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!!

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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!!

 

 

 

It’s Competition Time Again

It got to Monday evening of this week before I even realised that I hadn’t written my weekly round up. It’s been incredibly busy again, lots of making and wrapping and dispatching, but nothing really new, so I’ll catch up next Sunday.  I’ve also got loads of different draft posts lined up, but am struggling to find the time to write them up properly. Ah well, first world problems…

In the meantime I’m running a prize draw all this week on my Facebook page. This is how it works: I post one photo a day for five days, Monday through to Friday, and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning any FIVE different bars of luxury essential oil soap is to like the page, then like and comment on each of the five photos in the draw.  This is where we’re up to so far:

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

It doesn’t matter at all that we’re halfway through the week already, you can add likes and comments at any point up to Sunday, 19th March at 7pm GMT.

The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening from all those who have liked the page and liked and commented on each of the five prize draw photographs.

The draw is open worldwide, and I’ll even cover postage costs, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, so what are you waiting for? 😀  www.facebook.com/TheSoapMine 

Good luck!!

 

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!