Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mediterranean Garden Spa Shaving Soap

Time to make more shaving soap for the hubby! I found David Fisher's shaving soap recipe on and thought that it sounded nice.

The recipe calls for coconut and palm oils for a stable, creamy lather. Olive oil, sweet almond oil, and cocoa butter condition the skin and provide lots of luxury. Castor oil, which I usually use at around 3%-5% of the total oils, is bumped up to 10% for an extra boost of lather. And bentonite clay (about 1 Tablespoon per pound of oils) gives the soap some extra slip for shaving with the added benefit of being oh-so-good for skin.

(Tip: Mix the bentonite clay with a little bit of liquid glycerin before adding it to the soap to prevent clumping.)

Here's the recipe I used:

~ Coconut oil - 30% ~
~ Palm oil - 30% ~
~Castor oil - 10% ~
~ Sweet almond oil - 15% ~
~ Olive oil - 10% ~
~ Cocoa butter - 5% ~

I did tweak David's recipe a bit. His calls for sunflower oil, but I didn't have any so I substituted sweet almond oil in its place. (And I ran the new recipe through a lye calculator, of course!)

The first thing I noticed about this recipe is that 65% of the oils are hard oils. Olive oil accounts for only 10% of the total oils. Most of my soap recipes are fairly heavy on olive oil with it being about 40%-50% of the total oils. The last shaving soap I made was 45% olive oil. Also, 72% of the oils were soft oils in the last recipe, and palm was a mere 8% of the total oils. This new shaving soap recipe is kinda the opposite of the previous one, so I was very curious to try it.

Once I had settled on a recipe, it was off to the fragrance cabinet to find a clean, masculine scent. I had a one-ounce bottle of Mediterranean Garden Spa fragrance oil, which was perfect since I was using one pound of oils for my recipe.The scent smells very green, herbaceous, and outdoorsy to me. The colors blue and green came to mind, and I decided to do an in-the-pot swirl.

Soon after adding the fragrance oil, bentonite clay, and lye solution to the oils and stickblending for a bit, the soap batter thickened to a pudding-like consistency. I'm not sure what caused this, considering that many factors can contribute to trace acceleration. The batter was workable, though, so I continued on with my plan to swirl. I managed to get the soap colored and then swirled the colors together, but it just didn't pour fluidly, which is what you really need for a successful ITP swirl. I knew that the soap batter didn't have the right consistency for an ITP swirl, but I pig-headedly carried on. Perhaps I would have had better luck with an in-the-shaving-bowl swirl.

Here's a video of me making this soap:

The soap still turned out lovely manly, and I kinda like the textured look in the bowls. And as the soap gets used, the swirls start to reveal themselves more.

It has been a few months since I made this shaving soap, and my hubby has been using it for a while now. He says that it's his favorite shaving soap so far, and he really likes the recipe. Sounds like it's a keeper! I may go in search of a palm-free shaving soap recipe, too, and see how he likes that.

The soap seems to be lasting him a good while, too - I think we're working on month three now - and the soap stays nice and hard and dry in between uses, not gummy at all.

I'll bet this would make an awesome body bar, too! I usually use regular soap to shave with in the shower, but I should make a bigger batch of this and make bars out of it. Then I could enjoy this shaving soap recipe, too!

Do you like shaving soaps? Got a favorite recipe?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Orange Basil Swirled Hearts Soap

This project included a few firsts for me: a new technique, a new recipe genre, and a new butter.

I decided to try out the Swirled Heart technique. This method has been on my must-do list for a while, and I finally got around to it. (My must-do list is about as long as my arm and it just keeps growing. It is going to take a while to get through it, methinks.) I remember seeing Anne-Marie and Kristy demonstrate the Swirled Heart technique quite a while back, but you know how it goes. You see a new thing and think, "Oh, cool, I'm totally gonna get right on that!" Maybe you even print out the tutorial and file it away in your soaping folder. And then you get distracted with other projects and maybe forget about it for a while. And then one day you're going through your bookmarks or your folder and think, "Whatever happened to ...?" And then you commit to the project and wonder why you didn't do it sooner. The Swirled Heart technique is a fun method, and I definitely plan to utilize it again. (It would be especially great for Valentine's Day!)

