Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Great Salt Bar Experiment

Since the day after Christmas, I've been involved in what I think of as "The Great Salt Bar Experiment". I don't know if you've ever heard of salt bars, or salt soap, but I've been intrigued by them for years. I started off with a pretty basic recipe, just coconut oil, sea salt, and lye. I did the first attempt with 15% superfat, and hot processed the soap with a full 40% water usage. I added the salt (equal to the weight of coconut oil) after cooking the soap. Interesting, and very nice results! I expected it to either be greasy from the extra oils, or drying, because coconut + salt. What a surprise for me! I unmolded & sliced that first batch after just an hour in the mold, when it was cool enough to handle. It was already very, very hard, and crumbled a bit. The lather wasn't the normal bubbles - more of a creamy foam. It left my skin very soft, but not greasy. After the first use, the bar was very smooth, and rock like. When I used it a second time, I was about to be disappointed, no lather! But then it suddenly burst into foam, yay! I tweaked my formula, adding castor oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter, and made several loaves, some hot process and some cold process, and a couple of CPOP. While the soap itself is the same regardless of the process, my favorites were the cold process soaps - they looked the prettiest, but did have to go through four weeks of cure time.
I also tried these out as a shampoo bar - with the high coconut content, I thought they might be a winner on hair. Too much coconut for my hair, which is really fine. After washing with one of the caramel bars, I could tell immediately it was a fail for me, a little oily. So, I lathered up with one of my normal shampoo bars (lemon rosemary), and rinsed. OMG - it felt like I had used a conditioner, even though I hadn't even spritzed with vinegar, very soft, no frizz :) Kind of a weird thing, to use conditioner before shampoo, but it works! I've made more of these since the initial experiments, so there will be more variety in the shop in the coming month(s), but the first ten varieties are ready and available now. On the curing rack, I have blueberry, mango and bay rum that will be ready after Valentine's, and will be adding new scents throughout the Spring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cool New Stuff

I'm always busy making new stuff, but I also bought a bunch of wonderful things this year, and I wanted to share the awesomeness of my loot!

DancingWithFairies - I love bath bombs, but I completely fail at making them. I purchased several this year, but this last one was my favorite! I bought the "Pocket Full of Sunshine" ball, and it made me completely happy. About the size of a tennis ball, this bath bomb was full of nice oils, and plenty of fizz. The bomb's scent was mild and fresh, and it didn't leave my tub greasy. It did leave my skin completely soft. I love the glitter too, I could see it in the bath, but it didn't adhere to my skin. She also included a beautiful tin of bath salts as a freebie, but I didn't get a chance to try them, my evil daughter ganked them. It was a nice smelling tin though, and very pretty.

ThePoisonedApples - I bought two things from this shop, a caramel apple for Halloween, and then some bars of pumpkin caramel. I am proud to say, I was able to hoard these all for myself, and I did not share with my heathen children. This caramel is just too good to share! So buttery, chewy, and delicious. I can't wait to shop there again!

theHouseAcrosstheBay - I bought several digital collage sheets from this shop, and I couldn't be happier. These are beautiful images that I've used in most of my new labels, ad the shop owner is so nice! I received my PDF's within just a couple of hours, and they've been really easy to work with. I was actually motivated to make new soaps just to go with the images, so really, I received more than just pics, she sells inspiration.

I love buying handmade of all kinds, if you have any suggestions I would love to hear about your favorite shops!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Recovering From the Holidays

I'm finally getting caught up after the holidays! All the decorations are put away, and I'm managed to reorder the supplies I was low on, as well as finally finish some projects I started back in October. I only have three knitting WIPs on my desk to haunt me, which is kind of an all time low for me :)
Before the big holiday rush, NPR did a segment on the ten greatest songs ever. I didn't agree with most of their choices, but one made my personal top ten, Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. I listened to that one again for the first time in many moons, and I wanted to make a fragrance that smelled like that. I am not a huge fan of patchouli, but this song really smells like patchouli. I added sandalwood, cannabis, and just a bit of smoke. There's a few other things I added over the following weeks, until it was perfect. Then it sat in the cupboard for months. I was able to make some whipped soap with it last month, yummy! I finally returned to it this week, and made a hot process soap. When I have a really awesome fragrance, I like to use it in hot process, so the fragrance doesn't burn off during the cure, or morph from the lye.
I'll be introducing several new shampoo fragrances this spring, as well as "The Ladies Who Dance" line of burlesque inspired fragrances. While the names are all reminiscent of strippers, only one smells like coconut! And now, for your viewing pleasure, Led Zeppelin: