Ginger Persimmon

Yes. It’s another hanger swirl – the third post in a row. If you missed the earlier ones, you can find them here and here, but I promise the next post will be something different. :)

I love the way the swirls came out on this one, and I just loooove the way it smells! Finally a pungent ginger that really pops without too much of the earthiness. It reminds me of ginger ale with just a bit of fruity and honey sweetness.  I find the scent comforting and I think it would be a great blender, too.  That said, the scents that I find fantastic are not necessarily the most popular, and conversely, scents that are popular are sometimes not my type.  Where do you find yourself? Does your taste run similar to your customers’?

For the swirls, I used a scant 1/4 tsp burgundy oxide for 400 grams of soap, and 1 tsp (sample size) of peach sunset mica for the same amount of soap.

Ginger Persimmon 1

ginger persimmon 2

Ginger Persimmon 3

Ginger Persimmon 4

Hope your week is going great! :)

Hanger Swirl with Natural Colorants

When I like something, I tend to keep on repeating it. That’s the way I listen to music – looping the same set of songs over and over again. I may not be sick of it yet, but others unfortunate enough to hear my music for the nth time are bound to complain! :D  It’s no different with my soap making, but I hope no one is about to complain!  Since acquiring a wire hanger, I’ve been swirling away with it whenever I could. In my previous post, I used micas, oxides and ultramarines for the swirls. Here, I used all natural colorants.

Moringa and Pink Clay

I used 1 Tbsp (8 grams) French Pink Clay mixed with 10 grams of water for 750 grams of carrier oils to get a nice pastel pink colour. In a previous moringa soap I made, I strained out the moringa powder and used only the infused oil.  It yielded a lovely avocado green colour but it started to fade after 6-7 weeks. Here, I included the powder that has been saturated in oil for a month.  I am sure it will fade eventually, but I think it will stay longer than the one with the infused oil only. The moringa powder provides mild exfoliation while the upper pink part provides a slippery contrast. It is scented with lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus E.O.s.

moringa pink clay 1

moringa pink clay 4

moringa pink clay 2

moringa pink clay 3

Moringa and Pink Clay

Double Eucalyptus

Remember this?

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous  to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

Powdered eucalyptus leaves (left).

A while back, I made my own dried botanicals and infused them in oil. The eucalyptus powder made a green oil infusion, but when I soaped with it, it instantly turned tan, and upon unmolding, it had turned brown. There was no gradual discolouration like most natural green colorants.

double eucalyptus 4

My original plan was to do a charcoal pencil line  The batter was pretty thin and as I was adding the top layer, I knew I was not going to achieve a straight line.  I ditched my original plan and went for my hanger. I am glad of the change of plans because I love the way this came out!  Aside from the oil infusion and eucalyptus powder, it is also scented with eucalyptus and grapefruit E.O.s.

double eucalyptus 2

double eucalyptus 3

double eucalyptus 1

Double Eucalyptus

Hanger Swirl

The Hanger Swirl is such a popular technique but can you believe that it’s just now, after more than a year of soaping, that I am doing it? I’ve been admiring hanger swirl soaps, but for the longest time, I could not find a wire hanger! I finally did a few months ago but it was children-sized and I could not take it apart to make it longer.

I still used it anyway for this Black Amber and Lavender soap I made early in June:

Black Amber and Lavender

Black Amber and Lavender – my first hanger swirl.

Weeks later, I found an old, green plastic-coated wire hanger in my mom’s house – the kind that’s easy to dismantle and reshape into a tool for making soap designs.  Not only that, I was able to buy recently a new set of large wire hangers. And with my new pliers, I was able to stretch it out to 18″ – the size of my molds.  Just when I was thinking where are all the wire hangers in the world – they start appearing everywhere! :D

Needless to say, I’ve been swirling away with my new toy. Here are some of my recent makes:

Lemon Rose 3

Lemon Rose 1

Lemon Rose 2

Lemon Rose

Lemon Verbena 1

Lemon Verbena 2

Lemon Verbena

I have been soaping quite a bit I don’t even remember if I used a hanger on this purple soap.  I thought I did, but looking at it now, I think I did not.

Purple Orchid 1

Purple Orchid 2

Purple Orchid

For a top (hanger) swirl design, I find that using chopsticks does the job just as well.  This soap was swirled with a chopstick:

Honeysuckle 1

Honeysuckle 2

Lavender Honeysuckle

The oddest thing happened with the above Lavender Honeysuckle soap. When I added the fragrance to the pink portion (coloured with pink lemonade mica), it instantly turned violet. When I unmolded the soap, it had returned to pink. Has anyone experienced this?

