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Jolly soaps

Difficulty: Beginners
Time:
1 hr
Yields: 4 bars of soap

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With this soap, I wanted to catch a bit of the fun and silliness there is at Christmas. Think silly Christmas hats, Secret Santa and Bad Santa (something I only found out about this year!), terrible jokes and a bit of fun and cheer. Christmas is all about getting together and enjoying each other’s company. My favourite is always the Christmas crackers, and even though the jokes are starting to get old, we still all read them out loud and put on the silly hats.

These Jolly Soaps are quick and easy to make and the perfect Secret Santa or Bad Santa gift. Or get the kids to make them as Teacher’s Gifts. You only need white and clear melt and pour soap base, green and red food colouring, and Holly Berry fragrance. As a mold, you can either use the small square mold from Pure Nature, or you can use a small plastic container of similar size.

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ONE: Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts, until the soap has melted. Try to avoid the soap from reaching boiling point!

TWO: Add 1/2 teaspoon of fragrance and stir well.

THREE: Pour half of the melted soap base into a separate container.

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FOUR: Add 2-3 drops of green food colouring to one container and 2-3 drops of red food colouring to the other container, and  give both a good stir.

If you choose to use a different fragrance, make sure they are safe to use on skin. This is particular important when using candle fragrances. Not all candle fragrances are suitable for use in body care products and soap. So don’t forget to read the safety data of the fragrances you intend to use, or check back with the supplier.

FIVE: Pour the two colours into two small containers and let them cool down and harden.

I used my square cavity mold, but you can use a disposable cup, yoghurt bottles or a little plastic container. It doesn’t really matter what shape it is, because you’ll be cutting these up later.

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SIX: Once the two soaps have completely cooled down and hardened, unmold them, and cut them into smaller shapes. Try and vary the shapes: cubes, long, triangles, pyramid-shaped etc.

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SEVEN: Next, cut the white melt and pour soap base and place it in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Melt on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts until melted.

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EIGHT: Add 1/2 teaspoon of fragrance and give it a good stir.

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NINE: Pour about 1/3 of the white soap into the soap mold.

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TEN: Place some of the green and red shapes into the white soap, and let it stand for a few minutes to set a little.

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ELEVEN: Pour some more white soap and add some more shapes, and keep doing this until the soap and shapes have been used up. Between each pour, let the soap set a little. Should the white soap become too thick to pour, re-melt it in the microwave.

You can either finish off with a white layer of soap, or you can let some of the shapes stick out of the white soap for a more funkier look!

TWELVE: Let the soap cool down completely and harden before carefully unmolding. Remember, melt and pour soap bases contain a lot of glycerin and the soaps will sweat (attract moisture) in humid conditions, so they will need to be wrapped (Glad Wrap or cello bags).

PLEASE NOTE BECAUSE WE ARE USING FOOD COLOURING THE COLOURS WILL BLEED INTO THE WHITE OVER TIME. 

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Jolly soaps

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • approx. 250 g each of white and clear melt and pour soap base
  • red and green food colouring
  • Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience
  • 2 small containers of about 125 ml volume each
  • small square soap mold of 500 ml volume

Directions

  1. Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 20 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of fragrance and stir well.
  4. Pour about half of the soap into a separate container.
  5. Add 2-3 drops of red food colouring to one container, and 2-3 drops of green food colouring to the other container, and give both soaps a good stir.
  6. Pour the soaps into 2 small containers and let cool down and harden.
  7. Unmold and cut the green and red soap into small random blocks and shapes. Set aside.
  8. Cut the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and melt in the microwave as before (points 1 and 2).
  9. Add 1/2 teaspoon of fragrance and stir well.
  10. Pour about 1/3 of the white soap into the square soap mold.
  11. Place some of the red and green shapes into the white soap, and let set a little.
  12. Continue alternating pouring the white soap base and placing the shapes, and letting it set a little in-between each pour, until all the soap and shapes have been used up.
  13. Leave the soap to cool down and harden completely before unmolding.
  14. Package the soaps into little cello bags or glad wrap.

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Christmas soaps

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins
Yields: approx. 20 small soaps

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It’s Christmas soon! Are you ready yet? Or are you like me, right in the middle of trying to get everything done in time? You should see my kitchen, it is one big chaos and dinners consist of BBQ and salads at the moment while the soap making has taken over the kitchen.

Here’s a little project that is quick and easy to make and doesn’t need a lot of extra ingredients. Something that you can do last minute, because these cute little soaps will be ready to gift in a couple of hours. They make great stocking fillers. Or how about getting the kids to make their own Christmas gifts this year? Something for nana, granddad, family, friends… All you need is some clear melt and pour soap base, food colouring, fragrance, some glitter, and these cute Christmassy soap molds that I found at the Warehouse for $3 each.

