|Today’s blog is about how to approach color. When coloring a soap we often think, I want half my soap blue and half white in a lovely swirl. In reality the color is nowhere near half the mixture. True mixtures which are half white and half color look too much color and the swirls don’t appear as vividly.
When swirling soaps think CAKE. If you were never taught to do chocolate swirls in a cake, now is the time to learn. Cakes are a much thicker batter than our soap when it goes into a mold, but the concept is the same: primary color (flavor) in the pan, then place spots of color (flavor) in random positions across the top, swirl with the long handle of a round handled spoon. I use a highly technical piece of laboratory equipment called a drinking straw.
Here is today’s recipe:
30 fluid ounces water
6 fluid ounces water
1 teaspoon Ultramarine Blue Color
Mix the lye solutions as set aside. Heat the large batch of soap. This took about 8 minutes in the microwave. Heat the oils for the small batch while you are mixing the large batch of soap. I am using a 2 gallon pail to mix the large batch of soap.
Once the white soap is at a light trace I set aside and then begin mixing the blue batch. When the blue soap is a bit thicker than a plain colored soap batch I rinse my blender and go back to blending my white batch. It only took about 10 seconds more of blending and I poured the white batch into my card board box lined with a plastic bag.
Once all the white soap is in the mold, I added the blue soap pouring in random areas. I then used a straw and not only swirled through the mold but also swirled up and down. The up and down action has the straw mixing across the top and dipping down to the bottom in a circular motion like whipping pancake batter with a balloon whisk in the kitchen.
The soap should appear somewhat colored on the top. Allow to rest. You can see this great picture of the soap going through gel phase. Try very hard not to move the soap while it is gel phase, you may lose all of your beautiful swirls.
Let’s fast forward to the time when the soaps are ready to cut. You can see the soaps from all week. These soaps are our shea butter basic soap, then neem oil, then lanolin and finally our peppermint leaves and blue colored swirl soaps. The only soap that we poured this week that was as viscous as heavy cream (in an unwhipped state) was the colored batch we did today. All others were poured at a water-thin viscosity. All had reached trace and none were over mixed.
The soap today was 5 parts of white plus 1 part color soap. Look at the finished soap. Can you see why we chose the ratio of 5 plus 1? Beautiful!
So, let’s recap today:
Happy soaping! Send pictures of your new batches. We’ll share here in the blog. Everyone should try a new batch of soap with this week’s lessons at hand.
2.2 ounces weight Sodium Hydroxide
This mixture is much like we have focused all week. The process is quick and the timing of each section is quite short. If you haven’t been following along all week, let me give you a recap of the process by which we have made this batch of soap.
Weighing time: 8 minutes
Botanicals are a simple and fun addition to add to soap. Most often soap makers use whole leaves, buds, twigs and flakes. This results in the concept of scrubbing until your skin is clean, or rubbed off, or both. Soap is a pleasure product, it should clean the outside of the body as well as cleanse the spirit. If whole petals, bark or twigs remove the top 48 million layers of your skin they can’t bring pleasure to the process of bathing. The other thing we worry about in cold process is great looking botanicals don’t look so hot after their exposure to high pH lye. Most things turn black. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to explain a few black specks as herbs, than to explain why half a rose is dead inside my soap.
I have a photo showing the peppermint leaves we used. These leaves are fully dry and I rubbed the leaves in my hand to crush and powder them more before adding to my soap. Think Thanksgiving turkey and rubbed sage for the stuffing.
We recommend grind, rubbing or somehow breaking all botanicals into small bits. Even oatmeal. To prepare old fashioned rolled, or quick cooking, oats for soap making put the oatmeal in the blender or a food processor. Grind until you get a fine flour. You will know you have the right consistency when you look at it and it looks too fine so you considering calling us to verify if it is OK.
If you forgo the grinding, someone in your household will surely declare, Who cleaned out the lawn mower in the bath tub?!
So, how much to add? This is the question of all questions! Your test batch will prove if the amount of botanical is sufficient. If you feel like you have parsley in your belly button and basil between your toes, you have added too much plant material. However, if you use the test batch soap and say, Self, next time you make this soap, it is OK to add more ground up plant stuff, then you know you can add more. It is always easier to add more botanicals in the future, than to cause excessive tub cleaning after each shower.
So, what about fragrances?
When adding a scenting oil, regardless of whether or not you are using essential oils or fragrance oils, we base the usage on the fats in the batch only. Why do we do this? Because the fats never vary, but your water might, and it will certainly evaporate. Botanicals may vary, but the fats are a set amount each time. The Fragrance Calculator on our site gives some recommendations. Always make a test batch when using a new scent.
