The Fortnight in Soap: 30th July, ’17

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you – school holidays have totally messed with my blogging schedule (never mind my soaping schedule!!).  This time last week I was most likely in the middle of a field playing swingball, or sitting on the beach in blazing sunshine, watching the kids building sandcastles, or eating fish & chips – the specifics don’t matter. The point is we spent a long weekend camping on the coast, in the most glorious sunshine, with no phone signal and certainly no wifi, and blogging was quite far from my mind.  Our tent and the view from the front of it:

The tent

The tent

The view from the tent

The view from the tent

We were SO lucky with the weather – the cloud you see here is just early morning cloud (took the photo just after 7am) and it soon cleared and we had three glorious days of sunshine.

I didn’t manage to make any soap during the week before we went, and I suddenly realised when we got home on the Tuesday that I had nothing to cut during my regular Wednesday night demo the following evening.  So I quickly whipped up a double batch of Serenity – too quickly as it turned out…

Serenity in the Mould

Serenity in the Mould

Once again I soaped at too high a temperature (the lye is usually at room temp) and it set up too quickly.  It’s not awful, but it’s not as I would like it.

Remember the Clarity & Welsh Rose batches I made the previous week?  I did actually take some photos as promised:

Clarity (lemongrass & clary sage)

Clarity (lemongrass & clary sage)

and

Welsh Rose

Welsh Rose

The rest of any child-free time I managed to wangle last week was spent wrapping soaps and bath bombs for my monthly craft fair in Porthmadog yesterday (Saturday):

Wrapping Bath Bombs

Wrapping Bath Bombs

This summer special proved to be the best seller by a country mile – Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands) named after our nearest beach, about 20 minutes away:

Traeth Craig Du

Traeth Craig Du

It has ground apricot stone in the bottom portion to represent sand, and has a gorgeous beachy / ozoney scent.

Finally I made a couple of purchases this week that I’m very excited about.  Firstly, I actually bought a stand thingummy and some lenses for my iphone so that I can think about making soaping videos soon AND I also bought and downloaded Jo Haslauer’s book on colouring soap naturally.

Jo has been a real inspiration recently (check out here IG feed here) the colours she manages to achieve from infusing botanicals are incredible, and I’m really keen to give them a go.  Don’t ask me when though 😀

Thanks for reading.  Bear with me during these school holidays, but I’ll be back soon!!

 

 

Advertisements

The Week in Soap: 16th July, ’17

Erm… these weekly updates are getting later and later!  The idea is to get these posted on the Sunday evening, but here I am tapping away at my keyboard late on Tuesday. Never mind, I suppose as long as I get it done before I forget what the heck I did last week it doesn’t really matter.  Anyhow, last week was blessedly quiet – there was a bit of a lull between wholesale orders and I actually took a few evenings off, so in all honesty this is going to be a fairly quick update.

On Monday night I made a couple of double batches – one of ‘Delicious’ and one of ‘Oatmeal, Milk & Honey’

Delicious & OMH in the Mould

Delicious & OMH in the Mould

The ‘Delicious’ moved way too quickly. Entirely my fault – I had two batches of lye water – one cool, which I should have used, one still cooling, which I used in error, while it was still a bit too warm.  A really silly and frustrating mistake – I wouldn’t say the whole batch is ruined but I don’t think I’ll be able to sell it at full price, which is an annoyance. I didn’t even have the heart to photograph it when I cut it, so I don’t have an image of it to share here.  Maybe I’ll do a post dedicated to bloopers at some point!!  I did photograph the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey though. I’ve given it a little colour make-over and swapped out the dark brown for gold – I think it better reflects the fragrance this way:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

I spent some time during the week wrapping etc, but in all honesty nothing of any note happened soapy-wise until Sunday evening, when I made soap again, this time two double batches of Welsh Rose and Clarity:

Welsh Rose & Clarity in the Mould

Welsh Rose & Clarity in the Mould

I had thought to cut these today but things have picked up again and I’ve had a few wholesale orders to put together, so hopefully I’ll get some time tomorrow morning to cut and photograph them.

This is the last week of school before the summer holidays start, and I’m really looking forward to having six weeks of fun in the sun (fingers crossed!) with my two little monkeys. It shouldn’t affect my soapmaking capacity too much, as I’ve always soaped in the evenings, but we’ve got a few extended camping weekends planned which might put a spanner in the works (and will definitely affect my blogging routine) but hey ho, I’ll try to keep on top of things 😀

Don’t forget, if you have a soap related blog, or you just like reading them, why not join our Soapmaking Bloggers Facebook Group to share your posts or find new bloggers to follow.

Thanks for reading – back soon!

 

10 (Yes 10!) Reasons my Soap is Better than Commercial Soap

Ever since I started making soap, I’ve been asked why?  Why do I bother making soap when it can be bought so cheaply in the supermarket?  Clearly, first and foremost I love doing it. You know what they say – ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. There’s much more to it than that though.  Traditionally crafted, handmade soap like mine is superior to commercially made soap in so SO many ways.

