Neecy's Necessities

As of today, the wine bar soap loaf using a blend of the Sparkling Plum + Champagne Kisses fragrance oils (WSP) is still a bit too soft to cut.  It was made at nearly full water, so this softness is not unexpected, just really annoying as I’m always anxious to see what the swirls look like inside.  Guess it will be a few more days yet. *sigh*  The top’s swirling still looks very nice.  Ashiness tried to start, but a quick spritz of alcohol sent it packing.

The wine soap in liquid form turned out very nice though dark, which also was to be expected given the darkness of the wine itself.  Cooking out the alcohol can also darken it further, which is why I try to keep it low & slow rather than boiling it off.

So now the Lambrusco wine soap, bottled up and nearly ready to show to the prospective wholesaler looks like this –

Lambrusco Silk Hand & Body Wash bottled and labeled (1024x768)

 

For those who might be interested in knowing where I found the pumps, collars and jar lids, you can click here to find them.  FactoryDirectCraft.com has many styles & colours to suit nearly every taste, budget and need.  Their prices are competitive as well. These brushed pump tops are bit pricier than I’d like so they won’t be repeated, but these make for a clean look to something new to the public. Factory Direct ships very quickly with sturdy packaging so nothing is at risk for damages during shipping time if handled properly.  We all have had our expereinces with shipments arriving crushed, mangled beyond all hope, or even lost completely.  That isn’t due to FDC’s poor packaging for sure!

I’m still on the lookout for the next bigger size jars, maybe even in a tinted colour that would suit me, but not entirely sold on that idea.  My store’s web site does not sell glass jars so these would need to be redone in a safer type of bottling when placed on the site.  I love boozy soaps in all forms, so these are keepers.

Glass jars have their uses, but they also have large drawbacks as well, once of which is breakage.  It’s scary to think you might be held liable for someone buying your product then breaking it and blaming you for their injury. I’d really prefer a plastic bottle but this particular wholesale customer wanted Mason jars which are not made in plastic. So, there we are.  Glass jars.

Another drawback is labeling.  These jars have raised designs on the outside plus a tapered shape.  Neither of these features are conducive to easy labeling.  The labels are difficult to put on and look reasonably straight.  They’ll always arc upward on the sides.  The raised designs also create gaps into which a drip can sneak in and cause the labeling to loosen & come off. >:(   These are customer specific obviously, but they’d be very cute for gift-giving occasions, wedding gifts or showers, at parties as prizes, or use at the sink when clean up is the next order of business.

One last thought on the wine post- when that stubbornly soft wine loaf is finally ready to be cut I will post pics of the results and let you know when it can be purchased.  Meantime keep it clean, folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Liquid batch after the first dilution

Liquid batch after the first dilution

As a change I’m posting the picture first in order to show the label of this particular wine.  It’s a new name to me but then many are as i’m not a huge red wine fan.  I prefer a light rose or more often a sweet white.  This one, however, was at the request of a local business, Pompieri Pizza of Durham, NC, which offers these wines for your enjoyment with your favorite pizza for a robust culinary experience, or perhaps to take home for a meal either enhanced by its sparkling effevescence or complimented by it.  I however, had much different plans for this lovely bottle of bubbly beverage.  This was destined for the greatness of a lush, rich, luxury hand & body wash.

To begin in working with an alcoholic beverage for a soap, either liquid or solid bar, there’s one particular thing to remember.  Lye doesn’t play nicely with anything containing alcohol of any amount.  Whether it’s 5% or 95%, the first thing you must remember is that it’s safest to use heat to remove the alcohol, as much of it as possible, prior to use in a batch of soap made with lye.  I do know some soapers who do not cook off the alcohol but will allow it to sit out to go flat prior to use, some also will freeze all or part of it for use with lye soap batches.  I’m of the school of safe-rather-than-sorry and allow it to go flat, then cook off the alcohol and used frozen with bar soaps and the chilled portions with liquid soaps.

