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Talking Soap.

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to do a soap demonstration at the Claybank Master Gardeners Club meeting.

By the way, a big thank you for inviting us! We had such a wonderful time!!

We (Mom and I) had so much fun talking soap and goats and all of the benefits you get when you combine them (soap and goat milk, that is 😉 ). And of course, making soap. 

Cotton Pickin’, one of my favorites to make because of the pretty blue color.

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I think it turned out really well (find it listed in the shop in about two more weeks).

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If you’d like to have us do a Soap Making Demonstration at your event or club meeting, feel free to visit the Contact Me page. 

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Lemongrass Lime Sugar Cube Scrub

This post contains affiliate links. 

I have two faults that almost anyone would agree with.

Number one: Being unwaveringly frugal. . .  or as my mother would say CHEAP. But is that really a fault? To me, it’s not. I just like making sure that I get the best deal possible. 

And number two: As my grandmother would say, never leaving well enough alone. I can’t help it, I like improving things. I like adding my own twist to recipes or updating old tried and true ones. And I don’t discriminate. I have no problem updating my own recipes at all. Everything can always be improved upon. 
For example, the recipe I posted a couple of years ago for Sugar Cube Scrubs

My old recipe was simple and basic:

1 part melt and pour soap

1 part liquid oil (example: olive, apricot kernel, avocado, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, etc oils)

3 parts granulated sugar

I’ve learned a little bit about scrub making in the past 2 years, and I wanted something packed with even more moisturizing ingredients. Enter the new recipe. . . .

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With mango butter (you could easily substitute shea or cocoa butters) for its wonderful ability to both moisturize and protect skin and safflower oil for its easy absorption, this is my new go-to recipe for making sugar cubes. 

Ingredients:

2.95 ounces melt and pour soap

1.1 oz olive oil

.4 oz safflower oil

2 vitamin E capsules**

.35 oz mango butter

7.5 oz granulated sugar

Colorant (about an 1/8 teaspoon of hydrated chromium oxide green powder mixed with just enough natural glycerin to make sure that all of the powder is incorporated)

Lime essential oil 1/4 tsp

Lemongrass essential oil 1/8 tsp

*The first 5 ingredients are measured by weight. 

**Just the cut or puncture the end of each capsule with scissors and squeeze out its contents to use.

Equipment I Use:
Microwave safe bowl

Whisk

Disposable Cup

Measuring Spoons

Digital Scale

Spoon

Silicon Mold similar to this one.

I start off by getting the colorant ready and mixing it with just a bit of vegetable glycerin until the powder is completely incorporated and there are no clumps. Most of the colorants that I use are natural or semi-natural, and most come from one of my favorite suppliers, TKBTrading.com. They have a huge selection of quality colorants. 

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Start off by weighing out the mango butter and melt and pour soap into a microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave in 30 second increments, making sure to check it after each time and to never leave it unattended until melted. 

Add in the liquid oils and whisk until completely incorporated. Add the essential oils and the colorant and whisk.

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Now, add in the granulated sugar and stir until it’s all completely incorporated. It will probably be fairly thick, so place back in the microwave and heat in 30 second increments until the mixture is thinner and a much more easily pourable consistency.

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 Remove from the microwave and whisk again to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Then spoon or pour into your mold. 

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 Wait about an hour or until the cubes are completely hardened before unmolding. 

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The best thing about making sugar cube scrubs is that if they don’t turn out exactly how you’d like, simply pop them in a microwave safe bowl and remelt them. 

To use: In the shower, smash a cube (you can use a whole cube or break one into pieces) in your hand. Rub all over dry or rough skin (they’re also great for heels that need a little exfoliating) avoiding any sensitive areas. Rinse off. 

Or put them in a pretty box with mini cupcake liners, add a ribbon, and ta-da! Perfect for a Mother’s Day gift. 

