The Week in Soap: 5th November, 2017

Sometimes a week goes completely differently to expectation.  This last week the kids have been home from school for the half-term break (already! Yikes…) and I honestly thought it was going to be a toughie.  I’m right in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush and I knew Dean was crazy busy with his work and not able to take any time off, so was resigned to night time working.  I was able to arrange one reciprocal playdate with a friend who has similar aged children, so i had a houseful of children on Tuesday, and Thursday was to be my one and only ‘work’ day.

Still, on Monday and Tuesday I managed to escape over to the office at 4pm when Dean finished work to pack up a few orders. When I got back, I found out that he’d managed to take the following day off as a holiday so that I could work. He’s a good ‘un.

So of course on Wednesday I took full advantage of an unexpected work day and made a load of bathbombs, as well as making a serious dent in the orders that needed to be packed and dispatched.

Thursday was my kind of day. Once the kids had been safely delivered to their friends’ house,  I made over 16kg of soap – the first time I’ve ever used all my moulds at once:

Four double batches of wet soap

Four double batches of wet soap

I think I may need more moulds!  Clockwise from top left these are Serenity (Patch, Ylang Ylang, Lemon & Sweet Orange EOs), Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime EOs). Blodau (Lavender & Ylang Ylang EOs) and Luscious Lavender.

Wet soap

Wet soap

Later on Thursday Dean said he’d managed to get the Friday off too – result!  I managed to get another few batches of bath bombs made, and then I indulged in a little experimentation  I made another test batch of lip balm – this time in packaged in a tin:

Lip balm test

Lip balm test

This one was made with beeswax, cocoa butter and rice bran oil, and turned out harder than the last test – this one would probably have been better in a tube rather than a tin. I didn’t flavour or fragrance, and I think I prefer it that way…

I also tried making whipped body butter – two separate batches, both made with unrefined shea butter and coconut oil, with a touch of evening primrose oil.  I added lavender and rosemary essential oils to the first batch, and ylang ylang and benzoin essential oils PLUS 1tblsp of arrowroot powder to the second batch.

Melting oil  & butter

Melting oil & butter

Whipping the oils and butters

Whipping the oils and butters

Amazing how much final product came from a relatively small amount of oils – these are far from dainty containers (I popped a pound coin in the photo to give some idea of scale):

Whipped Body Butter

Whipped Body Butter

I used unrefined shea butter, and I’m definitely not a fan of the fragrance – I’ll use refined next time, which is what I usually use in my soap.  I also didn’t add enough fragrance, although it might be that the shea was overpowering the essential oils.

On first trying it I found the body butter to have quite a greasy texture.  Being used to commercial body butters, this version does feel oily on the skin, but having used it for a few days now I find I’m liking it more and more – it sinks into my skin quite nicely.  The arrowroot is supposed to reduce the greasiness of the body butter but I can’t discern much difference between the one with, and the one without.

On Saturday I took over family duties while Dean did some work on the house – the children and I visited the library and went swimming, then had fish and chips at the beach.

On Sunday Dean and the children went to visit friends for the afternoon while I went to the office and unmoulded, then cut, the soap from Thursday’s soaping session. I’m conscious that I often share photos of freshly poured soap and then forget to share the cut pictures, so I made a special effort to get a snap of the freshly cut soap – do bear in mind that they’re still soft here and haven’t been tidied up yet. Clockwise from top left – Luscious Lavender, Blodau, Botanica & Serenity:

Freshly cut soap

Freshly cut soap

Finally, some exciting news on the home front.  Since moving into this house over three years ago now we’ve lived with a really grotty bathroom while we upgraded other parts of the house and it’s meant that I haven’t been able to share the kind of in-use product photos I would have liked.  This week work begins on our new bathroom – woop!  I can’t wait to share pictures, just as soon as it’s done.

Thanks for reading, back soon!

