Category Archives: Challenges and Q&A

Winter Soap Challenge – Christine

This is the type of winter morning that inspired this soap.
This is the type of winter morning that inspired this soap.

Christine submitted one of her soaps for our Winter Morning Soap Challenge. I think one of my favorite things about challenges is to see different perspectives of the same thing. Check out Christine’s view of beautiful Cache Valley.

This soap came about when I was shopping at a local soap supplier and smelling fragrance samples a little before Christmas. I did get a small bottle of this scent to play with, although the actual soap did not happen much before Christmas, more as an afterthought that we still have a couple of months of winter.

Christine's Soap
Christine’s Soap

The official fragrance description is as follows: perfect blend of wet snow, a frozen air accord, woodland moss, spearmint leaves, an ozonic accord.

I do suppose that describes it somewhat, in a sober sort of way. To me it is more than that though. The picture in my mind when smelling it is very much like your beautiful picture of Cache Valley. As a matter of fact, if you zoom in quite a bit on the right side, in the crease of the mountain about halfway up, you can see a grove of trees that inspired this soap. To me, it smells of crunchy footsteps, ice skates on a pond, runny noses, wooly mittens, ravens cawing, animal tracks in the snow and some serious sledding. Can you tell I love winter?

This soap is hot processed, the brown color made with cocoa powder representing the obligatory hot chocolate when returning indoors. The green part is colored with chromium oxide and mica and piped on top. The finishing touch is a layer of snow made of hemp oil M&P soap colored with white frosty mica drizzled over the top and some iridescent glitter.

How fun! I love all of the thought that is put into these soaps! They are just too cute! Remember, if you want to join in on the fun, you have until March 15th to submit your photo and description! Read more about the challenge here!

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Winter Soap Challenge – Mo

This is the type of winter morning that inspired this soap.
This is the type of winter morning that inspired this soap.

I sent out a challenge the other week calling all soapmakers. I must say I have gotten some amazing responses. Allow me to introduce you to Mo, who will be sharing the soap she made.

Did I need another excuse to make another loaf of soap…yep! Nope!

Mo's Soap
Mo’s Soap

Your posted photo celebrates a crisp cold winter in its quiet beauty. I was inspired. Looking at the photo I imagine slicing into a set loaf and seeing this very scene.

To begin I drew a slice of the soap blocking where colors would go. As I drew I thought about how I would layer the batter layers to get what I wanted. I marked where I would put the botanicals (coffee grounds and ground oatmeal), the copper mica and the hues of blue, pink and white.

Mo's Soap
Mo’s Soap

As the lye  water and melted oils cooled I organized my working space. I was methodical (I am not usually so). I set up the bowls, the spoons, and the spatulas. I mixed my colors-blue, pink and white. I ground the coffee grounds and oatmeal setting each into a small saucer. I opened the mica. I put spoons next to each dish. (Imagine setting the table for a formal affair!)

After the workspace was set, I opened my computer to the winter photo and set my map on the keyboard for easy reading. When temperatures were good I mixed the lye and oils. I kept the trace slow needing time to think, layer, read, think. Did I say I was taking my time?

Mo's Soap
Mo’s Soap

I began tipping the loaf pan for the first layer of snow. This was followed by layering the oatmeal to represent snow and form a base for the coffee grounds. This brown layer represents the fence and dead grasses. Next I carefully layered blue for the water and another layer of brown for the distant shore. I placed dark blue for the mountain finally layering with pink, white and blues for the winter sky. The top was decorated with blue and pink and copper reflecting the soaps origins.

The scent was an efficacious process. I purchased Osmanthus several months and have never tried it. This was a perfect time to try it. I did. And I had to add a few drops of Frankincense. Maybe it’s not a cold weather scent but I live in Florida and all my seasons are mixed up any how!

This a cold process soap.

The result is beautiful! There are subtle layers of colors and brown lines with shimmering of copper. There is a story in each slice. The final soap is exciting!

Wow! Mo’s soap is just breath taking. But so are the others I have waiting to be shared. If you want to join in on the fun, remember that you have until March 15th to submit your photo and description! Read more about the challenge here!

Taylor

 

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Winter Morning Soap Challenge

This is the type of winter morning that inspired this soap.
Winter Morning in Beautiful Cache Valley

Attention all soapmakers! It is time for another challenge and we want to see your soaps! The theme of this challenge is Winter Morning. To get your imagination going, I am going to share a photo of our beautiful Cache Valley. We want to see how you would make this beautiful landscape into soap.

All participants must submit a photo of their soap and a description. The description must include a write up about the scent, and how the soap came about. Here is your chance to use some creative writing. Make us excited about your soap.

Your submission can be Cold Process, Hot Process or even Melt & Pour soap. You can submit your entry either via email (blog@thesage.com) or on Facebook. You must be an existing MMS customer to qualify. Submissions will be accepted until March 15th. The MMS staff will then vote on their favorite soaps based on appearance and accompanying description. Two winners will be selected. On March 20th, we will announce the winners and share their photos.

