The Week in Soap: 16th Sept ’18 – Wherein I mention the ‘C’ Word

My first full week back at work after the school holidays flew by SO quickly, but I did finally round to starting the Christmas range (yup, THAT ‘C’ word). I’m a bit later this year than last so I have some catching up to do.

Monday saw me making the first batch of Christmas bars – a reprise of Candy Cane which has gone down so well over the last few holiday periods.  I also made some Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands) to restock the shelves. Winter and Summer in one soapy session!

Candy Cane & Traeth in the Mould

Candy Cane & Traeth in the Mould

Facial bar in the mould

Facial bar in the mould

I also made another batch of the facial bar. I need to get to a point where I’ve always got it in stock, rather than selling out, which is what’s happening at the moment!

Tuesday was a wrapping and labelling kind of day. I also spent some time researching more stockist possibilities. I’d like to get a map up on my office wall with all my current stockists marked on there so that I can easily see any obvious gaps in the local area before setting my sights a little further afield…

On Wednesday morning I went to my monthly networking group, Women Working Together. It’s predominantly a women’s group (but men are by no means excluded) and I’m finding it invaluable for so many reasons, not least the fact that it’s really good to take time out every now and then to be sociable (a must when working alone!).  The support of others in a similar position, and the wealth of advice and insights that they’re willing to share, are a huge benefit too of course!

I didn’t have much time left in the afternoon before the school pick up but I did manage to unmould and cut the soap that I made on Monday. I only took photos of the freshly cut Candy Cane (I’m not happy with this red by the way – I didn’t use enough red colourant. The next batch will be better)

Freshly cut Candy Cane

Freshly cut Candy Cane

Thursday was spent in the office again, and writing up the results of the fragrance oil testing I did for Blossom Oils.  Friday saw MORE soapmaking!  Two soapmaking days in one week – woop!  Four loaves, or 60 bars, of Warm Gingerbread (the second of the Christmas bars) and another loaf of the facial bar. Apologies for the rubbish photo ;-D

Facial bar / 4 loaves of Warm Gingerbread

Facial bar / 4 loaves of Warm Gingerbread

There was a bit of a first for me over on Instagram last week – this photo here got over 1,000 likes. ONE THOUSAND!! I don’t understand why, but I’m not complaining lol…

Guest Bars

Guest Bars

And on a personal note, another first – my first brown belt in kickboxing, 20 months after I threw my first punch.  It’s going to take even longer to get through all the browns though, but with lots of determination, and a little bit of luck *crosses fingers*, I’ll get there:

First brown belt

First brown belt

The weekend was spent in non-soapy, family pursuits, including the longest bike ride we’ve yet undertaken as Team Hinde – 7km  Don’t forget that the little one is only five, with an ungeared little bike, so this was a fair distance for her. She did so well!

Bike Ride

Bike Ride

Sadly my husband didn’t do quite so well and fell off his bike, injuring himself, right near the beginning. Being the trooper that he is he soldiered on, but probably shouldn’t have, given that he had to be taken to the local hospital the following day, oops! PS see that bridge there? Built in 1798!!!

Thanks for reading, back soon…

 

 

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Fragrance Oil Testing – Blossom Oils

Back in August I was contacted by Blossom Oils and asked whether I would be interested in testing some of their fragrance oils in return for feedback. I didn’t need to think about it for long – I don’t often get the opportunity to experiment and play with fragrances these days. There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, I have a core range of fragrances which I have to keep in stock for my wholesale customers – it would be way too confusing and time consuming to keep switching out fragrances. Secondly, fragrance oils are expensive, and especially so when buying in small quantities to trial.  I bulk-buy my fragrance oils for the core range to keep costs to a minimum.  Thirdly, there’s always a risk involved in trying a new fragrance oil – it might accelerate trace (soap on a stick anyone?), it might discolour, and there’s always the chance that you just might not like the smell. Years ago I bought a dupe of Lush’s Karma fragrance and OMG it was vile. Horrible. I can still remember it. I really wish I couldn’t….

Anyway, I digress.  I happily accepted their kind offer, and received eight, EIGHT!!! samples of fragrance oils in the post very soon after:

Blossom Oils FO

Blossom Oils FO

Oooh the joys of new fragrances to sniff.  Anyone else an inveterate sniffer?  I can’t help myself.  Shampoos, perfumes, and of course, fragrance oils. I was in scenty heaven. Here’s what I was sent, in alphabetical order:

  1. Amaretto Nog
  2. Dove
  3. FBomb  (Similar to Flower Bomb perfume)
  4. Lavender
  5. Opulence (Similar to Decadence perfume)
  6. Sea Breeze & Mint (Similar to a men’s shower gel)
  7. Warm Mulberry
  8. Wild Berries

I had cheekily asked whether one of the samples could be FBomb as Flower Bomb is one of my favourite perfumes, and I also suggested that they include a Christmas fragrance or two.  Unfortunately their Christmas fragrances weren’t yet available, but they did send the Amaretto and Mulberry as options that could be considered ‘wintery’.

