Archive for June, 2010

Salt Soaps: A Perspective from Crystal, Part One

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

On June 25th, I released a guest written post from Tess about Salt Soaps. Following a request for guest writers, Crystal volunteered and came forward with two posts on Salt Soaps. Today, I’ll share one of the two posts about salt soaps and I will release the other post tomorrow.

Sea Salt Shine Soap

I was asked to show my recipe for a salt soap. My original recipe calls for Beeswax, however I reworked the recipe and removed the beeswax, to allow for time to work with taking pictures for the post. To my surprise……well you will have to wait to the end for that answer. I made this batch a very tiny 5 oz. total weight in size.

Collect needed items:

Ingredients
Olive oil
Coconut Oil
Shea Butter
Palm Oil
Avocado Oil
Fragrance
Distilled Water
Sodium Hydroxide
Dead Sea Salt Fine
Equipment
Scale
Gloves
Goggles
Mixing container (I use pint wide mouth canning jars)
Stirring utensil I use popsicle sticks)
Soap Mold
Recipe in ounces:
Olive Oil – 1.83 oz.
Coconut Oil – 0.91 oz.
Palm Oil – 0.37 oz.
Shea Butter – 0.37 oz
Avocado Oil – 0.18 oz.
Fragrance – 0.04 oz
Dead Sea Salt – 0.23 oz.

Distilled Water – 1.21 oz.
Sodium Hydroxide – 0.51 oz.

Recipe in grams:
Olive Oil – 52g
Coconut Oil – 26 g
Palm Oil – 11 g
Shea Butter – 11 g
Avocado Oil – 5g
Fragrance – 1 g
Dead Sea Salt – 7g

Distilled Water – 34 g
Sodium Hydroxide – 15g

First step I like to always take is mixing the sodium hydroxide and water together, so it can start cooling. However, when working with such a small batch I will weigh out my oils first, as you can melt the oils in the microwave. Also the smaller amount of Lye water cools faster than a large batch.

Weigh out oils, mix your lye solution, and bring both to approximately 125 degrees F. I work with temperatures of either mixture to be within 5 degrees of each other. Exact temperature is not critical.

Combine oils and lye solution. Stir until thin trace. This step for this small of a batch took less than 30 seconds. Add your fragrance, stir thoroughly, stir in your sea salt, pour into your selected mold. My trial size mold is a silicone cupcake pan from Wal-Mart, it does impart a little bit of a pinkish tint to the bottom of my soaps, but I am the only one using the soap so I figure it does not hurt anything. ;)

After 12 – 24 hours unmold and let cure for several weeks before use.

Observation: The bars are solid, but sweating a bit. The white that is seen in the finished soap is the salt evaporating out of the bar and then drying.

My surprise: the surface of the soap is smoother than when I have beeswax in the recipe.

Thank you,

Crystal
Dirty Water Soap Works

Adding the lye to the water.

Adding the lye solution to the oils.

Adding the salt to the raw soap.

Pouring the soap into the mold.

Finished soaps curing.

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Opening Pails

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Recently we have been asked “How do I open my pail of … ?” Most of the time these pails are the small 1 gallon pails containing 5 lbs of fixed oils or other additives. Today, we will show you how to open these pails. I asked Taylor to help me demonstrate how we open these pails without cutting the lids by using a pail wrench or bare hands.

A pail wrench is easy to use as well as efficient with the energy used to open the pail. Did you know that a pail wrench is a simple machine and is classified as a Class 2 Lever? This allows us to multiply the force exerted and open the pail easily. You can find pail wrenches in our catalog under the Equipment category.

To use a pail wrench, place the pail on a work surface that is at a comfortable height. You don’t want the top of the pail to be high, otherwise you can stress your shoulders just trying to take the lid off. I like to place the pail on the floor and kneel down if the pail is a large pail, but usually I can work with a small pail on the counter tops.

Take the claw end of the wrench and fit it over the lip of the pail lid. The handle will point down toward the counter or floor. You do not want the handle of the wrench to be over the lid or you will put more force into taking the lid off than is necessary. It is best to have the pail wrench on the opposite side of the bucket so you can use a pulling motion to lift the lid.

Lift the handle of the wrench until the lid begins to lift. Turn the pail slightly, about 1/8 of a full revolution and repeat until you have loosened the entire lid. Now you should be able to lift the lid and pull it off.