To calculate the amount of scent needed, go to the Fragrance Calculator. Choose Cold Process Soap and enter the amounts of fixed oils you have used. This batch used 16 ounces of fixed oils. Now, click NEXT. Choose the scenting oil you desire to use, in this case it is Peppermint Essential Oil. Scroll to the bottom and click CALCULATE.
The resulting table is pretty easy to read. We know Peppermint Essential Oil has a flash point of 163 degrees F, and an specific gravity of 0.8993. The chart below gives usage percentages along the left. Across the top are methods of measurement. In our batch of soap today we are using about a 1.25% usage rate and adding 7 mL (the chart shows 6.7 mL) of Peppermint Essential Oil. This usage rate follows the SUBTLE scenting rates suggested. I can’t measure 0.7 mL in a pipette, so I rounded up to make the scenting easy to measure. Had I wanted to use teaspoons I would need 1.33, and tablespoons are 0.44, and if I wanted to weigh the Peppermint Oil it would be 0.2 ounces.
The chart gives many options. Use the measurement method that you prefer. If the fragrance will discolor, we list that information in the Fragrance Calculator. The notes on this scent say Very minty, very clean. High rates of use can cause skin irritation. Please use this scent mildly and continue making test batches. It is far easier to make 5 test batches before you find your favorite usage rate, instead of allowing the soap to sit in the garage for 3 years so the scent can dissipate.
So, let’s recap today:
The last tip of the day. How much does one pound of fats weigh when converted to soap? Generally 16 ounces of fats makes about 20 to 22 ounces of finished soap, based on
|As you know now, we are working on a basic formulation that has slight changed to determine WHAT effect an ingredient has. Today’s recipe is this:
6 fl oz Black Tea (yes, the type you would drink)
2 TBSP Bentonite Clay
Make your tea. Set aside to cool. When cool, add sodium hydroxide and stir well. The color will look very strange compared to what we have been doing.
Heat the oils. When all oils are liquid, add the lye solution and stir. Mid way through the blending process, add the clay, and stir well. You may have noticed that I placed the clay in the soap solution and pushed it down with the immersion blender. This is to cause an immediate mixing through the blades of the blender. I will repeat this process later
Mix until a light trace, pour into molds.
This batch took the same timing as yesterday’s blog, except, making the tea in advance. Here it is for your convenience.
Weighing time: 8 minutes
Adding the clay didn’t change the process much, nor did it add much to the blending time. The soap was thicker, not only due to the clay but also due to the extra mixing time, 2 minutes compared to yesterday’s 90 seconds. We do NOT want the clay to settle to the bottom of the mold.
What changes could you make to this batch?
What can you expect when you pour into the mold? Should you wrap it in lots of blankets?
Here is a photo of the three soaps we have made this week. You can see the neem soap is heating up and going through gel phase. What is gel phase? It is a process of heating, the soap is creating the extra heat which is melting the soap. We expect to see this happen. We WANT to see this happen. If the batch of soap is wrapped up in blankets and you
If you don’t have the oils on hand which are the basis for our testing; olive, coconut and hydrogenated soy, then please choose some oils which will add lather and make a decent batch of soap. They should be arranged in this format (6 oz, 5 oz, 5 oz). Then one oil can be reduced to 4 ounces and a single ounce of an exotic oil, otherwise known as a conditioning
Today we have talked a bit about trace. What is trace?
Trace is a term that is vague, it is used in every soap book, yet is far more fluid than every beginner expects. Trace is an indication oil will no longer rise to the surface when mixing is stopped. If you aren’t sure if you have achieve trace then stop mixing, go get a glass, fill it with water, do not drink it. Come back to your soap. Is oil floating on the surface? Oil is floating if you see a dark appearance to the top and it appears very slick. A quick press of the button on your immersion blender will tell you if oil has risen. A dark swirl appears on the top of soap close to trace, but not quite there. Keep blending if you see this happen. If the soap looks homogeneous, pour into the mold.
Trace is sometimes explained as having the ability to hold an impression on the surface of the soap. This is true if you have a light across the room and you can see its reflection on the surface of your soap. Gently touch the surface of the soap with a spoon and draw a star or heart. If you can see the raised impression left on the soap from your spoon, you are at trace. Pour into the mold.
Trace is not about being as thick as a milk shake, or about being thick at all. If you could see the mixture we pour into the molds, you would be surprised that our soap looks more like pouring skim milk than it does look like cream of a milk shake. Think fluid!
|As you may know, people can spend a lot of money on soap molds for cold process soap. We try to use what is easy to find for our test batches. Certainly we aren’t looking for equal sized bars, or perfectly shaped edges. We make soap in disposable cookie trays like the elf cookies from Keebler. Hint: Oreos do not come in a plastic tray! We use Rubbermaid Drawer Organizers. Later in the week, I’ll even show you a cardboard box we use as a mold!
