Tag Archives: Green Tea

A Galloping Happy New Year of the Horse!

Based on the Gregorian Calendar, we are well into the New Year of 2014.  But based on the Chinese Calendar, New Year is still on January 31. My family does not exactly celebrate Chinese New Year, although it gives us an excuse to have a Chinese meal together, but am taking advantage of this calendar difference to bring out the soaps from 2013 that I was not able to blog about.

I like using this blog to document the soaps I’ve made, because knowing me, I won’t be able to remember many things.  Moreover, it’s interesting to be able to look back and see any progress I’ve made, and the colour/design/scent phases I went through.

Here are most of the soaps that I had taken photos of, but that missed last year’s blog train. Some of them look similar and have common scent components, like the Lavenders and Green Teas.  The second version of the Kumquat & Lavender is supposed to be orange and purple, but the orange came out yellow instead. All of them smell great except for the 2 prettiest, in my opinion. Midsummer Night smells fresh and green out of the bottle, but in cured soap it reminds me of dirty laundry soaking in soapy water. I love the look of the Sandalwood Musk, even as it eventually darkened to a light tan, but I think it smells like an old lady.

Kumquat and Lavender, version 1

Kumquat and Lavender, version 1

Kumquat and Lavender, version 2

Kumquat and Lavender, version 2

Lavender and Lemon

Lavender and Lemon

Lavender Green Tea

Lavender Green Tea

Sweet Pea and Green Tea

Sweet Pea and Green Tea

Lavender Mist

Lavender Mist

Midsummer Night

Midsummer Night

Flamenco

Flamenco

Almond Joy

Almond Joy

Peach Sunset

Peach Sunset

Scarlet

Scarlet

Sandalwood Musk

Sandalwood Musk

Happy Lunar New Year to all of you! Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog and leave comments. You’ve all been so helpful, inspiring and encouraging, making my soapy journey so much more fun and meaningful.  May the Year of the Horse bring all of us galloping love, happiness and success! 🙂

It’s a Dog on My Soap!

For the first time ever, I am joining Great Cakes Soapworks‘ Soap Challenge Club!  I have long admired the beautiful soaps that participants submit for the monthly contest, and it’s such a fun and exciting way to learn a new technique especially for beginners like me.

I was so thrilled when the Holly Swirl was announced as the theme for this month.  I am a great fan of Holly’s (Missouri River Soap) gorgeous soaps, and one of my favorites is her Green Apple and Rose.  I have not personally tried it, but I just love the way it looks and sounds.  I had watched her video on how she made it, but never got to do it until now.

As you can see, my first attempt at the Holly Swirl was not very successful.  I should have waited for a thicker trace before pouring the black and white swirl into the black base.  I needed oils that were slow to trace, so I used olive, coconut and rice bran.  It took forever to trace, even after I added all the colors (activated charcoal, TD, and green chrome oxide) and fragrance. I used BB’s Black Tea, the most well-behaved f.o. I have ever come across.  I love the way it smells: strong smokey black tea balanced with the fresh scent of citrus and sweet raspberries.

The big surprise came after cutting the soap. There is an unmistakeable image of a dog on 2 of the soap bars!  With its big eyes, I think it looks like a pug, or maybe a cross-breed because it has long ears.  🙂

green and black tea 1

Do you see the image of a dog?

green and black tea 2

Mirrored image of a dog on Black & Green Tea Soap.

Struggling with Colors

Except for a few bumps here and there, I felt that I was producing better results with every soap under my belt.  However, with my last few batches, I feel that I have been going downhill.

I only had natural colorants to play with in the past, but since my orders arrived, I now have labcolors and oxides to add to my colour palette. Working with the new colours has been quite a challenge, to say the least.

1.  Green Tea Soap (palm, coconut, olive, grape seed oils)

I added a tiny amount of titanium dioxide to the green, resulting in sea/mint green.  I wanted an earthier green.

I added a tiny amount of titanium dioxide to the green.

2.  Coconut Cream Soap (olive, coconut, rice bran, castor, stearic acid)

color challenged 3

Whoa!!! What a shocking pink! I kept on adding more red labcolor because it looked so faint. Didn’t expect it to turn this pink after gelling. I think it would not have been that bad if the contrast was not nude (uncolored) soap.

3.  Coconut Cream Soap, take 2 (olive, coconut, castor oils)

color challenged 2

Used half the amount of red as the first one, but still not that pleased with this pink. The swirls are not really working out either, but the white part, colored with titanium dioxide, looks nice and creamy.

4.  Coconut Cream Soap with Annatto: (coconut, olive, palm, grape seed oils)

color challenged 4

Used annatto powder to make a yellow soap with white swirls, but I should have colored the supposed white part with titanium dioxide for better contrast. I should have also waited for a thicker trace before doing an in-the-pot swirl.

Marathon Weekend

After making my first successful soap, I was hooked!  That weekend, I went soap-crazy and made these:

1. Oatmeal and milk – I repeated Anne L. Watson’s formula, but substituted the water with frozen whole milk, and added old fashioned oats that I pulverized using my coffee/spice grinder. I just left this on my kitchen table, uncovered, to complete saponification. I was able to pop them out from their silicone mold only after 5 days. Even then, they were still a tad soft. I left this unscented and the smell of the oatmeal really came through. Used this after 4 weeks. It is a good moisturizing and exfoliating soap, but has a tendency to become soft.

oatmeal and milk

oatmeal and milk

2. “Master Batch Basic Soap” recipe from Gregory Lee White’s book – contains vegetable shortening, coconut oil and olive oil.  I made this in my shoebox mold, covered, but not insulated. Of all the soaps I made from my first week of soap making, this produced the palest and hardest bar. Weeks after I made this, I found out that the shortening I used was made from coconut oil, not the usual soybean or cottonseed or palm oil that is normally used in the States.  Given this fact, the soap actually has a 13% superfat, instead of the intended 5%! It’s a nice soap to use, has great lather, and remains hard in the shower. The only downside is that it leaves a residual laundry bar scent even though it smells wonderfully of lavender and eucalyptus as is. It must be because of the high coconut oil content that reminds us, from this part of the world, of Perla, a popular laundry bar made with coconut oil.

Basic Soap

Basic Soap

Wrapped up and ready to be given to family and friends…

Basic soap wrapped up, renamed My Daily Soap

Basic soap wrapped up, renamed My Daily Soap

3. Green Tea and Tea Tree – made with olive oil, vegetable shortening, coconut oil and sesame oil. I replaced the water with brewed green tea and added green tea leaves that I ran through my spice grinder. Because this was not insulated and in small individual molds, I had a hard time removing the soaps from their silicone mold. Still soft after 5 days, I had to freeze them for an hour so they could be unmolded. My husband likes the exfoliating quality of this soap. I like it too but I wish it were harder and smelled stronger of tea tree.

Green Tea & Tea Tree

Green Tea & Tea Tree

4. Activated Charcoal – I have no photo of this. I used the same mini mold as the green tea and tea tree, and encountered the same problem with the soap not setting up properly. This was made with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and peppermint oil.

Lesson learned from my soap marathon weekend? Aim to gel, or at least whenever possible.