Winners will receive a $30 Gift Certificate, an Extra Large Handmade Tray Mold and a 1 oz bottle of our new fragrance, Icy Waters! You won’t want to miss out. We will be doing a special project with the mold after winners are announced. Happy creating and good luck!

Taylor

 

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Sue’s Cupboard – Simply Luxurious Cocoa-Mint Lip Balm

PeppermintSue e-mailed in asking for help to create an easy lip balm recipe that she could put together and give away as gifts. Her request? “Can you make a nice chocolate peppermint lip balm that feels luxurious, but doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to make it?” Sue, I’m so excited to work on your challenge for you! I have the perfect recipe to share with you and I’m sure you will love it!

Collect needed items:

Ingredients
Beeswax
Castor Oil
Peach Kernel Oil
Cocoa Butter
Refined Shea Butter
Peppermint Essential Oil
Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Equipment
Scale
Microwave Safe Container
Spoons
Pipettes
Lip Balm Tubes

Recipe: (Makes 100 grams or 3.53 ounces and fills 22 Black Lip Balm Tubes)

Recipe in ounces:
0.71 ounces Beeswax
0.35 ounces Castor Oil
0.95 ounces Apricot Kernel Oil
0.53 ounces Cocoa Butter
0.88 ounces Shea Butter, Refined
0.09 ounces Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.02 ounces Peppermint Essential Oil Oil
Recipe in grams:
20 grams Beeswax
10 grams Castor Oil
27 grams Apricot Kernel Oil
15 grams Cocoa Butter
25 grams Shea Butter
2.5 grams Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.5 grams Peppermint Essential Oil
Recipe in Percentages
20% Beeswax
10% Castor Oil
27% Apricot Kernel Oil
15% Cocoa Butter
25% Shea Butter
2.5% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
0.5% Peppermint Essential Oil

Weigh all ingredients except the Peppermint Essential Oil and Sugar Baby Flavor Oil into your microwave safe container. Microwave in short bursts until all ingredients are melted. The beeswax will take the most time to melt, but if you stir the lip balm after the other oils have been heated, it will melt quickly. Once the mixture is melted, add the flavors . Stir until all of the flavor has been incorporated. Fill tubes or jars. Cool. Label.

Andee

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Betsy’s Cupboard – Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread Man

Betsy emailed in asking for help formulating a Gingerbread Sugar Scrub. She had found a recipe on Pinterest that she liked the look of but it called for using vanilla extract and kitchen spices. This is her request. “Can you help me do something that doesn’t use my good cooking vanilla and spices? I want the scrub to look like gingerbread but I want to leave my spices for the real stuff. Can I add something to give the scrub an extra oomph?” Betsy, I can’t wait for this challenge. Let’s make a fabulous scrub that leaves your baking ingredients in the kitchen and not in your body care products.

Betsy’s cupboard contains mostly soaping oils.
Olive
Coconut
Shea
Palm
Soy
Sunflower
Apricot Kernel
Polysorbate 80
Liquid Germall Plus
Liquapar
Vanilla Bean Fiber
Luffa
and a variety of fragrance and essential oils.

I am going to use a combination of white sugar and brown sugar. This will give both color and exfoliation. Brown sugar is a little more gentle as it exfoliates the skin but it can also make the scrub feel sticky. We will be making a half and half mixture of sugar.

I will also be using Polysorbate 80. Polysorbate helps remove some of the oils, leaving just enough to be conditioning to the skin but not making it overly greasy.

Ingredients
White Granulated Sugar
Brown Sugar
Sunflower Oil
Shea Butter
Polysorbate 80
Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
Liquapar
Equipment
Scale
Microwave Safe Container
Spoons
Pipettes

Recipe:

Recipe in Grams
75 grams White Granulated Sugar
75 grams Brown Sugar
56 grams Sunflower Oil
5 grams Shea Butter
16 grams Polysorbate 80
1 gram Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
2 grams Liquapar
Recipe in Ounces
2.65 oz White Granulated Sugar
2.65 oz Brown Sugar
1.98 oz Sunflower Oil
0.18 oz Shea Butter
0.56 oz Polysorbate 80
0.04 oz Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
0.07 oz Liquapar
Recipe in Percentages
32.6% White Granulated Sugar
32.6% Brown Sugar
24.3% Sunflower Oil
2.1% Shea Butter
6.9% Polysorbate 80
0.4% Gingerbread & Spice Fragrance Oil
0.8% Liquapar

 

Weigh the Sunflower and Shea Butter into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until the Shea Butter has melted. The mixture should only be mildly warm. Add the other liquid ingredients. Stir well making sure everything is incorporated. Add the white and brown sugar. Stir well. Package into jar and label. Enjoy!

Taylor

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Shelf life of a fixed oil

Shelf Life of a Fixed OilWe are regularly asked about the shelf life of a fixed oil (you know, the animal and vegetable oils we use for soap making). There are a few things we would like to address for storage.

To have the freshest material I would like you to use up any oil you purchase from us within 1 year from the date of purchase.

To get the longest life you should store your oils in a dark, cool, dry place. Dark because UV rays break down the oils. Cool because microbial activity, including oxygen exchanges, happen slower at cooler temperatures. Dry because moisture encourages growth of yeast, bacteria, and mold which can contaminate the oil by either growth inside the oil if water is introduced or by odor from growing populations of these organisms.

