Posted on Leave a comment

Rose geranium and shea butter soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

IMG_3869
Rose Geranium Soap

Rose geranium essential oil has a lovely fresh floral fragrance with a light citrus top note. Considered to be both calming and grounding, the uplifting scent helps reduce stress and worry, and this balancing effect extends to the skin, as it helps stabilise both oily and dry skin. Adding nourishing shea butter to the soap, it creates a wonderful bar of soap that leaves your skin clean and fresh, and yet without it being too drying for your skin.

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

ONE: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Measure the water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. Then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Stir one teaspoon of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

TWO: Weigh out the shea butter and oils in a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex jug) and heat on high in the microwave for 1 minute or until the shea butter has fully melted. Set aside to cool.

Wait until both the oils and the lye have cooled down to room temperature, which is around 25C (77F).

THREE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.

FOUR: Add the rose geranium essential oil and give it a quick stir with the stick blender. Then keep alternatively pulsing (5-10 seconds) and stirring with the stick blender until you reach trace.

FIVE: Pour the soap into the mold, and then gently tap the mold on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles in the soap. Scatter a few dried rose petals on the surface and then leave the soap to cure overnight or until it is hard enough to remove from the mold. Olive oil soaps tend to be a bit softer initially and take longer to harden.

SIX: Once the soap has hardened and doesn’t stick to the sides anymore, you can remove the soap from the mold. Let the soap cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will then need at least 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready to use.

Rose Geranium and Shea Butter Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 325 g olive oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 51 g caustic soda
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 20 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • dried rose petals

Directions

  1. repare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Add one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  2. Weigh out the shea butter and oils in a large heat proof glass jug and microwave on high for 1 minute or until the shea butter has fully melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once both the oils and the lye have cooled down to room temperature, carefully add the lye to the oils, without splashing, and give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.
  4. Add the rose geranium essential oil, and keep alternatively pulsing and stirring with the stick blender until trace.
  5. Pour the soap into the mold, and gently tap the mold on the bench a few times to get rid of any air bubbles in the soap. Scatter a few rose petals on the surface and then leave to cure overnight or until hard enough to remove from the mold.
  6. Once the soap is hard enough, remove the soap from the mold and let it cure for another couple of days before cutting into bars. The bars will need another 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready.

Posted on 5 Comments

Lakes and FD&C colours

FD&C is an American labelling standard, which stands for Food, Drugs and Cosmetic.  FD&C dyes have gone through rigorous testing, which makes them safe for use in foods and cosmetics, however, they are artificially made (not natural) and I will leave it up to you to decide if they are healthy or not. The main difference between the FD&C dyes and lakes, is that the FD&C dyes are soluble in water and that the lakes are produced from the FD&C dyes and an aluminium salt, which makes the lake oil-dispersible (but not oil-soluble), meaning it can be mixed with oil.

For the following tests, I used lakes from Pure Nature, which are available for $5 for 10 g. These are strong colourants and they will last you for quite a while. Although, I don’t recommend them for cold process soap, you can still use them in other products, such as lotions, bath bombs and melt and pour soaps.

Pure Nature has the following lakes available:

They are all non-toxic, and approved for food and cosmetic use.

Cold process soap

As mentioned earlier, lakes are best dispersed in oil, and will not dissolve in water. However, I tested the lakes mixed with both water and oil, and the results were the same. Just make sure you give the bottle with water a good shake before each use. The usage rate for lakes in cold process soap is 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of colour, mixed with 1 tablespoon oil, per 500 g of soap. I used 1/4 teaspoon per 500 g soap in the tests.

You can see in the picture above, that the lakes don’t always perform in cold process soap. The blue lake turned into purple shade after gelling, before gelling it was a greyish shade and the red was orange. The reason for this is that the FD&C dyes don’t like the high pH environment during the soap making process. This is the same reason why food colouring doesn’t work in cold process soap making and some micas can give you funny results. The only lakes that seem to stay true to their colours are yellow and orange, and red only after gelling,  which doesn’t leave you with a lot of options for colour mixing.

Melt and pour soap

Melt and pour bases are finished soap bases to which you only add colour and fragrance. That means that you can’t add extra water or oil to the bases. You also can’t add the powder directly to the soap, because it will leave speckles in your soap.

Pre-mixing the lakes in glycerin, on the other hand, will give you bright, even colours throughout your soap. The colours will stay true, because there is no saponification like in cold process soap, and they are very easy to blend.

The only problem you might come across is when you didn’t mix the colour properly into the glycerin. In this case, you will get speckles at the bottom of the soap. Always mix well and shake bottle before use!

