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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gorgeous CP Soap, But Camera is Broken!

Sorry camera has not been working for a while now and it seems so boring to post without a pic. I'm sure there are great articles in all these blogs but I love to look at the pics.

I made a nice creamy CP soap yesterday in my new Soapies 12-bar silicone mold (4 oz.) and swirled black and red on top, but I have no photo to upload!

For red I used liquid red oxide but it came out pink. Still nice, but I was going for a masculine bar of soap. Does anyone know how to get a nice rich RED color in CP soap?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Melt & Pour Bleeding Colors - DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!

When I first started soaping, I only used the melt and pour method. Being green, I began with the soap base, fragrance and colors available at my local craft store.  I was hooked. My creations were beautiful and it kept me busy throughout the winter months. 

I am waiting for material orders from Soapies and Bramble Berry, so instead of making soap today I decided to clean and organize my cabinet of inventory. 

I just threw away 20 lbs. of my melt & pour creations...yes, 20 lbs!!!  All of the colors bled together. My layers were not crisp lines. Colors blurred and turned to a brownish-yellow where they met. I am so disappointed. All that hard work down the drain. It filled 1/2 a trash bag!

So the lesson for today is be sure to use NON-BLEEDING colorants!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hot Process Soap Stones

Here's what I'm working on now. Can you build a wall with soap stones?

Same Soap Recipe, Different Process. Here Are the Results:

Here is a recipe I used to make three identical batches of soap:
2 oz. Canola Oil
6 oz. Coconut Oil
10.5 oz. Olive Oil
2 oz. Shortening
2.86 oz. Lye
6.77 oz. Water

Top left is HP in the crockpot. Top right is forced gel, and bottom left is ungelled. The ungelled, though very pretty, is very light in color. It will need to cure for several weeks before it's ready. The forced gel is beautiful and the swirls are nice. It was easy to swirl.  The top left HP soap was a little difficult to swirl in that it was a thick applesauce consistency and the swirls aren't smooth. I didn't like that one at first. But now that I've cut a sliver and tried it out I LOVE it! (See the bottom right photo). I think it looks like stone and it's now my very favorite! I can't wait to try other colors.

HP in the crockpot:

HP in the crockpot - my favorite! Doesn't it look like granite? I couldn't wait to try it, but I will still need to cure it for a few weeks before using.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Crumbly Cold Process Soap

I just couldn't wait another day to cut my soap. I should have. Look at how crumbly it is. It feels like wet chalk. I should have left it alone for one more day in the refrigerator.  It's still creamy-looking, and the colors are very pretty. Onto the curing rack they go for several weeks. It should harden up as it cures.

BUT...look at all that soap that broke off. It's just under 3 ounces. Nothing goes to waste here! I am going to melt it down in the microwave with a tiny bit of water and re-pour it into small sample-sized soap molds. This is called re-batching, and the finished soap product is lumpy like mashed potatoes (well, lumpy like my mashed potatoes).

These will be good to give out as samples, even though we lost the lovely swirl when stirring the heated soap. That was quick!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cold Process Soap - Let's Do It!

The scary difference between making MP soap and CP soap is that you have to handle lye. Lye is 100% sodium hydroxide and is poisonous. You cannot let it touch your skin because it will burn your skin. You must wear goggles, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when making CP soap. I don't care how hot it is out or how experienced a soaper you are. Accidents happen.  I have read that if you splash lye on your skin,  pour vinegar over it.  I hope I never have to find out if this works. My instinct would be to run it under water to dilute the chemical and call the poison emergency line at 1-800-222-1222.

So are your glasses on now? Okay let's get on with making soap!

Here's a list of materials you will need:
  Quick access to a sink
  A large plastic container/bowl or stainless steel to mix your soap "batter" in
  Two candy thermometers
  Silicone or stainless spatula/spoon for stirring and scraping
  Digital food scale that measures ounces
  Several glass or heat-resistant plastic bowls/beakers
  Bowl of ice water
  Stick blender (thank God for stick blenders!)
  Protective gloves
  Long-sleeved shirt
  100% Lye
  Distilled water
  Oils of your choice
  Fragrance (I use essential oils)
  Coloring, if desired (NOT food coloring)
  Soap mold (wooden mold, silicone mold or heat-resistant plastic container in a pleasing
  Parchment paper

You will need some fatty acids. The term "fatty acid" sounds harsh doesn't it? It's not. Fatty acids are the oils you choose to make your soap. I use vegetable shortening, olive oil, canola oil and coconut oil. If I could find different ones locally I'd try using castor oil, palm oil, sweet almond oil, etc. But I'm very new to soaping and I don't want to pay to ship oil that might result in a failed batch. Let's get a few batches of soap under our belt and then we can branch out and experiment with other fatty acids.

You will need 100% lye (100% sodium hydroxide). I found mine at a local True Value Hardware store. It's not easy to find, and word on the street is drug dealers use it to make methamphetamine. Many stores have pulled it from the shelves for that reason. I suggest calling around before you travel to purchase your lye. I went to 5 stores before finding it.

Line your mold with parchment paper if using a wooden mold. I found this little cheese crate at a yard sale yesterday for $2.00!  The hardest part of lining my mold was getting the masking tape to stick to the parchment paper. If you have a better idea, please let me know!

Do you see my hoosier cabinet in the background? I just organized it so my soaping supplies are all in one area. I love the slide-out work surface. You can find these for short money in antique stores. I found this one many years ago in Essex, MA.

Back to the soap...

The amount of lye, water/liquid and fatty acid/oils you need to make a batch of soap depends on your recipe. You may follow recipes listed online if you have the ingredients or you can follow along with mine.  The amount and type of each oil you choose dictates how much lye and water you must use. There are many lye calculators on the web to help you determine how much to use. I use Brambleberry's Lye Calculator for Soapmakers.  It's simple and straightforward.

Here are my ingredients - your recipe might be different, but I made this one up myself to see what happens:

Vegetable shortening (Crisco) - 10 oz.
Olive Oil (any brand) -4 oz.
Canola Oil - 2 oz.
Coconut Oil - 4 oz.

According to the lye calculator we will need 2.70 oz. of lye and 6.60 oz. of distilled water to mix it into. Use distilled water so you know it's pure and there won't be any surprises when you mix your lye into it. Also, remember to always stir your lye into the water and not the other way around. DO NOT substitute different oils during the soap process. The lye/fatty acid ratio is calculated specifically for this recipe. If you want to use a different oil, you must recalculate using the lye calculator before starting your recipe.

Measure your distilled water on the scale. Set it aside.

Measure your lye in a separate container on the scale.

Carefully pour the lye into the water (never the other way around!) and stir as you pour. Stir until all the crystals have dissolved. It will still look cloudy for a bit. The water will get extremely hot once the lye goes into it. Be careful not to inhale this or breathe the vapor. Do this part near an open window or well-ventilated area. Some people do it with the oven fan on. I do it right in my kitchen sink with the window open. I place the beaker of water and lye into a bowl of ice water and cool it until it reaches about 90 - 100 degrees. You will notice the solution looks clearer now.

While your lye solution is set aside and cooling, measure your fatty acids - your oils.  If the oil is solid like coconut oil or shortening, melt and soften it quick in the microwave, but don't make it too hot. You are shooting for the combined oils to be between 90 and 100 degrees, just like the lye solution.

Here I am slowly pouring the melted shortening and coconut oil into my canola and olive oils. Gently stir together.

Check your lye solution. Is it cool enough yet?

If it is, then it's time to combine it into your oils and stir together. This is when the lye and oil molecules combine to make soap! Saponification begins!
 Now your stick blender comes into play. Pulse in 5 or 10 second spurts, stopping to stir intermittently with the stick until you reach "trace". Trace is when the mixture has thickened enough to leave a trail of batter when you drag the blender across the top of the mixture. The photo below is when I was just starting to mix. No trace yet.

 It's getting a little thicker, and the color is more of a creamy cloudy consistency. No trace yet...
 A couple of minutes later it's really looking like pudding but no trace...
 A couple spurts later and voila! Trace! See the difference?
 Now it's time to add your fragrance and color. Sorry I didn't get photos of this process but my gloves were slippery and I couldn't get the essential oil (Ylang Ylang) open, let alone snap a photo. I was trying to work quickly and the liquid color wouldn't drip out of the bottle. So I had to drop everything and look for a pin to poke through the opening. Geesh!  Note to self: measure the essential oil/ fragrance and soap colorant beforehand and have it ready to go!

Anyway...I poured about a cup of the soap batter into a separate container and squirted a few drops of turquoise color into it. I scented the natural-colored batter with about 1.5 tablespoons of Ylang Ylang essential oil and poured it into my soap mold. Then I poured two rows lengthwise of the turquoise colored batter. Then I just dragged my spoon up and down and back and forth until I was happy with the design on top.

I PROMISE you I will make a video of what I missed in photos to show you how I got this lovely top.

I popped this right into my refrigerator until tomorrow. This way, the soap will not "gel" and will keep its creamy appearance. This is a small batch of soap, so we can easily skip the gel phase. Once I remove it from the mold and cut it in a couple of days, I will then place it on a rack in my hoosier to cure for several weeks. This soap cannot be used for at least 5 or 6 weeks, because it needs to harden. As it hardens, the moisture evaporates and it becomes a milder bar of soap.

I will cover gelling in another post, and we will make a larger batch of soap and see it through the gel stage.

I will update you as I learn more, and show some examples of my progress. I'd love to see what you come up with too. Thanks for following me!

Fullamoon's Tutorial: How to Make SPECTACULAR Gemstone Soaps!

Here is my finished product.

Here is my inspiration pic. I chose this raw chunk of ruby gemstone so I could get the colors right. 

You will need transparent and opaque glycerin melt and pour soap,  essential oils for fragrance, a small container of mica colorant (this makes the sparkle in the rock), a spray container of rubbing alcohol, sharp knife and special coloring for soap (NOT food coloring). You can find all of these items at a craft store such as Michael's or a large JoAnn's Fabrics. You will also need a microwave-safe glass container (or two, or three) to melt your soap, a microwave, something to stir with (popsicle sticks do just fine) and several misc. containers to create your crystals. These are the containers of MP soap I purchased. It's by "Life of the Party" and retails for about $5/lb.

I first melted about a cup of the glycerin in the microwave in a glass measuring cup (don't make it so hot your finger can't be dipped into it). Add a drop of coloring until you have the desired shade, a few drops of fragrance and stir with your popsicle stick. I used grapefruit scented oil for my delicious ruby soap. You will notice tiny bubbles formed on the top of your melted glycerin. Give it a spritz with the rubbing alcohol and they will disappear. Pour into separate containers by color and spritz the bubbles on top with alcohol again to get rid of any bubbles. Let set for about 20 minutes until it's cool and hardened.

Gently pop them out of the mold and cut into shapes as desired. This first layer is for the opaque crystals on the bottom of my rough gemstone.


Melt a portion of clear glycerin (don't forget to add fragrance so each layer smells nice!) and pour into the bottom of your container/soap mold. I used about 1/4". Spritz with alcohol to remove bubbles. The alcohol also helps the next layer of your project "stick" to the previous layer.

Add your opaque glycerin bits BEFORE the clear layer hardens. Add a small amount of translucent glycerin on top of that and give it a spritz. This will hold that layer in place.

Here's where the magic begins to happen. Once it has "set" or hardenend after a few minutes, I lightly brush that first layer of opaque crystals with mica using an eyeshadow brush. Get into all of the little crevices and don't be afraid to blob it in some spots. This is what makes the veins in your layer, that wonderful layer of sparkles you can see through the soap.


Spritz it again with the alcohol and then begin your next layer. I used a pale pink color for my next layer. First pour the translucent, then sprinkle the "crystals" you chopped. Spritz with alcohol, add a little more translucent to make it stay in place. Let it set.

Now you can really see the layers start to form.

Begin slicing your larger crystals that will stick out of the top of your soap. For this I used clear, light pink translucent and dark pink translucent. I cut them this way and that to resemble real crystal formations.

Pour some translucent clear and stick them in this way and that. You have to work quickly as they fall over. I just lean them next to each other and cram them in there however they'll fit. Then pour in more soap melt - I used an opaque pale pink for the top layer.

Here's what it looks like once it's totally hardened enough to pop out of the container.  Make sure it is totally hardened, or else the center will ooze when you cut into it. I let it sit for at least an hour. Here it is next to my inspiration picture. Not exactly like it but it's MY interpretation of it. Yours will look totally different, too!

But wait a minute. We're not done yet! We have to ice the cake now. Nature doesn't give these gems to us perfectly sliced. So I made some imperfections in the cuts. 

Fill in any cuts with your mica powder. I also brush a bit up and down the crystals.

One final spritz of rubbing alcohol to disguise any fingerprints and give it a shiny, finished look and we're done!