Thursday, November 3, 2016

Week 2

It's pretty close to being Week 3 at this point but I did take pictures at the two week mark. It wasn't easy taking pictures of my own lathered up left hand with a wet right hand so, for Week 2, I commissioned John to take the pictures.

First up, the soap made with water. The lather has increased quite dramatically. It lathered easily and the bubbles are both creamy and bubbly.

Then, the soap made with apple cider vinegar. Again, it lathered easily and quickly. It doesn't look like as much lather but it felt amazing... silky, creamy, luxurious. I much preferred the lather of the acv soap to the water soap. Both bars are nice and hard but the soap with acv feels harder to me. I can't back that up with any definitive tests, just what I could feel. Both bars have a lovely waxy feel to them and, at this point, both are lovely soaps.

I'm kind of biased towards the cider vinegar soap at this point. I'll try both again this weekend and have John take more pictures. I think, at this point, I can safely say that the cider vinegar experiment has shown that it makes a really nice soap. I know, from online reading, that using vinegar will up the superfat and that probably contributes to the creamy feeling but if I want to make a "special" soap, I'll definitely consider making it with apple cider vinegar.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Week One in the Soap Experiment

One week in and today is the first day of testing the two soaps. First, a comparison photo...

The soap at the bottom is the water based soap; the top is the apple cider vinegar soap. There's not a lot of difference in the colour any more. The cider soap is slightly darker but the difference is negligible, really.

Here they are side by side. Again, you can see that the cider soap, on the right, is slightly darker but just slightly.

And how do they lather?

Keep in mind, this is the first week. This is the water based soap. It lathered easily and the lather was lovely.

And the cider soap. The lather's not quite as fine but still, it lathered easily and the lather felt good.

Stay tuned for week #2.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Soaping Experiment - the Unmolding

It's still early here (6:50 a.m.) but I decided to check on my soapy experiment before getting ready for work. Both were hard enough to unmold and came out of the molds easily.

Both are smooth, hard, and look lovely. As you can see from the next picture, the soap with the apple cider vinegar is still slightly darker but has lightened up considerably.

Water based soap on the left, ACV based soap on the right
There is no scent of the cider vinegar in the cider soap. That surprised me a little bit, to be honest. Now, we wait. I'll try both in about a week and then each week after that... if I remember.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Soap Made

My two small batches have been made and in the molds. The recipe I used is as follows:

44% Olive oil
32% Palm oil
24% Coconut oil

I used 8 ounces of oil for each batch and my water to lye ratio was 1.4:1. Superfat was 5%. The only difference between the recipes was the liquid used to dissolve the lye. One was water, one was apple cider vinegar.

Here, you can see the difference between the ACV (at the left) with the lye dissolved in it and the lye dissolved in water. I did learn one little thing about using plastic to stir the lye into the liquid. It gets hot enough to do this...

That surprised me a little, to be honest.

The soap is now in the molds and it should be pretty easy to keep them straight. Apart from using different molds, the colour is a dead giveaway.

Made with water
Made with apple cider vinegar
I wanted to make sure there was no way these two soaps could be mistaken for each other so I used two completely different molds. Unfortunately, the green one's cavities are a little bigger than the red one. I don't think it will affect my experiment any but, in retrospect, I could have filled three cavities with one and three cavities with the other. Oh well, live and learn, right?

The next step is to see how long it takes before they're ready to unmold. Stand by.


It's been a while since I made soap. Yes, I've done one or two of the challenges on the Soapmaking Forum that I haven't blogged about but, really, there hasn't been a lot of soapmaking going on around here. Now, though, Christmas is coming and if I don't get myself in gear, I won't have much available.

Today, though, I want to run an experiment. I'm home with a rather upset tummy but I don't feel like sitting still so it's a good time for this. What's the experiment?

Well, I've been doing a lot of reading and have come across a blogger who uses only apple cider vinegar in her soap, rather than water. I've decided to make a very basic soap using olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. I'll make two small batches, one made with water, the other made with acv; I won't add any scent or colour and will put them in different molds in order to differentiate them.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Buttermilk and Carrot Bastille Soap

The Bastille soap was made yesterday and I think I can safely say this will be, as my daughter says, a gooder. It's made with Pomace olive oil with the addition of a little coconut oil and augmented with the addition of pureed carrots and buttermilk instead of water. I scented the batch with two teaspoons of lavender. It smells amazing and has a very pale orange colour, thanks to the pureed carrots.

