Sunday, January 28, 2018

Dancing In The Rain

This morning, I unmolded and cut the Dancing in the Rain soap. I probably should have waited until later in the day (the soap was on the soft side) but I was eager to see how it had turned out. It wasn't how I was hoping it would be but it's definitely acceptable.

I'm thinking now that it might have been better in a slab mold and cut horizontally rather than in a loaf mold and cut vertically. I'll try that another time. As an aside, I've made a list of techniques I'd like to try. The dancing funnel pour is back on that list.

I also trimmed the rimmed soap; I used some of the soap dough to make the rim, got that fitted into two cavities of a silicone mold and filled them with leftover soap from the Rain soap. I'm pleased with the result. I have a feeling some of the colour (especially the red) may bleed. It's pretty intense. We shall see.

This afternoon, I planned out and made another batch of soap. It didn't go exactly as planned, to say the least. 

I bought a texture mat at the Bulk Barn today and cut it up to use in my soap mold. The intention was to colour a bit of the soap batter and coat the mat before pouring in the rest of the soap batter. My batter went from fluid to thick trace in, literally, seconds! It went so fast I almost didn't have time to get the scent into it. 

It's definitely not the prettiest soap I've ever made but it does smell good. It's scented with lavender, patchouli, and jasmine. 

The soap should be a good one; it's made with tallow and lard, along with palm kernel oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and castor oil. Any soap made with lard and tallow is bound to be a nice soap so, even though it isn't pretty, I'm still content. Besides any day with time spent making soap is a good day.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In My Happy Place

I am having so much fun! I've been researching techniques, watching soap making videos, reading about soap and, today, making soap. One technique that has me intrigued is the Dancing Funnel Swirl. It isn't really a swirl but it is, definitely a technique. It, also, doesn't use a funnel; it uses squeeze bottles.

To make it, you pour your soap batter into separate squeeze bottles for each colour. Soap batter is dropped into your mold, first drops of one colour then, on the drops of the first colour, the second colour is dropped. (Gee, that sentence sounds awkward, doesn't it?) If you Google it, you'll see some amazing examples. Go, Google it!

Ok, just to be nice, here's a video I watched a few times before even thinking about trying this technique. She made hers in a slab mold; mine is in a loaf mold but the technique is the same. It's simple but, oh. so cool looking!

I tried it today using two colours, white and ultramarine pink, using the same recipe I used for the Ice Queen (so not blue)/Rose Quartz soap. At the moment it's in the oven, gelling. I don't normally gel my cold process soaps but, in this case, I want the colour to pop as much as possible. As well, I purposely made a larger batch than I knew I'd need so I would have a little extra for experimentation.

Speaking of the Rose Quartz soap, I need to come up with another name for it. The pink has completely disappeared and the soap is now a beautiful pale lavender. When I told Kristen I was thinking of calling it Lavender (or Mauve) Quartz, she immediately replied, "Oh, you mean Amethyst?" Um, yeah. I'm hesitant to call it anything but pretty right now. Who knows whether the colour will morph even more? We shall wait and see.

A few weeks ago, I made soap dough in preparation for February's challenge on the Soapmaking Forum. Last weekend, I put together a cane of soap with the intention of using it to "wrap" soap, also called Rimmed Soap.

This was just an experiment so there are only two bars; I'll unmold them tomorrow. The center (pink) soap, which was also used in the dancing funnel soap, is scented with Rain from Voyageur Soap & Candle. I wasn't too sure about this scent; it's very strong in the bottle and the one time I did use it in soap, I didn't like it. Again, it was too strong. This time, I only used one teaspoon in a one kilo (oil weight) batch of soap. I'm liking it much better now. Obviously, with this fragrance oil, less is more.

Because it's a little slow at work right now (finally), I was able to take Thursday afternoon off to make my Salt Soap, something I've been wanting to do for a couple of weeks. After giving Kristen an entire batch of these bars for her birthday, I was left with only one bar in reserve. That is NOT enough!

