Thursday, April 9, 2020

April Soap Challenge - Pour Through/Pull Through

One of the benefits of being out of work and being told to stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is that I have a lot of time for crafting and soap making (not that I'm making a lot of soap). Thankfully, each month, the Soapmaking Forum has a challenge; the challenge for April is the Pour Through or Pull Through technique.

This technique is borrowed from acrylic painting and can make some interesting patterns. The Pour Through technique involves pouring coloured soap batter through a strainer or colander, depending on the size of your mold. The Pull Through technique involves pouring your batter into a mold that has a shaped strainer at the bottom of it. Once the strainer (or whatever is being used) is pulled up through the soap batter, patterns are made. If it's made in a column mold, it usually ends up looking like a kaleidoscope. I've seen some beautiful examples of this technique but I've also seen some muddy looking examples. It's a technique I've been wanting to try for a while but really didn't have time for experimenting.

Well, now I do and this technique just happened to be the challenge for this month. I've already made a first attempt that I'm pretty happy with but I think I'd like to try another one, tweaking with what I learned in the first try.

Here's the tool I used for my attempt #1.

It's from a Pickle (Gherkin) jar, meant to pull the pickles up from the bottom of the jar. I tied two strings to it, one at the top of the handle and one at the opposite side, making it easier to pull out of the soap batter. My mold is made from the 3" core from a roll of blueprint paper (working at a print shop definitely has its perks).

Here's the soap in the mold (I won't be showing the cut soap until the challenge is over or unless I like my next attempt better).

It looks kind of muddy, doesn't it? I was a little worried at first but, trust me, it doesn't look to bad at all. I purposely made a full batch (my usual 1000 grams) and had enough left over to fill my guest soap mold. One thing I must say, I'm really happy with the way the colours came out. The blues are coloured with Ultramarine Blue and a bit of Activated Charcoal and the green is coloured with Olive Mica. The soap is scented with Candora's Caribbean Escape (Sweet Melon, Raspberry Nectar, Italian Lemon, Creamy Coconut, and Raw Sugarcane), which reminds me of SUMMER!

The fragrance oil does have 3% Vanilla content so it may discolour a bit. I added Titanium Dioxide to keep the discolouration to a minimum but I expect it will still darken to a light beige.

It felt good to make soap again; it almost brings a bit of normalcy to my week. 

Stay safe and..... wash your hands. Need soap? We have soap!

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Message to My Local Friends

In this time of Covid-19, we're all being told to stay away from other people, to stay at home, to wash your hands. Like many of you, I'm now among the ranks of the unemployed because of this virus. Like you, we're trying very hard to stay away from people. That said, you still need groceries, right? You still need "the necessities of life". Right now, soap is one of those very important items. It's one of the ways we can stop this virus in its tracks.

So many events are being cancelled, including our local markets, understandably so. That said, if you need soap or bath products, we do have them available. Is there any better time to pamper yourself? We are more than happy to arrange for safe local delivery or pick up (the Kelowna area). All you need to do is get in touch, either by email or by phone.

We have plenty of stock available; I will begin posting available stock on the Available Now page, along with prices. This isn't an online store, however. You will have to get in touch by email or phone to order. Payment can be made by e-transfer and pick up or delivery will be arranged. Delivery will be free for orders over $20.00.

Email us at or call 250-317-4122 to order and arrange pick up or delivery.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Cream Soap Experiment

At the end of 2018, I did a little experimenting with making a cream soap. After making it, it was to "rot" (or cure) for about 6-8 weeks before using. I did play with it a little bit - I think I made a sugar scrub - but I eventually forgot all about it. Last weekend, while cleaning out the spare room, I thought about it again and dug it out or rather, brought it out into the open.

I love the pearly sheen of the cream soap. This was before I started "playing".

This morning, I decided to play with a bit of it. First, though, I went back to the Soapmaking Forum and did some more reading about cream soaps. I came across a post that mentioned blending it with a bit of thick cream/lotion and decided that was the route I would take.

I used 50 grams of the cream soap, blended it with 10 grams of the lotion base that had been melted into 15 grams of boiling water and mixed up really well. Then, I added 10 drops of fragrance oil. I used Candora's Stormy Nights, which combines floral notes of hyacinth and heather with leafy, green notes. (It's pretty strong on the hyacinth out of the bottle.)