By last night, it was already hard enough to cut and I probably should have. I cut it this morning and it was chipping a little. It was that hard, within 24 hours. I tested a few of the crumbs and it lathers beautifully already. I can only imagine what it will be like in 4-6 weeks.

One of these days, I'd like to get a proper soap cutter. My little cheese cutter is just a bit too small for the job. Ah well. I'm still very happy with this recipe.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Soleseife (Brine Soap)

This morning, I unmolded the soleseife (brine soap) I made on Thursday. It was still a bit on the soft side but I don't like leaving my soaps in silicone molds for too long. I don't know if it's true or not but it seems to me that it just doesn't "breathe" and harden up as quickly as it should. Then, I found this picture...

This is the very first batch of soleiseife I made and, as you can see, it was a bit soft coming out of the mold (a Pringles can), too. Maybe I should have left the soap for a while longer but it's out of the molds now.

I love the colours in the soap above. The colours faded very quickly, though. When wet, there's still some colour but it isn't as bright as in the picture. I have a feeling this batch will do the same and I'm okay with that.

Even though I added two teaspoons of scent, there's very little scent to these bars. That surprised me a little but there's just enough scent remaining to cover the "soap" scent. Another thing that surprises me is that, even though I used lavender and patchouli, the soap smells a bit like peppermint. I'm not sure why.

And while we're on the topic of scent, I came across the three remaining bars of the Two Vices soap (made with hemp oil and beer) and have decided that they need a good airing out. The scent of the hemp oil is very strong. They've been stored in a cardboard box for the past month since I had to clear out the spare bedroom for a guest. I really don't like the scent much but it's such a nice soap that I'll put up with it. For now, the three bars are back on the curing bench, airing out and aging.

If the smell doesn't lighten up, I'll have to find someone who doesn't mind the scent.

Today, I'm planning on making a Buttermilk Bastille Baby soap, made with, you guessed it, buttermilk and the addition of pureed carrots. For those who may not know, bastille is the name given to an olive oil based soap that has the addition of coconut oil to help with lathering. A true 100% olive oil soap is known as Castile soap; adding the coconut oil bastardizes it. Therefore, it is known as Bastille soap.

Now, though, it's time for another cup of coffee and a bit of vitamin D, in the form of sunshine.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

About Time!

There has not been a lot of production around here lately and I'm feeling a little deprived. Most weekends these days are taken up with gardening and grandchildren, leaving very little time or energy for making soap... or anything else, for that matter.

However, because John has to go for some medical tests and he isn't allowed to drive afterwards, I've taken the day off. We don't have to leave until around lunch time so I have some time to make a batch of soap.

One of the earlier soaps I made has really impressed me over the past couple of months. Last September, I made a batch of brine soap, made with salt water. I've been using it as a facial soap for the last month or so and I have to say... I love it! I don't have a lot of it left so I decided it was a good time to make myself some more.

I don't think I ever took pictures of that soap when I first made it. It was the first, and only, time I used a Pringles can as a mold. I used an in-the-pot swirl with pale pink and pale blue swirls. This time, I'll be using a selection of silicone molds and will again be doing an itp swirl, with pink, blue and mauve. Last time, I scented the soap with lemongrass and ylang ylang; this time, I'll be scenting it with lavender and patchouli. I'll also be adding a couple of cubes of frozen coconut milk that's been hiding in my freezer.

I'll let you know how it turns out on Saturday. Right now, it's time to get soaping!

Monday, April 11, 2016


I know it's been a few weeks since I posted; in the interim, the results of March's challenge have been posted on the Soap Making Forum and I am tickled pink. My "peeps" soap came in third in the voting! Voting is only allowed by those who have signed up for the challenge so the entries have been voted on by my peers. To place at all is a thrill!

This month's challenge isn't as easy as I thought it would be. It's a type of hanger swirl, known for the person who has perfected it, the Petra swirl (or a butterfly swirl). It's gorgeous! Here's an example of it...

