|My Hot Cocoa soap|
I have always relished that first day after a long, oppressive summer when it is cool enough to open up the house. I can still remember one particular afternoon when I was about ten years old and doing my homework at the kitchen counter next to the open windows, feeling the cool October air on my skin. The wind chimes outside clinked in the breeze. The air felt different, charged. It even smelled different, sweet and slightly spicy. That day sticks with me because the sensations were so rich and intense. It was a perfect autumn day, and I never wanted it to end.
Those are the kind of days that make me want to cozy up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. They signal that the holidays are coming soon with their pumpkin pies, gingerbread cookies, candy canes, and fresh-cut Christmas trees. Even the air carries a cold, clean, energizing scent.
|Ah, autumn! I took this photo at Blue Ridge, GA in Oct. 2009|
Everyone in my family knows that they are getting a bunch of soap from me for Christmas. Each year, I have some perennial favorites - like Sweet Pumpkin, Gingersnap, and Peppermint - that I usually make. And I also try to work in a couple of new scents to keep things interesting for everyone. This year I'm planning to make a Fresh Snow soap.
And I just made a Hot Cocoa soap. After all, who doesn't love a steaming mug of hot cocoa with a dollop of whipped cream on a cold wintery night?
For the scent, I used Bramble Berry's Hot Cocoa fragrance oil. It smells just like the real thing! The whole house smelled like hot chocolate for days, which is not a bad thing at all.
Here is a video of the making of my Hot Cocoa soap:
This is also the first batch that I made using sodium lactate, which I added to the cooled lye solution at 1% (roughly 1 teaspoon per pound of oils). Sodium lactate is a liquid salt of lactic acid, and it helps harden soap so that it lasts longer. It also is a natural humectant.
To make the soap, I brought my batch to a thin trace and then separated out a little bit of soap into another container. (I poured off about a cup and a half from a batch made with two pounds of oils.) I colored this small portion of soap with titanium dioxide and left it unscented since the fragrance oil discolors dark brown. Then I whisked the fragrance oil into the rest of the soap. (I used .8 ounces of fragrance per pound of oils and the scent was plenty strong.) I didn't bother with coloring the scented portion since the fragrance oil naturally goes brown due to the vanilla.
|My pink Hot Cocoa soap. Don't worry, it quickly goes brown!|
I poured a bit of my white soap into my scented soap and gave it a quick stir to make an in-the-pot swirl. I should have made my swirl at a thinner trace, but I nearly plumb forgot to do the swirl at all! I managed the swirl even though my soap was at medium trace, and I ended up with pretty little wisps of white in the chocolate-colored portion.
I texturized the top of the scented layer and then spooned a layer of white on top of it. Then I created some texture on top of the white layer to mimic peaks of whipped cream. I topped the whole thing off with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
I must say that I am very happy with how these soaps turned out! These will make lovely holiday gifts. (And I'll be making more holiday soaps over the next few weeks, too, so stay tuned.)
What types of soaps are you all making or buying for the holiday season? What scents do you like during autumn and winter?