Monday, 31 May 2010

Toxic Ingredients - Personal Care Products

Just writing to share a link, for anyone that would like more information about dangerous chemicals in personal care products. For those non-Canadians, I am not sure if you know David Suzuki. He is an environmental activist & one of our cultural heroes. Here is the link:

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Soap Geek's Birthday

My Birthday

Well, today is my 40th Birthday! We are going to Malaga and Granada this weekend to celebrate my birthday and my husband finishing his masters.

So, looking back over the past year – highlights of year 39? An un-forgettable visit from Dad & Stepmum last June... taking up soap-making obsessively in October... my daughter’s various dance shows & competitions... a trip to Canada when my grandma died & reconnecting intensely with my mum & dad, family & old friends... moving house (down the block, but still a move)... morning walks by the beach... yoga... soaping soaping soaping & fantasizing about the wonderful business I am going to create...

Soap Geek?

I just LOVE washing my hands and showering, of course, as it is always such a wonderful experience trying out new soaps. Except when I am out of the house... Here is the question to you all – Do you find that you just hate the soaps and gels that you find in public washrooms now? Since making my own soaps, I have absolutely fallen in love with natural soaps and can’t stand commercial soaps & gels... to the point where I am seriously considering carrying around a soap container in my purse with one of my soaps in it... Am I a real soap geek?

Here is what I am taking for the weekend - a fresh Mediterranean Lavender (experimental Batch 2, finally ready to try!) & my Beer, Egg & Honey Shampoo bar...

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. Happy soaping!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mediterranean Lavender

I have been working on a series of soaps that will be Mediterranean soaps, with mostly ingredients from the area where I live. The first soap in the series is Mediterranean Orange and I have created a soap I am really pleased with. The second soap in the series is Mediterranean Lavender (including wild lavender hand-picked by me) and I am still creating it. I am certain I want Lavender & Goat milk in this soap. I have done seven different experimental batches, trying to achieve the perfect one... I think I got the scent. I think I got the recipe. But the look? I have struggled batch after batch. I have been experimenting with Alkanet powder (as I only use natural colour) and found that Alkanet doesn't seem to work well with goat milk. Every time I add alkanet with goat milk to a soap, I get a muddy greeny soupy grey. So I came up with a layer idea, part with goat milk and the other part without. But with the recipe I most like for this soap, I can only get BLUE instead of PURPLE. As my favourite of the seven batches has a blue layer, I may give up the hunt for purple, and just accept my blue lavender soap...I would be very grateful for some input, so I ask 3 questions:
1) Do you like the idea of a blue Lavender soap or should it be purple?
2) Which of the following soaps do you most like the look of?
3) Do you have any suggestions?

Batch 5

I put this batch first here(although it is the fifth I made in the series) as it is my favourite look of the seven batches so far, but I am still open to suggestions. The bottom layer has no goat milk, the top does. Notice a little "wave-like" shape in the blue... I think it is because I made the top layer right after the first and poured in onto the first layer within an hour... so that when I poured, the bottom layer was still liquidy and the cool wavey indent happened!

Batch 1

This was my first attempt... please note the soupy grey-green... and the white spots? I do not think they are lye bits but not really sure. I think they may be the Aloe Vera (from my garden... picked... squeezed and blended by me...) which I didn't blend well enough? This is the only batch of the seven which has aloe vera.

Batch 2

I didn't add colour to this one... just lavender. I kind of like its simplicity. It is an option as well....

Batch 3

More grey than green but still not pretty. Also... note the little white specs? Not the same specs as batch 1 - I have had these before - I believe they are bubbles?

Batch 4

Note muddy greeny grey again. Uggg. This is a 2-oil soap. I like the texture, not the colour.

Batch 6

I like this one too, but I think I prefer the colour on the bottom... and there are the little white specs in the blue layer again - bubbles?

Batch 7

This one could have turned out awesome! It looks similar to my favourite, but, I had a disaster happen... bottom layer went fine. But I started getting into a rush with the top layer and I had 2 disasters - Just when I was about to begin mixing, I realized it wasn't plugged in. I bent down to plug it in and the mixer tipped over along with the pot with the mix in it! I decided to just keep going with what was left and I finished it, poured it on and accepted that it was just going to be a smaller experimental batch. Then I realized that I had a pot of the solid oils left over! I had forgotton to put the solid (melted) oils into the olive oil!! So basically the top part is very lye concentrated pure castille soap. Notice the crumbling in the photo.

Look forward to your feedback!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Soap Exchange - Cocobong

I recently did my second soap exchange and was again AMAZED at what I received - 2 gorgeous sheep milk soaps from Cocobong. The look and feel of them is amazing… milky soft white… bubble-free, perfect “matte” smoothness that makes me go back and touch them again and again… The size is brilliant, smaller in height and width than mine but thick – a perfect palm fit. I tried Milk&Almond in the shower – hands, body & face and what a treat! The smell is lovely – soft, sweet & luring…. The suds were phenomenal – big & bubbly, then settling into rich and creamy and they just go on and on and on… Much richer than a Goat Milk soap. Also very moisturising. It even worked on my tricky combination-skin face. Two words come to mind - RICH & LUXURIOUS. I LOVE this soap. Although I haven’t tried the second soap in the shower yet, the look is similarly beautiful – milky-white and beautifully smooth… but the smell is entirely different…. Earthy… Herbal… and Fresh. Can’t wait for my next shower!!! Thank you Julia for the lovely soaps!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Natural Blue & Purple - Experiments with Alkanet

Hello all! I am sharing some pix here of my experiments with Alkanet Root, in search of the perfect natural blue & purple.... I steep the Alkanet Root powder in an oil, then remove the powder and have a deep red oil (have tried both Olive and Castor) which, when added to the soap either when stirring to trace or at trace, turns the soap some FUNKY colours. I am pleased to share some of my past experiences. Each of the oil combinations in these recipes is different... each colour comes as a suprise to me. In these earlier experiments, I didnt' even write down the amounts of Alkanet or Oil that I used for the coloured oil... so I can't replicate them! Now with my latest experiments, I keep very detailed notes on how I got the colour. I will post my latest struggles/ experiments/ surprises in a separate post. Enjoy! If you have any information you would like to share abour your experiences with Alkanet, please comment!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Craft Fair

Here are two photos from the craft fair I participated in this afternoon in Mojacar. The first one is of my little table displaying my soaps. The second one is the view from my table. It was more of a dog show than a craft fair. I didn´t sell a lot, but I chatted with a wonderful collection of characters. All in all it was a wonderful afternoon, reminding me why I love the area that we live in. It hasn't been easy coming back to Spain from Canada last week after a three week visit with my family... but it is little things like this afternoon that help... I think what I most enjoy about this area (besides the sun and the weather and the food and living by the sea) is the lack of routine. Every day is an adventure.