Emerald Isle

My oh my oh my oh my!   This fragrance is sooooo seductively clean, just flat out sexy that I can’t stop going back to the soap in the mold and sniffing it.  Every time I do, I just moan!  It’s unbelievably fresh & clean, a true green-blue fragrance if it had a colour to designate it.  I was looking for another fragrance to add to the mens’ line and this one is a hands-down winner as far as I’m concerned.  I definitely want my man to smell like this!  It’s  built with the notes of  French verbena, Florentine iris, lemon, violet leaves, and a base of Mysori sandalwood and ambergris.  The Mysori is a mellower version of sandalwood that creates a gentle, warm yet alluring undertone for any fragrance without the bite that other types of sandalwood can have.   This fragrance, from Nature’s Garden and Candles, is called Green Irish Tweed.  I read the reviews on this FO ahead of time to see if there would be any issues I should be forewarned about and found that most were happy with how it behaved without a hitch during the CP soaping, though there was one voicing an opinion of seizing during CP soap making.  She actually posted twice on this, after trying it again changing her procedure a bit and found it was a bit better, but the others had no problems at all.  I took from this that it depends largely on your soap recipe.  I stuck with oils that would not be likely to firm up quickly, and this worked out beautifully.  There was more than enough time to get a three-colour drop swirl done, then pour on the mica/oil on the top, smear it a bit, then go back with a skewer to give a pattern to the top.  I actually had enough time to gather up the pots, buckets, spoons etc while waiting for the soap to firm up a bit more so the oil & mica could be added to the top.

When trying out a new fragrance, it’s always helpful to read the reviews on them, see what issues others have had and if they’ve come back after redoing the soap, using the same FO but a slightly different approach.  I only wish more sites would offer the opportunity for users to give reviews.  Many of the sites I frequent do, which is a real time and money saver.  You don’t want to find out the hard way that a fragrance that you’re about to use causes acceleration when you want to try a five colour swirl, or that a soap destined to become a gift or party favour is one that rices, seizes, or overheats causing partial gel.  That bulls-eye in the middle of bars would not be a welcomed sight in your soap bars!

This soap is crafted from four oils, plus a bit of white Kaolin clay, some Vitamin E, Tussah silk, colloidal oatmeal, hemp milk and goat milk.  I’m really looking forward to trying out a bit of it to see how it feels.  Maybe one of the samples will have my name on it.  I also can’t wait to see how the swirls look inside on each bar.  I love it.  It’s like a Rorschach test card. One that smells really divine!

This batch should yield about 10 bars, give or take, depending on the number of samples and will be ready for shipping after April 30.  Once it’s been cut, I’ll put it up on the web site, so look for it no later than Wednesday!  Have a great week everyone!

Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle
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Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t

And if you’re hoping to be reading about candy bars, I’m sorry to disappoint.  Maybe next time.   This time it’s about coconut oil, palm oil, and the problems some may have with them.

Now, first of all, i will not get into the politics of using palm oil,  though it’s been posted everywhere, making every social media outlet a place of visual horror at times from the images posted.  I’m sympathetic to the plight, but I will not get into it here.  This is a politics-free zone.  This blog is going to be a safe zone free from discussion on politics, religion or money.  It will be treated the same as my dinner table or family reunions. I refuse to enter into discussion on those three topics with family members because it’s a ticking time bomb waiting to blow a happy family apart with the differences of opinions they all will have and are entitled to.  But that is not the topic here, so don’t look for them here.

I rarely use Palm oil, don’t like using Crisco, which some formulations contain, so you won’t see it very often in my products.  It’s extremely rare.  I prefer to use oils that are commonly used in most every product easily, effectively, and with not too much added expense to me which ultimately would have to be passed along to customers.  Most people are okay with the use of the oils I use, but there are some exceptions.  Some people have nut sensitivities and honestly, I can sympathize.  I have problems with them too, but certainly not to a great extent.  I won’t go into the chemistry of why people have allergies, what happens in the body during an allergic reaction, as that’s not the topic here either.

