Sunday, November 23, 2008

Possible Logo?

I was just going to do text at first, then I did a little doodle that I thought was cute, and I might use it for my soaps. It would be fun to do. What do folks think?

I've got a bunch more ideas for soaps, just waiting on more lye now. I might take the opportunity to infuse some of my oils with herbs and such. I know I have rosemary, lavender, vanilla and dragon's blood running around somewhere, and it would be interesting to see how the infused oils work with the soaps.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lemon Poppyseed Soap

Today I finally succumbed to the cold Mr. Sweetie has been fighting for over a week now. I felt like ass warmed over, fevery stuffed up, headachey and tired, so I called in and went back to bed. Ended up sleeping 14 hours total last night, getting up at 2 p.m.

Once I was up my usual sick-mode kicked in, and I started to clean up around the house. I'm not entirely sure why my cleaning instincts kick in when I'm not feeling well, but I guess if I'm going to be staying home I might as well mop up the kitchen while I'm there.

Once it was clean, I did make a batch of soap, so the whole day wasn't wasted. I made a lemon-poppy seed soap, used both of the 1 dram bottles of lemon oil I picked up from Hobby Lobby. I was going to make more, but realized that I didn't have enough lye left over for another batch.

So, 2 lbs lye = 16 lbs soap. Good to know! I'm going to need another 4 lbs of lye before the end of the month, which is just where I thought I'd be anyway.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Had to go to the store for more castor oil, to make this batch. Thought it would do better as a creamier soap, so used some lard instead of mostly olive oil. This one doesn't smell nearly as strong (it hardly has a scent at all - of course, I might just be so used to it I don't smell anything? Happened with the peppermint, and that was strong as hell), so next time I may try adding, I don't know. Do they make banana juice? Banana concentrate? Banana oil? Or maybe just scent it with something completely different.


50% Lard (16 oz)
30% Olive oil (9.6 oz)
10% coconut oil (3.2 oz)
5% castor oil (1.6 oz)
5% avocado butter (1.6 oz)
8% lye discount (4.15 oz)
75% water discount (6 oz)
2 bananas, pureed
Enough clove powder to make it all speckly. Maybe a tsp? Didn't want to go overboard on the clove.

Mixed my cold oils in the cold crockpot - lard is a LOT tougher to mix this way than mostly liquid oils. Next time I should nuke the lard. Mixed my lyewater, added it to the oils - still bits of unmelted lard, oh noes! Stir stir stir. Hooray, no more lard lumps! Stickblend stickblend stickblend. Yay trace! Have some bananas! Stir stir. Still tracing? You bet your ass, this shit's almost pudding. Crap! I forgot to get the mold ready. Tape tape tape the opening shut. Oh wow, that sure is a strong trace. Spoon spoon spoon into the mold. Tap tap the air bubbles out. Spoon spoon spoon. Oh look! The 2" pvc pipe fits just exactly 2lbs of soap! That's awesome. Tape tape tape it shut. Stick in closet. Note that two taped-up pieces of pvc pipe look a hell of a lot like bombs or something. Get paranoid that now that I've typed that someone is going to beat down my door and try to detonate my soaps. Man, I wish they were hard enough right now for me to unmold and cut. I want to show them off at work tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kiwi-Seaweed Soap

Whohoo! So, remember how I was saying that you can put fruit in soap? Well I did it, baby! I made the hell out of some fruity soap! This one I made off the same bastille recipe as the peppermint and chocolate soaps:

Kiwi-Seaweed Soap (RTCP)

80% Olive pomace oil (25.6 oz)
10% Coconut Oil (3.2 oz)
5% Castor Oil (1.6 oz)
5% Avocado Butter (1.6 oz)
3 kiwis, pureed
1 tbs powdered kelp
7% lye discount (4.15)

This time I tried Room Temperature Cold Process (RTCP) soapmaking. I mixed my room-temperature oils in the cold crockpot, then made my lye-water. After waiting a sec for the fumes to disperse, I added my lye-water to the oils and began to stickblend them. The temperature went to like 115, which is not bad at all! Trace was pretty quick, and that's when I added the kiwi and kelp. I was worried that it would mess with trace, but it still seemed plenty thick after I stirred it all in, so I figured it must be okay, and molded it.

The part of the molds will be played by the GIANT fucking tubes of PVC that I got at Lowes this weekend - I seriously need to get these cut down to size. There is no way I can fill these things, even if I do two separate batches of soap per mold (which I may do tonight, depending on how much lye I have).

Next I'm going to try the banana-clove soap. I am so excited by this, I don't even have the words. Well, okay, I have one word: MANANA!

