30 ene. 2012

Coffee Swirl Soap

The other day I made some coffee swirl soap, the top looked wonderful but there's always that question mark as to how the inside looks. In this case I was super excited to see that the swirls also happened on the inside, making this soap a real beauty.
Like I explained in my previous post, my first two passes were lengthwise and then two figure 8 passes with a kabob stick. I originally started out doing it the other way around, but the results were ok (not amazing). So with this one I tried it lengthwise then 8s and it turned out wonderful! Also when pouring I alternated the colors, so that helped with the internal swirls. I enhanced the white with titanium dioxide and the black with black oxide - usually coffee only gets me so far.
I've asked my hubby to help me out making a video of how I pour the colors and how I swirl. It'll just be easier than trying to explain what I do. so look out for that :)
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27 ene. 2012

Coffee Soap redo

 Remember my very naughty coffee soap that boiled over? The one I videoed? Well it's been curing for about a month now and it is still horrible, it didn't improve with age. It works perfectly and washes dishes like a marvel...but it's not pretty. I'm keeping to use around the house, but certainly not for sale.

Having said that, I got around to redoing it today. I took the precaution of preparing the coffee and letting it sit in water with ice for a while until it was cold, I added the lye and stirred inside the ice water so it wouldn't over heat. That seemed to do the trick. Since I'm hooked on swirls I did this one as a swirl rather than bottom 1/3 dark top 2/3 white with specks. It's getting easier and easier to handle two separate colors vs. one batch that I need to split in the end - specially handy when 2/3 need to have coffee instead of water. And the swirls just keep on getting better and better.

The first few batches I swirled, I started off by doing two passes of figure eights then up and down across the length of the mould. They looked nice but kinda killed the swirl. With this batch I tried the other way around, first up and down the length of the mould then two sets of figure eights and I love it! It looks so much better!

Do you have a favorite method of swirling??


22 ene. 2012

Feels like Christmas all over again!!

Getting the things you ordered in the mail feels just like Christms all over again :-)

I had ordered calendula petals and lavender buds from Brambleberry.com along with their mini mixer for mixing powder colorants. I had also ordered micas and pigments from TKB Trading. They all arrived on Thursday!! My lab smelled delicious from the calendula...and the colors looked beautiful. I couldn't wait to try them out!

First on my to do was infuse olive oil (68 oz) with the calendula petals (1 1/2 cups). I put them on my slow cooker and had them on low for about one hour, I let it sit overnight and turned it on again for about two more hours and let it cool off in the pot. Once it was cool I put it back in the bottle. It is such a pretty golden color now. I used tasting olive oil so I don't have to worry about it having it's own fragrance or color. I'll finally have the chance of making calendula soap again!! And I was also thinking about a calendula lip balm, for extra damaged lips :-)

With my pigments I made some mini soaps using a cookie sheet. My whole recipe fits in it making soap that is about 3/4 of an inch high. I then cut it with a round cookie cutter or in squares. Only I didn't want to wait four weeks for it to set...so I baked it :O

I put it in the oven at 180 F (70 C) and cooked it for two hours. That was like one hour more after it had completely gelled. I took it out and it was completely transparent and it took about half an hour to harden and the colors to pop. For next time I'll probably leave it in the oven after I've turned it off...just a feeling as the soap was completely cooked through, I didn't get zapped with it. After it cooled I went ahead and cut it. I really want to test it out to see if it worked. If it does then I've solved my biggest problem with selling CP to B&Bs, which is the long wait.

For today I have my soaping day planned out....so much to do and such little time.



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16 ene. 2012

Shampoo soap experiment, part 1

Hi all! I've finally gotten around to initiating my shampoo experiment. If you remember in my Shampoo Challenge post I wanted to create a shampoo that would leave my hair feeling soft and silky without any fillers or other nasty chemicals. So I was going to do a normal shampoo and lower the pH by using vinegar. I finally got around to doing the shampoo, at least part #1. I went for the bar soap, hot process because I'm impatient and could not think of waiting 4 weeks for a test. The recipe is as follows:
I also added 12 gr each of Almond oil, avocado oil and castor oil at trace for superfatting. Like mentioned I cooked this, for about 2 hours until I didn't get zapped. It has a lovely natural clean fragrance and a greenish tint to it.
This is the first part of the experiment because now I will grate it and remelt it, adding the vinegar in to lower the pH. I will also try the same with boric acid and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The idea is to test each to see how it feels on my hair. As before, I will leave a "control" bar without any of the additives to see if there is a difference.
Each chunk will be about 4 ounces, since the whole recipe was a pound of soap. Also, since my mother in law is at my house she graciously offered to try the shampoo as well. Her hair type is completely different from mine, so it'll be good for testing purposes. maybe it works for me and not her or the other way around - who knows?
I leave you with a pic of a very sad and ugly looking shampoo - hoping it will look nicer after remelting...


12 ene. 2012

2011 Business Recap

Complexion soap
Since we're starting a new year, I wanted to do a recap of what's happened during the last year. It's been a roller coaster ride for my business...which started out to fulfill a personal need, then my mother in law invited me to my first fair and then...well...it turned into an obsession. I desperately wanted to make beautiful soap - and like many other fellow soapmakers - my dream is to have a soaping empire much like Lust or Bath and Body.