Not mine, believe me! See what I mean? Gorgeous!

I've managed one try and was disappointed with the result. Don't get me wrong, what I ended up with isn't completely disappointing; I love the colours. It's very "psychedelic" but not what I intended. Anyone who tells you that swirls are easy has either been at it a long time or has never actually tried it.

Here's my first attempt...

Don't get me wrong. I like it. It's growing on me but it isn't what it was supposed to look like. It's unscented, by the way. I wasn't sure what scent to use; if I were to make it again, I would definitely use patchouli and maybe something else... definitely patchouli, though. It just seems to fit. I'll give it another try this weekend, once things have settled down. We've had company for the last week and a half. Now, it's time to get back to normal. That means time for another try.

And maybe a third.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Floating Soap - the Entry

Well, the entry thread for the floating soap challenge is open and I've posted my soap. That means I can post my entry here. Without further ado...

This is just after getting it into the mold. My piping skills definitely need some work but some of the "peeps" turned out okay. It's meant to be representative of water with floating "rubber duckies". I made a 30 oz. batch of soap and it filled a 9" x 9" square pan, or 16 square bars (well, sort of square).

After almost 48 hours, I was able to unmold and cut it. One thing about this soap is that it doesn't cut very nicely. It tends to chip a lot more than regular soap does.

I wanted a little bit of green in the soap as well but it got mixed in a little more than I'd anticipated. Oh well, not a big deal, really. The sprinkling of glitter over the "water" really gives the soap a nice shimmery touch.

But, you ask, does it float?

Oh yeah, it does! The only thing I don't like about this soap is the scent. I bought a fragrance oil from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Langley, BC and the one bad thing about buying online is that you can't smell the scent before you buy. I don't like it at all. To me, it smells like some cheap shave cream or after shave.

My grandchildren, however, love it. I'm just hoping the scent fades with time or I'll be giving it all away.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Floating Soap #2

Today's the day I make my "real" floating soap, the one that will, hopefully, be my entry into this month's SMF challenge.

The lye is cooling outside. The oils have been melted together and are cooling; the colorants are mixed, the scent (Rain) has been measured and the mold has been prepped.

And I know what I'm doing. Well, in my head I know what I want it to look like when it comes out of the mold. Whether it actually comes into fruition or looks anything like my vision remains to be seen.

I'll let you know when it comes out of the mold.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sick Days and Whatever Floats Your Soap

Unfortunately, I'm having a couple of sick days. Yesterday, I woke up with a massive headache, a cough, and throwing up every time I coughed. Not fun. It did, however, give me some time to read about and contemplate this month's challenge over at SMF.

Floating Soap.

You know... like Ivory Soap.

So, do you know what makes it float? Have you ever made soap that floats? Neither had I.

How do you make soap that floats, you ask? Well, it's a method more than it is a recipe, for starters. The soap is made cold. The recipe should have about 75% hard oils (oils that are solid at room temperature) and 25% liquid oils. And it's beaten.

It's the air that's incorporated while beating the solid oils that enables the soap to float.

My recipe for this month's challenge is as follows:

50% lard
15% coconut oil
10% mango butter
10% avocado oil
10% olive oil
5% castor oil

I used 5% superfat and a lye concentration of 45%. I also added one cube of frozen (thawed) coconut milk I still had in the freezer.

You know the usual method of making cold process soap, right? You melt the oils together and cool until about room temperature. You mix your lye and liquid and cool until it's about the same temperature as the oils. Right. Not this time.

Instead of melting the hard oils, they are whipped until they soften and smooth matte peaks form. Then, the liquid oils and additives (this is where I added the coconut milk) are beaten in. Finally, the cooled (and I do mean completely cooled) lye is slowly incorporated into the oil blend.

The result is a creamy, whipped cream looking concoction that looks almost good enough to eat. Almost. Don't try it. You're smarter than that.

At this point, the batter can be divided, coloured, scented, then poured, after which it should be refrigerated for a few hours. You do not want this to gel or all that beating will be for nothing. It does take longer to harden and therefore, to unmold. Apparently, it can take up to four days before it's firm enough to unmold.

