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Bubble bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 10 bars

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I love, love, love bubble bars! They’re fun, smell delicious and…. BUBBLES! Lots of bubbles! Need I say anything more?

These bubble bars are created especially with the humid climate in mind! To make them, you will need quite few ingredients, but let me assure you, it’ll be worth it! All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature, except for the corn starch, which you can get from any supermarket.

The fragrance I’m using for these bubble bars is Jamaica Me Crazy from Candlescience, a deliciously fruity tropical blend, and perfect for these fun bubble bars!

ONE: First add all your dry ingredients to the bowl: baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, kaolin powder, corn starch and cream of tartar. Be careful when adding the SLSa, which is a very fine powder. Avoid breathing it in as it can be irritating to your lungs. I will usually work outdoors and upwind when using SLSa, or alternatively, I will tie a scarf or cloth around my face to prevent breathing it in.

The baking soda and citric acid are what will create a fizz in your bath. Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSa), not to be confused with the sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), adds the bubbles to your bath. It is a mild and gentle skin cleanser, and considered skin safe. Both the kaolin clay and cream of tartar add hardness to the bar, and the corn starch acts as a skin softener.

Wearing gloves, mix the dry ingredients and break up any clumps.

TWO: Add the liquid ingredients, glycerin, decyl-glucoside, polysorbate 80, coconut oil and fragrance, and knead everything together to a dough. Glycerin is the ingredient, which helps create this dough like consistency, coco-glucoside is a foam booster, and polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier, helping to mix the oils and mica into the water and preventing oil streaks on the water surface and colour rims on the bath tub.

THREE: Separate the dough into three roughly equal portions, and add 1/2 teaspoon of mica to each portion. Knead until the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the dough, which can take a little while.

The micas I’m using are from Pure Nature and are called Coral Reef (orange), Juicy Pink and Shimmer Green. They also work well in cold process soap.

FOUR: To put the loaf together, first place the green dough on a sheet of baking paper and flatten it slightly with your hand. Place the pink dough on top and flatten it out to the same size as the underlying green dough. And lastly, place the orange dough on top and again, flatten it to the size of the other two doughs.

FIVE: Place another sheet of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to a sheet of about 1-2 cm thickness. The baking paper will avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin.

SIX: Once you have flattened the dough to the desired thickness, carefully roll it up into a log. You can see in the pictures that I am using the baking paper to help roll the dough.

Once you have rolled the dough into a log, smooth it out with your hands, and because the bottom will most likely still be sticking to the baking paper, carefully roll the log over.

SEVEN: Use a sharp knife, cut the log into 10 equal bars. Place the bars on a sheet of baking paper, and lightly flatten each bar with the palm of your hand.

EIGHT: Leave the bars to dry out overnight. Turn them over and let them dry for another day. Check their hardness, if they are still soft, you will need to let them dry for longer, turning them over each day.

Because of the high humidity here in New Zealand, bubble bars will take longer to harden than usual. It is not unusual for me to have them drying for several days up to a week.

To use them, crumble the bubble bar under running water and watch it make lots and lots of bubbles in your bath!

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Bubble bars

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup SLSa
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup kaolin clay
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • 1 teaspoon decyl-glucoside
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons fragrance
  • 1/2 teaspoon green mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink mica

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, corn starch, kaolin clay and cream of tartar in a bowl, and mix it, using your hands, breaking up any clumps. Be careful of the SLSa, which is a very fine powder, and try not to breathe it in.
  2. Add the liquid ingredients (glycerin, decyl-glucoside, polysorbate 80, coconut oil, fragrance) and, still using your hands, knead it together to a dough.
  3. Separate the dough to approximately 3 equal portions.
  4. To each portion add a different colour mica, and knead well until the colour is evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
  5. Spread out a sheet of baking paper and place your green dough on it. Flatten it a little with your hand. Place the pink dough on top and flatten it out to the size of the green. Lastly, add the orange dough and flatten that out as well to match the other two.
  6. Place another sheet of baking paper over the dough, and using a rolling pin, roll it to a fairly thin rectangle sheet, approximately 1-2 cm thick. The baking paper will help avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin.
  7. Carefully roll up the sheet of dough into a log.
  8. Using a knife, cut the log into bars. Place the bars on to a sheet of baking paper and gently flatten them a little with the palm of your hand.
  9. Leave the bars to dry overnight, then carefully turn them over and dry them for another day. Check if they are solid enough. If not, let them dry for another few days, keep turning them each day.

