Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Green Soap 9 - Nettle 5

Okay okay... this is really going to be the last green experiment for a while. The liquid in this soap is about 70% Nettle tea-mulch and about 30% goat milk, mixed together and frozen before adding lye. Really like this colour as well. I wanted a distinctly different colour than the nettle shampoo bar and I wanted goat milk for the skin benefits. This is a healing bar for sensitive or problematic skin, which I believe will be good for eczema. I have some friends and family who will do the testing for me.

Word of warning - Nettle STINKS. I mean the nettle mulch smells real bad. Am I just imagining it or did some of the stench sneak through into the soap? There is just a hint of something odd in the scent in both of these soaps... I think adding strong EOs like rosemary and mint SHOULD mask it?

Next experiment: Within the next few weeks, I will be beginning experimenting with orange colour in soaps. Heidi from Tiny Happy Bubbles and Ambra at Nakin may also be orange experimenting at the same time so we can pool ideas! Join in if you wish to experiment with us!!


Monday, 27 September 2010

Green Soap 8 - Nettle 4

I know I said that I was taking a break from green for a while... but after the awesome tip from Cocobong, I just couldn't resist carrying out another experiment and OH MY GOD. I am in love with the green in this shampoo bar. Thank you for the tip! When I made the stong nettle tea this time, I blended up the infused leaves with my hand mixer directly into the tea and used this to make the lye solution.

Can't wait to try it out on my hair!

Next experiment: Part blended/mulched nettle tea and part goat milk.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Green Soap 7 – Nettle 3

My third attempt at Nettle did not produce green at all, but rather a darker version of Nettle 1. So for now, my conclusion with Nettle is that substituting the liquid for Nettle Tea, no matter how strong, does not produce green. Even if it does not produce green, it will most likely add some of the nettle qualities to the soap/ shampoo bar. The green must have come from the mulch, as advised by Cocobong.

Left - Nettle 1 (made with Nettle tea, steeped for 1 day)
Middle - Nettle 3 (made with stronger Nettle tea, steeped for 4 days)
Right - Nettle 2 (made with Nettle tea and nettle mulch at trace)

I will try infusing nettle leaves in oil for a month or so. I will also do some more experimenting with nettle mulch... maybe adding to the lye mix? I had previously added it at trace. As one of the Nettle bars I am now aiming for is a shampoo bar, I want to make sure that there are no bits to be left in my hair...

Anyway, for the moment, I am taking a rest from green experimenting. I may come back to it in a month or so, when my infused oils are ready.

Conclusions so far:
- Nettle mulch added at trace produces a nice green (with spots/bits). Nettle tea alone does not add green colour to soap.
- Spirulina added at trace produces a nice green although apparently it will fade entirely with time
- Green tea is a powerful and lasting soap colourant. However, substituting the liquid for Green tea produces brown, not green
- Green Clay - I have previously experimented with Green Clay and really like the green it produces

Experiments yet to try:
- Comfrey
- Parsley
- Green Tea infused oil
- Nettle infused oil

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Other Natural Skincare Creations

Since I began this adventure in soap making about a year ago, I have been dabbling with various other natural skin-care products such as creams, lip balms, deodorants, solid perfumes, masks, exfoliating scubs, lotion bars, laundry soap... Some of the experiments are better than others... my favourite part is trying them out! Some of them have even been good enough to repeat and add to my Great Recipes repetoire...

Lotion Bars - I love the whole idea of lotion bars, as they moisturize the skin but without having to use water (preserving problem...) and have just begun experimenting with them. The white ones are with white beeswax pellets and the yellowy-orangy ones contain natural, local beeswax. I still find they are slightly too soft, especially the ones with natural beeswax. They melt/mush slightly in my hand as I rub on, so I think I need to find some packaging solution like a deoderant push up tube? And also continue to experiment until they are the perfect balance of hardness to handle and softeness to rub off on my skin!

Deodorant Cream - My mum and I have always searched for good natural deodorant, and I have tried all types, never finding one that actually worked well on me. Mum is very natural and has always believed that commercial deodorant could be a major contributor to breast cancer. When I told her I was experimenting with natural deodorant, she was excited! This is my first attempt. It is a deoderant cream, scented with Essential Oils of Orange and Ylang Ylang. It has corstarch and baking soda. I have been using this Deoderant now since July, throughout the hot and humid Spanish summer and it works! It does not stop sweating, but seems to absorb somewhat. It certainly does mask the smell. I can also apply directly after shaving and it doesn't sting at all. The only downfall is that my shirts may be getting slight oil stains under the arms... I will have to improve on this in my next experiment! I may make it harder (more beeswax) so that it can be like a deoderant bar!

Lip Balms, Creams & Other stuff - I really like my lip balms. My first experiments were too hard, then I have one minty one that is too soft for me but my daughter loves it as it leaves her lips with that glossy-wet look. My favourite is my orange-cinnamon lip balm with honey. As for my experimenting with creams, I still do not understand very well the whole array of emulsifyers that are out there and what to use. My most successful ones use Beeswax and Borax as an emulsifyer and whenever I make one, I cannot keep them around for long... my friends LOVE them. They are VERY moisturising (nice way to say greasy?). I understand that there may be issues with Borax so ideally I would like to find another emulsifyer that I can work with, and that maybe can produce less greasy creams? I do not want to use preservatives. Suggestions welcome.

Laundry Soap - I attempted a laundry soap for the very first time the other day. I have been hearing about them for a while, since in this area, a lot of older ladies still make their own laundry soap from left over oil. When I tell the locals that I am making soap, their first reaction is usually to assume that I mean laundry soap and they often tell me about the soap their grandmother makes. So this recipe I got from Inma at Atenea, a fellow soaper who lives less than an hour away, when we met recently. I think once it has cured, I am supposed to grate it into a powder. This one contains sea salt (for our super hard water) and sodium percarbonate (powdered hydrogen peroxide I believe) for whitening. I have also heard of including baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) which I will try in another experiment and Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate), which I cannot find in this area. I have to wait a month now before trying this. The essential oils scent has not come through...

Mask - I have made several masks but this one has been the best so far. I just add liquid when I am going to use it. It is a combination of Green Clay and other natural skin-loving ingredients. I use 1 part powder, 1 part liquid and the liquid can be anything such as water, aloe vera gel, honey, floral water, herbal tea, egg white, yoghurt, glycerine etc...

Solid Perfume - This is my only experiment with solid perfume and it has not turned out that great. It is so hard that I have to dig my nails into it to get any and also there is not enough scent. I will try again at some point with less beeswax and more Essential Oils.

Scrubs - I have attempted several scrubs but here is my favourite so far... and it was not actually meant to be a scrub! I have been trying to create a nice soothing and healing herbal salve for my friend who has cracked feet/heels. But this salve didn't turn out, as it was too soft & mushy. So many of these natural skin-care products require the perfect balance of oils and beeswax! It was sitting around staring at me for a while and I decided to turn it into a scrub, by adding sugar! I have really been wanting to create a great non-emulsified sugar scrub. This one is super but again, as with my creams, EXTREMELY moisturizing. My legs look sleek & oily when I come out of the shower, but it eventually sinks in. As I am PASSIONATE about scrubs, I will be trying out some others, with salt, sand, coffee etc. Any suggestions for making it less greasy?

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the summary of my natural product experiments up to date... does it ever end? I have yet to try liquid shampoo, conditioner, dishwashing detergent and other cleaning products... and so many more! All with the aim of minimizing chemicals we use on our skin, our body and in the household... and of course sharing them with others!

Any suggestions for improvements or new ideas for anything are VERY welcome.

Happy Soaping and Happy Experimenting!


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Green Soap 6 - Green Tea 2

Aiming for green but getting brown... Well, it is an interesting brown with an unusual top! The top has turned a fabulous olive green which reminds me of Green Clay colour. One thing I have deduced for certain is that Green Tea adds POWERFUL natural colour to soaps, which doesn't fade much. I am currently infusing green tea leaves in Olive Oil and also in Castor Oil. I will leave these for about a month and try another experiment.

