Friday, 30 July 2010

Love Soap

Here is a re-make of my favourite soap that I have made to date, except with a different scent because I was out of Patchouli EO.

The original was very similar to this just with an orange heart in the middle, and I had called it Roxana as it was a gift for a friend of mine. (Pictures posted in earlier posts) Roxana was my favourite soap because of the wonderful texture, hardness, the suds, the way it left my skin, it lasted for AGES, the colour (yes strangely enough, I loved the simple natural off-white) and the scent actually stayed on my skin for a long time, which I have found very hard to do. Maybe it was the patchouli. So basically, I have been using Roxana as a base recipe for a lot of my soaps. In this one, I was trying to come up with a way to use up the UGLY soupy greeny gray Lavender-goat milk-alkanet experimental soaps I have... so I cookie cut some hearts and stuck them in.

In this one, same batch, in a separate mould, I cut some ugly experimental soupy gray soaps up and chucked the pieces in.

Note the colour in both the pictures above. 100% of the liquid in these soaps is goat milk, adding the lye to frozen goat milk. Pretty nice off-white. I took advice when questioning my goat milk soap colour variations and the secret seems to be to keep it cool. So I did not let the lye get to above 32º Celcius and I mixed the lye and oils at 27º. Then I topped the mould but didn't put the blanket over it. I took the soap out of the mould 24 hours later. You may note in the first picture that the bottom looks whiter than the top... look closely! The only difference between the bottom and top is that I divided the soap mix in half and traced the bottom part thicker, so that the hearts would stay put, then the lighter traced mix, I poured on top. I wanted it thinner so that it would fill all the gaps and not leave holes or bubbles. But it looks like thicker traced goat-milk soap stays slightly whiter?

Here is a little peak at me making it! My husband caught me...Yeah... I know... notice the faults? Gloves but short sleeves? Goggles nicely placed not on but ABOVE my eyes? Oh well... who's perfect?...

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sea Salt Soaps & Alkanet

I experimented with 2 Sea Salt soaps this weekend, with some Alkanet colouring. Yes, they turned purple (but for a Sea soap... wouldn't you want blue?)

This one is coloured with Alkanet coloured Olive Oil. I really like the colour, but it doesn't say "Sea" to me.

This one is coloured with Alkanet coloured Castor Oil, and I think I just put a little more in, so the colour is darker but similar to the first.

All this resisting resisting and more resisting what nature is offering me in search of my ideal is tiring. I think I may just give in to the magical power of nature. I had this great soap designed in my head - Lavender... Goat Milk... the perfect lavender purple. BUT - I just couldn't get it. Goat Milk and Alkanet just produced a muddy grey green. Then, even without goat milk, I just couldn't get the purple that I wanted in the soap. Lots of interesting blues and greys. I could probably get it if I used artificial colour but I don't.

So, then I had this beautiful Mediterranean Sea Salt bar created in my mind - Essential Oil combo reminiscent of a Sea Breeze... loaded with Sea Salt.... nice Sea blue.... BUT - I just couldn't get it. I can only get purple with Alkanet in my Sea Salt bars.

So, instead of resisting, I am going to accept nature's magic. I can either have a nice purple Mediterranean Lavender & Sea Salt bar.... and/or a white Sea Salt bar & a white or blue Lavender bar. What do you think?


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Fresh Local Products

Whenever I can, I like to use fresh local products. Not just for cooking but in my soaps as well. I really believe in the benefits of fresh local products.

At the local Saturday Market today, I picked up some tomatoes, peaches, basil, lettuce, local olive oil & goat milk I stuck my almost-empty tub of local honey in the top picture as well which I actually got months ago. The honey guy at the market, from a near-by small town called Tijola, has a bee farm. He also has neighbours with goats so he was able to get me fresh goat milk for my soaps!

The Aloe Vera plants that supply the wonderful Aloe gel for my soaps are from my garden. Grandmother Aloe was the first. She is 5 years old now. She was given to me as a baby off-shoot, and had been taken from the golf course where I worked. One of the gardeners was tidying a garden there and was going to throw her away… I cannot bear to throw away any of her off-shoots. If I let them continue to grow in around the Aloe Vera plants, they all start turning ruby-brownish. I like my Aloe plants full and green, so I remove and replant the off-shoots. Now the off-shoots are having off-shoots – the grandchildren. I have been told that the plants have to be at least 3 years old for the gel to be beneficial for our skin.

