January 29, 2012

Experiment with Lard #2: Tour Guide Soap

Really deep cleans your skin,
but the shea butter keeps it soft. .

If you're a tour guide in NYC (especially if you're on a double-decker bus), you have special skin needs, so I made this soap with myself and other tour guides in mind.

The yellow embed is made with shea butter (good moisturizer, loaded with vitamins and believed to be good for dozens of skin ailments) bought in Harlem and infused with lemon thyme (said to have antibacterial properties). I used a hot process on this and once the soap batter was cool enough, kneaded in vetiver, tea tree, pine and lemon essential oils (a blend designed to make you feel cheerful and energetic) and made a big, happy yellow log.

Next day I made the charcoal surrounding. Read a lot of stuff about how great activated charcoal is for the skin. How it takes out impurities. When you spend 8 hours a day riding around NYC, you get a lot of gunk in your pores. It's actually pretty disgusting.

I infused charcoal in water, added the lye and then let it cool overnight. I wanted everything at a low temperature to keep the lard from getting piggy.  I melted all the oils except the lard in a crock pot then turned it off and added the lard in very tiny slivers so it would melt quickly.

It worked perfectly—except I didn't make enough to cover the embed the way I wanted. I blame my mold for a lot of this. It's a silicon loaf pan and it buckles and makes the bars curved on the side. I always end up cutting the ends off. I'll reuse the ends eventually, but it's a waste.

So, anyway, these soaps have kind of a whacky shape. But that's good for tour guides as well.

Yellow Circle Embed
Olive Oil (infused with marigolds and annatto seeds)
Palm Kernel Oil
Shea Butter (infused with lemon thyme)

Charcoal Surrounding
Olive Oil (infused with Russian sage)
Palm Kernel Oil
Castor Oil
Distilled water infused with activated charcoal.

January 3, 2012

Experiment With Lard #1: Sage and Citrus Scrub

It doesn't smell like pig.
Smells like the sage, lemon, Neroli orange blossom and
bergamot essential oils I used.

I've read all this stuff about lard—both in books and on the net.  It's supposed to make a really good soap, doesn't clog pores and it's inexpensive.

I'm not a vegetarian (but I have been in the past) and I know that the very first soaps were accidently made when it rained on the carcasses of sacrificed animals. So when I saw the tub of lard in the store (and the price—5 pounds for $4.98), I said why not? My other justification is, if you're gonna kill an animal, you might as well use all the parts for something.

Anyway, this was really an experiment on so many levels. I didn't super fat in the recipe, instead I added about two tablespoons of olive oil that was infused with annatto seeds (and ground orange peels) after trace, poured a layer into the mold, added more infused olive oil that made the soap batter darker, poured another layer into the mold and so on. The last layer (the darkest) actually has some annatto seeds in it because I got panic-y  that it wouldn't have enough contrast.

While this was going on, I did notice a kinda piggy smell happening. That put me in a panic as well, but once the soaps were cut, I couldn't smell it. And when washing with scraps, I didn't notice anything. It lathered well (although the lather did have an orange hue) and made my skin feel really nice.

The green sage layer was pretty straight forward. Had a lot of leftovers. I'm not going to re-batch though. Worried about heating up the lard again and it getting that piggy smell.  Next lard batch, I'll keep everything very, very, cool.

Citrus Stripes:
olive oil (infused with annatto seeds and orange peels)
palm kernel oil
coconut oil
castor oil

Sage Layer
olive oil (infused with sage)
palm kernel oil
coconut oil
castor oil