Scent - I must mention that I swayed from my usual Vanilla Mint scent in my Green Tea soaps and tried something new. I have had Petitgrain Essential Oil sitting around for a couple of months without trying it. I smelled it from the bottle and didn't like it AT ALL! They say it is a cheaper version of Neroli? I LOVE Neroli/ Orange Blossom Essential Oil but can't really afford it right now... so maybe, just maybe, the not-so-nice-smelling Petitgrain will come out nice in a soap? It didn't. It smells like weeds, bad ones.

Next Experiment: Nettle Rosemary Shampoo (using stronger nettle tea)

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Green Soap 5 - Green Tea 1

What an interesting brown I got with this soap, when I first took it out of the mould! Aiming for green... but I like this brown. The liquid in this soap is mostly stong Green Tea (steeped for 2 days) with a little goat milk at trace. I also used Olive & Castor Oils infused with Green Tea. I think the little white swirls/streaks on the top are the result of soap left unmixed at the bottom which gets scooped/ poured on top. This leads me to believe that the Essential Oils I added at trace also affected the colour. The strange thing about this soap is that it is OOOZING oils. All I did to the recipe was attempt to lower the coconut oil slightly and increase the liquid quantity slightly. Of course I adjusted the lye accordinly. I think my non-precision scale might have something to do with it. As I am working with such small quantities in my experimenting, even 2 grams can make a difference.
Here is another photo taken 24 hours later of the same soap... the initial pretty brown is gone and it has turned into a dark chocolate brown! Not bad but not the initial warm & intriguing brown...

Another strange thing - this time I used loose green tea leaves steeped in water. In the past, when I have used green tea before, I used green tea bags in a package bought from the local supermarket. It produced a completely different colour!

I must admit that I steeped it longer than usual this time.

Although I love experimenting, I do not want to get tired of 1 experiment as I did with Alkanet, so I may do a couple more Green Experiments, then put it on hold for a while and possibly switch colours.

Next experiment: Half water, half green tea

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Green Soap 4 - Nettle 2

My second attempt at Nettle is much nicer. I really like this green, similar to the Spiriluna but less olive. The only liquid in this is strong Nettle tea. I am not sure if I like the speckles which come from the mulch. For the mulch, I blended up the wet, leftover tea with my hand mixer and added some at trace. I will do a little more experimenting with nettle I think, to see if I like it with or without mulch. I may steep the tea for longer. But then, I think I will have a keeper.

Next experiment: Green Tea

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Green Soap 3 – Nettle 1

This is my first experience in working with Nettle. I have heard from various sources that it can produce a nice green but more importantly, it adds qualities to the soap that help alleviate both eczema and psoriasis! My first try has not produced any shade of green, well maybe a hint... It is more like cream with some interesting streaks. The liquid in this soap is roughly 70% strong nettle tea (steeped for 24 hours) and 30% fresh Aloe Vera gel.

The Nettle was quite simple yet stinky to work with. I used Essential Oils that are recommended to alleviate skin problems like eczema.

Next experiment: More Nettle tea and nettle mulch.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Green Soap 2

The green attempt in this soap is using Spirulina. I have been advised by several people that that Spirulina green in soaps is fleeting but I wanted to give it a try anyway. This is the same soap as the Aloe Vera soap, except I changed the liquid to half goat milk and half Aloe Vera and adding ¼ teaspoon of Spirulina powder at trace. I have 220gr of oils in my experimental batches – is that roughly 1/2 pound? Please correct me if I am wrong.

The spirulina was quite simple to use and it has produced a nice green for now. I will keep my eye on this soap and maybe post pictures in 1 month to see how the green has held.

The only strange thing is the speckles... I think they may be unsaponified lye? I added the lye to frozen goat milk as I often do, but for some reason the lye got into clumps and just wouldn’t melt the milk. I kept moving it around and around until it eventually started to melt the goat milk. Then I added more lye and continued mixing. It just felt strange. Like I should have waited for the goat milk to unfreeze more first. Then although the mixture never got really hot, it turned bright orange. It has only turned bright orange for me in the past if the temperature of the lye/goat milk mix gets really hot. When I poured it into the oils, there were little white lumps in it. Not curdled milk but harder. Maybe unsaponified lye, for whatever reason.