The need is there to create unique formulations of soaps that will not only do exactly what they’re designed to do – clean, soften, smooth, soothe, impart a bewitching scent, – but do it in such a way that it is also a pleasure for what it doesn’t do – that is, dry you out, cause itching, flaking, scaliness, irritation, allergic reactions, dermatitis, redness.  Several people I know cannot use  products containing nuts or their products and must avoid nuts of many kinds, not just coconut.  Most recently I was asked to make a soap without coconut, which I felt sorry and ashamed to realize that I’d overlooked that sector of the population that needs something special and safe for them.  With that thought, I immediately went to work on a formula for a soap that has NOT a drop of coconut in it.  Not even coconut milk, which I dearly love to use!  This was a challenge and I love a challenge!

With Soapmaker 3 software, it’s so simple, safe and dependable making recipes for soaps of all kinds, lotions, non soap products, and liquid or cream soaps, that I cannot imagine soaping without it.  If you’re unfamiliar with it and are interested in learning about it and making soaps for yourself or to set up shop, this program is offered in two use-friendly versions – Pro and Lite. You can find this software here.  This software is what I use exclusively for calculating the recipes for my soaps and the only failures I’ve ever had were solely my own fault and not the fault of the software.  These failures do NOT include the often forgotten FO addition to our goodies!  It just happens way too often to be considered for this category.  I call it being too busy and losing focus.

So, armed with SM3, almost enough alternative oils to make something, it began.  I thought of babassu immediately with its high levels of lauric acid, it’s going to bring bubbles to the table in your recipe almost equal to that of coconut oil, but without the problems coconut can cause.  To give a bit of a boost to this, you can add some sugar and castor oil.  Not only will the castor provide bubbles, but also moisturizing as well, so it’s a double whammy with castor’s inclusion.  To this recipe I added 1 tsp of sugar to boost the bubble factor a bit, and also added some castor to bring creaminess and moisturizing, too.  It was also an opportunity to use another (very) hard oil, tucuma.  I’m not sure why I wanted to use it, but it was one that was whispering my name when this soap was being pulled together.  Yeah, I probably should get help for those whispers, but maybe later.  I’m busy right now.    If you want to try using sugar to give your soap’s lather a lift, try 1/2 – 1 tsp of sugar per pound of oils in the recipe.  I used a bit less, but since the castor was there,  it was enough, I hope.  You can add it to your lye water, but it can go beige as it’s caramelizing from the heat produced by the lye.  Your colours might now need to be adjusted to counter this discolouration if your soap is planned to be a light one.

Adding the sugar to the hemp milk and colloidal oatmeal, it was then stick blended into the oils. The lye, which had been chilled down enough to be touchable on the bottom of the pitcher was added.  All was then blended to a thick emulsion, and the fragrance oil was added.   Stick blending until it reached a light trace, it was split into just two parts, one coloured with Extra Bright (a white) and the other with a new colour Sweet Tea.  A mica/oil swirl was added to the top of the batch in the mold and a swirl was done with a spoon, but don’t know what it looks like just yet.

Given the hardness of these two different oils it’ll be extremely hard, early on.  I’m not very confident that the multi-slicer can cut it.  This one might need a knife, which I’m terrible at, by the way!  The recent batch of Honeybee remade was too hard for the cutter, so a knife was used and some are decidedly V-shaped.  Flat-bottomed V, but a V none the less!  :/ Bah humbug!  How does one make the knife stay straight when it seems to have a mind of its own!  To the credit of knife slicing, it gives a clean, smooth surface to the bars, which I love!

The loaf was place into the freezer to stop any possibility of gel approaching.  But it only stayed for about an hour.  It’s now in the fridge and when I’m sure the danger of gel has passed I’ll take it out. Which shold be right about now.  Well – meantime, here’s how the batch looked just before it went into the freezer.

Coconut & Palm Free Sweet Tea soap.
Coconut & Palm Free Sweet Tea soap.

