Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Sweet Seduction" Handmade Soap



This light, fruity and floral scented soap will be available for Valentine's day. Coming in about a month to wwww.alifedeliberate.etsy.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just poured...





Hi all. This soap is scented with yummy base notes of raspberry, cantaloupe, and watermelon, middle notes of jasmine and violet, and fresh top notes of grapefruit and kumquat. I just put it to bed, so I hope it turns out well. I actually have a decent HD camera but had my crappy point 'n shoot handy...lol. Excuse the fuzzy video. :) The picture above shows it's "true" color once it set up awhile. This just goes to show how difficult it can be to gauge colors when mixing. See how dark it is in the video, and then how the whole thing brightened up? (click picture to enlarge) The different red shades distinguished themselves, and the aqua became lighter and prettier. I'll post the cut in a later post. As always, thanks for reading! :)


video

File this under "WTF" (Soapmaking Part 3)

I am gobsmacked.  I have seen some weird soap stuff in my day, but this is a new one on me.  I cut into the soap loaf just a while ago.  When I unmolded it, the melon color had lightened up considerably, which bummed me out a little, but it was doable.  I was hoping for bolder colors, but as soapers come to realize, sometimes soap is like a box of chocolates, Forest.



I made my peace with it, and started to cut into it....
That's when I entered...dun dun DUHHHNNNN....
The Twilight Zone.




What the heck happened to the ORANGE????  Inside the loaf of soap, it completely disappeared!  Now, I know ya'll saw how dark it was in the bowl!  It only colored a tiny layer on the outside of the soap and the inside is completely devoid of color.  GAH!




My first thought was that it was a result of air oxidation, but the outside of it was stuffed down in a mold with freezer paper all around it, so that didn't get any air either.

I'm stumped.  If anyone has ideas about my soap gremlins, please comment below.  All is not lost though - I'll pretty it up with some sweet Valentines hearts or something, and it will be just as pretty.  It smells incredible. 

Let me know what ya think, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Soapmaking - Day 2

Still with me?  :)

We last left off with one soap layer poured and a smattering of cocoa sprinkled across the top.  So let's get started on layer 2!  First though - how 'bout we check out my haul from Nature's Garden that arrived today?!   Weee!




Okay - focusing....
The drill is pretty much the same as yesterday.  Measure ingredients, melt, add, stir, wash, rinse, repeat.  The only difference in this small batch is that I added some white kaolin clay which helps stimulate circulation and gently exfoliates.  It also helps to fix the scent.










Excuse the blur-fest photos.  I was without my lovely assistant today, so I had to try to stir and take them myself.

So, I added my goat milk and lye mixture to my oils, and hit it with a stick blender.  Then I added a beautiful lemon colorant, my fragrance, and took it to a light trace. 







The kaolin caused it to set up a tiny bit faster, so I poured it a smidge thicker than I would have liked. With the wonders of planers and doodads though - I'm not gonna sweat it.  If you're pouring the same day as the first layer, I recommend pouring onto a big serving spoon and then letting it fall into the mold.  This prevents boring a big hole into the previous layer.  Again, ask me how I know....  ;o)  Mine had plenty of time to set up overnight, so I just poured directly into the mold.







I gave it a li'l szush...tapped it a coupla times on the counter to get rid of any bubbles that may in there, and I'm gonna let it sit overnight again before I de-mold it and see what we have.  So far the lemony color looks really pretty and it smells sooo good in here!




This recipe can sometimes be a little softer than I'd like, so we'll see if I can cut it tomorrow.  I'll post it here when I do.  Keep your fingers crossed and thanks for reading!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Let's make soap!

Tonight, I'm beginning the first of a series of Valentines Day soap.  Yay!  Christmas was a happy success, and I'm anxious to get into my soap pot again for the next holiday.  I'm calling this one "Soul Kiss".  The scent will be a smokey, sexy blend of of lemon, lime, grapefruit, cucumber, jasmine, pineapple, blackberries and bubbly champagne.  (I know, right?!)   This soap will also be a two-parter.  I'm doing two layers.  The bottom 3/4ths will be a melon red, and the top layer will be a lemon yellow with a dark cocoa line separating the two.    Tonight I'm working on the first layer and cocoa line.  The last layer will be tomorrow, so look for that posted here.