I made a sample batch last night, 8 ounces of oils. I had to melt the coconut and mango together because both were quite hard (mango was stored in the fridge and the coconut stored in a cool dark closet); they never did firm up again so I added them to the beaten lard and put the whole mess in the freezer for a while. Eventually, it firmed up enough for me to get lovely stiff peaks.

I scented it with a blend of patchouli, peppermint, and lemongrass (equal parts) and poured it into single bar molds.

I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then moved it into my spare bedroom overnight. It's always a cool place in the winter (we don't turn on the heat in there). This morning, I tried to unmold one bar but, as you can see, it was still a bit soft.

A few hours later, just for fun, I had to see if it would float.

John suggested the mini sail. I should have coloured it for a bit of contrast.

It floats! It's a little hard to see but there's about an inch and a half of water in the sink.

Now, what shall I make for the challenge? THAT is the challenge for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

No Soap

When I asked John what kind of soap I should make this weekend, his cryptic comment was, "What about none? You're running out of room." He's right but that hasn't stopped me before. It is Valentine's weekend, though, and there are more important things than making soap.

I did, however, decide to splurge and purchase Soapmaker 3. I'm hoping that, once I'm familiar with it, it will help me track my soap making more efficiently.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Cut

Before I went to bed last night, I thought it might be wise to check on my soaps. I'm glad I did. The Paloma was hard. I mean.. it. was. hard! I unmolded it and decided to cut it right away. The soap almost chipped, it was that hard.

You can even see, at the left edge of the back bar, where it chipped a bit with cutting. I had to work to cut this batch. I don't mind, though; a nice, hard bar will be a long lasting bar and I know from experience that this one is.

The Juicy Orange soap was also hard enough to unmold. This one surprised me a little.

Looking at this picture, what would you expect to find when you cut? I thought it would look a bit like an orange sherbet, similar to the colour on the top. Wow, was I in for a surprise! I think I can safely say that this is the most vibrant soap I've made to date.

It's gorgeous! My ITP (in the pot) swirl turned out way better than I expected. And the scent? Oh, the scent! Juicy Orange pretty much describes it perfectly. I've tested a little sliver from the end cut and, though it's brand new, it lathers beautifully, it smells wonderfully fresh - I think this will be a popular bar of soap.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

More, More, More!

It has turned into a weekend of soap making, it seems. After all of the spin swirl attempts, I decided it was time to make some "real" soap. I've been wanting to make more of the Dove copy soap, which I'm calling "Paloma", as I have only one bar left. I love that soap!

I also downloaded a recipe from the Soap Queen that I've been wanting to try for some time now. It's one called Juicy Orange and Sweet Rose soap. She topped hers with dried orange peel and rose petals. I don't care for all that stuff so didn't bother with it. It all just goes down the drain or into the garbage anyway. In the picture, the one at the front is the Juicy Orange soap and the one at the back is the Paloma.

Already, after only three hours, the Paloma soap is almost hard enough to take out of the mold, even though it's still warm. It's made with all hard oils (coconut, palm, palm kernel, stearic acid, and lard) and hardens up to a nice hard bar. As I say, it's one of my absolute favourites. I scented it with a bit of patchouli, very lightly. 

The Juicy Orange soap is scented with Sweet Orange essential oil, only in the orange part. It's an in the pot swirl that I'm hoping swirled nicely.

What next? I feel like making more, more, more!

One More Time

I decided to try the Spin Swirl Challenge one more time. After asking a few questions in the forum, I learned that low water soap batter will stay fluid longer, giving one more time for colouring and swirling. So, I used a suggested recipe, reduced the water to lye ratio and tried again.

It turned out much better! However.... yes, there's a however... I decided to add a little titanium dioxide, dispersed in water, to one third of the batter. I shouldn't have been surprised but I was - the added water instantly thickened up the batter to plopping consistency. I abandoned it.

It seems so counterintuitive, doesn't it? Usually, adding water will thin things down. With soap batter, the added liquid seems to force the batter to thicken. I'm not sure I understand why that is but it has definitely been a learning experience.

So, because I'm happy with my third attempt (generally speaking), I can show you Attempt #2.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Challenges are Challenging!

Ok, I know that challenges are supposed to be challenging; that's the whole idea, right? Well, I'm finding this month's Soap Making Forum challenge to be more so than the others I've participated in. This month's challenge is a spin swirl. Here's a link to a Google image search for spin swirl soap.  Gorgeous soaps, aren't they?

My first attempt turned out nothing... and I do mean absolutely nothing!... like any of those.

In my head, I had envisioned something that looked like striated rock; I'm not sure what my attempt looks like but it certainly doesn't look anything like what I saw in my imagination. I used what was supposed to be a slow tracing recipe but, by the time I added my colorants to each of the four cups of soap batter, they'd already started thickening up. By the time I was halfway through pouring, I was plopping the batter into the mold (which, incidentally, was a 4" x 4" x 4" cardboard box). Spinning it was almost painful because the batter was already so thick it barely moved.

After that failed attempt, I decided to wait a while, regroup, make something else. So, last weekend, Trinity and I made more bath bombs. I let her decide on scent, colour, and mold. She made great choices!

Aren't they pretty? The hearts are the ones I made a week before. The orange flowers are Trinity's choice. They're scented with sweet orange essential oil and enhanced with a bit of iridescent glitter. This weekend, I'll have the kids come by and put together their teacher gifts for Valentine's.

I also made some hand cream, with Trinity's assistance, and we'll round out the gift with a bar of soap and some homemade lip balm (the good stuff... the one with emu oil).

I did learn that the regular silicon molds are not the greatest for bath bombs. You really can't pack the mixture in without the mold stretching. The heart mold was fine; it's made of sturdier material than the flower mold. That's a bit disappointing  but they still look okay and smell amazing!

With all of that under my belt, I started thinking about the spin swirl challenge again. I scoured Pinterest, looking for inspiration. I planned. I discussed with John. I settled on one idea.

Last night, I prepared my batter. No exotic ingredients. Water for the lye, not beer. Colour only half the batter. Slow tracing recipe. No wine (never drink and soap!).

I set to work. After the batter was made, I separated it into two measuring cups and added my colorant, mixed with a bit of oil, to one half and began my pour. Even though the batter was very liquid, it didn't take long before it was thickening up. Again, by the end, I was plopping it into the mold. This time, however, it was still fluid enough that I could spin it.

Spinning it was fun. The first time I did it, I wasn't sure how enthusiastic I could be. This time, I set the box on a lazy susan, used a skewer in the center of the soap batter to anchor it and spun it around, then stopping it suddenly.

Once I thought I'd spun it enough, I put the soap into a warm oven and walked away. Before going to bed, I moved it into the spare bedroom and let it sleep with a heated neck warmer, in a wooden box. This morning, I unmolded it. You can see that there was definitely movement in the batter. I also got the start of what I think is "alien brains", a rippled effect that happens when the soap overheats.

I do love the colour, a very pretty lavender. I know someone else who will love it, too. Purple is Trinity's favourite colour.

The bottom of the soap. I won't show you the cut bars because, for now, I think this will be my entry into the challenge. Unless I decide to try again.

Once I decided it was deep enough in the mold, I poured the remainder of the batter into my newest soap mold, the one with the perfectly sized hand soap bars.

These are still in the mold this morning as they're still a little soft. I'll check them again this afternoon. I must say, I do love that colour!

There will be more soap making this weekend... I might even decide to try the challenge again.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bath Bombs and a New Challenge

When I flipped the mold with the bath bombs over last night, I was surprised to see that all the bombs dropped out of the molds with no persuasion. I am impressed.

They smell amazing, too. Even though I forgot to put a bit of glitter into the molds yesterday, I sprinkled a little glitter on the bath bombs today and they look even better.

As far as soap goes, I'm feeling a little uninspired. Or, I was until the February challenge was posted on the Soap Making Forum. This month's challenge is a spin swirl, something I'd never even heard of. After doing some researching on Pinterest, John and I decided it might be fun to try. Yes,  you read that right, John and I. We came up with the theme of "wood".

