Indie Business Network!

I just joined this network and so excited to begin moving forward with them.  Since I’m already a member with insurance of the Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild, I opted for IBN’s membership without insurance.  Maybe one day I’ll do both with insurance, but at least there’s something in place to CMA.  Just had to put this up since it’s exciting to be a part of this wonderful organization.

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Testing the soap

Yesterday’s liquid soap, with its deep amber colour and slightly smoky scent wasn’t my finest moment in soaping, so I hoped to find a way to redeem the effort by using the initial batch for testing out fragrances and seeing how they’d react in the soap base.  It was diluted by a bit more than a 1:1 ratio, so it was a nice liquid, though still smoky smelling and amber coloured.   But I used several FOs and a couple of EOs on it and the results were interesting and illuminating.

Liquid soap with FOs added (labeled)
Liquid soap with FOs added (labeled)

The far left was untouched to be used as a control.  No changes noted over time, so it worked quite well as a control.

The next one to its right was scented with NG’s Raspberry FO, which gave it a cloudy appearance, but no thickening or thinning, which I was rather relieved to see.

The next one further to the right was scented with WSP’s Peach Jubilee, which remained beautifully clear and also did not thicken nor did it thin out!  That was the main thing.  No thinning!

Coconut Lime Verbena from WSP was in the next bottle (shorter) and it too went cloudy, but it also thickened up significantly.  I guess that would make for a very nice shampoo if you like it that way.

The last one, on the far right was scented with Lemon EO from WSP.  This one did not cloud over as much as the others did, with the exception of the Peach Jubilee of course, but it also didn’t thicken up or thin down at all.

There was one other that was done a bit later on when I finally found another fragrance I wanted to try out.  I used Ginger-Lime from WSP in that one.  There was some cloudiness, but not too much,  Still a bit translucent   It also did not thin down or thicken.  On another note, I love this scent!  To me it smells of freshly cut, slightly wet summer grass.  I love it!  Very nice.  So nice in fact, even the hubby likes it, which is definitely saying something since I consider him my fragrance guru and biz ‘nose’.

After the fragrance had been in each of these test bottles, the fragrance diminished the smoky smell significantly enough to remove it almost entirely from the soap, leaving only the fragrance itself detectable.

With this test, the results gives us not only the benefits of the test results providing information to take back to the drawing board for use when making other soap batches, but it also gives us a nice supply of liquid soaps throughout the house for various uses in various rooms.  I might even try out that Ginger Lime on my hair tomorrow, who knows.

“Nother milestone passed~

With a day off, what else will this mouse do while her counterpart is away at work.  Well, to stay out of trouble, I tried something new.  I tried making liquid soap, using the glycerin method.  It turned amber like others have said, which I was prepared for.  What I wasn’t prepared for was for it to stay very fluid, never going into the paste, or taffy stage.  Couldn’t figure out why, so ran to Soaper’s Retreat in Facebook and they said it didn’t need any heat.  Was my face red!  I thought it would need at least a little initially to neutralized the KOH, but….guess not!  It stayed thin, I’d blend it, stayed thin, cooked it, it stayed thin, but then started to smell kind of…burned.  Well, it was burning!  Ack! It went towards a dark amber shade.  Didn’t like that too much because it looked dark enough before it cooked too long.  *sigh*  I had a mess when I took it off the heat, It thickened up, and the water added wasn’t quite hot enough, so the rest of it was heated on the range a bit before pouring a bit in and mixing it up.  Loads of lush, thick, creamy lather formed, which a fellow soaper suggested I spritz with alcohol to reduce it so I could what I’m doing better.  I told I would….eventually.  I was kind of enjoying all those beautiful bubbles!    The water lightened it up a bit, so what I was left with was a mellow amber coloured liquid in the bottles I had left around from lotion or what nots.

In the pot and completely obliterated by bubbles.  It was a very dark brownish-amber colour by this point.
In the pot and completely obliterated by bubbles. It was a very dark brownish-amber colour by this point.

 

After the bottled were poured.  Still hot and slightly bubbly. Spritzing with alcohol helped with that.
After the bottles were poured. Still hot and slightly bubbly. Spritzing with alcohol helped with that.

 

Final stage - clear amber coloured soap!
Final stage – clear amber coloured soap!

 

Next time it will have fragrance!

