Saturday, February 23, 2019

Cleanup after soaping...

Cleaning up after making hot process soap is easy, it's already lathers and cleans right up.

Cleaning up after making cold process soap is a bit different. The soap batter hasn't saponified yet so it's basically oils and lye solution. First, the lye is still active and can burn your skin if you don't rinse it right off. Second, the oils are still oils and...oily. I used to make sure I wiped as much batter out with paper towels as humanly possible before washing the oily oils down the drain. But, ew.

I got to thinking, if I let the dishes and utensils I've used set for a day or so (just like the soap in the mold) the remaining batter will just turn to soap which will make it a breeze to clean everything. Yeeeah, it took me a while to figure that out but it makes cleaning so much easier!

So this is how I cleanup after cold process soap making. Everything is sitting outside turning into soap. I'll scrape off the remaining bits and put it in my scrap bag which will eventually be made into soap for my home.

There are no kids or pets around so there's no worries about accidents happening.

The Calendula Aloe Vera Soap is cut and curing on the racks. It should be in my shop around March 29!

The rosehip powder makes some pretty interesting patterns.
I layered this soap in the mold, sprinkled rosehip powder and did a hanger swirl (literally, you use a hanger to swirl the batter). The rose hip should gently exfoliate. The orange and vanilla essential oils smell fresh and summery. I think the soap may darken up, soaps with vanilla essential oils generally do. But we'll see.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Why I don't sell shampoo bars...

I've been making shampoo bars for myself and family for over a year after a request by my daughter. It's been an experiment more than anything because there are so many different things that a shampoo bar has to address and so many different hair types...not to mention hair dyes.

I didn't realize that you couldn't just make soap and use it on your hair. Well, I guess you could but some strange things can happen. Hair can get greasy feeling, stiff, dry, crunchy...anything but soft, shiny and manageable.

Since I haven't been able to figure out a recipe that will promise great results without stripping hair dye, I'm just going to continue to make it for myself and my family.

The last batch I made was just castor oil, coconut oil and argan oil and I used the hot process method so I could control the superfats, which was the argan oil. It worked really well and my hair was amazingly soft. I did have to use a water/apple cider vinegar rinse to keep my hair feeling that way but I did that when I was using regular shampoo, too.

I mixed it up a bit this time around, still using the hot process method, and added jojoba oil along with the argan oil for superfats and lavender essential oil and vanilla essential oil. That's it, no chemicals and no collection of plastic bottles.

They're not the prettiest shampoo bars, coconut oil makes a brittle bar of soap. The batter was quite fluid when it was hot but while letting it cool enough to add the essential oils it started solidifying in chunks, as you can see in the picture. 

I tried one out today and so far I'm really happy. They create a ton of foamy lather, smell wonderful and my hair feels extremely soft. I didn't use the water/acv because I want to see how the shampoo bar effects my hair without it. My goal is to put together a recipe that does what I need it to without using the water/acv rinse. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

What to do on a rainy day...

It's been a very cold, rainy day. Two words that you don't normally use to describe days in the Arizona desert, cold and rainy, but it's been both all day...and windy.

Today was definitely an indoor activity day and I had a new batch of soap I wanted to try so that's just what I did. It's Calendula Aloe Vera Soap scented with orange and vanilla essential oils. I haven't used aloe vera in a soap recipe and I'm anxious to see how it works out.

Aloe vera has been used for healing and soothing skin conditions such as sunburns, acne, cuts and psoriasis. How much of the benefits translates through the saponification process in soap making is a bit beyond the scope of my knowledge but I really feel it's worth a try.

Calendula is also good for skin conditions such as cuts, eczema and dry skin. I thought pairing the two in a single soap might be really helpful for people with sensitive or problematic skin.

Freshly poured Calendula Aloe Vera Soap.

I added annatto seed oil to part of the batter in hopes to get it close to the color of the Calendula flower. I also added a bit of rosehip powder to add a gentle exfoliant to help with dry skin.

Gel stage.

The soap didn't start gelling until 5.5 hours after I poured it, I don't remember it taking so long in the past but maybe it was because it was pretty chilly today. The gel stage is basically saponification taking place. It isn't necessary for a soap to gel but it can make the color more vibrant.

I'm hoping to get it cut tomorrow evening and up in my shop by the end of March!

Hot Process Soap

I work compacted work weeks. One week I work three-12 hour days and have four days off, the next week it’s the opposite. This week, however, I had to take two days off due to illness. I really didn’t want to use up any sick time this early in the year, unfortunately it couldn’t be helped. Working the compacted work weeks allows me time to concentrate on my soaps on my days off, I like that.

