The review on soaps from Savon de Mika is finally up. Do check it out over at the soap store’s blog here.
Two Tone (Superfatted)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao)(*), Sodium Hydroxide, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Castor Oil (Ricinus communis)(*), Essential Oil (Ylang Ylang, May Chang, Jasmine, Gardenia), White Kaolin Clay, Bamboo Charcoal, Paprika.
Sample bar weight: Approx 51 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 103 gms (start of curing)
Curing completion date | 18 March
Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.
* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming.
I worked on my layering technique again and am rather please with the outcome this time around. For starters, no accidents with the layering itself – I was very patient and took my time. Same went for the little bits of swirl. I was careful not to overdo things and after 16 hours of bedding & insulating, it was hard and cool enough to unmould (a pop into the oven for 5 minutes did the trick) and as you can see (sort of), no two bar is the same.
I also received my new soap stamp just before unmoulding so you could say that these are test soaps for the stamp. On hindsight, I could wait for the bars to be a little bit harder before stamping (probably within 24-32 hours) but I’m happy with the results. Am thinking of stamping the other blanket side with my other soap stamp but we’ll see how it goes.
This recipe isn’t exactly perfect – I managed to screw up by not adding in my infused oil, hence making up for it by adding paprika powder at trace, resulting in a speckled look. If I were to do this again, it would definitely be just the infused oil. I also played around with some powders I received in the mail last week.
The bottom layer contains kaolin clay which is used because of its ability to draw impurities from the skin without drying it out while exfloliating, cleansing and stimulating circulation. The top layer has Japanese bamboo charcoal, a natural treatment for acne-prone skin as well as ezcema due to its antibacterial properties. It is also known to draw impurities from the skin and pores, making it suitable for acne-prone skin. To help keep skin, especially sensitive, smooth and soft, I threw in some sweet almond oil and castor oil.
Scent-wise, I took a different turn and went for a flowery approach. I have a sensitive nose so strong scents give me a headache plus I also don’t like my floral scents too strong. Since my new stash of oils came in (last week too – it’s Christmas all year round at my place!), I looked around for some nice combinations. After sniffing the blends, I decided on ylang ylang, jasmine, gardenia and may chang. Yup, I use my nose to just find a blend simply because that’s how I work – I follow my nose. It’s not overpowering and very gentle on the nose.
Yes, it was a good soaping day! Now back to my assignment on the side effects of apidexin.
The Chocolate Marble Loaf is nearly cured with two days left to go. A “lick test” last week revealed that the soap is safe for use – it just tastes like soap and no burns. So before I put the bars away in a cardboard box for storage (or start packing them for gifting/sampling), I like to run a trial on my own test bar (I keep a bar for myself – makes no sense to make soap and not keep one for yourself!).
It’s a large bar as you can see and thick too. Would probably suit a man better than a woman but no biggies – you’re not supposed to wash your hands with just one hand and I think it’s better to have a slightly bigger bar for the shower but if it’s too big, especially for teens, you could cut it into half (it takes some force as the bar has harden up considerably). Still, the size and shape is not the issue here as I have ceased to use this mould for a variety of reasons.
At first sign of use, I wasn’t very convinced about the bubbles. This soap doesn’t really produce a lot of the fluffy, light bubbles which you saw with the test on the Grapefruit soap here. But as you go further into the washing process, you get a very nice and creamy lather as you can see in the pic below.
Now we’re talking. After washing my hands, drying them and taking a pic of the bar, I’m still surprised to see lather on it. In fact, nearly 10 minutes later, the bar is still coated with lather! Talk about some staying power.
I got Nil to use the bar as well and as usual, his comment is that it’s soapy. Heh. My take on the bar? It’s yields a nice creamy lather and even though it’s unscented, my nose picked up a slight hint of cocoa (no sweet chocolate fragrance – sorry, folks!). It’s not too drying on the skin which is a relief for me as my hands have started to chafe and crack really bad this past two weeks due to the sudden cold spell.
Now that this test is done and the soap has passed with flying colours, it’ll be packed off to either the storage box or to Nil’s family and my friend for testing while I get back to reviewing some Bogner attire! Hurrah!
When soap overheats, that’s what you end up with. Blargh.
I chucked this in the rebatch pot and since it’s fresh, I didn’t add any liquids, just some mugwort and goat’s milk powder. I figure that since it’s mistake and I’m rebatching, if it goes south, it’s no big deal. I’ll turn it into soap balls, embeds or something else. Definitely a learning experience here.
While washing up the rebatch tools, I noticed that the rebatched soap lathered up pretty well – a sign that there is nothing wrong with the recipe, just the technique. So it’s back to the drawing board with this one. I’ll probably make up a fresh batch later – kekekeke.
In the meantime, I’m off to work on my quilt!
It’s all about learning from your mistakes.
Soapmaking, I discovered, isn’t about celebrating success as well but about making mistakes and finding out what went wrong. One thing good and almost forgiving is that when a wrong batch of soap, you can do what some soapmakers do – rebatch. That is basically re-cooking your mistake soap. Most of the time though, if there is nothing wrong with the recipe and the error is mostly aesthetic, soapmakers turn their mistakes into potpourri chunks, soap balls, embeds or just live with it.
That was exactly what happened with Spring Breeze (SB), my cucumber-yogurt soap. I decided on a whim, after having bedded my Bubkins soap (75% olive oil), to soap SB at 50°C. My usual soaping temperature is around 30-40°C (depending on the recipe), I can relax as it takes some time to reach trace and I usually insulate my soaps which result in gelling. But this time around, no thanks to the fragrance oil, my soap reached thick trace faster than usual. I barely had time to mix in everything and pour it into the mould! Within 30-45 minutes, the whole thing gelled. I didn’t think much about it and kept it insulated – bad bad bad. That was when it happened – overheating and weeping (oil oozing from the soap). OHNO!
