One more for the “Rustic” label…

Blogtober Day 28:

I was surprised at how little pumpkin went into pumpkin soap.  For a batch of about 800mL base oils, I used only 75 gm pumpkin!

I combined a couple of recipe / ideas.  One (mentioned yesterday) from Jan, the “Nerdy Farm Wife”, and one from “The Prairie Homestead”

And then I did my own thing.  I used olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, castor oil and babassu butter, and also some meadowfoam oil.

I raided the kitchen cupboards and mixed up the “Pumpkin Spice Mix” from the Prairie Homestead (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and allspice), and found a bit of cooked pumpkin in the fridge, which I blended.

I kept the meadowfoam oil aside, with a little clove-bud, cinnamon leaf  and orange essential oils added to it.  Meadowfoam oil is supposed to “hold” and stabilise scents from disappearing, and the orange scent, in particular, is hard to keep.  I figured that the amount of meadowfoam oil I had set aside for this was roughly my superfat %.

Here’s where I got experimental:

I heated the oils (except for the meadowfoam & EO mix) in the crockpot, just enough to melt the babassu, mixed the lye in distilled water and then combined them at about 135 degrees, blending only to a light trace because the spices (especially cloves) can seize the mix.

At this stage, I poured about 150 mL of the oil / lye mix into a separate jug and set aside.

I blended the pumpkin and spices in to the remainder of the oil / lye mix in the crockpot, and set it on “High” for ten, then another ten minutes – to just reach 180 degrees.  I had to whisk it a bit along the way as it wanted to separate, but by the time it got to 180, it was definitely soaping and setting.

This HP pumpkin spice mix was was dark brown (due to the spices) and fairly thick.

I mixed a little annatto into the meadowfoam / EO mix, and whisked this into the150mL I’d set aside  – this was then bright yellow (and CP).

I lined a loaf mould with a tea-towel, and poured some of the hot brown HP, then layered some of the yellow CP, aiming for some sort of layered effect.

Using a satay stick, bent to meet the size of the mould, I attempted a version of a “hanger swirl”, and then tickled the top a bit with the stick – an interesting process given that the brown stuff was “soaped” and the yellow stuff still quite liquid!


I’m not sure that brown and yellow are the best colours for soap (looks a bit like baby poo).

I wrapped the soap up cozy in a towel, thinking that the heat of the HP soap would gel up the CP portion.  It’s still warm hours later, but…

It’s turned into even worse poo – the whole top is brown now!!

I hope that it will settle tomorrow – I will be cutting asap – you know how impatient I am!!

On the up side – it smells great – orange and spicy.

It’s a good thing I embrace failures.  This October has been a month of my least impressive soaps (“Frog in a Blender”, “Anti-fungal Crumble”, and now “Pumpkin Poo”) – what a month to document!

On the up side today, I did manage to get back to that shedding plan I had on Day 1!

I binned a whole load of dried lavender & rosemary (sadly), because I have way more than I will ever use, and more growing in the garden every day!  I turfed heaps of plastic oil containers, olive oil tins and cardboard boxes – all “potentially useful” but basically just clutter, and building up.


My next plan is frangipani soap – have had some frangipani flowers marinating in olive oil for months – well over-due for an outing!

See you tomorrow, thanks for coming along for Blogtober!  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x




Blogtober Day 27:

Here in Oz, we are new to the Hallowe’en thing – and I suspect it has only crept in for commercial reasons.  Social media is swamped with pumpkins right about now.

The “preparing for Christmas” soap avalanche is hitting the ‘net about now too, but a few months ago the “preparing for Hallowe’en” blitz was on, and American soapers were splashing pumpkin soaps all over Facebook.

I have been wondering about pumpkins for a while.  Is there anything in pumpkin that is actually good for your skin?  Or is it just the frustrated cook scenario of making soaps that look edible rather than actual food?

ASIDE:  I confess that I struggle with soaps that look like food (although having said that – a local butcher ( placed an online picture the other day, which I scrolled past and then back – thinking it was soap!!)

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But I digress – back to pumpkin…

I tried briefly googling:

  • lots of good stuff in pumpkin seeds (zinc, oils, etc),
  • some traditional remedies using pumpkin leaves,
  • but not much about why the flesh of the pumpkin would be good in soap.