Now, since I am a horrible example, I have to add a disclaimer:  Sodium hydroxide is EXTREMELY dangerous.  If ingested, it can kill you.  See:  Nap, Dirt.  If you get it on your skin it can result in serious chemical burns, and we don't even wanna talk about what happens if you get it in your eyes.  Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when working with lye.  I know all the soapers are going to email me because I am not wearing any.  Don't email me.  I know.  Try as I might, I can't work with them on and it's a stupid risk I take.  Do as I say, however, and not as I do.  WEAR GLOVES AND EYEWEAR!!  Please, also keep out of reach of kids and animals.  This stuff is no joke.

Okay - onto the fun stuff!  In this soap, I'm using a new recipe I've come up with and used only once before.  It's very soothing with lots of fluffy lather.  It will be 100% goat milk, olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, castor oil & lots of yummy shea butter.  I'm using LabColors colorants, and a log mold my super awesome hubby made for me.



I started by measuring my sodium hydroxide, and frozen goat milk, and putting my hard oils into a pot to be melted.






Now I have my hard oils on the stovetop melting slowly, and I can start to slowly add my lye to my goat milk.  Frozen works best for me.  It's the best shot ya have against burning it, and I just add it in small increments, stirring very thoroughly to make sure all the crystals get dissolved. Some people use powdered, some canned concentrate, some live life on the edge and can manage to add it at trace in liquid form - I've tried it all and this works most consistantly for me.  There's nothing worse than having to throw out all your expensive oils and ingedients because you got too cocky and your mixture turns to an orange ammonia-stankin' mess.  Respect the GM...lol.  If you're using water or another liquid like aloe etc., always add the lye to the water - never water to the lye because it may result in a bubbly scary volcano!




After a few minutes your mixture should melt and the lye should dissolve.  The lye will get very hot when mixed with your liquids.  (In the picture below you can see that I just have a couple of frozen chunks left).  Set it aside.  It will need to cool to room temperature before mixing with your oils.  This requires some patience.  If you move too quickly, you risk overheating and will get some not so pretty cracks down the center of your soap.  Ask me how I know...



Next I measured out my liquid oils.  the RBO, the olive, the castor etc.  Sometimes I add some titanium dioxide to my liquid oils to lighten up the entire batch, but in this instance - I didn't.  I want a strong red/orange.




When my hard oils are melted, I combine the two together in the stainless steel pot (Side note:  Never ever ever ever use any pots or utensils made of aluminum.  It reacts with sodium hydroxide and it will not only ruin your batch, but will smoke you out of your house and cause dangerous chemical fumes.  Always make sure you're working with stainless steel and sturdy plastic).  After that I measure out my scent, and set aside.  In this case, I'm using skin safe fragrance oils at about .8oz. per pound of oils.  This varies depending on what you use.  Usually, it's anywhere from .5-1 ounce per pound.  Pardon the ghetto manicure...






When your goat milk and lye mixture and your oil mixture have both reached room temperature (this particular method is called Room Temperature Cold Process or RTCP), you can begin to combine them.  Add  your lye/goat milk to the oils and using a silicone spatula (wood spoons will get eaten over time, in the lye) and stir, being careful not to splash.  Alternate with a stick blender. 









Once you find that you are pretty well mixed, yet still pretty thin - you can go ahead and add any colorants and fragrance.  Okay, so Ansel Adams, I ain't.









Now this is where it takes some experience and feel.  Depending on what you're trying to achieve, you need to get your mixture to a certain consistency.  If you're doing fancy swirls that take some time, I recommend JUST mixing enough to avoid separation.  If you've reached "trace", you've already gone too far, in my opinion.  For this application, I took it to a thin to medium trace.  "Trace" is a term soapers use to define a moment of thickness in your soap batter.  If you pull up your stick blender, and drizzle some of the batter onto the top of the rest of the soap, and it leaves a line before sinking in.  That's called "trace".  Now we are ready to pour!