Vicki

Luscious Lavender in the mould

Luscious Lavender in the mould

Blodau in the mould

Blodau in the mould

Botanica in the mould

Botanica in the mould

Serenity in the mould

Serenity in the mould

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13 Top Tips for Making Bath Bombs (Blogtober 13)

bath-bomb-tips

When I put out my appeal for Blogtober topics here, Jo asked for hints and tips for making bath bombs. Now, I’m absolutely not an expert but I did learn a few things while I was knee deep in frustration trying to crack the bath bomb enigma.  Everyone else seemed to be effortlessly cranking out these beautiful bath bombs, while I was crying into my bath bomb mix, WILLING the two sides of my balls to stick together…

Here’s a few points that might help you if you too if you find yourself in bath bomb purgatory…

  1. While you only need baking soda and citric acid as your dry ingredients in bath bombs, it helps to add extra dry ingredients which can help prevent the premature reaction between those two main ingredients. I use both cornflour (cornstarch) and kaolin clay in my recipe. (Don’t use more than half the weight of the citric acid)
  2. Use POWDERED anhydrous citric acid. You can buy the coarser citric acid and grind it yourself, but to be honest it’s a right faff.  Just buy the powdered version.  Also, be careful not to buy monohydrate citric acid, you definitely need anhydrous citric acid.
  3. If you’re a beginner, or having problems with your recipe, don’t use Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts in your bath bombs. I have seen recipes using them, but they’re high in magnesium, which is a humectant (i.e. it attracts moisture from the air), and  can prematurely set off the fizz
  4. Sieve, sieve, sieve all your dry ingredients.  Never, ever try to make bath bombs with ingredients that haven’t been carefully sieved to remove all and any lumps.
  5. If you plan on making a lot of bath bombs, consider investing in a dedicated kitchen aid type mixer.   Get it mixing all the dry ingredients, then combine your oils (cocoa butter and rice bran in my case), your fragrance and your colourant in a separate container, then drizzle it into the mixer and get everything really well combined with minimal effort.
  6. Citrus essential oils can prevent bath bombs from hardening.  I made three big batches of bath bombs using my ‘serenity’ essential oil blend (that contains both sweet orange and lemon essential oils) and couldn’t understand why the bath bombs never got hard. I suspected that the essential oils might be to blame but a lengthy Google didn’t come up with anything.  I finally got my answer after posting in a bath bomb Facebook group.  Citrus EOs can be problematic in bath bombs.
  7. Use a water soluble colorant specifically designed for use in bath bombs.  I use these from Soaposh.  Mica in bath bombs aren’t recommended and can lead to a hot mess in and around the bathtub unless to you use Polysorbate 80.
  8. Once everything is combined, spritz with a little Witch Hazel. Really, just a very small amount.  For a recipe that starts with 900g baking soda I only need one or two spritzes of Witch Hazel. You really don’t want a ‘wet sand’ texture (certainly not the wet sand that I’m familiar with anyway) If you squeeze some mix in your hand it should hold together, but it doesn’t look or feel wet.  This bit is notoriously hard to explain, and really, trial and error is the best way to become familiar with it (but it’s like riding a bike, once you’ve got it you’ve got it for life :-D).  Too much moisture (of any kind) in your bath bombs can lead to lumpy, warty or cracked bombs as they dry out.
  9. Don’t put any water anywhere near your bombs.  Despite seeing plenty of recipes advocate a quick spritz of water, you don’t need it, and you’re risking setting off the fizzing prematurely.  Also make very sure that your kit, implements and moulds are completely, utterly dry (be especially careful when you wash your moulds between making different varieties – dry them well)
  10. Fill the two sides of your mould then press them down a little to compact it. Then pile more mix loosely on top of each side and press them together really hard. Don’t twist! I then use a teaspoon to tap all around one side of the mould, and the bath bomb then drops out into my hand.  Turn it over, tap, tap, tap again, and the other side of the mould should come off.  It’s taken me a while to get to the point where this works 99.9% of the time.  If it doesn’t work – empty out the mix and give the mould a good wipe on the inside before trying again.
  11. I never leave the bath bomb in the mould for any length of time.  Soap Queen has a great Q&A on bath bomb making here, but while she recommends leaving the bomb in the mould for a few hours, I’ve never found it to be necessary with round  bombs, but it might well be necessary for different shaped moulds.
  12. I don’t mind a little bit of a flat bottom on my bombs, but if you’d like to avoid one then placing them on bubble wrap that’s been covered with some kitchen roll works well.  (The wetter your mix, the more likely you are to get a flat bottom, so consider that angle as well if you want to avoid flat bits)
  13. It’s worth considering the humidity of the air in your ‘making’ area.  I live in a notoriously wet area and I genuinely haven’t had a problem making bath bombs when it’s raining. However, if you live in particularly humid area, or your kitchen is particularly steamy, then you might find bath bomb making becomes troublesome.

There you go, those are my tips for bath bomb making.  If you have any tips to add please comment below!

