Monday, September 17, 2012

Lilac Fantasy Cold Process Soap

A couple friends asked me to make some lilac soap.  I like lilac, so why not?  Besides, I like to keep my friends soap-happy!

I thought pink and lavender swirled together would make an awesome lilac soap.  Then Renee from Tub Time Treasures shared a photo of a hand painted silk scarf  made by Joy Hand Painted Silk, and I knew I needed more than two colors.  So I chose to do pink, lavender, blue, seafoam, and white.

Decorative soaps in lavendar, seafoam, and pink.  Two mushroom cottages and one rose heart soap.
I decided to layer the colors in the mold, then do a Celine Swirl (which you can watch Celine demonstrate in this video).  I also wanted to use small silicone molds to make decorative soaps in some of the colors.

Decorative soaps in blue and pink.  Christmas cottage and thatched cottage.
Because floral fragrances can be tricky to work with, and some lilac fragrance oils are some of the worst, I needed to modify my normal process so the soap wouldn't get too thick before I mixed up all the colors.

So I made my soap without fragrance or color.  Then I poured it into 5 different containers in roughly equal amounts.  One at a time I put the color into a container, blended in some fragrance, poured some into one or two silicone molds, and poured the rest into the log mold.  I layered lavender, seafoam, white, pink, and blue.  Then I did the Celine Swirl and textured the top.  Oh, and I sprinkled some glitter on top.  Don't want to forget the glitter!

Textured top on soap, with mostly the blue and pink.  Plenty of glitter sprinkled on top!

And look how the soap turned out.  I was thrilled with the way the colors swirled throughout the whole slice.
Each slice is different, but they all have the colors swirled throughout.  There are a few air pockets.  I was actually surpised there weren't more of them, since the soap was thickening up

Here's a close-up of the pink rose-heart soap.  I sprinkled glitter into the molds before pouring the soap, but you can only barely see it here.

The glitter is easier to see on this soap.  This is the mushroom cottage in seafoam. 

Three soaps are always better than one!  And of course, a dragon always has to get into at least one of the photos!

The single-color decorative soaps almost look like different colors than what's in the swirled soap.  But they all smell the same.

I got a video camera, and filmed making this soap.  But unfortunately, I accidently deleted the video from the camera before I saved it to my computer.  I did make a video cutting the soap, though.  Here's the link to the first of two:
Well, I hope my friends like these!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vanilla Hazelnut Rebatch

Yesterday I rebatched the Vanilla Hazelnut with PKO soap I made a couple weeks ago.  I hadn't put in enough fragrance, and I had forgotten the ground hazelnuts and oatmeal.  And since I'm out of lye, I didn't have any other soapy thing to do--except work on my Good Manufacturing Practices documents.  And I wanted to make soap.

Since this was a spur-of-the-moment decision, I didn't have a pint of whipping cream on hand to use.  So I used a pint of Creamy Select Vanilla.  I'm lactose intolerant and can't drink a lot of milk.  So I use a milk substitute: Creamy Select.  I'ts made from milk, but has the lactose replaced with dextrose.

Friday night I made some up some extra thick Creamy Select (using twice as much powder as usual), mixed it with the grated soap, and set it aside to soften the soap.  Saturday morning I put it all in the crock pot to melt down.

The soap melted down nicely and when it was ready I added more Vanilla Hazelnut fragrance and some ground hazelnuts and oatmeal.  Then I poured it into my mold.

This morning I unmolded the soap.  I was very happy that there are no air pockets in this loap.  But it was still very soft--too soft to use the mitre box to cut it as I usually do.  I was impatient and cut a few slices anyway.  I didn't cut them very well without the miterbox.

I squished the slices I'd cut into soap patties and used my cookie stamps to decorate the tops.  The soap was so sticky that it was sticking to the ceramic cookie stamps, and the designs looked horrible.

Then I remembered something I saw in a Soap Queen TV video on youtube.  In one of the videos, Anne Marie mentioned using cyclomethicone as a mold release when using plastic molds with cold process soap, because cyclomethicone would not saponify as oil would.    I decided to try it on my stamps.

I poured a little cyclomethicone into a small dish and dabbed it onto the teapot stamp using a pastry brush. Then I pressed the stamp into a soap pattie.  Oh my goodness.  It worked so well!  The detail was awesome.  I quickly tried the heart-and-flowers stamp, which is more detailed than the teapot stamp.  It turned out awesome, too.  I've never before seen this much detail when I used this stamp.

I was having so much fun I ended up squishing half the loaf into soap patties!  But I'll leave the other half to harden up and then I'll use the mitre box to cut them into nice slices.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cutting the Vanilla Hazelnut with PKO

I cut the Vanilla Hazelnut soap into slices.  Overall, I'm pleased with the results, although there's certainly room for improvement.  But before we talk about the cut soap, let's look at soap patties.

I like to cut the soap when it's still soft enough to mush into patties; I usually make 2 or 3 per batch.  A lot of people like to make soap balls. But I find balls hard to use in the shower.  You know how you twirl a bar of soap around in your hands to work up a good lather?  It's hard to do that with a ball of soap--it's to slippery and too round.  But a patty is flatter and easier to twirl.  I also like to press a design into them with a cookie press.

As you can see by looking at the side of the loaf after I took it out of the mold, I'm still getting lots of air pockets.  It's because the soap is so thick when I get it into the mold.  The good news is that the top was thick enough that it didn't flatten out when the soap gelled.

Air pockets aren't as noticeable in the cut bars.  The bottom brown and white layers are still not as deep as I'd like, but they aren't bad.  A little more work on them and they'll be perfect!  

I really like how the white top is piled up in the middle on this slice.  That didn't happen on all of them, depending on where I cut compared to the swirled top.

I like how the cocoa looks on the top of the bars.  But you can only barely see the cocoa line, and only in places.  I obviously didn't get it thick enough.  But at least the bars won't break in half because the line was too thick!

Ruth likes the Vanilla Hazelnut fragrance I used; he can't stop sniffing them.  Yes, I know "Ruth" is a strange name for a male dragon.  I named him "Snowball".  But after I read The White Dragon to the dragons, he wouldn't answer to anything but "Ruth".  So, "Ruth" it is!

I really need better lighting.  I've seen instructions for making a light box.  Guess I'd better make one.

You can see that not all the tops are as nice as the one earlier.  I really like how the swirled tops look in the mold, but I like the more "mounded in the middle" look once the soap is sliced.  So next time I'll try that approach.  Maybe I can swirl it up into mounds, or something.

Heliotrope really likes to ham it up for the camera!  He's always trying to climb on the soap when I'm taking pictures.  So I just snapped his picture.  I think Heliotrope would make a cave out of the soap if he could!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vanilla Hazelnut Soap with PKO

I just finished making a new batch of Vanilla Hazelnut soap, and I just realized I forgot to put the ground hazelnuts and oatmeal into it.  Drat!

I used palm kernel oil (PKO) this time instead of coconut oil, because I wanted to make soap for some friends who are allergic to coconuts.  PKO and coconut  are the two oils that produce the most lather.  So if coconut oil is out, PKO is in!

The Vanilla Hazelnut fragrance oil is a very well behaved oil:  no acceleration, no seizing, no ricing. So I normally have plenty of time to do decorative techniques.  In fact, I usually have to wait for the soap to set up enough to do them!  But this time was different.

PKO sets up much faster than coconut oil.  At least, it did for me today.  Things thickened up really fast.

Like most vanilla fragrance oils, Vanilla Hazelnut turns soap brown.  I like to use this to my advantage, and leave some soap un-scented--and therefore un-brown.  Then I can swirl the white and brown together, or do layers, or whatever.

Today I decided to do a layer of brown (darkened still more with a bit of cocoa), a cocoa line*, a layer of white (whitened still more with a bit if titanium dioxide), another layer of brown, and a swirled white top with a bit of cocoa and glitter sprinkled on top.  I did all that, but it was really getting thick.  The final layer of white looked like whipped shortening--it was that thick.  But I got it on there, and swirled it in, and sprinkled the cocoa and glitter on top.  The cocoa and glitter actually look good together.

The soap in now in a warm oven, saponifying its heart out.

I'll have pictures of cut soap later.  But for now, there's just a picture of the soap in the mold before it went into the oven.  Too bad you can't see the glitter in the picture.

*A cocoa line is made using a thin layer of cocoa in the soap.  Pour a layer of soap, sprinkle some cocoa over it, then pour soap over the cocoa.  When you cut the bars, you can see a thin dark line across them.

If you use too much cocoa the two layers of soap don't adhere to each other and the soap can break there.  If you don't use enough, it's hard to see the line.

A cocoa line is a form of pencil line, which can be made with pretty much any powdered colorant:  colored clay, mica, ultramarine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Soap Porn

I had a little soap left over from a project I worked on last weekend, so I decided to practice piping soap.  People are making the cutest soap cupcakes with piped tops, and I wanted to give it a try.  I didn't have the cupcake part, but I did tops anyway.