Grandma Aloe Vera (I put the shoe in the photo for size perspective)

One of her babe’s

Happy Saturday!!!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Coffee Soap

I love Coffee soap... My husband loves MY Coffee soap (I have to admit he has not tried anyone else’s and let’s just keep it that way!).. This is my first time making coffee soap without Palm oil. I added some Cocoa Butter, Coconut Milk & Coffee Grinds. The strange layering of slightly different colours was an experiment. Part of the soap I coloured at trace with cocoa powder (the darker brown part), the other part is just the colour from using coffee as the liquid. As I had a bunch of stuff I was adding at trace, when I got to the part where I separated the mixture in 2 & added the Cocoa Powder to 1 part, it started hardening fast... so swirling was out! I had to scoop and layer... and between layers, I sprinkled in extra coffee grounds. I kind of like the look. The smell not-so-much... What sort of Essential Oil blend goes nice with coffee? Not the ones I chose this time... Hmmm... any ideas? Previously I just left my coffee soap unscented.

Happy Soaping! Jen

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 11

DIFFERENCE: This recipe has a teaspoon of Baking Soda, using Alkanet Experiment 9.

PROCESS: I added 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda to the lye mixture. I thought it would dissolve but it didn’t.

RESULTS: The photo actually shows this soap a little darker and bluer than it really is. In reality it is a speckled bluish grey, with a mauve tinge. The speckles obviously come from the baking soda which never dissolved. I kind of like the speckles! The last three experiments, I have not opened the mould to swirl, nor have I peeked at all, so I think Amy was right in that the white stuff on top (soda ash?) can be caused by exposure to air.

CONCLUSION: Baking Soda affects alkanet colour in soap and adds white speckles.

CONFESSION: This will be my last experiment with Alkanet colour for a while for my Lavender soap. I may start again when it turns colder here. I may post pictures in a month or two to see how the colour was affected over time.

TEASER... I will be using some Alkanet in my Sea Salt bar shortly. That bar tends to turn just the purple I would like in a Lavender bar. It will be interesting to see if the weather affects that soap as well!! Also, maybe in the end I combine them both and instead of having a Mediterranean Sea Salt Bar and a Mediterranean Lavender Bar, maybe I should have a Mediterranean Sea Salt Lavender Bar!!

INVITATION... I want to keep this blog about soap. I also wanted to share some photos and other personal stuff so I started another blog. I invite you to come check it out at:

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 10

DIFFERENCE: This recipe has 5% less Shea Butter and Castor 5% more Castor oil than Alkanet Experiment 9. Alkanet Experiments 1 – 8 had 15% shea. This one has 5% Shea.

PROCESS: I decreased the Shea Butter by 5% and added Castor Oil not only at trace but also in the main liquid oils.

RESULTS: I am sooooo disappointed and actually fed up. Once again, I got that ugly soupy grey. But the reason I am so fed up this time is because I decided to use the EXACT recipe that I used last time I got a nice purple from Alkanet (made in early March). I felt confident that I would get a nice purple this time.

If I am using the EXACT same recipe, why shouldn’t it turn a beautiful purple???? The answer is I don’t know. The only changes in the recipe between this ugly soupy grey soap and this lovely demonstration of a Alkanet purple... is that 1) I lowered the quantities very slightly to fit the experimental mould... but all proportionally and correctly, 2) in the March recipe, used Alkanet coloured oil in half the mixture, then I used the funnel technique 3) The Essential Oil blend was slightly different but not much and 4) The atmosphere, temperatures I am working in now in mid-summer southern Spain - HOT and humid and February was cold and not-so-humid. I used the same oils. I mixed the lye and oils at the same temperature (37º). I am absolutely baffled and discouraged. Could the atmosphere and weather conditions be affecting Alkanet? Could the amount of time it takes me to pour (as with the funnel technique it all takes a while) affect the Alkanet? I cannot think of any other reasons why these two soaps are so different except that maybe I forgot to write something down in my notes on the funnel purple soap...? I DON'T KNOW! I do have enough Lavender oil for 1 more experiment. But, then I will wait until the colder weather is back and MAYBE try again.

CONCLUSION – Increasing castor oil and lowering shea butter quantities affects Alkanet colour in soaps but possibly not in a good way. Also, it is possible that atmosphere and weather conditions affect Alkanet colour in soaps.

CONFESSION: My patience is almost up... I would LOOOOVE someone else to continue where I have left off. Anyone interested?

