Thursday, March 31, 2011

Got Monkey Love?

We do! New arrivals at Otion include the banana-rific fragrance oil, Monkey Love, and a bunch of specialized extracts including aloe, avocado, evening primrose, mallow and green tea. Extracts are amazing in lotions, soaps and liquid soaps! Curious as to what the benefits of extracts are? Here are some examples:

Aloe Extract: Aloe is renowned for it's ability to heal, moisturize, and sooth irritated, inflamed, or sunburned skin. Our Aloe Extract is water soluble and is fantastic in soaps, lotions and shampoos. Suggested usage rate is 2 - 15%, a natural yellow color.

Evening Primrose Extract: Long known as a natural anti-inflammatory, Evening Primrose extract has traditionally been used in mature skin preparations, but also wonderful to soothe skin dryness, itchiness, and redness. A natural yellow, this extract is water soluble and can be used in handmade haircare and skincare products, including lotions and soaps. Suggested usage rate is 2 - 6%.

Carrot Extract: Carrot Extract is high in vitamins A and E and beta carotene. It is an anti-inflammatory, soothing chapped and uncomfortable skin. It is thought to bring balance to the moisture in both skin and hair as a conditioning agent. This water based extract will be beneficial in handmade hair conditioner and skincare recipes, especially for dry winter skin, aging or matured skin. Use at 5 - 10% for conditioners and 1 - 5% for skin care. Extract is yellow in color.

Mallow Extract: Mallow was cherished by the Ancient Romans for it's soothing and protecting properties to dry and sensitive skin. It is commonly used in skincare preparations to reduce inflammation. In hair care, Mallow Extract is said to hydrate and support moisture balance within the shaft of the hair. Use up to 5% of this oil based extract in your handmade skin and hair care recipes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Risky Soaping

What do you think of when I say the word, acceleration? For those who make cold process soap, this word is equivalent to doom or perhaps panic. Even though your fragrance oil may smell absolutely heavenly, it's behavior in CP may be quite the opposite. This is why you must check, check, check-- do your research first and make sure you are prepared to deal with a troublemaker scent. I try not to completely avoid using fragrances that act up; they smell too good!

Here's an example: Non-Discoloring Vanilla. Yes, it won't go brown, but read Bramble Berry's warning label: "This fragrance can be tricky in some cold process soap recipes. It may accelerate trace and/or rice so soap carefully." This means stir in your scent at the very end before pouring and try not to make any time-sensitive detailed swirls. I was feeling daring and tried a swirl to see what would happen.

The soap thickened and got very hot right away. When this happens, take a deep breath and try not too get too discouraged. Get your soap in the mold asap! Notice the bars are a bit rustic and uneven-- they almost look hot processed.

With a little trimming to even out the top, the bars and swirl actually came out great!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring into Soapmaking

Spring means floral fragrances and beautiful bright colors! The joy of using melt-and-pour is being able to create fine detail by layering colored soap. I like to look for great springtime molds under the plants and animals section at Bramble Berry. Flowers, bees, birds, gardener bars, lavender, lilac, and daffodil molds are perfect choices. The list goes on and on! Bright colors are a must. Tip: make sure to use a white background if you want light colors to stand out.

As for fragrances, absolutely anything floral is delightful right now. If you're looking for something a little more unique, try Sweet Meyer Lemon, Tomato Leaf, Grass Stain, Sweetgrass, or Black Raspberry Vanilla.

What are your favorites? Happy Spring!

Basic Cold Process Class

Saturday was another great basic cold process soap class at Otion. We had a full group of students that had never made soap before, and it was fun to see their confidence build with using sodium hydroxide. In fact, I find that most people who first read about making soap get a bit overwhelmed by the temperatures, using sodium hydroxide and lye calculators, which drives them to take a class. I am a definitely a visual learner and know that when I see something done first hand, it is way easier to try it myself.

Each person made four bars of soap and many used vibrant colors and fun scrubby additives. Now they will be able to make big loaves of soap and share with friends and family or give bars as gifts. Thanks to everyone who came!

Serious soapmakers at work mixing in color, fragrance and additives

Soaps were labeled with the date, fragrance and any other information such as color and additives. Date is most important because soap must cure for 1 month before using.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Swirl Madness!

Wondering what's up with all these swirl posts? Well, I am really excited to announce that I will be teaching swirling at the Soap Guild Conference in Miami this coming May, which is why I'm swirling like mad. If you can't make it to the conference, please sign up for one of my advanced cold process swirling classes at Otion. I absolutely LOVE this technique and really enjoy having an opportunity to share it, particularly with those who already understand basic cold process soapmaking and want to add some pizazz to their bars. We do basic classes all the time at Otion. Keep an eye out for a post about the one tomorrow, with pictures of student soap creations.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wearing green today? Does it count to wash with green soap? From all of us at Otion, have a fun and safe St. Patty's Day!

Here are a few items from Bramble Berry's easy list of holiday goodies. It's all a click away.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wow! Swirling Made Simple

Did you know that your product can have personality? Well it can with color! In Kat's upcoming advanced cold process class, you will learn how to make in-the-pot swirls like these. This super fun class is open to those who understand the basics of cold process and are looking to add some pizazz to those basic bars, whether you've never used color before or have tried swirling but just never got the hang of it. Have fun and start swirling with confidence!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Essential Oil Spotlight: Star Anise

This sweet smelling essential oil smells just like black licorice. It is often used as a flavoring agent cold and cough medicines, and used as a rub to relieve muscular aches and pains (when diluted with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or avocado oil). It can be used as a chest rub or in a vaporizer to relieve symptoms of colds and coughs.

Swirled cold process soap scented with Star Anise on display at Otion

Furthermore, this Chinese herb is said to aid digestion and has stimulating properties. It may help improve health in women and ease menstrual cramps. It is a great base scent for blending. Try combining Star Anise with orange, lavender, cinnamon or clove essential oils. Warnings: This essential oil is not intended for internal use without the guidance of a doctor. If ingested in large amounts, anise essential oil will slow down the circulatory system as it is a mild narcotic. Also, Anise essential oil contains 'anethole' which may exacerbate those with skin conditions. Do not use during pregnancy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Best St. Patricks Day Soap

I got so lucky finding St. Patty's soap goodies on Esty and want to share with you my favorite finds!

St. Patty's Day Irish Cupcake Soap by sunbasilgarden

These cute little cupcake soaps look good enough to eat and are scented with Irish Clover.

Paddy's Beer Bar Soap by DirtyDeedsSoaps

Handmade beer soap with Bay Rum and Lime. The perfect man soap!

Charcoal Soap with Irish Stout by BarSoap

This soap is not only packed with amazing cleaning power of activated charcoal, but is made with a full pint of Guinness. Need I say more?

Mint Tea Organic Bar by JenSanCandles

Talk about refreshing, this mentholated soap will wake you up in the morning! I like their all-natural approach, including ingredients and packaging material.

Lucky Shamrock Needle Felted Soap by FeltBugg

This gentle bar is unscented and made with soft Merino wool. Felted soaps are definitely works of art and make a great unique gift.

St. Patrick's Day Gift Basket by StaceyLeighDesigns

This beautiful bath and body gift basket contains 2 hand knitted wash cloths, a hand knit spa scrub cloth, and 2 hand made soaps, Carmel Porter, and Irish Oatmeal Stout. All wash cloths/spa cloth are made with 100% cotton.