Lemonade trumps the lemon!

Circles & Squares

Y’know the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, this is a fine example of just that.

Inspired by this post on using different oil infusions as a colorant, I decided to plunge into uncharted waters and whip up my own version. No no, nothing fancy like swirls. Just two layers with soap balls and bars as embeds. The colours I had in mind were just two – creamy yellow and a nice lavender. I thought alkanet and madder root infusions would do just the trick.

Apparently not.

What I got was an icky blue-green-grey layer that was neither blue or green and definitely not purple!

From one angle, it looks grey, another brown-grey and when I showed it to Nil, he just went “Uhhh…it looks interesting”. He then suggests that I save a few bars for my mother-in-law, an artist and remarked that it reminded him of paintings by Gustav Klimt. After doing some search, I would say that this batch of lemonade reminds me of more geometric abstract art.

Still, it’s flattering when he tells me that a botched batch is artistic!

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Keeping my fingers crossed…

Pure (Breast milk): Saponifying

One big thing about soapmaking is that if you discover in the beginning that you may have a tiny problem with your soap, you have to wait at least 16-18 hours before confirming it.

That’s Pure – my breast milk-shea butter soap – saponifying. It’s currently gelling (see this link for an explanation on what gelling is) but that isn’t the problem. The problem is in the beginning – at the lye solution stage. I used 100% frozen breast milk and added in the lye gradually, stirring a lot as I went along. I thought I stirred enough but as I reached the bottom of the container (while pouring it into my soap), I saw a few (around four to five) tiny lye pellets.

My heart sank.

Undissolved lye.

I didn’t use the pellets (thankgoodness there wasn’t any more milk-lye solution in the container) but now I wonder if my soap has undissolved lye. I will have to wait till tomorrow before I find out and if there are lye pockets, I’ll end up rebatching this like how I did with my cucumber soap.

So yes, am keeping my fingers crossed!

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Stamping too soon!

Stamping soap too soon!

When you stamp soap too soon – as in just after unmoulding (I took some time out from designing my inventory labels) – this is what you may end up with!

Not all recipes will give you this result. Some like Panax hardened well enough for me to soap it right after unmoulding (within the 16-18 hour window). If I waited any longer, stamping would become a pain. Others like Two Tone and Greyscale have a wider window wait although I prefer to stamp right after unmoulding – less work and well, I don’t have to wait too long to take pictures. Others like Très Miel and this one – I discovered – can only be stamped at least one to two days after unmoulding. One should also consider factors like whether the soap gelled or not.

O’well, looks like this sample bar will be heading to my soap stash. On hindsight, I should have stamped on the leftover sliver I got from cutting up the loaf. Heh.

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Très Miel (Superfatted)

Très Miel

Très Miel (Superfatted)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Sodium Hydroxide, Oat Milk, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Honey, Ground Oats, Fragrance, Cane Sugar.

Sample bar weight: Approx 65 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 129 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 30 March

Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.

You can’t really see the granulated sugar on the top but this was totally unexpected. As of now (over six hours after unmoulding and slicing), the soap still hasn’t changed colour and I must say that I love its creamy appearance. Lets see if time will change that.

In the meantime, I’m awaiting the arrival of supplies for my next batch of soap – I’ll be redoing my chocolate marble soap but with some changes to it, namely the swirl factor. I’m also gravitating back and forth between an all-palm free line or having just one or two soaps with palm oil (certified bio, of course). I have to consider the cost as palm oil alternatives like shea, cocoa and mango butter are more expensive.

By the way, do you see anything different with the content and the site’s menu? Hehehe.

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If you don’t succeed…

Très Miel: Loaf saponifying

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s Très Miel (Very Honey) saponifying away. It is my second try – my first ended up in the bin. I kid you not. I threw away 700 gms of oil made up of oils and butters like coconut, olive, shea, sweet almond and castor oil not to mention oat powder, honey fragrance and honey and took some time out from catching up with my TV series (thank you, vlc player!) to redo this again.

