Inspiration Soap Challenge

When I saw Kenna’s Facebook post about her Inspiration Soap Challenge, I pounced quickly, knowing her 15 challenge kits would be snapped up by eager soapmakers. I was lucky enough to be in the first 15 claimants, and I received my kit and challenge in the mail.

Challenge KitHere is what I received:

One ounce each of three fragrances—Save on Scents’ Apricot Honey, Candle Science’s Coconut, and Candle Science’s Black Currant Tea. All three of them smell great.

FragrancesAdditives: kiwi seeds from Lotioncrafter, bentonite clay from Monterey Bay Spice, calendula petals from Monterey Bay Spice, Blaze Orange Day-Glo color from Majestic Mountain Sage, Corona Magenta Day-Glo color from Majestic Mountain Sage, 24-Karat Gold mica from Rustic Escentuals, Caribbean Kiss mica from Rustic Escentuals, and Clementine Pop mica from Rustic Escentuals.

AdditivesMy mission? To craft a soap inspired by Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” using at least four of these ingredients.

Here is Kenna’s note:

LetterThinking of this song, the three Rustic Escentuals micas, the Apricot Honey fragrance, and the calendula petals immediately jumped out at me. The song reminds me of summertime, and those colors and fragrance screamed summer. I decided not to wait and set to work immediately.

I used my one-pound shea butter recipe, which has 40% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 25% sustainable palm oil, 5% shea butter, and 5% castor oil. I also added cream, kaolin clay, and tussah silk.

Soap BatterI decided I would leave part of the batter uncolored. I would pour the uncolored batter into the mold first. I would use the three mica colors and do an ITP swirl, then pour those into the uncolored batter to do a Holly swirl. It didn’t quite work according to plan.

Part of working with an unknown fragrance is the surprise it might offer—will it discolor? Will it accelerate trace? I had no way of knowing, really, as the reviews on the site didn’t say. I plunged ahead. I suspected it would accelerate mostly because of the fruity (almost floral) nature of the scent, which I LOVE, by the way. I don’t smell the honey as much as the sweet apricot fragrance.

It did accelerate a bit, as it turns out. I was still able to swirl my soap, but I had to move quickly. Everything was going smoothly as I poured the uncolored batter into the mold.

Uncolored BatterI had already prepared my three micas and decided to pour the soap directly into these cups.

Prepared MicasAren’t they beautiful?

The soap was thickening up by the time I was done mixing the colors.

ITP swirlSo, my ITP swirl was not as fluid as I envisioned it. I knew it wouldn’t drop swirl easily into the uncolored batter, either. What to do?

I poured it from high so that it would penetrate, then I spoon-swirled it.

Soap in MoldAnd the pièce de résistance? The calendula petals.

Calendula Petals on TopI put the soap to bed to gel. I checked on it a few times, and I can tell you that it moved fast and became quite hot pretty quickly. It was over 140°F one time when I checked it, and keep in mind this was probably within the first hour after I made it. Just a warning about that fragrance! I hoped that the fragrance would stick OK, but the flashpoint is 200°F, so I crossed my fingers.

As it turned out, the fragrance made it through saponification just fine. After I cut it, I could smell the honey notes much more than I could out-of-the-bottle. It really smells delicious. I’m telling you, you couldn’t worry when you smelled it—it would make you happy! I just hope it’s going to remain strong through the cure.

Don't Worry, Be Happy SoapHere is a close-up of one of the bars so you can really see how the colors came out. The Caribbean Kiss mica is a perfect Caribbean water shade, and the Clementine Pop mica really matches the apricot notes in the fragrance, while the 24-Karat Gold mica ties in the element of honey in the scent. As it turns out, the swirl looks great—perhaps better than it would have looked if I had just done a drop swirl with the swirled colors.

Close UPAs you can see, the natural soap did not discolor either, so while this fragrance accelerates, it does not discolor, which means it is great for whatever colors and design you want to try (given you can work with the acceleration).