There's my first layer.  Are you suddenly hungry for Campbell's tomato soup?  ;o)  trust me....it'll be cool when it's done.  (I hope). :)

Now I could just slap two layers together and call it good, but I'm going to add a thin layer of dark color, defining a separation between the two, that makes the colors pop more.  You can use micas, spices....lots of things, but I'm going to use plain ol' cocoa powder.  Once my first layer is poured and has set up enough so that the powder doesn't sink to the bottom,  I'm sprinkling a thin layer over the top of the soap using a very high tech applicator.  A piece of pantyhose stretched across a salt shaker filled with the cocoa powder. :)







Looks pretty bizarre right now, right?  :) 
So that's it.  I could wait for that to set up some and pour the second layer tonight, but I'm gonna go ahead and let that saponify and mix up a second batch tomorrow for the top layer.  Goat milk heats up really hot, so when I work with it, I don't insulate my molds.  Usually it gels - sometimes it doesn't.  Tonight it is, go figure.  So swing by tomorrow for part 2!  Thanks for soapin' with me! :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sale Edit!

Just an update on the sale.  The best way to work this is for you to "convo" me on Etsy with your order, and I'll set up a custom listing for you at the 50% price break.  I should've mentioned that in my last post.  (duh!)
Then you can order through your own listing at the sale price, still using the "blogger sale" code in the comments.
Thanks and enjoy!

Storewide Sale!!!

I'm running an After Christmas sale for blog readers!!  50% off total orders from now until January 3rd!!  Subscribe, or comment on the blog,  Then just enter the code "Blogger Sale" in the comments section of your purchase at my Etsy site!! 

Get 'em before they're gone!!!  :)
http://www.alifedeliberate.etsy.com/

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hold the crumpets...

Lately, my fascination for aromatherapy and the benefits of natural herbs has been growing (pun intended).  The gathering, the researching, the concocting - it's really quite amazing what the earth has given us to use medicinally, for our skin, our mind and spirit and overall health.  The more I read and learn, the more I want to continue to learn.

So my current project is herbal bath teas.  They smell absolutely intoxicating, and their use is a really effective way to absorb their beneficial ingredients through our skin.  They can be useful for healing, relaxation, anxiety, managing pain or skin conditions, aromatherapy and even if you'd just like to take a little "me time" and do a little pampering.  Each combination of herbs and other ingredients has a specific target use.  You use them much like a regular tea bag, except that you steep them in your bathtub instead of a teacup with some honey and lemon (though if you wanna throw that in the tub too, I don't judge ;o) ).

Tonight I'm making a blend that's all about being pampered.  It'll include fragrant rose petals, passionflower, chamomile, lemongrass, citrus peels, jasmine, essential oils, goat milk, oats, therapeutic salts and lots of other goodies.



Chamomile is used to soothe the skin and calm the mind, passionflower helps anxiety and melts away worries, milks and oats help with skin conditions and add softness, juniper and spearmint enhance circulation, tones the skin and helps the body eliminate toxins - and the list goes on and on.  (Can't give away all my secrets now can I?  :)





I began by using some very fine dendritic salt, which has a unique surface to the grain.  It's ability to absorb twice the oils as other salts provides a delivery system for any essential oils you choose to use so that they don't mold as they would if you just added drops to the plant material.  Nasty moldy baths are probably not too much fun.   I added my essential oil blend that I came up with after some trial and error.  A few drops at a time and then blending very well.



Then you may add any other additives you'd like at this point.  Salts, milk powders, clays, oatmeal, ground herbs - anything skin safe and beneficial to the skin.  be careful though - not all essential oils are safe, and not all plant material is safe.  Just because it's "natural" doesn't automatically guarantee that it's safe.  Take poison ivy, for example.  :)  It does require some research before jumping in. 












