Sunday, November 29, 2015

More, More, More!

Though I didn't write about it, I did make more soap last weekend. I was getting very low on the Lavender and Goat Milk soap; it seems to be another popular one. A work customer wanted more and there are only a couple of pieces left so I thought it was time.

Pardon this week's pictures; it's evening and the camera isn't cooperating very well.

The first time I made this soap, I didn't even have a proper mold. It was made in a foil baking pan, if I remember correctly. The lavender is really strong in this soap and it scents the spare room amazingly! It smells SO good!

I also decided to try another version of the dental soap, this time without palm kernel oil as I've read that it, too, can give a "soapy" flavour to the finished soap. This time, I used peanut oil and cocoa butter at an 80/20% split. I added one crushed Tums (for the calcium carbonate) and 3 capsules of activated charcoal, along with 20 drops of peppermint essential oil and 10 drops of sweet anise essential oil. I doubt the essential oils will do much to flavour the soap but I have read that the calcium carbonate can help to remineralize teeth. It certainly can't hurt, right?

I had a cutting board laying over the mold but one of the kids leaned on it... hence the smudge of batter.

Last time, I did a 4 ounce batch, this is a 6 ounce batch. I think the next batch, if I want to fill the mold, will be a 12 ounce batch of soap batter. Next time may not be for quite some time, though. One of these little bars will probably last me a couple of months!

Even John is on board with dental soap - he likes the fact that there's no waste.. no tubes to dispose of. I like that, too, although I am still using my regular toothpaste (with added charcoal) in the mornings and the tooth soap at night. There's something about the mintiness in the morning - it's definitely a wake up and after that one cup of coffee? Mintiness is a good thing!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Soapy Goodness!

It's been a busy and emotional weekend. As a family, we're waiting for news of my grandson, when his funeral will be held. In the meantime, around here, it's "Keep Calm and Soap On". I have an order for five bars of the Java Jumpstart soap for Christmas so I needed to get on that right quick. Christmas is just around the corner and soap needs a minimum of four weeks to cure.

My soap curing room (aka the spare bedroom) smells amazing - a blend of orange, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and patchouli. It really does smell good!

A week or so ago, I received a package from an online friend from California. In it were three luffas, along with some seeds, luffa and a variety of others. Yesterday, I bleached and cleaned the luffas and, after letting them dry out a bit, made Luffa (or Loofah) Soap.

I made these in my silicone mold; there are eight in total with two small bars of leftover soap. The recipe is based on one I found online.

Loofah (Luffa) Soap

25% Coconut oil
25% Beef Tallow
20% Olive oil pomace
10% Palm oil
10% Castor oil
10% Hemp oil

Superfat at 5% with water as 33% of oil weight or a lye concentration of 30%

I added 1 tbsp. of honey to my oils and added 1 tsp. sodium lactate to the lye water.

My 500 gram batch is lightly scented with 50 drops of Rose Geranium essential oil.

At light trace, the batter was poured over the moist luffa in the silicone molds.

Above is the full batch, with the two small extra bars at the right. At the moment, the soap is fairly soft but I think it will firm up quite nicely. I'm kind of excited to try Loofah Soap.. can't say I ever have!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Time for Cutting

The second batch was cut this morning and I'm happy. Using the new mold, I managed to get 18 bars; John thinks the bars are on the large side, which might make it difficult to lather up in the shower but I don't think they're any bigger than most of the bars I see people making online. I know I prefer mine a little smaller but I have smaller hands.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Beer Me Another One

I have some wonderful customers. One of my customers, Dave, makes apple crates, which he sells at our local farmer's market. They're great little boxes; I've bought one from him in the past. A few weeks ago, I asked him if he could make a wooden mold for me; I gave him a plan and he said he'd be happy to build it for me.

A week or so ago, he came in with the finished mold and wouldn't take payment for it. I have a feeling that mold will come in very handy if/when I need to make larger batches of soap. It holds seven pounds of soap batter! That's a lot of soap!

Today, I used that mold for the first time.

It seems that my Blackstrap Ale soap is going to be a popular one at the brewery where Kristen got the beer for me. Every time she goes in to have her growler refilled, they ask about the soap and when they'll see it. It still has a few weeks curing time but they'll definitely be getting some.

You can see the first two batches in the background, behind the charcoal soap. Today's batch is the same recipe, just more of it. After this, if I want to make more beer soap, I'll need more beer. I used the last of it in this batch.

I'll definitely be saving a bar for Dave.... as a thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Genny's Shampoo Bar

On the Soap Making Forum, any time the conversation turns to shampoo bars or a very gentle facial soap, Genny's Shampoo Bar comes up. I decided I'd read enough about it; it was time to try it.

