Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ratanjot & Alkanet...?

I have a suspicion that these are the same. It not only looks the same, but it feels and smells the same... It even reacts the same in oils (turns the oils a beautiful red) and as I am just beginning to experiment, I believe it reacts similarly in soaps as well! Could anyone tell me if I am right?

I post two pictures:

Ratanjot experiment 1 – the liquid is half goat milk, half water. As with all my goat milk alkanet experiments, I couldn’t get either blue or purple, just grey. At least this grey is a nice grey.

Ratanjot experiment 2 – the liquid is all water and the recipe is loaded with Shea Butter. Strangely, even without goat milk, I got another bluey grey! And this grey is even uglier without the goat milk!

Had a very important thought as I was unveiling Ratanjot experiment 2. What if all these soupy gray colours I have been getting with both Alkanet and Ratanjot are directly related to the type and quantity of OLIVE OIL I am using? My extra virgin local olive oil is very dark, and greeny... What if I just SKIP the olive oil all together and substitute entirely with a totally clear oil?? Or what if I were to add a little titanium dioxide in? Wow!!! Two new experiments to try with my AlkRaj!!! I have never tried titanium dioxide yet, I know I know... it is natural but I imagine the name sounds scary on a label for people who do not know what it is.

By the way, the reason I am experimenting with Ratanjot is because I am still looking for that perfect purple. I did get pretty close with Alkanet, but still want to experiment for even better purples.

I would be interested if anyone can contribute any information about Ratanjot.

Happy soaping everyone!


Friday, 29 October 2010

Long Time Friends & Revisiting Green Soaps

I haven't blogged as much lately as lots has been happening! Had a wonderful visit recently from some long-time friends (not allowed to say "old" friends...) from Canada - Nancy & Heather. In the photo Nancy is on the left, I am in the middle and Heather on the right. I have known them for 20 years. We don't see a lot of each other any more but the connection is as strong as ever. I met Nancy first, when we both worked in a resort town in the Muskokas in Ontario during university summers... she was so giving even then that when I would get back to the cottage after a long waitressing shift, she would massage my feet for me. She introduced me to her sister, Heather and I have received a wonderful hand-made Christmas card every year since from her. They are both still as giving as ever or more... as they came all the way to Garrucha, Spain from the West Coast of Canada to spend some time with me, laden with gifts for my family and I! All those simple little things that we miss from Canada - cinnamon gum, peanut butter, Kraft Dinner, Chipit chocolate chips, Tylenol... then CDs, English books & soap making supplies! We had a wonderful 2 weeks visiting the area, beaches, Malaga, Mojacar, Nerja, Granada, Vera, Cabo de Gata...chatting, dinners at home and out, wonderful red wines. They came at a great moment for me too... a moment of change, transition and blossoming in my life as I end a challenging phase in my life and begin a new one - full of motivation & inspiration! Thank you, you wonderful long-time friends!!

Now - back to soap.... I have waited patiently to begin testing out my green experimental soaps. I LOVE the Aloe Vera (not-so-green) one, that has exclusively Aloe Vera as the liquid! I love everything about it - the texture, the suds and the scent... I am addicted. The second one I have been trying out, of the green soaps, is the one I made with Spirulina and I post a picture here to show you how much it has faded in 6 weeks. First I post the soap photo taken today of the soap I have been using in the shower

and I re-post the photo from 6 weeks ago.

As you can see, not all of the green has faded. I actually really like the green that is left. It is greener that you see in the photo, a much lighter green than 6 weeks ago, but bright somehow. Very nice. A nice soap, but not as fabulous as the Aloe Vera one. The Nettle soaps have held their colour very well.

One more thing - October 24th was the 1 year anniversary from when I made my very first soap! Happy 1st Soapiversary to me!!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

New Natural Colours

I have some old friends visiting from Canada this week and they brought me some fabulous supplies and new Natural Colours!

As you can see from the photo - Stevia Powder for green... Madder Root Powder, which I have never tried yet, Orris Root Powder for fixing scents, and something called Ratanjot for purple? So if any of you have any experience with these four that I mention, please let me know so I can begin experimenting!!