When you are ready to close your bucket again, simply press the lid back on. It will require some pressure to press the lid back on but if you don’t want to use your hands, consider using a rubber mallet instead. We use rubber mallets to hit the lids and seal a bucket without damaging the lid. You can usually purchase a rubber mallet at a home improvement or hardware store for under $20.

Isn’t that easy?

Now before you wonder if a pail wrench is required to open buckets, it isn’t. You can open a pail with your bare hands. A pail wrench may be faster, but it is not required.

Place the bucket on a counter or other work surface that is at a comfortable work height. Set your hands on the opposite edge of the bucket lid. This will cause your arms to form an upside down “V” with your forearms resting on the bucket lid. Slide your fingers between the lid and pull the lid up. Turn the pail slightly, about 1/8 of a full revolution and repeat until you have loosened the entire lid. Now you should be able to lift the lid and pull it off.

Fitting the claw end over the lid.

Placing the pail wrench on the opposite side.

Pulling the wrench up to loosen the lid.

Look closely, this lid is now loose in one section.

Loosening one of the last sections.

Lifting the next section of lid.

Pulling the lid off the pail.

Removing a lid with hands:

Making a V shape with the arms.

Pulling the lid off the pail.

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July 4th at MMS

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Next Monday is July 5th and also Independence Day Observed for the United States! We hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and if you need to travel, please travel safely. Enjoy your day and we will see you on Tuesday! All orders placed after 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time on Friday, July 2nd will be processed on Tuesday, July 6th. We will ship as many orders as possible on Tuesday. Any ordered placed by 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time on Friday will ship before we leave for the long weekend.

Package Transportation Information:

UPS: There will not be any UPS pickup or delivery service on Monday, July 5th, and this day will not be included in any time-in-transit calculations.

USPS: No USPS pickup or delivery service.

Enjoy your holiday!

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Home Sweet … Sage?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Over the weekend, I spent some time digging holes and planting some plants in the beds on the north side of our building. This took some time and LOTS of energy, but I’m excited to say I’m finished planting all of these plants!

Now, you may be wondering what was planted, so I decideded to share a picture of the new plants. (At least one of them!) I planted 6 individual sage plants and quite the collection of chrysanthemums. The sage is just Common Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis). Right now the plants are still small, but eventually we will have wonderfully large sage plants!

The sage plants are right outside our front door. Won’t these plants be perfect for welcoming visitors to our facility?

Tomorrow … The new blog kitchen!

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New Paint!

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Today when I came into work, the smell of paint was fresh in the air. Our painter had been in last night painting the walls. I had to take this comparison picture of both the new and old paint so you can see our beautiful walls.

What do you think of this new color? Personally, I find it very appealing.

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Salt Soaps: A Perspective from Tess

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Back on May 10th, I posted my thoughts and observations about salt soaps. Following the lively discussions here on the blog and on our Facebook page, I asked a few people to help guest write a blog post about making salt soap. Tess volunteered to share her recipe and some pictures.

A lot of people seem to be curious about salt bars, and their reactions range from “Eww, salt in a soap?” to “Hmm, salt in a soap, interesting.”

I personally love salt bars, and make a lot of them. They’re fairly simple to make, and this is my current favorite recipe:

Ingredients in %

* Coconut Oil (76 degree) 93%
* Shea butter 7%
* Salt (sea salt or ordinary table salt work fine) to equal 80% of your oil weight

Since it’s such a high amount of coconut oil you want to use a large lye discount/superfat, I typically use 20%.

The exact amounts I use for a 18 bar batch in my molds are:

* 44.64 ounces Coconut Oil (76 degree)
* 3.36 ounces Shea Butter
* 38.4 ounces Salt
* 18.24 ounces water
* 6.88 ounces sodium hydroxide
* 2.7 ounces fragrance oil (this will depend on the FO you use, be sure to check the IFRA usage guidelines for your particular fragrance oil)
* small tuft (about fingertip size) of tussah silk (optional)

1. Weigh out your oils, fragrance, water, and salt. Having things neatly laid out and ready to go makes the experience so much easier and more enjoyable. Have any other additives or colorants measured out and at hand before you start.

2. Add the tuft of tussah silk(if you’re using it) to the water and carefully add the sodium hydroxide to your water, wearing the appropriate safety gear. Stir well, then set aside in a safe place to allow it to cool.

3. While the lye solution is cooling, warm your coconut oil and shea butter until just melted (I use a large stainless pot on the stove over low heat) and remove from heat, then set aside to cool.

