I think it’s time I returned to the soap. It’s been a while! I have loved having home-made gifts to take with me round the world, and also ready to hand out closer to home. This has been a surprise spin-off from the soap-making. I never have to worry about not having a suitable gift for someone – only “what soap would they like?” And the beauty of a consumable is – you can give the same gift over and over again!!
Waiting for me, nicely ripe, on our return were 4 soaps:
- The first one was an experiment – one of my sons requested a “vanilla cafe latte” soap. Easy enough with the coffee grounds from the machine and an espresso or two to get the coffee in there, I thought the “Styrax benzoin” essential oil is fairly vanilla-y in scent, so that can go in – and for the latte effect, I investigated recipes for adding milk to soap. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. This is because of the sugar content of the milk, which ups the “gel phase” action, and the whole thing can go a little over the top – literally. So – I used coffee espresso water to mix the lye, did the usual lye / oils mixing, and then added milk powder with some coffee grounds and styrax benzoin at the very end – spread the mix into a lined tray, and whacked it quickly into the fridge to slow down the gel phase, which started almost immediately with heating up. The resultant soap is quite ugly – there is no other word. But it does work like quite a nice soap (with coffee ground exfoliation), and smells vaguely like vanilla cafe latte!!
2. The “Sow thistle” (not dandelion) and honey / honeycomb soap was dotted with something presumably caused by either the honey or the wax. This soap has no great scent, but is smooth, fairly creamy and has good bubbles. Its bright yellow faded – maybe I will add some colour clay to the next batch – which I will make soon, this time with real dandelions – found on my walk from the bus stop to work last week.
3. The second edition of my second soap – the mix of citrus and cinnamon, using mostly rice bran oil and no olive oil – this soap is “harder” than the soaps which contain olive oil, and the scent has proved popular, despite my initial concern. And it’s pink and pretty, thanks to the pink clay in it!
4. Lastly, the one that is becoming my favourite soap – it has a unique scent which is a mixture of lavender, mandarine and one of the orange oils (neroli or petitgrain, whatever I have in the cupboard) and white and pink clays – the end result is a mixture which makes it hard to distinguish individual ingredients, but a soap which is incredibly smooth and delightfully scented. Unfortunately, this one fell prey to the scourge of “soda ash” – which I think basically means I have a problem with my process – too high a “superfat” %, or I soaped it too cold. The soda ash manifests as a white layer, and in this batch it penetrated quite far down and seemed to make the soap brittle. Apparently surface soda ash can be steamed off, but I think mine was more than superficial. Clearly I have work to do, and more learning…
So that is my soap news for now – except that I am also receiving plenty of positive feedback about my soaps, with the main drawback being that they are used up much quicker than commercial soap – I am investigating how to make them a little harder, but not excessively so. I think ageing them for longer helps – allowing more of the water to dry out before using.
I have also found some new (for me) oils, which I will rave about next time. Am doing a study (N=1) – i.e. on myself. Repairing sun-damaged skin, and regenerating turkey neck with Tamanu Oil and Baobab Oil – from my new favourite shop.
Enough for now, Good night !!