Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Little Soap, A Little Snow

It is winter white this morning on Blackberry Ridge!  While it is raining in the valley, we are experiencing snow in the foothills.  This is our second snow this month and to be expected, as December is well underway with winter officially arriving in just a few days.

It has been an incredibly busy fall!  My husband and I took a trip to Colorado in October to celebrate my in-laws' 60th wedding anniversary.  It was a wonderful time honoring them as they reached this amazing milestone!  Following, we were able to spend time in the Denver area with our oldest daughter and her husband.  Family time is the best time!   November brought participation in a musical drama at church and Thanksgiving spent with extended family visiting for the holiday weekend.

Interspersed with the normal routines of life were several soapmaking sessions with Christmas gift-giving in mind.  I used fragrances, some typical for the season and some not.  Sleigh Ride, Cranberry Fig, Applejack Peel, Cucumber Melon and Green Clover & Aloe have been dutifully curing these past few weeks. 

Above and below are photos of Cranberry Fig made with Coconut, Palm, Olive and Castor oils as well Olive butter.  Burgundy oxide and just a hint of gold mica color the swirls with a sprinkle of cranberry seeds on top.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Snap

October is here which means that the fall holiday season is just around the corner!  Although our weather in the Pacific Northwest continues to linger on the summer side, I've been thinking 'fall' when it comes to making soap.  I love the warm, cinnamon-y scents that bring to mind pumpkin parties and Thanksgiving Day gatherings. With that in mind, I decided to do a medley of two favorite fall scents...(drum roll).... Pumpkin Spice and Gingersnap!  My inspiration to combine them came from a photograph and recipe for a dessert that was layers of pumpkin mousse, gingersnap cookies, and whipped cream, I couldn't resist trying to pull off a re-creation in soap.  It's amazing how often you can find inspiration for soap in food recipes!

So with the vision in mind, I had to decide if I really wanted to step out on a soap making limb and go for LAYERS.  I decided to do it!  No risk, no reward, right?  My biggest question was as to how difficult it might be to keep the different layers from moving into a too-heavy trace that would mean having to "glop" rather than pour the soap into the mold.  It was challenging, but taking it step by step, focusing on one layer at a time made it manageable, along with a little breath-holding.  :) 

I was happy with the end result and the extra effort was worth it.  Pumpkin Spice and Ginger Snap, both Bramble Berry scents, are each scrumptious on their own, but together they are, well, indescribable!

The recipe for this batch included oils of olive, coconut, palm and castor as well as olive butter.  I really enjoy soaping with butters and olive is right at the top of my butter 'likes' list.  I did add pumpkin puree to the layers scented with Pumpkin Spice, brown mica to the layers scented with Gingersnap, and titanium dioxide to the unscented cream layers. (The gingersnap fragrance oil will eventually turn dark brown in soap, but I wanted to have a nice contrast of orange, brown and cream right from the beginning.)  In order to have plenty of time to work with the layers I soaped with a 28% lye solution which worked out fine.

Happy Soaping and Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tried and True

While it can be fun to venture into new territory when making soap, sometimes it is also nice to revisit recipes and fragrances that are friendly and familiar.  Such are the two soaps in this posting, both among my favorites!  The first is scented with vanilla and chai tea fragrance oils.  Warm and spicy, these fragrances together are a perfect complement to cool, crisp mornings, falling leaves, and soup suppers. Settled in a base of coconut, palm, olive, and castor oils, with a touch of olive butter and vanilla bean specks, this soap simply says "Welcome, Fall!"

Next is a crisp, clean "green" scent aptly named Green Clover & Aloe.  I first became aware of this fragrance in soap many years ago when I purchased a bar from Kathy Miller's website.  It was awesome and I've continued to make a variation of it ever since!  This, too, is anchored in a base of coconut, palm, olive, and castor oils rounded out with rich olive butter. Colorants used are ultramarine violet and chromium green oxide topped with a hint of glitter.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Simply Sweet

My recent post on using rose clay to color soap naturally was my first venture into that process.  Recently Bramble Berry put out a natural colorant soap challenge to soap makers which gave me that little nudge to try it again.  I decided to go with an infusion of annatto seeds in olive oil to create a shade of orange that I hoped would be perfect for the last bit of orange essential oil I would be using.  Somehow, when I thought of what would complement the sweet scent of citrus orange, chocolate came immediately to mind.  The second natural colorant to enhance the always to-die-for scent of chocolate would be cocoa powder. 

I first began by infusing the annatto seeds into olive oil.  After doing a little research, I added 2 tsp of annatto seeds to ½ c light olive oil and placed both in a small double boiler to simmer on low.  I had originally planned to heat the annatto seeds and oil for 2 hours, but the color seemed pretty light, so in the end I let it infuse for five hours.  By this time, the infusion was at least a medium shade of orange which I thought would add sufficient color to the main base of the soap batch.