I’m really pleased with how the micas turned out as well. I didn’t know if the 24-Karat Gold mica would look like much in CP soap, but it honestly pops pretty nicely—you can see the sparkles throughout. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the sparkles really do catch your eye if you can see the soap in person.

A couple of interesting notes about this challenge:

  1. It was fun trying to use the kit to make something based on the challenge idea, and I found the idea came to me immediately. Kudos to Kenna for the great idea.
  2. I really fell in love with the Clementine Pop mica, and I’m going to have to order some more of that. I liked the other two a lot as well. I do not have as much experience with micas, and so I feel shy ordering them (for some reason) because I’m not sure what I’m going to get. I was so happy when I checked Rustic Escentuals’ site and found they were all CP stable.
  3. I really liked all three fragrances. Coconut does scream summer, but even without checking, I figured it would discolor more than the Apricot Honey, so I went with my gut on that one.
  4. Almost all the materials I received were new to me. I have used calendula petals and bentonite clay in soap before, but I had not used anything else. I had never even purchased from any of the companies except Rustic Escentuals and Majestic Mountain Sage. It was fun to learn about some potential vendors and try their products before I buy them.
  5. After watching the music video for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” again, I discovered the colors I used (or at least similar ones) appeared in the video! I see them mostly in the background. Isn’t that wild? I wonder if my subconscious somehow dredged that up (as many times as I saw that video in the 1980s!), but… nah.

This soap will be ready to use on August 2, 2014. I decided to give one bar away. Here’s the catch: no fair entering the contest from multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts. You can certainly enter more than once using one of each kind of social media account, but if you try to game the system, I will disqualify all your entries. I was disappointed to learn someone tried to do that with my last giveaway. I want someone who really wants this soap to win it, not someone who just enters freebie contests, so please—your social media accounts should contain tweets besides giveaway announcements. Aside from those caveats, go for it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Making Melt and Pour Base

Update, July 3, 2014: We have had a few hot and humid days lately, and I can confirm this soap sweats. A lot. However, you might try Cee’s suggestion of reducing the glycerin to see if it results in less sweat. If MP sweat is not a concern, read on…

Ever since I read about the process of making melt and pour base on Cee’s blog, I have wanted to try it, but I knew I really needed to set aside the time because it was likely to be quite a process. I was right. If you try this, make sure you try it on a weekend or day off, when you can devote the time you will need. Mine definitely didn’t turn out like Cee’s, but it was still quite usable and worked very well when I melted it down to make MP soap.

The first thing I did was put my palm oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and stearic acid into the crock pot.Oils in the Crock PotI let the oils melt.

Melted OilsI like how you can see my ceiling fan in the oils. Ha!

I added the lye water and stirred a bit. Here the soap is at a thick trace.

Thick TraceI let it cook for a bit. Here it is at “mashed potatoes” stage.

Mashed Potatoes StageA little while longer, and it was starting to gel.

Beginning to GelI stirred it well and cooked it to the applesauce stage. Once it started to get fluffy, I tested it for zap.

Applesauce StageAfter there was no zap, I poured in the glycerin and stirred.
Glycerin AddedThen I let it cook and melt. Finally, this was about as clear as my batch ever got. Cee’s was very clear. Not sure if I did something wrong.

Almost ClearEach time I would go stir, I saw a skin of hard soap on the top. I never could seem to get it to completely melt into a clear liquid. I am wondering if the temp was too low. Perhaps next time, I should try turning the crock pot up on high and see if that helps.
Soap SkinFinally, I stuck it in the microwave and poured it into the mold, hoping for the best.

Microwaved SoapBut it got these sort of scummy looking bubbles on the top. And I could still see some unmelted chunks of soap. Oh well, I poured it into the mold and let it set up.

I unmolded just a few hours later. It was already perfectly hard and came out of the mold quite easily.

Bottom of MP Soap BaseThe bottom was translucent (but not transparent). It looks a lot like a more opaque version of a regular MP soap base to me.