After it’s been sliced, I’ll update this post with the cut views if it looks pretty enough.   😛

 

Fresh new batch of Fresh Lime Fizz

Man oh man does the fragrance oil for this soap send your senses reeling!  It can literally make you salivary glands start to tingle, like it senses you’re about to take a sip of a tart, zingy lime margarita.  Maybe I should have saved a bit of the one I cracked open to cook down for this!  Hm, hindsight is crystal clear.  Guess my self-control was running the show at the time the can  was opened.  Oh well.   The soap will be fantastic smelling for sure then.  And the sugars from the Lime-A-Rita will add to the bubbliness too.  Here’s the look of this batch –

Fresh Lime Fizz #2
Fresh Lime Fizz #2

 

Just two simple colours – green with a about a 1/4 of the soap batter as white.  One thing you’ll have to keep in mind when soaping with other liquids, like the Lime-A-Rita, or even a tea, aloe juice, coconut water, or others, is that they can change the colour of your lye solution.  Vividly!  With this malt beverage it went pink, bright pink, even though the lye & water part was chilled and the Lime-A-Rita was frozen into ice cube form.  In  this event, it works better for your soaps to use something to lighten it up a bit so the colours, if you’re using any, will blend properly and favorably.  I used some titanium dioxide to lighten up the small portion taken out  to be white, leaving the rest to be coloured with a blend of Neon Green and Pennsylvania Green from TKB Trading.  It’s also going to be necessary to cook your alcoholic beverages to remove as much of the alcohol as possible so you don’t end up with a volcanic caustic miasma all over your soaping workshop.  Lye and liquor DO NOT play well together!

I’ve soaped with brewed teas as well and even blogged on this topic once before, but in case you didn’t see that one, then, I’ll just mention the highlights here.  Teas are wonderful additional liquids to use, but don’t sweeten the entire batch.  Brew it up, take a portion out to be used for your soaps, and sweeten the rest if you know you won’t be using it any time soon so you can enjoy a refreshing glass of tea while you’re soaping.  I don’t entirely replace the water in the batches liquid portion.  It makes the soap respond unreliably and it might cause problems along the way that will prevent me from being able to work with it as is planned. The tea’s tannic acid is low enough to not interfere with the lye’s need to saponify the oils & butters, so that won’t be an issue if you are hoping to try soaping with teas.

Aloe juice will turn orange when used in cold process soaps.  I’m not really clear as to whether it’s due to the sugars caramelizing or a chemical reaction from the high pH of the lye when it comes in contact with the properties in the aloe juice.  I’ll have to do a bit further reading up on that topic to find the answer to that one, but the orange can be overcome if you aren’t planning on using that colour in your soap or work with it instead, adding more orange or a yellow to make an orange.  I have one yellow here that turns bright orange initially with the high pH of cp soap, but as the soap dries and cures, it lightens and returns to its original sunny yellow.  It’s the Lemon Drop Mica from TKB in case you’re have that one and haven’t used it yet.  Just be aware that though it’s going to be orange as you pour your soap, it will change back.  So breathe, relax, and wait for it.

I didn’t include the clays with this batch this time around.  No particular reason why, just opted to leave them out this time. I still included the coconut milk as it really makes for a far superior bubbly, rich, creamy lather in cp soaps!  The colloidal oatmeal is also always included because it just makes the skin feel soothed and softened, pampered.  I like that! Don’t you too?  The silk gives the lather a silky feel to it, too, that’s just enough opulence to make the soap a genuine treasure for every user of every age. There’s also no pencil line in this one.  Just lovely white swirls in a green background colour.  There’s a dash of opalescent glitter on the surface beneath the iridescent fine glitter, to bring a bit of  style and shimmer to every bar.  Can’t wait to cut it and find out what surprises await inside!

Fresh Air!

You’re probably thinking this will be about either air pollution and the toxins in the air, or vacation plans.  Wrong on both counts.  I’m a soapmaker, so this post is about a batch called Fresh Air.  This is without a doubt one of my favorite fragrances of all time.  It’s a mind-blowing, sophisticated blend of zesty limes, sweet herbaceous basil and juicy mandarin!  There are other notes as well, such as a bit of patchouli and vetiver lending an earthy, deep base layer, and a bit of iris, which explains the sophistication of this fragrance.  The original batch was made as a coconut water recipe, but I opted to make this one a Silk batch only.  All batches have silk, coconut milk & colloidal oatmeal, but not all have coconut water.