Marie Claire raves about “enzymes”  / AHAs / alpha-hydroxy acids (exfoliants)

LiveStrong talks about vitamins A & C – nourishing the skin

And a few odds and sods about the flesh of the pumpkin being applied as a soothing and healing paste for skin lesions.

This was enough to convince me to try a pumpkin soap, and Jan (The Nerdy Farm Wife) never lets me down when I am looking for a recipe…

(…except I will be mashing my own pumpkin – I don’t even think canned pumpkin is a thing here in Oz...)

The past few weeks working full time plus study have been a challenge – getting to the end of this week was a real struggle.  Tomorrow I am rewarding myself with a day in the Shed.  Pumpkin Soap is on the menu.  But it will be nothing to do with Hallowe’en – except for the timing!

Happy Weekend Soapers!!  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x

PS – please let me know if you have any pumpkin insights…

Slump Day

Blogtober Day 26:

I’m starting a “Thing”.

Slump Day” – the day after Hump Day.

After 3 hours being a student, more than an hour on the bus,  and 5 hours at work – I am slumping tonight on the couch.

I have been thinking about sharing some of my recent bus experiences.  Gawd some funny people get on the bus!  The trick is to retain your sense of humour and not be affronted.  And then, every so often, one of my friends climbs aboard, and we get to chat for half an hour or so!

But none of the stories I could tell would do justice to the experience (maybe one day I will make a movie).  So I will share the view from the train station under the bus station.  The Freeway is normally a car park.  I am very proud of snapping this at the moment when there was not a car in sight.  Sadly, the mural is an accurate representation of our disappearing bush and creeping urbanisation, and the Carnaby’s Cockatoos seeking new homes.


That is it.  I am now Slumping.

Until tomorrow Soapers,  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x



Blogtober Day 25:

The ongoing saga of the “anti-fungal” soap…

As predicted, the soap was crumbly. Usually my soap is quite sticky after 24 hours, needing some airtime to dry out, but this one just slid out of its milk carton.  I could see that it was going to be “interesting” as soon as I peeled away the top of the box, and it crumbled like cottage cheese when cut (some stuck together, I got a few useful slices):

The fragrance is amazingly better than I expected! The blend seemed quite synergistic, and balanced.

I decided to try “soaping” it up with some water, and the frothiness is great – once moistened I could make the surface quite creamy – to the point where I wonder if there was maybe not enough lye – the pH is between 7 and 8 today.  My hands still feel soft since the soap / froth testing.  The “moisturiser soap”.

After playing with the soap, I had to shoot down the local shop for some milk.  As I paid for the milk, the cashier said to me “You smell nice today!”

Turns out she loves home-made soap and loved the fragrance of this one.  She asked me to bring some down and said she would buy it – despite me protesting my inability to “tart them up”.

Quite funny really!!  Might have to lift my game.

In the meantime, I have left the slices of “Soap Crumble” to their own devices in the Shed, possibly pending the weekend, as the next few days at work will be long.

Remember the “Frog in a Blender” soap?  It ended up being lovely to use, and the fragrance settled.  That Shed works wonders!

But I will need some sort of a plan for the crumble collection.

I could have used a higher fluid content in the crumble soap, will do so next time, (thinking of adding beer for the hops) this is definitely a soap recipe I will work towards improving – so any ideas out there in soapy Blogland?

Until tomorrow – blog on Soapers!  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x


For the “fun-guy”s in my life…

Get it???

Blogtober Day 24:  SOAP!

My small seduction with fancy soaps has maybe left me for a while.  It’s back to ugly soap.

Theoretical anti-fungal soap made and settling in it’s milk carton in the Shed.

This is what I used:

Olive oil, Coconut oil, Babassu butter, Walnut oil, Hemp oil, Castor oil and Argan oil.

About a heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon added to the oils as I heated them.

I replaced the water (for the lye) 100% with Apple Cider Vinegar.

Somewhere on this site – –  I found out that ACV is apparently about 5% acetic acid, which uses some of the lye.   For every 28gm of ACV used, 1gm extra of lye is needed, so I added extra lye as calculated.

And then I searched for mixtures of essential oils containing tea tree that would smell OK (I am not a big fan of straight tea tree as a scent), and used equal parts tea tree, lavender, patchouli and cloves, which smells better than I imagined it would!