Top of MP BaseThe top had this sort of scummy white layer. I don’t know if it would hurt to use it, but I cut a slice and trimmed that top part off. Then I made these cute little heart-shaped soaps using some rose pearl mica, Pink Sugar fragrance, and Vanilla Stabilizer.

MP HeartsSo, I can report that the no-alcohol technique seems to work just fine!

Cee cautions on her blog that this recipe has a lot of glycerin, and it might sweat if used as embeds, but you can decrease the glycerin and perhaps get good results.

Here is a video I made of the process.

Thanks Cee (and Zacil) who shared this technique on Cee’s wonderful blog.

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Thank You, Bramble Berry!

I returned home from a CVS shopping run to find a package from Bramble Berry on my porch. That’s funny, I thought. I didn’t order anything recently [insert little sad little sob over the fact that I haven't ordered anything recently].

I opened it up, and I found these inside.

S. O. A. P. Panel Fragrances

Two ounces each of five fragrances from the S. O. A. P. Panel!

Also enclosed was a very nice (and pretty) handwritten thank you card for my participation on the S. O. A. P. Panel. It was so nice and unexpected. I didn’t realize Bramble Berry would be sending these along, and perhaps it’s spoilery, but I thought I’d let you see this sneak peek at some of the new offerings.

My nose is apparently not so good, so I am not 100% sure I’ve identified these all correctly, but I’m certain that Heavenly Honeysuckle is fragrance #3 that I tested and was actually able to identify as honeysuckle at the time. After living in Georgia for nearly twenty years, I can’t miss that scent. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I am so glad it made the cut.

I think that Mahogany is fragrance #8 that I said smelled like a sexy man. It does smell good, but I have no idea what mahogany is supposed to smell like. I think it will be a nice addition to Bramble Berry’s masculine line, though.

I’m totally not sure about this one, but I think Autumn Fig Harvest is fragrance #1, which I also liked a lot but totally did not identify with figs. Like I even know what figs are supposed to smell like, I suppose, but I digress. I thought I smelled some sort of juniper or a pine or fir scent, which might be the “harvest” and “autumn” notes. Anyway, even if I’m wrong, Autumn Fig Harvest smells great.

Those were my top three selections from the S. O. A. P. Panel fragrances, so (if my nose is right), I’m thrilled they made it through the process.

As to the other two fragrances, I can’t identify them with the ones I tried, and I wondered if they were perhaps part of the second round of S. O. A. P. Panel fragrances, in which I didn’t participate. Lavender and Cedar is a pretty accurate description of what that fragrance smells like. More cedar, for sure, but with a floral note behind it. It’s quite nice. Mandarin Oasis smells fruity and awesome, but I can’t identify it with the fruity scents I had on my panel, so I’m not really sure.

Thanks again for the nice treat, Bramble Berry!

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Sunrise Soap Giveaway Winner

I’m pleased to announce the winner of the Sunrise Soap Giveaway is Liza Jo! Congratulations, Liza Jo!

Finished Soap

Please watch out for future giveaways from New England Handmade Artisan Soaps, and thank you to all the people who participated in the giveaway.

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Hot Process Soap

I have very little experience with hot process soap, but I really wanted to give it a try. I think the rustic look of some hot process soaps is quite pretty. I had an idea for a soap, and I thought it might look better if it were hot process rather than cold process, so I decided to give it go.

First, my recipe:

  • 40% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 25% palm oil
  • 5% castor oil.

This is my “test” recipe, which also has the advantage of being a good basic recipe.

I made up the lye mixture with full water and set it aside. Then I added the oils to the crock pot.

Oils

I grew really impatient waiting for them to melt. They probably took about 15 minutes to melt on high heat.

Then I added my lye. I thought I was being really smart lining my crock pot. I forgot about the stick blender blades. Still, very little of the soap leaked into the crock pot itself. Next time, I just won’t bother. After all, with hot process, the soap is fully saponified, so the lye is not going to be a problem. I didn’t add my fragrance to the soap while it was in the crock pot, so there was no danger of fragrance leeching into my food later.

I blended to light trace. It took maybe a few seconds. You can barely see the soap trails on the top.