Don’t want to make your own? The Lemongrass Lime Sugar Cube Scrub is listed in the Etsy shop right now, along with Neapolitan, Lavender Mint, and Lemon Meringue Pie. Click here to visit the Scrub section of the shop. 
Lemongrass Lime Sugar Cube Scrub
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2.95 ounces melt and pour soap
  • 1.1 oz olive oil
  • .4 oz safflower oil
  • 2 vitamin E capsules
  • .35 oz mango butter
  • 7.5 oz granulated sugar
  • Colorant (about an ⅛ teaspoon of hydrated chromium oxide green powder mixed with just enough natural glycerin to make sure that all of the powder is incorporated)
  • Lime essential oil ¼ tsp
  • Lemongrass essential oil ⅛ tsp
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, weigh out the melt and pour soap and the mango butter. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, checking after each time and not leaving unattended, until melted.
  2. Whisk in the liquid oils. Then, add the colorant and essential oils, and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the sugar and combine.
  4. If the mixture is too thick, heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, checking after each time and not leaving it unattended.
  5. When the mixture is a thinner and pourable consistency, remove from the microwave (being careful in case the bowl is hot). Whisk again to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  6. Spoon or pour into the mold.
  7. Wait for about an hour before unmolding.
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Lavender Rosemary Shampoo Bars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Last year, I discovered something that I couldn’t imagine living without. Something that has become my secret weapon in the fight against that evilest of all evil. . . Bad Hair Days.

What is this thing that I’m raving about? Shampoo bars. Oh yes, they’ve become my end-all, be-all for having nicer looking hair than I’ve ever had.

So, since its been awhile since I last shared a soap making recipe with you, I thought I’d share the one for our Lavender Rosemary Shampoo Bars.

The addition of bentonite clay in this recipe makes this soap an excellent travel bar that can be used for hair, shaving, and all over.

Lavender Rosemary Shampoo with text

Ingredients

All measurements are by weight, not volume. 

9 oz castor oil
1 oz jojoba oil
2.6 oz avocado oil
11 oz olive oil
1 oz lavender essential oil
1 oz rosemary essential oil
17.7 oz coconut oil
16.7 oz palm oil
1 oz shea butter
5 vitamin E capsules
21.24 oz coconut milk, frozen til slightly slushy
8.5 oz sodium hydroxide (food grade lye)

*For the clays, you generally mix 1 teaspoon of clay with 1 tablespoon of distilled water. So, for the recipe above, you would need 3 tablespoons of water in all. I mix the sea and bentonite clays separately, then divide the soap mixture into three parts. Sea clay is added to one part, bentonite clay to the other, and the third remains a pure, white color. Then, they’re all swirled together for a very pretty design. 

** One of the best and least expensive suppliers (and the main I use) of soap making oils and lye is Essential Depot. Before checking out, be sure to visit their Facebook page and check for current promo codes to receive extra discounts.


Safety: If you’re new to cold process soap making, please stop! Make sure you know all of the ins and outs of working with lye. It is a caustic chemical that can and will burn your skin. Always wear gloves and goggles while making soap and dealing with lye, and always work in a well ventilated area. Never leave lye or raw soap unattended. Never use aluminum utensils or containers as lye reacts with it to create toxic fumes. Always use stainless steel or heat safe glass or plastic. There are lots of websites, Youtube videos, and books that can help you to learn the basics of cold process soap making.
1) Slowly and carefully add the lye to the slushy coconut milk (when making soap, you always add the lye to the water – or in this case, coconut milk). Stirring gently until the lye has completely melted. Set aside to cool.
2) Measure out the solid oils and butter (palm and coconut oil and shea butter). Melt those in a pot on top of the stove until they’re just melted and have turned to liquid. While the solid oils were melting, out the liquid oils (olive, castor, jojoba, avocado, and vitamin E oils. . .  tip: Use scissors to cut each vitamin E capsule, then squeeze the oil out disposing of the capsules). Once the solid oils have melted, remove them from the eye and set aside to cool. Add the liquid oils to them. At this point, I also go ahead and add the lavender and rosemary essential oils.
3) While the oils and lye solution are cooling, measure out the clays (I use disposable plastic cups to mix my colorants, clays, and other additives in). Combine the clays with the water (see the beginning of the Vine video below) and set aside.