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vickx

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Bathbombs

Bathbombs

 

 

You Baby Me Mummy

The Week in Soap: 17th Sept ’17

It would appear that Autumn is well and truly here. There’s a chill in the air in the mornings, and we’re lighting the fire every evening. It’s also a reminder that Christmas is coming, and with it that big, three day Christmas Fair I’ve committed myself to at the beginning of December – eek!  To that end, this week’s soapmaking was all holiday based:  Double batches of Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree and Warm Gingerbread:

Frosted Christmas Tree, Candy Cane & Warm Gingerbread in the mould

Frosted Christmas Tree, Candy Cane & Warm Gingerbread in the mould

I’ve not taken ‘proper’ photographs of the cuts yet, but here’s a sneaky peek at the Frosted Christmas Tree:

Frosted Christmas Tree

Frosted Christmas Tree

And a quick (and rather rubbish – sorry!!) snap of the Warm Gingerbread (this is the previous weeks batch – this week’s moved even more quickly and I didn’t even attempt the drop!)

Warm Gingerbread

Warm Gingerbread

I had a bit of a mishap with the Candy Cane – there was a knock on the door mid-pour, and instead of ignoring it I went to answer it, thinking that the soap batter was nice and fluid and I could leave it a moment or two… There’s a lesson learnt – I was away from the soap just that little bit too long and when I came back it had thickened up too much to finish off the drop swirl, arrghhhhh….

Candy Cane Interrupted

Candy Cane Interrupted

Bath bombs are a relatively new thing for me and I’ve always found them a little tedious to make to be honest. Last Friday I made 90 of them, and I seemed to be quicker this time. I guess practice does make perfect (still need a LOT of practice though :-D)  They were pretty trouble free, except for one variety, but that’s a story for another day…

Bath bombs

Lots, and lots, of bath bombs

I also packaged up another 100 guest soaps, and bevelled a load more – there’s confetti soap on the horizon I reckon:

Soap shavings

Soap shavings

On a personal note, the highlight of the week was earning my green belt in kickboxing on Monday night:

Green Belt!

Green Belt!

Unfortunately I didn’t feel quite so kickass when I got to training on Wednesday night and discovered exactly what I’m going to have to do to earn my blue belt – there’s some hard work ahead of me!!

If you have a soap (or bath & body) blog, please do join our Soapmaking Bloggers facebook page (and maybe even consider taking part in Blogtober Soapers? ;-D)

Have a great week everyone, I’ll be 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!

The Week in Soap: 26th March ’17 – BATHBOMBS!!!

Yesterday (Saturday) brought the first craft fair of the year, and a lot of last week was spent wrapping and labelling in preparation.  It also saw the first outing for my bathbombs, which are FINALLY available for sale. I’ve been so busy dispatching wholesale orders and restocking the curing shelves that creating labels for my bathbombs was never a priority – until the night before the craft fair 😮  I took just four varieties – Clarity, Serenity, Lavender and Bewitched (was LoveSpell):

Bathbombs, all wrapped up

Bathbombs, all wrapped up

I was busy Mon, Tues, Wed evenings this week, so couldn’t make soap until Thursday night, and then realised that I was so low on Olive Oil I could only make a two batches of Boho Baby (fragranced with Patchouli & Orange essential oils):

Boho Baby (Patchouli & Orange)

Boho Baby

Friday evening was spent wrapping bathbombs for the fair on Saturday, so I wasn’t able to make more until this evening, but I made up with it with two double batches of Serenity (Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Orange & Lemon essential oils) and Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime essential oils):

Serenity (left) & Botanica

Serenity (left) & Botanica

I now officially a yellow belt kickboxer!  I went through my first ever grading on Monday evening. I had no idea what to expect and it was intense – I arrived home bruised, exhausted and ravenous, but I absolutely loved it, and I’m ridiculously proud of my yellow belt:

Kickboxing Yellow Belt

Kickboxing Yellow Belt

Orange belt, I’m coming for ya!!

 

 

 

The Week in Soap: 19th Feb ’17

I have at least 6 draft posts half written, but somehow it’s got round to Sunday again and I’ve not managed to even think about finishing any of them…

It has, however, been a busy week… I’ve been busy wrapping and labelling the bars for the shop in Didsbury, all 150 of them.  It’s a big order for me, but I’ve got a week or two to get it all together.

On Thursday I agreed to supply a local guest house with soap on an ongoing basis. It’s self catering accommodation, and they want to leave both full sized and mini bars for their guests.  The first lot of regular bars has been delivered, and this coming week will see me cutting and wrapping the mini sized bars for delivery before the weekend.

