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 ūüėÄ

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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 ūüėÄ

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) Рfreshly cut  (lavender, ylang ylang & rosewood essential oils)

 

When Fragrance Oils Go Rogue

My hands-down-most-popular summer special last year was my Lemon Verbena Confetti, so obviously I had to make it again this year.  It has a white base colour, is crammed with multi-coloured soap shavings and is fragranced with an amazing smelling Lemon Verbena fragrance oil.  I LOVE lemon verbena – it’s fresh, crisp and citrussy with herbaceous notes, but sadly, this particular lemon verbena fragrance does NOT behave itself in cold process soap.

I knew from my experience using last year that it was a fast mover, so I thought I was well prepared this time. The soap shavings were ready to go, the oils and lye were at room temperature, I didn’t discount the water, and was prepared to work quickly. It wasn’t enough…

Soap shaving ready to be added...

Soap shaving ready to be added…

I added my titanium dioxide AND the Lemon Verbena FO to to my oils, added the lye water and KAPOW!  it solidified immediately. I refused to be beaten.  I splodged the stick blender in and loosened it up a bit before adding all the soap shavings. How much soap shavings you use is entirely up to you – I don’t measure it out, I just mix in more and more until it looks like enough <not helpful sorry>:

Soap shavings added

Soap shavings added

I mixed as far as I could with a spoon but in the end I had to plunge in my (gloved!!) hands to give it a thorough mix. It was the only way to get everything properly combined without breaking up all the soap shreds with the blender.  I also used my hands to get the whole lot into the the moulds (one benefit of making confetti soap – two batches with added confetti makes enough soap to fill three moulds – yey!)

Moulds filled with confetti soap

Moulds filled with confetti soap

It was only then that I realised that one of my gloves had split and I had the beginnings of a lye burn on the end of one of my fingers – ouch ūüė¶

Two days later I unmoulded and cut, and the result wasn’t too shabby:

Confetti soap, the cut

Confetti soap, the cut

It has a few small air holes here and there, trapped during the mould filling, but it’s pretty good, considering!

Incidentally, the company from whom I bought this FO claim on their website that it causes no acceleration in CP soap, but when I asked in a FB group whether anyone else had had an issue with this particular FO, it seems to be fairly common. Ah well, forewarned is forearmed eh?!

The Core Range – Soap

This is the core range of soaps.  Each bar retails at £4.50, please contact me for wholesale prices.  I have two main core ranges Рsoap fragranced with pure essential oils only, and soap made with fragrance oils.

Each bar weighs minimum of 100g, but in reality most are around the 110 – 120g mark.

Please be aware that as these are handmade items and no two bars will look alike. Fragrances will remain constant, but designs may vary slightly from bar to bar.

Essential Oil Soaps

Clarity

Fragranced with Lemongrass and Clary Sage essential oils, Clarity is a real unisex fragrance, and one of my best sellers.

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Clarity

Blodau

A feminine, floral scent comprising of a blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang and Rosewood essential oils.

Blodau (Flowers)

Blodau (Flowers)

Boho Baby

Fragranced with a blend of Patchouli and Sweet Orange essential oils, this is a warm, citrussy fragrance that lingers on the skin.

Boho Baby

Boho Baby

Botanica

The newest variety in the essential oil range, Botanica is fragranced with a gorgeous blend of Lavender, Lemon and Lime essential oils. A fresh scent, reminiscent of summer days.

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)

Botanica

Luscious Lavender

Simply fragranced with pure Lavender essential oil, loved by all ages.

Peace

VERY lightly fragranced with Lemon & Grapefruit essential oils, Peace is perfect for those who like their soap simple and unfussy.

Peace

Peace

Serenity

‘The one that smells like a spa’. That’s how customers describe Serenity, and with good reason – the heady blend of Patchouli, Lemon, Orange and Ylang Ylang essential oils will have you relaxed in no time.

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

Serenity

Peppermint Scrub

Fragranced with pure Peppermint essential oil, and chock full of oatmeal (to soothe) and ground apricot stones (to scrub),  this soap is PERFECT for gardeners or mechanics who might need a bit of extra oomph to get their hands clean. Also great for feet which need  a little attention before sandal season!

Peppermint Scrub

Peppermint Scrub

Fragrance Oil Soaps

An appley, cucumbery fragrance reminiscent of DKNY’s ‘Be Delicious’ designer perfume.

Delicious

Delicious

First Kiss

So called because it’s so sweet! ¬†It’s a warm, caramel, vanilla fragrance, reminiscent of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar designer perfume.

First Kiss

First Kiss

Bewitched

A fruity, floral fragrance with notes of peach, cherry blossom and white jasmine. Reminscent of Victoria Secret’s Love Spell perfume.

Bewitched

Bewitched

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (OMH)

The ultimate comforting scent, OMH has strong almond notes with honey and creamy oats.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Oatmeal, Milk and Honey

Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti is fragranced with a juicy jellybeans scent. Loved by children and adults alike.

Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti

Welsh Rose

A classic fragrance, the luscious scent of fresh rose petals.

Welsh Rose in the sun

Welsh Rose

 

 

 

ÔĽŅCastile, a quick update

I made the first batch of Castile soap back in mid January and, while convention dictates that it should cure for at least 6 months before use, the devil on my shoulder insisted that I try it out this week, a mere 10 weeks later.

I helped myself to the thickest of the end pieces, and snapped a quick photo:

Castile 10 weeks in...

Castile 10 weeks in…

It’s already a very hard bar, easily as hard as my regular bars after their full 6 week cure. This surprised me somewhat as I’d read that one of the reasons for curing for so long is because it needs longer to harden up.

Detractors of Castile soap often use the word ‘slimy’ to describe it, so I wasn’t expecting too much when I lathered up. ¬†I ran a little warm water and started turning the bar over and over in my hands. ¬†After a few initial biggish bubbles, the lather soon settled into a creamy lather with very small bubbles, an almost lotion type texture. I would definitely describe the feel of the bar as ‘silky’ rather than the ‘slimy’! I would have got a photo or a quick video but there were no spare hands around ūüėÄ After rinsing and drying my hands felt soft and smooth, and I can see why Castile soap is recommended for dry or sensitive skin.

I’ve spoken to other soapmakers who say that they’re more than happy to use their Castile soap before the traditional 6 month cure is up. Others tell me that there’s a distinct difference in the texture of the lather if the soap is left for the full 6 months (or longer). I’m going to enroll an extra pair of hands to help and get a couple of photos or a video of the lather as it is now, and again in two and four months time. I should then have a better idea of the beneficial effect (or otherwise!) of the extended cure time.

If you have any thoughts about Castile soap, be they be for or against, please post below – I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Week in Soap: 5th March ‚Äô17

I got back into the swing of making soap this week. Having¬†realised that I need to be making far more to keep up with demand, a new process was required. ¬†¬† Previously I would usually make three different batches during an evening’s soaping, once a week, but the new routine is four batches a night, twice a week. By doubling up the batches – ie making two lots of two fragrances, rather than three lots of one, I find I can make the four batches as quickly as three, if not faster.

Wednesday was the first day of the new regime – two lots of Welsh Rose and two lots of Bewitched on the cards. ¬†But, wouldn’t you know it, I ran out of lye. Arghhhh – I felt sure I had a second tub but nope… ¬†Nevermind, I had enough for three batches: two Bewitched and one Welsh Rose:

2 Bewitched, 1 Welsh Rose

Two Bewitched, One Welsh Rose

More lye was ordered and arrived within 48 hours, so I was able to make more today – two lots of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey and two of Blodau (Flowers):

2 OMH & 2 Blodau

Two OMH & Two Blodau (Flowers)

I clearly need to have a better handle on inventory. ¬†I do have have the Soapmaker 3 program, which comes highly recommended, but haven’t got round to using it yet. :-/ Maybe that should be one of April’s goals.

This week I also delivered another couple of batches of ‘Ar Lan y Mor’ (By the Sea) and Potters’ Soap – exclusive fragrances/designs for Glosters in Porthmadog:

Ar Lan y Mor / Potters' Soap

Ar Lan y Mor / Potters’ Soap

I also finished off wrapping and packaging the mini guest bars for Plas Colwyn Guest House right here in the village – these are just a small selection of them:

Mini Guest Bars

Mini Guest Bars

We celebrated St David’s Day on Wednesday, and as is traditional, I made up a big batch of Teisen Gri (Welsh Cakes) for the village school show.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

I’ve been asked again to share the recipe, so I’m planning on getting that written up this week and posted here on the blog.

This is my little three year¬†old in her traditional ‘welsh lady’ costume, singing her heart out at the front of the stage. She’s normally pretty shy, so it was wonderful to see her enjoying her moment in the limelight…

Little Welsh Lady

Little Welsh Lady

 

I also managed to get out for ONE run this week – 5km on Friday morning. If you saw the post about my goals for March, you’ll know that I want to run at least 30km this month. Easily doable, IF I can get my running mojo back where it was in January. Throw some motivation my way?