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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A Name Change (Blogtober 8)

For the last few months I’ve been working on a mountain design. I live in the heart of Snowdonia, practically at the foot of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) itself, and wanted to make a bar of soap that might appeal to the many walkers and climbers who are drawn to the area.

The last version of Yr Wyddfa looked like this:

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa

Although they proved to be really popular (and I sold all 30 bars in record time) I wasn’t happy with the design.  Firstly, Snowdon doesn’t look like that. Secondly, (faint of heart look away now) it looked like a big ole pile of dog s**t. Not what I want people to be thinking when they look at a bar of my soap!!

So, anyway, a few weeks ago I made another attempt using the sculpted layers method. (I need to make another batch soon so I’ll try to do a tutorial at that point, but in the meantime there’s a great tutorial here by Danica of Seife & Anderes.  I had thought that this method would give me uniform bars, all with a similar looking mountain scene, but nope, I think I need a fair bit more practice for that to be the case…

New version, to be renamed 'Eryri'

Yr Wyddfa reinvented…

Although these mountains look much more realistic, they still don’t look like Yr Wyddfa, and are clearly not uniform.  Pondering this dilemma I had a lightbulb moment.  I’ll just change the name of the bar from Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to Eryri (Snowdonia).  We have so many mountains in Snowdonia, why limit myself to trying to reproduce one peak when I could potentially represent them all? 😀

The colours aren’t quite right in these, I think I need to revert to my dog s**t colours!!

So, introducing Eryri (Snowdonia). It’s fragranced with a blend of peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, patchouli and lime essential oils – a fresh, outdoorsy scent.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vickx

The Week in Soap: 24th Sept, ’17

Just a quick catch up this week. Posts have been fairly few and fair between over the last couple of weeks because I’m gearing up for Blogtober – every time I think ‘Ooh, that might make a good blog post’ I decide to save it for next month…

I was waiting for supplies to arrive last week so I only made one main batch of soap – a remake of ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (Snowdon):

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

I’ve been trying to find a better way to create this design – this was the previous version which, while it sold really well, has, to me, more than a passing resemblance to *ahem* dog mess :-/

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa

and when I saw the lovely designs created and document by Danica on her blog Seife und anderes, I realised that the sculpted layers technique might just be the way forward. There’s a great description of the technique on Danica’s blog, so I won’t go into details here (and anyway, I forgot to take any photos of the process, I was so anxious to get on with it – next time I will definitely document it better) so here’s the final result:

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

The colours aren’t quite right this time – the mountain needs to be more grey, and the greenery needs to be more, well, green… but I’m getting there.  It’s fragranced with a blend of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and patchouli.

I also made another batch of dinosaurs and more stars for the next batches of Frosted Christmas Tree (which I still need to photograph to show you – oops!)

Star Embeds

Star Embeds

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a selection of green mica samples from U-Makeitup and this week they arrived – a lovely collection:

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples - labelled

Green Mica Samples – labelled

Oh, and the Christmas ribbons have started to arrive – I know it probably still feels a bit early but I’ve already had a wholesale order for my Christmas range for delivery by 22nd October, so there’s no time to be to complacent…

Christmas Ribbons

Christmas Ribbons

Thanks for reading – my next post will be the first of this year’s Blogtober posts on the 1st of the month (next Sunday – eek!)

 

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!!

 

 

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)

 

A Surprisingly Productive Week in Soap: 4th June, ’17

It’s June!  Flippin’ heck I love the summer.  Mind you, while we basked in some wonderful weather during May, June seems to have other ideas and has been a little wet so far, to say the least!

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting the last week to be particularly productive as far as soapiness goes.  Dean (my other, some would say ‘better’, half) was working away most of the week and it just happened to be half-term so both kids were off school and I wasn’t able to get into the office for any decent period of time.

On Monday night I made the most of Dean’s last night at home to make some soap. This is one I’ve not made since last year, and is one of my summer specials.  Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands) is an homage to our local(est) beach. Just 20 minutes from home, we spend long days there in the summer, building sand castles and playing in the waves.  The base of the soap has ground apricot stones in it, for a mildly exfoliating, sandy texture, and the fragrance is a refreshing marine scent. Think seaweed, rock pools and a coastal breeze – summer in a soap.  Last year I made 15 bars, this year I’m making 60, so I hope it sells! I’ve only got in the mould photos at this stage – which aren’t very exciting, but I’ll post some cut pics very soon.

Traeth Craig Du in the mould

Traeth Craig Du in the mould

By Tuesday I had sent off all the parcels in this year’s International Soap Swap, and a couple of recipients have already received theirs.  In order to avoid spoilers we’ve agreed not to share any photographs until everyone has received their parcel, but as soon as I can, I will…

Dean arrived home on Friday night, to a hero’s welcome from the kids (I let them stay up a bit later especially).  I was pretty pleased too, not least because it meant I got to spend the whole day in the office on Saturday, catching up on wrapping and labelling.  Not the most exciting of days, but I needed to make up for lost time.

Last night brought more restocks – Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti:

Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti in the mould

Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti in the mould

In other news, and this IS exciting, we spent some time in the ‘soon-to-be-recogniseable-as-a’ garden today. We have some scaffolding boards arriving tomorrow to build three raised beds, and today we levelled some ground ready for Dean to build the beds this week. Because of the incline there a fair bit of levelling to be done, so we’ll probably have to create a tier or two.  But this feels like real progress, and I may even have sowed or planted something in there by this time next week – woop!!

Garden progress

Garden progress

It doesn’t look like much here, but it took us hours of digging and carting soil to get just this patch of ground nice and level.  Those retaining bricks are only temporary by the way!

A different angle...

A different angle…

Thanks for reading, back soon!

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 – soap 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