Next time I'm going to practice with frosting, though.  It was a shame to make these then not be able to eat them!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Creamy Violets Rebatch

I rebatched the Creamy Violets soap over the weekend, and I have to say I'm pleased with the results.

I think I might have tried rebatching once several years ago, and I wasn't happy with the results--so I never did it again.  But I was really unhappy with this soap and I wanted to do something with it.  Rebatching seemed like it might be the answer.

While browsing around YouTube last week I came across a video where EssentialSoaps rebatches with goats milk (here).  There are lots of rebatching videos on YouTube, but I found this one particularly helpful.  Maybe I just saw it at the right time--I don't know. 

The first thing I needed to do was grate up all that soap--a 5-lb batch.  Yes, I used my food processor.  It still took forever!  Then I poured a pint of whipping cream over the soap gratings and allowed it to soak in over night.

Sunday morning I divided the soap up into two crock pots:  one a 7 quart pot and the other a 3 or 4 quart pot.  I thought I'd add more purple ultramarine to the soap in the big pot and titanium dioxide to the soap in the smaller pot.  That way I could still have the two colors and, hopefully, there would be more contrast between the layers than in the original soap.

Then I turned both crock pots on to High and let them sit for a while.  The soap in the small pot melted faster (well, there was less soap, right?) so after it melted I left in on Low while the soap in the bigger pot continued to melt.

It really didn't take very long for the soap to melt down--between 1/2 and 1 hour.  I was surprised at how well it melted--practically no lumps.

When it got to this consistency, I added the fragrance oil and stirred like crazy.  I even used the stick blender on it--something I never would have thought to try without the EssentialSoaps video.  Then I layered the two colors in the mold, textured the top, sprinkled a little glitter on top, and left to visit some friends.

When I got home 5 or 6 hous later my whole house smelled like Violets!   I took the soap out of the mold.  It was still pretty sticky--I probably should have left it 'til the next morning.  But I couldn't wait!

I'm really happy with the way the textured tops turned out.  You can see that the colors are still not really purple nor really white.  But there is more contrast than before.

But of course, you have to cut the soap to see the layers.  And look at that!  They turned out really well.  Because the soap was so sticky, the surface of each bar is a little rough--which you can see in the photo.  But other than that, I thought they looked really good!

Here's an up-close-and-personal shot of one soap slice.  You can see one lump on the left side of that slice.  But I was really amazed that there weren't more lumps!  OK, maybe the bottom "purple" layer should have been thicker so the "white" layer would sit a little higher, but  what the heck!  It still looks good--if I do say so myself.

And if you look closely enough, you can see some of the glitter.

The dragons just LOVE to play on the soap.  And they really like the Violet fragrance.

So I'm going to have to do this rebatching thing again.  I have a couple FOs I absolutely love, but they don't hold up in CP soap because of the lye.  I'll try rebatching them next. 

Um, I guess I better make a plain batch of soap to rebatch, huh?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creamy Violets Soap

Last weekend I made some "Creamy Violets" soap.  Or at least I tried to.  I used Violets fragrance oil, a little bit of yogurt, and some lavender ultramarine swirled in with the cream-colored soap.  I swirled the tops and put it in the oven to saponify (turn from fats and lye into soap).

The soap gelled nicely in the oven.  But when I removed it, I could see that the nice swirled top fell flat.  And you can see that I didn't put enough ultramarine in it to make a nice color.  And one whiff told me that the Violet fragrance oil had been mostly eaten by the lye.  Drat!

Even after cutting the bars, they don't look all that great.  And I couldn't decide whether I like the smell.  After a couple days I decided that if I can't decide whether I like the fragrance--I don't like the fragrance. 

So this coming weekend I'm going to try rebatching the whole batch (minus the bar I'm currently using).

To rebatch soap,   you grate it up and melt it down with a little bit of liquid (not too much).  Since there's no lye in the soap, you can add your fragrance or any other delicate ingredients, and they won't be eaten by the lye.  Then you glop it into a mold and let it harden.

The downside to rebatching is that soap is really thick.  If you try to thin it with too much liquid, it takes forever for the liquid to evaporate and the soap to harden.  It's hard to get the soap into the mold without air bubbles.  And the texture is often not as nice as normal soap, because it's hard to melt all the chunks of soap.  But it is often the best way to save a batch of failed soap.

So this coming weekend will be the great experiment:  can Bonnie save a batch of soap by rebatching it.  Stay tuned ...