Trace

Next, I stirred it a bit before letting it sit to cook. At this point, I turned the crock pot to low. Notice you can see a bit of the separation you are supposed to look for.

Thicker trace

I let it cook for a bit, perhaps 10 minutes, and when I came to check on it, it was thickening up quite a bit. At this state, it was maybe the texture of thick pudding or mashed potatoes.

Thickening up

I actually checked on it quite often. I was nervous about leaving it alone. I should have paid better attention to timing here, but since I was checking it so frequently, I really looked more for “signs” instead of watching the clock. I started to notice it was gelling near the edges, like it was supposed to do.

Gelling

So, I stirred it up, and the gelled soap combined with the soap in the middle looked more like applesauce.

Applesauce

I cooked it a bit longer, looking for signs it was turning fluffy. Sure enough, I started to see the fluffy stage.

FluffyThen when it started to pull away from the edges, I did a zap test. It wasn’t quite done yet, so I let it cook a bit longer and did a second zap test. This time, no zap.

Fully cookedI scooped the soap out of the crock pot and put it into a bowl. This is where I think I could use some advice from more experienced hot process soapmakers. I wanted to let the soap cool a bit so it didn’t burn off the delicate orange essential oil I wanted to use (though, to be fair, it was 10x orange oil).

I think I let it cool too much. I read at TeachSoap that it’s a good idea to add a bit of sunflower oil (or, I suppose another carrier oil) to help cool the soap and make it more pliable as I mix the fragrance. Do any of you do this? Does it work? Because I tried to wait until my soap was right around the flashpoint for orange essential oil, and I think it was too cool. I had some trouble getting it into the mold, which I understand is just part of the nature of hot process soap, but I am wondering if the oil would have helped. Any advice is appreciated.

I added the orange essential oil, and it was very hard to mix. My soap is going to have a really cool mottled look because I couldn’t get the oil to mix as thoroughly as I had planned.

Essential oilAfter I mixed the oil, I plopped it in the mold, and tried to stop fiddling with it, but I wasn’t successful.

In the moldAs you can see, I put some dried orange slices in the tops of the bars. Pretty!

Here is another view of the soap in the mold.

In the mold

Eventually, I quit fussing with it and let it set up. I unmolded it and decided to let it harden a bit more before I cut it. You can tell I fussed with it too much because I got soap all over my oranges. Boo! I decided to clean them off after I cut the soap. The pictures are a little darker because the light wasn’t as good by the evening when I took them.

Unmolded

Here is another view of the soap loaf with the manhandled (womanhandled?) oranges in clear view.

Soap loaf

I am really digging the mottled look. It made me wonder if this is how Gossage’s soap got its famous “mottled” look. I know they experimented with adding colorants, but I couldn’t find out if their manufacturing process was hot process or not. I can’t find a picture of Gossage’s soap (just the packaging), so I’m not really sure what it looked like.

After the soap was cooled, I cut it as I normally do with my soap log cutter. Here are the results.

Finished Soap

I am thinking of calling it Sunrise. I am not sure if I will sell it or if I will just give these away. However, I am giving one bar away here. Just follow the instructions to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Versatile Blogger

versatile bloggerCee of Oil & Butter has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. I love Cee! Her blog is awesome, and her soaps are gorgeous! Thank you, Cee.

Here are the rules for the award:

VBA RULES (Copied from versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com):

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, to be honest, I have been out of pocket where blogging is concerned as I’ve had a busy time at work over the month of February. Seems to be calming down a bit now. I don’t know whether these folks have been nominated or not, as such, so forgive duplications.