Anyway, back to green. For a first attempt with Spirulina, it is nice, so far.

Next experiment: The liquid will be half strong Nettle tea and half Aloe Vera.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Going for Green

I haven’t been doing much colour experimenting lately and when The Soap Sister reminded me recently how much she missed my suspenseful colour experiments, I decided to take on GREEN. I have a green tea soap & green clay facial soap with mild colours I am pleased with, but I want to carry the experimenting further.

Aloe Vera Soap

The soap in this photo has no added colour.

I have always wanted to create an ALOE VERA bar instead of one of my bars with a little Aloe Vera in it. So, the only liquid in this soap is Aloe Vera, half mixed with the lye and the other half at trace. I look forward to trying it and seeing if there is any difference from bars with just a little Aloe Vera added.

The Aloe Vera comes from my garden. I have been told by people from the area that know Aloe Vera well that for the plant to have any real value for the skin, it needs to be at least 3 years old, maybe 5. At some point, the plant begins to shoot tall stalks in the springtime with flowers on them. This is apparently when they are ready to be used for skincare. Only two of my plants sprout stalks with flowers. Those are the plants I use for my experiments. When I need larger quantities, one of the gardeners on the golf course where I work gives me lots.

To use, I cut off one of the oldest arms from the bottom, empty the gel (stinky, gloopy and sticky...) and blend the gel with my hand mixer so that it becomes uniform and not chunky. It froths up like a white mousse. I don't like to store it for long, but I will keep the excess "mousse" in the frige for a few days until I can use in another soap. I also like to use the excess in facial masks with green clay. The whole family has had a little bit of facial pampering this weekend!

Next Experiment – Half Goat Milk, Half Aloe Vera. Adding Spirulina Powder...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Essential Oil Brainstorm Summary

I have been meaning to post a summary of our brainstorm on Essential Oil anchors... so here are the ideas we came up with to help Essential Oil scents stay in soap. If anyone wishes to add anything, we can continue to grow the list! Or if anyone experiments with any of the suggestions, please post your findings!

- for a Lemon scent, an Essential Oil combination works well, such as lemon, lemongrass, may chang, litsea cubeba
- Patchouli & Geranium stay well in soaps
- Adding Cornstarch (1Tblsp per pound) may help. Add to some oil, mix well, add the EO, then add this mixture to the bulk of your oils before the lye goes in. The cornstarch helps anchor the citrus but also adds a silky feel to the soap. (NOTE - I have tried one experiment with this... and it has not worked that well for me, as it added a strange scent to the soap - similar to nail filings? I may have to try again.) One commented suggested that Cornstarch had helped with Grapefruit EO. I have not tried this yet.
- Adding clay helps. (Note - I have tried this and I must say that my clay soaps do seem to hold their scent quite well. I actually add the clay to the EOs and let them sit while I am preparing the rest of the soap. Then I add the EO/clay mix.)
- Litsea Cubeba seems to help hold Sweet Orange
- Benzoin is supposed to be a good EO anchor (Note - I have tried using Benzoin and I think the product I used wasn't very good because the soap kept seizing up on me. So, I would need to try Benzoin again but purchase from a different supplier.)
- Essential Oil scents will fade while Fragrance Oil scents stay, but if it is the the therapeutic quality you wish to preserve, that stays even when the scent fades.
- Adding a little Glycerine to the EOs might help anchor the scent
- Freezing soaps, then letting them cure for longer (months) might help the Essential Oil scents stay
- Adding Patchouli EO helps Lavender EO stick
- Not only clay or cornflour but apparently, ground oatmeal can help as well. Possibly premixing any sort of flour or ground herbs is supposed to help
- Orris Root is suppose to be a great fixative (a level teaspoon to each 1/2 kilo of soap)

Does anyone have a good anchor for Vanilla EO?
Are there any other suggestions for Essential Oil fixatives?

Hope this summary helps.

Happy soaping!

xo Jen