I showed him the thread with all of the black & white entries and he started critiquing each soap by "masculine" and "feminine". When I showed him what a spin swirl is, he suggested something "male". Neither of us cares for brightly coloured soap but when I showed him a wood coloured soap, he thought it was kind of cool, especially considering that the guys around our place are into renovating, building, and burning wood. He thinks it will appeal to the men in my life. I agreed.

All I'll say for now is that it's in the mold. I used a small box, 4" x 4" x 4" and a recipe for 1 lb. It was supposed to be a slow tracing recipe but I've learned that when you use beer as your liquid, you will accelerate trace. It traced so fast I didn't even have time to add scent. We shall see how it turns out.  I have a feeling I'll be trying it again.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hemp Soap Week 2

In the continuing saga of the hemp soap, I tried it again this week. It lathers even better than it did last week. I'm finding it interesting trying it every week, seeing the difference from one week to the next.

This week's lather felt creamier than last week's. I wonder what it will be like next week!

I've been intending to make soap this week but, so far, it hasn't happened. I did, however, make bath bombs. I decided to try out the new mold before the grandkids and I make them for teachers next week.

These are scented with rose and ylang ylang. On the other side, I've embedded a rose bud. I had intended to add a bit of glitter but, in the end, forgot it. I'll try to remember next week because I think it will add to the overall appearance. I'll also have to remember to pick up more rose essential oil as I used up the last of what I had.

This is the first time I used a silicon mold for bath bombs. I'm a little leery about breaking them; according to what I've read online, I need to leave them for 24 hours so that's what I'll do. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

No Soap.... Yet

In a little while, after I finish this post, I will be making another batch of the Java Jumpstart. I seem to be out of that one; it's become one of my most popular soaps. That's a little later, though, after the dishes are done and this post is published.

For now, I'm just relaxing. That doesn't mean my weekend has been unproductive. I have made a batch of face/hand cream. One of the ladies at work requested some cream; she has eczema on her hands and a lot of commercial products aggravate her condition. I've made cream for her in the past and she's liked almost everything I've made her.

I found an interesting recipe in an e-book I found on Amazon, for one cent! Not a bad deal, if I say so myself. It's a book by Anne L. Watson about lotion making. This recipe is called Ingrid's Magic Potion Lotion and is filled with all kinds of good things. I changed one ingredient, as I didn't have any evening primrose oil and I used less water than the recipe calls for as I wanted more of a cream rather than a lotion.

The ingredients used in this recipe (as I made it) are macadamia oil, shea butter, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, rosehip oil, argan oil (subbed for the evening primrose oil), and vitamin e oil. I scented it with a bit of lemongrass and patchouli, something I won't do again. I'm not thrilled with the scent, to be honest, although it does dissipate quickly. Thankfully, I only scented it lightly. (I just gave a jar to my upstairs neighbour... she LOVES the scent!)

It's a lovely cream, though. It's absorbs quickly, leaving my hands nice and soft. I used a bit on my face last night and loved how it made my skin feel. With all those lovely oils in it, it's no wonder!

Last week, I said I'd use the smallest of the Two Vices soaps as a tester bar. Well, today I lathered up and can report that I'm impressed. The bars have hardened up nicely (they'll get harder as time goes by) and the lather came easily.

Even though the soap is only one week old, it didn't make my hands feel overly dry or tight and the lather is decent. I have a feeling I'll really like this soap after it has fully cured.

I also went out yesterday to pick up a few supplies and look for a heart-shaped mold for Valentine's bath products. I told the grandkids that we'd make bath bombs for their teachers. I went to my favourite kitchen store to see what they had and came home with this mold:

They're the perfect size for a hand soap. Unfortunately, the only heart shaped molds they had were tiny, candy sized molds, not suitable for making bath bombs or even soaps (well, guest soaps maybe). Michael's was my next stop. There, I found this silicon mold:

It's not quite as flexible as the other silicon molds I have so I think it should be alright for making bath bombs. I may have to do a little experimenting later. I already have a tried and true recipe for bath bombs and I have all the ingredients. Perhaps next weekend, I'll make the bath bombs with the kids; they'll love it! And I'm sure their teachers will appreciate a package that includes a bath bomb, a bar of soap, a jar of hand cream and a lip balm, all hand made.

Now.... time to get this kitchen tidied up so I can make soap!