 

 

Soap Goodies

Last April, Cee of Oil & Butter had a tagline-making contest and a giveaway. Surprise, surprise, I won the giveaway! I had it sent to my sister in California, to be shipped together with my E.O. and F.O. orders. After 2 long months, the box from my sister arrived the other day.  Woohoo! :) Oh my, the bath cookie smells like the most heavenly shortbread cookie!  It’s kinda hard not to bite into  it.  I have not used the bath tub in a while, but now I have to so I can soak in the yummy goodness of the bath cookie. I immediately used the lip butter and I love the way it feels  creamy and luxurious. The lavender soap will have to wait for its turn but I am sure it will be nothing but awesome.  I still have several bars in the shower and there are a few others lined up to be used – the problems we face with too many soaps! :D

Soap - Oil and Butter

Oil & Butter giveaway

My best friend went to Japan last April and she came home with the strangest looking soap for me. It’s supposed to be a cherry blossom soap but to my nose it smelled more like lychee. It was packed in plastic-lined paper (shown in the background, under the tag) and it was swimming in a bit of liquid. I had to google about this jelly-like soap, and as it turned out, it was something Lush popularised a few years ago that spawned many copycats. I would not be surprised if Lush got the idea from Japan.  The Japanese are always coming up with the coolest and most unique ideas.  I’ve been saving this soap to blog about.  With that out of the way, I can finally use this squishy fun soap tonight!  Wheee!

Soap -Jelly

Japanese Jelly Soap with gold flecks

Nearly every time I research on soap packaging, I come across Izola soaps. It was thus a pleasant surprise to be holding it in person, thanks to my Hong Kong-based friend who sent it to me for soapy inspiration.  She likes the size of the soap and the way it’s packaged as a set.

Soap- Izola

Izola Soaps: unscented oatmeal

She also sent me a Claus Porto soap for its scent, called Paradise Rose.

Soap - Porto

Claus Poro: Paradise Rose

I am one lucky girl to be receiving all these wonderful bath goodies. Thank you Cee, Candice and Alex! :)

Soap - 3 kinds

SoapJam Peppermint Oatmeal, Izola Oatmeal Soap, Claus Porto Paradise Rose

 

Soap Balls

Do you like making soap balls?

It appears to me that people enjoy making them and turning them into fun and creative soaps.  I do make soap pucks from fresh trimmings but that’s just one or two at a time.  I give them away or use them as kitchen hand soap.   I stopped collecting scraps to make into a whole new batch because the couple of times I did, I was not too happy with the way they looked. Maybe I’ll revisit it in the future.

Last month I made a batch of soap that accelerated trace and simply didn’t cut it. I decided to grate some of the fresh soap while it was still soft and I made them into ball embeds. The first few balls were fun to make, but rolling 40 of them? I don’t know how others do it, but I was getting tired compacting and rolling the soap into neat little balls.  I feel though that all that work paid off with the way the soap turned out, but seriously, I don’t wish to make more!

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Some of the reject soap also ended up as cube embeds – my preferred style and the more practical approach – but I have to say that the ball embeds are rather cute and fun. :)

Bamboo Grapefruit

Bamboo Grapefruit

 

Remakes

There was a time when I hardly repeated anything I made, but after more than a year of soaping, I find myself remaking soaps that I like and what’s popular. I am slowly narrowing down what I would like to form as my core products.  I am a scent addict and I have fragrances and essential oils that I have not even used, and I still continue to purchase new ones (it’s really hard to stop!).  Because of this serious addiction, naturally I will always be making something new – it’s part of the thrill of soap making!  And let’s not get started on the colours. I came in a bit late on that but am sure catching up!  Don’t you just love the jewel-coloured micas? :)

Here are some of my recent remakes vis-à-vis their old versions.

1.  Tea Tree and Spearmint with Activated Charcoal

Tea Tree Spearmint

Old

Tea Tree & Spearmint

New: the batter got thick so I was not able to do a fluid drop swirl like the old version

2. Fir and Eucalyptus with Activated Charcoal:

Fir and Eucalyptus

Old

Fir and Eucalyptus

New: ITP swirl; I used the wrong stamp for this!

3. Berries and Violets

Berries and Violets

Old

Berries and Violets

New: a different shade of green and violet

4. Bora Bora

Bora Bora (old)

Old

Bora Bora

New: very similar to the first version; the blue is a bit lighter.

5. Flamenco

Flamenco 2

Old

Flamenco

New: the batter was thinner than the old version so the coloured swirls went down farther.

Making My Own Dried Botanicals

I had high hopes for the beautiful avocado green colour that moringa-infused oil lends to soaps, but alas, it lasts for about 7-8 weeks only before it starts to fade. Nonetheless, I am still excited about moringa especially for my healing balm. I have given it to many people and they all find it effective in alleviating itch from insect bites and various allergies and skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.  One even did a side by side test on her infant’s skin irritation. She claims that the healing balm worked faster and better than the cream prescribed by her paediatrician.