Bath bombs

Lakes are often used to colour bath bombs, because, as powders, they are easy to mix into the dry ingredients and result in brightly coloured bath bombs. To use the lakes, add a pinch of colour to your finished bath bomb mixture. Only add only a tiny amount at a time because they are quite strong in colour. Keep adding until you reach the colour you desire. To achieve the colours in the pictures below, I added 0.3g (two 0.15CC scoops) to 1 cup of bath bomb mixture. As I said, you only need a very tiny amount!



However, using the lakes in powder form will leave the bath bombs speckled, because the colours don’t blend with the other ingredients (remember: not water-soluble). An alternative option is to pre-mix the lakes with glycerin. Glycerin won’t make your bath bombs fizz and it will blend the bath bombs more evenly. Another advantage of pre-mixing the lake with the glycerin is that you can store it for up to a year without having to add a preservative to it.

The colours are a lot more evenly dispersed through the bath bomb, and they mix better than in powder form, as shown in the picture below.

So to summarise, lakes are great for melt and pour bases and bath bombs, as long as you pre-mix them with glycerin. For cold process soap, you have to be aware that they can morph colours and that there are better alternatives out there for cold process soap.

Posted on 1 Comment

How to use soap pigments

IMG_5032

I’m a big fan of soap pigments. They tend to colour my soap very evenly and are easy to use. They are definitely a lot less messy than lakes and micas, and also a little goes a long way. I would strongly suggest to invest in a trio of soap pigments, if you are into cold process soap making!

I use soap pigments from Pure Nature, which are available for $12 per 10 g. They are a bit more expensive than the lakes and micas, but are a lot more economical and will last you for a long time. They stock the basic three colours: yellow, red and blue, which can be easily mixed to create more colours, such as green and blue.

Soap pigments are water-soluble and very easy to work with. The pigments are mixed with water before use, and then added to the soap at trace. If you pre-mix them, you can store them in the fridge for a week. I use these little mini-bottles from Systema for my prepared colours.

The recommended usage rate for these pigments is 0.02%, which is really a very tiny amount. But I found that you can easily double the usage rate to 0.04% without any trouble – meaning no staining and no coloured foam. To calculate the usage rate into workable amounts, I added 2 mini-scoops (0.15CC each) to 3 teaspoons of water, which gives me exactly 0.02% (MATHS: 0.3 ml / 15 ml = 0.02). Add 1 teaspoon of the solution to 500g soap for a 0.02% usage rate, and 2 teaspoons of the solution to 500g soap for a 0.04% usage rate.

As mentioned earlier, the pigments can be easily mixed to create more colours. For a green, mix one part blue with one part yellow. Add more yellow for a more yellowish grassy green, or more blue for a teal colour. One part red and one part yellow will make orange.

Purples and lavender are a bit more difficult to get right. Purples tend to be more toward the red end of the colour spectrum, so mixing 1/2 red and 1/2 blue usually doesn’t work. With the pigments, I found the ratio 2/3 red to 1/3 blue worked well for me. If you wanted a more reddish purple, you could even increase to 3/4 red to 1/4 blue and increase the usage rate to 0.04%.

Adding titanium dioxide will whiten your soap to make your colour appear more true, as you can see in the picture below. To get the shade of lavender, I added 1 teaspoon of titanium dioxide to 500 g of soap.

Posted on 2 Comments

Honey, oats and milk soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 6 round soaps

img_4840

This is one of my favourite natural soap recipes and despite not adding any fragrance, the soap smells deliciously like porridge, which isn’t surprising as the soap is made of the same ingredients: milk, oats and honey. The milk will add creaminess to your soap. The oats are for the exfoliating effect. And the honey is for fragrance and colour, as well as being a humectant, which means it adds moisture to the bar. The honey also improves the lather, giving this soap a wonderful creamy, smooth lather.

If you have never made cold process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

ONE: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Measure the water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. Then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Stir one teaspoon of sodium lactate to make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

TWO: While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, prepare your other ingredients. You will need one tablespoon of milk powder (you can use either cow’s milk or goat’s milk powder), one tablespoon of honey (I used a manuka honey blend), and one to two tablespoons of rolled oats, depending on how exfoliating you would like your soap to be.

THREE: Next it is time to prepare the oils. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted.

FOUR: Add the honey to the warm coconut oil and give it a bit of a stir. I like adding the honey to the warm oil, so that it will soften up and become a bit easier to work with.

FIVE: Add the remaining oils to the coconut oil and honey mixture, and wait for the lye to cool down to room temperature.

SIX: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.

SEVEN: Add the milk powder and keep stick blending to mix the powder and the honey thoroughly into the soap mixture.

EIGHT: Add the rolled oats and either stir with a whisk, if you wish the rolled oats to remain in size for a scrubby effect, or stick blend to cut the rolled oats into smaller sizes for a light exfoliating effect.

NINE: The soap can get a bit thick if you leave it too long, so either pour or scoop the soap into your soap molds. As you can see, my soap thickened quite significantly, while I was taking pictures, so I’m really having to pay it down with the spatula. I’m using a mold with small rounds, but you could also use a muffin tray or loaf mold.