TEASER... Next experiment will be adding baking soda and maybe in the pot swirling...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 9

DIFFERENCE: This recipe has 5% less Shea Butter, slightly less water and I added the Castor Oil and Alkanet coloured oil at trace instead.

PHOTOS: I cannot believe what a fabulous example of photography and lighting this is. I present 4 different photos of the SAME SOAP and it looks like a different colour in each soap!

RESULTS: All I can say is that the real colour is a nice purplish blue. I really like it. It actually could be a good lavender soap... not perfect yet... but getting closer. I wanted to reduce Shea Butter in my experimenting, one reason - because of the cost! The top on this soap turned lighter, even though there was NO PEAKING... you may notice I did not even take the time to swirl it. I simply poured and closed... and the top is almost like matte velvety... Luxurious... I can’t stop touching it. This colour is one of the most authentic of all my experiments so far... I was getting really tired of the grey tinge... This is truer colour.

CONCLUSION – Since I changed three things I cannot say exactly what affected the colour but something has – maybe a mix of lowering Shea Butter quantities, lowering water & adding Castor Oil with colour at trace?

CONFESSION: A couple of you have mentioned my patience with this experiment... Well to be truthful... I am getting bored. I have enough Lavender EO for 1 more experiment I believe... I am waiting for my order from Fresholi to arrive. Then I am not sure if I will continue much longer for now... I am hoping for that perfect purple tomorrow... If I take a break from experimenting with this colour for now... would anyone else be interested in continuing?

TEASER... Next experiment will be increasing quantities of Castor Oil...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 8

DIFFERENCE: About 30% of the liquid is Coconut Milk, the rest distilled water as per usual, using Alkanet Experiment 1 as the base recipe.

PROCESS: I removed about 30% of the water and substituted it for Coconut Milk which I added, warmed at trace.

RESULTS: The colour is definitely leaning away from blue. I would describe it as a Purplish Gray. For some reason, this soap traced quicker, and almost seized on me. I think I had not heated the coconut milk sufficiently. So I scooped instead of poured into the mould. Then I did my messy swirls on top straight away, topped and incubated. This way it was not exposed long to air. As an interesting side-line in my Alkanet experimenting, I have been wondering why the white stuff (soda ash?) has been forming on some of the soap and on others no...? Amy at has pointed out that it may be due to air getting at the top? So this time, I topped right away, and didn’t open the mould for 24 hours... not even to peek... You see, I have a confession... sometimes I have gotten so excited and curious that I have actually peeked and opened the mould even a few times during the experimenting. That may have been causing the white stuff?? Also, can you see specs in the soap? I am not that keen on them and am never quite sure why they form.

CONCLUSION – Coconut Milk DEFINITELY affects Alkanet colour in soaps. It would be interesting to try 100% coconut milk.

TEASER... Next experiment will be lowering the Shea Butter and changing the recipe slightly, adding the Castor Oil and Alkanet at trace...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

41º in the Shade...

What were we thinking going into the interior of Spain during a heat wave?! Searching for my father in law’s long lost ancestors... His father fled Spain when he was just a boy with all of their close family and went to Argentina – the new world – in search of a better life. Ironically, two generations later my husband fled Argentina and came to Spain - the old world - in search for a better life. His father is visiting us in Spain now and it has been quite and adventure for all of us!

This weekend we spent in sweltering Jaen & Granada... Jazz festival... tapas... flamenco in the Sacromonte caves... Cathedrals... the Alhambra... Castillo... Gazpacho... Arabic Baths... photography... and heat heat heat.

Ever since getting more into taking better photos of my soaps... I have been really enjoying photography. Many of the memories I have of my mother throughout my life, she is snapping shots with her Canon. She is a wonderful photographer. Funny it should have taken me this long to enjoy photography myself. I was on a windows and doors kick this weekend. All of these photos I have not touched. I suppose I could chop and play a little but for now I am sharing as is.

Windows & Doors... and a Rose... (These are for you Mum!! You are my inspiration! Xoxo)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 7

DIFFERENCE: About 15% of the liquid is Apple Cider Vinegar, the rest distilled water as per usual, using Alkanet Experiment 4 as the base recipe, the one with Almond oil.

I substituted about 15% of the water content with Vinegar and mixed with the lye. It stunk!