The wine was placed into a Mason (quart sized, with a ring, but not the disk) jar with cheesecloth over the top and the ring to close it down, keeping anything airborne out while allowing it to breathe and go flat, for three days.  After this was completed, the wine was then heated, low & slow, for several hours, to avoid as much evaporation as possible while still removing the alcohol as much s possible.  It was then returned to the Mason jar, now washed out and sterilized, closed up with a new layering of cheesecloth and ring, and chilled overnight in the fridge. A portion of this wine was also frozen into cubes for use in a solid bar batch at a later date.  The chilled liquid wine was then used in the liquid soap paste and in the dilution phase as well.

This results in a very dark liquid soap as the wine was a deep purplish red about the colour of a fully ripened plum, which seems pretty appropriate as the wine has notes of plum, cherry, and berries in it’s original form.  it’s a sparkling wine, so it’s very bubbly straight out of the bottle, which would make it a fabulous wine for celebrations, parties, or other special occasions.  If any of my readers have had the opportunity to savor a glass of this full-bodied wine, please post a comment to tell us what you thought of it.    The chilled wine was enough to make both a liquid soap (unfragranced) and a small limited edition bar soap batch fragranced with a blend of Champagne & Sparkling Plum.  Tomorrow, I plan to make another small batch of bar soaps with the frozen wine cubes for the Tomato & Basil blend and use more of this blend in a few bottles of the liquid as well.  I plan to have several bottles of each fragrance blend available as soon as the dilution is complete, which should be done in a couple  of days.  Liquid soap is NOT for the impatient soul.  It takes at minimum a week or more for thid to be completely ready for bottling in the method that I use.  Still, it’s completely worth the effort & the wait!  I love making liquid soaps and love using it just as much.  The batches are left unfragranced and only scented as they are bottled up.  This ‘masterbatching’ of liquid soap batches is much more economical as it allows one batch to be scented in a multitude of ways or left unscented as desired.

I also chose to use some fragrances that were requested by the owner of Pompieri, tomato and basil, and these will be blended together into a harmonious mix for a few bottles of the hand & body wash.  The fragrances used in these soaps are for the most part new ones in our collection with the exception of the Basil which we use in our Bugs Me Not.  We used Champagne Kisses blended with Sparkling Plum from WholesaleSuppliesPlus.com and Tomato*, an herby, green, fresh scent that blends lovingly alongside the basil for a herbal garden-fresh blend ideal for use in the kitchen.  I wasn’t exactly that enthusiastic to get a whiff of this fragrance but loved the mellow herbacious tone of it upon trying it out on a tester strip.

A small limited edition of the Sparkling Champagne & Plum bar soaps is now chilling. These two fragrances soaped beautifully!  No acceleration, discolouration, ricing, or anything else we soapers can sometimes suffer through when trying out a new fragrance.  It’s a gem of a scent combination you have to try when you get the chance.  You will love it!

Sparkling Plum Wine Soap Bars (7)

Written by the same author who brought us the series Brotherhood of the Black Dagger, J.R Ward, the name was intriguing enough to capture my attention and the book held it ruthlessly in its white-knuckled grip throughout the story, beginning to end.  There are damaged souls contained herein, just as there are in the Brotherhood series, but this one is a family, the Bradfords.  They are THE family of bourbon crafters, the BBC, Bradford Bourbon Company.  A dynasty begun with a grant of land from 1778 in the South and family run throughout its long, storied & lucrative history.  The family is definitely a prime definition of dysfunctional and steps that up a notch as the story unfolds with reckless abandon, tension tight as bow strings, though those who were destined to be together will have many an obstacle to overcome.

If you like or even loved the Brotherhood series by this writer, you’re going to love reading about the deceitful twists and ruthless turns of the Bradford family.  You’ll be left wondering why money seems to corrupt and amazed at how thoroughly it does.

I’ll give nothing away as to the plot here.  You ‘ll have to discover that for yourself.  Suffice it to say, it’s worthwhile.  Completely worthwhile to grab this one, lock the doors, grab a chair that’s extremely comfortable and put out the Do Not Disturb sign.  Do not expect to sleep until it’s done.  This isn’t one to read to put you to sleep at night – ask me how I know.

