Monday, 30 May 2011

New Shampoo Bar

Shampoo Bars seem to be the thing lately, so many people blogging about them!

I will gladly join in since I LOOOOOOOVE Shampoo bars. As I have previously posted about, they didn't always work for me. But I have developed a base recipe that I love now. This time, using my base shampoo recipe, I experimented with something new.

This latest shampoo creation has Green Clay, Aloe Vera, Nettle Tea, Nettle Infused Olive Oil and Rosemary and Basil Essential Oils.

I also decided to play with shape a little. For my regular soaps, I have a shape and size that I love. But with the shampoo bars, I felt like I wanted something a little more hearty. So I tried cutting them more squarish, chunkier than my regular bars. Here one is on my hand.

I am really liking this one already. How am I ever going to wait 4 weeks to be able to try it on my hair??!!??

Friday, 27 May 2011

My Very First Soap - EUREKA

The very first soap I made & first soap photo I ever took

I cuddled under the duvet one Sunday night, and read till the wee hours of the morning even though I had to be up for work early the next day… I was reading a non-twilight Susan Meyer book – The Host.

Earlier that day I had accompanied my husband on his weekly golf foray…. I can’t say it was a golf game because at that point, he was greener than green and would spend more time swearing at lost balls than actually hitting them… (since then he has learned a lot and plays much better now!) I don’t play, I just go with him sometimes, support him, take photos etc. I lasted about an hour or 2 with him that morning, left him there with his golf buddy and came home to my plants. My daughter must have slept over at a friends’ because she wasn’t there that day although I can’t remember exactly why.

I had bought some new pots and soil and was very eager to get to work on my Aloe Vera plants. They were multiplying at quite a rate. There I was pulling out the little off-shoots and replanting them… when I realized just how many plants I had! I had been given 1 Aloe Vera plant as a gift a couple of years earlier and here I was with about 20 plants now! What was I going to do with them all?

My very first soap packaging of that very first soap

I remember fantasizing about enjoying a profession where I could use them… and getting out of the job that I didn’t love. What could I do? Start a proper Aloe Vera farm? Learn how to make Aloe Vera Gel? Cream? Juice? Could we drink this stuff? At that point in my life, I fantasized a lot about jobs I would enjoy…

So there I was, late that night, cuddled under the covers. I had just turned off the lights and was drifting off to sleep when WHAM. EUREKA. SOAP! That’s it. I want to make soap!!!! I sat bolt upright in bed, turned on the bedside lamp and grabbed my book. I went back over the passage where the characters had to invent some sort of soap to wash themselves inside the underground hide-out where they were living. It was pretty basic, but the idea of it sparked something in me. Soap – THAT’S IT. What the heck is soap made of? I am going to make it!!! Maybe I could even use my Aloe Vera!!

I don’t think I got much sleep that night. I was too excited. I went downstairs before my husband, my daughter and the sun got up and got on the internet. I looked up soap making and at a quick glance realized that YES, I could make this at home! I got into Amazon and read a ton of reviews on soap making books before deciding on “The Soapmakers Companion”, by Susan Miller Cavitch. I was so excited about starting that I paid more for the super-duper-speedy shipping than I did for the book!

My very first market, selling my soap

I received the book within a couple of days, read it from cover to cover and began the ingredient hunt. I had lots of Olive Oil locally, found Lye easily, had a couple of cake moulds and found some “Essences” for scent which I naively thought were purely natural, simply because I got them at the health food store. Coconut oil was going to be a challenge… So I began without it.

My very first soap was a one-oil pure Castille soap with Vanilla “essence”. I loved it. It took AGES to trace. I wasn’t even sure what trace was at that point. Just started getting thicker and looking like pudding. My stick blender actually over-heated a couple of times and I had to carry on mixing by hand while it cooled down.

I don’t know how I waited the 24 hours before uncovering the mould. My daughter, my husband and I hovered over as I pulled the blanket off. And oooooooohhhhhh…. Ahhhhhh…. Wow. We lifted it out of the mould. Cutting it was pure heaven. I had done it!

Making one of the early soaps

Waiting the month for it to cure was unbearable. There we were again one month later hovering around the tap washing and washing with that first bar of soap…. No suds really, just soft goo…. Slightly disappointing but wonderful all the same. We lined up for the shower. My husband kept telling me how amazing he thought it was.

It brings tears to my eyes right now as I remember back to my family’s support in those early days. Soap stuff all over the kitchen. Soaps drying all over the house. Gooey sudless soap. Money being spent on moulds, materials, equipment – a money pit. Forgetting to make dinner…. Forgetting to eat… lost a ton of weight. Just total obsession.