I was able to get a batch of Leslie’s Hippy Dippy Days Patchouli Soap done last night and this morning I made Amber’s Cedarlyptus Soap for my nephews wife. Both will be listed in my shop in a few weeks.I find soapmaking very interesting and I took the following pictures to share with you while making Amber’s soap.

I've added the hot oils, lye solution and apricot seed.

Basically I use the countertop hot process method. I soap with the oils at 200F-210F and the lye solution at 195F. Once I’m sure the oils and lye solution are mixed well I cover with plastic wrap and wait for the batter to go through several stages. 

The soap batter is beginning to volcano.

Once the batter volcanoes I stir it down and then stick blend it for a minute to keep the batter moving. The soap batter is no longer on a heat source and is cooking itself. It usually heats up a bit more during this process.

Stick blending after the first volcano.

At this point I'm waiting for it to volcano again...gotta stay right by the pot so it doesn't volcano over the top. Sometimes it volcanoes a couple of times, sometimes even more. A few times I’ve had batches that didn’t volcano at all but went through all of the other stages. It will volcano until the lye is done reacting with the oils, or possibly if the batter cools down too much.

Second volcano, I have to admit I find this pretty interesting.

Once it’s done with the obvious volcanoes and it’s been blended well after each, I let it set to continue the process. I can tell this hasn’t finished “cooking” yet because there is still some white “mash potato” like areas in the batter.

Still some white streaks in the batter, it isn't done cooking yet.

At this point I either stir or stick-blend to get those white areas to finish processing. The last stage is the “Vaseline” stage. The soap batter gets shiny and translucent.

Vaseline stage, the cook is pretty much complete and saponification has taken place.

Once the soap has hit this stage I check it’s temperature and the temperature of the superfats I’m adding to be sure they’re pretty close, then add the superfats.

The superfats included annatto seed oil which gave this soap a beautiful orange color.

I’m really happy with the orange created by the annatto seed! After the superfats were completely mixed in I added very warm yogurt and coconut milk, mixed well and let it set for five minutes. The eucalyptus and cedarwood essential oils were added once the batter had cooled a bit more and then the batter was plopped into the mold.

Amber's Cedarlyptus Soap in the mold.

I’m really happy with the finished bars...

Amber's Cedarlyptus Soap

I love the speckles of apricot seeds!

Handmade Soaps

Have you ever taken the time to learn how to do something that interests you, spent hours (days, weeks, months) studying it, preparing for it and then finally getting to make it just to have people point out that you could buy that something at the store? Mmmhmmm, yeah.

Stores carry all kinds of bath products, some are even natural, but I haven’t found any that are as lovely as handmade soap.

Learning about the natural oils and butters that go into handmade soap has been a trip! Some oils create more lather, some create more bubbles, some make a harder bar of soap, some make a softer bar of soap. Some are moisturizing, some drying if you use too much. Some oils are better as cleansers. I find it all very interesting and trying to put the right oils together in the proper amounts to get a bubbly, lathery, cleansing, moisturizing bar of soap is fun for me.

Then there are essential oils. Some are great in handmade soaps, some just disappear quickly. There are a multitude of reasons to use essential oils from their antibacterial properties to their scent. I don’t feel as if every bar of soap needs a scent, they can interfere with perfumes and colognes, and they can also be an issue for people with sensitive skin.

Amanda Bavender Lavender Soap, grapeseed oil infused with alkanet root used as the colorant.

Natural colorants like the alkanet root used in the Amanda Bavender Lavender Soap can be a challenge. Some behave just like you hope, they add the color you want to the soap you’re making and they look lovely. Other’s lose their color or completely change into a color you’re not expecting. As much as I want my soap to be beautiful, a bar’s moisturizing properties are my ultimate goal. Pretty soaps aren’t useful if they aren’t good for your skin. And there are tons of pretty soaps out there that are moisturizing as well. For the soaps I make, and use, I want to stick to natural colorants.

There are also other ingredients to consider such as activated charcoal, clays and exfoliants. I try to fit the ingredients to the purpose of the soap.

All of these things together are what makes soap making so interesting to me. They are the reasons I like making soap. I also like making soap for health reasons. Our skin is our largest organ and I think it’s just as important to be watchful of what we put on our bodies as what we put in our bodies. I try to use as many non-GMO and/or organic ingredients as possible.

Hopefully, as I learn more about the many aspects of soap making, I can share them here. Other times I may just write about random things, like the weather. Either way, welcome to my blog.