The Bourbon Kings

The Bourbon Kings

“A rose by any other name….”. so the saying goes but what’s in a name really.  Well, everything!  It’s one of the first things people see when they pick up your product to get a better look at it.  Sure, sure, they’ll take it straight up to the nose, who doesn’t, but the name has to appeal to the masses as well or they might reconsider.  Who’s going to get their guy something with a Frou-Frou name, you know the ones, like Pucker Up, Powdery Sweet, Dew Drops, or Sugar Kisses?  I mean, a guy has got to have vast stores of confidence in his masculinity to buy and/or use a soap with a name like any those.

So let’s think about names and what goes into the naming of a new soap or some other B&B product that has a scent that’s out of this world, knocks your socks off, makes you swoon & weak kneed all at the same time. You’re settling in for a good night’s sleep right? It’s about obscene:thirty at night and you should’ve been asleep a few hours ago, but if you’re like most creative types, your brain doesn’t know that it’s time to knock it off for the day.  It’s still churning away, thinking about what’s next on the agenda for your store front, your web site listing, etc.  But you try to lay down, close you eyes, pull the covers up to your ears the light’s off and slowly your body begins to relax.  Then suddenly like a bolt from out of the blue, a name pops into your head and will not stop hammering away at you until you sit back up, turn the light back on, and write it down.  Here’s where a bit of forthought comes in handy.  Put paper and pen by the bed and LEAVE IT THERE.  You won’t regret it. You never know when these brainstorms are going to strike and they should be appreciated for their arrival, celebrated even, when they do.

Now you have this magnificent name rolling around inside your whirring-like-mad brain, so what now?  Keep that list with you or have several lists everywhere you spend a great deal of your time, no matter what you do there.  Skip the bathroom, btw.  At the end of the week, pull these lists together, compile them into a group of your best choices, or your top 5 or 10 names.  Who knows when you’ll need them, so keep them handy.  Another idea would be to pick up some of those adorable journals you find everywhere, even in Walmart of all places!  IMG_2481 (1024x768)I love this little cuties and get a new one every now and then even if there’s no pressing need at the moment.  It’s always nice to have some around for different things.  One has all my blends in it.  Another is divided up into section with page post it tabs in different colours for different types of notes made in researching soaping oils, infusions, FO blends, EO blends, additives,etc.  Honestly I really don’t believe you can have too many of these kicky, colourful little helpers!  Mine are all ruled journals, which is a good thing because my handwriting tends to slope.  Upwards generally.  (I’m an optimist?) And I like to keep things neat, so the ruled pages make everything look much neater.

My butterfly journal in this pic is almost full, so the purple will take over when it finally reaches maximum capacity.  Recipes, plans, major plots, etc will go in the big yellow one.  The purple one is now placed by my bedside at night, too, just in case a sudden lightbulb moment occurs and I must write it down.  I really must because even if I say it several times, it can still be lost overnight through deep sleep.  But that’s just me.

Maybe you struggle with naming your soaps once they’re made or perhaps you have an idea for a name, but it just doesn’t fly with others.  Hm, well, save it for another batch.  One you’re really fond of, that you’ll love hanging onto for yourself.   Or maybe name it that name you love and don’t tell anyone until after the fact.  Once it’s on the ‘net, it’s a done deal.  Of course, the next time you make that soap with the same scent, there’s no reason why you can’t name it something else to appease the minions (or yourself if your line, style, or something else has changed).

