Sunday, October 18, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Friday, October 16, 2020
Thursday, May 7, 2020
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!|
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...
Monday, December 16, 2019
Have you ever had to cook something and gotten oils or even shortening on you hands then noticed how soft you're hands felt afterwards? Me too.
That is one of the benefits of handmade soap. Soapmakers build their recipes around moisturizing the skin, cleansing and sometimes exfoliating. Many soap makers go beyond that by decorating their soaps into some beautiful bars. I watch several on YouTube that I admire a great deal, but that's another post for another day.
In order to make soap moisturizing it's necessary to superfat your recipes. If you weren't to superfat every oil/butter molecule in your recipe would saponify into soap with no extras to linger behind for the moisturizing properties we like. I have a Castile For Real bar that isn't superfatted and made with olive oil. It's great for making laundry detergent because there is no extra oils that will get into your clothes. It could also be used for people with extra oily skin.
The percentage of superfatting isn't as tricky as it sounds because so many people have made soap that there are some general rules of thumb. Most soapers start recipes at no less than 5% extra oils and adjust from there. I generally soap at 7-9% depending on the recipe. If you superfat too high, it results in a soft bar of soap that will turn to mush when used.
So handmade soaps are generally more moisturizing to your skin.
Why else is handmade soap great? Depending on the soap maker, there's not extra crud added. Some people add micas and fragrance oils to their soaps, I don't consider them crud. When you do this you can pretty much know what your soap is going to consistently look and smell like. There are some beautiful bars of soap out there!
Other soapmakers stick to natural ingredients, and while everything pretty much comes from nature, some things are altered by humans. Changed chemically, mixed with other things that have little resemblance to what they were in nature, then don't tell you exactly what it is. This.
If I can't make an informed decision on what I'm adding to my soaps, how can I list the ingredients for people who may have allergies?
I don't purchase certain brands of essential oils for this same reason. One of the things that first grabbed my attention here was when I was looking for vanilla essential oil. I don't think it would be financially sound for a company to sell (what they say is) 100% vanilla essential oil for $13 for a 4 ounce bottle. Any reputable company will tell you that it is blended with another oil and tell you what that oil is (in my case it's coconut oil and it will be listed as such in my ingredients).
If I can't tell my customers each ingredient, I wouldn't feel right about putting it in my soap. It's the same with colorant. Micas are beautiful and add gorgeous colors to soap but not knowing exactly what is in the mica, I can't list those ingredients in my soap.
In all honesty I've never heard of anyone having a reaction to micas and most people learn through trial error which fragrance and essential oils they are allergic to. There are a multitude of people who will react in a multitude of ways to a multitude of things so for me, personally, I'd rather keep things simple.
I hope that doesn't sound like I'm complaining about soapmakers who use these things because I'm not. Just trying to explain why I choose to keep my soaps simple.
The best thing to me about handmade soaps, isn't so much about the things I leave out, but rather, the things I put in. Oils and butters have so many beneficial properties as do essential oils (even though we're not allowed to say that).
I've had people tell me if they have to use store bought soap after using my soap their skin gets dry to the point that it's itchy. I've had others tell me they no longer have dry, scaly skin. And even a few claim that using my soap got rid of rashes that were still there after taking prescriptions. I will never claim my soap fixes or cures anything. I think its possibly a blend of things that's left out of my soap that may be in store bought soaps. Dyes, perfumes, preservatives that maybe their bodies reacted to without them knowing what the exact problem is.
It does my heart good to hear such things though because that's what it's all about for soapmakers. People who find something that feels good on their skin. Something they love and gives them great results.
I highly advise that everyone try handmade soap, even if it isn't mine. Our skin is our largest organ so it's just as important to care for it as it is the insides of our bodies.
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Sometimes I have to kind of laugh when I look at the soap images on my shop page. I see all of the little imperfections on my soap bars. Marks from knife cuts, finger smudges from handling the bars while moving the bars to drying racks, not so perfect edges or corners, some soda ash. I think there's a couple of coffee ground drag marks on the Gma's Jittery Mocha Latte Soap picture.
I do have a device that cleans up the bars, it bevels the corners and smooths the flat surfaces. My Dad built it for me and it works great! The thing about doing that is it can take off quite a bit of soap. I would either have to sell smaller bars or make the bars bigger to account for any trimming. Then I have to do something with the trimmings because I'm not going to just toss them.
It's possible to rebatch the trimmings by melting them in a crock pot to make bars for personal use. I have three lunch bags full of these plus 16 bars of rebatched soap at the moment.
As much as I would like my soaps to look perfect, I made the call to stop trimming them. Once the soap is used, all of the imperfections disappear. It's like magic...or something. It's soap. I realize people may want perfect when they buy something but the thing most important to me is how the soap treats skin. How it is made with only natural/organic/nonGMO oils, butters, scents, botanicals and colorants. The finished bars have no harsh chemicals (yes, I use lye but it's no longer in the soap once the soap has cured, it's science), no unpronounceable ingredients (though I do have trouble saying Ylang Ylang and for years I pronounced Calendula CalenDULa).
Minor imperfections are...well...rather minor when it comes to something that's going to disappear as soon as it's used. I really think the amazing properties of my soaps speak for themselves...if they could speak.
Loren and I decided to try making whipped body butter last week, it's been something I've been thinking about quite a bit.
I work in a clean room environment which means I have to wear gloves for at least three hours a day. I don't know about you but my hands sweat when I wear gloves like that. Not sure what they're made from, I do know they're latex free. On top of that, my skin doesn't seem to like the soap dispenser soap I use all day at work, either.
My skin was getting so dry at work that it was starting to crack. I've been using lotion bars that I made (oils/butters/beeswax) but the moisturizing quality was very short-lived.
I looked into other things that might do the trick and stumbled across whipped body butter. The recipe I came up with was formulated by what I already had on hand. As a soapmaker I had quite a few options and went to my notes on the beneficial properties of each oil and the percentages that would be best for a leave on product.
Shea butter makes up 50% of the end results. Now, to be quite honest shea butter is not my favorite smell. I can't pinpoint what it is but sometimes when I smell it I am fine with it, other times not so much. And I'm talking about the same brand and package.
Anyway, making a small test batch we needed to use a hand mixer, which can take up to 30 minutes to whip the oils into a solid butter (halfway through the process my Mom informed me that the mixer had a stand, that was a very handy contraption).
We ended up with an amazing product, nothing but oils, butters and a tiny bit of arrowroot powder to keep the body butter from being sticky. Have to say I'm really loving this! I used it daily at work and my hands are back to normal! The slight greasy feel disappears almost immediately as does the shea butter scent. There are no added colors or scents, I may leave it like that. Just pure and natural moisture for dry skin!
I'm having it tested by my volunteers...and I'm sending some samples in soap orders as well. Hopefully we've come up with a recipe that others will love as much as we do!