It was used in a bar batch some time ago with colours matching the fragrance notes of the mandarin, basil, & lime, so it had a pale green base colour with a swirl of orange.  Not much contrast, but with this fragrance the pattern was totally secondary!   This time around it was a different thought completely.  I decided to go with the imagery brought to mind when discussing air, sky, and fresh breezes.  I imagine puffy white clouds over a brilliant blue sky, so these colour were used have two shades of blue, one light, one dark, and white.  It’s done with a white base, an in-the-pot swirl of the dark blue & white, and a light blue swirl though each of these. then a mildly textured top with swoops of blue through a white ground.  A generous dusting of a beautiful glitter from TKB Trading and their Mermaid Collection was used to make the top pop.

Fresh Air in the mold
Fresh Air in the mold

If you’ve never seen these glitters, you really should check them out for yourself by ordering a sample pack.  Their samples is what I have at the moment but they’re worth getting in larger amounts as they are just stunning as they capture and reflect the light back in a myriad of colour!  Just breathtaking!  I’ll update this post as soon as the batch is cut.  Happy Tuesday everyone!  Hope your weather isn’t icy like ours today.

Comes with the territory

As with all soapmakers, we are aware of the obstacles, hazards, and pitfalls of the everyday things that can go wrong with a soap batch, either at the beginning or the end.  We also will often call the result of these obstacles ‘gremlins’ or ‘demons’ as they will show up without invitation, be extremely unwelcome guests who take up residence for an extended period of time.  They quickly wear out their welcome.  Often we don’t know they’ve entered the soaping room until the results of their havoc is seen – seizing, ricing, acceleration, discolouration, caustic volcano soap overflow, and our worst one – DOS or Dreaded Orange Spots.  These are the worst of the worst, or the SMF’s (Soap Maker’s Fellowship)  Most Unwanted.

Recently I had one batch that was made without a hitch.  No gremlins during the process of making the soap came up, no hint of what lie ahead.  Then it happened.  I cut the loaf up into bars and there they were.  Small to pinprick sized points of orange.  Why?  No idea.  None of the obvious reasons came to mind.  I’d used all new oils so it couldn’t have been the oils.  Was it the fats in the coconut milk then? Hm, not sure on that one.  I take the milk out of the can, separate it up into 3 oz portions and freeze them, taking one out when it’s time to make a batch.  That alone should have prevented it from causing DOS.  I might never figure that one out, but the entire batch went into the trash because I couldn’t save it anywhere and watch the progression without it spreading to other soaps from other batches.  There’s little to no room for storage here.  So, out it went.  I also didn’t keep it up on any of the sites -blog, Facebook page, Twitter and it wasn’t put up in Instagram, so there’s no record of it here to use for comparison of what went wrong as opposed to a very successful batch.  At the time it seemed best to just get rid of everything, but looking back I realize that was a step in the learning process.  Finding the cause & effect of  what works & why as  compared with what doesn’t work & why.  Despite many years of soapmaking under the belt, it’s never too late to learn something new, find out why something failed, how to prevent future failures from occurring because of one part in the process.  Of course there are plenty of other points in the process to cause issues and we will find them!  Or maybe it’s more like they will find us.

Discolouration
Discolouration

This is discolouration and it was caused by a fragrance oil.  It’s not the DOS we all dread seeing, but it’s still annoying.  This is a beachy scent that states it behaves beautifully in cp soap, but it discoloured the bars right on the tips of the outside edges.  Only there.  Why it happened is a mystery to this day.  They smell wonderful though!  Truly it is a beachy scent with watery notes, marine notes, sand, salt air, beach breezes.  Very nice.

Cutting into bars too soon
Cutting into bars too soon

Ripples on water are mesmerizing, but ripples on soap is disturbing.  This is what happens if it’s cut too soon.  It can also be caused by a knife that hasn’t been cleaned completely or a cutter with wires that are not quite as clean as they should be or are getting worn.   My cutter is a wire cutter and apparently they’re starting to drag. Time to visit the guitar store!

