Tag Archives: Kaolin clay

Job’s Tears and Calendula Soaps

As much as I enjoy making soaps with fragrance oils and pigments, my first and true love has always been natural, therapeutic soaps. I get really excited discovering and experimenting with new ingredients that may offer any kind of skin benefit.

I have been soaping like crazy since I came back from Taipei two weeks ago. I made mostly fragrance oil-scented soaps, but I managed to make two all-natural ones using some of the ingredients I stuffed my suitcase with.

With so many choices, it was hard to pick which ingredient to use first. I finally settled on calendula, a very popular herb among soap makers, but it was my first time to use it.

Dried Calendula Petals

Dried Calendula Petals

Instead of steeping the petals in oil, I made a concentrated tea and let it steep overnight. Since we don’t have calendula in the Philippines (maybe we do, but I am not aware of it), I didn’t want to throw away the petals.  I wanted to use everything so I separated most of the liquid and proceeded to blitz the remaining calendula with reconstituted goat’s milk powder.  I mixed all the liquid with the blended petals into my oils – coconut, olive, palm, rice bran and cocoa butter – before adding my master-batched 50% lye solution.

To intensify the yellow color, I used 2 parts blood orange e.o. and 1 part litsea cubeba, totalling 4.2% of my oils. Next time I will increase the essential oils to at least 5% because at 4.2%, the scent is barely there. I wanted to add some interest so I tried doing a pencil line for the first time. I really like the effect but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the activated charcoal.

Calendula 2

Calendula and Goat's Milk Soap

Calendula and Goat’s Milk Soap

The second ingredient I decided to use was Job’s Tears powder (coix lacryma jobi). It is also known as Chinese pearl barley, but it has nothing to do with the common pearl barley that most of us are familiar with.  In China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, it is eaten as a grain or cooked into a drink.  It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for its cooling and anti-cancer properties, and for its stimulating action on the spleen, kidneys and lungs. Beauty-wise, it is reputed to remove blemishes and make the skin softer. (Click here to read more on the benefits of Job’s Tears)

Job's Tears powder

Job’s Tears powder

Job's Tears in Chinese

Job’s Tears in Chinese

I still have some lard that I carefully rendered with salt and water a few months ago. I plan to just finish what I have and no longer use it in the future. It is just too tedious to make and I don’t think it would appeal to people even though it makes for a gentle and hard bar of soap.

I needed the extra hardness for the facial soap I had in mind, so I incorporated a little bit of lard into my recipe containing coconut, olive, avocado, rice bran, pili and castor oils.  I also added 2% salt and 1.5% sodium lactate, less than what I used for my Charcoal Neem Soap.  For a richer and creamier soap, I used coconut cream, and to keep it all natural, I used essential oils of blood orange, rosemary and tea tree. I mixed the essential oils with Job’s Tears powder along with kaolin clay and turmeric powder to anchor the scent, before adding everything into the soap batter at light trace.

Job's Tears & Coconut Cream

Job's Tears 2

Job's Tears 5

Job’s Tears & Coconut Cream Soap

I love that the soap is completely ash-free and the texture is so smooth and creamy.  I think the powders, partly acting as anchors for the essential oils, worked, because I could smell the blood orange amidst the strong tea tree. I hope the scent stays after cure!

Making Soap Beyond the Books

This is my second batch of soaps, made about a month ago.  By that time, I had a better understanding of soapmaking.  I made these formulations with less water (33% lye concentration) and a lye discount of no more than 5%.  Actually, it bothers me that I can’t be very accurate with the lye discount because the SAP values available on the internet are simply averages.  For now, I will have to live with this and pray that my lye discount is not very far from the actual one.

1.  Honey Cocoa Butter (Unscented) – I made this with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, castor oil, and honey. I mixed the honey into the oils, but I think I should have thinned it out with a little warm water before adding it to the oils.  With 10% cocoa butter, I expected this soap to be harder than the rest from this batch, but it’s the opposite. I suspect it’s because I did not insulate this due to the honey. I will give it 2 more weeks (or a 6-week cure) before using. It has a nice chocolate smell.

honey cocoa butter

2.  Charcoal and Oatmeal – I wanted to make a swirl pattern, but ended up with this instead.  I could not wait and started using a bar after just two and a half weeks of cure.  It has held up remarkably well.  I can imagine some might find this soap too rough or scrubby, but I like it.  I added the oatmeal and charcoal at trace, alongside the lavender and peppermint respectively.  The color of the charcoal bleeds into the suds (I used 1 Tbsp or 4 grams charcoal for 500 grams soap mixture), something I did not encounter with a previous charcoal soap. I think 1 to 2 tsp charcoal p.p.o. should work fine.  This is made with olive, coconut, palm and castor oils.Oatmeal charcoal

3. “Ambitious” soap – With my limited soapmaking skills, I only intended to use 2 colors, but at the last minute, I became ambitious and gunned for 3 (titanium dioxide, charcoal, and annatto seed powder). When I added in the essential oils (peppermint and lavender) and the colors, the soap mixtures became very thick.  I panicked and quickly plopped the mixtures alternately into the mold. It is not the prettiest sight, but the soap itself is quite decent.  I used it after 3 weeks of cure.  It is a hard bar of soap with good lather, but the scent is like a distant memory.  It is made with rice bran oil, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter.

"ambitious" soap

4.  Green Velvet – I am at a loss what to name this soap, but for now, let’s just call it green velvet because I like the sound of it. The photo does not pick up the green tinge, but it’s there. The green is from the pili pulp oil. Pili is a fruit that comes from the same tree as Manila elimi.  The pili kernel is usually prepared as a candied nut and is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. It has a very high fat content with its own delicious unique taste. Yum!  Oil can be pressed from the nut and from the pulp of the fruit. These oils are kinda scarce.  I had to order mine from a producer in Sorsogon, a province where pili is indigenous.  I wanted to get the pili kernel oil but I almost fell off my chair when i heard the price.  I settled for the pili pulp oil, more affordable, but still not cheap!  For this soap, I used the following: olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, pili oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, kaolin clay and lavender.  I had to mix at a higher temperature so that the beeswax (melted over a pot of boiling water, not the microwave) would stay liquid.  This traced very fast and became quite thick.  I started using this the other day and I simply love it!  It is a relatively low-lathering soap but it has a silky/velvety feel to it.

Green Velvet