*Please note, the reasons listed below apply specifically to MY soaps – they may apply to many other handmade soaps, but I can’t speak for the ingredients in anyone else’s handmade products

  1. It is vegan- (and therefore by definition, vegetarian-) friendly.  I use no animal fats or derivatives, not even beeswax (which can be used in soap to give a harder bar).  According to Vegan.com  most commercial soaps contain some degree of animal fat derivatives (and look for sodium tallowate or sodium lardate on the ingredients list)
  2. I never use palm oil.  Palm oil is a popular ingredient in both commercial and handmade soap (for good reason – it’s cheap, and makes great soap) However it is also extremely contentious, as palm oil production stands accused of the destruction of the South American rainforest, and of human rights violations due to the forced relocation of indigenous peoples.  There are, of course, two sides to every story, and some soapmakers who do use palm oil have been able to source sustainable, ethically produced palm oil.  There is also an argument that cutting out the use of palm oil completely could cause economic harm to those people who are employed within the palm oil industry. As I’ve never used it, this isn’t a concern for me.  Palm oil will appear as sodium palmate on the ingredients list of a bar of soap should you wish to avoid it.
  3. My soap is never, ever tested on animals, just (very!) willing humans.
  4. Glycerin. GLYCERIN!  Yep, I’m shouting. This is important.  Glycerin is a byproduct of the soapmaking process, and is fantastic stuff. It’s a humectant, which means that it draws moisture from the air and helps lock it into your skin. It’s not technically a moisturiser, but it has moisturising properties. Commercial soapmakers almost always extract the glycerin during the production process for use elsewhere (eg lotions or nitroglycerin production). Glycerin is found naturally within every bar of traditional handmade soap and is one reason that people with sensitive skin CAN use handmade soap but can’t use commercial soap
  5. Traditional, handmade soap is…. soap.  Obvious right?  Well yes, except that some commercially produced soap isn’t soap at all. It’s detergent.  Take a look at the packaging on a Dove Beauty Bar.  You won’t find the word ‘soap’ on the label because actually, it can’t legally be called soap. It’s a combination of various ingredients put together to create a detergent that closely resembles soap in appearance.  Clearly all those ingredients have been approved for use on the skin so it’s not necessarily inherently bad, but many of those ingredients can cause skin irritation.
  6. My soap does not contain parabens, sls/sles, phthalates.  As above, these ingredients have been approved for use in skincare products, but they can cause skin irritation (and worse) to those with skin sensitivities, and many people will avoid them at all costs.
  7. My soaps do not contain triclosan or any other antibacterial compounds.  The use of triclosan in soap has been banned in the US, but is still permissible in the UK/EU.  It was claimed in the US that antibacterial soaps were no more effective than regular soap and water and they could even play a part in increasing antibiotic resistance.
  8. For many of the reasons listed above, my soaps are FAR gentler on your skin than commercially produced soap.  If you are one of those people whose skin is sensitive to commercially made soap and you ‘can’t’ or ‘never’ use bar soap, please contact me via The Soap Mine FB page for a sample (UK only) – you may well find that you can use it without any of the problems that commercial soap can cause.
  9. Your skin WILL notice the difference.  Do you need to use a moisturiser after washing your hands with commercial bar or liquid soap?  You probably won’t after using my soap.  The generous amount of cocoa butter and shea butter in each and every bar, along with all that lovely glycerin, will ensure that your hands feel clean, soft and moisturised after every use.
  10. My soap is made by hand, in small batches, with an awful lot of care and attention to detail. Yes, you will pay more for it than you would a bar of commercially made soap, but you know what? You absolutely get what you pay for.

There you go, 10 really good reasons why I believe my soap is better than commercially produced soaps.  Try some 😀

Luscious Lavender

Luscious Lavender

Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)

Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)

Botanica

Botanica (Lavender, lemon & lime essential oils)

 

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Clarity

Blodau - freshly cut

Blodau (Flowers) – freshly cut  (lavender, ylang ylang & rosewood essential oils)

 

The Week in Soap: 9th July ’17

The highlight of this last week was a Soapmaking Demonstration that I did for the lovely ladies of the Tremadog branch of the Women’s Institute last Tuesday. I made a batch of Botanica (fragranced with Lavender, Lemon & Lime essential oils) and totally forgot to take a snap of it in the mould, but did take a pic immediately post-cut:

Botanica freshly cut

Botanica freshly cut

I get so excited when I get the opportunity to do a demo – it’s such a pleasure to be able to witter on (in an informed manner of course 😀 ) about soap to a captive audience! I’m actually in the middle of writing a post made up of tips for giving a soapmaking demonstration, and I hope to be able to share it soon.

The next evening was spent giving my regular Wednesday soapy talk at a local hotel.  It usually starts around 8.45 / 9pm, after the guests have finished diner, and I’m usually home by 10.15 (it’s less than 5 minutes drive away)  I’m never sure how big an audience I’ll have – sometimes there can be up to 20, and occasionally as few as 6, but I always get interesting questions which keep me on my toes!!

On Friday I found out that I’ve been accepted as a stall holder at a huge Christmas Fair that’s held locally over three days in early December.  I got quite giddy – it’s the first time I’ve applied and I’m really excited to be ‘in’.  I’ll have to be so organised over the summer and early autumn to make sure I have enough stock.