Adding the lye to the vinegar was very anti-climactic!  Noting happened, except a bit of vinegar steam and heat.

I think I could have done with a bit more moisture as the mix was dry – I gave it a little cook, just to get to 180 degrees where it gels, but it really was quite dry and crumbly.  It still “soaped” though.

I always cool the mix before adding my essential oils to as low as I can so the oils don’t “pop”, although most of these essential oils are quite heat tolerant.

Because of it’s funny texture, I wanted to check the pH – it looks OK, around 8 or 9 just after cooking!


And now it is sitting in its milk carton.   No pretty tops, just a crumbly looking mess really!  The flecks of cinnamon will be interesting.  I’ll cut it tomorrow.


Then I’ll test it out on those sweaty boys…

Still here!  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x



Fungus – and not in a good way

Blogtober Day 23:

OK – Soapy Bloggers and wannabe (or actual) chemists and herbalists out there in Blogland – what are good oils to use in soaps for bodies prone to fungal skin infections?

Either our climate is very humid, or my family and friends are (humid), or both (!) but I thought it might be nice to formulate a soap.  Fungal skin infections are hard to uproot once they dig in!  We all eat well, not big sugar users, aware of probiotics – so internals covered, I thought I’d have a go at the externals.

Tea-tree oil is my go-to, and I think the lemon-scented variety has the same properties as the more medicinal smelling regular tea-tree.  My original (2005) “Herbs and Natural Supplements”, which seems to have been updated to 2 volumes in 2014…

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…lists the following as having (varying) anti-fungal properties:  skullcap, chitosan, cloves, echinacea, hops, lemon balm, tea tree oil, and withania.  I will explore these for additives to the soap.  There is also some evidence for Rose geranium oil.*

But as for the base oils – I have seen claims for hemp oil being anti-fungal – I am thinking that if I use this as a superfat after I cook the HP, it may retain some of it’s properties – thoughts?

The following oils are supposed to be anti-fungal:

  • Coconut oil, containing caprylic acid – it’s in most of my soaps anyway.
  • Walnut oil (not sure whyalthough black walnut hulls contain tannins and an active ingredient called juglone apparently antifungal)
  • Cinnamon oil and olive oil were found to have some sort of anti-candida activity**, not sure about action on other funghi.

Apple Cider Vinegar has been touted as an antifungal also, and can be used for some or all of the water component to mix the lye (with caution as the acid + base reaction can be a bit exciting / explosive!).  This also requires a bit of mathematical calculation as the amount of lye needed is increased to account for the acidity of the vinegar – somewhere I have a reference for that.

And that is as far as I have got in my thinking – which true to my scatterbrain, only started on the bus to work this morning.

Sorry if that’s a bit gross (the whole fungus thing), but I thought some of you might have some good knowledge!!

I am going to play with Google and Soapcalc tonight and see what I come up with – clearly missing my studies already!!

’til tomorrow Soapers, #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x


**Ref:  Goel, N., Rohilla, H., Singh, G., & Punia, P. (2016). Antifungal Activity of Cinnamon Oil and Olive Oil against Candida Spp. Isolated from Blood Stream Infections. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 10(8), DC09–DC11.

Day of Colour

Blogtober Day 22:

It is done.  Eighteen months of study – last assignment submitted.  Still a couple of mornings at Uni to go, but no more homework – a few printing hiccups (of course) which took up more of the day than anticipated, and that is my excuse for no soap (again)!!

I treated E to lunch by the river to thank him for his support – he has made meals, done dishes, proof-read, and generally put up with me while I indulged myself for the past 18 months at Uni.  Today was a stunner:

And then – finally, I washed the blue dishes in the Shed (too embarrassed to actually count the number of days they have been there).

Which made me wonder about the soap dyes and how good they are for your skin…

Many people who use home-made soap do so because of a history of sensitive skin, so the last thing I want to do is use a colour that might aggravate.

My internet search was not very illuminating, so I pulled the old herbals off the shelf.  Good old Mr Nicholas Culpeper (1826) was the most entertaining.

and I am guessing he has been out of action for long enough that I can post these.  He doesn’t have anything to say about Indigo, but this is what he says about Alkanet:

I don’t think I will be spitting into the mouth of any serpents anytime soon!

And about Madder:

Nor crouching over any decoctions!