4) Once the lye and oils have cooled to about 130F degrees or less, add the lye solution to the oils (always add the lye solution to your oils). Using a stick blender, mix until the soap reaches a thin trace.
5) At this point, I divide my soap into three batches in heat safe plastic containers. One batch will have the sea clay added to it, the other bentonite clay, and the other will have nothing extra added. Then, swirl the colors together and pour into your prepared mold (I use a 5lb wooden mold lined with a silicon liner from Brambleberry).
6) After 3-4 days, unmold and cut into bars. Allow 4-6 weeks curing time before using.
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Soap Pencil Lines.

I love trolling the net looking at pictures of hand crafted soaps. In fact, it’s become an extension of my soap obsession. But I guess it’s time well spent as I do use it for research for designing upcoming soaps. Or at least, that’s the story I’m going with 😉

 
One of the things I’ve noticed a lot of soapers doing is pencil lines. What is a pencil line? Notice in the pictures below, the dark line running through each bar. It’s such a simplistic and modern look, and while I don’t usually like simple (or modern), I love the look of pencil lines. I’ve done it three times, now, and each time has presented its own challenges. And while all three times, the soap hasn’t turned out exactly as I’d hoped, they’re still nice looking. And I’ve learned with soap making that the soaps that don’t turn out perfectly like I want them to are usually the first ones to sell out 😉

These are the most recent two soaps made this past weekend:

Japanese Cherry Blossom (the pink was colored with Cosmetic Fluorescent Strong Pink, the white with Titanium Dioxide, and the pencil line was made with Activated Charcoal).

Bay Rum (uncolored – this fragrance oil has a .3% vanilla content, so it should darken somewhat- and the pencil line was made with Black Walnut Hulls Powder).

Pencil lines are essentially a thin layer of powder (such as micas, activated charcoal, cocoa powder, ground coffee, etc) sandwiched between two layers of soap. To achieve this effect, you can use a tea infuser or a small mesh sifter (which is what I used).

Once the first layer of soap is poured into the mold, simply dust a small spoonful of your chosen powder on top of it. The fun part is that you can make the pencil line straight or jagged just by smoothing out the first layer soap or leaving it more texturized. After you’ve added the pencil line carefully wipe the sides of the mold to clean up the excess powder. Now, it’s time to add the second layer of soap. So that the second layer of soap doesn’t break through and disrupt the line, pour it over a spoon or spatula.

Tip: When you cut the soap, turn the whole loaf on it’s side. This keeps the pencil line from being dragged through the whole bar of soap. This also works great when you slice soap that is topped with oatmeal, jojoba beads, calendula, chamomile, etc. Also, wipe the blade of your cutter clean after each time. 

My soap cutter is unfortunately not tall enough to cut soap on its side, so I had to use a knife. And I am horrible at cutting straight, even bars using a knife. So, before I do any more pencil line soaps, I’m going to have to purchase a different cutter – maybe a good cheese slicer like this one here.


 

Updated on February 14, 2015:

Two years later, and this is still one of my favorite soap making techniques. In fact, browse our Etsy shop and you’ll almost always see at least one pencil line soap (check out our shop here).

 A couple of recent pencil line soaps:

Japanese Cherry Blossom. . . . same scent and same design from above.

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Indian Sandalwood with a very thin line of gold mica (brown swirls were colored using cocoa powder). . . .

Fallen Leaves with a thin line of gold mica (colored with titanium dioxide, red oxide, and Moroccan Clay).

Tips I’ve learned over the last couple of years. . . . 

A cheese slicer is a fantastic cutter for pencil line soaps.

Always turn the soap loaf on its side while cutting to avoid smearing the pencil line.

Use the smallest sifter possible to avoid getting your pencil line colorant on the sides of the soap mold. I now use one even smaller than the one pictured above.

It’s a fine balance between too much and too little. . . . Too little and the pencil line doesn’t show up as well. Too much and the soap might split in half right at the pencil line.

Use a vegetable peeler to clean up the sides of the bars and make them neater.