Saturday, March 30, 2013

Honeycomb Soap Revisited

If you've been following this blog for a while you may remember that about a year ago, I wrote about making honey soap. Well, we finally used up that batch and, because it's such a favorite around here, I had to make more. But this time I've got a videoooo!

Honey is wonderful in soap. Honey is a natural humectant (meaning that it retains moisture), and its sugar content helps boost lather.

I typically use about one teaspoon of honey per pound of oils, but I bumped it up slightly to 1 Tablespoon (which is about 3 teaspoons) for 32 ounces of oil. To avoid honey streaks in the finished bars, I subtracted one Tablespoon of my distilled water and heated it in the microwave briefly to warm it. I whisked the honey into the warm water to dissolve it, and then stickblended it into my oils to fully incorporate it.

The last time I made honey soap, my recipe was 48% olive oil, 29% coconut oil, 17% palm oil, and 6% shea butter. This time, I tweaked my recipe a bit to 40 % olive oil, 28% coconut oil, 26% palm oil, and 6% cocoa butter. I wanted to see if I could achieve a harder bar by dropping the percentage of olive oil and upping the palm oil. And I used cocoa butter instead of shea because, hey, why not? It's fun to change things up every once in while and see what happens.

Because the natural sugars in honey can cause the soap to overheat, I soaped fairly cool. My oils were around 95 degrees F and my lye around 100 F when I combined them.

And I stuck with the same fragrance oil this time - Elements Bath and Body's Honey (L'Occitane Type), which smells uhmazing.

We are looking forward to soon having another batch of honey soap ready to go!

What are some of your favorite soaps that you always try to keep around?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peppermint Lemongrass Sage Swirl Soap

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember that I bought a bunch of essential oils last year and vowed to play around with more EO combinations.

I haven't done too much experimenting yet, but I did recently make a batch with lemongrass, peppermint, and sage EOs.

With spring coming, I wanted something fresh, clean, and light. And I wanted bright, outdoorsy colors. Peppermint is one of my all-time favorite essential oils, and I also love anything lemony. (Spring always gets me thinking about lemons.) I figured peppermint and lemongrass would be very nice together, and sage goes hand-in-hand with lemongrass.

So peppermint, lemongrass, and sage it was. And the colors would be bright yellow and green. I had been itching to use my vertical mold again, and I thought the yellow and green would look beautiful side-by-side.

I've also been wanting to experiment with some new recipes, too. I remembered that my blogger friend Cee Gee shared one of her recipes on her blog, Oil & Butter. I adore Cee Gee's soaps and was eager to try her formulation. I did not have mango butter, but that did not deter me from trying the Mango Butter soap recipe. I substituted shea butter instead, but I will have to obtain some mango butter (which I plan to do soon) because I have heard so many wonderful things about it. And, of course, since I changed the recipe, I ran it through a lye calculator to get the correct amount of sodium hydroxide for that particular list of ingredients.

For the essential oils, I chose a 1:1 ratio for the peppermint and lemongrass, and I used half as much sage. Lemongrass sticks pretty strongly, and I wanted the peppermint to come through as well. I didn't want to overdo it with the sage - I was going for a subtle hint of greenness, so I opted for half as much sage as peppermint or lemongrass.

It was hard for me to imagine any other colors than yellow and green for this scent profile. And I wanted the colors to be bold and bright. So I chose Bramble Berry's Fizzy Lemonade and Hydrated Chrome Green colorants. To make things a little more interesting, I decided to do two in-the-pot swirls - one green with yellow swirls, and one yellow with green swirls - and pour them into either side of the mold.

Here is a video I made of the process:

Overall, I am very pleased with how this batch turned out! I was hoping that the soap would be more swirly. Perhaps I was a bit too light-handed with the swirl colors. But the effect is still gorgeous. I think a vertical twist swirl would have been fabulous, too. I will definitely have to try this technique in the future as well.

The scent combo is nice. I mostly smell lemongrass, with peppermint coming in right on its heels. The sage is not as strong, but it lends a bit of herbal earthiness in the background.

The soap has been curing for about seven weeks now and I have been using a bar in the shower. Cee Gee's recipe gets two enthusiastic thumbs up! The soap has a bubbly, creamy lather and it feels great on the skin. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Cee Gee!

The Peppermint Lemongrass Sage soap looks and smells like happiness. It will be perfect for spring!

What kinds of scents, colors, and themes do you enjoy in the springtime? Anything in particular that says "spring" to you, soap- or otherwise?