Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Limelight

Finding a perfect soap formultion is a difficult task. There are so many great ingredients, and each brings it's unique qualities to the mix. Base oils, essential oils, botanicals, colourants, the list it long. My list of favorites is finally starting to take shape and I'd like to hilight some of them right here. So begins the first of what will (hopefully) become a regular feature: In the Limelight.

First up - SHEA BUTTER
Ivory to light yellow in colour, shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African Shea tree used primarily in cosmetic formulations. It's healing and moisturizing properties are due in part to the presence of several fatty acids that are unsaponifiable, meaning that they are not altered in the soap making process. Shea butter melts at body temperature and absorbs quickly into the skin. The presence of cinnamic acid seems to aid in the absorption of some ultraviolet rays, making it a desireable addition to sun block products. Vitamins A and E, know anti-oxidants and 'wrinkle fighters', are also found in shea butter.

It's no wonder shea butter is a popular ingredient with soap makers. I love it, and use it in just about all of my formulations. What's your favorite butter to use?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Final Challenge...at least for now

I've found that soap making is one of those experiences where you just never stop learning new things. Perhaps that's why we soap makers seem so obsessed - the reality is that we are just anxious to learn the next thing out there. Amy from Great Cakes Soapworks has pushed my soap making to the next level. I've taken part in 10 of the 11 challenges and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.

This week's challenge was for an 'all natural' soap. I've been wanting to come up with a new 'spa' bar for my collection; here was the perfect opportunity. Enter avocado and seaweed.
This bar contains tussah silk, olive, coconut, avocado, palm, palm kernel and castor oils along with avocado butter. At trace I separated the soap into 2 equal parts; to one part I added pureed avocado, to the second part I added bladderwrack (seaweed) and spirulina powder that I had soaking in some water. (I had heard that bladderwrack had an unpleasant odour, so I also added lemon, peppermint and rosemary essential oils to the oils prior to adding the lye water.) Then I poured part 1 into part 2, gave it one quick pass with a spoon and poured it into the mold. Not bad...til the next day when I unmolded it.


That unpleasant odour from the bladderwrack - SERIOUS understatement. It just plain STUNK - as in YUCK!!! Oh, how glad I was that I cut back from a 4 pound recipe to a 2 pound recipe! I have never smelled anything so bad in all my soap making days.

That was yesterday. This morning I couldn't smell anything when I walked close to the soap, and when I picked it up to smell it, it's not too bad. I can actually smell the lemon and rosemary, but not the peppermint. And the texture of the soap is really neat. I might actually like this bar after all!




Be sure to check out Amy's blog for all of the other participant's results. Thank you, Amy, for coaching us through so many wonderful soap making adventures. It's been an absolute pleasure to take part in these challenges and interact with other soapers.