Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Soap: Roses and Champagne

My Valentine's Day soap
Happy Valentine's Day!

When I was little, Valentine's Day meant classroom parties where we all gave each other cards, made heart-shaped arts and crafts, played games, and ate cupcakes that someone's mom brought in. Everybody was in on the fun and nobody was left out. We were like tiny hippies - peace, love, and candy for everybody! And if your crush was in your class, you got a Valentine from them since everybody gave Valentines to everybody. I remember in fifth grade the guy I liked was in my class and I cherished the Valentine from him, even though everyone else in the classroom probably got the same card. Those were good times. And my mom and dad always got me a box of Valentine's candy, too. I'm talking a Whitman's double-decker or a sampler from the candy/nut shop in the mall. You know, the good stuff.

As I got older, Valentine's Day became increasingly disappointing, as many things do. Once I got to middle school, there were no more classroom parties. No more Valentines from your crush just because he was in your class. No more love for all, all for love. It was suddenly a dog-eat-dog world, and only couples were in on the Valentine's Day fun. Single and want a Valentine's cupcake? You'd better bake it yourself because nobody's momma was gonna show up and give you one. Want a long-stemmed rose or even just a Valentine's card? Better find yourself a boyfriend or girlfriend. Want someone to serenade you? Well, the glee club sold singing telegrams, but chances were good that you weren't going to get one unless you sent one to yourself, which would be very sad.

High school was more of the same. It seemed that the Valentine's Day festivities ended in elementary school.

I quickly became cynical beyond my years, which probably didn't help my chances of getting a singing telegram. I told myself that I didn't care, that the whole Valentine's thing was stupid. That it was a scam, just a corporate gimmick to make people spend money. Although part of me did still wish that what's-his-name would finally come to his senses and give me a stuffed gorilla holding a heart that said "Hot Stuff" on it or something. Thank goodness I could count on my folks for a box of candy. That I did care about.

Once I became an adult and finally found a significant other, I liked Valentine's Day a lot more. Now it means roses, some sweet treats, a nice dinner, and spending time with my sweetie. It means taking to time to reflect on the love you share with someone else, although I think it's good to do that everyday anyway.

Melt-and-pour heart embeds, made with a silicone ice cube tray.
When I started thinking about making a Valentine's Day soap, I thought of roses.I had originally planned to use a Sensuous Black Rose fragrance oil on its own, but then I remembered that I had a bottle of Champagne fragrance oil, too. Why not put them together? After all, roses and champagne go together like soap and water.

And because this is a special soap made with love, I got a little ambitious. It had been a very long time since I had played with melt-and-pour soap (almost two years!), so I decided to make some cute little M&P hearts to embed on the top of my loaf. And then it occurred to be that I could also add a mica line. And then it occurred to me that I could add TWO mica lines! And I would also try to master textured tops, which has been my Achilles heel in cold process soapmaking.

Here is a video of the making of my "Roses & Champagne" Valentine's Day soap:


I started out by making my heart embeds by melting some clear M&P soap base in the microwave. (It's best to chop up the soap into chunks so that it melts faster and more evenly. Also, take care not to scorch the soap - nuke it in short 30-second bursts until just melted.) Bramble Berry's Merlot sparkle mica gave my hearts a perfect deep, shimmery red. I mixed the mica with a bit of rubbing alcohol to break up any clumps and then I added it to my melted soap base. For my mold, I used a cute silicone ice cube tray that I found in the dollar bins at Target. After pouring the soap into the molds, I spritzed it with rubbing alcohol to burst any air bubbles, and then popped the soap into the fridge to set up.

Then I moved on to making my cold process soap. For this batch, I used olive oil, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, castor oil, and cocoa butter. Because I was planning to put M&P embeds on top of my soap, I wanted to avoid gel phase. During gel phase, the soap heats up and becomes gelatinous as it saponifies. I was afraid that that kind of heat could melt my M&P hearts, so I decided to avoid gel phase for this particular batch. I kept my temps cool, partly to keep the soap from heating up too quickly and partly because I was using a new floral fragrance oil and wanted to avoid any acceleration issues. (Florals are notorious for accelerating and seizing. I am happy to report that the rose fragrance oil did very well. I used only half of what I normally would have, since I mixed it with equal parts Champagne FO, and I did use full water. The soap traced quickly, but never became unmanageable. I brought it to a medium-thick trace and it remained very workable for the entire soaping session.) I usually soap around 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit, but I let my oils and lye cool to about 90 degrees this time.

I added my fragrance oil combination to my cooled oils along with some sodium lactate (1 Tbsp for 32 oz. oils) and titanium dioxide. The sodium lactate helps create a harder bar, and the titanium dioxide whitens the soap. I stickblended to evenly disperse the titanium dioxide and then added my lye water. It didn't take long for the soap to reach trace, and once it did, I poured off 1 1/2 cups of soap, colored it with ultramarine pink oxide, and set it aside for later.

For my mica lines, I used some more of the Merlot sparkle mica. I poured about half of my white soap into my plastic loaf mold (which I had placed in the freezer beforehand) once the soap reached medium-thick trace. Then I used a tea strainer to tap out a line of mica that just barely covered the surface of the soap. (Too thick of a mica dusting may cause the soap to separate, so be careful not to overdo it. And remember to wipe the sides of your mold clean after dusting a mica line.) I had seen this video by Soaping101 and loved how Catherine made a double mica line in her soap. I wanted to try that, too. So I spooned some of my pink soap on top of the first mica line (being careful not to disturb it), keeping the pink soap on one side of the mold and reserving a small amount for later. Then I dusted a second mica line over just the pink soap, and then spooned the rest of my white soap on top of that. I drizzled the remaining pink soap on top of the white and texturized the tops. (To make texturizing easier, I popped the soap into the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to let it set up a bit.) Finally, I stuck my M&P heart embeds into the soap and then placed the mold in the freezer overnight.

I unmolded the soap the next day and let it sit for about four days before cutting it. The soap did sweat a little bit the first day or so due to condensation, but it dried out as it sat.

A couple of things to remember: Ungelled soap can zap for a few days longer than gelled soap because the saponification process is slowed. Ungelled soap can also be soft initially, too. When I cut the soap, it was still soft and my mica lines dragged a bit, even though I turned the soap onto its side to cut it. Fortunately, I was able to smooth away the mica smudges with my finger. A few days later, the bars were starting to harden up nicely.

The scent is lovely and perfect for Valentine's Day - a bit flowery, a bit bubbly. Definitely celebratory!

So happy Valentine's Day, everybody! I wish you all a lovely day of roses, champagne, and soap!

34 comments:

  1. Wow -- really gorgeous! And what could be more romantic than roses and champagne? Love the whole design and those little melt and pour hearts are a wonderful addition!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I was very happy with how this batch turned out. It was fun playing with melt-and-pour soap again, too. The last time I used with M&P soap was to make those favors for the bridal shower!

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  2. Beautiful soap Jenny! Your video's are so well done and I enjoy watching and learning from them. I tried the mica line once and made such a mess that I never tried it again. You make it look easy...never thought of using a tea strainer. Maybe I'll give it another try.
    Happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. Thank you, Gloria! I'm glad that you enjoy the videos! Making mica lines is a little bit messy. I got my tea strainer at Bed Bath and Beyond, and any small fine-mesh strainer should work. I've heard that stretching pantyhose over your mica container and using that as a strainer works great, too, but I've never tried it. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  3. So beautiful, Jenny! The heart embeds add a special touch and the Sensuous Black Rose fragrance sounds very pretty! Love the double mica lines..I still have yet to try this technique. Happy Valentine's Day to you too! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kalla! I like the M&P hearts, too, and I love the deep, shimmery red from the Merlot sparkle mica. I'm digging the double mica line, too. It'll be a great way to jazz things up. I've been struggling the last couple of years to make my soaps that discolor dark brown more interesting. A double gold or white mica line might be just the thing!

