November 30, 2013

Winter's Kiss

The green embeds started out as a batch onto themselves, but when I cut it, I wasn't thrilled with the fragrance. I used eucalyptus, rosemary and basil essential oil and some spearmint fragrance oil and it was too spearmint-y. I kept thinking of Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. And the plain—although pretty—green (from basil) bars just didn't do anything for me.

I chopped the batch up and embedded them in new titanium-dioxide-whitened batch scented with a good dose of rosemary and a touch of basil.

Perfect. It's refreshing and great for clearing up a stuffy nose or foggy head first thing in the AM.

The name Winter's Kiss came to me on the tour bus as we drove underneath the UNIECF Snowflake on 5th Avenue and 57th Street.

Still no luck on naming my Yet-Untitled-Mystery-Novel—even after an evening of Mai Tais and brainstorming.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries

November 15, 2013

Chocolate, Almond and Raspberry

The little pink embeds are rejects from my (Not) Seeing Red experiment.

This batch is completely out of character for me as I'm not a big fan of candy-smelling soap, but I'm not just making soap for my own selfish self anymore. And I've had a few people tell me they love sweet scents.

I received a free sample of Holiday Candy fragrance oil with my order from Brambleberry, so I figured I'd use it to make soap for those with a sweet tooth in the shower.

I blended the sample (which smells like those hard candies shaped like raspberries with the gooey centers that your grandmother had at Christmas time) with some almond fragrance oil. The almond mellowed out the sweetness factor and made it a bit more sophisticated.

The soap itself is made with a big dose of cocoa butter and colored with cocoa powder. That added to the overall scent as well, made it more complex and smoother. It's still not my cup of tea for a bar of soap, but it is heavenly.

They all got packaged in pink fabric. Cute, huh?

The bathing beauty in the background is from a signed paint-by-numbers painting
I found on the street. Who could throw out art like this?

November 9, 2013

Coffee with Milk and Sugar

I made these guys using two separate tandem batches.

The first with twice-brewed coffee added to the lye (or to be more accurate, the lye added to twice-brewed coffee because you should NEVER ADD LIQUID TO LYE!). I also used coffee-infused olive oil pomace and the last of my precious coffee butter. And coconut oil, palm kernel oil, castor oil, cocoa butter and my old buddy—lard. At trace, I added two tablespoons of sugar (for a little extra lather) and a bit of vanilla fragrance oil. I didn't want to overpower the scent of the coffee.

The second batch was 100% coconut oil (with 20% superfat). At trace, I added powdered milk that I'd dissolved in warm water and my brand new pal—titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide from Brambleberry

Is titanium dioxide a natural colorant? No. But it is chemically identical to the mineral pigments that are mined from the earth—but doesn't contain harmful heavy metals. And it's used in as a whitening ingredient in both soap and cosmetics.

Here's a tip on using it: Rather than mixing the powder with oil before putting it in your soap batter, stir it into a little distilled water. It dissolves easily and no lumps.

Anyway, once my two tandem batches were at light trace—dark coffee and white milk—I attempted an in-the-pot swirl, but I'd made too much soap for one pot, so I did a little in-the-pot and a little in-the-mold swirling. I got a little overzealous and some of the swirls blended into a light brown—which actually made me very happy.

More swirls using titanium dioxide will be attempted soon. So stay tuned.

Like coffee soap? Then check out Black, No Sugar, Cardamom, Coffee and Oatmeal and Son of Cardamom.

November 3, 2013

Verbena Beach Bars

Graffiti makes such a nice backdrop

I made a batch of salt bars—or Beach Bars as I call them and they came out super crumbly. Salt bars have the tendency to be crumbly anyway—but these were outrageous. Pick one up and chunks of salt and soap avalanche onto the floor. And if there's one thing I hate, it's messy soap. Which is odd because I'm not an anal person.

So I chopped and crumpled the bars up and used them as embeds. The second batch of soap kind of seals in the salt goodness.

The first batch was made 75% coconut oil, so the bar would still lather up with the salt. I did a superfat of 20% so all that coconut oil wouldn't be drying.

The rest of the batch was olive oil pomace that I infused with flowers from Queen Anne's lace. It made a pretty pale yellow—and Queen Anne's lace (or wild carrot) is supposed to be good for dry, chapped skin. There's a ton of it growing in the garden. I was under the impression it was a native plant, but after doing some research found out it's from Europe and considered invasive. In other words, a weed.

I also threw in a bunch of melt and pour scraps to jazz it up.

The second batch is just a standard recipe with some shea butter.  The olive oil pomace is infused with the last of the lemon verbena I grew last year. Again, very pale, but pretty.

The whole shebang is scented with lemon verbena, holy basil, may chang, bergamot, grapefruit and ginger essential oils. It's a real WOW! fragrance. Very uplifting and energizing.

One of my New Year's Soap-Making Resolutions was to create the Ultimate Lemon Verbena bar. This might be it, but it's not how I imagined it at all.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries