Friday, April 21, 2006

Floating Soap

Well after many requests from my neice over the years, I've attempted it. Floating soap. I think the first time Hilary asked me to make a floating soap, she was about 8 years old and she's finishing high school this year. I wasn't sure if it actually will float, but I tried anyway. I've thought about it on an off over the years, but just never got at trying it.

It's probably one of the ugliest soaps I've ever made (because of the floating requirement), but the other goodies I've put in it fulfilled another request from her. It's an acne soap. It's a pinky-beige colour with lots of specks of ground comfrey root, which is really healing. It has lavender, petitgrain, geranium and patchouli essential oils, all wonderful for acne and skin care. It smells terrific.

What I did was made cold process soap, then after it was finished its 24 hours in the mould, I rebatched it in the slow cooker. When it was heated up to a gel, I added my essential oils and stirred them in, then took my mixer, not the hand blender and whipped it. Then when it was puffy, I put it in the mould again. It's been out of the mould for a couple of days now. It's not pretty ... no, definitely not pretty, it's downright ugly. But it floats. I couldn't believe it.

I think I'll try it again, but make it hot process and see if it turns out prettier. Hopefully it won't ruin my mixer either.

Happy Soaping.

Monday, April 10, 2006

April specials

OK, so I'm a little late posting this one, but better late than never. I started this blog figuring that I could tell people stuff without waiting for catalogues, then didn't think to use it for our news!

We have been enclosing a flyer in all orders this month and we've got a notation on the home page of our web-site about our April "Sale of the month Special". The information is on the New Stuff page.

We're offering 30% off on the following this month only:

Chamomile & Orange Natural Fragrance
Lilac Blossoms Fragrance
Rhapsody Fragrance
Pina Colada Lip Balm Flavour
Ultramarine Violet pigment.

Check the New Stuff page on our web-site for the details.

Happy soaping!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Herbs in Soap

For the most part, we have stayed away from herbs. Country Scentiments was handling them so we left them to it. Now, however, they're discontinuing their packaging and supply line of the business. So I've been having a great old time expermenting with herbs in soap.

Watch our web-site over the next week or so for our new line of herbs. I'm busy now writing up the blurb for each of them and how they worked out with my experiments.

If there are any herbs in particular that you're looking for or interested in, let me know and we'll check into it.

Happy Soaping!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

INCI Ingredient Listing

By November 16, 2006 all cosmetics and personal care items, including samples, must have a list of ingredients on the label. They must be the INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) names for the ingredients.

The advantage is that consumers will know exactly what ingredients are in a product, which is important if one has sensitivities. If someone does have a reaction to a product, healthcare workers know to what the person was exposed.

What does this mean to us as soapmakers? It simply means that whatever ingredients are in your soap must be on the outer label and the correct names must be used, although common names can be on there too.

Sounds like a big deal, but it isn't. For example, the INCI name for Cinnamon Essential Oil is "Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Oil". The really important part is the latin plant name. You can use the above style name, just the latin, "Cinnamomum zeylanicum ", or "Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Leaf Oil". We've chosen to put the latin with the common name in brackets, figuring it makes sense to consumers to have the common along with the latin. If anyone prefers to put in the leaf/bud/wood information and aren't sure which it is for a particular oil, give us a call. For fragrances, you simply use the word "Parfum" and for flavours the word "Aroma". Ingredients must be listed in order of predominance (the most to the least). Ingredients with a weight of less than 1% can be listed in any order at the end of the list.

It's easy finding the names for the products you buy from us, we have been putting the INCI names on the new labels of our products for quite some time now. We have listed the ingredients for the melt and pour soap in the catalogue using the INCI names.

If you have any questions, leave a comment at the bottom of this post or give us a call.

