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 😀

Don’t forget, if you have a soap related blog, or you just like reading them, why not join our Soapmaking Bloggers Facebook Group to share your posts or find new bloggers to follow.

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 😀

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)

 

The Week in Soap: 2nd July, ’17

I need to start keeping a diary of all the business related things I’ve got up to during the week.  It’s Monday today, and can I remember what I did last Monday? Erm, nope…

I do of course keep a track of each soap I make for the Product Information File (PIF) so I can tell you that last Tuesday I made two double batches of soap – Bewitched and Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands)…

Bewitched & Traeth Craig Du

Bewitched & Traeth Craig Du

And I even got round to photographing one of them. It traced faster than normal (or perhaps I was less careful with the stick blender, who knows?!) so it’s more a camo pour than a drop swirl, but it’s still pretty:

Bewitched, freshly cut

Bewitched freshly cut

I had two wholesale orders go out, as well as a load of mini’s for a local guest house:

More guest soaps off to their new home

More guest soaps off to their new home

On Thursday evening I made a load of bath bombs:

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Saturday was a frenzy of making… My (have I mentioned how long suffering he is??!) husband took the kids out for the day, and I made soap, yet more bath bombs, another batch of facial soap AND made my first ever batch of lip balm.  The soap was a couple of double batches – Luscious Lavender and Super Scrubby Peppermint:

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Super Scrubby Peppermint in the Mould

Super Scrubby Peppermint

The lip balm was incredibly quick and easy – beeswax, shea butter and avocado oil with a little honey cosmetic flavour.  To be honest I think I’ll leave out the flavour next time. I deliberately added very little, but it still had a bit of a synthetic tang to me.  I made six tubes worth – one for me, one for Dean, and four to go out to testers.  Make sure you follow my FB page if you want to be in with a chance of being a tester in the future – I have LOADS of ideas for things I want to make, as and when I have time, and they’ll all need human testers 🙂

Finished Lip Balm

Finished Lip Balm

I posted a question on Facebook and Instagram to try to find out whether people prefer tubes or tins and surprisingly it’s fairly equal between the two – if and when I do finally offer these for sale it looks like I’ll have to offer both options!

I’ve got a busy week coming up – all those bath bombs I made?  All but six have gone – gone! So, there’s more bath bomb making in my near future.  I’m also giving a soap making demonstration to a local branch of the Women’s Institute on Tuesday, giving my regular soaping presentation on Wednesday night, and Thursday will HAVE to be spent making more core range soap.  I also need to find the time somewhere to bevel, wrap and label a load of bars.  Roll on September when I’ll finally be able to work on the business during the days!

Thanks for reading, 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!

It’s my Blogaversary!

Or is it a Blogday?  Either way, I published my first couple of posts on the 28th June 2013, Woohoo!!  At that point I hadn’t made any soap since the birth of my daughter two months before, nor for a good few months before that due to day-long morning sickness and an extreme aversion to the smell of fragrance AND essential oils.  (I’d had to ask my husband to put all my supplies up in the attic as even catching an accidental whiff of any of my soaps had me heading for the bathroom – urgh..)

Fast forward and that newborn is now four years old (funny that :-D) and she’ll be joining her big brother at school full time in September.  That will mean much, MUCH more time for soaping and the business as a whole (including the blog!).  I’m also hoping that I’ll have a bit more time for myself, and of course my poor, long suffering husband who has spent more evenings than I care to mention alone on the sofa while I focused on The Soap Mine.

I have loads of ideas for new products, blog posts and growing the business generally, so please stick with me – I hope I’ll still be here in another four years time, and I hope you’ll still be reading.  Thank you all!!

Oh, here’s a little bit of soap in the mould from a couple of days ago, just because it’s pretty lol…

Bewitched in the mould

Bewitched in the mould

Slow Down World! The Week in Soap: 18th June ’17

It’s been a crazily busy week. And it’s not letting up, hence why I’m starting to write this at two minutes to eleven at night when I really should be going to bed!  It’s going to be short 😉

Monday evening saw me out at a community meeting, so I couldn’t get any soapmaking done, and then Tuesday night was kickboxing grading night.

I got my orange belt – woop!

An Orange Belfie

An Orange Belfie

Wednesday night was kickboxing class followed by my weekly soaping presentation, but I did get the opportunity during the day to cut the Welsh Rose and Yr Wyddfa that I made last week:

Welsh Rose

Welsh Rose, freshly cut

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa, freshly cut

Thursday night I had to spend catching up on paperwork and then finally, on Friday night, I managed to make something –  a shed load of bathbombs for a wholesale order going out next week.

