24 dic. 2011

23 dic. 2011

Mint and seaweed II

I ran out of mint and seaweed (a favorite amongst men) so I decided to follow Soap Queen's advice and cut it sideways instead of the normal way of cutting. I had to recalculate my formula so that I would only end up with soap that was 2" high - my usual is around 3.5". I successfully replicated the whole funnel soap process without any hiccups (hooray for me!!) and I actually wrapped towels around the mould this time. I usually don't, but my quality guy (a.k.a. husband) noted that I get a strange circle like decoloration in my soap...the center is usually a deeper color than the outsides. So I wrapped my soap to make sure I got a good heat all the way to the sides of the mould.

Anyways, it was a bit tricky to cut, especially down the middle, but the outcome was amazing!! I love the horseshoe pattern which was kinda lost in the other one. Although I did like the angels in the first one.

I like this so much I'm going to redo confidence as funnel soap.

I wish you all very Happy Holidays!!



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13 dic. 2011

Testing...testing...Blue colorant pictorial

I went to the produce/meat/ice cream store the other day (did I mention I live in a really small town?) and my daughter saw these really cool looking "vegetable" colorants. I of course could not stop myself and bought some...specially because of the bright blue one 
Red, green and blue vegetable colorants

And having read the Soapmaker's Companion book recently I remembered Susan had a nice one bar recipe I could follow to test it. So yesterday I set myself the challenge to thoroughly test the blue colorant which is the one the I want desperately
Me ready for action :)
I did three tests with an additional recipe for control.
First test: colorant in oils
Pre-coloring oils
Adding color (three 1/8 tsp)
Oils after adding color
Lye water added - emulsified stage
Trace :(
Not very blue :(
Test #2: colorant in lye water
Pre-mixing colorant in - changed to reddish brown as soon as it came in contact with lye
Colorant mixed in
Very similar results - colorant in lye is the one on the right, colorant in the oils is the one on the left
Test 3: Colorant at trace
Nice trace - I mixed in the colorant at this point
Completely different results - got a nice teal with blue sprinkles
Control bar: did this one to have a comparison point of just how white the resulting bar is
No color added to the bars on the right
I was pretty disappointed with the results, I couldn't get anywhere near to the original blue color. I did notice when washing the mixer and cups the lye mixture turned a nice blue color when it came in contact with the water. When the bars are cured I hope they do the same, it would be a cool marketing tool for the soap.

This morning I went to check my experiment and got a really pleasant surprise
Color morphed to a really pretty purple
The colorant in lye and colorant in oil bars turned a really pretty purple - a definite keeper!! Colorant at trace was not so pretty, it looked weird but nice also.
Colorant in lye
Colorant in oil
Colorant at trace - funky but nice/different
Control bars
When cured I'll test them out to see if they turn blue when wet.

Hope you've enjoyed, I did!!

9 dic. 2011

Product labeling video

Another video by me - yai!! this one is me labeling a bar of soap and a lip balm. Enjoy!


8 dic. 2011

New labels - again??

So yes...I did it again like the song says...it's just a few days before the next fair and I've decided to change the labels on ALL of my soaps. Am I crazy? Yes, quite possibly... it's the only explanation...but they do look cute :)

Here's a before and after pic... I think they look great and it allows the soap to breathe and people can pick it up and smell it without actually touching the soap.

We'll just have to see how customers like them. Do you?

xoxo Irene
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1 dic. 2011

Completely not soap related! First draft of my house!!

The architect came by Tuesday to present his first draft of our house. we thought it was exactly what we needed and wanted!! There are a few small modifications to make to the design, but overall it was dead on what we were thinking!! I can't wait to begin building it but I still have a long road ahead - banks, permits, contractors...the whole nine yards. But still...this is a very big step towards us having our dream home.
All images copyright of our dear architect Rafael Campos Arce.
Happy beginning of December!
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30 nov. 2011

Repost - What does handmade mean?

What DOES Handmade Mean?

Please read the post on what handmade mean...I could not have said it better.

Happy middle of the week!

xoxo Irene

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28 nov. 2011

Mommy look...I'm on TV!!!

Yay!! My interview got aired today :) thank you all for your support and comments and ideas :)

I was sooo nervous...more than when the crew was here filming. It was agonizing! But everything turned out marvelous. I got contacted right away by several people wanting to resell my product :) and got 20 more fans on my facebook page :)

I was so happy the soap behaved perfectly on camera- no seizing or fumes or anything wonky - just wonderful soap! My mother-in-law said I was so peaceful and sure of what I was doing it was mesmerizing :) Great reviews!! Let's hope it's the first of many :)

Keeping with the spirit of firsts...I uploaded my first YouTube video...a nice example of superheated soap.

Saturday I still was antsy so I decided to mke two toned coffee soap. I split the regular 3lb recipe in three, two thirds with coffee grinds and one third smooth but almost black from adding coffee to the lye water. I did the coffee in lye part first and poured into the mold, it looked beautiful. I started cleaning up waiting for it to set before getting started on the top layer. When I looked back at it it was boiling over the sides of my 5 lb mold - it was only 1 lb of coffee soap and it just volcanoed. I could do nothing, nothing but film it. I put some funny music to it and voilá, my first YouTube entry :)

Next editions hopefully will be about nice soap, not misbehaved soap. Stay tuned!


23 nov. 2011

I'm being interviewed on Friday!!

I got called back!! Friday 10 am I have the crew in my lab doing the interview for the channel 6 morning show called Giros :):) (I'll have to miss out on all the black friday specials :'( )

I'm soooo nervous!!! They've asked me to do a short demonstration. Planning on some CP soap, something simple and pretty like yellow lemon with poppy seeds soap or something like that - like SUDS' Pucker Up soap

Or should I do a repeat of one I already have and just show how I did it? Maybe do a soap like confidence...using the hanger method?
I'm also trying to think what to say while going through the process. What do you think I should focus on? What would be an interesting topic to talk about?

Tips and ideas are greately appreciated!!


21 nov. 2011

Recipe for clear soap

Like promised here's the recipe I used for my clear soap. I feel like there was too much water in the soap so I would recommend substracting the water found in the alcohol from the lye water...maybe that will help. I also think I used too much water for the sugar syrup...so next time I'll use half of what I used.
OK...so here's the ingredients:

90 gr coconut oil
50 gr sunflower oil
50 gr olive oil
25 gr cocoa butter
7 gr castor oil
3 gr avocado oil

85 gr water
35 gr lye

121 gr alcohol
93 gr sugar syrup (40 gr sugar plus water to make 93 gr)
49 gr glycerine

1 tbs fragrance (Mediterranean Fig which I love!)

For the next try with this recipe I'll take out 25 gr out of the lye water on account of the water content found in my 80% alcohol; and I'll increase sugar to 65 gr mixed with water to complete the 93 gr.

This recipe was made based on Susan's %s for clear soap, which are:

Soap 55%
Polyol 45%
   alcohol 46%
   sugar syrup 35.4%
   glycerine 18.6%

I wish I could go and try it right now...but my scale died :( I'm glad it's still in warranty otherwise it's another unplanned expense for this month (which include about $1000 car service)


19 nov. 2011

Clear soap - update #1

OK....so I unmolded the soap a couple of hours ago cut it and left it on my lab to warm up after being in the fridge for about two hours. I went to check on it and it looks beautiful!! I cut a sliver of about 1/2 inch and it is very clear...letters easily show on the background. I still have to let it cure for about two weeks but I'm going to try it out in a quick shower...it cooked for about two hours so it's definitely saponified completely...I'm guessing it will just be a little drying from the excess alcohol still in it.

I'll post the recipe on Monday when I'm on my computer...typing all those numbers on my phone drives me crazy.



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It's here!!!

My soap book is here...yaiii!! And of course I'm already trying things out with one of the processes explained. Clear soap is a passion for me, but I've never quite got fhe formula right. Susan's book is very clear on explaining what %s go where, which makes it really easy to work out your own formula. So I'm here in my lab, patiently waiting for my soap to finish cooking. So far so good :-)

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14 nov. 2011

INBioparque fair update

Products - check
Nice table setup - check
Advertising prior to fair - check
So...where are the customers???? With a day like yesterday, the only crazy people outside of their beds at 8 am were us! It rained all day, which kind off kills the whole point of going to a nature park where you have to walk under the rain :(

So we had everything ready, a wonderful table at the entrance of the park, but hardly any customers. The ones we had were hurrying off home. But all was not that bad. The pople with the table besides ours were interviewed by a local news channel for a daily morning show. While they were filming their product, the interviewer came over to chat. He'd never seen the style of soap I had and was really interested in doing a segment on my products and how I made them. He requested my info (which I had handy) and asked where he could see the product (webpage ready) so he could show the producers and present the idea of making a segment for the show. I am sooo happy!! It would be great for my brand! Just the thing I need to make my soaps go viral.

So I'm here...waiting (im)patiently for news from this person. I'll let you know as soon as I know something.


10 nov. 2011

Health Fair at INBiopark

I'm happy to announce that the INBio park has accepted my application and I will be participating this coming Sunday at the health day they'll be hosting. INBio Park is the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica, a non-profit organization founded in 1989 dedicated to scientific research and promoting the importance of conserving the country’s rich biological diversity. So it's a big deal to be associated to such a noble cause. The park itself is beautiful...kind of like an petting zoo/amusement park with pathways across what feels like a jungle...full of animals and critters which you can see in their natural habitat and interact in different ways. DD and I like to go there when DH goes riding with his friends, it's our special place. I'll leave you with some pics from our adeventures there. Enjoy!