4. Exact temperatures aren’t critical, I tend to soap with both the lye solution and butter/oil mixture at 90-100 degrees F, but precision isn’t necessary. Combine the lye solution and oils, mix to a very thin trace. Add your fragrance and colorant at this point, then continue to mix until you’re at a medium trace.

5. At medium trace, start stirring in your salt. The soap mixture will become more difficult to stir as you add the salt, so be mindful of the strain on your immersion blender if you’re using one. I typically switch to a soap spoon at this point. Continue to stir vigorously until you’re sure that the salt is adequately mixed in, then pour into your mold as usual.

**Note** Salt bars can be tricky to cut, if you wait too long, they’re cement-hard and impossible to cut. Ideally, they’re cut within hours of pouring into the mold, sometimes when they’re almost too hot to comfortably handle with thin gloves. After botching the timing and cutting too soon or late one time too many, I started using individual cavity molds for my salt bars and completely avoid the crumbling corners and assorted other pitfalls. Just be sure that your mold can withstand heat, these puppies can get hot.

6. If you’re using a traditional log or slab mold, see the note above and keep a close eye on your soap, you can’t wait until the next day to cut your bars or you’ll need a chisel and hammer and will most likely end up with a big mess. Watch for them to gel, then cut as soon as they’re cool enough to handle with gloved hands. If you’re using cavity molds, you can tuck them away and leave them until the next day, I typically leave them in the molds for about 24 hours and then pop them right out.

Salt soap in the mold. Don't be alarmed by the awful color, it'll get better, I promise.

Fresh out of the mold. See, that nasty grey-green ended up being much prettier.

Looks a bit like shaving cream.

This bar has been part of my shower lineup for quite some time, note the rounded corners and smooth surface.

7. Allow to cure just like any other CP soap. I actually like to tuck a couple bars away and leave them for a really long cure, they’re absolutely divine after 6 months.

When you use your salt bar, you’ll notice right away that the lather isn’t like your usual CP soap, you’ll get a few big bubbles here and there but the majority of the lather is more of a dense foam like consistency.

You’ll also notice the bars taking on a rounded and weathered appearance and feel with use, they eventually look and feel a bit like smooth river rocks.

A handy tip for determining your batch size and salt amount: Take the usual amount of oils required to fill your mold and multiply by .8, that’ll give you the amount of oils to use, then multiply that oil number by .8 to determine how much salt to use. As an example, the molds I used normally need 60 ounces of oils to fill all three molds.

60 x .8 = 48 so I’ll use 48 ounces of oils

48 x .8 = 38.4 so there’s my salt amount to use

Feel free to experiment with the recipe, some people prefer to use less salt (I received a very nice bar as a gift that was made with 50% salt) and some use an equal amount of salt and oils. You can use milk instead of water in your lye solution, I made a lovely coconut milk batch once, just keep a close eye on them because of the heat. Salt bars tend to get hot, milk soaps then to get hot, so the combination means you’ll really need to keep a watchful eye on them and be prepared to turn a fan on or pop them in the fridge to prevent overheating.

You can omit the shea and make a 100% coconut oil batch, or you can substitute different oils and butters, just keep in mind that you’ll need a lot of coconut to produce any lather, salt is the slayer of bubbles. Be sure to run your modified recipe through a lye calculator.

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Strawberries & Cream Soap

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Terry sent us a fabulous Strawberries & Cream Soap Recipe. I am very fond of fruity scents, all right they are my weakness. This is right up my alley. I have been asking the construction workers how soon Andee and I get a Blog Kitchen just so I can try this fabulous recipe. Well, the kitchen is close to being finished. Yay! Now, I present Terry and her Strawberries & Cream Soap.

Taylor

Summer is here, so I thought I would make something fruity with my new molds and the strawberry seeds I just ordered, so strawberry cream soap it was! I love cream soaps and posted a blog awhile back on MMS blog describing my method. There is more than one, so do what ever works best for you.

This recipe makes a little over 5 pounds of soap, but I also included ingredients by percent if you want to make a smaller or larger batch. Check a lye calculator if you change the size of the batch for the liquid and lye amounts.

Ingredients:

21 ounces liquid (made up of 16 ounces frozen half and half cream ice cubes, 4 ounces distilled water and 1 ounce aloe vera gel)
8.3 ounces Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
10.8 ounces Coconut Oil
4.8 ounces Rice Bran Oil
15 ounces Soybean Oil (Vegetable Oil) *minus 1 oz for color
21 ounces Lard
8.4 ounces Palm Oil
3 Tablespoons of Wild Strawberry Fragrance Oil
4 teaspoons of Strawberry Seeds.

