Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Soap Challenge #2

I was pretty excited to start Week #2 of Amy Warden's Soap Challenge (I'm not doing 1 challenge a week though, just whenever I have time, which happened to be 2 challenges in one weekend.....go me!)
I've never done a milk soap before so I was pretty stoked to give this one a go.  The whole point of the challenges is to (duh) challenge yourself and try something you haven't done before. I've tried most of the things in her challenges, but this being one of them that was new to me.  I have had a can of Coconut Milk sitting at the back of my soap shelf always peeking out at me making me feel bad that I haven't attemped to use it yet.  So I dusted that baby off and got to soaping.
My mom stopped in at my house by surprise and she was glad I was in full soap mode as she keeps telling me she'd like to come and soap with me.  I am a control freak (shocker) and have never tried soaping with another person, let alone having that person help me soap.  I am also impatient, all great qualities of a soaper haha.  I told mom that I was trying out some new projects this weekend and she rolled up her sleeves and asked how she could help.  She didn't get too "hands on" with the project as I told her that I didn't know how fast we'd need to mix and pour in the mold.  But she did help me by cleaning up my kitchen and washing all the soapy dishes and spoons, etc after.  I really hate washing up after soaping......
But anyways, Coconut Milk soap.  I was told that it could take up to 30 minutes to slowly melt my frozen milk with the lye, I told mom this and she wasn't sure if she wanted to stick around and watch them.  I'm used to slowly pouring lye into my beer so it won't volcano on me, so this is nothing new to me.  I can't remember how long it took, but we closely monitored the temperature of the coconut milk and lye and then panicked and decided we had better get the oils and butters melted.  This is where it was really nice to have mom around.  She put the oils in the microwave but they got a little too hot (I was hordering my temperature gun) so we had to put them in some cold water to cool them down.  I think we ended up mixing them around 95 degrees.
I put some cocoa butter and shea butter in this batch to make it extra creamy.  And I scented it with Mango Mandarin (YUMMY) and used a little Apricot Blush Mica to try and do a slight swirl.  I did some peaked tops on it too (another new technique I'm playing around with).

Here it is cut.  You can kind of see a slight swirl in there (mom helped with that too!) but I didn't want it to be too dramatic.  I used a different mold for this batch, and one I've never used before, so I was trying to play around and figure out how I was going to cut them.  They are pretty big, so I'll have to trim the sides a bit.  They'll be tall skinny soaps, something I've grown to luv.  As they are right now, they weight almost 7 ounces! They're huge beasts, so I'll take the knife to them and keep the scraps for myself.  You can just tell by holding this bar that it's going to be super creamy.  I hate waiting for them to cure!

Happy Soaping!

Soap Challenge #1

So I decided to try out Amy Warden's from Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge which just so happened to be an in-the-pot swirl.  I'm no virgin to the ITP swirl and I've had much success with it in the past.  Perhaps I was having a bad day, but everything seemed to go wrong with this batch.
I believe my first problem was trying out a new recipe.  I used grapeseed oil in the batch, and I've never soaped with it before. (should have been my first indication)  I decided I was going to use some Applejack Peel FO that I purchased from Bramble Berry last year and have never gotten around to using it.  I quized multiple people online and BB themselves about the fragrance to find out if it misbehaved in CP soap, I was assured it was a good FO to use.  I then proceeded to pick colours for this soap.  I wanted to do 4-6 colours for my swirl since Amy told us to push ourselves and use more colours than we usually do.  I think I've used 6 before, so I guess I should have used 7.  But, I used 2.  I couldn't figure out what colours would go good with my scent.  I'm terrible at describing scents so I just told everyone that "if an Apple Pie and Apple Cider had a luv child, this is what it would smell like." So naturally, red and green come to mind for this FO.  But red and green also make me think of Christmas (should have been my second indication).  This FO screams "We Wish you a Merry Christmas" but I was bound and determined to soap with it, summer bedamned. Yes, I am stubborn.
So I melt my oils, have my lye mixture cooled down, my colours mixed and my FO measured.  I'm good to go.  Everything goes well until I start to pour off my soap into my coloured containers.  It starts to thicken and clump a bit.  I've had this happen before and have managed to salvage my batches.  But since I needed this soap to be at a light trace for the swirl I had to work fast.  And by fast I mean, like the Flash.  So since I was working in warp speed I didn't have much time to snap a few pictures along the way (as I initially planned), my bad