You see, I wanted to use oatmilk in place of water as my liquid base so without thinking, I decided on 100% oatmilk. The end result was a lye-milk base that looked like cookie dough. On hindsight, I should have just trashed the lye mix and redo it (thus I wouldn’t waste the oil base) but I wanted to see what would happen if I dumped this “dough” into my oil mix. I ended up with soap that was a little on the oily side, had flakes all over from I don’t know what and it just looked awful. None of that smooth creamy appearance that I’d normally get. I didn’t want to rebatch it so I dumped it.

Then I decided to do a little bit more reading and research. After hunting online for more information and relooking at my recipe plus technique, I decided to try again but this time I used less oatmilk (20% – I’ll be aiming for 50% in my next round) and added it in before trace together with the honey. I also soaped at a lower temperature instead of my usual temperature.

The result is what you see above – the top is sprinkled with granulated cane sugar just to give it a textured appearance. I can’t wait to unmould this tomorrow morning! Hehehe. All in all, I’m glad I experimented – making mistakes is part and puzzle of soapmaking.

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Panax (Superfatted)

Panax: Sliced bar

Panax (Superfatted)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Mango Butter (Mangifera indica), Sodium Hydroxide, Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Essential Oil (Ylang Ylang, May Chang, 4 Thieves), Ginseng Powder, Coix Seed Powder, Cinnamon Powder.

Sample bar weight: Approx 55 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 105 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 28 March

Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.

Surprisingly, Panax turned out quite nice despite the crazy pseudo-trace phenomenon I got. I’ll need to soap at a higher temperature (at least 135°F) in order for this to not occur again. Yes, I have decided to keep this recipe as I’d like to have a couple of palm-free soaps. As I would expect, the soap was pretty hard when I unmold this morning (18 hours after bedding) so I could stamp this two hours later and not end up with a distorted image.

This will be the last batch in which the bars are less than 1 inch/2.5 cm thick. I will be going back to cutting 2.5 cm thick bars which will give me around 8 full bars IF I don’t decide to make any samples. At the moment, I am getting five 2.25 cm full bars and five 1.5 cm sample bars. If I go back to cutting 2.5 cm bars, my sample bars will probably be thinner. I intend to make about four to five sample bars per loaf so how I slice up my next loaf will be crucial.

I have been receiving a lot of push to sell my soaps once they are done curing. I am still a bit hesitant because I’m new at this and I don’t want to mess around with people’s skin. On top of that, I’m wary of any possible incidents of rash, allergic reactions and so forth – not that I think it’ll happen. I test all my soaps before I give them out to people to make sure that it’s lye-free and safe for use.

Maybe I am overthinking it. I have everything set up – website, Facebook page, albums, etc. I just need to sum up the courage to announce it officially.

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The super fast trace soap

Panax: Loaf

I think I’m starting to build a collection of “mistake” soap batches. First I had overheated soap, then I had soap that traced ultra quick – thanks to fragrance oils – and today, I had soap that traced immediately the moment the lye hit the base oils! I soaped at 40 C and just poured in the lye as usual. Turned around to put the container for the lye into the sink. When I turned back, I could see that the soap batter looked different. OMIGOD, is that what I think it is?

I scrambled to take out my stick blender and stir it with the spatula instead. Within a minute, it hit medium trace so that meant tossing the essential oils in, mixing them well, pouring half into the mould before I toss in the cinnamon and some oil into the remaining batch. By the time I got the top layer in, it looked like thick trace! What is going on????

I suspect it’s either the lye, additives (powders) or the mango butter so I’m going to try this base again. I added in the powders (ginseng and coix seed) to the base oils. Normally it would just sink and that’s about it. As for the mango butter, it was softer than the type I got so I’m wondering if that’s the reason as to why it just went crazy. In terms of lye, I used pre-made lye – I have used this with my previous soaps so I’ll change this first since the previous soap traced pretty fast as well.

The loaf doesn’t look as pale as it was when I snapped the picture as it gelled about two hours ago. I’ll unmold this tomorrow morning and see if it comes out alright. If not, it’s either going into the rebatch pot or bin – depends on how bad it is. In the meantime, I’m going to hold my breath, focus on syntheroid reviews and wait. Hai.

Panax: Peaked tops

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