Tag Archives: Pili

Charcoal Neem Soap

Before I discovered the world of fun fragrant soaps, I was preoccupied with searching for oils and additives with therapeutic values.  Along the way, I read about neem which sounded like some kind of wonder oil, except for its smell that many find off putting. I was really curious about it so i placed an order last July, which finally arrived at my Philippine doorstep two weeks ago.

Neem oil is said to be good for the hair and skin, and may alleviate conditions such as dandruff, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and fungal infections. It is also used as a pesticide to deter ticks and fleas, and to repel insects and pests. (Click here and here to read more about neem’s benefits) We’ve been getting a lot of black ants from the plants and trees outside, so we smeared some neem oil around our windows and doors ways. So far it seems to be working.

I was a little bit apprehensive though about soaping with neem because seriously,  it stinks like fermenting onions!  But after reading Moj Sapun‘s neem soap which Gordana fondly calls “Happy Pampkin“, I got the push I needed.

I used 10% neem oil along with coconut, olive, avocado, pili and castor oils for their supporting skin benefits. I also used activated charcoal for its detoxifying properties, and essential oils of tea tree, peppermint and lavender for their healing qualities and to mask the strong odor. For a harder bar of soap, I added 3% salt and 3% sodium lactate.

neem 2

neem 1

When I removed the cover of my log mold, I was horrified to see crystal droplets on the soap surface.  My immediate thought was “lye heavy!”  I wanted to take pictures but I was too anxious to check the inside for lye pockets and other telltale signs of too much lye.  I touched the crystals and I felt no sting.  I brushed it away with a pastry brush and it turned into dust.  When I cut into the soap, to my pleasant surprise, the texture was perfectly smooth and creamy! The edges were a bit brittle/crumbly, but it may have been the salt and sodium lactate combination or too much of either one? My guess is that it was salt condensation that I saw on the surface, but does anyone have a similar experience or know exactly what it was? I tried the zap test for the first time ever this morning, and I all I got was a soapy anise-like taste!

As for the smell, the tea tree was plenty strong but there was also a distinct putrid egg smell when I unmolded it.  However, after a day, the odor had mellowed down, leaving the tea tree and peppermint to shine (I could not pick up the lavender scent).  I would say it smells medicinal but nothing offensive.

 

Spotty Aloe Vera Soap

My neighbour dropped off the other day this huge aloe vera leaf…..

aloe vera leaf

…..and gave me a couple of young plants and a teeny weeny baby for me to grow:

aloe vera shoots

I was not planning on making more soaps until I got new fragrances, but what was I do with a gorgeous hunk of an aloe vera?  Voila! …..

Are the white spots from the aloe gel or an entirely different problem?

Are the white spots from the aloe gel or an entirely different problem?

It was still green after unmolding, but now it is turning khaki.

It was still green after unmolding, but now it is turning yellowish brown.

I used my trusty wooden mold with my new 5-paneled acrylic insert.  The idea seemed good, but boy was I wrong!  I was able to slide off the small ends, but the bottom and side panels stuck to the soap like super glue.  In the end I had to use a metal spatula to separate the soap from the panels. Because of the see-through acrylic, I was able to guide the spatula with minimal damage to the soap.

The acrylic panels would not come off!

The acrylic panels would not come off!

I used pili oil and olive oil to impart a green tinge to this soap. It was green for but a very brief time, and it slowly turned yellowish brown with barely a hint of green.  Other fats used were coconut oil, castor oil and beeswax. I followed what Jen of jenorasoaps did: scrape the aloe vera gel, blend it up and use it as part of  the liquid in the recipe. I made a 50% lye solution and I separately added the pureed aloe vera gel after pouring the lye solution into the oils. I scented it with lavender and eucalyptus essential oils, but since this was insulated for a full gel, the scent has somewhat faded.

I searched the internet for photos of aloe vera soap and they were all even-toned.  I don’t know why mine is spotty.  I hope it’s just small lumps of aloe vera gel.

6/23/13

I have been using this soap for the past week and I am absolutely loving it!  It is one of my favourite soaps, probably a tie with my beer and egg soap.  The lavender scent is mild, but still there, and smells very fresh and clean.  It lathers well and makes my skin feel moisturized and healthy.  I am looking forward to making more aloe vera soaps!

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