So this is what it looked like once I got it poured in the pot.  You can see it's getting pretty thick.  At this point I had no idea if it would swirl when I pour it or if it would just clump out and have red and green blobs all over.  Well it did clump out but I furiously shook it around my slab mold, bound and determined not to have a botched batch (say that 5 times fast).  I was hollering for my boyfriend to come and take a picture of me pouring it in the mold but he was sleeping on the couch with my dog (imagine that).

So this is what it looked like after I got it into my mold and glopped the last little bit of soap on top to do a swirl.  At this point I had very little hope it would look nice.  It looks like Santa puked on the top of my soap.  You think that's bad though, look at this one

Nothing sexy about this swirl on the top.  Would have been nice to see some white below it, but alas, at this point I was just glad it didn't totally seize on me or start to rice, or separate, I guess I was somewhat fortunate.  So I waited almost 24 hours to cut this, and I must say I wasn't in any hurry to slice it open and be disappointed and the inevitable rebatch I had on my hands.  But it wasn't a total wash (oh puns).

The top still really grossed me out, but I could see on the sides that there may be something fantastic happening inside.  I felt a little more comfortable cutting it after seeing the sides.

It wasn't the gorgeousness I had hoped for from the beginning, but I'll take it!  There was something really weird going on with the colours, it looked like glass or something.  Almost like they were suspended in the soap.  Again, really bad at describing stuff.  So tried to snap a picture to show you guys.

See, really weird. Never had this happen before, but it looks kind of neat.  Reminds me of sea glass.
I still have no idea why I decided to get all Christmasy and anyone who knows me, knows I strongly dislike Christmas.  I'm a spring girl and the weather is gorgeous right now.  I should be soaping bright funky colours with nice fruity or citrusy soaps, but I went with the one Christmas scent I have.  Oh well, in 6 months this baby will be super mild and ready for the gift giving season.
Here's some more pictures of the bars once they were cut.  I'm not disappointed with how it turned out, but not ecstatic either.

Happy Soaping!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Long Weekend

So the long weekend is upon us and me and my SO were thinking of going camping.  I've never successfully went camping May long and thought we'd give it a go.  In case you don't know, I live in Manitoba Canada and it is usually pretty cold for May long.  This year (and last year too) have been very strange weather wise and this winter we barely had any snow! This is very uncommon, we usually have 3-5 feet all winter.  We could have mowed our lawn in January.  So this weekend is going to be hot (+25c, well not really hot, but my kind of weather) and humid.  Humidity = thunderstorms = not a great time to camp.  So I think our camping trip is off for this weekend.  There's always next weekend.
The cancellation of our camping trip didn't upset me all that much, since now I have 4 whole days for soaping!
I've recently discovered Amy Warden's blog.  Amy, where have you been all my life?! She is an inspiration to all us soapers.  I especially like her Weekly Soap Challenges.  And since I'm late to the game (I think they're on Week 9) I'm starting from square one.  I've already tried a lot of the techniques and bars that she presents in the challenge but I'm going to do them all, from week 1.  (I especially excited for doing a batch with some coconut milk I've been holding on to for a while).  I'll be updating you all on my progress through her soap challenges.  I'm pretty pumped!
So if you've been reading my blog, you'll notice that it's been neglected for a while.  I promise to be more active in my blogging.  I spend so much time reading other soapy blogs that I figured I might as well contribute as well.
If you read my blog from a couple days ago you'll know that I did my first hanger swirl.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out, not totally ecstatic or anything, but happy none the less.  Perhaps it's the colours I chose, but I was using Blood Orange scent, so red and orange seemed like a given.  I cut the bars last night when I got home from work (it is the WORST having to wait a whole 24 hours to cut, you other soapers know what I mean).  Here's the finished bar.
Happy Soaping!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trying something old and something new

After a stressful day at my day-job I needed a little "soap therapy" when I got home. I finally received my soap order from Canwax (they ship fast, I'm just impatient) so I could finally get making more soap. I decided to use some Blood Orange essential oil that I had forgotten I had. I did in inventory the week before and discovered some long forgotten fragrances. I forgot how much I luv the scent of Blood Orange! Such a nice fresh citrus scent, perfect for summer.
I mulled over which colours I wanted to use and finally decided on Red oxide, Orange oxide and some activates charcoal to make it pop. I've been using some new plastic molds I picked up at Staples and I quite like them. If anything, for the fact that I'm not measuring and cutting out freezer paper to line them (I hate lining molds!). I had a big box of small garbage bags that didn't fit any garbage bins in my house and luckily they're the perfect size for these slab molds.
I did a faux funnel technique and poured in 5 spots in the mold. I alternated between red, black, orange and the white soap base. (this being my "old" technique). Then for the very first time I did a hanger swirl technique. I went up and down and from the bottom to the top (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you must search YouTube for a hanger swirl tutorial, it's awesome). I saved a little soap to do a swirl on the top.
I've battled with ash since day one and have finally gotten fed up with having to trim the tops of my bars and losing some of the nice swirl on the top. So I dug out my big bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol and spritzed the top with this. I may have gotten a little carried away, but I do not want to see any ash on this batch.
I snapped a quick picture before I put the soap to bed. I cannot wait to get home tonight and cut it. I hope it's not too soft to cut by then. Again, patience is not my virtue.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have you ever wondered what was in your health and beauty products?

It’s astonishing to believe some of the ingredients that are included and what they can do to us.
I admit it. Until I joined the Sud Sisters team I never had much thought to what was in my soap or cosmetic products.  My bathroom cabinets are literally overflowing with toiletries and cosmetics, and I have no idea what's in most of them, let alone how those ingredients may or may not impact my health ... or that of my children.  Let’s face it for most of us the sale is based on smell and what they say it will do for you.  Not the ingredient list. 
Of course, many products--boast "natural" ingredients on their label.  "Natural" doesn't always equal "innocuous." In fact some beauty products contain arsenic.  Which according to Wikipedia arsenic is natural; it is a natural component of the Earth’s crust.  
A Canadian environmental group recently had 49 popular beauty products tested for heavy metals, and was surprised to find just how many traditional beauty products (ie: chemically formulated ones) contained these “unintentional” ingredients.  In fact, your best-selling Sephora lip gloss looks to be loaded with arsenic and other known toxins.  
Some beauty products of yesteryear contained high concentrations of lead, mercury, arsenic, even radiation, thanks to ignorance, indifference and narcissism.
“The exposure would eventually lead to irritability, insomnia and mental decrease,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a dermatologist in Omaha, Neb. “The ocular skin is most likely to absorb materials due to its thin, nearly transparent qualities. Couple this with the mucous membranes being a hop, skip and a jump away from the area where cosmetics are applied and you have a potentially serious problem.”
What I love about cold process soap making, is that you can achieve a luxurious and SAFE bar of soap without the use of known toxins or elaborate (expensive) processes.
In researching what may be in our products to achieve the look of beauty, it has made us at Sud Sisters want to find a “natural and safer” cleanser.
When you make your own soap product you can determine what the ingredients will or will not do.  Plus natural ingredients are effective when used with knowledge.  Just knowing that you are using natural ingredients makes your skin look and feel better.  Plus you’ll feel gorgeous inside and out!
Are my bathroom products harming me and my family;
The truth is: I don't really know. But the more I read I wonder.
We are concerned with what we injest orally with food and water, but really cosmetics aren't all that different. Did you know that years ago cosmetics like Lash Lure, an aniline; organic compound eyelash dye introduced in the 1930s caused 16 cases of blindness and one death, there was also cream sold that contained rat poison.
So are we really greening up our lives? In the grand scheme of things, I don't think so. In fact, I think we're getting more toxic. It seems like if the word “organic” or “natural” is attached to a label we are more apt to stop reading the label.  I know personally I don’t know what a lot of the ingredients on a label mean.  I guess that is when we need to decide what is important to us, health or appearance?  That is why we’ve decided that you shouldn’t have to choose.  With our products you can have both.
I think we should empower ourselves with knowledge about what we put in and on our bodies, and our children's bodies. The more we know the easier we can make healthier choices and at the same time, continue to enjoy the good things in life. Even if it takes a little more effort.
Shouldn’t our health be worth it? 
Here's an excerpt from a landmark study by the Environmental Working Group. Hopefully this will help us all become more aware of what we are putting into our bodies.  As we are only given one life; let’s use it the best we can.  
"In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
This study represents the first reported cord blood tests for 261 of the targeted chemicals and the first reported detections in cord blood for 209 compounds. Among them are eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellants in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles — including the Teflon chemical PFOA, recently characterized as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA's Science Advisory Board — dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products; and numerous pesticides.
Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied."