9 nov. 2011

When bad things happen to nice (stubborn) people

I was happily soaping away today...making what was to be a beautiful in the pot CP swirled soap with white, green and pink colors, scented with a wonderful flowery scent, inspired by this video

I melted the solids...got some on my shirt...and that should've indicated the trouble that was to come...but I kept at it. I added the liquid oils and mixed...my lye was already sitting quietly in the corner waiting to cool off. I poured it in my oils and mixed...never did I think of checking how hot the oils were. They were actually pretty hot, I didn't finish giving it the first round with my mixer when it was already past light trace. But being as stubborn as I am, I kept on going...I quickly put in the scent and divided part of the mix in with the pink color, and part with the green...mixed the two in a flash and put it back in the pot...which was already rock solid :( But still I kept on (and yes...I asked my dear hubby to give me a smack in the bottom...I deserve it) I poured the two colors in opposite ends of the pot, gave it a swirl with a stick and poured (blobbed) in the mold...with what remained of the colors I poured the topping and swirled. It looked great!

So I merrily took everything to wash and snagged my glove on something and it tore. I just had a few things to wash and yes - you guessed it - I didn't put new gloves on just because they were a few things I needed to wash an SURELY nothing would happen. Well, halfway through washing I felt a tingling sensation, then 3/4s of the way a burning sensation. I hurriedly finished and washed my hands thoroughly with soap but it was too late...they felt like sandpaper. They weren't actually burnt; they were just very rough to the touch, felt slippery and looked like I had been in the tub too many hours. I ran to get my phone and saw this at the work table. I nearly sat down to cry :'(

Since I still had that slippery feeling on my hands I went inside and hastily made a solution of vinegar and water and let my hands sit in there for about 15 minutes. My fingers felt like they belonged to someone else...someone made out of sandpaper. It felt horrible! I rinsed my hands and applied some body butter I had made the other day. You can see in the pic how the skin looks in my hand, like I've done the laundry by hand with hot soapy water...thankfully they're all ok now.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE wear your gloves at all times. If they tear get new ones on immediately. They're only a couple of cents vs having to deal with hurt hands.

As far as the soap goes, I'm letting it sit and get it over with. Tomorrow if it looks awful I'll HP it.

xoxo with hurting fingers

8 nov. 2011

The shampoo challenge

From what I've seen, there comes a time in every soapmakers life where the shampoo challenge presents itself. It is either by choice or by surprise that the simple soapmaker finds herself or himself struggling with it. Some approach the subject in a very analytical and scientific manner, carrying on until they've found that perfect formula. Others try a couple of times with little success and decide shampooing is not for them (I count myself here). I've tried it in the past and didn't work, so I let it go. But it's come back with a vengeance. My hair is not happy with commercial brands, I've tried every shampoo in the sampoo aisle, and I really don't want to pay $50 for the brand my salon has. So I'm here again, trying to figure out the perfect shampoo formula for my particular needs. So I'll start with that...what are my needs?
  • Very fine hair
  • Colored (red - of all colors I could've chosen I chose the worst one)
  • Really dry+damaged
  • I'm allergic to a lot of chemicals
  • I have a 7 year old with long hair that likes to pretend she's mommy so I need something that she can also use
  • Head lice and nasties repellant ...let's face it...DD's in the age where those things go around like crazy
Having identified those I can then move on to what ingredients are needed. I need oils that will nurture my hair but clean it really well. I've tried castille shampoo and it left my hair looking like a barbie doll that's had her hair licked once too many times (if you have baby girls in your life you know what I mean, if you don't...ignorance is bliss). So I got to investigating this weekend and found this article "The Great Shampoo Scandal". Granted it's written by a conspiracy theorist so it's heavy on...well...conspiracy...but it gave me an excellent piece of information. Hair is made up of tiny scales, if they come in contact with high pH those scales stand up...making hair unmanegeable and rigid. On the contrary, if they are exposed to low pH, the scales lie down making hair feel soft and silky. Huh! I've never heard that before!! The soap that we make is naturally high in pH, even the castille one, so of course it makes my hair all nasty! So all I need to do is lower the pH of my soap and I'll have a nice shampoo for my hair sans the chemicals or $50.

Now how do I accomplish that? Excellent question! I don't know...or I didn't until I actually read Catherine Failor's method for creating liquid soaps...I mean I've read it quite often, but not really really read it...it's usually when I forget something I have to confess. So anyways...I was reading away when she mentions neutralizing the soap by adding either borax or boric acid. This neutralizes the extra lye and brings down the soap's pH. Now this is why you should always read the recipes correctly...right there in front of me was the answer to the question that was bugging me :)

So, long story short, I now had a way of lowering the pH of my soap so it can suit my hair. I also know that I can't use olive because of the ickiness, so I decided to try out one of Failor's recipes with a little of me: I'm trying her Coco-Loco gel soap. I've substituted her liquid oil for almond, avocado and sunflower, and keeping the coconut and cocoa butters in there. For my specially dry hair, I've decided to sacrifice clarity for nutrients, so I'll add some more avocado, almond and sunflower oils at trace, plus extra vit E. I've also decided to not use the boric acid but instead use apple cider vinegar in an effort to use less chemicals. For fragrance I chose rosemary, lavender and geranium...all used to repell nasties.

I'm still trying to decide on bar or liquid. If I go with bar I would have to work with less water in the beginning and then add the vinegar without it exploding in my face...but it would be nice to have a bar of shampoo.

I'll let you know how the experiment goes...hopefully my hair won't fall out.

Wish me luck!!

7 nov. 2011

Productive weekend - inspiration is in the house

I finally got hit by inspiration :)

I was stuck in a rut, no ideas came to mind and it was horrible. But finally, this weekend I had a flash and started making beautiful soap. It started with the funnel soap, which gave way to trying another new technique, this time inspired by this great video:
She does it with three colors but I was missing a couple of hands, so I tried with two colors (and still neede an extra pair - thankfully hubby was there to help out). I had tried this another time but didn't quite get the effect I wanted on the middle part of the soap, so I tried the metal hanger. Again hubby came in handy making a wonderful tool for me. I tried bending the hanger and nothing happened jajaja :) We both poured the two colors side by side and then had several runs with the hanger - back and forth. On top, I did do the feathers by just barely dipping the end of the bamboo stick on the soap. The result: just beautiful!!

Still need more practice with the hanger...the feathers in the middle are barely visible. But overall I'm really happy how it turned out. It is scented with Rosemary and Orange EOs - a special blend for enabling confidence. The yellow part is colored with curry in the olive oil (it's been sitting for about a month) and the red part is colored with cayenne pepper in the olive oil. I thought they'd be a lot lighter but I suppose steeping so long fixed the color in both. This was CPd.

I also made two other loafs (HP): one pure castille with a nice touch of cocoa and then a lavender one (bleh!). I hate how lavender smells, but it's just one of those fragances that everyone seems to love. So to please the crowds I made on with purple in the pot swirls - too bad the purple was not stable for HP soap...the blue was...so it turned out more blue than purple...

Then for the castille one I didn't want it to be boring, so I sprinkled some cocoa to create a nice dark line across the white soap. It looks amazing, like a mountain ridgeline...the sides look all fudgy so it made me think of rocky road..that yummy chocolaty dessert.
How was everyones weekend?


5 nov. 2011

Funnel swirl soap

And here he is :-) The beautiful funnel swirl. The green part is colored with Nori seaweed and the olive oil was infused with mint and rosemary. The soap itself is scented with peppermint EO. I even had a little angel show up :-)




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4 nov. 2011

1st shot at funnel swirling

Hi everyone...I'm really happy...I finally got to trying the funnel technique on my soap :) I needed to practice CP soaping before I could delve into the more complicated techniques. i've always had problems with the trace...I either go too far and have to drop by lumps or it seperates in the mold and forms a nice oil layer on top. But for the past few batches I think I got the trace down to a T. That's me all geared up this morning. Diane Vonfurstenberg would die if she saw me like this...but I'd rather be unfashionable than being burnt, intoxicated or any other option we might have as soapmakers.
I decided I would do one of my personal favourites which is the famous Mint Rosemary soap. It has a double benefit: for the body the mint estimulates the production of body oil, so ultimately it helps with very dry skin, and rosemary aids circulation. The secondary benefit is mentally, the blend between the two is believed to aid in concentration. So besides looking pretty and smelling yummy, this soap is actually good for you. There you can see my two parts of soap getting ready to be mixed...one plain, no color added just the EO; the other I added seaweed to turn it green plus the EO (I did.
Next I got ready to pour through the funnel. Notice the super chic hi tech gismo used for holding the funnel (patent pending - just kidding!) I made it out of a piece of thick paper backed up by two craft wooden sticks - the ones little kids use a lot in school. it held up the funnel and the added weight the soap was going to have.
Closeups of the nifty little thingy.
Sorry for the lack of in between pics...kinda missing a third arm for that. I alternated the two colors at a rate of about 4 oz per color...up to my regular 3 lbs. In the end it looked like this.

I just removed the funnel and it looks soooo cute!! I had time to pour all the soap in without it going wonky on me. I can't wait to cut it...i almost did this afternoon, it looked hard enough to hold up...but I stopped myself in time. By tomorrow it will be ready to cut and I wont make a mess out of it :)
I'll be sure to take pics of the finished product for everyone to see.

How's your experience with funneling been? I'd love to hear from you...tips, tricks, funny stories...anything goes :)