Greyscale (Superfat)

Greyscale: Sliced Bars

Greyscale (Superfat)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Palm Oil (Elaeis guineensis)(*), Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Bamboo Charcoal, Rice Powder, Fragrance.

Sample bar weight: Approx 63 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 115 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 20 March

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

* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming

I wanted to experiment with embeds – cubes, to be exact and used sample bars from my previous soaps. Because I don’t use oxides or micas as a colorants, I didn’t have a lot of choice – my soaps are mostly tan, creamy yellow, black-brown or light green. So I settled with tan and creamy yellow. I tossed in some Japanese bamboo charcoal, reducing the amount. The last time I added in 50% more and had a crappy time washing things out. This time, clean-up was easy but as you can see, the colour is not very strong. Still, I like the combination (reminds me of pandora beads jewellery!) even though I’m tempted to go for a full-on black next time.

Greyscale: Loaf

I also added in some rice powder, a traditional Asian beauty ingredient. Rice powder not only brightens skin but also has moisturizing and water retaining effects on the skin. It is alleged to help increase the production of collagen for younger looking skin.

This is my third loaf using fragrance oils at trace and it went ultra thick within minutes. I barely had time to pour it into my mould and toss in my soap cubes before pouring in the next layer. I wasn’t even pouring the top layer on! It was more like scooping and trying to smooth and smoosh everything together. While thick trace allows me to get peaks as you can see from the picture above (I spritzed the entire log with 90% alcohol to prevent thick layers of ash but I still got some ash anyway – no biggies, it adds that rustic appearance), it also means that I got some air pockets as you can see below. It’s just an aesthetic/appearance thing. The soap will still do its job, just doesn’t look all that “perfect” especially when one side of the soap has no air pockets and the other side does. Heh.

I might be taking a break from soapmaking as Nil has left for Poland and that means I’m alone with the kids for 10 days. I have to play catch-up with my other hobbies, particularly my knitting. My WIPs are starting to pile up and I really do need to finish Eva’s sweater. She won’t be able to wear it this season so hopefully I’ll be able to get it done in time for spring.

Greyscale: Pockets from pouring at thick trace.

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Two Tone (Superfatted)

Two Tone

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.

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Bubble test: Chocolate Marble Loaf

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!).

Testing out my Chocolate Marble Loaf soap

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.

The resulting foam

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.

The test bar

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!

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Spring Breeze v1.0 (Superfat)

Spring Breeze v1.0

Spring Breeze v1.0 (Superfat)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Cucumber Juice, Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia ternifolia), Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Mugwort Powder, Yogurt, Goat’s Milk Powder, Fragrance.

Sample bar weight: Approx 48 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 87 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 8 March

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

* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming.

This is the failed Spring Breeze rebatched (read: cut up, melt and pour into a mould). I did the rebatching this morning and the loaf cooled down pretty fast. My house is not very warm – about 20°C at most so that’s probably why. By evening, I could unmould and slice up the loaf. I took a lot off the edges as I used my silicon mould which didn’t give a perfect rectangular or nearly square shape that my previous couple of soaps have. As a result, the full bars are a little lighter.

I kept the trimmings in a separate container, all roughly chopped up as I’m planning to use them in my next soap (hush, cannot tell!). I did get the hubs to try out a small cube and he thinks it’s nice, although a little light on the lather (that will fix itself up after the usual curing). The fragrance isn’t too overpowering but a smidgen of cucumber coupled with some mint.

In terms of ingredients, I used cucumber juice and some yogurt to give it a creamy feel. In the rebatch, I tossed in some mugwort powder and goat’s milk powder to give it a bit of colour as well as smoothness. Cucumber is a natural astringent whereas mugwort is known for its healing properties and it is said to help tackle skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis. It also helps reduce abnormal cell production and promote healthy cell growth.

Although I like how this rebatched soap looks – rustic and very handmade – I will give this recipe a go again in the future just to get a hang of what went wrong and how to fix it (I have my ideas and a strategy on this). It won’t be any time soon thought as I think the hubby is starting to give me the evil eye! Plus we are running out of curing boxes (and I’m swamped – have to do some read-up on pentair heat pumps)! Gah.

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Contents | Chrysanthemum-Infused Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Chrysenthemum Tea, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Sodium Hydroxide, Mango Seed Butter (Mangifera indica), Cane Sugar.

Sample bar weight: Approx 48 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 94 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 8 April

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

I’ve been thinking of adding a little twist of some sorts to my soaps and have been playing around with using tea or infusions in place of just demineralised water. While I was okay with using Western-styled infusions, I wanted to look at my Asian roots.

A visit to my father-in-law’s yielded a surprise – dried chrysanthemum flowers! Nil and I had some (a fat 350gm bag) sent over as a gift when we were in Singapore and the bag was still rather full. In fact, they weren’t too sure what to do with it or how to drink it. I asked if I could have a few handfuls to add to my soap and I was told to help myself. When I opened the bag…ohmy, what a lovely fragrance! And the tea…a very nice yellow which you can see in the soap. I’m not too sure if the colour will stay but no matter, me likes! After checking out reviews on tom tom GPS, I embarked on a test run for this batch.

I didn’t want to do a full batch because it was my first time working with water discount and a recipe that called for a huge amount of olive oil. I am not that gungho to go and try Castile soap (100% olive oil). Soaps high in olive oil (Bastille, Castile, Marseilles – 70-100% olive oil) take longer to trace and set. So I spent a few days over the course of the past two weeks researching on how to go about making my Bubkins soap and decided to utilize the chrysanthemum tea (and infused oil).

So why chrysanthemum? In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum is known as a cooling herb and is used to clear the liver (anger, stress, and related emotions) (reduces inflammation) and eyes. It is often incorporated in a variety of herbal mixes for treating sinus congestion, fever, complexion problems, cholesterol issues and high blood pressure.

