Friday, April 27, 2012

Challenge #6 - Faux Funnel Pour

I've long admired the effects of the faux funnel pour. I'm so glad it was this weeks' challenge from Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks.I used a mold that my husband built for me a number of years ago. I haven't used it in ages because it is wider than I prefer, thus making huge slices. But for this challenge I wanted a large bulky piece of soap so I could experiment with different cuts. I was happy to have the help of my daughter.

These are fragranced with "Summerberries" fragrance oil and smells deliciously fruity. I look forward to building some new molds this week and using this technique again very soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Challenge #5 - Scent Blends

The challenge of the week from Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks: "to make a soap using a new blend of either fragrance or essential oils (or a mix of both) you’ve created yourself using what you already have in your stash."

While I love the idea of creating my own unique scent blends, I really don't know much about the science of it all. Amy did a great job of explaining things, and provided some links to some great information on the subject. So I took a look at my stash and it seems I like citrus. So Citrus Bliss it is!

On to experimenting. I tried the drops on the paper towel as well as 'marinating' Q-tips in a ziplock bag. When I couldn't decide on which blend I liked the best I left it for a day and came back to it. For this reason I think I prefer the 'marinating' technique. What I ended up using was:
 ~ 3 parts orange  ~ 1 part lime
 ~ 1 part litsea      ~ 1 part ylang ylang

Batch was split in 2. The first part was coloured with paprika infused oil and orange peel granules; to the second part I added annatto infused oil and ground calendula petals.

Sometimes I can embrace soda ash, but not this time - it was kinda splotchy, so I washed it off. Hence, the shiny tops.

Colours aren't as vibrant as I had hope for, but I really like the texture. As for the scent - I like it. The orange is the first thing you smell, but I can detect the lime as well. Instead of a sweet orange it's more of a tart orange, which I prefer.

While I was making soap my daughter called; she is just finishing up the current semester at university in another city. I told her I was making a citrus blend for my weekly soap challenge and she suggested that I make a creamsicle soap. Hmmm. Orange and vanilla - I've got that. I don't think I have ever mixed an essential oil with a fragrance oil but hey, why not? Because vanilla, even 'non-darkening' vanilla turns brown, that's why not. But the point here is to experiment, right? So let's experiment....

There was no science involved in this formulation. I had exactly .5 oz of non-darkening vanilla fragrance oil, so to that I added 1 oz 5-fold orange essential oil and added this my 34 oz of oils.

Two-thirds of the batch got the rest of my paprika infused oil, the remaining 1/3 got a dose of titanium dioxide.

The ash is embracable in this one.

Dreamsicle - with goats milk and greek yogurt.

I cut these yesterday and today the orange is a little orangier and the ivory hasn't really darkened. That was a surprise. As was the partial gel. With both goats milk and yogurt I thought it best to pop this puppy in the freezer right away, but I still got a partial gel. Oh well, you really have to look to see it. And the smell - oh WOW - this is a keeper for sure! I love it. When I put it under hubby's nose he said "hey, that smells just like a creamsicle!" Yes it does! But I remember that delectable treat as a 'dreamsicle'; am I the only one?? I will definately be making this one again.

Be sure to check out Amy's blog for the other participants' results!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Challenge #4 - Mojito Soap

This week's challenge from Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks was to make a soap using alcohol. A few years ago I started making my own wine and last year my wine kit supplier introduced me to a Mojito kit. Mixed with a bit of club soda I find it very refreshing, especially in the summer. While I had planned on making a mojito soap for a while now, it did not occur to me to use my mojito drink until Amy issued this challenge. Such a novel idea!

So first I weighed out my liquid content in a bowl and left it on the counter for about 24 hours to go flat. Then I weighed it again; some evaporated but I had expected that so I still had enough - in the freezer it went. Later that day I weighed out the lye and slowly added it to my flat, slushy mojito. No bad smell yet, that was good; beautiful lemon colour; then a nice orange colour (I love orange); now a deep red colour, wow. The lye seemed to incorpate nicely, but it looked a bit syrupy; hmm. Now it was time to mix the lye in with the oils, to which I had already added lime, spearmint and just a bit of litsea essential oils. Stirred it a bit - looked good; stick blended it for 2.5 seconds - wowzers! Quick, split off half and add some spirulina. "Honey help!" "What do you want me to do?!" "Get that other colour and help me pour!" "What other colour" "Oh forget it, I'll do it myself!" Pour, scoop, splat, bang, splat some more, ohhh this did not look good, in fact the chunks reminded me of ... oh never mind, it just looked really bad. Oh well, whatever; quick spray with rubbing alcohol and to bed she went. I did not hold out a lot of hope for this marvalous mojito batch of soap. I poured myself a mojito and lamented my sorry soap.