Luscious Lavender Luxury Bath Bomb

Luscious Lavender Luxury Bath Bomb

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Luxury Bath Bomb

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Luxury Bath Bomb

Serenity Luxury Bath Bomb

Serenity Luxury Bath Bomb

Bewitched Luxury Bath Bomb

Bewitched Luxury Bath Bomb

On Saturday, Dean took the kids out for a few hours and I finally got to make some soap – two exclusive custom batches for a local retailer.  I LOVE making these two. The customer chose the fragrances and concept for them both, and they’re different in design to my regular restocks so I get to do something a little more interesting.

Potters' Soap

Potters’ Soap for Glosters

Ar Lan Y Mor

Ar Lan Y Mor for Glosters

Saturday night we were invited to some friends’ house for dinner (I always try to take Saturday night off, regardless of what else is going on) and the Sunday was Fathers’ Day, so we all went out for breakfast and spent the day together.

Sunday night I made the rest of the bathbombs for the wholesale order – phew!!

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

First Kiss Luxury Bath Bomb

First Kiss Luxury Bath Bomb

Clarity Luxury Bath Bomb

Clarity Luxury Bath Bomb

Now to get them all wrapped for delivery on Friday!!

So although I’ve not been particularly productive this week, it has felt extraordinarily busy – I hope your week has been calmer. If it has, send some my way please?!

Thanks for reading, back soon.

 

 

 

Bathbombs and Specials – The Week in Soap: 11th June ’17

I don’t know what the weather’s been like with you, but it’s been absolutely atrocious here this last week.  Rain, rain and more rain.  It’s beyond the pale, it really is.  I keep hearing people referring to that lovely warm spell we had in May and saying that that was our summer – it’s all over now. Arrrghhhh please, no!!  Despite living in one of the wettest areas in the UK (and loving it) I adore the sunshine.  It brings out my freckles and a sunny disposition that, to be honest, doesn’t often get an airing 😀

Anyway, come rain or shine, there’s always something that needs to be done in the soap kitchen, so I’ll crack on and update you quickly on what’s been happening this week.  Four double batches of soap were made: Clarity and Lemon Verbena Confetti (one of the summer specials):

Clarity & Lemon Verbena in the Mould

Clarity & Lemon Verbena in the Mould

Incidentally, remember the last batch of Lemon Verbena Confetti that featured in the post about Fragrance Oils going rogue? Well I received loads of tips about more things to try to avoid it happening, which I put into practice and got NO acceleration.  I’m in the process of putting together an other blog post about it which I’ll share soon.

I also made Welsh Rose and Yr Wyddfa.  Yr Wyddfa is the Welsh name for Snowdon – the highest mountain in England and Wales, and after which this area, Snowdonia, is named.  Yr Wyddfa was first made last year, and I always said I would bring it back as a summer special.  I’ve made a couple of changes to the design, and I can’t wait to cut it tomorrow:

Welsh Rose & Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

Welsh Rose & Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

I also made up a big batch of my facial soap.  I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the trial bars that went out, and many more queries from people wanting to buy it, so I’ve gone ahead and made up a batch in my tall & skinny mould:

Facial Soap in the Mould

Facial Soap in the Mould

I cut it couple of days later, and was very surprised to see I’d got a double partial gel!  I don’t usually gel my soap, but clearly this got much hotter in the centre of the mould than it did on the outer edges.  I actually don’t mind the effect at all, and it makes no difference to the finished product other than appearance, so I’m embracing it.  Don’t think I’ll be able to recreate it though!!

Facial Bars with Partial Gel

Facial Bars with Partial Gel

This week also saw me making LOADS of bathbombs, some of which are heading out with a wholesale order today.  Clockwise from top left we have Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Welsh Rose and Luscious Lavender

Bathbombs

Bathbombs

 

In other news, thanks to the rain, there’s been far less work done on the garden than my optimistic post last week may have anticipated.  Dean did manage to make the frames for the raised beds, and place them in situ, but that’s as far as we’ve got:

Raised beds

Raised beds

Oh, and the kids and I made some DELICIOUS chocolate chip cookies.  To be honest, they were SO delicious, they didn’t last very long and we had to make a second batch. Ooops!!

Homemade Choc Chip Cookies

Homemade Choc Chip Cookies

I may well post the recipe sometime soon!

I’m off now to make that wholesale delivery, so thanks for reading – I’ll be back soon!!