So. First thoughts, sniffing from the bottle:

  1. The Amaretto was LOVELY, but then I do like a little glass of Amaretto over ice at Christmas.  Almondy and sweet, I really liked it.
  2. Dove.  I’ll be honest, I thought this was a strange one to have included in the eight. I can’t bear Dove ‘so-called soap’. (It’s not soap, it’s a beauty bar, because they’re not allowed to call it soap. Rant over).  So anyway, the last thing I would choose to put into my soap is something that would make it smell like Dove. But in the interests of fairness and honesty, I’ll treat it like any other FO, and it DOES smell like Dove.
  3. FBomb.  This definitely reminded me of the perfume straight out of the bottle. So far so good.
  4. Lavender.  I usually use lavender essential oil for my lavender soap, and I found this fragrance to be slightly more ‘powdery’ and slightly sweeter than the EO.
  5. Opulence.  This smells really  good out of the bottle. I’m not familiar with the original perfume, but this was lovely, a nice blend of floral and spice.
  6. Sea Breeze and Mint. Again, I’m not familiar with the inspiration for this one, but it’s a nice unisex fragrance, and the mint definitely came through without taking over.
  7. Warm Mulberry  Definitely warm, definitely fruity, a real winter scent.
  8. Wild Berries. Another fruity fragrance, but ‘clearer’ than the previous one, juicy, sweet and berry-like.

Every single one was good out of the bottle. Even the Dove, which I would never choose to use, did in all fairness, smell of Dove.

So I made some soap.  I made a single batch of my regular recipe, with full water, because I wanted all the fragrances to be tested under exactly the same conditions, so it made sense to make all the testers out of the same base batch.

I added my chosen colourant to eight different containers, brought my batter just to emulsification, and then split it between the eight containers:

Soapmaking in Progress

Soapmaking in Progress

I gave them all a quick stir manually, then added 3% fragrance oil to the first jug.  I gave it a thorough stir, made sure it was traced, then poured it into the mould. I did exactly the same with the other seven fragrances.

Testers In the mould

Testers In the mould

The testers are the ones with letters above them, just in case I forgot which was which. Ignore the bottom four on the right hand side, they’re leftovers…

The Sea Breeze & Mint (blue one above) caused some acceleration, but not too much, and the Lavender (lavender one above) caused slight acceleration. That surprised me somewhat as, although florals are known to cause acceleration, if anything I find that Lavender essential oil inhibits trace. But it really was only slight acceleration.  None of the other FO’s caused noticeable acceleration, which was pretty impressive.

They were unmoulded after 36 hours, and this photo was taken a couple of weeks later:

Unmoulded soaps

Unmoulded soaps

It was around this time that I realised that I’d made a mistake by using colourants as it’s much harder to tell what discolouration is going on if the soap is already coloured. Regardless, it seems to me that only one of the fragrances caused any discolouration at all, and that was the Amaretto Nog.  To be fair, the fragrance description  is “A creamy blend of almond and vanilla”  and any fragrance containing vanilla is guaranteed to cause discolouration, so it was only to be expected.

So the big question. How do they smell after a few weeks cure time? Here’s my thoughts:

  1. Amaretto Nog. This smells lovely, but it no longer smells, to me at least, of amaretto.  The almond aspect seems to have faded but it’s still a warm fragrance with vanilla notes and I would definitely use it again.
  2. Dove. This smells exactly how I remember Dove smelling!  A strong, fresh soapy smell which will please any Dove lover.
  3. FBomb. This still reminds me of the designer fragrance on which it’s based.  It’s not identical (which would be pretty impossible anyway) but similar enough to be recognisable I think. I’m looking forward to using my tester in the shower! Interestingly this was my husband’s favourite (in blind testing)
  4. Lavender. Oddly this no longer smells of lavender at all to me. It’s a floraly fragrance, less powdery than it was out of the bottle, but definitely not lavender. I asked a couple of other people what they thought it smelled like, and nobody got lavender.
  5. Opulence.  I’m not familiar with the perfume on which this is based, but I did like this one. It’s quite a complex fruity/floral fragrance with notes of something more spicy too.
  6. Sea Breeze and Mint.  This is a more masculine fragrance, with definite sea-side / ozone-y overtones. I don’t get much mint, but I’m not familiar with the original shower gel so perhaps it’s exactly how it should be. To me it smells a bit synthetic – not one of my favourites.
  7. Warm Mulberry.  I was surprised to discover that this is probably my favourite of the lot.  It’s not one I would have necessarily chosen from the description (fruits with vanilla) but it’s delicious. It is fruity, but it has a warmth and a depth to it which is hard to describe.  I used a fairly dark colour for this one, so didn’t notice any discolouration, but it might discolour in a white/light coloured bar.
  8. Wild Berries.  Last, but definitely not least, comes Wild Berries. This was my husband’s second favourite after FBomb, and I really like it too. It’s a juicy, fruity uncomplicated fragrance, and would make a really nice smelling bar of soap.

