermometer down and turned back to my soap I saw this...


I stood there while watching it crack before my very eyes...


I watched as the gelling soap from the inside started pushing up through the crack. I was really worried about it causing a volcano and spewing right out of the mold so I placed the mold in a pan.

The temps reached 140F, honestly not extremely hot for a soap that's going through the gel phase, but what was an issue is that it did that all within 15-20 minutes. The top was already setting up (coconut oil makes a hard bar of soap) and when the inside started gelling it expanded and cracked the top.

I'm not exactly sure why all of this took place, maybe the lye reacting with the sugars in the coconut milk and heating up? Maybe I should skip the coconut milk in the other batches of my coconut oil soap?

I will have to do some research before I make more. I'm anxious to see what the soap will look like on the inside. Will the swirls still be there? Will the color change a bit...or drastically? Will I be able to cut it since coconut oil soap bars are hard and I have to let it cool and solidify from the gel phase? Will I end up with one big uncuttable hunk of soap? We'll see...