I’ve made another five batches this week, three on Monday – First Kiss, Love Spell & Peace:

First Kiss, Bewitched, Peace

First Kiss, Bewitched, Peace

That little heart was added for Instagram as a nod to Valentine’s Day, as I didn’t get around to making any Valentine’s specials this year.

And two batches of Tutti Frutti on Friday – I’ve been waiting on more fragrance oil for this one for quite a while, and I’m nearly sold out, so I got a couple of batches done at once.

Coloured soap pre-pour

Coloured soap pre-pour

Tutti Frutti poured

Tutti Frutti poured

Tutti Frutti finished

Tutti Frutti finished

The colours on the top of the finished batches look a little muddy, but I’m hopeful it’ll be fine inside *crosses fingers*

And tonight I made more bathbombs – I literally finished cleaning up 10 minutes ago, so these are very rough and ready photos, but you get the first peek:

Bewitched:

Bewitched Bathbombs

Bewitched Bathbombs

Lavender Bathbombs

Lavender Bathbombs

I’ve not managed to take many soapy photos this week, but here’s the Blodau (Flowers) bar from last week:

Blodau (Flowers)

Blodau (Flowers)

The kids are off school for half term this coming week, so it’ll be interesting to see how much I get done (especially as we go away on Friday for a couple of nights) but hopefully I’ll get an update out on Sunday at the very least :-/

The Week in Soap: 12th Feb ’17

I’m tired tonight.  It feels like it’s been a long and busy week, and now, not even 9pm on Sunday night, I feel ready for bed.  So I’m going to make this brief, and then tackle the ironing pile before bed.  Oh, the glamour!!

I made four batches of soap this week, all restocks again.  I’m struggling to get my stock back up to a level where I’m not anxious about whether I have enough, but I wasn’t able to make any for most of the week as my Shea Butter didn’t arrive until Thursday – arrgghhh!  So Friday night saw me soaping all evening, and I made, from top to bottom, Blodau (Flowers), Luscious Lavender, Botanica & Clarity:

Soap in the Mould

Soap in the Mould

Ordinarily I would have cut them this evening, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow, so I’ll share some photos in next Sunday’s update.  But here’s some close-ups to mitigate your disappointment 😀

Blodau in the Mould

Blodau in the Mould

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Botanica in the Mould

Botanica in the Mould

I also made some more bathbombs  – these are blue (although they don’t look so blue here) and fragranced with the same essential oil blend as I use for Serenity soap.  A few people now have said that the Serenity blend smells like being at a spa, so the name is apt I think.  (The scale here isn’t quite right, the bombs aren’t as big as they appear to be compared to the bars of soap – I need to keep that in mind the next time I take photos!)

Serenity Bathbombs & Soap

Serenity Bathbombs & Soap

I also spent a bit of time working on the packaging and labels for the bombs.  I think I have a solution, though I’m not quite ready to share photos yet. Maybe next week.

I’m very happy to announce that as of March I’ll be supplying a brand new retailer, Sunnah Skincare who have a store at 88 School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester.  This Skincare Co-operative was set up, and is run, by women in the local community, and their aim is  to trade as fairly, responsibly and ethically as possible. Check out their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Oh, more exciting news – I entered a competition on LJ Naturals’ Facebook page to win some of her gorgeous skincare products, and won!  The prize was four items – a full sized bottle of OMG Facial Serum, and three mini products – Organic Scratchy Balm, Balancing Organic Moisturiser & Organic Deep Cleansing Balm. They’ve arrived already and they feel wonderful on the skin and smell truly amazing.  I’ll be writing a review soon, once I’ve been using them for a little while, but here’s a quick peek at what they look like:

LJ Naturals Skincare Products

LJ Naturals Skincare Products

The weather’s not been the best for most of the week, but Tuesday dawned clear and sunny, so a little local walk was in order and I managed to snap this photo. This is Hebog. I suppose you’d call it the village mountain 😀  The path up to the top starts in the village, and I’ve been up to the summit many times, but not this week. Not, in fact, since before we had the children.  Soon, soon…

Hebog

Hebog

Wednesday found me making Teisen Gri (or Welsh Cakes). They’re a bit like a flattened scone, cooked on a griddle on the hob.  They’re utterly delicious, and there’ll be a blog post with the recipe coming soon:

Teisen Gri

Teisen Gri

Well, that was longer than I’d planned for it to be.  If you got this far, thanks for reading. Back soon!