Moringa Oil

Virgin coconut oil infused with moringa powder for at least one month. Previously I used olive oil.

I bought a bag of powdered moringa from a fair last January.  I couldn’t find the contact details of the supplier so I decided to make my own. The first time I tried to dry moringa leaves, I placed it in a net and hung it to dry. I forgot about it and the next time I looked at it, weeks later, all the leaves had turned yellow and brown, leaving me no choice but to throw them away.  I did some research and learned that it should be air dried for 3 days only and toasted very briefly on a hot pan.

Left: commercial moringa powder; right: homemade

Left: purchased moringa powder; right: homemade

I had a lot of moringa last week and determined to get it right this time. I was not able to take photos of the leaves being hung to dry because less than 24 hours later, the small leaves started coming off.  I finished drying the leaves – removed from the stems – on a tray. After 3 days, the leaves felt dry but it was only after toasting them briefly that they became “crunchy” and crumbled easily. I ground up the leaves using my small Krups coffee/spice grinder and sifted the powder twice. It’s still not as soft and fine as the one I bought from the fair.  There is a also a marked difference in the colour. The photo above was taken one week after I made the moringa powder. It was a deep green then, but now it has darkened to a fatigue green.

Eucalyptus Leaves

Air-dried eucalyptus leaves.

In this post in which I had an avocado moringa soap scented with eucalyptus, Monica asked me if I was planning to use the actual leaves in some of my future soaps. That got me curious.  All I had to do was grab some leaves from the trees across my house. I don’t know what type of eucalyptus trees they are, but for sure they are not eucalyptus deglupta, also known as rainbow eucalyptus for their attractive multi-coloured trunk and believed to be native to the Philippines. The ones across my house have a white trunk.

I air-dried the eucalyptus leaves for 5 days before cutting them up into small pieces and briefly toasting them in a wok like I did the moringa leaves. I love the way the house smelled of eucalyptus when I was grinding up the leaves, and I also love the vibrant green colour that reminds me of green apple.

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous  to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

I thought I had a lot, but all those leaves in the above photo yielded only 17 grams after sifting 3 times.  Unlike moringa leaves that are soft, eucalyptus leaves are hard and fibrous. Most of it were too coarse and had to be discarded.  I still have to plan how I’m going to use it in soap.  I am sure the colour will fade away, like most plant-based colorants, so I will be using it as an exfoliant. For simple pleasure’s sake, I hope the colour will stay even just for a few short months.

 

 

 

The Fairest of Them All

If you look at the photos of the soaps I’ve made since I started blogging last May 2013, you may notice that I never had one that was a perfect white. Even the ones with titanium dioxide (TD) were off-white, partly because of the fragrance or essential oils used and partly because of the carrier oils.  Achieving a white-white soap was not important to me, so I always used less TD than the recommended 1 tsp per cup of soap.

Early last month I made soap with 95% olive oil and 5% virgin coconut oil that I named Fil-Castile. It didn’t contain any TD but it turned out a gorgeous white which came as a complete surprise.  The only problem I had with it were the pockmarks.  I tapped the stick blender to “burp” the oils but somehow I still got a lot of trapped air bubbles.

First batch of Fil-Castile Soap with plenty of air bubbles.

First batch of Fil-Castile Soap made last May. Notice the pockmarks from the trapped air bubbles.

Because of the high amount of olive oil, the Fil-Castile soap batter takes more than an hour to reach trace. When I made another batch a week ago, I did not immediately pour the batter into the mold after stick blending it into an emulsion. I left it in the mixing bowl while I made other soaps, hand stirring it every now and then. After about an hour or so, the batter finally reached light trace – similar in consistency to light creme anglais. I slowly stirred it for another couple of minutes before pouring into the mold.

The result is soap as smooth and fine as porcelain. It still has a few air bubbles, but hardly noticeable.

F-Castile 3

F-Castile 2

F-Castile 1

New batch of Fil-Castile Soap: perfectly smooth.

I get it now why it’s important for some soap makers to achieve a white-white soap.  It is beautiful in its simplicity and purity.  Just to see what kind of white I could get using TD at full dosage, I made a batch using a normally off-white formula containing olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter.  I chose a clean-smelling yet feminine FO that is colorless and non-discoloring. It has notes of ozone, watery greens and white florals: smells soooo good! I am calling it Aqua, and for Christmas, I am thinking of adding some peppermint and/or eucalyptus and naming it Snow.

Aqua 3

Aqua 2

Aqua 1

Aqua: perfectly white using 1 tsp TD for every cup of soap batter

Fil-Castile is almost as white as Aqua, but the TD in Aqua makes it brighter. Here they are side by side:

Aqua 4

Top: Aqua; Bottom: Fil-Castile

I wish you all a happy week. :)