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.