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  4. Beautiful! For some reason I do now really crave for a huge piece of strawberry cheese cake though... Thank you for talking us through the whole process and the video. I love reading about making soap and learning too!

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    1. Thank you, Marieke! You're right, the soap does look like a piece of strawberry cheesecake! I'm glad that you enjoyed the video. Thanks for reading my blog!

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  5. Wow, this is such a beautiful Valentine soap, just great!

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    1. Thanks, Iulia! I am very happy with how this soap turned out.

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  6. Lovely,lovely,lovely soap!
    Much Love,
    Claudia.

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  7. Wow, Jenny! The soap is really beautiful, love the design! The little hearts are so sweet.
    It's a pleasure to learn more about you through these soap stories:)

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    1. Thank you, Natalia! I really like how this batch turned out, too. I'm glad that you enjoy my soapy stories! :)

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  8. It's absolutely adorable and I think it really shows the love you put into it. Thanks for sharing! =)

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    1. Thanks, Anne-Marie! I definitely put some Valentine's Day love into this batch!

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  9. A wonderful soap, i love the colours und the hearts are fine.

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  10. Soooo pretty Jenny, and champagne and roses is a perfect combo for Valentine's Day! Thanks for the tip of using the bar of soap to gauge how far apart to place the embeds...great idea!

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    1. Thanks, Cee Gee! I'm glad that tip helped. I was thinking to myself, "How am I going to know where to put the embeds?" and decided to grab a bar of similar shape to help me.

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  11. OMG Jenny, that soap is gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! I'm very happy with it, too!

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  12. That is just so pretty, I love that chunk of pink and the cocoa line

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    1. Thank you, Joanna! The pink part turned out nicely - I was a little afraid that I had used too much pink and I was just going to end up with a flat pink layer. It slanted to one side, though, like I was hoping it would!

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  13. You did a really good job with the double pencil lines, they are beautiful. The hearts, they are just perfect.

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    1. Thanks, Marika! I really like the double mica line technique - I will have to remember to use it to jazz up my bars, especially ones that will discolor brown. That could be a great way to add interest. And it was fun playing with my M&P again to make the hearts.

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  14. I really wish I could smell your f.o.blend,sounds so romantic. Just like this soap. I'm glad to hear the Valentine's makes sence again to you,but also you have such nice memories from your childhood. Thanks for sharing,Jen. This soap is such a beautiful reflection of your thoughts and the hearts are so shiny,jelly-like and yummy!

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    1. Thank you, Maja! The scent is nice - a bit floral, a bit powdery, a bit fizzy. I do love how the mica is so shimmery in M&P soap. I'm glad that you enjoyed my memories about Valentine's Days past. Valentine's Day wasn't as much fun in middle or high school, but many things aren't, lol. Those elementary school parties were fun, and Valentine's Day is nice now, too.

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  15. I really enjoyed reading this post, thank you very much for sharing your memories… This Valentine Soap is so complex and beautiful: the pencils lines are nicely defined and colors are gorgeous. You did a very good job Jenny!

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    1. Thanks, Gordana! I did try a lot of different things with this batch, and I am glad that it all worked well together. I am very happy with how this soap turned out, too. And I'm glad that you enjoyed reading about my memories! Thanks for the kind words.

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  16. Beautiful Jenny! Just perfect for Valetines. I have not tried the pencil line in some time. I really love how yours came out. Thank you for posting all your videos! I look forward to seeing them everytime you have a new post :)

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    1. Thank you, Roxana! I really like the pencil line technique - it's a great way to dress up a bar. And thank you for watching my videos! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoy them. :)

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  17. Your Valentine's day soaps look gorgeously amazing! they look good enough to eat, yum yum...!!! xoxoxo Adina

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