Out of the eight there are at least four that I would definitely consider buying when I need a new fragrance for my range, and another two that I like but probably wouldn’t get round to purchasing.  There were only two that I wasn’t particularly keen on, which I think is a pretty good percentage given that everyone’s tastes are different and it was the luck of the draw what I received.

I’d like to say thank you to Blossom Oils for giving me the opportunity to sample some of their fragrances. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to try some new and different fragrance oils. Their website is easy to navigate, and provides you with all of the technical data required (MSDS, IFRA certs and allergen declarations) if you sell your products. Oh, and they’re suitable for candles / wax melts too!

Check out the Blossom Oils website and find them on Facebook and Instagram too

The Week in Soap: 9th Sept ’18 – Eight Weeks!

Eight weeks to the day since my last post. EIGHT WEEKS!!  I totally underestimated how difficult the summer holidays would be without any formal childcare in place, and it’s been a bit of a struggle to be honest.  I had prepared to a certain extent. I’d hammered the soapmaking in the couple of months before so I had plenty of stock and didn’t have to worry about running out of product (I can’t say the same for the bathbombs – I’ve been skating on thin ice as far as they’re concerned, but more on that in a mo).  BUT whilst my working hours were drastically reduced for six weeks, the business demands kept growing (woop!!)  and while my ever supportive husband took as much time off as he could to help with the kids,  there was precious little ‘family’ time and we were very much tag-teaming most of the summer.

I did manage a couple of sessions of soapmaking (more as therapy than out of necessity if I’m honest lol) but almost every ‘making’ opportunity I had was taken up with bathbomb making.  I took my eye off the ball in the run up to the summer break there, and was totally unprepared for how popular these were going to be.  The making, wrapping and labelling of mounds of bombs just to keep up with orders had to take priority and THAT needs to be better organised next year!

My last soapmaking session

My last soapmaking session

Bathbombs

Bathbombs

Needless to say, I now have a list of lessons learnt from this summer, not least of which is to actually put aside, diarise, and actually HAVE holiday time with my family next summer. Don’t misunderstand me, the kids had a whale of a time this summer, didn’t miss out on anything and always had one parent or the other with them. But next year, whether we go away or not, there will be at least a week, if not two, during which nobody works, and we spend the time together, having fun.

I’ve started supplying another four (I think it’s four, it’s at least four anyway) stockists over the summer – in Criccieth, Bala, Dolgellau and another on Anglesey, which I’m thrilled about. They’re all lovely shops, and I want to tell you more about them, so I’m going to write an updated stockists post very soon.

Bathbombs on display

Bathbombs on display

The facial bars were launched last month, and wow, what a response. The first batch was sold out within twenty four hours, and the feedback I’ve been getting is just incredible.  People are enthusing about them left right and centre, so again, I’ll be writing a separate post about them in the next week or two.

Facial Bars

Facial Bars

The mini guest soaps are also seem to be gaining traction, and I’m getting more and more enquiries.  I’ve supplied two new customers in the last couple of weeks, and have a couple more in the pipeline.

Guest Bars

Guest Bars

I also have a post about breast milk soap in the pipeline. Yep, you read that right, breast milk soap 😀 It’s absolutely a thing you guys…

Oh, oh, oh I almost forgot – I have a new soap cutter, a flippin’ multi-wire soap cutter!! I’ve wanted one for a long time, but wasn’t thinking of shelling out for one until the beginning of next year (after I make my millions in the run-up to Christmas lol).  But my hand was forced somewhat when I heard my preferred vendor would no longer be making and stocking them, and only had four left. I moved fast, and got one. Phew…  There’ll be another post on it’s way about THAT, too (I’ve not yet got round to photographing yet, so can’t even share that much yet!)

On a personal note (as if this isn’t all kinda personal eh? :-D) I took part in the village craft, horticulture and produce show this year again, and did just a little better than last year – I got a trophy! I don’t think I’ve ever won a trophy in my life before (well, maybe at school? If I did I’ve forgotten, but then I do have a terrible memory)  My chocolate cake not only won best in its class, but best entry overall in the cookery/preserves section – woop!!  I have to admit, it was rather tasty lol….

Village Show Haul

Village Show Haul

Finally, a quick heads up about my next post – a review of some fragrance oils I was sent to try by a new (to me) supplier here in the UK.  They were sent almost a month ago now, and the soaps were made on the 16 August, so I really need to get my thoughts written down and back to the poor supplier who’s probably thinking I’ve forgotten all about them by now!

Fragrance Oil Samples

Fragrance Oil Samples

So there you go, a quick tour through my crazy summer. The kids have started back at school, I’m slipping gratefully back into my regular routine, and blog posts will return to some semblance of regularity.  Thanks for reading, back soon!