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Unpredictable but pretty

There are many methods for making soap and we have played with almost all of them at this point in our soap life. If you’ve ever considered making soap or listened to a soaper geek out, you’ve probably heard of at least one or two ways we cook. Hot process, cold process, melt and pour, castile, room temp, pioneer, polished or natural, vegan, cruelty free, silk infused, organic, traditional, the list of possibilities goes on and on. Some people will only play with cold processed soaps, others preferring to avoid lye use melt and pour bases, and there are those who literally swoon over the rustic look of hot process soaps. (Yes, we’ve really seen that happen in the booth.) We here have our personal preferences too but have always made it a rule that we will do whatever we can to make someone’s soapy idea come to life. One of the benefits of this rule is that we get to experiment on a regular basis and embrace the variety of results we get. This time we’re looking at hot process soaps and occasionally unpredictable visual effects.

Freshly cut hot process St Arnold beer soap

Hot process soaps are on our “instant gratification” list of soap making. (Hot process simply means heat is applied to the soap base after the lye has been incorporated. It is also used in rebatching soaps.) It can be made and completely cleaned up after in one day, results are useable as soon as they’re cool enough to touch, and it doesn’t seem to burn off essential oils as much in our experience. As a bonus, you get great unique looks with hot process soaps. This picture is from a log we finished last week in a tall mold. The rough, rustic look to the exterior is very common to a hot process log but it’s the interior that made Dorothy smile.

Oversized bar of St Arnold hot process soap and side view of log

The swirls and loops that you see in this picture were not entirely created by our hands. We took a completed but off-sized log of our St Arnold soap, chopped it up, added a bit more of a new base, and cooked it up together. The St. Arnold recipe we use can behave a bit unpredictably at times when we cook it this way so we never seem to get any two batches that look exactly the same when we cut them open. It will pour almost like a thick cold process batter or it may seize up and have to be forced into the mold. Cooking time variances of about ten minutes will give us some fun effects too. It can something as simple as the change of humidity in the soap room on the day we made it that will make a change in the appearance. Sometimes, like the picture below, we even manage to get some wide variety of swirling width within the same batch of soap or individual bar. It’s unpredictable but can be very pretty in the end.

Closer view of rustic looking top and crazy swirled pattern

The glassy smooth exterior of this batch reminds us of obsidian in some of the Hawaiian pictures. The interior colors will darken a bit more before these guys will be ready to go home with anyone but it should still keep the similar look of varying browns. The guys in the soap room say it reminds them of a stone or petrified wood. What do you think of the pattern? We’ll keep debating it here until they go into the booth in October. You’ll be able to find them for sale on the website with the other beer soaps.

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Mixing Soap Techniques Again

I confess, I did it again. Couldn’t help it really. Had a great, simple, straight forward soap idea to make but I just couldn’t behave. As most of our followers have learned, I love to experiment in the soap kitchen. It’s just too much fun to try new shapes, scents, molds, and off the wall ideas for me to resist. My favorite soaps are the old fashioned cold process style but it is a lot of fun to play with the other styles as projects allow me. Luckily, this one let me go crazy.

Uncut Fruit Smoothie Soap
Uncut Fruit Smoothie Soap

There had been multiple requests from customers (and begging from my kids) for me to give a fruity fragrance oil a whirl. It has a blast of so many yummy fruits like raspberries, citrus, kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and apples. I knew it would be fun and expected a kid’s soap from the batch. A simple log soap that could be shared among us all, maybe one swirl or something, standard recipe even. Nothing too crazy, maybe even somewhat boring compared to the other projects that week. It was a busy week too and I knew I would have two sets of sad little eyeballs looking at me if I mentioned maybe waiting until the following week to make their soap. Ahhh, what a parent will do to avoid disappointing their kids at times. So I decided to whip it up real quick while my visiting sister-in-law hung out with me in the kitchen. No pressure anywhere in this, right? Exit my sanity and enter Murphy’s Law. I knew as soon as I unmolded them that there was trouble with the batch. Sure enough, it failed my tests (don’t think Angie’s ever gonna forget lye testing lol) and I had a loaf of soap that the kids were swooning over but couldn’t touch. Time to grab my favorite knife!

Fruit Smoothie uncut in the paper
Fruit Smoothie uncut in the paper

I had enough extra of the fragrance that I decided to chop the batch up and pop it into the double boiler for a milled light green soap. I tweaked it a bit to fix it to my specs (I am known to be picky about them- another way I drive hubby crazy some days) and then the mad scientist light bulb clicked on over my head. I had wanted to try mixing some more soap techiniques and here, lying so innocently in front of me, was the perfect opportunity. Happy dance! I let it finish its cooking while I mixed up a regular soap base which I dyed with annatto seed powder for an orangey red color to make a big contrast in the bases. I combined the raw cold process soap with the hot process soap and did my best to mix them together without overdoing it. I wanted a definite contrast in the soap styles like when we do some of the confetti soaps instead of a completely smooth mix, I had thought. For those soapers thinking of trying this, plan to work quickly. The temp differences make it tricky to completely combine. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to stay put or separate in the mold. Hot process wants to clump as it cools and its texture differences are immediately obvious, even to those who don’t really understand the difference in them. The fruity scent didn’t accelerate either soap, luckily, and hasn’t discolored any of it. It was a lot of fun to make though and I’d do it again. The look of this run is most often compared to slices of lava when people see it. What do you think? I love the texture differences on the tops of these too. We’re still debating if I’ll make this the official look for our Fruit Smoothie soap so please chime in if you have a thought on it!

Side and top view of Fruit Smoothie soap
Fruit Smoothie soap- Mixing soap techniques

Please welcome Fruit Smoothie to our catalog as of today. Sorry I never put out a teaser on this one but I kept this batch aside for special monitoring. It has passed all of its tests every time and is finally old enough to be shared with our friends and followers. Truth be told, I was curious enough about this run that I kept it beyond its usual confinement time ūüôā You’re going to love the fruity smell of this one and the bubbles are awesome! I was surprised at the response to this scent from all ages; it appears that this one won’t be for just the kids. Drop me an email or comment here about your thoughts or find us on Facebook too. We love hearing your input and ideas. I must now get back to tweaking the website in the background. Hope your weekend goes well and we’ll see you at our booth again soon!

Happy Washing!
Dorothy

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Pumpkin Soap

One of our favorite things about fall and winter are pumpkins.¬† I know you can grow and/or purchase them year round but Halloween really gets our celebrating in gear.¬† We love the color and shape of the whole pumpkins, use them for decorating,¬†but our favorite part is to eat them, admittedly.¬† This year, I decided to harness some of pumpkin’s power in soap before we baked it all away!¬† You didn’t know it was good for your skin?¬† Let’s explore this together…

Pumpkin has been known for years to be good for our bodies.¬† It provides fiber, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, and iron just for starters.¬†¬†It is¬†overflowing with alpha-¬†and beta-carotenes¬†which help support skin health.¬† It also has many vitamins¬†including C, E, and B5, which help revive and restore your skin’s health.¬† This is one awesome fruit and tastes great too, in my opinion.¬† But why would I put it in soap instead of my stomach?¬† It has a comforting smell, pretty color, and also leaves your skin smooth and soft –¬†perfect for dry winter months.¬† Why not?

Pumpkin Soap Cooking
Pumpkin Soap Cooking

I started with one of our creamier soap recipes and added pureed pumpkin to the mix.  As you can see in the picture, it created a gorgeous orange color as it cooked in the crock.  (I had a request to make this soap with the hot process method so it cooks for a few hours in a crockpot in that method of soaping.)  When it passed the test & was done, I mixed in a wonderful fragrance that includes a touch of cinnamon, clove, slight sweetness of carrot, nuts, pumpkin (of course), and a hint of rum in the background.  It created a marvelous harvest scent in one of my favorite soaps of the season.  They were cut into large hand bars and average about 5 oz each.  We made enough of this batch to share but this soap will probably remain in our fall/winter lines so grab it before it goes away!

Uncut Hot Process Pumpkin Soap & Wavy Soap Cutter
Uncut Hot Process Pumpkin Soap & Wavy Soap Cutter

As you can see in the pictures, pumpkin soap provided another chance for us to enjoy color morphing that is so common in natural soap making.¬† No colors were added at all to this batch, for those who find that an issue.¬†¬†The soap¬†started with this pretty burnt orange color while cooking, muted to a tan-orange by the time it finished cooking, and then started a gradual browning from the little bit of vanilla in the fragrancing.¬† As you can see, at 24 hours its colors resembled banana nut bread.¬† By four days later, I had mostly brown bars with beautiful¬†dark chocolate-colored¬†swirls throughout it.¬†¬† The entire soap is dark caramel swirl color now and it hasn’t darkened anymore at this point.¬†What fun!

 

Cut Hot Process Pumpkin Soap
Cut Hot Process Pumpkin Soap

As of posting time, I’m still fighting to get these pictures loaded for you to see. If you can’t see the pictures, please check back again later!¬† Have another soapy idea or challenge for us?¬† Contact us and let’s brainstorm!¬† I must now get back to the kitchen and wash a few molds before I start these other soaps this week.¬† Ready to cook this week will be Peppermint and another batch of our beer soap, Texas Suds.¬† Check back in with us later this week to see the update on our Honeysuckle Soap and don’t¬† forget to sign up to follow our blog here or like us on Facebook for the latest updates!

Happy Washing!

Dorothy

 

Finished updating on Dec 11, 2012 at 10:29am CST with all pictures loaded and better description of final color.  -Dorothy