These last three soaps have come out very different shades... this one is rather non-descript... Purply Blue Gray? I loved the blue best in Alkanet Experiment 5! But could this colour here... in the vinegar soap... actually be leaning toward Lavender????? Of course I would prefer PURPLE... a nice Lavender Mauve.. but there is something about this soap that does say Lavender to me... What do you think? I have not achieved exactly what I wanted yet, but I have an interesting start. However – who wants soap with Vinegar in it??? How will the Vinegar affect the finished bar? We will have to wait 4 to 6 weeks to find out! Also, if you look closely, that white stuff is creeping in again. I was beginning to think it was the Almond Oil, but then I got Alkanet Experiment 6, without hardly any! So, mysteries continue all around...

CONCLUSION – Vinegar DEFINITELY affects Alkanet colour in soaps.

OTHER IDEAS for experimenting:
- Cornstarch
- Baking soda
- Coconut milk
- Avocado Oil
- Cocoa Butter

TEASER... Next experiment will be with either Coconut Milk or Baking Soda, haven’t decided yet... However, we are going away for the weekend so it will be a few days before my next experiment.

Happy soaping in the meantime & have a great weekend!

Xo Jen

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 6

DIFFERENCE: Half of the liquid in this soap is lemon juice, the other half is distilled water as per usual. I am using Alkanet Experiment 4 as the base recipe, the one with Almond oil.

I can’t really tell the colour of this because it came out too dark, too much Alkanet this time. It is definitely blue... but with a purple tinge? Since I am working with such small quantities, even just a small movement of my hand and a little more coloured oil can drop into the mixture... I may try lemon juice again with less Alkanet to see what shade of blue it goes.

CONCLUSION – Lemon Juice DEFINIETLY affects Alkanet colour in soaps.

- I am beginning to feel that it is the liquid in the soaps that affects Alkanet colour more than the oils?
- The Benzoin I used made my soap trace too quickly and go chunky. Not sure if it is Benzoin in general or the brand I have. Most likely will not be using again.

TEASER... Next experiment will be with Vinegar...

Xo Jen

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 5

DIFFERENCE: I added a teaspoon of seasalt at trace, using the recipe from Alkanet Experiment 4 (with Almond Oil).

I really like this blue! I couldn’t capture it exactly on camera, but we are definitely moving away from purply grey. This is blue blue. I actually removed about 15 percent of the water from the recipe, added a teaspoon of chunky seasalt and let it sit overnight. I expected the sea salt to dissolve, I even tried heating the mixture a bit, but it did not dissolve. Then I added the water-seasalt mixture at trace. I think that is what the speckles in the soap are... I am LOVING it. Also, strangely there is a texture to this soap that is so wonderfully smooth... I just can’t stop touching it! I will have to further experiment with salt quantities and maybe adding to the lye mixture? The strangest thing is that my full-on Sea Salt bar is purple purple... so I was expecting the teaspoon of Sea Salt in this soap to turn it purple and it went the opposite way! Alkanet is laughing at me again...

CONCLUSION – Seasalt DEFINIETLY affects Alkanet colour in soaps.

TEASER... Next experiment will be with Lemon Juice...

Future Ideas for Experimenting
- from, increase amount of Alkanet
- from, try testing the PH

Keep the ideas coming!

Xo Jen

Monday, 5 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 4

DIFFERENCE: I substituted some of the Olive Oil for Sweet Almond Oil. (If Alkanet Recipe 1 had 50% Olive Oil, Alkanet Experiment 4 has 35% Olive Oil & 15% Almond Oil)

CONCLUSION - Alkanet colouring in soap IS affected by using different oils, but I am not sure how. The base colour looks much the same but whitish streaks have appeared throughout. Could this really be from the Almond Oil? This has never happened to me in any soap before.

I could get sidetracked to other experiments here such as... Why the White Stuff on the top? I have hardly ever had it before but if you notice that from experiment to experiment, it really varies!! I will continue to focus on my objective - Master Alkanet colouring in soaps in pursuit of the perfect Mediterranean Lavender colour...

TEASER... Alkanet Experiment 5 will be adding a pinch of salt...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 3

I think I may be getting somewhere! The change in this soap is that I reduced the water content by about 14% from Alkanet Experiment 1. There is clearly a change. An odd change... It looks like that for whatever reason, there are some parts that are the same colour as the other soaps and then some nice blue streaking? Look at the top and the sides... Nice teal baby blue?

