Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Liquid Soap Base

When I make liquid soaps I make mine from scratch. Below is a short intro to making your own liquid soap from scratch.

A word of caution, this process is a long process to make and should be attempted by an experienced soapmaker. You do not have to be a professional soapmaker to make your own liquid soap, but I will state that having some experience at making soap is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I say this because you will know what 'trace' looks like and how soap is going to react when you add the lye solution to the oils.

Making your own liquid soaps can be a very fun experience and should be a continuing experiment. I am always learning with each and every batch of liquid soaps. You will notice that even if you use the exact same formula each time not all will trace the same way, cook the same way or end up the same way, this allows you to experiment and create wonderful soaps in your own way each time you make a liquid soap.

First off, one of first things you will find when you start to make your own liquid soaps is that certain oils will give you different results to the finished liquid soap you make. For instance, adding palm oil to your formula will cloud your soap, BUT, if you add a small amount of palm oil to your liquid soap with the addition of castor oil, will counter act the slightly clouding of the palm oil in your formula. Castor oil adds extra emoliance to the finished soap, giving your soap a thicker creamier lather. Palm oil, even though it slightly clouds your soap also adds extra oompf to you finished soap, both boosting lather and aiding thickness to your finished liquid soap.

Now, if you are looking for a crystal clear liquid soap, you need a long cook time on it, generally when you are making a liquid soap base (I call this the paste) I cook my 'paste' for a minimum of 3 hours. This is to ensure that all the oils have completely bonded with the lye and are completely neutral. This process is necessary for a completely clear liquid soap. This means there is NO super fatting of liquid soaps, a super fatted soap will be cloudy. If your looking to have a moisturizing liquid soap, then you may want to supper fat your liquid soap a little bit and not worry about the clouding in your formula.

All liquid soap bases are lye heavy, because of this you will need a buffer to help bring the PH down. In liquid soapmaking I use either borax or Cirtic Acid solutions to help bring my soap's PH down. The addition of Borax has double purpose, Borax is both a buffer for your soap and also a thickener, this is my choice when I make my liquid soaps.

Here we GO!

Here is my makeshift double boiler to cook my 'paste' in when I am making my liquid soap base. The larger pot has enough water in it so my inner pot is not sitting directly on the bottom of the pot, the water inside is at a full boil.

Here I have added the lye solution 'potassium hydroxide and water' to the oils:
35oz coconut oil
11oz castor oil
3oz palm oil

'Lye Solution' (also known as potash or soda ash)
13oz potassium hydroxide
39oz distilled water

For liquid soaps instead of using Sodium hydroxide we use potassium hydroxide, because we want a base that is easily diluted into water, has a longer molecular chain, and creates a transparant base when it's finished. potassim hydroxide bases will be soft, like a thick paste that easily dilutes into water. Sodium Hydroxide creates a solid soap while Potassium Hydroxide creates a softer gel paste.

When adding the oils and lye solution together, your oils temperatures should be at or around 160F deg. When you mix the potassium Hydroxide with your water you won't really want to allow the solution to cool, as potassium Hydroxide does not raise your water to 200F deg, instead it only get's to about 160-180F deg. You will want to keep your oils and lye solution at these temps to create and cook your liquid soap paste.

When I make my liquid soap paste, I stick blend for a few minutes, then I use the spatula to continue to stir my oils and lye solution. I do this because if you continue to use the stick blender too long you will risk trapping air into your paste, which slows down the saponification process of your paste, and once you get bubbles in your paste a few things will happen.
1) The air bubbles will not come out of the paste and will take longer for your paste to completely saponify and cook until it is neutral.
2) trapped air bubbles in your soap paste will make your paste to puff up and you run the risk of a 'volcano' effect with your paste. When this happens, you loose a lot of soap paste, you create a HUGE mess, and you also risk being burned by the very hot soap.

So, I use the spatula to help keep the extra air bubbles out of the soap, I alternate, stick blend for a minute or two then stir with the spatula. Once you've made liquid soap for a few times this becomes easier to know when your oils and lye solution is mixed, and when to expect it to start tracing.
Above it's just mixed, it is a milky color but it is still very thin almost like water, it's not seperting so I am stiring it with the spatula to keep those air bubbles out of it.