Making this took me back to the same jittery feelings i had with my first attempt at bar soap.   It was hp and a huge mess.  Pompeii had nothing on the mess created by that batch.  But I was hooked regardless.  If anything the volcano made me even more determined to do it  again and do it right.  The second batch was a bit better,  but it’s a process, one in which recipes were tried, tested, found lacking somewhere, changed, thrown out, enhanced, then finally  about 4 years later, it’s just what I want it to be, though there are actually three recipes that I like to use routinely now.  I’ve tried many others, including those created by other soapers and they’ve generously shared with us so we could try them out for ourselves, though not to sell.  Still, I’ve always returned to the ones previously formulated again and again.  As they have always said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I hope it won’t take another four years before I get liquid soaps where they’re just right for selling, with or without fragrance, but the recipe is pretty much what I’d like to stick with.  It’s just the steps, technique that need mastering.  And of course the dilution.  That’ could be a problem if the FOs/EOs thin it down.  That was the one thing that burned my biscuits with all of the premade bases.  They always, without exception, thinned down with the addition of fragrance.  It ruined it and nothing I tried prevented it or offset it to my liking.  Maybe this won’t thin down.  This batch was diluted a bit too much, so I doubt I’ll try any scent in any of it, unless I decide to throw caution to the wind after all.   But It’s with a deep sigh of relief, this first maiden voyage is now done and we can move forward to the next.  As Jason Hawes of Ghost Hunters says “On to the next”, and that’s where we headed now.

Happy weekend and merry soaping! Try something new.  You never know, you might be surprised by the outcome!

 

The cut pics are up

I cut the 3 batches made yesterday.  First up, Mandarin Plum – which had the hanger swirl done, but I think my hanger is a bit too thin to pick up a significant amount of the colour at the bottom of the mold to pull up through the top colour and it’s creating too little a swirl to create a design.  Created a few ‘nice’ bubbles!  I don’t detect much mandarin in this, so I might add some additional orange to it if I make this one again.  Don’t know if it will be a popular seller yet, so time will tell if this one returns later.  The colour didn’t stay reddish-purple , so it really doesn’t look ‘plummy’ so much now that it’s out of the mold.  Hmmmm.  My feelings are mixed on this one.

Mandarin Plum cut (1024x768)

 

Next is the Awapuhi Seaberrry, both tropical plants with Asian roots and medicinal uses.  The fragrance is a high end,  slightly aquatic, not overwhelmingly floral, and behaved beautifully in the cp process.  No acceleration  no discoloration  no ricing, just easy, fragrant and kind of relaxing. Spa- like.    I used Peacock Blue from Conservatorie, but it turned a bit more like an aquamarine, which actually suits the fragrance better.  Spoon swirl was done here, though it doesn’t look like I did anything in some places!

Awapuhi Seaberry cut (1024x768)

 

 

– and last but by NO means least, Black Pearl, the REAL Black Pearl.  This batch this time around had only half of the liquid as tea.  The other half was aloe juice, plus the usual colloidal oatmeal, the 3 usual oils,  3 milks, Tussah silk, Vitamin E, a bit of New Moon mica mixed with the activated charcoal, Peacock blue mica, and Pearl White Mica all from Conservatorie, and the fragrance Queen of the Nile from Nature’s Garden.  I love the name The Black Pearl for this one, though it seems to make one think pirates, gold, and ancient maps with large red X’s on them.  I went more towards the colour of the ocean, a bit of swag and the black to tie it together with the name.  Very little swirling was done with it, though.  Most of it was from the pour alone, so I cannot take the credit for the swirly look within.  I doubt that bright yellow at the bottom will fade.  The first batch had bright yellow but it didn’t fade along the edges very much at all.  The TD gave me a lot of grief though.  Spots here and there, but nothing too major.

Black Pearl cut (1024x768)

I think the yellow near the bottom can be trimmed off prior to wrapping in their packaging sleeves, so the yellow isn’t going to be a huge problem like it was the first time.  The rest of the white areas stayed nice and white!  I’m very pleased with this one .  These will all be ready April 5th and I truly hope they all sell out because I love making these.  The challenge Queen of the Nile FO presents gives me a chance to try something new to make it work without the discoloration being an obvious issue.  I love a challenge!  That’s the nice thing about soaping.  When you do another batch you can change the look a bit and with the scent the same its still the same soap, just different look.

 

Yes sir, yes sir, 3 batches done!

Today’s been a busy, maybe too busy, soaping day.  I realized that yesterday’s soap was NOT Black Pearl. It was the wrong fragrance fro Black Pearl.  Last year’s BP soap was scented with Queen of the Nile from Nature’s Garden.  This most recent effort was accidentally scented with Blackened Amethyst.  The title would work, but the scent won’t.  It just needs to be something nearly lethal in its sex appeal and Queen of the Nile fits that bill perfectly.  So, since the fragrance was correct for Amethyst & Pearls, I’ve changed it to that instead.  I didn’t have anymore of that one anyway, though I hadn’t intended to make any more.  Oh well.  I’ll list them as Amethyst & Pearls on the web site.