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New Zealand lavender bath bombs

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3-4 full bath bombs or 7-8 half bath bombs

Lavender is not something you usually associate with New Zealand, so it comes to a surprise to many to hear that there are several dozen commercial lavender growing farms here in New Zealand, some with tens of thousands of plants. Continue reading New Zealand lavender bath bombs

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Feijoa soap

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

 

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Feijoa-scented bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 bath bombs

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The fragrance of the feijoa is a very distinct fresh, tropical, fruity scent. Perfect for bath bombs! Besides the delicious fragrance, these bath bombs also contain nourishing mango butter to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised.

ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add two cups of baking soda and one cup of citric acid to a bowl.

TWO: Measure out one tablespoon mango butter in a heat proof glass bowl or cup and melt it on high in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until melted. Mango butter has a high melting point, so it might take a while. Usually, I will heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high and then let it sit for 2 minutes. If it still hasn’t melted, I’ll heat for another minute and then let it sit again.

THREE: Next, add one tablespoon of polysorbate 80 to the now-melted mango butter and stir well to combine the two. Polysorbate 80 will ensure that the mango butter will be fully dispersed into the bath water, instead of floating as little blobs on the surface of the water.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and, wearing disposable gloves to protect your hands and nails, mix everything and break up any clumps.

FOUR: Add the feijoa fragrance. Make sure the fragrance you are using is cosmetic grade, i.e. skin-safe! Candle fragrances are not always safe for use on skin, so check back with your supplier if you are not sure.

FIVE: Add a couple of drops of green colourant. You can use either a special bath bomb colourant or food colouring. Both will work. Rub the little blobs of colourant into the dry ingredients to disperse the colour throughout the bath bomb mixture.

Keep mixing with your hands. If necessary, spritz some water or witch hazel until you reach the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but if you squeeze some mixture in your hand, it should hold its shape.

SIX: Scoop the bath bomb mixture into your mold and press firmly to compact.

SEVEN: Let them dry in their molds for a few hours, then gently tap to remove them from their molds. Place them on a baking sheet and leave to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place. I like using my hot water cupboard for this, because it’s the driest place in the house.

Feijoa-scented Bath Bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon mango butter
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 6 ml skin-safe feijoa fragrance
  • green bath bomb colourant (or food colouring)

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl.
  2. Measure out one tablespoon of mango butter in a heat proof glass bowl or cup and melt it on high in the microwave for 2 minutes or until melted.
  3. Add one tablespoon of polysorbate 80 to the now-liquid mango butter and stir to combine. Pour the liquid to the dry bath bomb mixture and, wearing disposable gloves,  mix everything together and break up any clumps.
  4. Add the skin-safe feijoa fragrance and mix.
  5. Using either bath bomb colourant or food colouring, add a few drops and keep mixing. If necessary, spritz some witch hazel or water to reach the right consistency.
  6. Scoop the bath bomb mixture into the mold and firmly press to compact.
  7. Let them dry for a few hours, then tap gently to remove them from the mold. Leave to harden completely overnight.

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Red, yellow and blue

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One of the biggest problems you face when making cold process soaps is colour. The high pH environment of cold process soap making can do some funny things to your colourants. Some colourants, particular natural colourants, will fade to grey. Micas, especially, are a weird bunch. They look beautiful and shiny in their little packet, but once they go into the soap, you never know what’s gonna happen. Some micas turn into the weirdest colours and others will completely fade away into nothing. I’ve had some very disappointing disasters from using micas without previous testing.

The only way you can be certain of a colourant is by doing a colour test beforehand. But that can get expensive. So to make life a little easier for you, I’ll be doing a series of colour tests on micas and other soap colourants available here in New Zealand. And in the end, I’ll put up a handy document for you to download with the different soap colours after curing.

I’m using one of my standard soap recipes, which makes for a nice, solid bar of soap with good lathering qualities. Here’s the recipe:

  • 150 g olive oil
  • 130 g rice bran oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 20 g castor oil
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 120 ml water

I’m not adding any fragrances or other additives.

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For the first colour test I’m using yellow, red and blue granulated soap pigments from Pure Nature. These are available at $12 for 10 g of pigment, and the recommended usage rate is 0.02% of total formulation. This works out to be 0.1 g of pigment per 500 g of soap. Using ratios of 15 cc scoops to 5 ml water, I managed to calculate an amount I could work with.

Pigments are usually water-soluble, so I mixed these in with appropriate amount of water. I then mixed a teaspoon of each colour into the soap, which would give me the exact 0.02% strength I needed.

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And this is how the colours appear after a short curing time:

Keep checking back for more colour testing!