Eventually my recipes got better and more and more uniquely mine. With a lot of experimenting. I began to make the personal decisions toward my soap identity. All this artificial colour and glitter and fragrance that I saw other soapers using was cool but not where I wanted to go. I also decided to try to focus on as many local ingredients as possible. Why use green tea and dead sea salt if I had aloe vera and Mediterranean sea salt on my doorstep!?

Now, I no longer work in that job I didn’t enjoy. I make soap almost every day. I am doing what I love. Don’t have the cash I used to have but somehow we are fine without it. Supplementing with some English classes. And business is growing. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have found my passion… !!

Another early soap making photo

I would love to hear your first-time soap-making stories. How did you discover soap-making? Why did you start? What was your very first bar like??????

Happy Soaping everone. Today is my 41st birthday and I am feeling great!


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sharing some photos

Some recent pictures for you...

My coffee soap

I love the difference a few hours makes. The soap in the forefront had just been cut and the soap in the back had been cut a few hours before. Too bad it couldn't stay the forefront brown... oh well.

I know I have asked before... but what essential oils or essential oil blends do you like in a Coffee soap? I am not so sure about the pure Coffee scent any more(C02 oil)...

My Aloe Vera soap

My Aloe Vera soap goes fast. I can't keep it in stock! I continue to tweek with each new batch though, as I would like a more unique look. In this latest batch, I added some of the Aloe Vera plant peels as well.

Some of my Spa products

I have been collaborating with a local Spa, providing them with unique products to use in their therapy sessions and massage, like massage oils, masks, body scrubs. They will be offering my products to the public soon. We are collaborating on a label for them. Tomorrow I am givng their staff a training session.

I decided right from the beginning that if other people were to be promoting my products, I wanted to make sure that they were well trained. I would much rather have 2 people promoting my products who have personally tried each one, and know ALL about them than 200 people who I don't even know have tried them.

I am loving the weather here lately. Spring is my favourite time of the year.

Happy soaping everone!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Feeling like an Artist!!

Here are some photos of my attempt at the Spoon Swirl that my last post mentioned using Deep Russet Mica given to me as a gift by Jamie at Sahara Supplies. Thank you Jamie, for the opportunity to experiment with something new!

I had a ball making this soap! I felt like a true artist.... I envisioned myself with a Wall of Soap, flinging different coloured soap at it... what a fantasy! I was laughing while flinging into the mould and didn't want it to end!

Although I don't normally use non-natural ingredients in my soaps, I enjoyed experimenting with Mica. As I understand Micas and Oxides are not really natural colourants. As reported by Sirona Springs "They are chemically the same as the pigments that were once extracted from the Earth (minerals, rocks and such), but manufactured in a laboratory. In a way, they are better than using natural pigments because those can be contaminated with heavy metals (mercury, lead, etc). But still not natural. Mica is a colorless mineral that breaks off into flakes that are great at reflecting light, making them shiny. Colors (pigments or dyes usually) are then attached to them. So while the mica itself may be natural, the attached color is not. They are used not only in soap, but also mineral makeup." So, although I have had fun experimenting with Mica, I will leave it at that.

I think I may have overdone it with the colouring because even when cutting, the knife got coloured and the paper that wiped the knife.... I will report back on the colour of the lather once the curing period is finished.

I also think that when I experiment with this spoon swirl tecnique again, I will bring it to a heavier trace. The flinging at the bottom was a little too liquidy. Then by the time I got to the top it was much better.

As for scent, as this was an experiment, I tried something new! How about all of those little EO bottles hanging around my aroma drawer? I wanted to use some up. Also, I have been wanting to use up my Sandalwood EO for a while. I don't feel great about using Sandalwood (as I understand the trees are almost endangered!!) although I ADORE the scent... but I had purchased it a while ago and there it was staring at me from my aroma drawer, begging to be used up... So, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang. The scent is intriguing... pick up the soap again and again, sniffing to see if I really like it... I would say sensual, intriguing, dark, and smoky (not cigarette smoky but camp-fire smoky). I think the smokiness of the vetiver overtook the blend a little. I have to remember how STRONG vetiver is and use less next time. Like Geranium for me, a little Vetivert goes a LONG way.

So, there is my Deep Russet Mica, spoon swirl experiment! I have one more Mica colour to experiment with. Not sure what I will do with that one...

Happy Soaping everyone!