Ingredients by percent:

18% Coconut Oil
8% Rice Bran Oil
25% Soybean Oil
35% Lard
14% Palm Oil

Prepare your molds. I just bought new molds and even though I didn’t have to line them, next time I would oil them for easier removal.

Melt the oils. I like to melt the solid oils first and then add the liquid oils. In my posted blog a few months ago, I explained my method of mixing the cream and lye. I combine the liquid ingredients, ice cubes, distilled water and aloe vera gel and then add just a little lye at a time and stir, continue slowly adding the lye and stirring, this helps to keep the sugar in the cream from burning and turning a yellow orange color. What a like about this method is, I can use almost all cream, rather than half water and cream, and it just adds more cream to the soap.

When both the oil mixture and lye mixture is about 100 degrees, slowly add the lye mixture to the oils and stir by hand and then stick blender if available until trace. Add the fragrance oil and strawberry seeds.

*I saved 1 ounce of the soybean oil to mix my amethyst pink powered color. Add your desired amount for the color you want. After trace, I added a small amount of the soap batch to the color mixture for the swirl effect.

Pour half of your soap into your mold, drizzle your colored soap on top, add the remaining soap and then drizzle the remaining color. Use a knife or fork to drag across the length of the mold in the upper and bottom section of the mold. Don’t over mix or you won’t get the swirl effect.

Note: I calculated 3 tablespoons of strawberry fragrance oil based on 60 oz of oils per MMS fragrance calculator. I think I would add a little more next time.

I hope you will give this a try, you will love the strawberry fragrance.

Terry

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Twilight News!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

I am thrilled to announce that we have just released a new fragrance. We have just added Jacob to our Twilight Collection! Even if you are not a Twilight fan this is a fabulous masculine scent. Jacob is a blend of evergreen woods, moss, patchouly and sensual musk. This is a must try!

We have also added Forks to our catalog. Fork is very green and woody, evergreen with fresh mountain rain. Moss, vetiver and lemon round out this fabulous scent. I can’t wait to get into the blog kitchen and experiment. Order these new fragrances to add to your collection today.

Taylor

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Creating Oil Infusions with Carrots and Mangos

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Back on May 20th, we were lucky to have Rebekah give us a guest post about Infusing Herbs into Oil. This topic on infusions has still been hopping on The Sage Soapmaker’s Forum. Today, I have another fun guest post on infusing Carrots and Mango.

Pat wanted to make an infused oil that would contain some of the wonderful properties from carrots, but she knew that it very important to only use dry botanical matter when making infusions. Pat has been kind enough to share pictures of her project. Enjoy her ingenuity and think of items you would like to infuse.

Pat stuck a butter knife in the freezer to place lip balm on for testing purposes. This is another way to use the “Plate Test” method. This method is very useful, but a butter knife doesn’t have to be in the freezer and you don’t even have to use a butter knife! Simply use a ceramic or glass plate (or other dish) and use a transfer pipette to drop one or two drops of the melted lip balm onto the plate. These drops of lip balm will cool very quickly. Rub your finger on the lip balm and then place the lip balm on your lips.

Give it a whirl and have fun! (Oh my, that was punny.)

And now …. I give you Pat!

A while back I infused some healing herbs into some fractionated coconut oil. My intent for this was to make a balm for those hard working hands that work in the garden. After infusing the oil I mixed it with some other ingredients and thought I had a recipe to start with. I used Powdered Honey and have since found out it does not dissolve in oil and left the balm somewhat gritty. One day while at work I really needed some lip balm and did not have any on hand, but did have the hand balm in my pocket so I put some on my lips and did it ever feel good. The powdered honey was gritty at first but melted into the balm and hence my lips. I subscribe to a crafters forum on Majestic Mountain Sage and they recently had someone ask about UV protection for soaps. In this forum it was mentioned that carrots infused in oil lends some Vitamin A to products. So I was on a mission!!

The following describes my path to making the carrot infused oil and then onto making my new lip balm. I have tested this lip balm…it was on my lips continuously for 3 days of planting my garden in the Western Colorado heat wave we just had.

I knew I wanted to infuse the oil with carrots but I know that using fresh produce or herbs can cause the oil to go rancid or grow fuzzy mold. So I knew I had to dry the carrots first. I took two hands full of baby carrots and added one mango that was sitting on my counter that most likely would not have been eaten anyway. I put the carrots and the mango into my juicer.