For Indigo, I asked Mrs Grieve (1931);

Finally I wanted to see what the plants looked like – some internet freebie images:

Alkanet (related to borage),  Indigo (a legume, the flower is pink – the blue dye comes from the fermented leaves),  and Madder (the root is used for colour).

It is possible those of you in the Northern hemisphere know these plants anyway, but they are all strangers to me.

My next plan is to explore local indigenous plants that may be useful for soap colours I think!

Let’s see where the next week goes – it is a week full of work, but at least my evenings will be pressure free!

I intend to have another go at using the colours I still have marinating in the Shed, but I may filter them a bit to avoid the flecks – that’ll be after work one day.

9 days of #blogtobersoapers2017 to go!

I will try to find something vaguely interesting!  Or not – LOL!!

Sarah x



~ 0 O 8 O 0 ~

Blogtober day 21:

That is what my day felt like today.

It started off kind of heading in a direction, then it got diverted, went round in circles and loops, but eventually ended up going kinda in the direction again.

Finally I think the last assignment is done.  Tomorrow I will look at it with fresh eyes and then submit – and I will be free!!!

So – of course, the Shed ‘s door opened and then closed again, but I did check out my odd attempt at CP and colour.  The top has gone pink(ish) now (thanks to a pH change in whatever colour I used on the top), the pH is settling, and little dots of the colours are showing.  I thought I would wet it and see what happened – the dots of indigo leak like ink!!!  We will definitely be smurfs after the shower!

It smells nice though!

The weather is blowing up some kind of humid storm outside, but it made for a great sunset.  This pic was taken from the opposite side of the sky to the sunset (i.e. to the east)


I am hoping it means I will be over the rainbow tomorrow (actually technically today – bit late again, but it’s yesterday somewhere in the world).

Until then, blogging on,  #blogtobersoapers2017

Sarah x

This day…

…didn’t go quite as planned!

Blogtober Day 20:

I woke at 5.30am to a finger poking me in the shoulder asking me to get a bucket!  Never going to be a good scenario, right?

E. had woken up and gone downstairs, fed the dog (he is always a much earlier riser than me!), but then returned and lied down again, the room spinning round his head apparently.

He said it is the first time in his life he has had vertigo!

The end result was a trip to the ED, some Stemetil and me having a day’s carer’s leave from work.  So – in between fielding work emails from home while E. snored off the Stemetil upstairs, I actually managed to get the back broken of my last assignment – YAY!!!

The two things about this are:

  1. This will be a very short and boring post, and
  2.  I might get in to the Shed tomorrow – which could be a great day – hot, humid and thunderstorms forecast – my very favourite weather!

One little story though – two or three years ago,  a friend bought me a beautiful Lily type plant in a pot – when the flowers died, I put the pot out the back thinking that as it was a bulb, maybe one day it might flower again.  As you know, I am the world’s worst gardener – things have to want to grow!

The bulbs have pushed out leaves every year since, never flowers, but this year – check out the display it put on!!  Clearly the Lily and the Mulberry are taking it year and year about.img_5077.jpg

Anyway, that’s it for today – you will all be pleased to know that E. is feeling much better tonight, and should be fine tomorrow – random virus it seems.

I will try to find something interesting for tomorrow – and fingers crossed the assignment will be complete, and that will be my study basically finished!

Happy day / night to y’all!

Sarah x

Soooo tired, so just a quickie…

Blogtober Day 19:

Late night, early morning and work all day (again).  This is wearing thin, but it won’t last long, so all is good.  As my eyelids get rapidly heavier, I am typing this speedy post

I know I wax on about where I live, but I am going to do so again.  What a joy to witness the creative holding and support of special members of our community in enterprises such as these:

I have one of Brandon’s shredding boxes ready to fill (thinking to lighten the load in the Shed – no excuses for not chucking papers out, right?)

And I think I know where my next pair of socks will come from!

Completely unrelated – my achievement for the day was that I managed to link up a WebEx tutorial at work without having to call the I.T. guy!!  These tutorials have given me nightmares, but I feel SO accomplished now!  Fingers crossed for next week.

Another early morning tomorrow, so I am giving in to sleep now – hopefully I will find some soap news for tomorrow.  And find some photos!!  In the meantime, here are some that I snapped in India a few years ago.  India is a visual feast – delicious!


Blog on!   #blogtobersoapers2017

Sleepy Sarah x