Category Archives: Challenges and Q&A

Global Shortages – What do you do?

PrintWe get to work with some of the world’s most amazing natural products. Think things like Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Lavender Essential Oil and even Cranberry Seed Oil. I find it just amazing. However, as all of these are natural products, there are some years when the supply is leaner than others. So I want to know, what do you do when an item that is part of your line is having a global shortage?

Consider this, if you have a product line that is reliant on Lavender Essential Oil, what would you do if there is a global shortage? How do you cope? How does it effect what you do and what you sell/market?

Every year we see a few things on the market that are having global shortages due to bad weather, disease, poor crop yields and even politics. This year we have seen a decrease in the availability of citrus oils due to a disease attacking the citrus trees. We have seen a global shortage of Seabuckthorn Oil due to frost and we have also seen a shortage of Organic Rosehip Oil. It is always a disappointment to see these items struggle because they are such wonderful products and we always want to have it available. Alas, that is not the nature of natural products.

We want to hear from you. Tell us how you deal with global shortages! We want to hear. Just comment on the blog and get a chance to win some goodies from my private stash.

Taylor

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Winter Soap Challenge Winners!

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

I love my job but as much as I am loathe to admit, sometimes I run around here like a chicken with its head cut off. Okay, that is it. It is time for less coffee and more tea. Whew! As I take a minute to sit down and take a breather, I wanted to share the winners of the Winter Soap Challenge.

Mo's Winning Soap
Mo’s Winning Soap

The winners are… (drum roll please) Mary and Mo! Congratulations! Watch your mail boxes for your prizes. There are some really fun things inside!

We had a really hard time choosing the winners. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work! We had so much fun admiring your pictures!

Taylor

Mary's Winning Soap
Mary’s Winning Soap
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Winter Soap Challenge – Shelly

Shelly's Finished Soap
Shelly’s Finished Soap

It is time to bring the Winter Soap Challenge to a close but before we do, we have one more submission to share. Shelly submitted her soap challenge over the weekend and she did some amazing and rather unique things. I am not able to explain it nearly so eloquently so I will let her talk you through her soap.

 

 

Making Embeds
Making Embeds

When receiving the breathtaking picture from Majestic Mountain Sage to create an inspired work of soap art by using the picture of ice topped mountains, a calm lake and an old forgotten fence, I knew that ALL of us would be up for a real Challenge indeed!! I pondered the picture, staring at the weathered brown fence and felt like this was the fence of yester year. The fence looked cold, worn and had nobody leaning upon its side to gain a rest, so that one may gaze into those majestic breathtaking mountains. The air felt crisp and awakened, ready for the day! The blue water seemed refreshed and awaits an eager fisherman to lend in its hook! Yet those snow capped mountains beckoned to me that there was a story here waiting to be told. It was all about that fence, that sad looking fence of yesteryear!

Making Embeds
Making Embeds

Then it happened, as if inside a fairy tale dream! The mountain roared and could hold its peace no longer. The fence was twinkled upon from the dew drops that ran down the sides of its rugged post. In an instant a house stood strong! A little chimney was puffing away into the morning air that reflected life stirring within the walls. I could hear the echoes that reached thru the valley. Sounds of footsteps that were walking thru those wintery slopes! All the sounds were arriving and taking its rest at last, upon the doorway of this little house. Not a fence, to gander out to the coldness of the world, but to a house. A place where ALL travel to and find what they have been looking for all along, a home. Home was found, and that little old fence was gone, life had finally found a place to reside and start its humble winter morning.

Ready to Unmold
Ready to Unmold

Thank you for reading my inspiration! The mountain voices are ALL the pieces of swap soaps from the 2014 Botanical Swap. I found it fitting to place a Botanical Swap collage into this majestic place. The Home represents “OUR” Majestic Mountain Sage and the Sage Forum. People gather from around the world to find a place, not that they can lean on, like an old raggedy fence, but a place that they can call their soaping home!

Finished Soaps
Finished Soaps

The aromas that flow from this winter soap, is one of a melody of morning song, written by the notes sung by each soap that was submitted in the last Botanical Swap of 2014. I added yet another note, one that I found fitting, I added my beloved fragrance oil from Majestic Mountain Sage itself, Old West! I found that this special noted scent help string together the chords that had been presented to me while dreaming of this very special Winter Morning Challenge indeed!

 

I have had so much fun receiving pictures of all of these soaps and hearing the thoughts behind them. Now for the hard part. Choosing the winners. The entire MMS staff will aid the in selection of the two winners. Check back on Friday to see who are the winners!

Taylor

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Winter Soap Challenge – Mary

Mary's Winter Challenge Soap
Mary’s Winter Challenge Soap

Last week I told you how Cache Valley was covered in another blanket of snow. Well, that blanket is receding but it made for a beautiful view this morning. The air was crisp and frosty, the birds were puffed up like crazy. They are so cute. They were determined to herald the morning with their song. It was the perfect morning to sit at the kitchen table and look out to watch the sun rise.

