Friday, April 30, 2010

Beeswax and Oatmeal Swirled Soap

Happy Monday! Last week I played with adding beeswax to a 2# cold process soap batch. I used Oatmeal Milk and Honey fragrance oil, titanium dioxide for whitening my oils, yellow oxide for a second color to swirl, slow cook oatmeal for a scrubby additive and white beeswax in addition to my oils.

Working with beeswax can be tricky business. It is known for accelerating trace and overheating the soap. You only need a little bit-- about 5% of your recipe. Too much beeswax makes a sticky, gummy bar that inhibits lather. Beeswax is an ester like fats and oils, which means it can be saponified and needs to be added to recipe and go through the lye calculator just like if you were adding an oil or butter. This is unlike adding the oatmeal, which is a secondary ingredient who's purpose is to exfoliate and does not contribute to the actual saponifying process.

I added the melted beeswax to my low temperature soap (around 90 degrees F) as it reached a very light trace. I noticed the wax begin to slightly solidify at first (beeswax has a much higher melting point than the oils--close to 140 degrees F), but continued stick blending and it evened out into a nice, smooth texture.

In the Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch, she adds the beeswax right in with the other oils so that it can saponify along with them, which I think I might try next time to see how that reacts in comparison to the method I used of incorporating it after the oils and lye had been mixed.

So, what's the benefit of beeswax in soap? Mainly, it adds to the hardness of the bar and the smell of honey is very pleasant.

Here is the recipe I used:

8 oz Distilled Water
3.38 oz Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
8 oz Canola Oil
8 oz Palm Oil
6.8 oz Coconut Oil
1.2 oz White Beeswax
1.4 oz Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance
1 teaspoon Titanium Dioxide
1/2 teaspoon Yellow Oxide
1.4 oz Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil
1/4 cup slow cook oatmeal. Instant oatmeal will actually cook in your soap with such high temps!

Other supplies:

Rubber spatula and reed for swirling
Assortment of Pyrex measuring dishes for oils, water, splitting the batch to swirl, portioning sodium hydroxide, etc.
Stirring utensils for mixing lye solution
Laser thermometer
2 pound wooden loaf mold lined with freezer paper
Stick blender
Digital Scale
Rubber Gloves
Safety Goggles

I like to lighten up my oils with titanium dioxide before adding in the lye solution because all the stirring to break down any clumps doesn't change the thickness of the oils. I have all the time in the world to make sure the color integration is just right without worrying about reaching trace too soon. (Trace is the word used for the critical point when your mixture of lye and oils begins to thicken up like pudding. This signals the time to add fragrance and then pour into your mold.)
I also added a little more titanium dioxide after mixing in the fragrance once the lye and oils were combined because Oatmeal Milk and Honey does discolor to a tan.

Above is my mold all lined and ready to go. Make sure to have your workspace organized and planned out so that all you have to do is grab and mix.

Voila! My poured soap with swirl pattern and oatmeal mixed in. The beeswax seemed scary at first as it changed texture, but with continuous mixing, it was super easy to handle-- even enough to create a lovely swirl pattern. Mmm, and it smells delicious!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Menopause Mother's Day Gift

Keeping up with ideas for Mother's Day (which is in less than two weeks from now!), I've put a lot of thought into this oddball gift and have decided that my mother will actually appreciate rather than take offense to it. Yes, it's all about the "M" word.

Also known as the "change of life," menopause comes with mental and physical discomfort and fear, however, there are natural remedies that provide energy and strength.

There are some wonderful benefits to using essential oils in aiding the stresses of menopause. All you have to do is add in the essential oils to your batch of lotion, cream or even a carrier oil such as sweet almond to use as a massage rub and label it accordingly for easy access. Adding essential oil to bathwater is another easy way for mom to wind down the day. I did my research and played around with blends to make sure that they not only smell good (rather than super medicinal), but also provide relief in ways such as energizing, stimulating, calming, soothing, invigorating, and purifying.

Here are the combinations that I came up with:

Grapefruit and Orange Valencia: Energizing and Refreshing
Lavender and Ylang Ylang: Calming and Soothing
Tea Tree and Spearmint: Invigorating and Purifying
Lemongrass and Clary Sage: Stimulating and Balancing

Also try:

Peppermint: Cooling; great in a spritzer of water for a refreshing mist to relieve hot flashes
Basil: Anti-depressant
Cypress: Excessive sweating

Out of all the essential oils, Clary Sage seems to be the number one scent for women. In "The Essential Oils Book," Colleen Dodt swears by it. Its benefits include anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, uplifting, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, an aid to deeper sleep, and a benefit to the skin and hair care. Dodt says, "As a woman, I would not be without clary sage oil. Its distinct scent has helped me through premenstrual days with grace and ease, as it will through menopause, as well."

