Sunday, December 19, 2010

Whipped Soap

Divinity Soap
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
I love doing something new, and this was the best EVER!!! No melting all the oils, no fuss, no stick blender! I used my handheld kitchen mixer, a very high powered GE wonder, but I know that a regular sunbeam would do fine.
My recipe:
14 oz coconut oil
6.6 oz hydrogenated soy oil
3.4 oz palm oil
9 oz olive oil
1 oz cocoa butter
1 oz shea butter
1 oz castor oil
5.17 oz sodium hydroxide
13.6 oz distilled water (frozen into ice slush)
1/2 oz fragrance (really, that's all it took!)

As always, wear your goggles & gloves, and protect your work surface, lye is caustic!! Carefully measure water and lye, slowly add lye to water while stirring. When lye is completely dissolved, put your lye water in the fridge to further chill. Then, measure your coconut, soy, and palm oils in a LARGE bowl. Think a double batch of angel food cake large. Melt your shea and cocoa butter in the microwave. On medium speed of your mixer, mix all together until creamy, about 2 minutes. Then, on high speed, whip it for another 2 minutes, until it's like stiff egg whites. Slowly add your measured olive and castor oil, about 1/4 cup at a time, and mixing well after each addition. Then, put that in the fridge as well, and have a nice drink. I like all kinds, but I'm on a sangria kick right now. Sip, cruise the internet for a bit, check your email. WHAT!! Your wine is gone? Well, then it's time to get back to the soap. Pull out the whipped oils, and whip them again for a bit on high, until they're nice and creamy again. Then, safety gear back on, and get your lye water. With mixer on medium (you really don't want this to splatter), slowly add the lye, just like you did the liquid oils, a bit at a time, and stop every so often to scrape the sides and get it all mixed in super well. Then drizzle in your fragrance while mixing. Pour into a lined mold, or spoon it into a pastry bag with a cool tip - you can pipe it like frosting into stars, or dollop it onto a lined cookie sheet like divinity. You can swirl the top just like frosting. Let it sit, do not insulate, you don't want it to gel. In 24 - 48 hours, it should be set up well enough to unmold and cut, use a wire cutter for a nice clean cut. Cure for 3-6 weeks, and enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now That the Christmas Frenzy is Over...

Now that the whole Christmas shopping frenzy seems to be a little less frenzied, I have time again to be creative, YEA! This one isn't actually a result of my creativity, credit has to go to my hubby. He grew up in Taos, NM, and loves the smell of sage. This is a nice blend of lime and sage, very fresh! I love lime, so that's my contribution to this effort.
But I'm super excited about creating some new things, and Valentine's is just around the corner! I bet there's roses and champagne coming up, and of course, chocolates. Now my soaps, let me show you them...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Etsy Coupon Codes!!

Etsy has added a new feature, Coupon Codes!! I am very happy with this, because it allows me an easy way to give a discount to friends and family on Facebook, my buddies on Ravelry, or... nice people who visit my blog! So, for anyone who stumbles on this bit of obscurity, 10% off on all purchases from my Etsy shop, just use the coupon code "BLOGGER", and it does it automatically, no more processing refunds on paypal, or changing listings. SQUEEEEEE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kitten Hostage

kitten hostage
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
Last two days for free shipping in my Etsy shop. Plus, I am holding this kitten hostage until someone buys some soap. Her name is Hostage.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Product Safety, Lip Balm and Lotion

As soap makers, our main safety considerations tend to be pH levels, and ingredient sensitivity issues. If you should branch out into making lotions and lip balms, there's a whole new set of concerns. These are not wash off products, they remain on the skin, and are absorbed into the skin, so there can be problems. Lip balms may be ingested, so it is very important to use food grade ingredients, pure oils, and lip safe flavorings and colorants. Not really that difficult, but something to remember when formulating and manufacturing. Sanitary conditions also need to be in place for these. Not just clean, you need to get a spray bottle of bleach, and sanitize your work area. Sterilize all of your containers, and spray everything that won't go into the dishwasher with a little bleach, let it air dry. Wear gloves.
The reason this came into my head today, is there was an item in the etsy finds e-mail that was awesome, so I visited the shop. In the shop was a lotion that proudly proclaimed that it was "preservative free". Which is okay for a body butter of pure oils, but this one contained aloe vera gel. Which is mostly water. If your formulation contains any milk, water, or botanical juices, it is perishable. It can grow bacteria or fungi, which can cause serious skin problems. The only ways to prevent the growth of nasties in a water bearing emulsion are refrigeration and preservatives. I love all natural products, but a good broad spectrum preservative is the only safe way to go if you're selling lotions or creams. I personally use germall plus, which is effective in lotions and creams at 0.1% - 0.5%. That's just a tenth to a half of an ounce in a 100 ounce recipe (one and 1/2 pounds!). Most chemical preservatives have similar usage rates, so an 8 oz. bottle will last a long, long time. I'm comfortable with 99.5% natural, if it means saving someone or myself a nasty skin infection. To make lotion at home for your own use, the refrigerator is fine. And it's as easy as making mayonaise. It's kind of exactly the same.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This is one of the most awesome ways to recycle my soap "waste." You know, trimming the bumps, leftover sample slices, and chunkles from handmilled soap that just WOULD NOT DRY!! I had to cut them into 1cm squares to get them to really dry out! But what to do with that stuff? Here it is, a plain vanilla soap, 2# of oils, three cups of chunks, lots of vanilla. I like these better than soap balls, even if all the ladies love my balls. Now my soaps, let me show you them...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shampoo Bars