Once the infused oil had cooled, it was time to make soap!   I decided to use the annatto seed infusion at a rate of 5 percent.  For this one pound batch (16 oz of oils by weight) I added .8 oz of infused olive oil.  It initially seemed a little darker than I was hoping for but in the end turned a just-right shade of soft orange.

For the swirl, I separated out a small portion of soap and added 1 tsp of pre-moistened cocoa powder.  At light trace, I added orange essential oil to the main base, as well as the chocolate fragrance oil to the swirl portion. 

Timing is so important when trying to create a swirl, so I quickly proceeded before both portions of soap moved into a heavier trace.  I used a hanger to accomplish the swirl this time.  I’m fascinated by this method of swirling and amazed by the unique designs it creates.

So now, a sweet smelling batch of orange and chocolate is officially on the curing rack!  I really like the idea of using natural colorants and it may become something I do more often.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rose Clay

This was my first attempt to use rose clay as a natural colorant for soap.   I have used white kaolin clay before and liked the nice creaminess it adds to soap bars.  Rose clay is another kaolin clay, mild and gentle to the skin. The beautiful rose color comes from its iron oxide content.  Like white kaolin clay, rose clay is known for adding a silky creaminess to soap.

 I knew that using clay as a colorant might add some challenges to the soap making process.  Since clays by nature absorb moisture, I was uncertain as to  how much water to use for the liquid portion of my recipe.  I wanted to be able to work in a swirl if possible, so decided  not to go any lower than a a 33% water to oil weight.   I pre-moistened the clay by adding 1 tsp clay to 1 tbsp water (1 1/2 - 2 tsp water would have probably been enough).   After blending my oils and lye solution until emulsified, I mixed in 1/4 tsp  titanium dioxide, then removed a small amount of soap for swirling.  I added the rose clay to the remainder, only using about half of what had been pre-moistened.  The result was a beautiful shade of rose pink.   Using all of the clay would have yielded a deeper color which would have been pretty, too.  I will definitely try that another time.  It soaped nicely and I'm happy with the swirl.  The fragrance is a soft feminine scent with a hint of mimosa, jasmine and musk.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Butter You Say?

Including butters in a basic vegetable oil recipe can add desirable properties to soap. Any number of vegetable butters are available to soap makers, including almond, avocado, olive, mango, shea and cocoa to name a few.   Kokum is yet another, one that I've used before and found that it contributed to a hard bar with nice lather.

Kokum butter is obtained from the fruit kernels of the ‘garcinia indica’ tree, a tropical evergreen that grows along the western coast of India. It is a butter rich in the conditioning fatty acids oleic and linoleic.  It also contains the antioxidant Vitamin E as well as stearic acid which contributes to its characteristic hardness.  Recommended usage in a soap recipe is from 2 - 5 percent.  I added it at a ratio of just over 3 percent.

Kokum butter is a great addition to any soap recipe including this batch scented with Pineapple and Coconut fragrance oil. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Oatmeal, milk and honey are a great combination for breakfast!  These three ingredients also join together nicely in cold-process soap.  I used goat milk for 100 percent of the liquid in this batch and once again, was amazed at how well-behaved  the frozen goat milk was when combined with sodium hydroxide (lye).  The mixture stayed manageably cool and a beautiful creamy color with minimal odor.  I'm now a fan of using milk in soap!  Finely ground oatmeal and clover honey round out the namesake ingredients for this delectable "breakfast" bar!

Monday, July 9, 2012

'Welcome Summer!' Berry Bar

I recently purchased a quart of fresh goat milk from a local produce market.  Goat milk is known for containing fats that contribute to moisturizing qualities in soap. Working with it can be tricky, though, as it tends to heat up and can even scorch when combined with sodium hydroxide as part of the soap making process.  One method to counteract this is to freeze the milk,  then weigh out the needed amount according to the recipe being used.  I found this worked very well and the goat milk/sodium hydroxide solution stayed cool....no overheating!  Other ingredients include oils of palm, coconut, olive, shea butter, oxide colorant and a delectable berry fragrance oil.  Mmmm, so good!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Been on 'pause', time to hit 'play'!

It's hard to believe that it has been over a year since I first started thinking about a way to chronicle and share my soap making experiences.  Somehow, the busyness of life put blogging on the back burner!  But now, with new resolve, I'm moving forward from my first posting on the lovely duet of Lavender and Orange.  Soon to come, a 'Welcome, Summer!' berry bar, as well as a soap rendition of Oatmeal, Milk and Honey.