Here is what it looks like when it's starting to trace, no from the previous picture till this one it took less than one minute to get to this point, it's starting to thicken up.

This is what it looks like 30 seconds later, it's like a thick batch of mashed potatoes. When your making liquid soaps once the base starts to trace it goes very fast, within seconds you will go from a water like mix to a thick potato like paste.
Now the clock starts and the 3-4 hour cook time starts! Put the top on your soap pot to keep it hot, and if you are able to, put the top on your outer pot to help keep all that heat around the inner pot.

Here you are seeing what your soap paste looks like at the half way point, the above paste has been cooking at 1 1/2 hours. As you can see your starting to see it's getting clear. Continue to cook your paste, being sure to stir it every 20 minutes to maintain full saponification and neutrality.

Here we are at 3 hours! The soap base is clear, I tested it and it's completely clear. You can test your paste by heating up a small amount of distilled water take a teaspoonful of your paste, let it melt into the distilled water and if it's clear your soap is done cooking.

Here is another picture of the soap paste at the end of the 3 hour cook time! It's real thick, and tested neutral.

I always let me soap sit over night to let it 'loosen' up a little bit, it will continue to cook while it's in the hot pot over night, just make sure you keep the pot closed to keep the heat inside.

Tomorrow, the soap will have a slightly differnt look to it, being more clear and more 'gel' like.

Tomorrow I will go over the diluting of the liquid soap!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Soap UPDATE


Here is the Bluberry Yogurt soap, it's finished curing and is ready to hit the floor of the shop! I told you that I would keep you posted about any changes the soap made during the course of it's curing. Well, the fragrance is still strong, the colors are still bright, it did discolor the white part of the soap a little bit, but I think it's worakable.
The bar is now very hard and it held it's blue colors well, it's just the white uncolored part of the soap that discolored a little turning a creamy off white color. If you don't mind your soap being off white then I recommend this fragrance with 2 thumbs up. You can't beat the fragrance of this fragrance, it's strong and very true to blueberries.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Making Yogurt Cold Process Soaps







All the above bar soaps contain yogurt in them!

I have been super fatting my bar soaps for years now using yogurt, the addition of yogurt to your bar soaps is adds a much loved feel to your bar soaps. I used to make goats milk bar soaps, and then I started using yogurt just to see how it felt in a soap. Once I used yogurt I was hooked and haven't made a goats milk bar since!
The feel of a yogurt bar soap is, in my opinion, much much richer and creamier it leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft and smooth and it doesn't hamper the lather of my bar soaps.
Through much trial I have used many different kinds of yogurt in my bar soaps, I have found most recently that I like the Greek Yogurt in my soaps much more than regular yogurt. Greek Yogurt when you look at the labels has mor fat content in it, therefore adding that extra fatting to your soap. I loved it so much I even added it to one of my salt bars and have fallen in total love with the feel of the finished product. These bars each offer you a rich creamy lather that feels incredible on your skin.

Here is how I add yogurt to my soaps:

I use my basic soap recipe, and here is a recap of my basic soaping formula:

50oz of hard oils
25oz of soft oils
5oz castor oil
11oz lye

I give a decent sized water discount to my formula generally I use around 24oz -27oz of water for my formula.

When I use essential oils (depending on what kind of essential oils I use, some will accelerate your soap just like a fragrance oil will) I generally use 24oz of water in my formula.
When I use fragrance oils I usually use the full 27oz of water with my lye because fragrance oils will accelerate your soap slightly, some faster than others, and in a case when I know that a fragrance oil accelerates very rapidly in a soap I will up my water to 30oz and exclude the use of castor oil in my soap recipe all together.

I soap with lye and oils at room temperature, about 75deg.
When I am making a yogurt soap, I will let the yogurt set out to warm to room temperature. Before I even start soaping, I have forgotten to take it out before and used the yogurt cold and added it to my formula and it turned out just fine.