Some name their products/soaps according to the colours used, or something that brings the notes of the fragrance(s) to mind, but you don’t have to be trudging through that regular list of possibilities.  Try branching out and thinking like a guy to name a mens product.  What do guys like to do in their spare time (besides that), what sorts of colours are they typically drawn to, what fragrance notes appeal to them best.  Take a wander through a mens cologne display in one of the finer department stores (NO, Walmart does NOT count!).  Write down the names of the ones you like best, bring that list back to your computer and look up the notes in a web site like Fragrantica.com.  It’s an amazing place that huge, complete, and so extraordinarily helpful when it comes to building a custom blend or identifying notes that are the most popular.  Look around at the names used for the most popular mens fragrances for inspiration.  Not to copy completely mind you, but to give you a sense of direction to take you on your own journey in naming your Can’t-Live-Without-It products.  This same technique applies to the naming of womens soaps/products as well, so have two pages set aside – one for the girls, one for the boys.  you could possibly for for a third and have one for the littler ones in our lives.  They like fun sounding names and their shopping mommies & daddies do, too.

I’ve recently struck naming gold and now I have to come up with soaps to match those magnificent monikers.  This isn’t always the order of things.  Some soaps are made first then have gone unnamed for days until I finally hit on something that halfway pleased me.  Other times I’ve asked for help within Facebook groups for ideas, but a pic should be included to help nudge those helpers along in their name brainstorming.  A scant few have had names I didn’t like that much and they’ll be changed with the next batch of that soap to make them more appealing to the shopping public. It isn’t always easy to name a soap, especially one that has odd colours, patterns, or a very common fragrance in it.  At least that’s been my own experience.  Yours may differ.   But don’t dispair, something will hit you when you least expect it and now you know to Be Prepared!

I have my soap names now, and the recipes will be built over the next few days, so keep a weather eye on this blog site for pics of what my midnight ramblings produced.  They’ll also be found in my faebook page, Twitter Feed, G+ and Pinterest page.  Yeah, social media is my ‘other’ job. And my hubby will divorce me over them one day.  Not!

Keep it bubbly ’til then!  Later!

Bar soaps are fun with the swirls and the drama of never knowing what’s going to happen once you add that fragrance oil into the mix.  It’s quite the adventure!  But even more fun and rather dreamy to see is creating cream soap.  Little to nothing is written about this slightly off the beaten path region of the soapy world we are immersed in and I’d be the last one to tell you something new about it.  It’s mysterious, an enigma, yet due to its elusiveness, I can’t help but be intrigued and want to attack this mythical wonder with as much effort as possible.

I tried making a cream soap once before and didn’t not like how it turned out.  The finished foamy concoction was too sticky yet very drying even though that combo seems strangely contradictory.  Sticky should have some conditioning qualities, yet that batch oddly did not.  It cleaned my sinks for a while until it was gone and I waited another 3 years to try again.   In between, however, was not idly spent time.  Recipes were worked, tossed, tweaked, and perhaps tossed out again, replaced and finally one seemed to be good enough to try, so the batch I’ve pictured below is the result of that herculean effort.

Cream Soap (1024x768)

Cream Soap after whipping – 1/2 of the batch here

Sadly I took no photos during the process, so I can’t show you what it looked like earlier, but it was not nearly as tempting as this is!   It never seemed to break or soften as many others have stated theirs did after a few months, weeks or even days.  It stayed fairly firm right up until this afternoon when I took a mixer to it and whipped it to a frothy confection with a tad bit of hot water, then threw in some pink Himalayan salt though I’ve stolen a bit here and there and feel no salt whatsoever in this!  It’s a gloriously foamy, soft, and yes conditioning foamy soap that I think I’m truly going to enjoy testing out with fragrances and shaving.

It’s getting close to summer now and of course, that means shaving is necessary once again. Though men have it far rougher with daily shaving being a necessity of life unless they prefer to go with today’s current trend and have a tidy beard and moustache.  I hoped to find something that would make shaving less rough, less chafing, less tedious & even painful.  I’m hoping this batch gets me there.

I used glycerin in the soap’s basic formulation for a rich dense glide, plus an addtional boost fromcoconut water for greater bubbling action and a helping of Kaolin white clay for ease during close shaves.  I’ve heard mixed remarks about clay being beneficial for slip, some favor it while others state it simply makes slip harder to achieve due to the tendency of the clay to clog up between those multiple blades on many razor models.  Of course, those who prefer the Old School single blade razors may differ in their opinions on the use of clays in shaving foams or whipped cream soaps.

