Monday, December 17, 2012

Birthday Soaps!

Short blog post y'all - I have made some "spa" type soaps for my birthday:

Here's the one I made with a friend yesterday with pistachio and shea butters, avocado, babassu, sunflower, castor, coconut and olive oils (cleaning out the mostly-empty bottles), and silk and scented with my first essential oil blend with eucalyptus, lavender, bergamot, orange, and clove.  It smells divine, and I can't wait to see how this turned out.  I agreed to not cut it until my friend can come over again for New Years...  I hope I can wait that long :)

The one I made today for my birthday is with a FO that smells like Bath & Body Works' Coconut Lime Verbena and is made with silk, mango butter, and avocado, olive, coconut, and castor oils.  I am really excited about this one - it looks so pretty in the mold!

Well, off to continue birthday celebrations with my husband tonight - hope you all have had a great Monday!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shaving Soap Recipe

My husband and I gave my dad a shaving set for Christmas last year.  When I started making soaps, I really wanted to learn how to make shaving soaps for him to use with his brush and razor.  These are great holiday gifts for the men (and women!) in your life - using the shaving soap with a brush not only gives a really creamy, stable lather, which is useful for shaving, but the brush makes the hairs stand up (on face, or even on legs) to get a closer shave.  I've made the soap in mugs I found at Goodwill and attached a shaving brush I found at Walgreens for a cute holiday gift for friends and family.

I make my soap in the crockpot, with a mix of sodium and potassium hydroxide.  Here's the recipe I use, found here:

165g Beef Tallow
165g Stearic Acid
100g Coconut Oil
70g Castor Oil

180g Distilled Water
65.6g Potassium Hydroxide
25.2g Sodium Hydroxide

1 Tbsp bentonite clay
1 fl oz FO - My last batch was BB Earl Grey Lemon FO, both men and women like the scent (and even one of my dogs :) )

When the oils are combined and the lye water solution is added, the soap batter gets thick quickly.  I usually use a spatula to mix, rather than my trusty stick blender.  I add the bentonite clay after the batter is thoroughly mixed, because the bentonite clay LOVES water and will thicken the batter up considerably.  Then I dump in a crock pot on low and wait for 1-3 hours until it's fully cooked. Even though these are hot-process, I like to let them cure for at least a week before using.

I have made the soap in BB's column mold, but it's extremely hard to unmold, because the soap is more of a very soft soap, almost a cream soap.  It's firm enough to keep its shape, but the users of the soap may find it easier to use if it's poured directly into a mug or saucer to make using the brush easier.

Since the bentonite clay loves water, you'll have to work a little bit and keep wetting the brush, but the lather is amazing.  Check it out :)  It will stay for a really long time on your face / legs, too!

Even my dad loves the soap:

I've been keeping myself busy the past couple days with the new Soapmaker 3 software I got for an early birthday present.  The CPA in me is really enjoying getting my inventory and recipes documented and figuring out exactly how much each of my soaps is costing me (and my wasted batches, like the lye-heavy batch from the last post).


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lye crystals vs soda ash

When I first started making soap, one thing I was really unsure about was how to tell the difference between soda ash (which is not harmful, but may affect appearance of the soap) and lye crystals (which are definitely harmful and would indicate the soap is lye-heavy and needs to be properly disposed of).  From what I had read, they were both white and formed kind of crystal-like on the tops of soaps as they cured.  Each time my soaps cured for the first few months, I would approach the soap with a fair amount of trepidation, lick my finger, touch the white crystals, and touch my tongue and wait to see if I got a *ZAP* like a 9-volt battery.

Perhaps these pictures will help others identify what white stuff on soap is safe and cosmetic only vs what is very dangerous.  I was trying to use up some oils that I'd had for a half year or so before they started to spoil, and I had gotten some Moroccan Red Clay in the mail, as well as some silk.  I wanted to make something moisturizing and gently exfoliating for the dry Minnesota winter coming up, and I had the evening by myself, so it was a perfect time to get down in my "lab" and play around.

So, I'm still not 100% sure what went wrong, but I am worried that I mis-measured the lye.  My husband helped me set up a soapy lab downstairs so I don't have to drag everything up to the kitchen each time I want to soap.  However, the light in the basement makes the scale a little tricky to read, so I have a feeling I just misread my digital scale and had way too much lye in this soap.

Here's the soap I made with the lye crystals.  It has also leaked lye-heavy liquid while it was curing, but that seemed to have seeped back into the mold by the time I took this picture.  See how it looks kind of spotty and crystalized?  Some of the whiter areas are where they lye liquid dried.

Here's a photo of some sample soaps I cut of a peppermint EO soap that had some pretty significant soda ash.  See how it looks less like crystals and more of a uniform "ashy" kind of white substance?

Here's a photo of both together (pardon the mess of my soap factory (and the quality of my pictures - taken on my iPhone with the previously-mentioned terrible lighting).

Here are the swirls from my caustic soap.  I'm so bummed I have to trash this batch!  The swirls turned out so pretty :(
At least I know the soap has great bubbles!  Check this out when I was cleaning out the mold!
So, time to toss this batch and try again.  I have wanted to play around with the BB Column Mold since my struggles unmolding my cream shave soap (I ended up hacking off the end with a small axe...).  Maybe this will be the soap for my second go with the column mold?

Happy Repeal Day!  Hope everyone is enjoying a cocktail tonight to celebrate the end of Prohibition :)  I am enjoying a Guinness and watching Bootleggers on TV!