I’ll leave you with a quote that was sent to me in an email.  I think it should be something that we all keep at the forefront of our minds.
Life is too short to wake up with regrets....So love the people who treat you right....
Forget about the ones who don’t.  Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.  If it changes your life, let it.  Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Changes are in the Air

The leaves are changing, the season is changing, and we are changing! This year has turned out to be one of the busiest I have ever experienced.  With the last group of my friends getting married off, me doing soap wedding favours for 3 weddings, looking at buying our house with my better half, my day job as a manager of a very busy Animal Nutrition business and finding the time to plug away at our ever expanding Soap Company.....it's been crazy.
So as you know Sud Sisters Soap Company has consisted of myself and my little sister Kirbie (who was one of the friends who got married this year :D) and now will include my older sister Kiley.  Kiley has easily been our biggest fan.  She is a neat freak from way back and has always been very conscious of natural ingredients and products.  She also leads a busy life, what with 3 very busy children and her need to always be involved in their activities and volunteering her services out to charities and events.  She is an amazing woman and I envy her dedication to order in her life (something that has clearly not been my strong point).  So when she approached me and asked if the Sud Sisters would like an addition to the Company, I gladly said yes!  She is a marketing guru and we will definitely benefit from all her pearls of wisdom.
She is also a slave driver (:P) and has been cracking the whip on me.  From day one she has given me reviews and suggestions on our products (as she has been one of our guinea pigs from day one).  She has always told me that we need to solidify a product line and run with it. "People need structure" she tells me and I couldn't agree more.  The only problem being, I have no structure in my life and I always try to do a million different projects at once (as I'm sure all you other crafters can sympathize with).  But something you may not know about me (as sometimes it's not very obvious) is that I'm a perfectionist.  Especially when it comes to our company and the products we create.  If I don't like the product, I don't expect you to.  So over the years I have experimented with different recipes, trying to tweak them to my approval.  I don't believe in putting out a half ass product.   I like to think we've hit the nail on the head with our products.  And I think our customers agree because they keep coming back for more.
But enough rambling, here are the Changes in the Air.
We are coming out with a new product line (with some new items and some of our old favorites).  We will be offering 5 signature bars as well as a line of bath bombs, lip balms, solid perfumes and we're branching off into a Baby line and expectant Mother line. With the addition of our 5 signature bars we will also have a Soap of the Month.  Every month we'll come out with a new bar that will only be sold in that particular month (and will usually reflect the seasons and trends at the time).
On top of all of this, we are doing a monthly newsletter to keep all our customers and potential customers up to date on what we have available and what we're currently working on in our labs (yes I said labs, as in more than one, we are that busy).  I will be taking care of the soap side of things at my house, Kirbie will be doing bath bombs and whatever else we make her do (hehe sorry Kirb, I couldn't resist) and Kiley will be doing the marketing from her house.  I like to refer to them as labs because as you know soap is a science and soaping has definitely appealed to the science nerd in me.
So if you'd like to sign up for our newsletter you can leave a comment here with your email address, or send me an email at sudsisters@gmail.com and we'll add you to the list.
We're also going to including Coupon Codes in our newsletter for mad deals on our products.
So as you can tell, I'm pretty excited about all the Changes in the Air, and I hope you are too!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Busy Little Beavers

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  This year is proving to be a very busy one so far.  Wedding season has just started for me which means Bye Bye Summer :( I think I have maybe 2 weekends this whole summer to myself.  And for one of those weekends I have to plan my lovely sister Kirbie's Bachelorette party.  I was thinking either ziplining or skydiving.  Probably the ziplining since the skydiving will set us back about $300.  But definitely something I must do down the road.  But enough about that, let's talk soap!
So if you read my blog you know that I am now making wedding favours for THREE weddings.  I'm currently waiting on a Bramble Berry order I placed to get some mica's before I start doing some trial runs.  I know the details of what 2 of the 3 people want, but I have time to get the third done (her wedding isn't until October 1).  My sister wants to do a His & Hers soap, so I'm doing a Guinness beer soap for the guys and the girls will get a Pearberry scent with (well this might change) green, orange, white and purple swirl.  I have the first 56 bars of the Guinness done.  56 down, 544 bars to go! So yes, I will be busy indeed.  Never mind keeping up with soap orders and getting a stockpile of soap ready for the craft sale circuit.  Which I plan to fully take advantage of this year.  I'm slowly starting to spend more time on my soapy business and less time on my full time job.  We'll see how one affects the other. Of course my long term goal is not to rely on my full time job and only make soap, but we'll see. (and if my amazing boyfriend allows it lol)
He truely is amazing to have put up with me for almost 11 years.  Or perhaps I'm the amazing one for putting up with him.  Either way, we both rock!  I'm pretty excited for him though because after 2 months of being a "kept man" he has got a new job!  It's rather bitter sweet though.  He'll be gone for 10 days and home for 4.  But on his days off, he'll be doing local jobs.  He's fresh out of school with his fancy Red Seal in Construction Electrician.  I'm so proud of him! After 7 years it's finally all paid off.  Now it's time for him to bring home the bacon so he can buy this girl a new house!!  He has promised me (whether he remembers it or not) that one day I will be able to quit my full time job and focus 100% on my soap, which he knows is a big deal for me.  He seems to figure I'll be making more money than him.....here's hoping.  He truely is my biggest fan which is quite funny because for anyone that knows him, he's a big tough guy.  Not the type of guy you'd think would get excited about my latest batch of soap.  He likes to help from the side lines, but mainly his favorite job is testing and smelling.  He's so cute, after every batch I make he insists it's his new favorite.  I keep telling him they can't all be his favorite.  He secretly likes the florally soaps too.  One of his favorite scents is Japanese Cherry Blossom.  But his all time favorite is Nag Champa.  I guess it appeals to the hippy in him.  Another reason why I luv him.  He puts up with my "hippyness" and all my crazy shenanigans.
But enough about Josh, this a soap blog!
In my last order from BB (the disaster!) they scent me a sample of Ginger Fish FO, which is a very undesirable name, but I assure you it smells amazing.  Pretty much like Ginger Ale.  So my new mission is to make a lemonade soap with the Ginger Fish and obviously Lemon EO.  I bought some Fizzy Lemonade mica from BB and I want to garnish it with some dried lemons, just to give it that little bit extra.  I have all these big plans for soap but I have no idea when I'll be able to test them out.
My other sister has been trying to tell me that I need to come up with a "line" and stick with it.  And if I want to stray from that line and make other soaps that's good too.  But do a monthly special or something.  I completely understand what she's getting at but I can't help myself!  I think I will pick maybe 10 bars that I want to continually make and have those bars for sale at the Crazy Daisy Emporium in Boissevain (who are now carrying our soap......so exciting).
The beer soap has definitely been a hit with all our customers, particularly the Guinness, aka my favorite beer!  I have big plans for my beer soap but need to get some time together to actually make them.  I won't reveal my secret plans yet, but I promise to post pictures once I have them all done.
Before I make soap I like to google image what I'm going to make and see if anyone else has made something similar.  I strive to be different and think outside the box.  And I can assure you, after 1 hour of googling  I didn't find a single image that mimics my new beer soap plan.  So this will be another "one of a kind".
But enough rambling from me.  Just wanted to touch base and let you know I haven't forgot about my trusty blog and I promise to get some pictures up here soon.  My oldest sister took some pretty amazing pictures of my soap last week while she was home.  I'm still waiting on her to email them to me.  So if you're reading this Kiley......HURRY UP!
And if you are one of my followers and cannot wait to see pictures, go to my Facebook page.  I have quite a few pictures up there.
Bye for now, I'm off to my Level 2 Reiki course tonight.  Pretty excited about it, my instructor is a true gem.