Now if you have ever made goats milk soaps you know that there are a few different ways you can go about adding milk to your soap formula, you can freeze it and add your lye to it, you can mix the lye with part of the water for a concentrated lye solution then add the goats milk to the lye right before you add the lye solution with the goats milk to the oils. Then there is the create a concentrated lye solution allow it to cool add the solution to the oils then add your goats milk.

I create a concentrated lye solution using 12-13.5oz, then adding the 11oz of lye to the water, allow it to set in a cool water bath to cool.
While my lye solution is cooling I slightly warm my oils to get them just to a semi liquid state, my soap kitchen tends to be a little on the cool side so my solid oils are rather cold, I put all the solid oils in a pot and set them on one of my burners on my stove on the warm setting, just until they are semi fluid, I then add my room temp soft oils to the semi fluid solid oils.
At this time I weigh out my yogurt to equal the remaining 12-13.5oz of 'liquid' that we took away from the water. Right before the lye is ready to be added to the oils, I will add my yogurt to my oils and whisk it all together, this helps to get rid of all the clumps of yogurt that will form in your soap mix. Then add your lye solution to the soap mixture, this really helps to break the yogurt down so you don't have the big lumps.
Yogurt bars will set up rathe quickly because of the extra fats in your soap formula. I suggest if your going to use fragrance oils when making yogurt bars, make sure you have everything set up and ready to go before you start to mix your soap together. Also if your going to use fragrance oils I add mine to my oils along with the yogurt to mix it with the oils before I add my lye solution to the oils, yogurt and fragrance oils. Doing this you will be able to see your soap thicken and you can stop stick blending your soap at the first sign of it starting to get thick.
I have made a lot of yogurt soaps with fragrance oils and only had to stick blend it for a few seconds before it was thick and ready for the mold.

Now just like any milk soap I do not insulate them, but this is a matter of personal preferance.

Yogurt soaps usually set up pretty quickly and are rather solid, and nice and firm within 12-24 hours after you pour them into the molds. I slice mine right away and allow them to cure. Because you use less water in this recipe they do cure rather quickly.
When slicing your yogurt bars you will notice the creaminess to these bars.

Just a quick note! When making any type of milk soap or yogurt soap there is an odor that you will notice both when mixing the milk in your soaps and right after slicing your soaps. To me it smells almost like what a perm smells like, this is totally normal, this smell will disipate within a few days to a week out of your soap.

Now it's time for you to try making yogurt soaps!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holly Berry Fragrance oil from Candle Science Review


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Okay, I love this scent, it's from Candle Science, it smells divine. A very Holiday orientated fragrance that is a common request from my customers around this time of year. I've used this fragrance in candles and it's been a hit.
This is my first time soaping with this fragrance. On Candle Science's web page it says that this fragrance is candle safe and bath and body safe. NO mention of reactions within soaps.
Yesterday I made my Holly Berry soap, I used my normal soaping formula, my oils and lye were at room temperature. I had my color's already set out and ready to go, as a just in case, since this is the first time I have used this fragrance oil in soapmaking. So I was prepared.
When I'm not sure how a fragrance oil is going to react with my soap I will add it to the oils before I even add the lye to the oils, that way if/when I start to see acceleration in the soap I can react and get it into the mold without issues. I started to see the soap accelerating on me, so I turned to pour the soap, now mind you this was a thin trace, by the time (in about 5-10 seconds) the soap started coming out in chunks into the mold. I had a little on the side and added colors to them one was a red mica he other was a green oxide, I QUICKLY put these into piping bags, and started piping leaves on top of the loaf, until I got half way down the loaf, and the soap was solid in the piping bag. now mind you piping a loafe of soap usually only takes me about a minute. I then grabbed the red mica for the berries on the leaves, and by this time the soap was starting to crumble coming out and seperating on me.

Now mind you I tried to 'work' with this soap, I got a little work that I was able to do on my loaf, and I wanted to show you that. However, as you can see in the picture the soap was crumbly and did not set up as normal.

Holly Berry Fragrance From Candle Science, in cold process soapmaking got a big boo from me. I was so frustrated with the sieze in my soap. After the soap was in the mold it heated up to about 130 degrees.

Holly Berry Fragrance Oil gets a big NO WAY when it comes to Cold Process Soaps from me. The fragrance is incredible, I love it! But this fragrance oil is not one I would use in Cold Process soaps, I will look to other fragrance oil suppliers for this fragrance! I do not recommend this fragrance oil, it accelerates, rices, and seperates.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pink Sugar Fragrance Review & Comparison





We all know the tempting sweet scent of pink sugar, everyone want's it and being a soapmaker it's one of the hottest requests that I recieve. What your seeing above in the two pictures is the same fragrance by two seperate fragrance oil suppliers: Nature's Garden and Candle Science.
This review is about both of them and the possitive's and negatives of each one's fragrances.

Let's take on Candle Science first, this would be the cake soap. This first thing you will notice is that the cake soap is not dark in color. NO it's not! Pink Sugar did not accelerate my soap, giving me ample time to 'frost' my cake and also pipe the top, I did have a lot of time to fully decorate the cake soap. Now Candle Science does not give too much information on their fragrance oils other than it being safe to use in candle wax and body safe. I do like the way this turned out, I can still smell the pink sugar in it when I smell the cake slices. Mind you this cake was made back in June of 2011, I can still smell the fragrance in it and still no major discoloration, there was a slight cream coloring due to the vanilla in the fragrance oil but as you can tell it is workable. This cake soap was made WITHOUT the use of white stabilizers of any kind.

Now on to Nature's Garden Pink Sugar Fragrance oil, as you can tell this is the same favorite fragrance that I am used to, but when I used this one in my cold process soap it turned my soaps to a dark brown/chocolate color, now in the defence of Nature's Garden, on Nature's Garden website they do say that this fragrance will turn your cold process soap a dark chocolate color. This bar had originally had pretty pink swirls in it and I was expecting to see those pink swirls, however the fragrance had another idea in mind for my soap.
 Natures' Garden Pink Sugar Fragrance Oil did not accelerate my soap, I had plenty of work time with it, it just badly discolored my soap. Mind you these bars are about 6 weeks old, I still get a nice scent off of them and it's the same scent as Candle Science.

Being a soapmaker and soap purchaser, I like color, my eye is automatically attracted to a bright beautiful and colorful bar soap. I love the fragrance of Pink Sugar, I also get tons of requests for it. When I switched to the Nature's Garden fragrance oil, my bars took on a drastically different look to them, they were no longer colorful they were chocolate brown, I had to explain to my customers that I had purchased from a different supplier.

Regardless of supplier, both fragrances performed well in cold process soaps, both gave plenty of workable time, both gave good fragrance 'throw' in all 3 batches of cold process soaps.

The bottom line to this fragrance oil comparison is a personal one, they are both more than perfect fragrances and perform well in soap, it depends on what you'd like your finishd product to look like. I give both companies Nature's Garden and Candle Science 2 thumbs up for their Pink Sugar fragrance oil, but I have to say Candle Science gets' an extra vote in my book because of the aesthetic purpose.

Blueberry Soap with Yogurt


Blueberry Soaps ~ these smell heavenly!

I bought this fragrance oil from Cajun Candles, I originally was going to use this fragrance for candles, but I loved it SO much that I decided to make it into a soap. Cajun Candles blueberry fragrance oil is usable in all wax types including gel wax, and is able to be used in soaps and bath and body, making this an awesome fragrance to have and well worth the couple of extra dollars. I bought 2lbs of this fragrance so I could use it in all of my products, the price including shipping was approximately $43, and that is for 2lbs of fragrance oil, not bad considering I can use it in everything!

Blueberry fragrance oil works well in cold process soaps, I did not get any acceleration with it, when I initially added it to my oils they turned a light yellowish color, but that did not stay. Above you will see that that the white part is truly white, and the colors I added, blue ultramarine, did not change at all either.

Cajun Candles shipped my order out quickly, I had my order in about 4 days after ordering it. This is my 2nd time ordering from them and they have shipped rather quickly both times, my items came packaged nicely and padded well. I will admit that their website is a little confusing to order from, but once you get to the point of knowing it, it's rather easy to navigate yourself around in.
2 Thumbs up for Cajun Candles so far!