Happy Soap Making!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Blue – Indigo

I received a gift the other day of some Indigo colouring labelled “Fine Egyptian Indigo – Natural". THANK YOU (you know who you are)!

Wow! Finally maybe I would be able to make my Sea Salt soap blue!

The Indigo colouring doesn’t look natural. It is a vibrant royal blue powder. I will research how “natural” this is. I have also heard that indigo may stain later and the suds turn blue... will try it out when the soaps are ready. In the meantime, I have really enjoyed doing 3 Sea Salt soap experiments.

Sea Salt 1
As I wasn’t sure when to add the indigo, I added it with the sea salt at the end, probably too late as it produced some little blue speckles. But I also got a very nice faint blue. There is a greenish tinge that has not come through in the photo well, which I think may be due to the EO blend being slightly yellow or maybe because of the Olive Oil I am using.

Sea Salt 2
This time, there is no Olive Oil, only clear liquid oils. I added the indigo to the heated oils and stirred well before mixing with the lye solution. When I was bringing it to trace, the mixture was a beautiful sky blue and I was sooooooo disappointed when I added the Eos and it went ugly greeny grey (a colour I know all too well...!). Again the Eos were even more yellow this time. But the soap turned out a nice greeny blue colour. I don't think the green comes out in this photo either.

Sea Salt 3
I did everything the same as for Sea Salt 2 except the EO blend was clearer. Just slightly off clear. Here is the result. I really like this blue. And the scent is really intriguing. Not sure if it reminds me of the sea... but I love it all the same. Can't WAIT to shower with this soap!!

Happy soaping!!


Monday, 11 October 2010

Packaging (& Tweaking...)

Woah! What a few days... creating new packaging, in other words - tweaking. Becky,, you think you got it bad? Take a look at my latest tweaking “pile”.

I have been going over and over new packaging for weeks until I have finally found something I like... When I start narrowing in on something I like, I can’t stop... I can work into the wee hours of the morning, until my eyes are too tired to go on...

The truth is, I enjoy the packaging part of it. I think I mentioned in my very first blog post that I enjoy just about everything to do with soap making... from thinking up new soaps... to hunting down ingredients... to inventing names, slogans, marketing ideas... waiting for a materials order to arrive... experimenting with scents, colour and new ingredients... the actual mixing of the soaps... waiting out the 24 hours suspense period... unveiling... cutting... trying out my soaps... blogging about them... looking at other soaps... taking photos of my soaps... searching for moulds... even lining the moulds & washing up... talking about soaps... showing off and selling soaps... I am sure I have missed a lot of stuff that I adore about soap making, but all in all, for now - I LOVE SOAP MAKING!!

Here is my latest packaging that I am pleased with for now.

I used to get excited about going out on Friday night... now I get excited about font colour? An Essential Oil scent blend? Is there something wrong with me?

My first packaging was colourful...

Or the minimalist version for the soaps that were pretty and I wanted more of the soap to be visible.

Actually my new packaging is quite similar, I just prefer the paper band to go around the bottom. I feel the bottoms stay cleaner that way.

Also, the location of the ribbon and bow on my first packaging kept causing me problems. The ribbon was always slipping off, so it didn’t look professional. It was a hastle.

Then I moved onto something a little more playful & simple, with no ribbon, which cut down a little on the packaging costs.

I have always felt that I wanted the soap visible so the purchaser could see and smell it. But recently, I had advice from someone who packages her soaps in round tins, who feels that sealing them is very important to keep the smell in?

Dilemma... to seal or not to seal... My latest packaging has both ends open.

I have tried wrapping some soaps completely and will wait a few months to see if the scent has held better or if there are any other effects of being wrapped entirely.

I also invented a box... I kind of like the box idea. I punched a little sun in the corner so that you can see and smell the soap. Hole or no hole? To seal or not to seal?

Love to hear your thoughts on my different packaging... and if you think soaps should be sealed or not... and anything else you may wish to contribute!!


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Guessing Game - Secret Revealed...

Thanks to all those who played the guessing game and contributed some seriously creative responses!! Here is what I was trying to make. My salt soaps. I made them again the following day and they came out fine.

