We’re clearing house!

Clearance sale sign 2018


How do you know when it’s time to stop?

I had to think, rethink, then re-write that title about 6 or 7 times before I landed on the right wording.  I didn’t want readers to think I’m 1) dying  2) planning to stop crafting bath & body or 3) both.  So this is where I landed and I’ll say this much – I’m not ending or closing my business.  I’m just pondering the process and the lead-up to it based on another maker’s decision discovered just today.

A friend of mine is leaving the B&B business but is going about it in a very organized, well-planned method.  She’s thought of a two-year exit strategy based on her emotional needs and where it’s leading her now as opposed to where she was years ago when she first began.  I have to say it’s bittersweet news as we’re both in the same industry, she once lived in the same city I do now though she now lives along the coast which is where I long to be and we’ve had many good discussions.  She’s realized that the business no longer feeds that inner need it once did and another focus is slowly forming for her and she’s heeding that call.

So her plan is at once sad as well as encouraging.  I only hope that when the same issue comes along in my life I can face it with the grace and good sense she’s so clearly exhibiting.  I truly admire her strength & wisdom.

If business no longer drives you to leap from your bed in the morning.  If it no longer pays its own way after numerous efforts to get it there. If the motivation to create something that brings others comfort & joy is missing.  If retailers and wholesalers’ interest in carrying your product is not enough to bring a tingle along your spine. It’s truly time to walk away.  Find a new path.  A new focus.  Bring light into another avenue that means something to you on some level whether it be professional, emotional, mental, physical, philosophical or psychological.

Know what the signs are, heed them and alter course.  Yes, it’s scary.  Nothing is guaranteed.  No one can promise it will go smoothly.  You may feel you are failing, but if you don’t even try, that is the true mark of failure. To fall down means you’re trying and each stumble is a learning experience.  It teaches what NOT to do the next time on that next step.

So find your path, your new path, whether it’s your first or your tenth or more, find it, follow it, pick yourself up and move forward when you fall because it taught you something you didn’t know before. It’s all about growth anyway.

Salt bars!

Charleston Salt Bars Collage

To get you caught up if you’ve noticed I’ve been away for a while, I’m still soaping, blogging, recording videos and pulling my hair out over their editing and the writing of newsletters. Most of my current work can be found on my web site’s blog page here.

Above is the Instagram image used for the Salt bars made a short time ago.  I’ve also made a full-length video of their process which you can view here.

It was recorded in parts so it can be viewed easily in small portions so you’re not committed so long at the computer screen.  As always, it’s only for entertainment purposes and not as a tutorial.  Subscribe to our channel to follow future video posts and leave a comment, but please be kind.  I make for a general population, not for a small defined audience.  All products are not for everyone, so read the labels carefully when purchasing from anyone online. If in doubt, email me and I’ll let you know of any content you might be allergic to or have other issues with.

I provide on my website an opportunity to sign up for our email newsletter, so please stop by and sign up.  We only use this info for our newsletter and nothing else.  Our newsletter offers inside info on what we’re thinking about adding or eliminating from our product line.  It has secret sales codes and dates that no one else will have access to as well as earlier notification of sales coming up seasonally.  It’s worth it to sign up for our newsletter and we promise not to bombard you with too many emails about us.  Just enough to tempt you now and then.  🙂

Salt Bar Heads-Up

After conferring with a sister who lives in South Carolina, I’ve decided on the color for the addition of a Salt Bar to the lineup for this summer’s soap offerings.  I now know the color I’ll be using, the fragrance and the recipe so all that’s left now to create it, so keep your eye’s watching for a post on the upcoming salt bar batch!  I’m really looking forward to making it!

Weird things are normal with CP

As all soap makers know, you just never know what’s going to happen when you’re dealing with a finicky beast like cold-processed soap.  It can be nice and well-behaved one time and be Vesuvius the next.  The recipe can be one you’ve made a hundred times before but with cp, it’s all fair game for the gremlins.

The recent batch, a favorite of mine for its gloriously spot-on beachy scent of windswept waves, ozone & aquatic notes plus a hint of a light floral, is an example.  I’ve made this recipe numerous times, always using the same ingredients.  No alteration or deviation from the standard formulation developed years ago.  Yet for some inexplicable reason, the oils turned a weird greenish hue when the lye was added and stick-blended in.  Lye and oils

The light is a bit odd here with the window to my left but the actual color I saw was more towards that left-hand side. The more I blended, the greener it became, so of course, I stopped.  I added some Mad Mica’s Snow White to it to get it closer to a more neutral shade before splitting it into portions for individual colors, which seemed to help a bit but I was gobsmacked over this oddball occurrence.

This is a prime example of what a CP soap can throw at you when you think you’ve got this. Those gremlins will humble you in ways you couldn’t even conjure up in your wildest dreams.

The base color was to be a pale, powdery blue, but there was no way that would happen with a base of that drab olive green. The Snow White helped though and I was able to get a blue-ish hue. It just took more of the mica than I’d originally planned on using but still within safe levels.Base color, resized

It still looks a bit greenish there but some of that is the lighting.  The day was a bit cloudier than good photography would allow.  Once the other colors went into their portions, all looked well again. The blue is, in fact, blue and the white is a lovely bright white, as intended.Key West & Snow White, resized

That change in color was totally out of left field with this one.  I had not added anything other than the lye & water solution.  The coconut water and coconut milk parts went in much later, as did the FO.  So what caused this change, I may never know.  Put it down to one of soaping life’s little mysteries.

The fragrance called Mischief is from Fragrance Laboratory, a favorite supplier of mine for many years now.  The notes contained in this fragrance are listed on their site as being ozone, lime, salt sea air, dune lily, lychee fruit, sea moss, woods, and musk.  No doubt that’s a light musk in this one! I love the classic beach scent it brings to all the soaps, lotions etc I sell at my site.  They have another one, and yes, it too is gorgeous. A rich, heady beach scent but more defined as being one that reminds one of an indoor spa-like atmosphere with the windows open and the soft sea breezes blowing through. Its name is Mineral Salt Spa.

Ultimately the soap was finished up without any further issues and by comparison, this one was minor.  It did not accelerate the soap (make it too firm to stir, swirl or pour into the mold), did not rice at all, it never morphs into some hideous shade, but leaves the colors true to their intended hue, does not discolor at all as some can with odd ingredients that can turn some soaps yellow or brown. Best of all, it sticks!  Over time, it will fade as all fragrances do, but this one holds up like a champ in every batch for the long haul.  This fragrance is a fan fave and this maker’s fave as well!Boardwalk Cover labeled

The challenges of crafting cold process soap with alcoholic beverages, Pt 2.

As mentioned in part 1 of this ‘conversation’ the batch in the spotlight was a bar made with moonshine, which is fairly high in alcohol and if you’ve ever watched an episode of Moonshiners,  you know what I mean.  Their batches are running around 160 before they’re proofed!

All experienced soapers know of the problems associated with making a soap, hot or cold processed, with an alcoholic beverage of any type. It can go off like Krakatoa if you aren’t careful and don’t watch it all the time.  The volatility of this type recipe is notorious!  But there are ways around this and that’s what I’m sharing today.

Full Steam’s Rocket Science Pale Ale about to be cooked down.

My favorite workaround is to cook out as much of the alcohol in the beverage as possible prior to use using a low & slow approach.  Usually, it’s cooked down one day, going at a low temp, say 2, if the settings on your burners run from 1-10.  If it gets too low in the pot, turn it down to warm or 1.  This is for an electric range or stove so those of you with gas ranges may need to adjust your settings.

Heating it in this way is safer given the high alcohol content of many types of beverages while managing the level of liquid in the pot more easily.  Once it’s down to half the volume of the pre-cooked level, add distilled water up to the amount of liquid your recipe requires.

This has two purposes:

  1. it restores the liquid volume to its original level giving you plenty of liquid to work with for your recipe and
  2.  it gives you the option of creating a slurry of the booze + water to keep soaping temps cool thus avoiding that volcanic reaction.

The latter part is the most important because if it does volcano there’s a big caustic mess to be cleaned up, which can put you at risk for some pretty nasty burns unless you’re heavily protected and it’s damaging to your work surfaces.  Protect everything!  Keep out pets. Keep children out of the room.  Cover your clothing with a lab coat or a long apron.  Wear closed-toe shoes and the thicker the shoe the better.  Wear gloves!  Wear goggles!  Wear a mask when mixing the lye solution because the fumes are abundant and caustic.  It can damage your lungs. Work in a well-ventilated room or even outside, weather and pollen count permitting.

All of these precautions are not meant to scare you away but rather to prepare you and prevent accidents that can happen.  This is meant to be a creative and fun outlet with a usable, wonderfully scented treat at the end of all your hard work, so play it safe and you’ll enjoy the results!

Tainted Apple with Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider