Saturday, October 31, 2015

I Smell Like Licorice!

The charcoal soap is in the mold!

I decided to do a Taiwan Swirl on this one, with the charcoal at either side and white in the center. One of the guys at work cut some coroplast down for me to use as dividers and it worked marvelously. The black is made with charcoal (obviously) while the white has been coloured with titanium dioxide. I've scented the soap with 1 tsp. peppermint essential oil (because it's what I had on hand) and 2 tsp. star anise essential oil. I managed to get a little of the star anise on my hands so I smell like licorice at the moment. It's not a bad scent, to be honest, but it is definitely creating a craving for licorice! 

Right now, the batter is in the oven; I wanted to do a CPOP (cold process oven process) just to see how it would come out. It can intensify the colours, from everything I've read.

Tomorrow, we cut!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It's the New Black

I've been reading a lot about soap lately, as I'm sure you can imagine, considering how much soap I've been making lately. One soap that intrigues me is Activated Charcoal soap. If you look up the benefits of activated charcoal in soap, you'll find all kinds of information. One thing they all agree on is that it is a good soap for anyone with acne or problem skin.

Generally speaking, I have pretty good, if dry, skin so I'm not planning on making it for myself. I do know people, though, who do have skin issues; there are also some pre-teens in my family circle who may benefit from some good skin-loving soap.

To that end, I've picked up some activated charcoal, hunted out a recipe and plan on making a batch on the weekend. The recipe I'm planning on using is this one:

40% Olive oil pomace
20% Coconut oil
20% Palm oil
15% Avocado oil
5% Castor oil

Activated charcoal - about 1 tablespoon for my 30 oz batch
Scented with anise and peppermint essential oils.

I might even decide to swirl it with half the batter lightened with titanium dioxide. I haven't decided yet.

And yes, the soap will be black.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Not Dove... Again

Even though the "not Dove" bar isn't ready for use yet, I really wanted to play with the recipe this past weekend. I was going to post about it but ran out of time. What is it about weekends that that always seems to happen?

The basic recipe is the same as the first try but this time, I added some pink ultramarine colouring, a bit of titanium dioxide to keep the pink delicate, and scented it with one of my favourite scents, patchouli.

I only made enough to fill four of the cavities in my Fat Daddio's daisy mold; I made a mistake in my math calculations... big surprise. I do seem to be a little math-challenged.

Even after only a few days (I made this on Sunday), these bars are already nice and hard. They're not too strongly scented and I'm really pleased with the colour. I think this is a recipe I can play with in the future.

The first bar... I'm really looking forward to trying it in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beer Soap - Second Try

With one batch of beer soap under my belt, I decided to try another and tweak it a bit. The first thing I did was to use a different, tried, recipe. I went back to a recipe I know works well, the one I use as my confetti soap base. It's a simple recipe with coconut and olive oils, using the beer as the liquid.

Once the batter came to trace, I coloured approximately one third with titanium and coloured the remainder with cocoa powder, made into a paste with a bit of safflower oil. Again, I used a hanger swirl to make it look like the foam in a glass of dark beer.

I'm much happier with this batch which, incidentally, is scented with a blend of cedarwood, patchouli, and peppermint (1 part each of the cedar and peppermint, 3 parts of patchouli).

The recipe:

70% Olive Oil pomace
30% Coconut Oil

5% Superfat with a lye concentration of 38%, a ratio of 1.6316:1, water:lye

I think this recipe is one I will be going to time and time again. It works, it's a nice hard soap and it's easy to modify.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Blackstrap Ale Soap - the Reveal

Before I went to bed last night, I decided to dust the top of the soap with copper mica. As much as I love the look of the mica, I don't think I'll do that again. It really doesn't "go" with the look of the finished soap.

By this morning, the Blackstrap Ale Soap was ready to unmold. It's still a touch on the soft side but I went ahead and cut it anyway. Inside, it was even better than I imagined it would be but, I think that the next time I make this, I'll add more cocoa to the bottom half and colour it completely. I think, too, that the swirl should be more concentrated down the center of the loaf, more like beer being poured, if that makes any sense at all.

As for the scent, I'm still not sure. It's not strongly scented but I'm not sure what it is I don't care for. It might be the sage essential oil. I'll have to think on that a little more.

All in all, though, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Now, it just needs some cosmetic tweaking.

The recipe I used is as follows:

33% Coconut oil
33% Palm oil
34% Olive oil pomace

5% superfat
Lye concentration at 30% with somewhat reduced ale as my liquid.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Blackstrap Ale Soap

I did it! Kristen bought me the beer this week; the same night, I boiled it down to make a more potent "syrup". I dissolved the lye in the beer syrup a couple of nights ago, very slowly and deliberately. Last night, I mixed my oils. Today, I made the essential oil blend and tonight, I made my beer soap.

The ale Kristen bought for me is BNA's Blackstrap Ale, a nice dark ale that smells of molasses. The bottom part of the loaf is lightly coloured with cocoa, just to darken it up. The top has been lightened with titanium dioxide to mimic the foam. I did a hanger swirl between the layers, which will, hopefully, mimic what it looks like as the ale is poured into a glass.

Since I poured the batter into the mold, I've put some copper mica on the top, just to give it a polished appearance. I might regret that... we'll see.

I scented the soap with a blend of Dalmation Sage, Cedarwood, Lime, and Patchouli essential oils. Again, I'm not sure of the scent but I didn't put a lot of scent in it. I hope it will be alright. It was difficult to decide what to use. I may rethink that. 

Kristen told me this evening that the guys at BNA are very interested in trying the soap. I'll know by tomorrow whether or not this experiment is worth pursuing and perfecting; I think it will be.

Monday, October 19, 2015


That's a shot of the two coconut milk soaps, the lighter one being a bar from the very first batch of soap I made. Amazing!

I've been told this last batch might lighten up a bit but it really doesn't matter; the soap will be good, that I do know and that's all that really matters.

I'm now planning to make a beer soap for the guys in my life. I've commissioned Kristen to buy me some nice dark beer from her favourite brew pub and I'll be hunting for a recipe this week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Coconut Milk Soap

Well, that's another batch of soap finished. Coconut Milk soap was the first soap I made once I got back into making soap. My first batch was made in August and is almost gone now. It's a lovely gentle soap with creamy lather that feels so good even on my face.

In the above picture, it's the soap at the front (the one at the back is Castile, 100% olive oil soap). At the time, I didn't have a proper mold and was using a square baking pan lined with plastic wrap (if I remember correctly). 

This time, I made one small change to the recipe by adding 5% castor oil; otherwise, it's the same as the above batch. Interestingly, it's a completely different colour!

Even though I'm using the same brand of olive oil pomace as I have for every one of my soaps, this tin seems to have a much greener oil than the previous cans. It's turned the soap a darker colour than the first batch of this soap. Apparently there is no consistency in oil colour from batch to batch.

Right now, I have the mold in the oven to promote gelling. It's a process called CPOP (cold process hot process). I preheated the oven to about 170ºF, then turned the oven off but leaving the light on. Hopefully, this will allow the soap to gel completely.

The recipe this time:

65% Olive oil
30% Coconut oil
5% Castor oil

SF of 5% and the water:lye ratio of 1.5:1 (or 40% lye concentration)
If you're into that kind of thing, it has an INS of 150

In this case, I didn't use water to dissolve the lye, I used full fat coconut milk, 2 chunks of frozen and the remainder refrigerated. It traced quickly and I ended up spooning the last bits on to the top of the soap.

Approximate ready date: November 29 (six weeks)

Hidden Feather Challenge

Tomorrow, we get to post our entries into the Hidden Feather Swirl Challenge on the Soapmaking Forum. I've made a final decision as to which bar I'll enter so I can post pictures of the one I won't be entering.

I was quite torn, to be honest, between this one and the one I ultimately chose. I really love the feathers in this batch but the colours all ran together as the batter was almost too thin. 

This was a fun challenge but I don't think it's a technique I'll do very often.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

And the Recipe

The soap came out of the mold in a relatively short time; within six hours, it had cooled and was hard enough to unmold. I sliced it after we got home from dinner with the kids (if you're in Kelowna, we can recommend the Mission Tap House.. it was good!)

Anyway, here's the recipe I used, along with my mods.

30% Palm oil
30% Lard
24% Palm Kernel oil
15% Coconut oil
1% Stearic acid

10% Superfat
Water:Lye ratio - 1.1:1

I added Kosher salt, sugar, and silk protein at 1 teaspoon per 16 oz. of oils
To one half the soap batter, I added approximately 2 teaspoons of water soluble titanium dioxide, pre-mixed and also added approximately 1 teaspoon of ylang ylang to the entire batch of 30 oz. of oils.

If I make this again, I think I'd add another colour to the other half of the batter, just to make the part with the titanium dioxide stand out even more... perhaps a bit of red palm kernel oil? 

Fly, Little White Dove, Fly

I've recently discovered Soaping 101's You Tube channel and have been gorging on her videos. When I came across this one, making a copy of the very popular Dove soap, I was intrigued. As of today, I had all the ingredients at hand, including the titanium dioxide, so I set to making it.

Right now, it's cooling outside as I don't want it to gel. I did make it my own by substituting lard for the beef tallow, which I'm out of right now. I also added a bit of ylang ylang and some silk protein I still have left over from my creams and lotions days.

The batter came together nicely at about 120ºF. I separated out about half the batter and added the titanium dioxide, which was then poured back into the main batch for an in the pot swirl. It would be really neat to add something that might give parts of it a pearlescent appearance since the soap is white on white.

Once it's cooled down, I'll bring it inside and take pictures. From the look of it, I think it's one I can be happy with and may even add it to the line up. We shall see.

Order In... Let the Fun Begin!

There will be soap making this weekend! My order from Voyageur Soap & Candle arrived at work this week so I now have Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, and Titanium Dioxide to play with. I still need some coconut oil so I'll be going out a little later to pick some up.

I've decided that it's time to start concentrating on a few good recipes rather than experimenting with all kinds of recipes. As of today, I've narrowed it down to:
  1. Java Jumpstart - this one has received favourable comments from everyone who's sniffed it and, subsequently, tried it. My daughter keeps a bar in her shower and another in her kitchen; I've received an order for six bars of this one from a work customer who wants to give them to his kids as part of their Christmas presents.
  2. Lavender Goat's Milk soap - another one that has received numerous positive comments from some of my harshest critics. It's definitely a keeper.
  3. Coconut Milk soap - this is one of my personal favourites. It's a mild, fairly hard soap with creamy lather that's gentle on my... ahem... aging skin. I need to make more of this one already.
  4. Hemp Milk soap - a lovely light green soap. My first batch of this one is almost ready to use and, having tried some of the cut off bits, it looks like it's going to be a good one.
  5. Honey & Oatmeal soap - I only made this batch last week but, already, it's a beautiful hard bar and the crumbs that have fallen off are showing great lather already. I'm looking forward to trying this one.
  6. Rosewood Soap - again, this is the batch I made last week and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a keeper. I just need it to gel all the way through or not at all.
I'm sure there will be others that will come and go but these six, I think, will be my basic lineup ("I think" being the operative words). I've also made a coconut base soap that I'm using for my Peppermint Confetti soap that will stay in the lineup because I think it will be a good one to "play" with, perfect for adding different colourings and scent combinations, while still being a hard but gentle bar of soap.

You know, I never thought I would enjoy soap making as much as I do. There's so much to learn that I don't think you can ever stop learning something new about soap; I don't think you can ever know ALL there is to know about making it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Oh, I am happy! The soaps I made on the weekend are all out of their molds, cut, and curing. I can't, for obvious reasons, show you the bars for the Soapmaking Forum monthly challenge but I can share the other bars.

I'm VERY happy with the Honey Oat soap. It was nice and hard right out of the mold and, though I left it for a few hours before cutting, I could easily have cut it right away.

It looks almost like maple fudge, doesn't it? And the scent? Oh my... good enough to eat!! Maple fudge is a pretty close approximation of the scent. There are no added scents, just the honey, which caramelizes in the heat of the saponification process. It really does smell good enough to eat. I love just holding it and sniffing it. The best part? It's non-fattening! 

Now, I just have to wait to see how it lathers up and feels after its curing time. If the look and the feel of it at this point is any indication, this recipe is a definite keeper. I'm happy!! 

This picture shows a few of the bars I made using the leftovers from the challenge soap. In the front bar,  you can see the four colours I used, although the mica doesn't show up as shiny once it's used as a colorant. There's the brown of the cocoa powder, the bronze and the copper mica, and the uncoloured batter at the bottom of the bar. 

Like the Honey Oat soap, the bars are nice and hard already; I already consider the soap a success. It just remains to be seen how it lathers once it has cured. There's no scent in this batch but I think this is a recipe that I can definitely play with.

Yup, I'm happy. I love it when things work the way they should! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Challenge Soap In the Mold

The third batch of challenge soap is in the mold. It went well, I think. The only real issue I had is the my dividers kept spreading out; I kept pushing them back into place and adding more soap along the sides but it was a little frustrating to see them pushing back out time after time. I really need to make them just a hair longer if I decide to use this method again.