In the event you live in a very moist and warm climate I would recommend refrigeration, including freezing. The one reason I hesitate to mention refrigeration to most people is they do not have a dedicated refrigerator for low odor vegetable oils. There is nothing like an oil that was stored in a refrigerator next to a cut onion. Your soaps and lotions will have an onion odor that can not be removed.

Freezing will not harm a fixed oil. Liquid oils may congeal but they will melt when warmed to room temperature and it takes nothing more than removing the oil from the freezer and setting it on the counter. Zero energy melting of a congealed oil! There are some oils (waxes) that really have a long shelf life and I rarely worry about their stability. These are beeswax, jojoba oil and lanolin. If you plan for the 1 year rule and treat your oils with care, you will have a fine time making soaps and lotions!

Cheers!
Tina

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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge – Karen

What happens when you are so enamored with a specific ingredient that you can’t make just one type of soap? You expand your creativity horizons of course! Vanilla Bean Specks are one of those items that you can’t have just one product containing them! They are beautiful is soaps, a must in scrubs and just a fun addition! Check out this lovely Vanilla Bean Speck inspired soap! 

Here’s another of my favorites soaps. I created this one as a more “girlie” version of my Denali Granite soap. This one also has ground vanilla bean seeds (love this in soap) and clay, with a blended berry scent.

Keep an eye out for the fabulous challenges that we do here on the blog. It is not just a chance to show your art through the media of soap and cosmetics. It is also a chance to earn awesome prizes like free product, gift certificates and more! I promise you won’t want to miss out.

Taylor

Karen's Denali Granite Soap
Karen’s Denali Granite Soap
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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge – Karen

Vanilla. The world’s most prized flavor followed closely by chocolate. It thoroughly amazes me how such a small delicate orchid blossom can create a pod bursting with such prized flavor. Vanilla is an inspirational, rebel rousing flavor. And it has inspired culinary delights, sophisticated perfumes, homey candles and more. So it isn’t particularly surprising to have people pioneering new ways to incorporate vanilla. Soap is just one of those fields. Check out what one particular soap maker developed!

 

Here’s a soap I make and just love. It gets its look from MMS ground vanilla bean seeds, bentonite clay and kaolin clay. Scented with Bay Rum; it’s an awesome soap!

Keep an eye out for the fabulous challenges that we do here on the blog. It is not just a chance to show your art through the media of soap and cosmetics. It is also a chance to earn awesome prizes like free product, gift certificates and more! I promise you won’t want to miss out.

Taylor

Karen's Granite Soap
Karen’s Granite Soap
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Beautiful Botanicals Challenge Soap Submission – Karen

I find it fascinating when people are given the same basic materials but their finished products are completely different. That is one of my favorite things about challenges. Challenges seem to give people full reign of their creativity by forcing them to think outside the box. Check out what Karen thought of! 

I LOVE this coffee soap. I love coffee and it’s just the best to use in the kitchen and after gardening. I made a 4X strength coffee for the liquid and added the used grinds to the soap. A little TD to give it a beautiful creamy (yeah, I love cream in my coffee) swirl. I added a touch of tea tree oil, peppermint and lavender essential oils. This could be the perfect soap ;*) And, it’s just beautiful (in my coffee hazed mind!) And yes, it’s a botanical. Coffee comes from trees, so there ya go.

Want to join in on the fun? Don’t forget, you have until July 18th to strut your stuff and have a chance to win an MMS gift certificate!

Taylor

Karen's Coffee Soap
Karen’s Coffee Soap
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Reader Challenge: New Gift Kit Combination Ideas Wanted!

Help Wanted! I’ve been working on some ideas for new kit combinations using our fantastic bases. I love the ability to use our gift kits when I have an emergency gift I need to make, friends to entertain or even planned out gift baskets for special events like Christmas, birthdays or even just because!

I need your help! I need fresh ideas to pair any of our bases with a fragrance (or flavor) that you think we should put together as a new kit option. I’m open to thoughts and inspiration!

Once I get some ideas from you, I’ll take them to the Graphics Team and we will design some new labels for the kits. If you have any thoughts on that front we would love to hear them!

I am running on a deadline for this project and I will need your ideas by July 25th, 2014. To submit your idea(s), simply tell me in the comments below or use the Contact Us page. Please make sure that your e-mail is correct so I can send a message back to you. We wouldn’t want you to miss out if we choose your idea. You can submit one idea or multiple ideas. No idea is too small! I’ll listen to them all!

Once we have the new kits ready to release, all participants will be among the first to know! If you didn’t enter any ideas, don’t worry. Our loyal blog readers will also get the list of the new kits a few days later. How cool is that?

So, what do you “win” if we choose one of your ideas?

  1. A bundle of virtual hugs!
  2. A really awesome goodie box from the Blog Kitchen.
  3. A special note card from all of us here!

Is your brain already coming up with ideas? If so, yay! We want to hear them! If not, pop on over to the catalog for inspiration. I can’t wait to see what you create!

Andee

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