Saturday, January 24, 2009

Handmilled Valentine Soap

Well, here are some of the soaps I made with my handmilled soap base. I plan to make a Valentine gift set for an Etsy listing with these. They are scented with a blend of Lavender and Peppermint essential oils. I've been testing a bar that I unmolded too quickly. Part of the cupid remained in the mold due to my impatience, so I thought that would be a good bar for me to try out.

It is wonderful! Very sudsy and leaves a great moisturizing feel on my hands. The scent is pleasant and not overpowering. I'll have to use this EO blend again.

I also love how white the bar is. It seems so many of my soaps turn a medium to dark brown. That's because I am very partial to scents with vanilla in them. Vanilla, and some spicey scents, tend to turn soap brown. Doesn't affect the quality of the soap at all. So, it's very nice to see a white soap for a change.

I've been very busy making lots of soaps. I will be posting more in the next few hours and days to share my craft and art with you.

I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Handmilled Soap

I've been busy working on a lot of projects this weekend to get ready for Valentine's Day. But I really want to talk about a project I actually started on weeks ago...that is--Handmilled soap.

What is Handmilled soap, you ask? Well, basically you start with making a basic cold process soap without any fragrance or essential oil. After it has cured for a week or so it is grated like cheese and then remelted with liquid, usually water. After it is melted and the consistency of mashed potatoes, additional additives are added, like special oils, herbs, and essential oils or fragrance oils.

Sound like a lot work? Well, yes, it is. Maybe that's why it really isn't a popular process for many soapmakers. So then, why bother? Let me explain to you how I got hooked into trying this.

A few weeks before Xmas I decided to make use of all the soap scraps I had been saving from trimming my soaps for the fall craft shows. I just can't throw away all that good soap and I had about a pound or so of soap scraps. So I melted it down, put in some powdered buttermilk mixed with distilled water, and added some fresh holiday scented fragrance. I plopped it into a snowflake silicone cupcake mold I rarely use. After the soap was unmolded and I let it cure a little longer, I tried out a bar--boy was I impressed with how mild and moisturising it felt. Even more so than my other soaps--if that is possible.

So I pulled out a book from my shelf, The Complete Soapmaker by Norma Coney. I started reading about handmilled soap and drooling over the beautiful soaps she has pictured. I also searched the web for any information I could find. There really isn't a lot out there. I did find out that many soapers just don't have the patience for handmilling. Well, if there is one thing I do have, that is patience.

A few days before Xmas, I found suet at the grocery store. According to Coney, this is the best fat to use for the base soap for handmilling. Of course, this has to be rendered, which can be a messy, stinky job. I decided to go for it and didn't find it to be either messy or stinky. I had to let my tallow sit in the fridge until after all the Xmas company left, especially the grandkids. I never make soap when the little kids are around.

I decided to try Coney's 19th century soap recipe. It's an old-fashioned soap that is very mild. She indicated that the soap would be very white and would be be good in even very fancy, detailed molds. It has tallow, over 25% olive oil, and lard. I tweaked it, of course. I also added shea butter and cocoa butter.

It was very easy to mold. When doing soap for handmilling, any good mold will do. I did as Coney suggested. I put it in a Rubbermaid container and didn't have to line it! Soapmakers out there will appreciate that. Lining the mold is one of the most tedious , but necessary, jobs when making cold process soap. The next day it came out of the Rubbermaid container--hard and one of the whitest soaps I have ever made. We didn't have to worry about cutting it precisely either. Most of it will be grated up anyway. And it even smelled good--without any fragrance oil! My husband says it just smells like good, clean soap.

It grates easily. And tomorrow I will be melting it down and molding it. I'm excited to try my cupid heart shaped mold. I have decided to keep out a few bars to sell on Etsy. For those folks who can't tolerate fragrance oils and just want a good mild soap. I haven't quite decided yet what fragrance to put in the handmilled soap. I am thinking of blending Lavender and Peppermint essential oils. I also plan on adding some of my calendula infused oil that I made this fall.

One of the main reasons I wanted to try handmilling is that it is much easier on herbal infused oils and essential oils. These oils are added after the saponification process and the melting down. Processes that can get quite hot and could burn off the beneficial qualities of these types of oils.

I hope you enjoy the picture. I hope you can see how nice and white this soap is. Notice the bag of grated soap, too.

I'll keep you all posted on how the final product turns out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Handmade Soap

What is so special about handmade soap?

Well, let me first explain what store bought, commercially made soap actually is. Have you ever looked at the labels of those "soaps"? I mean really looked at it. Most are not even called "soaps". They are labeled beauty bars or deodorant bars. That's because they really aren't soap. Soapmakers refer to them as "syndet" bars. Or 'synthetic detergent'. Because, basically, that's what they are--synthetic detergent.

Commercially made soaps are made with lye, just like handmade soaps, and raw ingredients, which are often petroleum distillates and cheap fats and oils, by a method called continuous process. The ingredients are added continuously under pressure in a large vat with high temperatures. During the process, the glycerin is removed and used for other higher priced items like lotions and creams.

If you want to know what the raw ingredients are, do a google search on the ingredients listed on the bar label. Try doing that with your shampoo and conditioner also. That will be very eye-opening.

Handmade soaps, whether mine or most other soapmakers, are created with high-quality, natural ingredients. I use a high amount of olive oil in almost all my soaps; along with rice bran oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and usually shea butter or cocoa butter. (In another posting I will talk about the qualities of my favorite oils and butter)

Plus, handmade soaps contain all the naturally produced glycerin that the commercial companies take out. This makes my soaps much kinder to your skin. Glycerin, after all, is an emollient and helps you to feel good in your skin.

I take great pride in the quality of my soaps. My ingredients are researched, hand-picked, and then processed to create a top quality product that will look good in your soap dish, smell great in your bath, and help your skin feel better than it ever has or could with synthetic detergent bars.

One of the most appealing factors of the soapmaking process to me is the ability to be creative, both with the process and with the different exotic oils and butters that are availabe. I love to try new things. So, if you have special requests or needs, let me know. I would be happy to see if I could create soemthing special for you

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Please say Hi!

When you take a look at my blog, please post a comment, even if it is just a quick 'HI'. It's nice to know that somebody is reading my blog.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here I am!

I've had this Blog for awhile and have not yet posted. I think it is time to get my blog started.

I wanted to have a Blog to publicly share my soaping experiences with whomever wanted to read my words. I hope that my family will take a look from time to time. I hope the same for my friends, whether they are my real-time friends or my soaper friends on the Internet. I also hope that my customers--present and future will take the time to read my Blog too. I have so much to say about the things I make, I can't say it all in an Etsy posting or on a Web page, which I don't have as of yet. I guess that's why I enjoy Craft Fairs; I enjoy the chance to talk my soaps and things.

Right now I am focusing on learning how to set up and effectively run my Etsy store and how to Blog. Blogging especially is new to me. I know I have a lot to learn. But it is fun. Anyone who might happen to read this, if you have any suggestions for me, I gladly welcome them.

Anyway, I hope to post things about my soap projects, why I choose the ingredients I do, what I hope to achieve, pictures of my soaps and things, and even notices of sales and discounts for readers. Who knows how my modest efforts will evolve?

Well, at least I have achieved one of my goals for the new year--get my Etsy store going and start blogging.