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

May I just say the sunrise in the Rockies is truly spectacular? Mary made a soap that celebrates that breath-taking beauty. Read what she has to say about her soap!

I lived most of my life in Nebraska and Colorado, and miss the serene beauty after the snow storm has passed, the sun has been out and is now fading. The deep blue against a pale blue sky, swirled with peach and white, offers a calmness I never tire of. It shows a glimpse of what is to come.

This is my CP soap submission:
I tilted my loaf mold and poured a small amount of white, colored with TD and Shimmer White Mica, with a Copper Mica pencil line (my first time using it) followed by a blue, and another Copper Mica Pencil line. I let this set up a couple of hours then spritzed with alcohol (to help the remaining soap batter ‘stick’.

Placing my mold upright, I continued with a new batch of soap divided into 4 colors. I used a Dark Blue Ultramarine, a Medium Blue Ultramarine, mixed with a Light Blue Mica (name unknown), White that I mixed the same as above, and a Peach color made with Peach Sunset Mica. I layered and swirled my colors. I used Hershey’s Cocoa
Powder as my final pencil line (my first time using this). The top is a simple swirl. My soap is scented with Icicles FO

Thank you so much for doing this……it really was a ‘Challenge’ and guided me to try a few new things. It was a LOT of fun.

Mary

Wow! If you compare the picture to the soap, there is an astounding resembalance! 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 Soap Challenge – April

Finished Soap
Finished Soap

Here in Utah we have had a few weeks of beautiful spring weather. Enough to make the horses start shedding and the robins sing. Which has resulted in a bona-fide case of Spring Fever here at the office. Well, winter has decided to make a grand reappearance. Everything is now white. The enormous mountains that scrape the sky are white, the roads are white and even the orange cat that slinks through the nearby field is white. It is the perfect day to sit with a cup of hot chocolate and make winter inspired soap.

Making the fence
Making the fence

April has shared what a picture of our winter frosted Cache Valley inspired her to make. It is amazing to watch as she builds her soap. I will let her tell you all about it!

This is my first soap challenge. And boy was it! For some reason I decided the fence was a good place to start. Of course I wanted water, snow, mountains, and sky but the fence was my crazy launching point.

Three bars of soap were sacrificed in the making of this soap.

Setting up fence
Setting up fence

*Attempt number one:*
I forgot the oils in my second batch (I used small separate batches of oils/lye in the making of each layer) of soap while making the water…I
had to dig my fence out of the gooey mess and start all over again. Scrap number 1.

*Attempt number two:*
I reused the fence (which was unreasonably small for a whole loaf of soap). I waited all night to un-mold this loaf only to find my sky was too green, mountains too grey, my fence off kilter, and worst of all my snow was YELLOW! In addition I could see the error of choosing the mold I did (it was far too short). Scrap number 2.

Pouring in Soap
Pouring in Soap

*Attempt number three:*
Beginning again, I changed molds to allow for more room. I cut up two more bars of soap to make a fence that would span the length of my mold. (Might of been less but I was still trying to be creative, hand-carve fence? NO.) Then once again, I began with the batches. 5 batches later I had – snow layer, water layer, mountain layer, and two batches for the sky layer.

Installing the fence in the snow layer proved more difficult that I’d
imagined! Even though I waited for a very thick trace before pouring, and did so carefully, my fence started floating all over. Sticking (my gloved) hand in the soap I coerced the fence back into place for several minutes…each time I moved, the fence did too…eventually I was satisfied the fence was built.

Adding Soap
Adding Soap

Carefully, I chose new colors to compliment my goals. This time I thought maybe I should stay with the exact same blue just use more or less and add some black into the mountain layer. This helped even out the overall color of the whole soap. Yay.

Scenting proved difficult but I managed to find a couple of things in my closet to work with that turned out well. In soap number two I had mixed the two scents together in the whole soap. After smelling it the next day, I thought something needed to change a bit. I like both scents individually and even a bit together but for an overall scent I should try something different.

Adding Soap
Adding Soap

*The scent:*
If I were sitting on the side of that lake on the bank, I imagine I could
smell a soft earthy, mossy, grassy scent coming from the dried foliage,
softened by melting snow. I scented the snow layer using an oak moss scent.

Next, I imagine the scent of the blue water being brought to me by a light wind. I scented the water layer with a beach type scent.

Un-molding Soap Loaf
Un-molding Soap Loaf

Then I imagine the mountain layer, watching over the lake, has been around a long time and could use both scents. I combined them in this layer.

I left the sky layer unscented so I would not overwhelm the rest of the
scents. Each layer offers something significant that blends well with the next.

Smelling the soap from the top (the sky layer) my daughter says that
somehow there is a scent coming up from the bottom that she says is
“breezy” and I believe she is right!

Finished Soap
Finished Soap

I had so much fun creating this challenge soap! I hope you like it! I do :)

April

This is just incredible. I hope you know how much each one of you inspires me to set outside of my comfort zone when I soap. Each photo I receive is inspiring. 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

Finished Soap
Finished Soap
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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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