7 Things about Me

  1. Since I tend to keep my various pursuits separate, folks who read this blog might not realize I am an English teacher, and I have an education blog. I also have a book blog. I have other blogs that are not updated enough to mention.
  2. I live in Worcester, MA, but I have lived all over the place, including Atlanta, GA; Cape Fear (Southport), NC; Aurora, CO. I have always wanted to live in New England and had a dream that I would when I was in my early twenties. It took a while, but it finally came true.
  3. I started making soap thinking it would be a hobby, but it quickly became an addiction and I wound up selling it (and starting this blog) so I could get all the soap out of my house and feed my habit with a small income. My sister actually started making soap before I did, but she hasn’t made it for some time now.
  4. In addition to making soap, I also like to make lotions and soy candles, and I have started experimenting with lip balms. I don’t sell lotions or lip balms yet.
  5. newhaircutMy hair started going gray when I was 18, and it is now pretty much completely gray. I stopped trying to dye it when I was about 28 or 29. I’m not telling my age, but it’s not old enough to have completely gray hair. This is me with my favorite haircut. It’s too long right now and needs to be cut again.
  6. I love music. I listen to many different types and have eclectic tastes. My favorites run the gamut from standard rock like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Jack White to Loretta Lynn, Frederic Chopin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Chieftains.
  7. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and we named our cat Bellatrix. We call her Bella.

Bellatrix

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S.O.A.P. Panel Fragrances: Final Ranks and Recommendations

Participating in the S.O.A.P. Panel was a lot of fun for me. It was interesting also to have a glimpse at some fragrances Bramble Berry is considering for their product line. The opportunity to have some influence over those decisions or at least report my experiences with the fragrances was also powerful, and I took it very seriously. I tested using a recipe that I didn’t expect would accelerate trace on its own. I used no colors so I could judge each fragrance’s effect on the soap’s color. I soaped at temperatures close to 100 degrees. I didn’t discount water. I gelled each soap so that I could see whether the fragrance would come through saponification, even if exposed to the higher temperatures of gelling. In short, I tried, as much as possible, to use testing conditions that would ensure the soaps I made were all the same, with the exception of the fragrance.

In the table below, I have listed the fragrances by number and linked them to their individual test blog posts. Then, I have ranked them from 1-8 in order of my own preferences (1 was my favorite, 8 was my least favorite). Finally, I have some thoughts and some recommendations for Bramble Berry, as well as any other soapers who might one day use the fragrances, should Bramble Berry sell them.

Fragrance Number My Rank Recommendations
Scent 1 2 I didn’t care for this one out of the bottle as much as I liked it after soaping with it. It is nice and strong after a cure, too. I really like its fresh scent. I can’t figure out what the scent is, but it smells great, and I would totally buy this one. It smells green or blue to me, and I think it would be nice with a green, blue, and white swirl of some kind. I really hope BB decides to carry this one.
Scent 2 6 The only reason this fragrance ranks so low is that it completely disappeared in my CP soap. It might be great in other products, such as candles or lotion. I sort of hope that some of the other testers decided to use it in one of those types of products to see how it performs. It smelled great and behaved well, too. It’s just gone. Notice it’s not ranked #8 though! Even with no scent left!
Scent 3 1 This was my favorite mainly because I identified it as honeysuckle, which is one of my all-time favorite scents. I love the way honeysuckle smells in bloom, and I have used many honeysuckle fragrances in the past. This fragrance smells true and is strong, even after a cure. It would be beautiful with a white, cream, and yellow swirl to mimic the honeysuckle blooms. For a floral, it behaves well, too. I would most definitely buy this one, and I hope BB decides to carry it.
Scent 4 4 This one smells really good, and I would buy it. It is strong after a cure. I think it would go well with greens, yellows, and whites, as I think I detect a tart pear fragrance. It smells really good on its own, and I think it might blend well with other fragrances, too. I hope BB also carries this one. It was close between this one and the ones I ranked #2 and 3. I did like all of them.
Scent 5 7 This one smells like dirt or grass. It might be fun for a novelty soap for golfers or gardeners, but otherwise, I wouldn’t want to use it. Of course, I have never romanticized the smell of fresh cut grass the way some other folks do, so that is something to bear in mind. It would be great with a green colorant (I’m thinking a swirl of mostly chromium green oxide with a little bit of brown oxide and titanium dioxide woven through). It might be fun for some people, but I wouldn’t buy it unless a customer especially requested a grass fragrance.
Scent 6 8 I liked this one the least. It misbehaved a bit in soaping, and it doesn’t smell good to me, even after mellowing a bit in a cure. I can’t identify the scent, and I have no real recommendations for colorants to use as a result. I would recommend that BB not sell this one. I don’t think it would be terribly successful.
Scent 7 5 This one didn’t stand out in any strong way to me. It didn’t smell bad, but it didn’t wow me either. It’s a sort of fruity floral. My husband thinks he smells rose, but it smells more like carnation to me. I am not sure if I would buy it or not. I think it would go well with pinks, creams, or whites. I am on the fence about my recommendation. I hope to peek in and see what the other panelists think of this one. It smells pretty, but I liked many of the other fragrances better. However, I should note I am a sort of “fruity” fragrance person. My husband likes florals (for women) much better, and is more disposed to those scents. I think if you like florals, you’d probably like this one, and BB may find there is a good market for it.
Scent 8 3 This one smells great. I would totally recommend that BB carry it. I would definitely buy it. It does discolor, but not badly. I would recommend trying colors like blue, white, and a light brown together to create a sort of manly looking soap, as this fragrance smells masculine to me. I really liked this one almost as much as #1 and 2. It was a close contest.

I hope this helps Bramble Berry and the soaping community. Please look for an update in a couple of weeks on how these soaps perform after a good cure (the last two were made too recently for me to tell). I will also include photos of each so you can see whether the soap has discolored or ashed. I did forget to spray #5 with alcohol, so it may have a disadvantage there.

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S.O.A.P. Pane Fragrances: Fragrance #8

Fragrance #8Initially, I thought this fragrance smelled like a “sexy man,” and for once, I didn’t change my mind. It still smelled like a sexy man out of the bottle and in the soap. I liked this one. As you can see, it’s a little yellow out of the bottle.

As I did with the other seven fragrances, I used a recipe of 45% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 25% sustainable palm oil, and 5% castor oil in this recipe. I soaped with full water (38%) and a 6% lye discount. The oils and lye water were 95 degrees when I combined them. I blended to a light trace. This picture is a little dark.

Soap Before FragranceAfter I added the fragrance, I stirred a bit with the spatula, but I saw no signs of ricing. I stick blended a bit. No acceleration or immediate discoloration, as you can see in this picture I took after the fragrance was blended.

Soap After FragranceI actually blended it a bit past light trace—maybe to a medium trace. Then I poured it into the mold and drew curly designs on the top.

Soap in Mold

I unmolded and cut the soap the next day. As you may be able to see from the photo, this fragrance does discolor slightly. There is a faint brownish frame around the edges of the soap. I expect the rest of the soap to turn the same shade. It is not the deep brown you get from fragrances with a lot of vanillin, but I am wondering if this fragrance has a little bit of vanillin in it, which might explain both the discoloration and the pattern of discoloration—in my experience, fragrances with vanillin take some time to completely change the color of the soap, and what you often have is this “frame.”

Cut SoapThis one smells great. After saponification, the fragrance is still strong, and I’m detecting a fruity note (maybe apple). I would totally buy this one. Two thumbs up!

In an upcoming post, I will recap my reviews, ranking the fragrance in order of my own preference along with any recommendations I can think of. In a few weeks’ time, I will update everyone on how these soaps performed after a good cure.

Thanks again to Bramble Berry for the opportunity to be on the S.O.A.P. Panel. It was a lot of fun!

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S.O.A.P. Panel Fragrances: Fragrance #7

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to test the S.O.A.P. Panel fragrances. Work has kept me busy. Now that I’m on spring break, I can make a bunch of soap!

Fragrance #7Fragrance #7 has a floral note. My husband Steve remarked that it smelled a bit like rose. It might also be carnation. There is another note I can’t identify, and there is a vaguely fruity note as well.

As you can see, it is fairly clear out of the bottle. I used 24 grams in my recipe, which was the entire contents of the bottle. My recipe, as before, was 45% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 25% sustainable palm oil, and 5% castor oil. I used full water (38%) and a lye discount of 6%. The oils were about 105 degrees and the lye mixture was about 95 degrees when I combined the two. I blended to a very light trace before adding the fragrance.