DOS
DOS

I’ve left this image large in order to make it easier to see this batch’s problems.  It has the beginnings of DOS near the bottom of the bars, though nearer the tops, there are a few bits that might also be starting to go orange.  The major cause is old oils.  This batch did not have old oils, but the fats in the coconut milk might have been behind this batch’s problem with the spots.  This batch has multiple problems.  Read on to see the rest.

Cracks & ashing
Cracks & ashing

This batch, my Alpha mens soap, got tremendously hot.  Even though it was placed in the fridge right away, it continued to heat, bulge, then develop mammoth cracks all the way across the top.  It probably would’ve volcanoed out of the mold had it not been in the fridge!  The tops are also a bit ashy, due to sodium carbonate forming via oxidation on the areas exposed to carbon dioxide in the air, but while it isn’t harmful, it does detract from any techniques employed to make the soap’s tops look pretty. Of course, that Grand Canyon-sized gap down the center didn’t help either! Nothing would’ve stopped ash from forming, but it can be dealt with easily enough.  Two techniques many soapers use is either steam, like from the spout of a tea kettle, or water run over the surface that’s ashy.  Water helps, but might wash off a bit of the glitter if any is applied.  It might also help with any sweating or beading that might have developed on any embeds placed on the top as decoration as well. Summertime is hard on melt & pour embeds!

gaps due to seizing
gaps due to seizing
cracks formed in coloured areas of bars
cracks formed in coloured areas of bars

Here’s the inside of this Perfect Storm of Soap Gremlins in a soap.  I pretty much covered every aspect of what can go wrong with a cold process soap batch in one fell swoop.  The burgundy didn’t want to stay burgundy, it went mauve, and thickened so quickly it was difficult to pour, then was riddled with cracks, gaps, and even a huge hole in a couple of bars.  This was banged in the mold numerous times to eliminate any holes, so these had to have formed after the fact.  The Peacock Blue didn’t crack nearly as much, in fact I don’t recall seeing any holes in the blue at all.

You can also see the beginnings of DOS in the bar on the right about halfway down.

I’m not blaming the colours, nor the fragrance oil at all.  I think the biggest problem with this was the coconut milk.  I also added some, about 4 oz, of frozen coconut water, which also contains sugars, natural sugars.  This coupled with the milk made for a volatile combination. Though it hasn’t been such an issue with other soaps, this particular one cannot be done with both coconut water & milk and remain stable.  This fragrance will have to be done with no extras, or adding the extras later in the process of creating the batch.

So that covers the major issues.  If anyone has other issues, please share them and let us know what you tried and successfully did to alleviate the problems from occurring in future batches.  Soap is on a constant learning stage.  What have we learned?  That sometimes it’s fixable, and at others, it’s completely out of your hands!

Cherry Kernel & Pomegranate Lotion

The name is a bit of a mouthful, but a bottle of this creamy lotion is more than a bottleful of wonderful.  So the natural question for this lotion is typically – “What’s so special about cherry kernel oil?”  Well for starters, it’s loaded with three types of tocopherols (Vitamin E) – alpha, delta & gamma, plus Vitamin A.  It’s also known to contain oleic acid, which lends a marvelous moisturizing quality to the emulsion. It’s a light oil that is ideally suited to make the perfect addition to lip balms, body butters, lotions, or light-weight liquid soaps that moisturize without stripping or over-drying your skin or hair. It would make a truly fabulous shampoo soap in bar or liquid form.  It’s very similar to Peach Kernel Oil or Sweet Almond Oil and performs similarly in the various products mentioned.  This oil intrigued me.  That’s the bottom line as to why I decided to try it out in formulations.  Who can resist cherries?  Really?  Just the name alone sounds fun, playful, sweet, so what better ingredient than this to add to something that is sure to make your skin all but sing out loud for joy!  It was among a very short list of new oils I was impressed with by their qualities, their qualities lent to various types of bath & body products, and this was one of three I added to my inventory recently for a batch of what’s sure to be a truly enriching experience in lotion-making and lotion use.  Cherry Kernel oil bears no scent of the fruit it is derived from, so clashes with your fragrances or the unscented state some customer may want will not be a problem. You can find this oil here.