TEN: Leave to cure in the mold overnight. The honey in the soap can cause the soap to overheat, so don’t insulate and keep an eye on it. The next day, unmold and leave the soaps to cure for a further 6-8 weeks before using.

Honey, Oats and Milk Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 150 g olive oil
  • 130 g rice bran oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 20 g castor oil
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 120 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons rolled oats

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. While you wait for the lye to cool, prepare your other ingredients, so that you’ll have them ready when needed.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted.
  4. Add the honey to the warm coconut oil and stir briefly (it won’t completely melt).
  5. Add the remaining oils to the coconut oil and honey mixture.
  6. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and stick blend briefly.
  7. Add the milk powder and continue to blend with the stick blender to mix the milk powder and honey into the soap.
  8. Add the rolled oats and either stir with a whisk for a more scrubby effect or stick blend if you wish for a finer exfoliation.
  9. Pour or scoop the soap into your soap mold and leave to cure overnight.
  10. The following day, carefully unmold the soap and leave to cure for another 6-8 weeks.

Posted on 3 Comments

Feijoa soap

Difficulty: Advanced
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

img_4771

Feijoas are great to add to your soaps for their exfoliant properties, both from the fruit itself but also from the texture of the flesh and seeds. You don’t have to worry about the fruit going bad in the soap, because the fruit, along with the oils and lye, will go through a saponification process in a high pH environment, and will keep anything from spoiling. However, there are a few things you need to take into account. Adding fruit will also add moisture, therefore to compensate for the extra moisture from the feijoa pulp that is added, you will use less water than usual to prepare you lye. Additionally, the extra sugar content can make your soap go through a hotter than usual gelling phase, so you will need to keep an eye on your soap during the first few hours.

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

ONE: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. As mentioned before, you are using less water than usual to prepare your lye to compensate for the extra moisture added from the fruit. The water discount in the recipe is 20 ml. Add 80 ml of water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug, and then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside to cool.

While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, you can prepare your colour and feijoa pulp.

TWO: Scoop out the flesh of one large or two small feijoas, and set aside two tablespoons of pulp.

img_4429

THREE: In a small container, weigh out 15 ml of rice bran oil and add one teaspoon of green mica. I used Kelly Green Mica from Brambleberry (USA) here. Using a little whisk, mix the mica into the oil. If there are little clumps of mica at the surface, a spray of isopropyl alcohol will break them up.

Next, it’s time to get the oils ready.

FOUR: Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted.

img_4426

FIVE: Add the remaining rice bran oil, olive oil and castor oil to the now melted coconut oil.

When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, add one teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye and stir.

SIX: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves), carefully pour the lye to the oils, avoiding any splashes. Give it a quick pulse with the stick blender.

IMG_4430

SEVEN: Add the feijoa pulp and continue stick blending until light trace.

From this point on, you will have to work very quickly as the soap will thicken fast.

EIGHT: Next, pour in the colour/oil mixture and stir it until the colour is evenly dispersed into the soap.

NINE: Add the fragrance and stir using a whisk, rather than a stick blender, to prevent the soap from thickening even further.


TEN: Pour the soap into the mold.

Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles.

ELEVEN: Leave to cure in the mold for a few days. Because of the added feijoa pulp, the soap will be softer than usual and need a bit more curing, especially if you have left out the sodium lactate.

TWELVE: When the soap has hardened enough to take out of the mold, cut it into 4 bars and leave them to cure for another 6-8 weeks.

Feijoa Soap

  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 150 g olive oil
  • 130 g rice bran oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 20 g castor oil
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 80 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 2 tablespoons feijoa pulp
  • 20 ml feijoa fragrance
  • 1 teaspoon green mica

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. While you wait for the lye to cool, scoop out the flesh from 1 large or 2 small feijoa. Set aside 2 tablespoons of fruit.
  3. In a small container, weigh out 15 ml of rice bran oil and add one teaspoon of green mica. Using a little whisk, mix the mica into the oil.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted.
  5. Add the remaining rice bran oil, olive oil and castor oil to the now melted coconut oil.
  6. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Then, carefully add the lye to the oils and stick blend briefly.
  7. Add the feijoa pulp and continue stick blending until light trace. From this point on, you will have to work very quickly as the soap will thicken fast.
  8. Add the colour solution and give it another quick pulse with the stick blender.
  9. Next, add your fragrance, and using a whisk (not stick blender), mix quickly to disperse the fragrance throughout the soap.
  10. Pour the soap into the mold and insulate the soap to ensure a gel phase. However, the soap will warm up quite a bit, so keep an eye on it during the first few hours.
  11. Leave to cure in the mold for a few days before removing it from the mold and cutting into 4 bars.
  12. Let the bars cure for another 6-8 weeks.