2nd fair I was invited to

I also started using only plastic molds...I had one set plain and one massage set. So I did very small batches of each kind of soap, and several batches to have enough product to show on the fairs. I also had a hard time sourcing coconut oil, so most of my recipes didn't have any. They still turned out really nice and smelled wonderful, no fragrances, just the smell from the different additives - honey and oats, bergamot oil, carrots, etc. They were very simple soaps that suited my needs. After those two first fairs I realized that although my soap were good for me, it's not what the buyers were looking for. So I set myself to investigating what the "standard" was and reaching that standard. I finally got a good contact for coconut oil, and added cocoa butter to the mix as well. Being the project manager I am, I made a standard formula that would minimize wastes (time, effort, money). I also started making lip balms and perfumes. A total face lift! I was decided to have extremely successful stands on the next fairs.

So by mid year, my soap had grown to it's beautiful 4 oz, it now included micas for coloring and fragrance oils as well as essential oils. Completely different from what I began with, but with the same objective in mind - 0 allergies.

It's certainly been amazing, learning new techniques getting inspired by all those great soap artists and just letting my imagination run wild.

I don't want it to end, I want this year to be just as amazing. I don't want to stand still I want to continually evolve. There's a saying here in Costa Rica that goes something like this: if the shrimp falls asleep it gets swept away by the current. So with that in mind I'll be sure to stay awake.

I leave you with a video on the highlights of my year.


10 ene. 2012

Toscana Refreshed

New Toscana
I've been struck with swirl fever as of late...I love how they look but I couldn't get them exactly the way I wanted them to be...that is...until yesterday!

I remade Toscana, which originally was hot process in the pot swirl with just a tiny amount of red and black. For this one I went all out with the color...yellow was actually a spin off from the fragrance. I also added a little more fragrance than what I'm used to, to suit my customers which are scent heavy. I think it just looks fabulous!
Original Toscana

Increasing the 2 oz of water has made a great difference, I still feel it's too wet after 12 hrs, but cutting it is easier and it doesn't crumble as much.


9 ene. 2012

Busy week

OK...so a lot has happened this week...I'll try my best to summarize. I made three batches of soap...wanted to do more but ran out of coconut oil - note to self: have two bins, when one runs out go an buy another...that way I'll always have some. Anyways, I made some straight up honey soap which seems to workbetter than honey oats or honey milk and oats - no fragance on this one except for the natural honey.

I also made some lavender soap. I recently switched to another brand of EOs and they seem to be stronger smelling - which I like. I also resolved to not care about cost when it comes to fragrance...meaning to go for medium to strong smelling soap. In the lavender batch I did just that and it came out smelling wonderful. Remamber the test I did with the vegetable colorant? Since it turned out such a wonderful purple I went ahead and used it for this batch. It turned out purple on the edges and blue on the inside! I have no idea why...I'm guessing either the cocoa butter, sunflower oil or lavender EO had something to do with it because that is all that changed from the test recipe. It still looks very nice though.

 While doing these two test batches I kept noticing how the bottom of each bar cracks a little when cutting it. I ran the recipe through soap calc and it gave me a full 2 oz more of water (I usually use MMS calc). So for my next batch I increased the water a little and it seemes to help...though the soap lookes too "wet" for my taste when I cut it.

I made carrot soap...and boy that carrot was used to the last bit. I first extracted the juice and added at trace along with some of the pulp. It colored the soap a nice orange color which turned out pretty nice. Since I had so much pulp left I made some carrot muffins...they were so yummy the kids didn't mind eating them even though they had nasty Mr. orange carrot - my daughter has this thing about orange food. I had also processed some aloe vera for the soap but it didn't actually work so well as it just made some green gunk at the bottom of the bin...so I didn't include it in the soap....and I couldn't bring myself to putting it in with the muffin batter either. So I offered my mother in law a hair mask! She was delighted. So while the muffins were cooking she got a nice salon treatment :-) She is currently nursing a broken ankle at my house...so any extra pampering is very much appreciated.

So that was my first week of the year...a lot busier than other weeks. How was yours?

P.D. Need to take better pics of soaps...these are horrible!



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3 ene. 2012

Hello 2012!!

Swirl soap rounds
I hope you've all had a great Holiday season and a good rest. I spent a great time at the beach with my family but now it's time to grab the new year by the horns.

I'm trying to get in the roster for Expo Yoga...a two day fair held with Yoga and environmental friendly products. So I'm trying to prep in advanced to have some nicely cured soap for it - Feb 18 & 19.

I want to include more essential oils rather than fragrance oils, but they are so expensive and limited here :-( And I refuse to go into a pyramid like business with several of the sellers. So I have to stick to the most normal ones. I still got a really great scent mixing rosemary, geranium, orange and lavender. I did some fancy swirls and cut them in nice little 3/4 oz rounds. These will be sold in muslim bags. I thought they were really cute, hope customers do too.
Cutting in process

Back side of soap

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