I made a couple of little additions to the recipe this time:

- added 2 tsp of simple syrup to oils
- added 2 tsp of silk protein to lye mixture

We'll see what it does to the finished soap... the silk, that is. The simple syrup (sugar and water) is supposed to help with bubbles, making them more plentiful and bigger. We shall see. I will be able to compare batches as the second batch of swirled soap is the same recipe, minus the syrup and silk.

This evening, I'm making one more batch of soap. This time, I've taken a recipe from the Voyageur Soap & Candle Company website and made it a smaller batch (theirs is a 4 lb. batch). I'm just waiting for the lye mixture and the oil mixture to cool enough to mix them up.

My version is as follows:

50% Lard
24% Crisco shortening
24% Coconut oil
2% Beeswax

Water:Lye ratio - 1.5:1 with a SF of 5%
This soap has an INS of 153 with a saturated:unsaturated ratio of 49:51

At trace, I added about 1 tablespoon of raw honey and 2 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal.

My batch is 30 ounces of oil (or 850 grams). Pictures will be taken tomorrow, once I can remove it from the mold. This batch should be ready by mid November, I'm thinking.

Third Time the Charm?

This month's challenge on the Soapmaking Forum is a hidden feather swirl. I've already made two attempts at it and, although I'm not unhappy with my second attempt, I'd like to try it once more, just to see if I can make it even better.

My first attempt was a dismal failure.

There's sort of a feather there but the soap went to heavy trace before I could get it all into the mold. The squeeze bottles I bought for the swirl were absolutely useless and half the soap batter eventually went down the drain because I couldn't get it out of the bottles. The bars are about 1" in height. Eventually, I'll rebatch them into something else. 

My second attempt was better; I won't show pictures of the cut bars (apart from the mold end) until the third try has been cut and compared. That time, the batter was too thin and the colours ran together. My feather swirled off to one side, as if being blown in the wind. I used the same colour combination above - cocoa, bronze mica and copper mica.

The final bar is smooth, hard, a soft white, with a very pleasing feel in the hand. I left it unscented as I'm not huge of scented soaps. This next batch, however, I might scent; I haven't decided yet. It should be ready for use by October 31.

The recipe I'll be using for the third try is the same I used for the second. It was provided by the moderator who came up with the challenge.

54% Olive oil pomace
25% Coconut oil
21% Lard

SF of 5% 
Lye concentration of 40% (water;lye ratio of 1.5:1)

This recipe has an INS of 150. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


By this morning, my soap was ready to unmold and cut. I was surprised to find that it was a lot harder than I'd anticipated. I decided not to use the crinkle cutter for this soap, just a sharp knife. It wasn't easy. I may just invest in a straight cutter like the crinkle cutter I have. A trip to Chef's Edge may be in order next weekend.

Once I cut into the soap, it was obvious that I got a partial gel.

It won't affect the usability or quality of the soap, just the aesthetics. If I make this recipe again (and I probably will), I might consider CPOP (cold process oven process - forces full gell). The colour of the soap is a little more buttery than the picture shows. The scent is very light, which I don't mind. I'm sure that, if I were to consider selling my soaps, buyers would likely want a more scented bar but I prefer my soap lightly scented or unscented.

Now, it needs to cure. This soap should be ready for use in about three weeks, with a longer cure being better, obviously.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

First Post, Not First Soap

Today, I made a soap of my own design. I'm not sure what to call it yet; it's pretty basic, using Red Palm oil as a colorant and Rosewood E.O.

34% Coconut Oil
30% Crisco
30% Olive Oil, pomace
5% Castor Oil
1% Red Palm Oil

7% superfat
1.1:1 water:lye ratio

I used a couple of ounces of hemp milk as part of my water and added approximately 1/2 teaspoon Rosewood essential oil for fragrance. My batch contains 30 ounces of oils.

I wanted this soap to be an all vegetable soap. I can't call it vegan as I'm not sure just how "vegan" the oils are. It is definitely an all vegetable soap.

According to SoapCalc, the recipe numbers are as follows:

Hardness - 40
Cleansing - 23
Conditioning - 56
Bubbles - 27
Creamy - 22
Iodine - 67
INS - 150

I still don't really understand what all the numbers mean but I think this will be a nice soap. We shall see.

At the moment, I have it under a wooden box, wrapped in a blanket and a towel; I want it to gel and I'm pretty sure it will. It's certainly generating a fair bit of heat. I can feel it through the wood of the box and that wood is thick.