I had big plans for a Friday night soaping session, but after I’d done all my prep (melting oils, mixing the lye) I dropped a rather heavy dining chair onto my left foot, and thought I’d broken a toe.  The pain was excruciating, and my toe quickly swelled up to more than twice it’s size.  I’d already mixed the colours for a double batch of Tutti Frutti, so I decided to take a deep breath and carry on through gritted teeth:

Tutti Frutti in the mould

Tutti Frutti in the mould

Tutti Frutti freshly cut

Tutti Frutti freshly cut

That was enough. By this point my toe was throbbing painfully and I could barely walk so my soaping session came to an end and I was persuaded to sit down and rest.

I usually spend a large chunk of Saturday in the office, wrapping and labelling, but this week I just did a few hour in the afternoon so that Dean could go off and start dismantling a greenhouse that we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on for free (yippee!!) The owners just want it out of their way and didn’t want anything for it. We’re so very grateful – I will certainly be taking them soap as a thank you gift.  This was it before it was dissembled by the way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can reassemble it without too much difficulty!!

Our new (to us) greenhouse

Our new (to us) greenhouse

I didn’t break my toe – by Sunday I could walk fairly easily, and by today (Tues) it feels almost back to normal albeit still pretty black and blue.

Oh I nearly forgot – here’s a cut pic of the Luscious Lavender that I made last week (with apologies for the rubbish lighting):

Luscious Lavender

Luscious Lavender

Hope you all had a great week, thanks for reading, back soon!

 

 

 

The Week in Soap: 2nd July, ’17

I need to start keeping a diary of all the business related things I’ve got up to during the week.  It’s Monday today, and can I remember what I did last Monday? Erm, nope…

I do of course keep a track of each soap I make for the Product Information File (PIF) so I can tell you that last Tuesday I made two double batches of soap – Bewitched and Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands)…

Bewitched & Traeth Craig Du

Bewitched & Traeth Craig Du

And I even got round to photographing one of them. It traced faster than normal (or perhaps I was less careful with the stick blender, who knows?!) so it’s more a camo pour than a drop swirl, but it’s still pretty:

Bewitched, freshly cut

Bewitched freshly cut

I had two wholesale orders go out, as well as a load of mini’s for a local guest house:

More guest soaps off to their new home

More guest soaps off to their new home

On Thursday evening I made a load of bath bombs:

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Saturday was a frenzy of making… My (have I mentioned how long suffering he is??!) husband took the kids out for the day, and I made soap, yet more bath bombs, another batch of facial soap AND made my first ever batch of lip balm.  The soap was a couple of double batches – Luscious Lavender and Super Scrubby Peppermint:

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Super Scrubby Peppermint in the Mould

Super Scrubby Peppermint

The lip balm was incredibly quick and easy – beeswax, shea butter and avocado oil with a little honey cosmetic flavour.  To be honest I think I’ll leave out the flavour next time. I deliberately added very little, but it still had a bit of a synthetic tang to me.  I made six tubes worth – one for me, one for Dean, and four to go out to testers.  Make sure you follow my FB page if you want to be in with a chance of being a tester in the future – I have LOADS of ideas for things I want to make, as and when I have time, and they’ll all need human testers 🙂

Finished Lip Balm

Finished Lip Balm

I posted a question on Facebook and Instagram to try to find out whether people prefer tubes or tins and surprisingly it’s fairly equal between the two – if and when I do finally offer these for sale it looks like I’ll have to offer both options!

I’ve got a busy week coming up – all those bath bombs I made?  All but six have gone – gone! So, there’s more bath bomb making in my near future.  I’m also giving a soap making demonstration to a local branch of the Women’s Institute on Tuesday, giving my regular soaping presentation on Wednesday night, and Thursday will HAVE to be spent making more core range soap.  I also need to find the time somewhere to bevel, wrap and label a load of bars.  Roll on September when I’ll finally be able to work on the business during the days!

Thanks for reading, back soon!

 

Well, that was June…

I can’t be the only one who’s gobsmacked that we’re halfway through the year? The days are already getting shorter and I’ve started thinking about Christmas specials – and all this before the summer holidays officially begin 😱

At the beginning of the month I posted some goals for June – here’s how I got on…

1. Research, and make some test batches of, lip balm  ✅ After a bit of research I came up with a few recipes that I wanted to try, and made up a first batch:

Lip balm freshly poured

Lip balm freshly poured

Finished Lip Balm

Finished Lip Balm

I already love this one, but I’m only keeping one for myself – the rest are going out to testers.  I still have a couple of recipes to try.

2. Finish making the summer specials  ✅ I’m considering keeping one of them – ‘Yr Wyddfa’ – all year round as I think it’ll be pretty popular, living as we do at the foot of said mountain!

3. Create a ‘Core Range’ post for bathbombs  ✅ This link is proving so handy to send out to potential stockists!

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

4. Post at least nine times here on the blog – oh so close! Still, I posted 8 times, and if I’d got my backside into gear and posted this on Friday night like I should have, I would have hit my target.

Not bad going eh? Thanks for reading 😊 back soon!