I cut the soaps that I made yesterday. Overall good news! Like all new soaps they smell of lye but I can also get a bit of coffee and chocolate in the coffee soap and the warm ‘graham cracker’ scent that I like in the oatmeal honey.
Now for the science!
Both batches have some vanillin powder in them which will turn soap dark brown. I mixed it in uniformly in the coffee soap, but I made a swirl of it in the oatmeal. Today the swirl has already started to darken. The dark specks in the brown patches are vanillin, the dark specks in the light part are oats.
I expect the dark swirls to go much darker than they are right now.
Unexpected results: The coffee half heated up more than the oatmeal and the areas that fully gelled have this ‘crackle’ effect. I’ve never seen that happen before in a soap that didn’t have titanium dioxide and I wonder if I have just managed to create something new. In a soap with oxides, this is called ‘glycerin river’ it’s harmless, but rather interesting.
The first was a special request for unscented ‘hotel bars’ and then I decided that I wanted to experiment with two more unscented recipes.
Here’s the first, a nice white coconut soap with coconut milk at ‘trace’. This is what the soap looks like when it’s ready to pour. It’s fully emulsified and has started to thicken up.
I can’t take photos of the pour because I’m working by myself but here it is again all nice and tucked into the mold.
The next two are a coffee-scrub recipe and a honey-oatmeal recipe. Both contain some vanillin powder which will darken the soap over time and I’m hoping that a bit of the scent comes through into the finished product.
Here they are right after the pour. Over time I expect the colors on the oatmeal honey to reverse. The swirls that are lighter colored on the right contain vanillin and the darker areas do not so as it dries the light areas should turn darker than the rest.
A few hours later, as the chemical reaction progressed, the soap started to heat up and go through the ‘gel phase’
The coffee soap has gelled all the way to the edge, while the oatmeal is a little behind and only the center has darkened. Once gel starts I keep it insulated so that it will gel all the way through.
That’s what I was thinking about all day today. First I fiddled with the settings on the Etsy shop and moved on to ‘what should I make next?’
The only oatmeal-honey soap I have left is from an old tallow batch and I’d like to make a non-tallow version to sell. Cocoa butter would be a good choice and I reviewed my notes about how much honey and oatmeal to use. The hard question: should I add a fragrance or not? Unscented, the oats and honey give the cured soap a faint graham-cracker smell that I like. There is also a very popular fragrance called “oatmeal, milk and honey” that I know is a big seller and I have enough on hand for a batch. The problem: I don’t really care for it. It’s a very almond-vanilla-foodie smell and just a bit too heavy and sweet for my tastes. Leave it out? Use it but go lightly? I haven’t decided but I’ll need to make up my mind before Sunday.
What else? The oatmeal reminded me that should make another exfoliating soap and my household has been after me to make a coffee soap. It will turn dark anyway so this might be a good chance to try my vanillin powder to see if any of the vanilla scent comes through. Add some cocoa powder and a bit of orange essential oil. This is starting to sound more like a cake than soap.
My most recent soap that I just got around to photographing. This one is designed to be especially mild but still lather well and I used aloe juice in place of water as something of an experiment. Even though it has a high percentage of olive oil, I took a bit of a risk and tried to get a purple swirl in it. (Purple is a challenge because the olive oil is a bit greenish, which can make purple turn gray.)
I think it came out quite well. This one will be ready for sale in another two weeks. I think I would like to re-do the outline of the text on the label.
I could spend all my time writing copy and trying to get my photography just right, but at some point, done is better than perfect and I promised myself I’d have this running before the end of the month.
I’m cheating a little. I didn’t make all of these soaps just now, but I did re-take all my photos of them. The Sandalwood & Rose clay is a new soap. I was experimenting with madder root for color, thinking I’d get a pale pink and wanted a darker red swirl inside it. That was the plan… but I had some separation from high temperatures and wound up having to hot process the soap and the swirl was destroyed. C’est la vie. On the plus side, it will be ready to use much sooner. I still want this to count as something creative, but is it 1 new thing (sandalwood soap), 2 new things (soap & photos) or 7 new things? (soap + 6 photos?) I’ll go for 2. #21-22/365.
I made two new soaps this weekend. One was a new fragrance and a refinement of a previous recipe.
The new fragrance was “Dragon’s Blood”. I’m intrigued by the name and had a lot of fun making the label but having actual soap to go with it would be nice. I wanted to make a red soap, but the notes say that the fragrance has a high vanilla content and will discolor to a dark brown. My red might not show up, so I thought “ah… I will make a red diagonal stripe with a little copper sparkle in some unscented soap. It shouldn’t take too long.”
Speed was a factor because I know that this recipe moves quickly. Now, if I’d stopped thinking here, I believe all would have been well, but I went farther, “if I surround the red strip with white on either side, it will POP more”
It set up faster than I wanted so the colors were a bit gloppy and didn’t flow in smooth and evenly. The result is that I created soap that looks like it has a slice of bacon down the middle.
I’m going to need to reconsider my design for this fragrance!
To redeem myself I made a cedarwood-lime soap today. This one sets up very quickly so I had to unmold and cut all within a few hours and I didn’t have time to get my lights up, but here it is on my cutting table.
This one turned out quite nicely.
Ugly or not, they both count towards my 365, and I’m now at 10!
I’ve been making soap for about 10 years now, and selling in a local shop for close to one year. I’ve decided to step it up a little and next month I’d like to open an Etsy shop. Clearly this calls for new labels.
I’ve created 4 so far, two using the ginkgo pattern.
My original labels were all vertical like this. And my first ginkgo label was too. But I’ve since decided to go horizontal. The handmade soap tops can be uneven and by going horizontal I can still get a fairly crisp wrap around the soap edges.
Much better! And I don’t have to look at my ingredients upside down. But I’m still playing with Inkscape, what else can I do?
I can make star mandalas. I will talk more about these later because they were just fun to make and I want to make some in glorious rainbow colors just because I can.
And I’m going to make a Dragon’s Blood soap; this requires a special label. (No dragons will be harmed).
This one was fun. I took the dragons and text from the 19th C Japanese print by Utagawa Kunisada II.