Something else that was new for me was not using palm oil. With the exception of my Castile soap and salt bars, my recipes have usually included it. I'm nearly out of palm oil now, so I decided to seek out some palm-free recipes to see if I could do without it. I went poking around the interwebs and found a few that I liked the looks of. The Nova Studio shared three palm-free recipes on their blog. One of the recipes calls for mango butter, which appealed to me because I recently bought some mango butter and was looking for a reason to use it. I've never used mango butter before, but I've heard so many wonderful things about it. Mango butter reportedly has natural emollient and moisturizing properties. Sounds like it should make a pretty luxurious soap!

 Here is the recipe I used, from the Nova Studio's blog post:

~ Olive Oil - 41% ~
~ Coconut Oil - 25% ~
~ Mango Butter - 25% ~
~ Avocado Oil - 6% ~
~ Shea Butter - 3% ~

I was a little bit worried that such a high percentage of mango butter might accelerate trace, but this recipe had a nice, slow trace for me. (A slow trace is important for this type of project, so choose a well-behaved recipe and fragrance oil.) I soaped at around 104 degrees F and had plenty of time to work with the batter. The soap is about a week and a half old now. I tested a bar and the lather is wonderfully soft and fluffy. The soap performs well already, but after about five more weeks of curing time it should be even more amazing!

Orange Basil Swirled Hearts soap
For the fragrance, I chose a 10x Orange and Sweet Basil essential oil blend. (The 10x Orange is nice because it is more concentrated than regular orange EO and therefore sticks better in CP soap.) Choosing a scent is sometimes difficult when I'm gazing into a drawer full of a bajillion fragrance and essential oils. I was trying to decide on both a fragrance and color scheme. I remembered that I had some orange mica from Bramble Berry. I really love the carrot-orange color of this mica, but it appears that Bramble Berry no longer carries it, which gives me a sad. Once I settled on the orange mica, I started thinking about the scent. Orange essential oil is an obvious choice. It turns the soap a light orange, though, and I wanted to do a white layer for my hearts. So, what would go well with orange and not discolor? Basil essential oil. Which means green. Funny how sometimes the fragrance dictates the colors, and other times the colors dictate the fragrance.

Dotting the surface
The bottom layer is an orange and green in-the-pot swirl. I thought about just doing straight-up orange for the bottom layer, but decided that a swirl would be more interesting. After the swirly layer had set up a bit, I drizzled some white soap on top to check it. Then I spooned the white layer on to prevent break-through into the previous layer. The Swirled Heart technique requires plastic squeeze bottles, which I found at my local craft store in the baking/candymaking aisle. I snipped the tips of the squeeze bottles so the soap would come out easier and give me good dime-sized dollops. To make the swirled hearts, I filled one squeeze bottle with about 2-3 ounces of orange soap, and filled another bottle with green soap. I dotted the surface with alternating rows of green and orange, and then dragged a toothpick through the dots to make hearts. 

(Tip: To clean out the bottles, I filled them with warm water right after I was done soaping, gave each one a good shake, and then squeezed the soapy water out. I had to fill and shake the bottles a few times to get all of the soap and residue out.)

The orange soap is scented with the Orange 10x essential oil, and the white is scented with the basil essential oil. For simplicity's sake, I left the small amount of green soap unscented.

Here's a video of the process:

I'm super happy with how this soap turned out! Orange and basil is a fantastic scent combo, and the hearts are so cute. The recipe and the essential oils behaved exceptionally well. 

I'll be trying some more palm-free recipes in the future, but I think that this one is definitely a keeper!

What do you think of the Swirled Heart technique? Have you tried it yourself?