A day and a half later I unmolded. The colour lightened quite a bit; I even saw traces of the green spirulina which surprised me given the fact that I didn't have time to get much of it in there. My experience with spirulina however, is that it shows itself after a few days or more of curing. So we'll see, I guess.

I have to say, I don't mind it. Not perfect, but not as bad as I expected. And it smells divine! The tops - well - they are ...  frothy. Yeah, that's it - frothy! Just like a frozen mojito. That's what I was going for. Yeesss! At least that's the story I'm going with. (wink, wink)

If you haven't already, you should check out the other soaps from this challenge. They are all amazing!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Challenge #3 - Yup, it was a challenge alright.

Challenge #3 from Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks - Piping. Oh boy. I have long admired soap cupcakes, but make them myself?? Wouldn't have done it if not for this challenge. The practicality of them just eludes me. I appreciated the short video from Platypus Dreams that Amy included in her blog on how to use them; I would not have come up with cutting the cupcake in half, top to bottom. Now that I had an idea of how to use them I thought, why not? But just a few, along with a soap loaf.

Here's my lemon meringue piped creations scented with lemon, litsea and ylang ylang essential oils, coloured with annatto infused olive oil and sprinkled with calendula flowers.

First the loaf. After the base layer with it's ITP swirl was poured I loaded my decorating bag with soap. As I tried to pipe it on the loaf it completely lost it's shape - not thick enough. That's okay. One even layer, bang it on the counter to smooth it out, try again in a few minutes. Re-loaded the bag and tried the cupcakes. A steady hand I do not have. I think a larger tip would create a nicer effect. Tried some rosettes on the last of the 4 cupcakes and found that easier. So the loaf just got a generous covering of rosettes. I really like the cut soap.

But the cupcakes? I'm still not convinced. Since I will probably never make cupcakes again I decided to give it one more try while I was still in the zone. This time I made lavender cupcakes coloured with alkanet infused oil and lemon icing coloured with annatto infused oil. I wanted the piping a lot higher this time.

The smallest one of the bunch looks the best. They have a sprinkling of yellow decorators' sugar as well. The other day I found some cupcake packages and couldn't resist buying them. They're kinda cute too.

Okay, I admit it was a fun challenge. Once again, thanks for the inspiration, Amy! I might actually splurge on a bigger decorators' tip and try it again on a soap loaf.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Experimenting with Infusions

It seems a lot of people are on an 'all natural' kick lately. I must confess that I am among them. I've stocked my cupboards with a few more essential oils and am eager to learn about blending them. I've also been curious about infusing olive oil with botanicals and spices for that all natural colourant. In the past I've infused both calendula and patchouli, but neither of those brought any colour to the mix. So yesterday, after reading Amanda's Lovin Soap blog posting on infusing oil with herbs and spices, I pulled out my crock pot and whatever I could find that I thought sounded interesting and got to work. To each jar I added 5 ounces olive oil and approximately 1 tablespoon powder/spice/seed. Then I placed all of the jars in the crock pot, added water to just below the lid rims and turned the heat to the warm setting for about 5 hours.

This is what I ended up with. On the top curry powder, paprika and red hibiscus flower; on the bottom annatto seed, alkanet powder, juniper berry and indigo powder. 

Now obiously some of these infusions did not impart colour.
  • The curry powder surprised me - very slight deepening of colour. 
  • Paprika gave a very nice orange colour - can't wait to try that one.
  • Red hibiscus flower, crushed - nothing.
  • Annatto seed - those puppies are next to impossible to crush! Nice yellow colour. This is the second time I've infused annatto, but last time it was in a double boiler on the stove top.
  • Alkanet powder - purple-ish. Second time I've infused alkanet as well, last time in the double boiler, but I've used most of it and wanted some more. 
  • Juniper berry - crushed, no colour, very fragrant - wonder if it will come through in soap.
  • Indigo powder - very rich blue. 
Looking forward to using these in some soap batches!