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The instructions are based on 2 molds of each, two Christmas tree molds (green) and two Christmas presents (red) molds. I did the little green Christmas trees first, and then repeated the whole process for the little red presents.

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ONE: To prepare, sprinkle some glitter into each cavity of the mold. Pure Nature has these great bio-glitters that are not only safe to use on skin, but are also bio-degradable and sourced from renewable raw materials. You can also use other glitters, but do be aware that they are usually made plastic.

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TWO: Cut approximately 2 rows of clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts, until the soap has melted. Try to avoid the soap from reaching boiling point!

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THREE: Once your soap base is completely melted, add 3-4 drops of green food colouring, and  give it a good stir.

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FOUR: Add approximately 15-20 drops of fragrance, and stir the soap until the colour and the fragrance has been thoroughly dispersed throughout the soap.

For the Christmas trees, I used the aptly named Christmas tree fragrance from Candlescience, which has a fresh Christmassy scent, and for the Christmas presents I used the delicious, sweet Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience. I love both fragrances, because although they do remind you of Christmas, they’re not the usual standard fragrances, that everyone seems to use for their Christmas soaps.

When you choose your fragrance, make sure they are safe to use on skin. This is particular important when using candle fragrances. Not all candle fragrances are suitable for use in body care products and soap. So don’t forget to read the safety data of the fragrances you intend to use, or check back with the supplier.

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FIVE: Pour into your mold, and spritz with 99% isopropyl alcohol (optional) to get rid of any bubbles on the surface.

Let the soaps cool down completely and harden before carefully unmolding. Remember, melt and pour soap bases contain a lot of glycerin and the soaps will sweat (attract moisture) in humid conditions, so they will need to be wrapped (Glad Wrap or cello bags).

REPEAT WITH OTHER MOLDS

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Christmas soaps

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • approx. 1/2 kg clear melt and pour soap base
  • red and green food colouring
  • Christmas Tree and Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience
  • glitter
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol (optional)
  • Christmas tree and Christmas present molds from the Warehouse

Directions

  1. Sprinkle a little glitter into each cavity of the mold.
  2. Cut the soap into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  3. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 20 second bursts until melted.
  4. Add 3-4 drops of food colouring and stir.
  5. Add 15-20 drops fragrance and stir well.
  6. Pour the soap into  your soap mold and leave to set and harden before unmolding.
  7. Package the soaps into little cello bags or glad wrap.

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Cleansing clay soap

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

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French pink clay is known to clarify and improve skin softness, but in a gentle way, which makes it ideal for all skin types. A shower soap made with pink clay will gently exfoliate without irritating your skin, and will help smooth and draw out impurities. If you have oily skin or blemished skin, for example on the upper arms, backs of thighs and/or stomach, you can substitute the pink clay for red clay, which has a stronger drawing effect.

Exfoliation is an important part in the skin care routine, and should be used on the whole body and not just on the face. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, opens clogged pores and stimulates circulation, which improves both skin texture and tone, leaving the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.

Added a rose geranium, sweet orange, and lavender essential oils maximise the benefits of the clays and help balance and soothe the skin.

Rose geranium is used for a wide range of skin disorders, such as eczema, acne, rashes,  because not only does it reduce inflammation, it also helps balance the secretion of sebum, which makes it ideal for dry, oily or combination skin.

Sweet Orange essential oil is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it an ideal ingredient in your skin care routine. This oil isn’t just for acne-prone skin though: It’s been shown to increase the ability to absorb vitamin C, collagen production, and blood flow, all of which are essential for anti-aging.

Lavender essential oil, is one of the best known skin oils, for its properties. It is an antibacterial, helps reduce redness, inflammation and blemishes, and is soothing and calming on both body and mind.

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature. The soap mold I’m using is the small square silicon mold, which is my favourite soap mold, perfect for small batches and test soaps. It makes 4 bars of soap.

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. Optional: stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate, which will make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, ….

TWO: Get your fragrance ready, by measuring out the essential oils in a measuring beaker. If you don’t have a measuring beaker: 20 drops of essential oil are approximately 1 ml.

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

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

FOUR: Add the other oils and give it a little stir to blend them.

When the lye has cooled down to room temperature…

FIVE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves). Add the clay to your lye and give it a careful but good stir to make sure all the clay is suspended in the water and there are no more clumps. Be careful of splashes! Note the pink clay goes a reddish orange when added to the lye and soap, but once it’s cured it will be a beautiful soft pink. If you are using the red clay, it will cure to a rich orange/red colour.

SIX:  Carefully pour the lye to the oils and whisk until the mixture has emulsified.

SEVEN: Add your fragrance.