It is important to remember to treat essential oils with respect and use them wisely. Only a few drops goes a long way. In lotion and cream, I use only 1 to 2 ml of essential oil per pound of product, and about 5-10 drops of essential oil in the bath. To enhance your shampoo or conditioner, add 1 to 2 drops to 1/2 ounce of shampoo or conditioner.

There are many wonderful resources online with information about menopause and the healing power of aromatherapy. Click here for one of my favorite articles regarding menopause and essential oils. Any suggestions or tricks you've come up with? I'd love your input!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blue Man Fragrance is Here!

What better way to celebrate the end of the week than to see some of our newest fragrances arrive at Otion!
Blue Man is a duplication of the popular men’s cologne, Aquolina Blue Sugar. The base note of Black Patchouli blends perfectly with Orange Peel, Sparkling Mandarin, Coriander Leaves, Star Anise and Venezuela Tonka. It’s surprisingly sweet and majorly masculine. Discolors to a light brown and does great in cold process.
I made a little melt-and-pour project for our display at Otion by cutting out little guys out of opaque soap with an exacto knife and embedding them in clear base with brilliant blue labcolor. The man in the middle sitting down worked the best because he's actually blue from pouring a blue layer down first before setting him in there.

When the heat from the clear base hit the man cut-out, it created this really whimsical swirl in the soap while it set up!

Below are the little guys waiting to get blue. Even after chopping a bit off his legs, I still couldn't get the little hat on the third one to fit in my mold.

This was really fun and opens the door to all sorts of cut-out ideas. Have fun and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love for the Customers

I'd like to take a moment today to just throw out a huge appreciation to our customers at Otion. You guys rock! I have discovered that everyone that shops here has the same thing in common-- you love what you're doing, and it shows. When I can get excited with you about how awesome it would be to shoot soap out of a PVC pipe mold with an air compressor, or that spray lotion works great as a base for your perfume product because it moisturizes at the same time, or my favorite-- introducing cold process soapmakers to the lifesaver that is a stick blender, I know that my job here is pretty darn fun.

Plus,your kids are great. No joke, on more than one occasion, we'll have a teeny tiny tot not old enough to spell "soap", take a seat at the Soap Bar and create a melt-and-pour soap so detailed and thoughtful that you would rather put it in a glass box than use it. They know exactly what they want; "This bird is going to be pink with purple sparkles, the sky is going to be blue, not that blue, the lighter blue, with white sparkles, the boat is going to be yellow, and the water is green and white shimmer with bright orange polka dots." ...I cannot even describe the look on their face when it comes out of the mold...

So thanks, and keep up the soap experiments because I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Need some advice on your project but don't know who to ask? For a fantastic online forum where beginners and advanced soapers unite to solve soaping dilemmas and talk about the latest trends and techniques, visit Teach Soap and ask away!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lipstick for Mother's Day

Happy Monday! Mother's Day is coming up and I have a bunch of ideas for fun, handmade gifts that will make her day. Starting out, I'd like to share with you a lipstick recipe that I've been experimenting with. In my first attempt, I ended up with a wonderful colored gloss, but not quite hard enough for a substantial stick. For my second try I doubled the beeswax and it worked beautifully!

Here's the recipe:

1.5 oz castor oil
1.5 oz jojoba oil
1 oz white beeswax
0.5 oz shea butter
and a TON of color. Specifically, 1/2 tablespoon of cappuccino mica, 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of merlot mica, a pinch of copper sparkle, and a half teaspoon of titanium dioxide for opacity.

Oh, and put a couple butter knives in the freezer an hour before making your lipstick. I'll tell you why later...

Have everything out and ready to go before getting started. Grab packaging of your choice. Use a lip balm pouring tray if you decide on tubes. The stackable clear lip pots work great for layering different color options. Give mom a few choices. This recipe makes at least 25 lip balm tubes.

I started out by melting the beeswax down (for larger quantities of beeswax than this small amount for our recipe, use a double boiler to prevent risk of combusting your Pyrex dish in the microwave. Trust me, it can happen! Beeswax gets HOT.) Then, I put in the castor and jojoba oil and melt it down again for another 45 seconds to a minute. At that point, a put in the shea butter and stir, using the heat from the oils and wax to melt the butter. In goes the color. A tiny bit of titanium dioxide goes a long way. It is really important to mix the color and the titanium dioxide really well so as not to have any surprise flecks of pigment in your finished product. I used a mini whisk from the melt-and-pour tool kit to break down the color in the melted oils.

Here's where that frozen knife comes in handy. Dip it into the liquid batch to see an instant sample of your color. This is a great trick for candle making, particularly with soy wax because you end up needing a lot more color than what appears in the pot. The color shown here looks way darker than in actually is on the skin. Practice before pouring-- take a little of that hardened product on your frozen knife and rub in on your hand or on your lips to see if you are happy with the shade. Less is more-- you can't take out color once it's in, so start with a little and work up to a shade that is appropriate for your project.