Down to the Wire

Well folks, today is November 17th, and it's time to face the facts: If I want to get the soap ready by Christmas, the time to make it is NOW. My bastille soaps are still falling to bits and they're what, two weeks old now? At least? So I'm going to switch up my recipe a little, and instead of 80% olive oil, I'm doing 30% olive oil and 50% lard (which sounds gross, I know, but makes good soap).

I picked up some PVC pipe to use as molds, as well as all the cardboard boxes I had been using, so now I can make round soaps as well as blocks. All that's left to do now is figure out which 12 or so kinds of soap I want to do, and then do it. I picked up some olive pomace oil and much-cheaper-than-krogers coconut oil up at the Farm Patch this past saturday, so I should have enough to last me at least until the paycheck arrives.

I've heard that you can add fresh fruit to soap and have that turn out okay (LUSH, I'm looking at you), so I'm going to try that tonight. I think a banana/clove soap would work pretty well, and I could call it something silly, like MANANA. One down, right? I should make a list.

1. MANANA. Fresh banana and powdered clove. Some kinda milk?

2. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. Espresso, coffee grounds, instant cappuccino.

3. LEMON POPPYSEED. Lemon EO, poppy seeds. Pretty straightforward.

4. HOLY CRAP COCONUT. Creamed coconut, vanilla bean, orange EO.

5. THAT'S HOW YOU KNOW ITS FANCY. Rose buds, rose absolute, rose water.

6. LIQUID BREAD. Guinness extra stout, oatmeal, some kinda milk.

7. GOOD FOR YOUR FACE. Tomato juice, carrot juice, yogurt. Honey?

8. AUNT SKELETOR. FavoriteAunt's fancy soap <3 Yogurt, frankincense/chocolate/bergamot/other thing (why can I not remember the last thing?) FO, silk protein.

9. SHAVING SOAP. Extra castor oil, bentonite clay, dad's fancy scent (silver buttonwood/teak/other thing FO in sweet almond oil). Second batch in peppermint?

10. RED DIRT REVIVAL. Red clay. Something else is probably needed. Pomegranate?

11. EAT YOUR FACE. Cocoa powder, peppermint EO.

12. MINTY MINTY MINT. LOTS of Peppermint EO, poppy or vanilla seed scrubbies

13. HOPE THIS WORKS. The elusive 13th soap, which will be strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. I have no idea if this one will work at all, but I've got to try.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finally Success!

So when I left off yesterday I had two batches of soap made, both adequate but nothing to write home about. Certainly nothing good enough to give the family for christmas! So I decided to bite the bullet, and try CP soap. And moreover, to do it right.

This is the recipe that I used:

80% olive oil
10% coconut oil
4.5% castor oil (I had meant to do 10, but I ran out)
5.5% avocado butter (subbed this for the rest of the castor)
8% lye discount
8oz water for a 2lb batch of soap

I set up a 2lb vat of oils, in my crockpot that was turned OFF. I mixed my lye-water, then left it alone while it cooled. I played warcraft. I knit. I read a little. Eventually, it was 110 degrees, and I mixed it. I decided to try scenting it, with peppermint like I'd done the first batch, and then thought about adding some cocoa powder to it as well - andes mint soap! Mr Sweetie was kind enough to head out to the store while I stirred. He even got more castor oil <3

Only thing was, the soap did not want to wait for him to get home with the cocoa powder. It hit trace FAST, and did not play around. I had to go ahead and add the peppermint oil without the cocoa powder, so to cheer myself up from not making andes mint soap, I added color! I was trying to recreate the coloring of this awesome Plum Blossom soap I saw on Etsy, layered pink and undyed soap, but I forgot to add the layer of... whatever that is in the middle. Probably really-darkly-dyed soap.

So instead I got this!

Something that amused me when I unmolded: I used plastic grocery bags to line my molds. And by molds, I mean cigar boxes! Yay recycling. As it turns out hot soap is like silly putty, and can pick up print.

Please imagine that my entire house is not as yellow as this picture makes it seem. I mean, yes, our walls ARE yellow on that side, but not THAT yellow. The soap is yellow-white and pink, and got hard very quickly! It's been curing for about a week now, and I had trouble breaking one of the bars in half so I could wash the dog with it (mmm, peppermint dog).

So then Mr Sweetie got home with the cocoa powder and the castor oil, and I had already made the soap. What else was there to do, but make another batch, with the same recipe? I even remembered to add a layer of cocoa powder in the middle.

For this batch, I used 12floz of water, since I was impatient (again) and trying to cool down the lye. 4oz of ice cubes does not make a huge dent in those kinds of temperatures, as it turns out. I can REALLY tell the difference in the finished soap, though - the chocolate mint soap is still very pliable, and tears more than cracks when I break it (btw, guess what I've been using in the shower? I smell fabulous). When I do another batch with this recipe, I'm going to try mixing the lye with only 4oz of water, and either subbing out some milk or yogurt for the missing liquid, or just seeing how it does with a 50% water discount. If it makes it cure faster, then I am ALL FOR IT, because it is halfway through november and Go Time for presents is NOW.

