Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Christmas Disaster Story

Although I must say that for a disaster, this soap actually turned out pretty well. Just about everything went wrong in the soap kitchen, but this was what I ended up with. Coulda been a lot worse.

First off, let me just acknowledge that, yes, I know, I know. I'm a bit late posting.

I have an excuse, though. A good one even!

Hubby and I are moving soon from Louisiana to southern California. He got a new assignment out there and we are looking forward to the new adventure!

Everything has happened pretty quickly and we're starting to kick into high gear now. If you've ever moved, you know how rapidly you can go from oh-we've-got-plenty-of-time-and-there's-not-that-much-to-do-anyway to oh-my-god-we're-never-going-to-get-all-of-this-done-in-time.

A million and one things that need attention RIGHT NOW are starting to bubble to the surface. In the next few weeks, we need to sell my car, clean out the apartment, tie up loose ends, close accounts here and open new accounts there, coordinate with the movers, and we still have to find a place to live.

And, of course, the normal daily hassles of life continue and stuff like this happens:

Oh, good, another flat.

So, please do forgive me if I am highly distracted for the next little bit while we're moving and getting settled. I did make two batches of holiday soap (this one and one other) before things get too hectic so I would at least have something to blog about, providing I can carve out the time to do so.

Now onto the things about the soaps!

Can you believe that it's already time to start thinking about the winter holidays? Well, it is! And I can't not make a pepperminty soap for the holidays.

This soap, which I think I will call Peppermint Wonderland, was supposed to be a Taiwan Swirl. Obviously, it didn't work out.

My recipe was 8% mango butter, 25% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 30% rice bran oil, and 12% sweet almond oil.

Alas, I did not end up with the thin trace that I was hoping for. I don't think the problem was my fragrance oils because I used both without incident last year. (The scent here was a combo of Nature's Garden's Peppermint and Winter Garden fragrance oils.)

I used the full water amount, too, and soaped at around 100-105 degrees F.

And I also tried really hard, you guys, to make sure that I didn't overmix, that I brought the soap to the lightest trace possible. And still it thickened up like cake frosting.

So, after finding that cussing profusely did not make the trace any lighter, I accepted the fact that a Taiwan Swirl would be impossible and opted to just plop the soap into the mold with a spoon. I finished with a clumsy attempt at a Celine Swirl.


I think, all things considered, it turned out beautifully and the final bars are pretty enough to be Christmas gifts. And the scent combo is wonderful - the Peppermint and Winter Garden together (the Peppermint:Winter Garden combo was a 1.5:1 ratio) smells like a brisk, minty aftershave or shaving cream to me.

Here's a video showing the disaster unfolding, prompting a change of plans. (Make sure you stick around until the end for bloopers galore!):


And that's how we saved Christmas.

I gotta tell you guys, I am having one helluva time lately finding new palm-free recipes that don't accelerate trace. There are a couple of palm-free recipes that I have had success with: the recipes I used for my Orange Basil Swirled Hearts Soap and Fireburst Soap both behaved well. I may stick with one of those when I want to be sure of a thin trace. 

You know what I've noticed, though? The recipes that give me trouble contain rice bran oil. Maybe the rice bran oil isn't the problem. Perhaps it's just a coincidence and it has more to do with my fragrance or essential oils or my method. But I just found it curious that the four or so recipes I've tried with rice bran oil have accelerated.

What are your thoughts? Does rice bran oil behave well in your recipes?

16 comments:

  1. Speaking as someone who wouldn't know a Taiwan Swirl from a Celine Swirl, I have to say I thought the final product was very pretty and holiday-like. And the Peppermint-Winter Garden combo sounds sooo refreshing! Can't wait to try some!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! The Celine Swirl saved this batch! The scent combo is nice. These will still make great Christmas gifts. I hope that you will like it!

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  2. Peppermint Wonderland is a very pretty name and it looks far from a disaster. :) As much as we'd like everything to follow according to plan, many times we have to switch plans in the middle of pouring but it's not always a bad thing.

    All the best on your move to California! Sounds exciting! I hope you will love it there. Looking forward to blog posts from your new home. :)

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    1. Thank you, Silvia! I've had worse soaping disasters and this one could have been a lot worse. I'm happy with how this batch turned out, even if it is a departure from what I had originally planned. And thanks for the well wishes on the move! We're excited and I think that we'll really like California.

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  3. Happy trails Jenny! Hope the travelling cross country goes well.

    The soap turned out great, you got some really nice patterns happening in it. Sometimes, as you guys have told me so often, even though things don't go as planned, they still turn out pretty darned good. In your case, it turned out really great.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! That's true, sometimes the neatest designs are those that we didn't plan on. And thanks for the well wishes! I'm not looking forward to being in the car for three or four days, although I hear that it's a pretty drive. We are excited about the move. We visited southern California few weeks ago and really liked it!

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    2. Forgot to add, your blooper reels are hilarious!

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  4. If there were not dividers in the video, no one could say something went wrong. From the post title,I was sure you thinking of another soap. Great job, Jenny.
    So, no winter for you this year! :-)
    I hope you'll get everything done in time and peace and you'll settle just fine in your new home.

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    1. Thanks, Maja! All things considered, this batch still turned out really well. I've done worse. :D Thanks for the well wishes on the move to California! Things always seem to have a way of getting done - I'll try to remember that if I ever feel overwhelmed. I will miss the winter cold snaps, but I won't miss the humidity in the summer!

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  5. I can believe everyone around is making Christmas soaps when my head is still somewhere between see and sun :).
    I don understand your frustration about this soap, but it still looks good and I like the blue-green color you got!
    I wish you good luck with the move and let us know, whenever you get some time, how it goes in your new home!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! The holidays are quickly approaching - I can't believe that October is already more than halfway gone! This soap seemed to be headed for disaster, but it turned out nicely and I am happy with how it looks even if I didn't get to do the Taiwan Swirl. I'll have to try again with another recipe. Thanks for the well wishes on the move!

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  6. Really grate! Maybe not what you planed but you made perfect batch of soap! I whish you all the best in your new home and looking forward to seeing many new soaps!

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I am happy with how the soap turned out, too, even though it wasn't quite what I had in mind. Thanks for the well wishes on the move!

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  7. I think the mangobutter (also sheabutter) has thickend that Soap. So are my experiences with These recipes. You have to work very fast and I think your Soap is a nice result and a great Christmas gift.

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    1. Hi, Krissi! Thanks for your comments. I've wondered about the butters, too. I remember being worried about acceleration using a recipe of 25% mango butter, but it behaved beautifully for me, which was a pleasant surprise. I'm glad that these still turned out, though, and will still make nice Christmas gifts!

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