EIGHT: Keep stirring with the whisk or give it a few pulses with a stick blender until you reach trace (the mixture has emulsified and starts to thicken). It doesn’t matter if you stir/pulse too much and the mixture becomes thick, but make sure it has emulsified. The image below shows thin trace, so you want it like this or thicker!

NINE: Pour the soap into the mold. Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles.

TEN: Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and leave it to cure in the mold for a few days, before carefully removing. Leave to cure for another day before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 4-6 weeks until they’re ready.

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Cleansing Clay Soap

  • Difficulty: easy
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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

  • 250 g olive oil
  • 120 g coconut oil
  • 30 g castor oil
  • 56 g caustic soda
  • 110 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 1 teaspoon pink clay
  • 10 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 ml lavender essential oil
  • poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Optional: add one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare your fragrance.
  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 other oils and give it a good stir.
  5. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, add 1 teaspoon of clay and whisk well (but carefully to avoid splashes) until all the clay has dispersed and there are no more clumps.
  6. Carefully add the lye to the oils and stick blend briefly until the mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the fragrance and keep stick blending until the mixture has reached trace (thickened).
  8. Pour in mold, and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
  9. Leave to cure in the mold for a few days, before removing and cutting. The bars of soap will need another 4-6 weeks of curing.
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Using clays in soap

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Natural clays have been used for millennia in skin care for their cleansing and purifying properties. They have become popular in soap making, because they are considered a natural alternative to colouring soap, and they come in a variety of colours, most commonly green, yellow and varying shades of red. The different colours depend on the mineral composition of the clay, which is determined by the source rock from which they clay was formed through the processes of weathering and erosion. Note clays are basically dirt! The main types of clays that are used in cosmetics are illite clays (i.e. French clays), montmorillonite clays (Bentonite and Fuller’s Earth) and kaolin clay.

What makes clays unique is their cation-exchange capacity (CEC) – the ability to adsorb and exchange cations (positively charged ions). Montmorillonite clays have the highest CEC rate, and kaolin clay the lowest, with the illite clays somewhere in between.

In skin care, this means that clay can remove positively charged toxins and pollutants from your skin.

Montmorillonite clays possess the highest cation-exchange capacities. They are formed from weathering and erosion of volcanic ashes, producing hydrated (sodium calcium aluminum magnesium) silicates, which contain many valuable trace minerals. Montmorillonite clay is the principal ingredient of bentonite and Fuller’s earth. These clays are the only ones to have expanding (swelling) capacity – meaning they absorb water, unlike other clays, which are just diluted with water. This is a particular useful property in shaving soaps, because it adds slip and glide to the soap.

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The difference between swelling and non-swelling clays: On the left is yellow french clay, a non-swelling illite clay. Adding water to non-swelling clays only dilutes and the clay particles become suspended in the water. Montmorillonite clays, on the other hand, like the bentonite clay on the right, absorb the water and the clays expand (swell). Both bowls contain the same amount of water and clay.

Kaolinite clay, on the other hand, is a non-swelling clay with the lowest cation-exchange capacity, and is the most gentle on the skin. These aluminium silicates are the main component of kaolin clay, which gets its name from the Chinese word, “Gaoling”, meaning ‘high ridge’. Kaolinite clays are formed by weathering or hydrothermal alteration of aluminosilicate minerals, common in feldspar rocks.

The CEC rate of the illite clays lie somewhere between kaolinite and montmorillonite clays, depending on their mineral composition. Similar to kaolinite clays, they are also formed by decomposition of feldspar rocks, but under high pH (alkaline) environments. These non-swelling, mica silicates are the most common of clays and are widely distributed in marine shales and sediments. Varying mineral compositions, which may include calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, silicium, manganese, phosporous, copper, and/or selenium, give rise to the many various colours and properties of the different illite clays.

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A common misconception is that clays soak up or absorb oils and fats, and are thus beneficial for oily skin. Unfortunately, most clays don’t have the ability to draw excess oil from your skin, with the exception of calcium bentonite.  They do, however, gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin, and remove dead cells, dirt and some of the excess oil with it. In addition to the exfoliation, they also draw water from your skin, which is why clays are not recommended for particular dry and sensitive skin.

The many benefits of using clay in soap:

  • exfoliates and smoothes
  • removes toxins and pollutants
  • stimulates and brightens
  • adds slip (for shaving)
  • contains valuable minerals
  • natural colourant

Using clays in cold process soap

Because of their various properties, clays are a popular additive in soap making. It is a great option if you are looking for a natural colourant. The rule of thumb is to use about 1 teaspoon of clay to 500g of soap, you can add more, but be aware that adding clay can speed up trace. You can add the clay either directly to the lye water, which will intensify the colour, or add it to the soap at trace. However, clays absorb liquid, so it’s important to wet the clay before adding it to the soap mixture. I like to dilute 1 teaspoon of clay in 1 tablespoon of water and mix it into a slurry. Wetting the clay also helps disperse the clay more evenly throughout the soap, reducing spotting.

