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.