This should see me through the year nicely, once it's fully cured. The only downside to this soap is that the longer it cures, the better it is. The upside to this soap is that the longer it cures, the better it is. Ideally, I should put it away for the next six months to a year. Truly, this is a wonderful soap; it smells amazing (equal parts lavender, peppermint, and rosemary) and the lather is thick, creamy and gentle. I even use it for shaving my legs because the lather is that thick. And, it doesn't dry out my skin. 

Tomorrow, I'll post pictures of the Dancing Funnel soap. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turned out. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Well, That Was Interesting

This last batch of soap, the one I'm calling Rose Quartz, has definitely been interesting and a real learning experience. Don't get me wrong, the soap is amazing. If I do say so myself, it's beautiful and it smells amazing.

The learning part comes in when it comes to the colouring. As I wrote yesterday, I used FD&C blue; it morphed into pink. At least, it's pink on the outside. This morning, I cut it and received another surprise.

It's mauve! (See that gorgeous swirl? That makes me happy!) Some commenters on the SoapMaking forum have said it might not be finished morphing yet so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next six weeks or so.

As for lessons, I've learned that if I want a pretty mauve, I can use the FD&C blue. One poster on SMF said she uses this particular blue to make a royal purple colour.  Another one suggested having a jar with pre-mixed lye water handy and using a sample cup of lye solution to test your colourant to see whether it will morph and if so, how it will change. What a great suggestion! 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Things Don't Always Go As Planned

Last week's soaps are out of the mold, cut, and curing. I was very pleased with both batches that I made. Yes, I made two batches last week. In addition to the no coconut, whipping cream soap, I also made a batch of one of our perennial favourites, Java Jumpstart.

Of all the times I've made the Java Jumpstart, I think I'm most happy with this particular batch. I think I've got the ratio better this time than I have in the past. Normally, I've used close to half and half for the plain section vs the coloured section. This time, it was more like 2/3:1/3. I could go even less for the coffee section, I think. 

And here is the perfectly named, Alabaster Cream soap, made with whipping cream as one of the oils. Thanks go out to one of my long distance friends, Shirley, for the name. It's absolutely perfect and, as a thank you, I'll be sending her a bar once the soap has finished curing. 

All day yesterday and this morning, a soap inspiration was swirling around in my mind. I even had a name picked out, Ice Queen. I was envisioning a pale blue soap, with white swirls twining through the blue, topped with swirls of white and blue and highlighted with blue-dyed rock salt and opalescent glitter. I planned out the soap recipe, using a tried and true blend of oils that included coconut oil, olive oil, lard and tallow, the scent (once again, lemongrass, lavender, and peppermint... so fresh and cool), the colours. And I made my soap.

Except, it didn't quite turn out as planned. 

Um, yeah, the blue turned pink! I really couldn't use the pretty blue salt I'd prepared; it really just would not look right, you know? After some quick thinking, I dug out the bag of pink Himalayan rock salt I had tucked away for use in bath teas and sprinkled some on top of the soap. The glitter gave it a sparkly finish. Even though I'm a little disappointed that it didn't quite turn out the way I expected it to, I'm still very happy with how this soap turned out. 

Plus, it gives me an excuse to try again.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What To Do With Leftover Whipping Cream

In looking at my soaping supplies, I realized (well, I already knew) that I was really low on coconut oil. I didn't want to run out just to pick up another kilo of it so I started looking around to see what I still have. I have palm oil, and palm kernel oil, plenty of both to do a few batches. I still have olive oil, beef tallow, and castor oil. Then, I realized that I still have almost a full quart of whipping/heavy cream in the fridge that needs to be used up soon or it will go to waste.

Time for some SoapCalc one on one. I came up with a recipe that has numbers that look good, using all the oils mentioned above, as well as whipping cream.

I thought about how it would look and decided that, because whipped cream is a lovely creamy white, my soap would be white on white. I figured I would do a lighter white (brightened with titanium dioxide) hanger swirl and use some to help decorate the top, and I would sprinkle it with a very light dusting of an opalescent glitter, just to add a touch of glitz.

For scent, I scoured a web site I joined recently, Diffuser Blends, for a scent that inspired me and came up with one using lemongrass, lavender, and peppermint. I was ready to begin!

I'm really pleased with the way this one came out. It was somewhat slow to trace but that's not always a bad thing, especially if you want to do a swirl. It smells amazing and I love how it's looking so far. I have it resting outside (just above freezing here) because I don't want it to overheat.