I used my standard recipe for my soapmaking.
80oz total of combined oils: 50oz of hard oils and 30oz of soft oils, with 5oz of the soft oils being castor oil.
I did add yogurt to this batch of soaps, I used 12oz of yogurt, which I took away from my water amount, the amount of water I used was 12oz to create a concentrated lye solution, which I cooled to room temperature along with my oils being at room temp when I combined them all.
I have found that adding yogurt to the oils and whisking it together better emulsifies the yogurt before you add your lye solution works much better than trying to add it to the already combined oil and lye solution. You get no clumps of yogurt in the mixture when you add it to the room temperature oil prior to adding the lye.
I have to say I have gotten in the habit of adding my fragrance oil to my oils also when I make my soaps, that way I can watch for the soap to start to accelerate and know how fast I am going to have to work with it.
Whenever making cold process soaps make sure you have all your colorants setting out and ready to go, when working with goats milk and yogurt in a soap formula, the addition of the fats in them will make your soaps start to set up a little faster, then when you are using fragrance oils these usually accelerate soapmaking more than when using essential oils (depending on the essential oils you use).  

I will post a blog just about making yogurt & goats milk soaps seperately!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Making Salt Bar Soaps

Rosemary & Eucalyptus Sea Salt Bar Soap

Okay this journey takes us on the luxurious spa type salt bar soapmaking process.

I know a lot of us already knows how to make sea salt bar soaps. This is to help those of you who would like to make some salt bar soaps, and do not necessarily know how to, or those who want to but are not sure of the ratio's of salt to use.

Here is a recap of my soapmaking process with some info on my soap formula, I make 6lbs of soap at a time, however this is going to double your soap recipe, because of the addition of the sea salt to the soap. Here is my a brief overview of my soap formula, so you can get an idea of my process and how this may or may not work with you and how you make soaps:
I use a total of 80oz of oils and approximately 24oz of water for my lye solution (yes, I deduct a good portion of water from my formulas)
my oils consist of:
 50oz of hard oils, and 30oz of soft oils, 5oz's of my soft oils are castor oil.
You will need 80oz of sea salt, I would use a fine or medium coarse grade of sea salt, if your looking for a truly exfoliating salt bar than you may want a medium coarse grade of Sea salt, if your looking for a smoother type of bar that has a lighter touch to it, than the fine grade of sea salt is what you'll want.
Again I soap at room temperature, meaning my lye and oils are all room temperature when I combine them. I choose to use pure essential oils for my salt bars to give a truly therapeutic benefit, and the fact that salt bars like to se tup fast, most fragrance oils accelerate cold process soaps in the first place, and this can & will cause your salt bars to become soap on a stick if your not careful.
Have your molds ready to go before you start soaping these bars.

Make your soap as usual, and at a light trace, add your essential oils or fragrance oils miss well, then add in your sea salt, all at once, mix well and be sure to mix any salt clumps that may form, pour into your mold(s).
I don't gel my soaps, so mine just sit out for about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, this is when you want to unmold your salt bars, they are still going to be warm, and slice them at this time. If you wait any longer they will crumble when you try to slice them. Allow them to cure for a few weeks and enjoy!


I swiched up my sea salt bars a little by adding yogurt to my mixture, these are amazing!
Follow the directions just like you were making regular sea salt bar soaps, but deduct 50% of your water with greek yogurt. Add the yogurt right before you mix in the lye, add the yogurt directly to your oils, whisk in the yogurt to help break it up and combining them together is easier. I then add the lye solution to the oils and yogurt, then fragrance oil or essential oil(s), now add your sea salt to the mix.
The addition of yogurt to your salt bars will add extra fats to the soap mixture and give you a superior creamy soap that is very moisturizing to your skin.
I have found that greek yogurt has more fat in it than regular yogurt, and will add a nice super fatting to your soaps adding creaminess to your soap giving your soap a nice finish that feels rich and creamy on your skin.
When using yogurt in your soaps be sure to use plain unflavored yogurt.


Candle Science's Plumberry Fragrance Oil

This is my 'Sugar Plum Fairy' Bar Soap
It's scented with Candle Science's Plumberry Fragrance oil.