My reasons? I just like the fragrance, smell and colour. Not that this soap will smell of chrysanthemum. I left this unscented as I wanted it to be a mild bar which I could use for babies, people with sensitive skin/nose, etc. It has a light olive fragrance to it though – 75% olive oil in a soap will do just that! Anyway, this batch will be curing for a little longer than usual in order to set, firm up and well, get better especially if you want lather. The initial cure time will be 60 days and after which, I’ll check on the lather and overall soaping qualities. If it doesn’t pass, it’ll cure for another 60 days.

Did anyone mention that these sort of soaps are a test of one’s patience?

Oh, as you can see in the picture above, it didn’t really gel fully, resulting in that clear line between the dark and light patch. No matter, it’ll slowly fade as the soap cures although I can’t say that it looks awful. I’m beginning to embrace my partial gels! Hehehe.

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The overheated soap.

The overheated Spring Breeze

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!

The overheated Spring Breeze - Inside

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Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Breast Milk, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Sodium Hydroxide, Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia ternifolia), Tea Infusion, Essential Oils (Sandalwood, Neroli, Lavender, Chamomile), Tea Leaves.

Sample bar weight: Approx 67 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 124 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 4 March

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

Lots of stress with this one. For starters, while mixing the lye with the tea infusion, the lye stopped melting and temperature stopped climbing. So I add in a couple of frozen bits of milk. Lye didn’t climb which makes sense because it’s frozen bits of milk with already stagnant temperature. I add in all the frozen chunks of milk and gradually add in the remaining lye. The thermometer spat out a figure that was below 25°C. WHAT? But hey, the milk is melting. Gah. This whole lye-milk-tea infusion was starting to smell like soap, looked a little like soap which I understood to be normal – the reaction between the lye and the fats in the milk.

So I put it aside, measured my oils and when they were ready, I heated up the lye to the right temperature. I tried straining but there were already too much solid bits of stuff so I decided to toss the entire lye mixture in – herb leaves and all. It took a while to get to trace which I thought was normal with high amounts of olive oil and extra fat. I didn’t insulate this one – just covered the sides and that was it. After 30 minutes, I went to check and the mould was warm-cool. Wait a minute. I thought milk soaps were supposed to get bleeding hot, especially considering that I soaped at 40°C. By midnight (one hour later), it was just getting to thick trace (I moved the mould a little to see what would happen). Gah. Time to go to bed.

At 4am – after a feed – (can you see where this is heading?) I go in to take a peek. The soap wasn’t moving so I guess it was just starting to set (if you press your finger on the surface, it is still quite soft) but it wasn’t very warm to the touch. Then at 7am when I got up for the day and went to check, it definitely set and was a little harder (still soft tho) than before. Temp? Not very warm either.

I unmoulded it like 12 hours after bedding and got a nice firm log which had an even colour. There was some residual oil on the bottom – I had this with my chocolate soap – but otherwise, the log look good. No oozing and so forth. I left it sitting in the kitchen – maybe it’s a little chilly today (my soap usually saponifies in the bathroom at a nice 24-25°C and the kitchen/house is 20-22°C) – and one hour later, I see a large dark patch on all four sides!!!! OMIGOD OMIGOD, talk about panic. I immediately went to work on cutting the bars and as you can see, nothing – the inside looks alright.

I suspect I got a gel but it was weird considering that when I unmoulded, the soap was already at room temperature. Maybe the drop in temperature affected it. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens to the sliced bars as it cures. If it’s anything like my first soap, it’ll darken a little and then over time, the patch ought to even out.

But yeah, talk about stress!!!!

(No stamping pictures – the soap is much too soft to be handled in that manner. Maybe tomorrow.)

Tranquility: The side of the sliced bars

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Triple Espresso Coffee Soap (Superfat)

Triple Espresso Coffee Soap (Superfat)

Triple Espresso Coffee Soap (Superfat)
Contents | Coffee and Cocoa Powder-Infused Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)(*), Palm Oil (Elaeis guineensis)(*), Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Brewed espresso, Castor Oil (Ricinus communis)(*), Almond Meal, Grapefruit Essential Oil, Lime Essential Oil, Clove Bud Essential Oil, Patchouli Essential Oil, Coffee Grains, Cocoa Powder.

Sample bar weight: Approx 70 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 127 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 3 March

* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming.

Remember my Kitchen Soap v1.0 (link here)? Well, the main problem with that soap was that it wasn’t dark enough despite being laced with coffee-infused oil. So I upped the ante and added in a whole lot more stuff including triple brewed super strong espresso coffee. I scouted the local shops for the strongest (yet not too expensive) coffee I could find and the result is what you see – a wonderfully ultra dark and – may I add – sleek bar of coffee soap!

Therefore, I renamed this soap as the Triple Espresso Coffee Soap. It’s superfatted meaning while it cleans well, it isn’t supposed to dry out skin so you can take it out of the kitchen and use it in the shower. I added in coffee grounds and almond meal to help with exfoliating as I read that caffeine helps minimize the appearance of cellulite and contain high amounts of antioxidants.

Ahah! More reason to hang on to this recipe and reproduce it!!!

I have also started stamping and polishing the edges off my bars. I still need to work on those pesky air bubbles. It is way less and similar to the Passion soap but nonetheless, their existence annoys me. Hopefully I’ll see less and less of them when my beakers arrive. In the meantime, it’s back to my usual things – reviews on cedar cottage playhouses, the kids and life as a SAHM.

Oh, did I mention that I got a new soap cutter to go with my harp cutter? Kekekeke.

Triple Espresso Coffee Soap (Superfat): Close-up

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