I'll cut it tomorrow and post a picture of the inside. I'm hoping it turns out as well as I think it will. In the meantime, I've also been playing with a bit of the soap dough I made last weekend. This is a first attempt.

It isn't the greatest, I know, but it is an attempt at least. The dough is still on the "wet" side. I think it could do with a little bit of open air time, just to firm it up slightly. For this attempt, I used a Wilton petal cutter. It has 4 petals in a row and the idea is to cut out two strips, lay them on top of each other, slightly offset and then roll them up. The soap dough didn't stick to each other and one strip slid a bit. For a first attempt, though, I'm not disappointed. I'll probably use it on top of a bar, possibly even make a batch called "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden", studded with a bunch of roses on the top, and then scent it with something completely different, completely unrelated to roses. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

On A Roll

It seems I've decided, without actually making a conscious decision, that I'm going to start this year by making a years supply of soap. I must say, it feels good to be back in the groove.

February's upcoming challenge on the Soapmaking Forum will have something to do with molded soap, playing with soap as you might with PlayDoh. The "dough" is allowed to saponify but not to cure, or harden. It can be molded to any shape and then allowed to cure. The challenge was announced early so that there would be time for us to make our soap dough. I made mine yesterday and bagged it today.

I saw a suggestion for making the three primary colours, yellow, red, and blue, plus black and white. My primary colours came out very intense while my black came out looking more like wet concrete. My white is white but there isn't much of it and I think I might need more if I want to tone down the really intense colours so I made another full pound of white today. I'm really looking forward to the challenge and seeing what everyone else comes up with. I've been doing a lot of thinking and already have an idea or two.

After last weekend's failure, I wanted to make another goat's milk soap so that was done this afternoon, after I ran out to Home Hardware to pick up another jug of lye. I thought I had enough but when I weighed out what I had, I was about 20 grams short. My oils were already blended together so I couldn't really reduce the batch size. Thankfully, Home Hardware was still open.

I did it right this time. The goat's milk was frozen into ice cubes and the lye was added directly to the frozen milk. It was creamy white and cool when I added it to the oils. The batter came to trace quite quickly and by the time I got it into the mold, I was able to play with the top a bit.

I did add lavender oil but chose not to add the lavender flower powder. I wanted this one to be a lighter colour than it would be with the flower powder. Now, the soap is resting outside, where it's 1ÂșC, just above freezing. That should keep it from overheating. I'll bring it in later this evening, before heading for bed.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Success and Failure

I have to admit it; I've been very lucky in my soapmaking. In the almost three years I've been making soap, I've had very few failures. Last weekend's dual lye soap is looking really good. It was softer than most soaps I've made coming out of the mold but it's hardened up nicely and is curing in the spare room.

The other soap I made, however, didn't turn out so well.

One of the first soaps I ever made was a Lavender and Goat Milk soap, one that was quite popular and that smelled amazing. It had both lavender essential oil and lavender flower powder and was made, obviously, with goat milk. Apparently, I forgot all the lessons learned about working with milk soaps.

It overheated. When I took it out of the mold on Monday, this is what I found. It's a syrupy, sticky, dark patch. As well, it stank. Seriously. I couldn't smell any lavender at all, just ammonia. I asked for input on the Soapmaking Forum and was told it might get better as it cured. Might being the operative word. Others felt that I should simply dispose of it.

At first, I decided to give it a chance so I left it for another day before cutting it into bars.

There was a liquid oozing out of the "tunnel"; I was afraid it was lye solution but it seems to be oil. Yes, I did test it for zap; there wasn't any.

Today, a week later, I decided to throw it out. I still couldn't smell any lavender; the ammonia smell is gone but it really doesn't smell very good. This is the first time in almost three years that I've tossed out an entire loaf of freshly made soap. I hope it will be the last.

I did, however, keep these three bars; we'll see how they turn out. They did go through a gel phase but they don't seem to have overheated as badly, probably because the molds are smaller. We'll see how they are after they've cured.

Here are my last three soaps, one bar from each batch, including the overheated Lavender Goat Milk soap, with their curing sheets.