Okay I know, doesn't look that bad!
However, I love this fragrance, it is such a sweet tart combination of plums and berries, such a yummy combination.
Candle Science does not offer much information on their fragrance oils, only that you are able to use them for soaps & candles. I must tell you, I had to race with this fragrance oil! When I soap, I usually make my soaps at room temperature, that means my oils and lye is at room temperature, I make 6lb batches of soap at a time, my oils are a total of 80oz, 50oz are solid oil, while the remaining 30oz of oils are soft oils. I do use a water deduction of about 20% of the total weight of oils. (Just so you have a slight idea of the type of cold process soap formula I am working with)
When I added the fragrance oil to this batch, yes I had my colors already set up ahead of time, I hardly had time to mix all the colors! I was dashing to spoon each of the colors into the mold, the soaps were setting up on me faster than I could spoon the soap into the mold. I kept spooning and smooshing the soap into the mold and this is what I came up with at the end.
I do love the end result to this soap, I really like the layered look of the colors in this soap. However fast I had to work at it.

I did go back over my soap recipe and adjusted my water amount to it, and removed the castor oil from my formula, knowing that this fragrance accelerated my soap formula, I had a little more play time with my soap. I was able to swirl 2 different colors into the soap, and spoon it into 8 different molds.

I would say as far a solution to this fragrance working well, would be using no water discount in your soap formulas for this fragrance oil, and eliminating all accelterants in your formula, like castor oil. This should give you enough time to work with your soap. However just to stay on the safe side, never forget that this fragrance WILL ACCELERATE the soapmaking process on you, be sure to have all your equipment and mold near by when using this fragrance..

Now that we have got down the fragrance and how it's going to react in your soap, on to how well your going to love the scent of this fragrance oil! This one is defiantely a keeper! I think this one is good enough to keep year around, and I am VERY happy that I did purchase this fragrance!

An additional Word

I just want to add to this that I work for NO COMPANY, I buy my own fragrance oils, ingredients and essential oils. I am not 'sponsored' or 'endorsed' by ANY COMPANY.

I am simply my own buisness owner who is sharing her soapmaking experience with you, because I personally feel there should be an honest open oppinioned soapmaker giving you real information on ingredients that we use every day.

I will always give you my honest oppinion of the products I am writing about, you will see the finished product with my review of it, so you can see how it looks when it is finished. If there are changes to the soap over a 6 week period I will post more information about it, complete with the finished product so you are not surprised and left wondering if you did something wrong, if you make the same product.

I want to see everyone succeed in their soapmaking journey, and that is why I am do this for you. I wish I had this information when I had started making soap, and I probably wouldn't of tossed so many batches of soap! 

What this blog is about!

My Christmas Tree Cold Process Soap

Hello, I am writing this blog so that others can read it and become inspired about cold process soapmaking. Here I will offer advise about soapmaking, give ideas, post pictures of finished soaps, and give you information on the different fragrance oils, essential oils, and various 'choice' ingredients that are offered to the fellow soapmaker.

I have been making soaps for about 13 years now, I own my own soapmaking business and shop both online and a real live shop in Algoma WI. My name is Michele Collins and I am creating this blog to help other soapmakers with some of the common problems that we as soapmakers have. I would like to share with you some new ideas in soapmaking, how certain ingredients work in cold process soap, and to give you a place to check out how certain fragrance oils and essential oils react with cold process soap. My intent is to give you the information before you purchase certain fragrance oils and essential oils and they react with your soap where you may end up with soap on a stick.

Soapmaking is a fun process and adictive one too. Whether your an experienced soapmaker or beginner this information is to help you out, I believe deep down inside that regardless of our experience there is always something new to learn in the soapmaking world. So through technique and some of the information that I will offer you, I hope you will find this venture fun, creative, inventive, and informative.

I am no expert at soapmaking nor do I claim to be, I am simply giving my exerience and trial and error. Everyone makes soap differently, and not all of my results will end up like your's, please make a note of this. Depending on the various oils you use, the temperature you soap at, and the amount of water you use (whether you discount your water or not), is all going to depend on the results of your soap.

I hope to be able to offer you a reliable, informative and fun blog for you to enjoy and be able to help you along the way!