Monday, February 17, 2014

Embed Soap Challenge

This month's challenge issued by Amy through her Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Club is to make a soap using cold process embeds. This is not a new technique for me, however I've shied away from embeds lately because of some frustrations I've had with them, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to work through those issues. Let me explain.

A few years ago I bought several embed molds from The detail is amazing and I love them, but using one of my regular soap recipes resulted in softer embeds that were easily damaged while popping them out of the mold, even when they were frozen. Then I learned that most people use melt & pour soap for these molds. I've never used melt & pour and really don't have a desire to begin. Not that I have anything against melt & pour; a lot of soap makers make beautiful soap using it. But for me, the thrill of soap making comes in the chemical reaction, that moment the lye water hits the soap pot and magically transforms the oils/butters into that gorgeous, creamy batter that will become soap! Also, in Canada, those of us who sell our soap must register our formulas with Health Canada and our soap must be labelled accordingly. Adding melt & pour embeds would mean that I need to register yet another Cosmetic Notification Form and re-do some of my labels - call me lazy, I just don't want to go there.

So what to do? I needed a hard soap recipe that would not obligate me to re-submit my CNFs. I remembered that the last time I made my castile soap my soap cutter could barely get through it after 24 hours. Also ALL of my soap recipes have a high olive oil content as well as coconut oil. So I mixed up a small batch of soap using the following recipe:
  • 75% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 5% SF
  • 25% water discount
  • no fragrance
Adding these embeds to any of my existing soap recipes would not change the ingredient ranges listed in my CNFs and would therefore be perfectly acceptable according to Health Canada guidelines.

For this challenge I decided to use the only flexible mold that I have not yet used - baby blocks. I made a small batch, coloured it, poured it into the mold, and let it sit for about 30 hours. Then it went into the freezer overnight. In the morning I took the mold out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes before unmolding. To my delight, the little baby blocks popped right out, no problem! Using the same formula I also made some pink heart. And this is what I came up with:
'Baby on the Way!' Soap in the mold

'Baby on the Way!' cut, trimmed & stamped; scented with lavender, orange, lemon & litsea essential oils
Now, just to be clear, I am NOT making an announcement here. But if I were, wouldn't this be a fun way to do it?? I've been blessed to have given birth to 4 of the most amazing people I know. Not once did I know if I was having a boy or a girl. But it seems these days expectant parents know long before baby's arrival and they seek out cleaver ways to reveal their child's gender. I had hoped to make another log with a blue heart stamped 'Its a boy', but I ran out of time.
I love these little soap blocks!

These were stamped with letters from a clay embossing set
And if I wanted to present these at a gathering to reveal my baby's gender, this is how I would present them:

Package created using instructions form Dorothy Martin'sYouTube video "How to make a Soap Gift bag"

I had so much fun with this challenge. I learned that the olive/coconut recipe is perfect for making embeds to place on top of the soap. But to embed into the soap a water discount is probably not a good idea. The hearts were rather solid, but the rest of the bar was a bit soft. I placed the log in the freezer for a few hours right after making it to prevent gel. I really tried to wait 24 hours after the soap had returned to room temperature, but patience is not a virtue I possess.

Thanks, Amy! Looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with!!