Stir the mixture thoroughly to be sure the essential oils are mixed throughout.  Then you may add your herbs,  berries, plants, flowers...whatever you've come up with for your tea.  For this particular blend, I've chosen material that's great on your skin, smells amazing, and frees your mind.  Total spoil-job.




OMG, too bad you don't have smell-o-blog. :)

Next, fill your tea bags no more than half full to allow room for the herbal material to expand (you don't want the bag to tear!) and heat seal the bag closed with a plain ol' houshold iron set on low.  Once someone showed me pictures and a diagram of what one of those was, I managed to hold one in my hand without much trouble.  (Heh...) 
My daughter and trusty assistant demonstrates:










That's pretty much it.  You toss these in a warm tub and let them steep 15 minutes or so and soak in the luxury sure to make you feel like a queen.  Alternately, you can put them in a pot of water on the stove (just like a drinking tea) and steep them in the pot.  Then just remove the bag and pour the liquid into the bathtub.  They can also be used as sachets to scent your clothing in your drawers or closets...you can tuck them inside shoes, or you can slip them between your linens in your bed to scent the sheets.  I'll be offering these in several therapeutic blends in the very near future.

Beautiful, great for gifts, lovely stocking stuffers or additions to gift baskets, and wonderfully fragrant.  Look for them soon at my Etsy shop http://www.alifedeliberate.etsy.com/


I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.  I'm gonna go take a niiiice loooong bath!  :)



Sunday, December 20, 2009

So what's the big deal about handmade soap anyway?


Many of you may wonder why you'd spend 4 - 7 bucks on a bar of handmade soap, when you can hit the local walmart or grocery store and get a stack of 6 for less money.  Fair thinking, and before I started researching, and making soap, I used to wonder that myself.

In general, commercial soap carried at most stores are full of chemical and synthetic additives that are harsh on your skin.  It can lead to irritations, rashes, dry, flakey skin - and can be absolute murder on conditions like psoriasis and eczema. 

Commercial soap companies also remove the natural glycerin found in the oils used in soapmaking.  What is glycerine, you ask?  It is a natural humectant. This means it draws water from the air, and thus allows your skin to draw in the moisture and become hydrated.  When you combine lye with fats or oils, it goes through a chemical process called saponification. This means that these two ingredients react, and make soap. One of the byproducts of this process is glycerine.   Since glycerin is a sellable commodity, they remove it for sale, or they leave just tiny trace amounts in their final product for label value, with no discernable benefit to your skin.  Commercial soapmakers add salt at a stage when cold process soapmakers pour into their molds.  The salt causes the soap to curdle and float to the top. After skimming off the soap, they are left with glycerin (and lots of "impurities" like partially dissolved soap, extra salt, etc.). They then separate the glycerin out by distilling it, and sell it to companies for profit.  The soap is then left with none of the natural humectant properties of glycerine maintained in handmade soap.  Oh sure, it'll clean you - but if you ever wonder why your skin feels itchy and dry after using some commercial products, you now have your answer.  Many commercial "soaps" are actually synthetic detergents made with some of the same chemicals used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers.  Do you really want to put that on your skin?

I make soap using the cold-process method. (or RTCP which stands for room temperature cold process).  It retains all of the natural goodies, and handmade soaps can be infused with natural herbs, milks, honeys, oats and many many other wonderful ingredients that serve to nurture the largest organ of the body.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tap Tap Tap...is this thing on?

So, I've been meaning to start this blog for awhile now. I haven't managed to rustle up the gumption until now so I'll begin by telling you a little about me. I'm Lori (courtesy wave), in my early 40's (ugh), I couldn't make a decent cup of coffee if I had a gun to my head, and I started a bath and body business this year. I'm creating this blog to share my fun with soap (and it's B&B friends) and all the misadventures and sometimes haphazard alchemy that comes with the deal. I'd really like all of you to join me in the fun, because otherwise I'm really just talking to myself here. :)  I plan to post pictures of the process, the successes and failures, maybe a secret recipe or two, and hopefully host giveaways to win free stuff!  Who doesn't like free stuff right?

So welcome to my blog...stay tuned.