I tried out a new fragrance as well, one from Rustic Escentuals, called Ocean Breeze, that is described by their web site as ‘just the right combinations of salty sea and fragrant foliage.”  Can you hear the ocean waves crashing along the shore yet?  One whiff of this and you will!  This is surely going to become a favorite here among the ocean-like scents.  They’re a personal weakness of mine, but this one in particular is truly bliss.  Beachside Bliss.  I’ll be trying it out  in a soap soon, too.  Just need an afternoon of no interruptions – please! – and we’ll see how fabulous it smells in a cp soap.

Cherry Kernel & Pomegranate
Cherry Kernel & Pomegranate Lotion

Initially this was thick enough to stand a spoon, a metal spoon, up in it, but once you add fragrance it isn’t quite so thick.  It could easily be thickened up a bit more to make it remain a bit thicker after the addition of the scent if that’s the consistency some prefer. I might split this batch into halves and thicken one half further to do that.  I like a really thick lotion, but there are times when something lighter is preferred and not everyone likes a thicker lotion as I do, so all preference need to be considered.

You really need to try this one out soon.  It also works beautifully as a carrier oil for massage oils, oil-based perfumes, sugar or salt scrubs, bath oils, or base for an aromatherapy oil.

Rosewood

After making this one I’d thought I’d never use this recipe again as I didn’t like the feel of it after it came out of the mold.  After a few days of drying and saponifying on the curing shelves, I’ve done a preliminary test to see how it lathers, and that opinion is dramatically changed.  The lather was amazing, thick, rich, creamy, and even though it’s only been curing for a few days, my hands weren’t dried out as though the saponification wasn’t yet complete.  The phenolphthalein test is clear, so it’s no longer  alkaline.  And the scent, that of pink roses in full bloom, is a soft, gentle, not too much, not too little fragrance that’s ultra-feminine, and if ever a scent could be a colour, this one would be a petal pink.

Rosewood
Rosewood

These images are before the edges are cleaned up obviously, but this one in particular is a good one of the in-the-pot swirl that was done with TC’s Chocolate Milk and a bit of titanium dioxide poured into a base colour of Pearl Pink from TKB Trading.  Theirs is the first pink that I’ve have any luck with in staying pink rather than morphing into a hideous gray or taupe.  Others have let me down time and again, so this one, I’d tried in desperation, even though my hopes weren’t high at first.  Reviews were conflicting.  Some will say their colour is soap stable, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that they meant CP soap stable.  But as luck would have it, this one behaved beautifully throughout.   The soap began to set up rather quickly on me, but that was my fault.  It’s because of the recipe that it did so, not the fragrance oil or the colours or any of the stick blending done to blend the two parts together.  If I decide to use lots of colours, this recipe will not be the one I use!  That much is certain!

Top of the Rosewood
Top of the Rosewood

The pearly pink isn’t as visible from the top, and the iridescent glitter masks it a bit, too, but using the glitter was irresistible.  It cried out for this glitter, begging for a bit of glamour, and who am I to deny a pretty-in-pink, newly-formed diva her bit of glamour as she takes her moment in the limelight.  The Fragrance oil is called Wild Rose and Oak.

The colours suppliers:

http://www.tkbtrading.com/

and

http://theconservatorie.com/

The Fragrance Oil is from –

http://www.soapmakingfragranceoils.com/

This recipe included 6 oils, coconut milk, colloidal oatmeal, Tussah silk, buttermilk powder.

I used this same recipe in another soap made recently, Lullaby, using Soapmaking Fragrance Oil’s Sweet Dreams FO, and it had that same feel to it right out of the mold that wasn’t all that appealing, but honestly after a week of curing on the shelves, it feels smooth, firm, and still has the soft, subtle fragrance that Sweet Dreams is know for.  But that soap is for another post and another day.  Here’s a link to the facebook page for more pics of Sweet Dreams if you just can’t stand it and must see it now.   Scroll down to February 9 to find it.  The pastel colours are my favorite!