Once again, I made a very small batch, 7 ounces. This small batch made a total of 10 and one half of the mini bars. I scented it with just a little bit of patchouli (12 drops).

The recipe is as follows:

30% Avocado oil
10% Castor oil
40% Olive oil
10% Shea Butter
10% Sunflower Oil

5% superfat with a lye concentration of 40%
I added about half an ounce of coconut milk with the water (one ice cube's worth) and about 1/2 tsp simple syrup, in addition to the patchouli.

After just a few hours, the soap is firming up nicely. I don't think it will be a very hard bar. Once again, it's going to be hard to wait to try this soap, whether I use it as a shampoo bar or as a facial soap.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wash Your Mouth Out.... With Soap??

I've been doing a lot of reading on the SoapMaking Forum and, in the course of that reading, I came across a thread about using cold process soap as a dental soap. It does give new meaning to washing your mouth out with soap but I was intrigued.

I read the entire thread and paid attention to a few things:
  1. Don't use coconut oil in it. Apparently, coconut oil is what gives soap its "soapy" flavour.
  2. Peanut oil gives dental soap a bit of sweetness
  3. Don't make it too "scratchy"
Some people use their dental soap along with baking soda, some add bentonite clay. Some add peppermint oil to theirs, others add cinnamon oil. Some add xylitol as a sweetener, some add honey. 

Since I had a day off, I decided to try making my own. Here's my recipe:

10% Cocoa Butter
30% Olive Oil
30% Palm Kernel Oil
30% Peanut Oil

3% superfat
40% lye concentration

I added about 1/2 teaspoon honey to the water/lye mixture and about 1/2 teaspoon charcoal blended into a bit of glycerin.

The batch I made was with 4 ounces of total oils. Yup, this was a SMALL batch! I even went out and purchased a small bar mold. Each bar is only 1 ounce. They're so cute!!

Obviously, the soap needs to cure; it just came out of the mold this morning. It's going to be tough waiting the full six weeks, I can tell you. I'm settling for using my Castile soap which, incidentally, has a rather bland flavour. I can live with it.

As far as brushing your teeth with soap? Well, I can tell you that my teeth feel cleaner than they have in a very long time (and I brush twice a day, every day, thank you very much) and I'm already noticing a reduction in plaque buildup. I'm sold.

The mold I bought is a Fat Daddio's silicone oval mold. Each cavity is one ounce and the mold has sixteen cavities. I think I'll be using this one quite a bit, whether it's for making samples, guest soaps, or using it for bits that don't fit into full size molds... the leftovers.

I also splurged and bought a new digital scale. I have a digital scale but it measures ounces in 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 ounces (and grams). The new one measures ounces in hundredths of an ounce, as well as grams. It's invaluable when it comes to making 4 ounce recipes, believe me!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

One More Thing...

...the Hidden Feather Challenge is over and the winners have been announced. I wasn't one of them but that's not the idea of the challenges. It's the challenge. I have to say, that was a fun one.
You've already seen the soap I didn't enter. Now, I can show you the soap I did enter.

And to refresh your memory, here's the soap I didn't enter.

Activated Charcoal Soap and A Teachable Moment

Last night, after all of the Halloween festivities were over and the house was quiet, I unmolded the charcoal soap. I was a little cautious, a little leery as to what I would find. Why, you ask?

Well, let's go back a bit. I left the soap in the oven at about 160ºF for about an hour, then turned the oven off and left it until it had cooled. When I took it out, it looked like this:

That's not ash. I know what ash looks and feels like and this ain't it. It's more like orange peel, tiny little bubbles all over the entire surface of the log. I've had something like this happen only once before, with my last Taiwan Swirl soap.

In the case of the blue swirl, though, the soap stayed soft for quite some time. It's fine now, after its full cure but it did concern me. So, understandably, I was a little leery about the charcoal soap. Apart from the bubbly top, though, I had no reason to be concerned.

I'm thrilled with the resulting soap, glycerin rivers and all!

After posting a question in the Soap Making Forum about what was happening to my soap, I received numerous suggestions, many agreeing that it was probably ash... it isn't. One poster commented that it likely had to do with high water content and overheating. She referred me to Auntie Clara's amazing blog and this post in particular: Glycerine Rivers: Trying to Understand Them.

The post goes into the science behind glycerin rivers (see the lighter splotches? Those are glycerin rivers) and is very detailed but absolutely fascinating. Without repeating what Auntie Clara has already written so eloquently about, I learned that if I want to avoid the results I ended up with, and if I want to CPOP (cold process oven process), I can drastically reduce the water content in my soap. Higher water content in the soap will result in faster gel and higher temperatures, which is the culprit in this case.

I'm not complaining, though. I love the look of the soap. As for the top, I simply trimmed it off.