Blended SoapRight after I added the fragrance, it riced a little bit and separated. I would not have been able to incorporate it without blending, as just stirring with the spatula wasn’t working. This separation could be a problem with some recipes or complicated swirls, especially if you don’t want to stick blend after adding the fragrance. I stick blended a little bit more, but there was no acceleration, so I went ahead and gave it a good blend. After that, the fragrance incorporated well and caused no more problems. It didn’t discolor the soap batter at all, though initially I thought it might turn the batter yellowish, as right after I poured it, the fragrance looked yellow in the soap.

Soap with FragranceI poured the soap at a light-medium trace and drew a bit of a feathery design on the top, as the soap had definitely started to thicken by the time all of it was in the mold. I put the soap away to gel over night.

Soap in MoldI cut the soap the next day. It does appear to have very slight yellowish discoloration, but certainly nothing bad and nothing that would cause problems with any colors you might want to use. I think reds, pinks, whites, and greens might go nicely with this scent. After this soap saponified, I could smell mainly the floral scent, but I really can’t decide if it’s more of a rose or a carnation. I don’t smell any fruity notes anymore, but there is something else there besides the floral that I can’t identify. It doesn’t smell like typical rose, if so. I find rose scents are sometimes cloying, but this smells nice. It doesn’t knock my socks off, but it’s nice. I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to buy it, but I don’t dislike it, either.

Cut Bars

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Don’t Give the Milk (Soap) Away for Free

GreedThe March/April 2014 edition of Saponifier Magazine focuses on business advice. I cannot claim to have a lot to offer on this front because in many ways, I’m the wrong person to ask. I enjoy making soap, and I sell it on Etsy mainly so I can get it out of the house (and into the hands of people who will like it) so I can make more. I have no great plans to build a huge soaping business and quit my day job. I actually love my day job (which is teaching English, by the way). However, I do have one bit of advice I would like to offer new soapmakers or those wishing to break into the soaping business: Don’t give your soap away for free.

I don’t mean don’t give your soap as gifts. One of the best perks of being a soapmaker is that you have ready-made gifts on hand that people actually really love because they are handmade, by you, and are also great to use, a real indulgence.

I’m also not talking about donating your soap to a good cause, such as Clean the World or auctions. If you believe in the cause and don’t mind donating your soap, then donating your soap is a positive way to support the cause. However, in such cases, you are not exchanging your soap for promises of “exposure” which might lead to future sales, and there is a difference between supporting a cause and giving your soap away to an organization that plans to make money from selling it without compensating you.

What I mean when I say don’t give your soap away for free is be wary of accepting offers to donate your soap for the purposes of “exposure.” Such schemes might work, but if they don’t, you have given away a lot of your time and hard work, not to mention the money the materials cost. If people truly value the time, work, and money you put into your soap, they will compensate you for it with something less nebulous than “exposure.”

I have been approached on a few occasions to donate my soap to companies that sell bath and beauty baskets. These baskets are either given away or sold to subscribers, but those who contribute will see their products get into the hands of people who might otherwise not have seen them. The thought is that those people will then go on to buy your products. I’m not convinced that giving your soap away to companies like this will lead to large amounts of sales, but I do find other methods of exposure do seem to work.

Social networking sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram do seem to allow soapmakers to share their soap with a wider audience. Etsy is a little bit glutted with soapmakers, but I think selling on a site like Etsy might generate a little more exposure than a standalone website, unless you are also quite active in social networking and work a circuit of farmers’ markets and craft fairs. Etsy also allows you to purchase ads for a reasonable fee, which will increase the chances your items will appear at the forefront in search results.

If companies truly want to help you grow your business and offer you exposure, they will negotiate a fair wholesale price for your soap. That way, you are are compensated for your time, work, and costs, and they are still able to make a profit. Otherwise, they are looking to take advantage of you and keep all the profits.

Image credit: Liz West

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