Once you are satisfied with the shade, it is time to pour. I find myself remelting my batch as I go to keep everything nice and fluid, perfect for pouring. When you take out the lip tubes from the pouring tray after they've hardened, you have to top them off to get rid of the extra glop on top. The little white spatula that comes in the melt-and-pour tool kit works wonders for scraping off the excess. If you put your batch in lip pots, throw in a little lip brush to keep mom's fingers clean. That's it! For a list of lip safe mica's, click here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Private Class Sneak Peak!

Hi everyone, this is Kat. We've had a fantastic week at Otion complete with sunshine and two days of private "Design Your Own Day" instruction. I had the pleasure of teaching a couple classes and wanted to share with you some of the colorful melt-and-pour projects we made on Wednesday.

We used the scraps from our plaid project to embed into a swirled loaf for our final project. I love how it turned out! The embedded eraser soaps were made with a clear base and a double and triple-pour technique. Simply wait until your colored soap has cooled a bit (that phase right before it gets too hard to pour), and pour each color on opposite ends of the mold until they meet in the middle. The soap is thick enough to stay in place without swirling together.

Anne-Marie has made a great tutorial on plaid soaps. You can find it here. You can also purchase a plaid soap online video tutorial here.

Thanks for taking a look and have a great weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Newest Member of the Otion Team

We've got a new baby in the Soap King's (aka Erik) house. We haven't named him yet (currently, he's 'Lil' Guy') but you can see his older Sister Sammie is a proud sister.

We've got some videos of the little guy running around here if you'd like to oooh and ahhh and put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fun for the Kids!

These fun little bath bombs were a success and fizzed for over a minute! I used Yuzu Cybilla fragrance oil and hydrated green chrome pigment. I found a flexible triangle tray mold that I used for the tablets, but I wouldn't recommend using a flexible mold because it chipped the edges as I popped them out. A stiff, plastic mold works best, like the spaceships mold that I used for a slightly bigger bath bomb.

Basic Bath Bomb Instructions
  • Gather your ingredients:
1 part citric acid
2 parts baking soda
witch hazel
coloring of your choice
fragrance oil of your choice
bath bomb mold

  • Blend, blend, blend! Blend the citric acid and baking soda-- this step is super important-- if you don't blend well, you end up with a grainy bomb. I use a whisk and then break up the remaining clumps with my fingers. We also use a mixer on our larger batches.
  • Once you've blended really well, add your colorant. Dry pigments or a specialty bath fizzy colorant like La Bombs work best-- don't add too much though-- the color shows up once you add the witch hazel. We start with 5 ccs of dry colorant per 2 pounds of bath fizzy mix.
  • Add fragrance according to your preference. We start with 0.5 ounces of fragrance in 2 pounds of bath fizzy mix.
  • Now this is the tricky part. Spritz (with a squirt bottle) the witch hazel onto your batch while stirring with the other hand. When your batch sticks together when squished, you need to start putting it in molds-- time is of the essence. If you wait too long, the mixture will get hard. If you spritz too much, the mixture will be too wet and "grow" or start the fizzing reaction.
  • Put the bombs in molds-- wait a few minutes and tap them out. Let them air dry for 3 or 4 hours and voila! Wonderful, hard bath bombs. The harder you pack the bath bombs, the more dense, heavy, and durable bomb you will get. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mmm, Lemon Cake Fragrance Oil

Yum. This fragrance is like slipping into huge, fluffy socks at the end of a long day.

Relax into a warm, buttery vanilla base with hints of granulated sugar, topped with high fresh lemon notes, creamy whipped meringue and a zesty pop of lemon rind all piled on a sweet graham cracker finish. The confectionery vanilla sweetness overpowers the lemon, so the harsh tartness is at a minimum. What's left is a smooth, mouthwatering scent that just plain makes you feel happy inside.

To make some beautiful wedding cake soap, I used shea butter melt and pour base, yellow mica, the wedding cake flexible mold, two droppers (one for the scent and one for coloring the flower detail) and of course the lemon cake fragrance oil.

The first step is the tricky one--getting those flowers to stay in place. Tip: mix up some yellow mica in the shea soap and stir until the soap begins to thicken and get slightly sticky. It might clog your dropper, so act quickly. That's the best consistency for adding the flowers because the soap will stay in place instead of drip down to the center of the mold. Spray with rubbing alcohol. If you happen to get a drip that is out of place, let it harden and scrape out the oops parts with our handy dandy scraper tool.

Finish up the cake with scented (4ml per pound) and uncolored shea base poured over the freshly spritzed flower layer. Spray one more time with rubbing alcohol to relieve the surface of bubbles, put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes and you're done! If only making a real wedding cake were as easy.

Below are some fun dessert-like soaps made with the scalloped heart and rectangle mold with the same color and scent as the wedding cake project. Just imagine the endless packaging options for these fun little soaps! They'd make the perfect wedding favor. Have fun!