Tiggy from Future Primitive had the closest guess as to what actually happened, as my salt soaps are made by Cold Process, but then put in the oven for a bit, so CPOP. Normally, I pre-heat the oven and then TURN IT OFF when I put the salt soap in the oven. As you can imagine, I didn’t turn it off this time (too busy skyping with mum...) and the soap cooked, overflowed and turned into this weird, dough-looking mess.

Soap volcano was guessed by many of you and was a very close guess. Overheating, or quick gelling, were close guesses as well. However, Tiggy was the closest and wins one of my salt soaps.

Now as for the most creative response... I loved several... Summary:
• Wasps nest
• Rising bread dough gone wild
• Traditional Spanish bread
• Hubby’s homebrew
• Artfully folded towel serving as a prop for the next photo session of your magnificent soaps, and you chose a white towel to show us the INCREDIBLE orange shade you achieved by using coral dust that blew past your casa, settling on your desk as you were brooding over the next soapy recipe
• Soap that just couldn't contain its own excitement to be seen! Poor soapy was so excited it had to explode to get attention
• It's a baby chick, newly hatched, poking it's way out of the cotton wool insulation
• The soap gnomey's snuck into your room and tossed some marshmallows into your soap pot

I really loved all of these, probably laughed hardest at Hubby’s homebrew... loved the idea of coral dust natural colourant... but the MOST creative for me was the Soap Gnomey with marshmallows from Courtney at Courtney also wins one of my salt soaps.

So, thanks again for the contributions, Tiggy, Courtney, please email me your addresses to so that I can send you each a soap!

Interesting note on the actual soap that turned out well the following day when I did remember to TURN OFF THE OVEN... As you can see in the photo, the colour is an odd light honey colour. I have never got anything remotely close to this in a salt soap before. It usually turns white white white. I added NO colour. Could it be the Extra Virgen Olive Oil instead of just the regular olive oil? There’s me and my colour obsession...

Happy weekend!


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Guessing Game!

Open invitation to GUESS WHAT THE HECK THIS IS!!!! Well, if you already know what it is, please guess what happened....

There will be a prize for the person who guesses closest and also for the person who has the most creative guess.

Good luck!


Monday, 4 October 2010

Orange Experiment 3

This orange colour comes from adding a little Turmeric to the lye solution, and also at trace. I like it! Even more wonderful than this finished soap colour was the beautiful pumpkin orange soap mixture as it came to trace... now that colour was divine. I should have snapped a photo... If only it had have held in the soap. I also added poppyseeds for an Orange Poppyseed soap.

The truth is that I have really liked all three of the colours I have achieved with my orange experiments. I will use either experiment 2 (Annattto) or 3 (Turmeric) in my Seville Orange soap bar, or maybe a combination of both. I will decide once they have both cured and I have tried them. I want to make sure the colour holds nicely and that it doesn’t run in water.

When I first starting making soap (I have almost reached my 1-year soap-making anniversary!!!), I saw "soap-moulds" everywhere I went... then I settled into my favourite IKEA Molger log moulds and juice cartons just became juice cartons again. I don't know what got into me but the milk carton became a soap mould yesterday... you may notice the different soap shape of these soaps.

I think I am stopping for now with orange, at least until I get my 10-fold Orange Essential Oil order.

Will someone else try carrots?

Happy soaping!


Friday, 1 October 2010

2 Orange Soaps

I have done two orange experiments recently, and both have come out nicely.

Orange Experiment 1 has no added colour in it, but it does have grated fresh orange peels, freshly squeezed orange juice and both Sweet and Bitter Orange essential oils. I think the essential oils are what colour this soap a nice light orange... We will see if it lasts.

The second one is much oranger. Basically the same soap, superfatted slightly higher but with a little Annatto powder added to the lye solution and also at trace. You can see slight specs of the powder in the soap. The bigger spots that you can see in the first soap were the orange peels. This time I blended them up more.

Now that I am really liking the look of my Seville Orange soap... I need to find an orange essential oil blend that STICKS and ENTICES. This one is not bad, but slightly sweet from the Geranium... I can't wait to try out the 10-fold Orange Essential Oil I recently ordered!

Next experiment: Turmeric