Yesterday’s post shows a drawer organizer in the Rubbermaid line that is 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. It is product number 2915 in this line of products. We like this mold for 1 lb fat batches because the trays store in a nesting format, they are easy to use, and quick to make 20 to 30 tests at one time. While you are learning to make soap we encourage you to use cheap molds. When you have mastered this week’s lessons, then you are ready for more expensive molds that make each bar look the same.
Yesterday I didn’t take the temperature of the oils or the lye solution. I did the soap batch in the order shown and exactly for the time amounts indicated. You are probably wondering how high the temperatures were. Honestly, I don’t know. There is a lot of talk about temperature being the most critical thing about soap making, it isn’t. The amount of lye used for the fats is the most critical. Beyond that, there are many areas of input that will make a better batch of soap. Temperature is one. We have made so many batches of soap in this fashion, in this exact size, that I know these timing issues work. The temperatures are in the 120 to 150 range. While you are learning please log the temperatures of the lye and of the fats. It may not seem like a big deal to you now, especially seeing yesterday’s soap, but it will help us when you hit a hurdle (also known as a failed batch).
When writing in your soap journal record the following things:
DATE – When we know the time of year, we can expect certain conditions like humidity, temperatures outdoors, etc.
TIME – The time of day may not seem like a big issue, but it can help us know if the kids just got home from school or you were suffering from insomnia. Read the last sentence this way, “Failed batch at 2AM? Go to sleep and only make soap during times of complete awareness.”
RECIPE – This prevents the confusion of, “I think this soap had shea butter. No, wait! This is the one that had beeswax. I think.” Don’t forget to record the amount of lye you used. Include everything that you add, including that ½ tsp of aloe gel at the end. Nothing gets omitted from the recipe record.
INTERRUPTIONS – Record what happened during the soap making process. It is helpful to know the dog vomited on the newly cleaned carpet, or the phone rang 5 times during your private time. These things lead to left out ingredients, or forgotten techniques.
UNIQUE ISSUES WITH THIS BATCH OF SOAP – Did the soap blend smoothly? Did the fragrance accelerate trace? Was the mold filled to the brim? Temperatures of the oils and lye solutions just before combining are important. As is the time to trace, and the temperature at trace. When did you add the extras?
Trust us, all of these things matter. They will help you see new things, fix batch problems before the get out of hand, and most importantly WHAT is happening during the session. If you don’t record, you will forget. It is hard enough to remember 6 days later, let alone 6 weeks or 6 months. You will never have too much data in your records. All we need is sufficient data to duplicate the results. If results can be duplicated, they can also be avoided.
A note on temperature. Instead of giving you a definite temperature to target, and feeding the inner OCD (obsessive/compulsive disorder) monster we all have inside us, try to target a RANGE OF TEMPERATURE.
In the winter, the temperatures you use should be higher because our houses are cooler and have cooler drafts. In the summer your temperatures should be lower because the air is warmer. If the batch is smaller the temperatures should be warmer to give enough heat for saponification to get started. Larger batches of soap have enough mass that we start with cooler temperatures so the soap batch doesn’t heat up as fast as run-away horses.
Target the lye solution and the oils to have starting temperatures within 10 degrees of each other. Don’t be OCD about temperature! We don’t want you cooling one in ice and heating the other the microwave for split seconds trying to achieve the perfect temperature. Right now it is almost spring, start considering slight drops in your beginning temperatures. July is the coolest you start a batch of soap. January is the warmest temperature target month. Try temperatures around 130 right now, and 110 to 120 in July. Be forewarned, there are ingredients that can cause these generalizations to be ignored.
So, let me wrap up today and remind you
Today’s recipe is about trying new oils. We made yesterday’s soap with shea butter. Today we are trying neem. As you can see, there are significant color differences. Because neem has a strong odor, there are also odor differences.
2.2 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
Weighing time: 8 minutes
This soap does not have any added scent or botanicals. Try this basic formulation and replace the neem with an oil you want to try. Tell us your results!
See you tomorrow!
Sometimes, when a delivery man comes to our receiving door, we will hear comments of how nice it smells. Yesterday afternoon, we had a delivery man come in. He sniffed and said “Your place always smells better than the other places I deliver.” After we told him thank you, he deeply inhaled. With a pause, he exhaled, “It smells like… woman.” We fully expected an animalistic growl, but the driver contained himself.
I thought the blog readers would enjoy this snapshot of a day here at MMS.
|Today I won’t go into depth on the hows and whys of our soap recipe, but I will give you one. I want to cover the basics of how to get ready as our primary focus.
Now that we have covered our clothing and protective gear, let’s move on to mixing lye. Lye mixing isn’t hard. Start with cool water. Never stir lye granules into hot water. You will notice the water gets very hot after the addition of the lye.
I am using tap water so the mixture will remain cloudy in my beaker. If you use distilled water expect it to clear just like drinking water. Notice, we are NOT mixing the lye solution in a
Once I start adding the lye crystals it only takes about 5 seconds of pouring time to get all the crystals into the water, of course this is for today’s recipe. I then stir gently with a spoon. Try very hard to not let any lye clump at the bottom of your mixing vessel. Once I have the lye mixed I melt the oils in the microwave. These winter chilled oils took about 2 minutes in my microwave. As you can see there are small clumps of fat remaining. A quick push of the button on my immersion blender (also known as: stick blender) and the
I now pour my lye solution into the fats and turn on my immersion blender. Note from the photos that I have started with the immersion blender in an upright position, then I have tilted the blender to the side. This leaning technique causes the oils and lye to be forced
2.2 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
Weighing time: 8 minutes
As you can see I haven’t spent a lot of time. I also haven’t talked about temperature. The temperature is tomorrow’s discussion. Send comments to us through the blog or through our Contact Us link. See you tomorrow!
|To round out our scrub week, I thought that ending with a scrub specifically for the lips would be nice. This scrub is great for helping remove the dry skin on your lips.
0.50 ounce Macadamia Nut Butter
Weigh the Macadamia Nut Butter and Macadamia Nut Oil together and heat until melted, about 30-45 seconds in the microwave. Mix well. Weigh and add the Vitamin E. Weigh sugar and add sugar to oils, mixing well until all sugar is incorporated. This scrub will be thicker than a typical sugar scrub, you want it to have a putty-like texture. Lastly, measure and add your chosen flavor oil. I used Cucumber Melon. The sweet smell from the sugar, combined with this flavor, created a tutti-frutti type aroma. I used the higher rate for my flavor which is equivalent to 3% flavor. I would recommend the lower rate for really strong flavors such as Peppermint or Tea Tree. Check our Flavor Oil catalog section for recommended usage rates. Store in small jars.
Exfoliating the lips is not a daily routine event. Exfoliating should take place periodically. After this scrub treatment you should apply your favorite lip balm. Exfoliation and lip balm, means smoother kissing in your future!
|What about salt scrubs? I decided that we needed to add a salt scrub to our Spa Week. One of the recipes that was in our research and development recipe book is similar to the Body Shop scrubs. The notes that accompany the recipe say people think this recipe is better than the Body Shop Salt Scrubs. I think you will just have to try it yourself to see what you think.
Weigh liquids into mixing bucket. Add salt and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, the salt scrub can be put in the containers.
|So far this week, we’ve worked on scrubs. Now we’re going to make a scrub using the Glycerin Scrub Base. This base has a similar sudsy effect to yesterday’s Cranberries & Lime Body Polish, but it does create a few more bubbles. We are going to use the Red Clover Tea Glycerin Scrub Gift Kit.
Items that we will need:
Sugar, or Salt if you prefer
Add fragrance oil and color to the gallon of Glycerin Scrub Base. Recap the gallon jug and shake. You are going to need to shake the jug like you are a crazy maniac. If you can’t shake the jug like crazy, then find someone else in your house or the neighbor boy. You could make cookies like Andrea’s Valentine Sugar Cookies as payment!
After the Glycerin Scrub Base is mixed, add to the sugar and mix thoroughly. I like to add the sugar to the scrub base just because that way some of the sugar doesn’t get forgotten at the bottom of my mixing bowl. Stir until completely mixed. Once the scrub is mixed, go ahead and spoon into containers and cap. Yippee! We now have adorable scrubs to give out as gifts.
I’m at the bottom of my bag of sugar and the bottom of the bag always has more sugar dust. This dust is easily dissolved by the scrub base and can make a syrupy layer at the bottom of the jar. To remedy that problem, I added 3 tablespoons of salt to the 8 pounds of sugar I used for the scrub. If you are using larger sugar crystals in this recipe then the salt can be omitted.
|I’m going to expand on yesterday’s post. We are going to make the Cranberries & Lime Body Polish, using sugar instead of salt. We’re still going to have oil and an exfoliant, but we are going to add the Shower Gel & Liquid Hand Soap in One for a slight sudsy effect.
Ingredients that we will need are:
Equipment that we will need:
Weigh dry ingredients into large mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly. Set the bowl aside. Weigh oils, liquid soap and fragrance oil into the oil container. After all the fluid items have been weighed, stir until blended. Add oil mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. Spoon into containers and cap. Tada! We now have a beautiful finished product.
When I made my first test batch, I wasn’t sure how the Shower Gel & Liquid Hand Soap in One would work. I thought that the Body Polish would be really bubbly, but I was surprised when the the finished Body Polish gave slight suds when scrubbing. The original recipe makes approximately 10 fluid ounces. Now you can make just a jar for yourself, or a dozen jars for friends and family.