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 ...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Soap Supplies Are In

I received my order from Majestic Mountain Sage last night.  I thought it might not arrive until Monday, so I'm stoked that it's here already.

So what did I get?  Here's the list:
  1. palm kernal oil
  2. cocoa butter
  3. sweet almond oil
  4. "Energy" fragrance oil
  5. ultra fine irridescent glitter
  6. pink ultramarine
  7. glycerine
The palm kernal oil is great for making lots of big, fluffy, lather.  Usually I use coconut oil for lather, but I have some friends who are allergic to coconut oil.  So I will make soap with palm kernal oil for them.

I got the cocoa butter to make chocolate soap.  I'll use some of the "Vanilla Hazelnut" fragrance oil, along with the natural fragrance from the cocoa butter.  I'll also add some baker's chocolate.  Yum!

Vanilla Hazelnut soap

I use sweet almond oil in almost all my soap.  It's a wonderful oil that makes the soap nice and smooth and creamy.

"Energy" fragrance oil is a "refreshing citrus scent with fruity notes of mango, papaya and lime".  It smells fantastic!  I can't wait to soap with it.  If the fragrance stays true in the soap, it'll be perfect!

I'm experimenting with using more decorative techniques in my soap, rather than just making rectangular bars.  I'm practicing piping with soap, and I'll sprinkle some of the irridescent glitter on top.  Some of the things other soapers are doing are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.  They've really inspired me to do more.

Rectangular bars and handmade soap patties

I disperse the pink ultramine in the glycerine--it makes it easier to blend into the soap. I use this pink to swirl into plain white soap for my "Rain Orchid" soap. I think I'll also use it in my "Violets and Roses" soap. I haven't make "Violets and Roses" yet, but it's definitely on the list. I'm thinking ... pink and purple swirled together, with white soap decorations piped on top (and glitter)!

So now my problem is ... what soaps to make this coming weekend?  Before my supplies arrived I planned to make a batch of soap with the "Forks" FO.  And I still want to do that--it's a wonderful fir-tree scent.  But I also want to make the "Vanilla Hazelnut" soap for Colleen.  And I can't wait to try the chocolate soap.  There isn't time to do all of them.  Well, I'll figure something out.

I'll definitely post pictures of whatever I decide to do.  Until then, happy soaping!

Gardener's soap with calendula