This soap actually has 1 other difference as well - The Essential Oil blend - one of the three oils is Benzoin, as per Alkanet Experiment 2. As I suspected with the Benzoin, once again this soap traced so quickly that it got chunky. You can see it clearly on the top this time. However, just like Alkanet Experiment 2, the chunkiness is only on the top! The inside is beautifully smooth. I will not be using Benzoin again, at least not for my Alkanet experiments. I cannot figure out what caused the streaking??? Another of the oils - Vetivert - I have never used before... and could have caused the streaking? I will go back to a simple EO blend, without Benzoin and stick to it for these experiments.

CONCLUSION from Alkanet Experiment 3
- Alkanet colouring in soap IS affected by water content. I will need to continue to experiment how it is affected. My first assumption appears to be – the less water, the bluer?

Getting back to the list of advice for altering Alkanet colour in soap:
- Changing water quantities (keep experimenting)
- Using different oils
- Using oils in your recipe that produce a relatively white soap
- Avoid fragrance or essential oils that will drastically change the shade of your product
I am adding 3 new ideas myself...
- Add a pinch of salt (because my salt soap is VERY purple)
- Add some lemon juice or vinegar (because it would make it more acidy?)
- Using different types of water? (I am currently using Distilled water... maybe I should try tap water, sea water, rain water, regular bottled water...)

TEASER... Alkanet Experiment 4 will be using different liquid oils...

Happy soaping everyone!
Xo Jennifer

What the beach offered me this afternoon

Sometimes I forget why I choose to live so far away from my family... and then I get little reminders... I prefer to keep this blog focussed on Soap but here's a small personal slice of my life... We had a lazy Sunday around the house... soap making... reading... puttering... organizing... didn't actually wander down to the beach until 8pm! It was lovely... xoxo Jen

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Alkanet Experiment 2

The only change in this soap from Alkanet Experiment 1 is that it is superfatted at 15% instead of 8% - almost double. As you can see, the colour is very much the same. So, if I can make a conclusion based on only having carried out 1 experiment - alkanet colour results in soap are NOT related to superfatting.

Ah, there was actually 1 other difference in this soap. In the Essential Oil blend, this time one of the three oils is Benzoin, as fellow blogger mentioned that Benzoin may be a good fixative for Essential Oil scents. I have not used Benzoin before... and I have also never had this chunky thing happen before. This soap traced so quickly that it got kind of chunky. Can you see it on the top? I am blaming this on the Benzoin but I suppose it could be related to the high superfatting?

CONCLUSION from Alkanet Experiment 2
- Alkanet colouring in soap is not affected by increasing Superfat content

Getting back to the list of advice for altering Alkanet colour in soap:
- Changing water quantities in the soap
- Using different oils
I am adding two new possible suggestions from Michelle at
- Using oils in your recipe that produce a relatively white soap
- Avoid fragrance or essential oils that will drastically change the shade of your product

TEASER... Alkanet Experiment 3 will be lowing water content...

Alkanet Experiment 1

After all my attempts, I have still not mastered Alkanet soap colouring... but in my quest for the perfect Mediterranean Lavender soap I will not give up!

My past experiments have been rather haphazard, randomly trying anything. I have now decided to experiment with 1 recipe, just altering 1 simple thing each time, and will post pictures of my experiences.

Reading up on the Internet, I have found various tips (even conflicting!) but nothing concrete. Apparently, it is the alkaline value of the soap that makes it either purple or blue (some say you can even get red from Alkanet?!?) and if I understand correctly, the more alkaline the more purple, the more acidy the more blue.

So, how do we make soap more alkaline? Tips welcome!!!

Some of the advice I have found on line is that you can alter the Alkanet colour result in a soap by:
- Superfatting the soap more
- Changing water quantities in the soap
- Using different oils

I am prepared to experiment with these tips and post my results.

This first soap is a no-palm recipe with lots of Shea butter, superfatted at 8%.

The colour result is odd. At first I thought it was blue, then I thought it was gray, then I thought it looked purply... Maybe it’s a gray-blue purple? Or a blue-purple gray? Rather non-descript and non-exciting. I do not look at it and think – Wow! I gotta try that soap!! I would say it is interesting looking but not enticing.

It has been difficult getting a decent picture since my daughter took the good camera to Canada with her for the summer and I am working with a digital point-and-shoot... after 40 or so blurred pictures this morning, I finally found the close up mode!

Hopefully tomorrow I can post pictures of the next experiment.

Happy Weekend & Happy Soaping!!