It looks like buttercream frosting and has a very silky feel.

Once all that was done, I took my husband's shave brush and lathered up! I was fairly impressed, to be honest. Next time he shaves, I may get him to try it just to see what he thinks. I tried it on my legs and was pretty happy. That said, my legs were pretty dry to begin with and I really needed to moisturize quite a bit after shaving.

Right after lathering up. It came together beautifully; I probably could have gotten more of a head if I'd used a bowl with a little more texture but you get the idea.

This is an hour later. I left it for about two hours, by which time it was starting to dry out.
The next test will be trying it on my face, just to see how drying (or not) it is. I'll report back when I try it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Covid-19 and Soap Making

I am now officially unemployed. Today was the first day of my social distancing. I will admit that I'm relieved not to be going to work every day and it's giving me time to get some things done that have been waiting for quite some time.

The market opening is still an uncertainty; it's scheduled to start in May so everyone is in wait and see mode. Because I've been making soap all winter for the upcoming season, I'm well stocked and have decided not to make any more at this time.

For any of my local friends and customers, if you are in need of soap, please contact me. I'd be happy to arrange curbside delivery or pick up. In the interim, stay well, wash your hands often, and remember to practice social distancing.

See you on the other side of all this.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

No Slime Castile Soap

At the beginning of my 2019 market season, I decided that I should stock some very basic soap, something that would be gentle, pure, vegan friendly. I came up with two such soaps. The first of those two was the Charcoal and Lavender Castile soap, made with sea water (from the West Coast), olive oil, and a bit of coconut oil and castor oil, coloured with charcoal and scented with lavender essential oil. The second is the pure Castile bar.

This one is the same base recipe as the Charcoal and Lavender Castile but with no colours and no fragrance. One of the downsides of a true Castile soap is the slimy lather. With the addition of salt water, coconut oil and castor oil, that sliminess is minimized. This is a very gentle soap, perfect for all skin types.

And there's just something about a plain white bar of soap, don't you think?

Castile soap made with olive oil and sea water from Canada's West Coast
Salt Water Castile Soap
I've been trying to come up with ideas for some new soaps and, in chats with other people, I've come up with some interesting ideas. One idea is to make a line of Okanagan-themed soaps.

wine soap made with Okanagan wines

To that end, the jars above are filled with something everyone in the Okanagan knows about. On the left is white wine and the jar on the right is red wine. For each, I've reduced a bottle of wine to almost two cups of liquid. At some point in the near future (when some new colorants arrive), I'll be making soap with each of those. There is nothing more Okanagan than wine and I've made soap with beer in the past so why not wine?

I'm still trying to come up with a few more inspirations for this line. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 8, 2020


So, now that I have these lovely new tools, I should be making soap so I can use them, right? Last weekend, I got on that. I decided that the first soap I made should be a marble soap, a soap that is first cut horizontally to show the marbling, then cut vertically into bars.

This recipe uses shea butter and I like to buy the raw shea, not the processed. It's quite yellow and it does colour the soap somewhat; I know that and I don't mind at all. I chose to try a new to me method of making the soap batter, the heat transfer method. That's when you measure out the solid oils, then mix the lye solution and add it to the hard oils. The heat created by mixing the lye and liquid is usually enough to melt the solid oils. Then the liquid oils are added and you proceed as you normally would. In theory, I liked the idea of this; it is a little faster as you're not waiting for the lye solution and the oils to cool to the same temperature, which can take up to an hour. In this case, though, the recipe is mainly hard oils and the lye solution was unable to completely melt the oils so I had to add some heat until all was melted; then I added the liquid oils and fragrance (Black Tie from Candora). Pouring is done in blobs and layers, with mica sprinkled on between pourings.

Normally, this recipe can be unmolded and cut within 18-24 hours; this time, it took a full 48 hours before I was unable to take it out of the mold to cut. It was very difficult waiting as I really wanted to try the new loaf cutter. Oh my! I am so happy; it was a joy cutting this batch. I've had to tweak the height a little (2 popsicle sticks worth) so I don't end up with too large a left over slab but it's so nice to have even bars of soap. And the bar cutter? Why did I wait so long?? No more wonky, different sized bars!

Using the planer gives the bars a lovely finished look that I'm really liking and it's so easy to use!

Black Tie Marble Soap, scented with Black Tie from Candora (Sophisticated notes of black peppercorn and leather are carefully crafted with warm woods, patchouli, musk and citrus.) Made Feb. 29, 2020
Black Tie Marble - the left overs, swirled with silver mica
This weekend, I restocked a soap that sold better than I had anticipated. I've noticed that my customers usually look for nice smelling and fairly colourful bars of soap. This one is neither. It is unscented and uncoloured, as pure a soap as I can make. It's the No Slime Castile soap, made with a recipe shared by one of the Soapmaking Forum members. Her recipe calls for faux sea water, made with salt and baking soda. However, I asked my daughter's SO to bring me some sea water from the coast and he brought me about a gallon of it.

With the addition of the sea water and a bit of coconut oil and castor oil, this is a lovely mild soap, one of the purest soaps I make. Castile soap, a true 100% olive oil soap, can have somewhat slimy later; this one doesn't. It really is a lovely soap and there's just something about plain white soap that is pleasing, don't you think?

Castile Soap, made March 7, 2020

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Right Tools for the Job

As a maker, I'm of the firm belief that you should splurge on the best tools you can afford for the job you're doing. In soap making, you can improvise easily. Molds can be made out of cardboard boxes, Pringles containers, plastic tubs, silicon muffin cups, almost anything really; cutters can be as simple as a sharp knife or a small wire cheese cutter.

However, if you're doing any kind of production and you want consistency in bar size and shape, you do need to invest in some equipment. The past two weeks have been all about that -- investing in my little business.

I've had my eye on a couple of pieces of equipment for a while but really couldn't justify the expense... until now. We decided it was time to invest in Mission Meadows Soapery. One of the tools I ordered is a bar cutter. It's the same idea as a wire cheese cutter but on a larger scale.

This should eliminate the uneven bars I've been getting, even with an improvised stop on the cheese cutter. An entire loaf can sit on that tray; no more balancing the loaf on a six inch slab of marble while it wobbles while trying to cut it.

The second piece of equipment is a loaf splitter. I don't make many batches in a slab mold but there are some soaps I make that are best cut horizontally first, then into bars. Until now, I've had to use a knife for that and it's been awkward, to say the least. Enter the loaf splitter...

It's adjustable from 1/2" to 3.5" in height and should make quick work of cutting the loaves and it opens up a world of design ideas.

Until now, I've been using battery operated kitchen scales to measure my ingredients. I have two such scales and they've been okay. Lately, though, my "good" scale has been frustrating me no end and there have been times I'm not sure I have the right measurement of an ingredient. If it's something I'm making for myself, I'm not too concerned but if I'm making something that I'll be selling, I need my scale to be accurate. It was time to upgrade the scale.

This is the MyWeigh KD 8000; it can be powered by batteries (3 AAA) or it can be plugged in. That is just what I need! This scale has a 30 year warranty (it will outlive me, most likely!). There's a plastic cover over the front panel and I've been told by numerous soap makers to use the cover. It's there to protect the scale from spills and oopsies (yes, that's a word). It measures down to the gram (for anything smaller, I have a jeweller's scale) or .01 oz and up to 8000 grams (8 kilos). It's known to be a workhorse of a scale.

To round out my investment, I also decided to splurge on a small planer, used to bevel the edges of the soap bars. When the bars are cut, the edges can be "sharp" (if you can call soap sharp). Realistically, after a wash or two, there are no more harsh corners but beveled edges just give the soap a more polished appearance. This is a small hand plane from Kakuri, a Japanese company.

I have two loaves that have been curing in my soap room and are ready for wrapping. I decided to test out the planer on the two loaves, 18 bars. It took just minutes to bevel all eighteen bars and I like the finished look. Now, they just need wrapping. The trimmings are in a paper bag and will be used in a future batch of confetti soap.

I love all my new "toys". Now, I just need to make soap! Until now, I've been somewhat uninspired but ideas are starting to swirl around my brain. No soap making today, though. Today will be spent with friends and family. Tomorrow though......