Today’s batches were begun with a replacement for the Black Pearl.  I split the liquid half & half, using black tea and half aloe juice, included coconut milk, Tussah silk, colloidal oats, 3 oils, 3 milk, and a little splash of cocoa butter. I coloured a portion with activated charcoal and New Moon Black (Conservatorie), a larger portion with Peacock Blue (also Conservatorie), which turned green thanks to the discoloration of the FO in the soap, and a bit of white, which of course will turn bright yellow.  Since there’s just a tiny bit of the ‘white’, it might or might not lighten up over time like the first batch did.  That batch was split cleanly 1/2 & 1/2 white to black and had plenty of time to lighten up.  The edges never did lighten up completely though.  😦   The web site doesn’t mention that this FO discolours that strongly, but they really should.  I mentioned it on the Facebook pages I post on, so hopefully no one else will be caught off guard.   The wrongly labeled soaps are now changed on my web site to match last year’s soap with the same fragrance – Amethyst & Pearls.  It just has the wrong colours in the swirls.

Here’s the loaf of Black Pearl, so far uncut:

The REAL Black Pearl
The REAL Black Pearl

 

Batch #2 was a heavenly one – Awapuhi Seaberry.  This one had, in addition to the 3 oils, a dollop of monoi butter(Wholesalesuppliesplus.com), which smelled sinfully delicious!  The fragrance was exotic, heady, like night blooming flowers from an exotic island getaway.  It has the essence of tiare flowers blended into the oils that make up this butter and it’s out-of-this-world heavenly to the senses!  I used a bit of Magic Blue Mica from Conservatorie, some titanium dioxide, and a dusting of White Pearl Mica from Conservatorie over the top after the texturization was done.   A spoon swirl was done on the inside.

Here’s Awapuhi Seaberry so far uncut –

Awapuhi Seaberry Silky Milk Soap
Awapuhi Seaberry Silky Milk Soap

 

Batch #3 was one that had to wait until after supper since the first batch of lye was measured incorrectly.  But on the upside, my drains are really clean!

This batch used a free sample I’d received a while back from Peak Candles called Mandarin Plum.  It smelled very nice in the bottle and soaped like a dream.  No acceleration, no discoloration, no ricing  just smooth sailing the whole way through.  I used a blend of Magic Violet and a light pinch of Red Shimmering Clay both from Conservatorie, doing a hanger swirl with the two colours.  It took quite a while for it to reach a stage where the layers could be put down without break through and then swirled with the skewer & straw hanger gizmo, but eventually it did.  It’s now in the fridge to prevent gel, but I doubt it would do that since it was such a slow mover.  I don’t know if the two colours will stay true and turn out to look like a plum shade, but we’ll find out tomorrow hopefully.  I don’t know.  As slow as it moved today, it could be a week before I can cut it!  lol!  But the fragrance is nothing but fruits and plum.  Period.  They don’t mention any florals at all in the description (an extremely brief one at that) on their web site.  Just 2 colours in this one, the ‘plum’ shade and white.

Here’s Mandarin Plum, still in the mold and in the fridge (sorry about the poor photography!)

Mandarin Plum Silky Milk Soap
Mandarin Plum Silky Milk Soap

Black Pearl #2 is cut!

and it isn’t yellow!  I guess between the vanillin colour stabilizer and the TD, plus putting the larger percentage of the fragrance oil into the dark portion of the soap prevented the discoloration from happening this time around.   The cut probably should have been done from the side, though, but that’s fixable in a far easier way than waiting for ick yellow to disappear!  The light portion is a very pearly ivory colour, the dark part is tinted with activated charcoal, and the swirl is a slightly modified version of a hanger swirl.  The top was lightly sprinkled with some mica and that was the extent of the additional colour.

It has colloidal oatmeal, Tussah silk, black tea brewed & cooled, 3 milks, 3 oils, a bit of TD to offset the dark colour attained when lye is mixed with tea. some vanilla colour stabilizer, and a fragrance oil from Nature’s Garden and Candles called Blackened Amethyst.  This FO has notes of vetiver, camellia, Italian bergamot and lime.  There was only a slight amount of acceleration with this fragrance, so it gives you enough time to color and play a bit with the colours, but be sure you have a plan ahead of time and everything’s lined up and ready to get the job done.  This isn’t one of those scents where you can make it up as you go along.  There won’t be enough time for improvisation. Also don’t plan to wash up or tidy up a lot during this batch’s construction.  There’s no time for that either.  The flexibility of time could vary with the oils used, though.   Some will set quicker than others and if you use aby hard oils, waxes or butters, it will speed up even more.  I had no hard oils or butters and it went plenty fast enough to work with if I didn’t try cleaning up as I went along.