And I don't feel at all prepared. I have too much family, and too little soap.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Freaking Out About Christmas (and other updates)

First off: Mask was a success! Hooray! I do have pictures of me in it, but as folks should have guessed by now, I don't do self-portraits. The pictures that I do have of him are not with him entirely completed - imagine the horns are dark grey, drybrushed with black. And someone is wearing it. That's all you're missing.

(the second one has accurate colors)

Now, on to other news. Soap! It exists, and it is fabulous. I finally figured out that Cold Process soap is a million times easier than Hot Process soap, and that CP soap works best when you actually pay attention to the temperature of your ingredients.

The first batch, which I posted about last month, was eventually saved. Turns out that the little crock pot I got from goodwill to make soap with has 3 settings - off (duh), low, and high. And by "low", they mean "not hot enough for HP soap". So when I was cooking my first batch, it was not getting hot enough for the gel phase to complete. Easy fix though! One 30-minute jaunt through the high setting, and it turned into real, honest to goodness soap.

Now, at that point you might think that I would do more research on this whole soapmaking thing, maybe fill the crockpot with water and see exactly what temperatures the different settings give (holy crap why did I not think of that until just now I totally need to do that), and not just assume that since the high setting worked on the rebatch, it would work on the initial batch. You might think that I would have forethought!

Clearly, you would be reading a different blog. I think I've established by now that I like to live dangerously, craft first and ask questions later! Even when those questions concern things like how do you dispose of 2 lbs of very-lye-active monstrosity. But I get ahead of myself.

Well, not terribly far ahead. Let us tell this story.

So the first batch had turned into real, honest-to-goodness soap. It didn't burn my tongue, it lathered, and it felt really nice to shave with (which was, you may recall, my goal. Mr Sweetie loves it). I was riding the high that comes with learning something new, doing it yourself, and it turning out well enough that you can show it off to your friends (and show off I did!). I decided to make another batch that weekend, and since the shaving soap was just a touch drying (33% coconut oil, 10% castor oil, and bentonite clay will evidently do that to you), I wanted to make sure this next one would be nice and rich. Shea butter! Honey! 9% lye discount! The world was my oyster.

Now, experienced soapmakers will have raised their eyebrows right when I said honey. They know, as I thought I knew, that honey raises the temperature of soap, and so you have to be careful when you add it. You want to make sure that your lye-water and your oils are nice and cool, so that it doesn't overheat.

You especially want to not add your honey TO your water, before you add your lye. This makes your lye-water turn a lovely shade of burnt orange that would be GREAT for your brother who goes to UT, except that it also means your lye-water is CRAZY HOT. Well over the usual 200 degrees that you normally get when this reaction takes place.

Smart people would wait until this cooled down to 110 degrees. Smart people would make sure the oil in the crockpot was also around this temperature, and that the crockpot was not set to high. Smart people would definitely not google just enough shady websites to convince themselves that 150-degree orange lye-water and oils that are probably in the area of 200 degrees themselves could make soap - and you're fucking Mensa smart if you didn't mix your oils and lye, AND THEN ADD MORE HONEY. You know. Because that's totally going to save that giant vat of burning caustic oil.

Fun fact: burnt soap? Smells like roux. This is A Sign.

So, yeah, that batch didn't turn out like at all. It did solidify, but was nothing you'd want to rub all over your body, much less pets or children. It was wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown out. Mr. Sweetie came home and I denied that it had ever happened.

So the new "batch 2"! Same recipe as before, only I didn't add the honey to the lye-water, and I let it cool down to 120 before impatience demanded I mix it to my (set on low) oils. It looked great! I achieved a very clear trace, and if I was a more rational person I would have molded it then and there.

Instead, I added honey. Yup. And two cups of almond meal, to make it scrubby, but I think that the almond meal I bought is more like almond flour than almond ground up bits that can remove dead skin, so it's only very mildly scrubby.

This one also heated up too much, but didn't burn like the first Batch 2 did. Hooray, it's soap! I didn't scent it, and it ended up smelling like what I think must be a combination of unrefined shea nuts and cooked almond flour. It's not necessarily bad, but it IS strange. This is what we're using at home now, because I'm not putting 'toasted almond and shea nut' soap in my christmas gift baskets.

Although that's not a bad name, now that I think about it.

This batch was also made using the silicone ice cube trays that Hastur and the Library Overlord gave me for my birthday, which was very sweet. They also gave me a candy thermometer and an egg timer, and for that I am grateful beyond words.

Oh, you say, that's all grand, but what about the successful recipe? Where is THAT in your cornucopia of despair? Haha. Soon to follow, that's where. Soon to follow.