And the results are pulp separated from the juice.

Knowing that I wanted all the benefits from both the pulp and the juice I then mixed it all together.

After mixing it up I took out my trusted food dehydrator and placed the liner in the tray. After pouring the carrot/mango mixture onto this tray I then placed another tray on top of that one to keep the heat farther away from the juice as I didn’t want to take a chance at getting it too hot.

I put this under the dehydrator for about 3 hours. The mixture went from a beautiful, bright orange to a dull, brittle dirty orange! I gently pried all this from the liner and put it into a coffee grinder and ground it into a soft powder.

From powder form to oil form…I used 120 grams Rice Bran Oil and 45 grams of powdered carrot/mango. I placed this combination into a sterile canning jar and placed the jar into my crock pot for three hours. I used the “Keep Warm” setting, without the lid, and the temperature held at a steady 115 degrees. I used the crock pot this time as the weather in my part of the world has been rather odd for this time of year…40 mph winds with clouds, rain and even snow…in MAY!!!

I strained the oil through my trusted knee high hose and came out with a most gorgeous oil! The dried carrot/mango bits that were left over I have given to my sister at Dirty Water Soap Works so she can use them in a soap recipe or perhaps a scrub. No waste there.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it really wasn’t. And in the end I have found it to be beneficial for my lips.

I then took out all my ingredients and tools to make the lip balm. I measured out my ingredients and put them all into a 4 cup glass Pyrex Measuring Cup.

After taking this melted mixture out I let it cool just a little and added the Vitamin E oil and some Honey Flavor Oil and a mint essential oil blend called Candy Cane for flavor. My sister gave me an awesome tip. Place a table knife in the freezer for a few minutes and then place it in the melted balm for just a second. The balm sticks to the the knife, you can then take a bit of the balm off, place it on your lips and see if it “feels like it should” and if the taste is what you are looking for. Four knives later I had what I was looking for! A lip balm that sticks to my lips nicely, does not cake or melt too fast, and taste good. It tastes of Honey but has a tingle from the mint in the essential oil. I used plastic pipettes to transfer from the cup to the tins.

I took a recent recipe on the The Sage and tweaked it. A few months ago I infused some healing herbs into some fractionated coconut oil. The herbs I used in this infusion are Calendula, Chamomile, Comfrey, Rose Hips and Marshmallow. I also put some Spirulena Powder in there, which gave it a very green color.

The final ingredients in my lip balm ended up being Tamanu Oil, Castor Oil, my Herbal Oil, the Carrot Oil, Bees Wax, Candelilla Wax, Acai Butter, Cocoa Butter, Macadamia Butter, Aloe Extract in an oil base, Vitamin E Oil, Honey Flavor Oil and the mint essential oil blend called Candy Cane.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it was actually fun taking ideas from other people and coming up with something that I have found to be so soothing to my lips. If I were to narrow down the time it took me to make all this I would have to say, from start to finish, it took about 7 hours, including the drying and infusing time.

My juicer along with the Mango and Carrots.

The juice and pulp are separated.

Mixing the juice and pulp back together.

Preparing the dehydrator.

Spreading the carrot and mango mixture on a tray.

(more…)

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Summer Foot Scrub Challenge!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Summer is here and so is the season for flip flops and sandals. Unfortunately, summer and the associated foot wear can be harsh on our feet. So, I propose a foot scrub challenge. We all need fabulous feet and there are many ways to get them.

Send in your favorite foot scrub or mask recipe and show us how to pamper our feet. Have your recipe put on to the MMS Blog! I can’t wait to see what creative things will be put on the blog.

Entry Guide Lines:

Photos

Send in your photos un-edited. This will help Andee make sure it can be placed in your post. (Don’t worry, if something needs to be cropped, she’ll do it. We want you to look good. )

Introduction

Write an introduction. We want to know about your wonderful recipe. This is your chance to gush, explain the history and even possible mistakes.

Ingredient and Equipment Collection

Tell us what we need to make your recipe. This includes ingredients and equipment. We want to duplicate what you did. You are the expert.

Recipe

Tell us your recipe. (We have been dying to get to that part.) We will convert your recipe into percentages so users can do your same size batch or scale it larger or smaller to suit their needs.

Instructions

Now instruct us. How did you put it together? (Please, teacher, tell us please!) Did you hold something over? We want to know!

Notes

Do you have a few reminders for us? Something we might like to know or even need to know? Tell us here! (Notes are optional)

We’ll choose some winners to get summer pedicures!

Taylor

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