I know I keep harping on about the first batch’s discoloration, but it’s was awful.  A yellow so vivid, it discoloured the paper towels the bars were sitting on as they cured!  They touched a couple of the bars in the Amethyst & Pearls bars that were curing next to them and it left spots on them!  Yellowish-orangey spots on the top corners of  bars that are white and lavender is not a nice combination, take my word for it!  Ugh!  I wasn’t sure if I’d try using this fragrance again, but the soap sold out and it was clear that the soap was a keeper, just that it needed a few adjustments, so a couple of tweaks fixed the issues and hopefully this batch will be even more popular than the first one.   The swirls in it kind of reminded me of ginkgo leaves.

Hanger swirls are typically done in a down-forward-up-forward-down, etc motion, but this one was done with a more or less circular motion.  These bars will be cured and ready to ship April 3rd.  Gosh,  it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly April already!  Wow, where’d the time go!  Anywho, they can be pre-ordered by emailing me at neecysnecessities@live.com or private messaging my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NeecysNecessities with the number of bars you require.  I can then invoice you when the time is near for shipping.  Once your payment clears through PayPal, I can ship them out.  This batch made 9 bars.

Black Pearl Silky Milk & Tea Soap - $6 each.
Black Pearl Silky Milk & Tea Soap – $6 each.

Black Pearl batch #2! (wet soap porn alert!)

The first batch sold out this morning, so it was time to do a remake of the Black Pearl tea soap.  This one was done with the lessons learned from the first batch burned in my brain permanently.  This one – so far at least – has not turned bright yellow.  I also did a modified hanger swirl with a homemade improvised hanger from 3 bamboo skewers, 2 drinking straws and a really strong thick tape called Gorilla tape.  It sticks like nothing else around.  It’ll take off skin I think.  You’d probably be able to do a mighty fine Brazilian with it is you had to.

I’d thought about using a bit of burgundy in this batch but changed my mind at the last minute.  Hope I don’t regret that decision later!  It thickened up to a stage where it could be layered without dipping down into the first colour very nicely, with two layers of each, one white, then the black, the white, the black in a thin snake-like river curling beneath the last of the white.  The ‘hanger’ worked pretty well, didn’t fall apart in the middle of it, but I did the motion of the swirl, slightly different.  The idea of doing it in a different motion came to me one night this past week just before falling asleep.  Does anyone else do this?  Do you ever get brainstorms at night when you are trying to fall asleep, the idea hits, then you can’t sleep because you’re too excited to try out your idea?  That’s a frequent thing around here lately and I’m tired now.  But the soap’s in the fridge to prevent gelling.

There are 2 schools of thought about this gelling thing. Some love it and prefer that it take place because it causes the colours to be richer, makes the saponification speed up so the soap’s able to be used sooner.  Others prefer not to gel, thinking that it causes an uneven colour to possibly occur and the heat generated could burn off some or all of the fragrance.  I’m of the latter party.  It’s more comfortable for me to prevent gel altogether rather than run the risk of it starting then stopping before it’s completely gelled, causing a circle in the center that’s obviously darker than the rest of the soap around the edges.  I’ve lost fragrance notes in some soaps and had gel circles in others, neither of which I liked and have done everything possible to prevent it from happening again.

This Black Pearl batch has more extras in it, with the inclusion of Tussah silk, goat’s milk, buttermilk, colloidal oatmeal, Vitamin E, the 3 usual oils, and the fragrance Blackened Amethyst from Nature’s Garden and Candles.  It’s a full-bodied scent that has a special, unique hold on a certain segment of the soaping  and soaping buying public.  The last two sold out from the first batch and I knew I had to try making it again with the hopes that this time, there would not be the same bright discoloration as the first batch had.  So far, it is staying a pretty ivory and the parts that are colored with activated charcoal barely peek through the top.  Mainly just at the edges or within the valleys of the textured tops.  There’s a light dusting of gold mica in the decorative texturing on the top that’s just subtle enough to make it pretty without being too much.  I stuck it in the fridge to prevent the gel from starting and will take it out pretty soon, let it set up overnight, then hopefully it’ll be firm enough to  slice tomorrow.  If it isn’t, I guess I’ll have to wait.  Don’t want to, but guess it’s necessary.  Ready date will be April 3rd. As always, pre-orders can be placed via email before this date, but it will not be shipped until then.  You can be invoiced in PayPal for your convenience when it’s ready.  Have a great day everybody!

Here’s the shot in the mold while it was still wet, just before it went into the fridge…

Black Pearl Silky Milk & Tea Soap
Black Pearl Silky Milk & Tea Soap