Happy Soaping.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Soap Experiments

Being one to try to push the rules a little, I decided to try an experiment with soap. First I should say that I've been making soap for ten years. When I started, the instructions were very exact. You had to make certain the temperature of the melted fats was the same as the temperature of the lye water. Instructions said to use hot and cold water baths to get them to 95F or 100F, and all the instructions I found said they had to be the same. After pouring the soap into the moulds, you had to insulate it with a pile of blankets, and don't move it or even peek under the blankets at it. If you didn't take care to fiollow the rules of this exact science, you would have a failed batch on your hands.

Quite some time ago I made soap with fats at somwhere around 100F and I mixed in the the lye water as soon as it had cleared, I'd have to go back through old files, but it was likely somwhere around 160F or so, but I don't recall. I just know I didn't wait for it to cool down even a bit. I didn't add fragrance, because that can definitely cause problems at that temperature. After pouring it in a wooden mould, I wrapped it up in blankets and the next day, when I unwrapped it was beautiful. After it had cured, terrific. Now I wouldn't do it if I were adding and fragrance as I said, because they can cause problems when the temperature is over 100F. Nor would I do it when using essential oils, because I think it would "burn off" some of the properties of the essential oils and some of the scent. But it's nice to know that the old rule of exactly the same temperature isn't set in stone. I usually aim for the fats being around 100F and the lye water can be as low as room temperature, and that's what I've done for years now.

Another question I had was what happens if you don't pour it right away at trace, but continue stirring. I had heard your soap could turn out kind of crumbly. I decided to try it using the hand blender and to take the soap to a trace, then zap it more with the hand blender. Okay, that does cause problems. It came out really grainy, or chalky, like the whole bar was soda ash.

For quite some time I've barely insulated soap. I cover it in plastic and put a towel over it, which prompted my most recent experiment. I have to say, I like the look of soap if it hasn't gone through the gel phase. You know how if it's really heavily insulated it gets to look like it's melted in the mould? Some fragrances will heat it up to over 160F in the mould even it it's not insulated. It doesn't hurt the soap, I just like the look of the soap when it hasn't got that hot in the mould. So I got a fragrance that I knew caused the soap to gel in the mould, even when it isn't heavily insulated. I made my soap, added the fragrance, put on the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I looked at it several times and felt the bottom of the mould and it did warm up, but not to the gel phase. When took it out the next day, the soap was fine. It was quite hard when I tried to stamp it, but that aside, there was no apparent difference. If I were doing it again I wouldn't use plastic wrap, I'd just cover it with a tea towel to prevent anything falling on the surface of the soap. There were some drops of water on the underside of the plastic that fell onto the soap leaving round drop marks on the surface.

It's kind of fun doing something a little different. When I'm testing fragrances for our line, I always do exactly the same recipe, exactly the same way so I know what to expect. Some fragrances have required many samples to be tested before we found exactly the right one. Green tea is a good example, I tested thirty six different samples from perfumers before I found one that worked right and that smelled exactly how I thought a green tea fragrance should. It can get routine. So doing something a little more gourmet, like making my Mango Butter soap, which turned out awesome, is fun. I must have checked it while it was in the mould almost every half hour.

Years ago, in an experimental moment, I tried making soap with butter. It's a fat, why not? It worked, but it smelled disgusting, but I won't go into that story.

Happy Soaping.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why do my colours bleed?

I'm asked this question frequently, so I thought I'd address it here. This is more of a problem with melt & pour soap than with cold process. It's also only a problem with the dyes, not the pigments. So, that having been said, why?

They both colour the soap differently. The dyes are water soluable, they dissolve in water. The pigments (and micas) are water dispersible, so they disperse in water. Picture this. You add a spoonful of sugar to your tea and stir it, the sugar dissolves. Then you add a teaspoon of sand to your tea and stir it, the water disperses, but when you stop stirring, the sand settles, it won't dissolve in water. That is the difference between the dyes and the pigments.

The dyes, when added to melt & pour soap, dissolve in the water in the soap, but when it's touching a layer with a different colour, they mingle. Even more so if the soap is hot and starts to melt the first layer.

The pigments are teensy weensy rocks, and as your soap hardens, the "rocks" are trapped throughout the soap, but never dissolve. As you use the soap, the "rocks" rinse away (and sometimes leave colour on the washcloth temporarily).

Personally, I like working with the pigments more than the dyes. The colours stay true. I do find though that in melt & pour soap, there will always be some sediment from the pigments in the bottom of the soap pot, that has settled. No matter how long I stir or how cool the soap gets before I pour it, there's still a bit of settling, so the last wee bit with the sediment gets tossed, but it's only about a half a teaspoon.

The advantage to the dyes is the more vibrant colours, because they're synthetic. The pigments are muted colours, more like nature's colours. The other advantage is the clarity in transparent soap. The dyes don't effect that at all, while pigments, because they're those teensy weensy "rocks" will have some affect in the clarity.

While I'm on the topic of colours, another frequent questin is about the FD&C or FD in the names of the dyes. FD&C means it is approved for use in food, drugs & cosmetics, the D&C means it's approved for use in drugs and cosmetics only.

If you have any other questions about the colourants that you'd like to ask, leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Using Crisco in Soap

I had recently a phone call from one of our customers who had just bought some Crisco and noticed a different list of ingredients on the package. Crisco used to be a different formulation in Canada than the USA. I've been looking whenever I'm in grocery stores and sure enough, the packaging of the tubs has changed and the ingredients are not the same.

The ingredients used to say, partially hydrogenated soybean and palm oils, hydrogenated modified palm oil, mono- and diglycerides. Now the first ingredients are soybean and cottonseed oils. I don't have the package any more to put the exact ingredients.

The purpose of this post was to say that I've tried the new Crisco in soap using it in exactly the same proportions as the old formulation and it works just fine. When I melted the oils they didn't foam like the old Crisco, but beyond that I noticed no difference. The soap is curing right now, so I'll be interested to see if it's softer than when using the old stuff.

Why use Crisco at all? It's predictable. I use it all the time when I'm testing fragrances. When combined with coconut oil, you'll get a really hard, white bar, so it's obvious if a fragrance changes the colour or texture. It's readily available for people starting out and it's simple and reliable.

So if you're using the recipe from our catalogue, or one that I've told you about using Crisco, use the same amount of lye and water as before.

Happy Soaping.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Soapmaking Adventure

So today I decided to make some luxury soap and created a de-lovely recipe. I put in about 50% olive oil for conditioning, 40% coconut oil for a fluffy lather and a hard bar, 10% palm oil for moisturizing and a stable lather, and just a bit of castor oil to reduce the soda ash. I decided to add mango butter at the very end, so it acts as a moisturizer, mango fragrance and some paprika for a pretty orange speckled look.

One thing I didn't add into the equation was that I have made exactly the same recipe for hundreds of test batches of soap, and this is nothing like that simple, basic coconut oil and Crisco recipe. I stirred and stirred, but it looks different in the process than my usual test recipe ... panic sets in "Did I screw up the when I weighed the ingredients??"

As I approached the end, I thought, oh, okay the olive oil is making it look different, I didn't screw up. I added my paprika and fragrance and the grand finale was the mango butter. My soap was at the point where it must go in the mould NOW and I realized "Yikes ... I forgot to melt the mango butter!!". I quickly popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds, trying not to let the batch go past the point of no return ... 30 second wasn't enough!! Another 60 seconds .... Finally I got it into the waiting soap pot and stirred it in.

My beautiful soap had gone from a lovely yoghurt texture to thick mashed potatoes. Instead of pouring it into the moulds, I scooped it in. It looked yucky and I couldn't get the top to a smooth flat surface.

So, got lemons, make lemonade, I swirled the heck out of the top surface and I guess I'll call it Mango Souffle Soap. The top is all poofy looking. I think it should be a really pretty bar of soap when all is done.