I quickly removed the insulation and hoped for the best. I was told by other soapmakers out there that it could still work since I removed the insulation – it would just look ugly on the top. If the oils get reabsorbed and there are no pockets (air or lye), I could just keep it as it is and trim off the ugly top.
After six hours of “drama”, SB has cooled down to the colour that it originally was and the oil that was oozing out is less – a sign that it is being reabsorbed.
I’m hoping that by tomorrow morning or noon, it would be just right when I unmould. If there are no pockets, I plan to just trim the top but if there are pockets, I might end up rebatching it or turning it into soap balls or embeds. I plan to remake this recipe again but with a different base since I ran out of shea butter (will use mango or cocoa butter instead).
But yes, it’s all about embracing errors!
In the meantime, my Bubkins soap is turning out just fine – it’s starting to gel just after 10 hours of bedding and I am keeping it insulated. Chances are I’ll only unmould it on tomorrow night at the earliest as soaps high in olive oil take longer to harden. There is a little something in my Bubkins soap but I’m reserving it for the actual soap post. Hehehe.
Now, back to work on assignments for pandora style bracelets and a quilt for Noah!
My Grapefruit with Vanilla Oil soap is nearly done with curing – it has been nearly three weeks already – and so I decided to move away from my coach (all comfy with my nursing pillow which doubles as a body pillow) to grab a small portion and test it for bubbles & lather.
INFO: When soap is fresh (unmould and cut), it doesn’t lather up. Lather takes time to build so all the more reason as to why curing your soap is important.
Taking pics of soap and/or bubbles in one hand isn’t all that easy. I had to hang the camera around my neck, wash my hands, rinse one hand and then attempt to take a CLEAR and STEADY shot with another hand on supermacro mode. Heh.
Anyway, the bar is a success! As you can see, there is plenty of lather and bubbles plus no zapping feel (extra lye left in the bar can really burn and zap your skin). Overall scent is very very mild – I detect a faint citrus fragrance but my nose is sensitive so not too sure what the hubby will say about that.
The soap is left next to the commercial liquid handwash we use in the kitchen, which my hubby hates because it’s too drying on the hands. I agree – after hot water and that soap, my hands are beginning to crack at the knuckles. *sob* I think my soap is way better even though it’s not fully cured but it could be just me. Will see what the hubby has to say.
“Orange Vanilla Choco Terrine” Soap v1.0 (Superfat)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)(*), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)(*), Sodium Hydroxide, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Fragrance, Goat’s Milk Powder, Cocoa Powder.
Curing completion date | 25 February
Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.
* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming
While the scent and overall components of the soap is fine, the construction and technique requires more work. I am beginning to notice the tiny air bubbles – an annoyance when stirring with a too strong stick blender (must turn power down for the next one). The layering was an issue as 1) I wasn’t patient enough to wait, 2) didn’t use a spoon/spatula when pouring the second layer on top (hence me breaking through the first layer – very obvious in some bars (see pic below)), 3) some bars have the embeds and some don’t (I reckon it has something to do with the trace factor of my first batter) and 4) the sprinkle of cocoa powder wasn’t done properly (should use a sieve for this). While the resulting bars are still okay, there are some bars with pockets of “wet” cocoa powder. I hope they’ll dry while the bars are curing.
In terms of volume, these bars are a lot bigger than the previous ones. I went from a 500 gm recipe to 700 gms and I used my Mitre soap box plus new cutter to cut the loaf up into bars. As a result, I went from smallish 11 bars to rather substantial nine bars with two thin ends. Why I say smallish is now that they are reaching their 4th week of curing, they are rather light after having lost water (and hardening in the process). With any luck, I’m hoping that my new soap mould will yield a good-sized bar that will fit the palm better – these, I think, are a bit chunky for me but reckon they should be okay for the kitchen or handwashing.
I’ll try stamping these later – after looking through some rustic decor ideas – as well as tomorrow just to experiment with the timing as well as the outcome of stamping. Nothing fancy – just a “faire a la main” (handmade) stamp I bought when I first got my supplies. 🙂
UPDATE: Stamping soaps right after unmoulding – bad bad idea. Soap stuck to the stamp and nearly fell apart (I practised on a tiny sliver). Will see what happens if I stamp it on Friday. Hm.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Stamped the soap 1 day after cutting (Thurs – 26 Jan) – HURRAH! It was much better. I tried stamping it again on Friday (27 Jan) and the bar cracked! Argh. Need to go buy a block of wood and a mallet.
“Kitchen Soap v1.0”
Contents | Water, Coffee-infused Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)(*), Palm Oil (Elaeis guineensis)(*), Sodium Hydroxide, Castor Oil (Ricinus communis)(*), Almond Meal, Grapefruit Essential Oil, Clove Bud Essential Oil, Patchouli Essential Oil, Coffee Grains.
Curing completion date | 19 February
* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming.
It’s back to the drawing board with this recipe (Kitchen Soaps are great at removing smells and/or dirt, and is a good addition to your stash of gardening tools). Somehow I feel that the finished soap isn’t as dark as I would like it to be. Perhaps I need to do more than just infuse the oil with coffee (am not aiming for a coffee scented bar so that’s not an issue). Will probably add some cocoa powder and coffee grains directly to the mix. Another batch coming up tonight perhaps?