Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Soap Volcano!!

I took some time this holiday weekend to catch up on some soap ideas I have had drawn out but haven't had time to make.  My first three batches turned out just as I had wanted them to - I'll write a post later when I have time to clean them up and get some good light for photos.  

The troublemaker was the next batch I attempted to make.  My fourth (and last) batch of the night was a remake of a hot process lavender soap with alkanet root.  I make it in my BB vertical mold, because I like that it keeps all of the edges nice and smooth, even though it is hot process.

{warning - this may or may not be a boring post - I didn't think to take any photos of this process, so it's going to be a "pictures with words" post :) }

I had run out of bowls and equipment to infuse my soaping oils with the alkanet root, so I had the brilliant idea to just infuse the alkanet root using my crockpot while I was working on my other soaps.  The infusion went great, although I needed a second pair of hands to help me strain out the alkanet root powder (thanks Kris!).  The oils were super hot, and I put them back in the crock pot to stay warm.  I mixed my essential oil blend and put it the table next to the oils so I didn't forget to put it in the oils.  Two seconds later, I knocked the cup over, and the whole soaping area still smells like lavender.  I suppose it could be worse - it could smell like neem oil!

The oils were HOT, though - around 180 degrees!  Since the soap batter over 200 degrees while it's cooking, I had the brilliant idea to just mix the 170 degree lye mixture with my 180 degree oils to save myself some time.  Luckily, I stayed by the crock pot to clean up after I had stick-blended the lye and oils, because less than 10 minutes later, this mixture of blue-purple beads started to volcano out of the crock pot and spill EVERYWHERE!  So, I yelled for my husband, stirred the soap back down into the crock pot, and took a couple deep breaths.  I also turned the crock pot down to low.

Luckily, the soap in the crock pot kept cooking and went through the normal phases.  It eventually didn't zap, and I got it in the mold without a problem.  I guess all's well that ends well, eh?

I've never seen a soap volcano, though, and I've definitely learned a thing or two from that harrowing experience!  If only I'd had the presence of mind to grab my camera so I could record it for posterity.  Hopefully I don't have another volcano to record...


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Equality Soap!

I am not one to post political stuff on my blog, but I am proud that earlier this week, MN passed a law to legalize marriage equality!

George Takei even posted this pic on his FB page - she is a friend of my hubby.
So, to celebrate, and so that I could practice making layered soap, I decided to make a rainbow equality soap.  I had 2 2-lb loafs, so I figured even if I screwed one up, hopefully the other would still turn out.

I had bought some neons and oil-locking micas from WSP and also have some awesome neons from BB, and mixed my colors for the rainbow:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and some white for hearts on the top.

I haven't used the WSP colors yet, and to my dismay, the oil-locking green turned a gross brown when I mixed it in the soap batter, and when it saponified, it turned this weird light maroon color.  Not quite what I was going for, but now I know not to use this for a green going forward :)

Here are some pics of the soap I took on this cloudy day today:

I'm happy with how the hearts turned out - I was really worried with keeping the top layer at a light enough trace to do this.

The layer between the yellow and blue is supposed to be green.  Disappointing.

I broke through the layers on one loaf, so I made it a spoon swirled rainbow :)

It looks kind of tie-dyed with the way the swirl came out.  I kind of like it!
Way to go MN!  Have a great Saturday, everyone!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Rosemary Oleoresin Extract (ROE)

I like to use some oils that are soft and have a shorter shelf-life in my recipes, like sunflower oil.  In the past, I have used a mixture of Vitamin E (.5-1%) and Vitamin C (.25-.5%) to help retard rancidity in my soaps.  I haven't had many issues with rancidity to date, which has been great!  Due to how quickly I've been using my oils lately, I just add the extract directly to my master batch when the master batches are prepared.

However, when I was digging around on the internet for something else unrelated, I stumbled across this interesting study which seems to indicate that while Vitamin E & C have many great skin benefits and can help defer rancidity in oils in general, Rosemary Oleoresin is a better performer to preserve shelf life of oils in soap.  The article is written by Kevin Dunn (author of Scientific Soapmaking) and is a very interesting read:

Since the ROE rancidity effect appears in this one study (I am trying to find other studies which will confirm these results), I wanted to give it a shot in some soaps to test drive it a bit.

I made a 2-loaf batch of a repeat of the soap I made for the mica swirled top challenge, and added the ROE to the oils at .5% of the oil weight.  However, while I was mixing the oils to trace, the ROE didn't mix in well with the rest of the soap batter.  There was a layer of reddish orange stuff floating on top of the batter, even as I stick-blended it through medium trace.  I didn't think to take a photo while this was going on.  Now that I've re-read the articles, I have definitely over-used the ROE in my soap batter (recommendation of .02-.1%, depending on where you're reading).  I also tried to soap cooler than normal - around 75 degrees, instead of my usual 110 degrees or so. Since these kind of challenges go in threes, I had also forgotten to put in the EO blend I had mixed up for this batch, so I'm going to make another batch tonight WITH the scent this time :)

What's interesting is that when the soap batter was poured, the top of the yellow layer looked pretty green.  However, when I went downstairs tonight to take pictures after it had set up for a couple days, the green layer on top has gone away. It must have re-absorbed into the soap?  Very strange.

Here you can see a very slight variation of color between the top and the side.  However, I had just unmolded the soap, so the color difference could be the more wet soap vs the drier top.

In this picture you can see the color a little, too, but the top doesn't look green like it did when it was soap batter.

Here's a picture of how they turned out cut.  I really like these colors for the scent, even though these ended up unscented :)

Another show-off picture

Here is a good blog post which looks at the anti-microbial claims of ROE and whether it can function as an effective general preservative:  (in short- it is not a sufficient stand-alone preservative system).  For anyone interested in cosmetic chemistry knowledge, Susan's blog is a great resource, and has some excellent starting recipes for lotions, shampoos, etc.

I've been researching what happens if one uses too much ROE in soaps, but I'm not finding a ton of information.  This soap will be relegated to personal use until I can determine whether it is safe to use.

Also, I had a friend over a few weekends ago to help me take some pictures and show me how to use my little old point-and-shoot.  She took some amazing pictures with the natural sunlight, and she showed me some good ways to set up and use my camera, too.  I'm so happy with how the pictures turned out!

Some Chocolate Mint cupcakes - they look like edible cupcakes!

The Challenge #3 soap - mica swirled tops

Yuzu / Orange soap

Soap Challenge #2 - Elemental Swirl

This one I took myself :)  Rosemary Mint.  It looks similar to the ones my friend took with her SLR camera, even though you can tell hers are better.

Have a great Monday!