Lavender-Tea Tree Charcoal Soap

After some requests from friends and family, I decided to whip up some soap that is generally awesome for oily/irritated, problematic skin. After researching a number of different ingredients – I decided to incorporate lavender and tea tree essential oils into a soap with activated charcoal. Lavender essential oil is known for its soothing properties, while tea tree oil works wonders against inflammation and dry/itchy skin, and also kills bacteria and activates the immune system. I decided to use activated charcoal because it helps draw out impurities and toxins from skin pores. I also added a little bit of ground oatmeal (at light trace) for exfoliation. I have to say, this soap is becoming a fast favorite! Not only does it work wonders for my skin, but it smells amazing.

Here’s a picture of the finished product:

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BEER SOAP!

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I love to make soap. My husband loves to brew beer. So, we decided to join forces and make some beer soap – which was inspired by a recipe I stumbled across on a blog by Offbeat+Inspired (www.offbeatandinspired.com = totes awesome blog). I used the cold process technique, which is outlined in my Candy Cane Peppermint Soap Post.

 Ingredients used:

  • 595 grams olive oil
  • 284 grams jojoba oil
  • 142 grams macadamia nut oil
  • 340 grams coconut oil
  • 85 grams castor oil
  • 255 grams palm oil
  • 227 grams lye
  • 539 grams dark beer (I used my husband’s version of a dark malt/chocolate bock)
  • Grapefruit/lemon/& orange essential oils – 22grams of each

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It is very important that the beer you use is completely flat/no carbonation whatsoever before adding the lye – otherwise it can erupt and cause serious burns.

I left the beer out for 24 hours, and then gave it another good stir before adding the lye. I melted my hard oils, waited until both lye water and oils reached 110 degrees and then combined using my stick blender. Once at light trace, I added:

  • citrus essential oils
  • 3 tablespoons ground dark malted barley (for extra-exfoliation)
  •  3 tablespoons of honey (humectant/moisturizing properties

Then, I poured into 2 molds and topped with flaked barley.Image

 

 

The end result yielded about 18 bars of beautiful soap that smell AH-MAZING. I have to remind my husband that he has to wait a few weeks before the soap is ready to be used… but I can’t blame him for being excited!

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Baby showers

While this blog is primarily devoted to soap-making, I do enjoy all things DIY/baking/crafting and party planning. Back in August, I threw a baby shower for my best friend. They wanted a gender-neutral, ocean themed shower to match their nursery motif. I made a diaper cake using sand dollars and pencil starfish, with faux-flowers (hydrangeas) held in the center. Diaper cakes are super easy to make and there are some very helpful tutorials on YouTube! Basically, I used 2 bottles in the center, and some postal-sized elastic bands to hold the rows of rolled up diapers in place around the base. I filled the bottles with the hydrangeas at the center, and hot-glued some jute/burlap around the center of each tier. Then I affixed the starfish and shells to the outside. Voila! Diaper cake!Image

For favors, I also baked these shortbread starfish cookies and decorated with royal icing. I wrapped each cookie individually in cellophane and tied with raffia ribbon. The cookies went fast!

Starfish cookie favors

Starfish cookie favors

Red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting, topped with graham cracker crumb "sand" and a white chocolate sand dollar.

Red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting, topped with graham cracker crumb “sand” and a white chocolate sand dollar.

Making colorful rainbow fruit skewers!

Making colorful rainbow fruit skewers!

Which soap would you like to see next?

Which holiday soap should I make next? Vote and stay tuned!

Candy Cane Swirl Soap

With the holidays approaching, I decided it’s time to start making soap for gifts. First batch of the season was candy cane swirl soap, made with peppermint essential oil. I love love LOVE peppermint essential oil… not only because it smells divine – but it also leaves your skin feeling cool and tingly! I used one of my favorite [& palm oil free] recipes from the book, “The Soap Maker’s Workshop: The art and craft of natural handmade soap,”  by Dr. Robert S. and Katherine J. McDaniel. (This is a great book/resource to use if you are just getting started in soap-making, and contains some really great CP soap recipes!)

Ingredients:

  • 750 grams coconut oil
  • 700 grams olive oil
  • 900 grams shortening
  • 342 grams lye
  • 650 grams distilled water

First, I measure out all the hard oils (coconut oil, olive oil and shortening) using an electronic food scale, then add to a large stock pot. Once all the hard oils have been measured out, heat them on medium-high heat until melted.

Measure out hard oils and place in large pot to be melted.

Measure out hard oils and place in large pot to be melted.

Once your hard oils have melted to liquid form, turn off the stovetop and remove the pot from the heat. It will take a while for these oils to cool down, and ideally you will want both your oils and lye-water mixture to be about 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit before combining.

Once oils have melted, turn off and remove from heat. You will want this mixture to be about 110-120 degrees F before adding lye-water mixture.

Once oils have melted, turn off and remove from heat. You will want this mixture to be about 110-120 degrees F before adding lye-water mixture.

Next, comes the **lye safety measures!** This is where donning attractive face masks and safety goggles comes into play. I always combine my lye into water in my kitchen where it is well ventilated and I have plenty of open space, just to be safe. Carefully, add your lye INTO water. NEVER POUR WATER INTO LYE, as this is very dangerous and can cause an explosive reaction and result in burns. No bueno!

Using a stainless steel bowl, I added the lye into distilled water and carefully stirred until the water turned from cloudy to clear.

Using a stainless steel bowl, I added the lye into distilled water and carefully stirred until the water turned from cloudy to clear.

Next, use a digital food thermometer (dedicated to soap use only) to measure the temps of both your lye water and melted oils. Ideally, they will reach 110-120 degrees around the same time. Often times for me, my oils will be over 300 degrees, so I will fill the kitchen sink with ice water and place the stock pot in the sink to cool down. In my experience, the lye water cools off much more quickly.

Measure the temperatures of your lye water and hard oils until they reach 110-120 degrees F.

Once your oils and lye-water have reached the correct temperature, CAREFULLY pour the lye water into the oils. I use a stick blender to quickly combine the two mixtures. DO NOT OVER BLEND YOUR SOAP, otherwise you will end up with a mixture that “accelerates” and basically hardens into soap prematurely (and good luck getting that out of the bowl!) You want to blend until the soap reaches what is called a “light-trace” and basically has the consistency of watery gravy. I don’t have a picture of this, but if you Google-image “soap at trace” there are plenty of helpful images. Once your soap is at light-trace, it is time to mix in your additives. I used about 2.5 ounces of peppermint essential oil. I also split my soap into two different bowls at this time, one bowl I left “as-is” (white color) and the other bowl I added an ounce of red oxide colorant (called “brick red” from BrambleBerry).

Red Brick oxide pigment

 

Peppermint essential oil.

 

Then, I spooned alternating colors of soap mixture into the molds until it was gone!

Soap spooned into silicone molds

Next, I placed some aluminum foil over the soap, placed them on a cookie sheet and placed a towel over them to keep them insulated. I refer to it as “tucking the soap in!” Keep your soap insulated for the first 24 hours to allow for the “gel phase” – as the lye reacts with the oils and creates soap! After 24 hours your soap will be ready to remove from the molds and cut into bars. After this, they will need another 3-5 weeks to “cure” before they are safe for use. Should be ready just in time for the holidays!!

I used a soap cutter to get beatiful, wavy 1-inch thick bars of soap (pictured here is from BrambleBerry)

I used a soap cutter to get beautiful, wavy 1-inch thick bars of soap (pictured here is from BrambleBerry)

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Hope you enjoy!! Happy soaping 🙂

-Kate

First post!

Since I’m becoming more and more addicted to soap-making, it seemed only natural to create a blog to accompany my obsession. With the help of some amazing blogs and YouTube tutorials, I have learned (and continue to learn) all about cold-process soap making, as well as swirling and coloring techniques. I made my first batch of lavender chamomile goats-milk soap over a year ago, and have taken some classes locally since then. Not only is it a fun and productive hobby, but I have found that home-made soap is SO much better for my sensitive skin. My hope is to inspire others who are interested in soap making, and meet other soap-makers who inspire me. I am always looking for feedback and suggestions, so if you have ideas for future soap batches, please comment!

For those who may not be familiar, or are new to soap-making: cold-process (CP) soaps do not contain the harsh chemicals that are found in name brand soaps. CP soap making can be dangerous as lye (sodium hydroxide) is used. Lye is a harsh, caustic chemical, similar to bleach, which can cause severe burns if not used with caution. Fortunately, the lye is slowly “saponified” (neutralized) by the oils and fats in the soap as and deactivated over the course of a 3-6 weeks (referred to as “curing” period for your soap). The end result is a bar of lovely old-fashioned SOAP!
Happy soaping! -Kate

My first bar of CP soap!

My first bar of CP soap!