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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 🙂 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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Some new pictures

Just a few soap pictures from the past few weeks of work to brighten up your Monday morning! Enjoy!

Swirling practice with natural colorants April 2013
Swirling practice with natural colorants April 2013

Practicing my swirling and with the herb colorants more. This swirl was fun but not quite what I was looking for. The scent was a huge hit though and made it to the keeper list!

Olive and Castor Unscented Soap April 2013
Olive and Castor Unscented Soap April 2013

As requested by many, a plain olive and castor oil soap again. This one will be live in the catalog by the end of the month and also available at our booths this month. The plain pioneer style one will also be live again soon.

Freshly cut Raspberry and Chocolate soap
Freshly cut Raspberry and Chocolate soap

Made another run of the Raspberry and Chocolate also. This picture is freshly cut and shows how red it gets before the vanilla really kicks in and darkens it up. This is such a great smell in the bathroom!

More posts to come soon but wanted to share a little love with everyone on a Monday morning. I must return to the oils and finish whipping up a few more batches of soap. I will be lurking in the background around the site today so drop me a line if you have any questions or catch me on our Facebook page. We will be at both the CyFair Craft Show on Telge Road next weekend and at the Spring Crawfish Festival for the last two weekends of the month. Stop by and say hi! Guys only: don’t forget to email me at dorothy@texaspioneercreations.com if you were interested in joining the final round of feedback for two new men’s scents or adding a comment below! It is Monday so please make sure to be specific in your email- I’m finishing up the first cup of coffee still 🙂

Happy Washing!

Dorothy