With any soap that includes water or other liquid, in this case coconut water, I’ve also added preservative to prevent spoilage.  The water is added after the soap paste is cooked, so the preservative is necessary.   If you’ve already spent two months or more on creating a foaming soap, you don’t want to risk losing it to mold & bacteria buildup because you wanted to avoid using a preservative.

So, the main thing about a cream soap is this – it takes patience.  Those who’ve done hot process & cold process should have no problem with creating a cream soap.  Many of the online soap calculators will give you the correct proportions of KOH and NaOH to use to make a batch, so use them, play with various formulas, find a combination of oils you really like for their conditioning and bubbling (oleic and lauric acids offer these qualities, but they’re not alone!) Use glycerin – it really does make the difference in a soap that doesn’t dry versus one that does!  If you want a stiffer soap, use more firm oils or butters, but remember that they will affect the end results in reduced bubbles.  Your conditioning will be better but the bubbliness will be worse.  Find that balance between both worlds.  Also consider using confectioners sugar mixed into your hot water/liquid during the soap making phase to boost the bubbles further.

Don’t be afraid to experiement with this type of soap because it’s not so frequently spoken of, shown or done.  Be bold and just do it!  It’s really not hard, it just takes patience because it will need to rest for quite a while so it will finally loosen up and become the frothy  creamy confection you see above. This batch was initially made in February!  It’s now May 1st and just now to the point where it’s reaching what I’d like to see in a cream soap. Give it a try and see if it’s something you’d like to add to your repertoir.  It’s worth it!

 

Jasmine

Jasmine

Jasmine cut, image added Saturday March 21st, 2015

Jasmine cut, image added Saturday March 21st, 2015

Spring is now here as of 6:45 this morning and I’m sure everyone has been awaiting its arrival and the hopes of brighter, warmer days ahead.  Surely they’re not so far off now, are they?

I breathe deep over the soap and close my eyes.  Other senses take over.  Hearing becomes keener, smell becomes sharper.

Jasmine, sweet yet sensual, evocative yet innocent walks hand in hand with ethereal orange blossoms and the crisp green notes of bamboo.  It’s the scent of summertime.  An evening in late spring or early summer.  You know the ones I mean.

Windows are flung wide. The curtains lift and fall with the gentle evening breeze that comes through.  You can still hear some distant lawnmower humming, a dog barking as it romps with the young boy who plays with him in their backyard fortress.  Soon enough it will be time to go inside, get his bath and settle in for the night, the faithful family dog watching over his young charge.

There’s a quiet hesitation in the air just before the sun slips further beyond the horizon, the soil beneath our feet is still a bit cool, still awaiting that day when the burgeoning bounty of new growth reveals itself and we all smile when we see the tiny fragile shoots threading their way upward, reaching for the sun.

A mother rocks her baby to sleep as the evening deepens and she smiles as she lays her baby down for a night of restful sleep as some of the more precocious spring flowers already in bloom perfume the air. That moment is held in our minds, in our hearts for all time as the scent of summer.  Freshly cut grass – green, dewy, and clean.  Florals – light, calming yet uplifting and that scent we all know as night.  It’s dewy, cool, but promises much more.  This lovely fragrance is all of that, the stuff of memories and far more than all of that, it’s a genuine scent that brings all we hold dear to mind.

This gorgeous fragrance is available from Fragrance Laboratory,  along with so many other outstanding fragrance oils.  You’ll simply have to experience this scent for yourself to get the best it has to offer.  It’s a yellow oil and slightly discolours the soap, but barely to a very pale yellow, which can easily be overcome with enough white to lighten it.  I prefered to keep some of that pale sunwashed colour by adding a bit of Extra Bright from TKB Trading plus some Silver White (also TKB) that’s an bit iridescent, shiny and evening makes the bars sparkle in the right light.  This scent really needed to shine and the Silver White gives just the right amount of shimmer.  Unlike so many other floral FOs, this one does NOT accelerate at all.  I had plenty of time for swirling and decorating the top in any way I wanted to, so the top was improvised a bit from a technique I’d seen done with a cake decoration.  It would work better if I’d waited a bit longer to do the designing of the top, but it still turned out pretty enough to please me.   Tomorrow, I’ll check to see if it’s firm enough to be cut and if so, I’ll post some pics of what I find inside.  Fingers crossed there because I tried something I’m not very well-practiced in yet, so it’s anyone’s guess what in there!

Once there was a quiet, unassuming tea leaf, green and summery, subtle and soft, but she wanted more.  She wanted a moment in the limelight where everyone’s eyes were firmly fixed on her and no other.  Yet being the soft-spoken type, this would not happen without a bit of help, so she went in search of a friend to call her own.   One that would walk hand-in-hand with her on those halcyon days of summer when the birds sing and the bees hum all in harmony whilst she savors the sunshine in good company.  As luck would have it, a lonely Nectarine happened by in search of someone who’d be there for him as well.  Being so similar to peach, poor lonely Nectarine was often overlooked or suffered from frequent episodes of mistaken identity.  He struck a chord with this gentle verdant Green Tea upon proper introduction and walked softly towards that summer sunset, happily together, speaking in notes that perfectly matched and complemented one another and they’re forever friends for all time.

IMG_2224 (768x1024)

Well, that’s the story anyway.  A scent blended from two Fragrance Laboratory fragrance oils is a sure winner.  It’s just a given.  Green Tea, a new one to FL’s selection is soft, subtle, mild yet  welcoming part of any spring & summer collection.  If you are a soap maker, this is one you’ll simply have to try to see just what a soothing yet elegant scent it is and how reliably it soaps in the often-befuddling, gremlin-riddled world of cold process.  It’s a dreamboat!  No discolouration whatsoever, no acceleration, just pure luxury and the scent is in a category of its own.

IMG_2227 (1024x768)

The Nectarine is not your mama’s Nectarine.  This one’s more sophisticated, modern, clean, with a green crisp edge that satisfies and evokes a time of sandals, sunshine, and juicy gratifying drinks that the grown-ups only can appreciate.  Leafy green notes from this marry perfectly with the Green Tea to make it a match made in heaven.

With these two, it seemed inevitable they’d go together, though when I bought them that was not the plan.  I’d thought to use them separately, once I had them all out on sniffy strips and had these two close together it hit me in a wave of scent that had my sense reeling, mind drifting, nearly fainting with the headiness of it.  With the help of a lovely lady, Joene Lasky, in a Facebook group we both belong to that’s company run by Cindy Gooding of Fragrance Laboratory,  base notes were added and the fragrance soared into a whole new level of depth and body.

The colours used were from two sources.  The Enchanted Forest (darker green) is from Mad Oils as is the main base soap colour, Celery.  The silvery white is Silver White mixed with Extra Bright from TKB Trading, a reliable, non-crackling white that I’ve begun to use more and more in place of titanium dioxide.  The Silver White makes a sparkling, eye-catching oil/mica swirl for soap tops, too!   The peachy colour is Peach Sunset from The Conservatorie.  These are some of my favorite places to order the micas in soaps of all sorts and my favorite colours used in many, so you see these names frequently linked to their supply sites in here and I add them over and over in case you don’t want to have to dig through the earlier posts to find the link again and again.  These suppliers are ones that many soap makers rely on for excellent stock, customer service, and extensive colour ranges.  In the case of the micas, many are easy to work with but some can be temperamental about changing colour in the high pH of soap making and in most cases each colour from TKB and Conservatorie is tested for CP soap stability.  There are a few exceptions, but over all, they’re pretty good about giving you all the information you need to make a spectacular soap.  I’ve personally found a few that were those exceptions, so one day soon, I’ll gather those together and make a list to let you know which ones were genuine demons in cp soap.  Meantime, here’s to Spring, which begins on Friday of this week and all that it brings with it! Namely warmth & sunshine!

A quick add-in for the sliced images from this morning’s cutting of Green Tea & Nectarine –

IMG_2228 (1024x768)

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