This is Lemon Rosemary Shampoo, also works as a great soap. Made with a crock pot hot process method, cooked for about 2.5 hours, a little longer than a standard soap. Just sharing...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Holiday Themed Soaps

Handmade soap makes a great gift for any holiday. However, it's good to consider that you give that gift on the holiday - so the soap gets used AFTER the holiday is over.
I'm super jealous of the melt & pour crafters, you guys can make the most amazing soaps! Little trees with different colored decorations, little Santas and snowmen that look almost lifelike! In the prelude to the holidays, those are my favorite guest soaps and decoration.
For gifting though, I'm trying to design soaps that have a shelf life that extends past December 26th. I made this soap with green mica and chromium green pigment, gold mica pigment, and a blend of scents based with fir. I also used a plain meat basting brush to dust the top with gold mica, for a nice shimmer.

I have also found that plastic inventory bins, available at, item #5W853 or 5W842 make a great mold, even for CPOP soaps! They have a big variety of sizes available, those are just the two that I use. Just line with freezer paper, or spray with Pam, and they are fine in an oven for one hour, up to 200 degrees. After the cook, just turn the oven off and leave closed (with soap inside) overnight.

Now my soaps, let me show you them...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Holiday Peppermint Soap

This is my first Christmas soap for this season. I know it's a little early, but all the other big time retailers are breaking out the festivities, so why should I be left out?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Secret Sale!!

tea soaps
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
I'm having a "Secret Sale" through October 24th. I guess it's not that secret, anyone who wants to find out can, I've posted it here, and on my shop announcements. Any purchase (except flat rate packs) will come with a free full sized bar from the clearance list (see the announcements). I have a lot of soap that seems to be unloved, even though it is FULL OF AWESOME, and it has to go so I can continue making soap. I'm not trying to stock up for the apocalypse here, and I'm out of storage room.

And now my soaps, let me show you them...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Adventures With Goat's Milk Soap

goat's milk soap
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
My daughter's best friend's mother, who I LOVE, gets fresh raw organic goat's milk from her sister for her little boy. This unpasturized milk is only good to drink for a couple of days before it starts to sour. But it's fine for soap for a week. But now I have a freezer full of the most awesome milk ever! She hasn't sent me any that's soured yet (it's wonderful!), cause mama goat is really producing, and her babies from the spring are off the milk. I only make hot process soap, so it's been a challenge to do it with milk without making it hideous. This is my first real success! I started with frozen milk first (pretty standard), mixed the lye solution, no problem, proceeded as with a CP soap. Poured the raw soap into the mold, then put it in the freezer, to cool it quickly. One hour in the freezer, then moved it to the fridge for a couple more. Then I put it into the oven at 150 degrees for one hour. Back into the fridge one hour! Back into the oven for an hour, back into the fridge for the night. Cut the next morning, cured for a week, and while there's a little discoloration, I believe it's mostly from the fragrance oil that I used, which was an amber color before the gelling. Also, I oven processed the soap in a plastic dishwasher safe mold, no problems.

Now my soaps, let me show you them...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Organic and Sustainable Ingredients

Shiner Bock Soap
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
When you first start making soap, you're not really "in the know" on your ingredients. You start with vegetable oils from the grocery, and perhaps castor oil and shea butter from the health food store or pharmacy. Lye from the hardware store. And your soap is awesome. But it's an addictive hobby, and you find yourself cruising the internet, cruising to score a sweet bucket of babassu oil for less than $10.00 a pound. And like any other addiction, you eventually have to start dealing just to support your habit. This is the point at which most soapers start to examine the moral and ecological effect of their business. The quality of your ingredients also starts to be a much larger concern. A plain olive and coconut oil soap beats the heck out of anything on the shelf at a big box store, for personal use. But when you're competing against Stan's Super Sustainable Organic Soaps, does your soap measure up? And are you killing off the last orangutan with your palm oil?
I'm a vegetarian, recently having reintroduced eggs to my diet - my chickens you see, they keep making them. Delicious. Way better than factory eggs. The eggs hold the answer to part of the quality question. Of course fresh eggs from my free range chickens are better. I prefer not to use animal fats in my soap, but local, organic lard is inexpensive and plentiful in my community. A way better alternative than palm oil. Palm oil may be sourced from a member of the RSPO, but even members may not have a great score on the RSPO scale. Do I want an organic soybean oil that has to be shipped here from Canada, or a local tallow?
After really analyzing these questions, keeping in mind that my ingredients are for very temporary application to the skin, and not for consumption, these are my conclusions. Local first. Buy local, and sell local. Use fresh ingredients - no 50# pails of oils that I can't use in a couple of months. Organic and environmentally friendly next. The biggest impact that I can have on the environment is to encourage my customers to use my products as quickly and as infrequently as possible. Don't waste water. Don't use soap with every shower (really, it's not as necessary as we think). And when shipping, I use only recycled shipping materials. Offices and warehouses will save them for you, and hand them over for free, if you ask. And now my soaps, let me show you them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To You New Soapers:

Halloween Swirl
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
As I decided to move my little hobby into business mode, I thought it might be a good idea to find out more in the big world of soaping. I joined a couple of Yahoo Groups, and a group on Ravelry. Thinking I might learn something. What I did learn, is that I'd much rather hang out with knitters. They're very nice people, the crocheters as well. Anything you want to learn, they'll teach you. Nicely too, not like you're an ignorant peon who should have already known.
Not so much with the soapers. I've met a few IRL and online who are super nice, but that's the minority. I've actually been told that hot process soap is unpleasant, that the oils are ruined, that the texture is gross. That whatever method I wanted to try EXCEPT cold process was wrong. If I was a newby, I probably would just go along. If I didn't have a degree in Physics and a bit of experience as a chemist, I might believe their naysaying. Naysayers.
So here's my two cents for the newbies. Lye + oil = soap and glycerin. When you mix them, that's what happens. It happens at nearly any temperature. You can speed it up by adding heat. Just like baking a cake, you need to have good measurements or it won't be perfect. If it's not perfect, you can nearly always still save it. Just like cake. You need to be careful with lye, it can burn you. But also remember, that lye you buy at the hardware store is normally used by guys who can't seem to get their pants pulled up over their butt crack to clean drains. You should be careful, but you don't need to be fearful. Dry hands are as good a protection as gloves. Seriously. Wear goggles. If you get a speck in your eye, flush with tons of water. Tons. You'd have to pour some into your eye to cause serious damage, but even a speck will hurt like the devil.
And I don't know it all. Nobody knows it all, but everybody hates a knowitall.
If you've got a question, and I have the answer, I will happily share, without any attitude. Because I'm really a knitter, not a soaper.
And now, my soaps let me show you them:

14 oz. olive oil
10 oz coconut oil
6 oz soy oil
3 oz palm oil
1 oz each cocoa butter, shea butter, and castor oil
5.1 oz lye (actually 5.07, but if you carefully measure until your scale just hits 5.1, that's actually 5.05, and that's as close as you can get with an inexpensive scale.)
13.7 oz distilled water

3/4 tsp. activated charcoal in 2 tsp. canola oil
3/4 tsp orange oxide in 2 tsp canola oil
1.5 tsp spicy fragrance - pumpkin pie, or use 1/4 tsp clove oil and 1/4 tsp cinnamon oil

Preheat oven to 150 to 175 degrees farenheit. Carefully add your lye to water, and mix well. It heats. Set that aside (your sink is a good place). Melt your solid oils, low heat, stainless pot. When they are mostly melted, remove from heat and stir until they're totally melted. I do this in a crock pot. Add the liquid oils. Get your big plastic spoon and stick blender ready. Slowly pour in the lye water while stirring. Stir a bit. Blend on low a bit. Stir a bit. Blend. You'll do this until it looks creamy and is well mixed, but still liquid, not pudding. Have your colors ready, I use cheap plastic tumblers from the discount store. Add your fragrance, blend until it's incorporated. Add one cup of scented raw soap to each cup. Blend your white some more until it's runny pudding. Blend the orange until the color is all mixed in. Then mix the Black until it's smooth. Pour your uncolored soap into a wooden mold, parchment lined pyrex baking dish, or silicone baking pan. Pour the orange in lines over that. Repeat with black. Use a chop stick or knife to make swirls in the soap. Put your soap in the oven, one hour. Turn off the oven, but do not open or remove the soap. Leave it off for an hour. Then turn it back on to 175 for an hour. Then turn it off, and leave it overnight. In the morning, you have soap, cut into bars. It improves with a bit of age, but it is fine to use immediately.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Etsy Shop

090510 011
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
I have opened a shop on Etsy,, and I'm happy to say it's totally open. Buy something.
I originally wanted to sell my AWESOME handmade candies. Toffee, divinity, fudge, you name it, I have the mad chemistry skilz. But the State of New Mexico only wants to crush my dreams. No online sales of home prepared edibles. NONE. I can sell them out of the back of my truck on the side of the road, but not on the intertubes. State of New Mexico, you suck. But I was not to be thwarted. I have been honing my chemistry skilz on other things. Soap. Those who have tried it are hooked, and that makes me happy. I am determined to dominate the homemade hot process soap industry. Now, my soaps, let me show you them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to the blog...

Returned to the evil world of the blog. I will probably post more (some) knitting content, I may just drift away again. Who knows.