Using clays in melt and pour soap
Clays are also great to add to melt and pour soap bases. The usage rate in melt and pour soap bases is around 1 teaspoon per 500g soap. I would be careful of adding too much, because it will make the soap very thick and difficult to work with.  To avoid clumping and disperse the clay evenly in the soap, I like to dilute 1 teaspoon of clay in 1-2 teaspoons of  99% isopropyl alcohol. Using alcohol also has the benefit of reducing bubbles in your soap. Don’t worry about the alcohol, the heat of the melted soap will evaporate the alcohol leaving only the clay behind.


Types of clay

Bentonite clay (also Sodium bentonite)

Bentonite clay is a sodium bentonite, which is created from volcanic ash. It has a unique property of absorbing water (it can swell up to 14 times its weight!), which will add slip to the soap, particular useful in shaving soaps, as it allows the razor to glide smoothly over the skin. Bentonite clay has a grey to cream colour.

Best used in shaving soaps

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Shaving soap

Fuller’s earth

Fuller’s earth is another bentonite clay, but instead of sodium it contains calcium, which makes it the only clay to absorb oil, and is often used in combination to clear oil spills. Bentonite clays also have the highest CEC rate, meaning it has the highest rate of removing toxins, impurities and pollutants from your skin, which makes it ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. Colours range from brown or green to grey and cream.

Use in soaps for oily and acne-prone skins, but never on dry and sensitive skins!

Ghassoul/rhassoul clay

Also known as rhassoul clay or Moroccan red clay, this ancient volcanic clay is mined from the lacustrine (lake) sedimentary rocks of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and has been used since the 8th century by Moroccan women in hair and skin care. The name ghassoul comes from the Arabic word “ghassala”, meaning “to wash”. Like the other montmorillonite clays, ghassoul clay absorbs water, but because of its very fine texture, it feels smooth and lubricating and has a very high absorption rate, which makes it extremely effective at detoxifying and purifying the skin and a gentle exfoliant, clearing clogged pores, removing dead cells and stimulating circulation. And with its high silica content, ghassoul clay is considered one of the most luxurious cosmetic clays and is used in top spas around the world.

Soaps containing ghassoul clay leave the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.

French Green Clay

French green clay, also known as marine clay, is an illite clay formed from sea sediments, which receives its green colour from decomposed seaweed and algae, and is considered a bio-mineral rich in minerals and phyto-nutrients.

French green clay is an excellent additive to soaps, but be aware that the green colour turns grey-green in soap.

French Yellow Clay

Yellow illite clay is also similar to green illite in its cosmetic uses and properties, and but differs from the green by a higher content of iron oxides. It is similar in its cosmetic uses and properties to the green clay.

In soaps it is mainly used as a natural colourant.

French Red Clay

French red clay receives its colour from its high concentration of iron oxides, which increases its strength of removing toxins, pollutants and other impurities from the skin. It is also an excellent exfoliant, removing dead cells, unclogging pores and smoothing the skin, leaving it looking rejuvenated and radiant.

An excellent additive to shower soaps, particular for use on upper arms, back of thighs and stomach. Also used as a natural colourant.

French white clay

White clay has similar properties as the other illite clays, but is not as mineral-rich.

Use in soaps when you want the exfoliating and detoxifying benefits, but without adding colour to the soap.

French Pink Clay

French pink clay or rose clay is often a blend of red illite and white kaolin clays, and its colours range from a light pink to a rich rose or even orange shade. The colour is determined by the amount of iron oxides in the red illite clay. Because of the added kaolin clay, it is considered the mildest of all illite clays. Pink clay is a very mild detoxifier and a gentle exfoliant and is especially suitable for sensitive, mature, and dehydrated skins.

In soaps, it is used as a natural colourant but also as a mild exfoliant.

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Kaolin Clay
Kaolin clay, named after the hill in China where it was originally mined, is the most gentlest and mildest of all clays. It comes in a variety of colours, depending on its mineral composition, including red, yellow and green, but the most common colour is white. Unlike the illite and montmorillonite clays, kaolin clay has a very low CEC rate, and is not a very efficient detoxifier. However, its fine texture makes it very beneficial to fragile and sensitive skins as a gentle and mild exfoliant without irritating the skin.
Kaolin clay adds creaminess in soaps and makes for a gentle and mild soap.

 

 

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Moody reds and pretty pinks this week

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Reds and pinks are probably the most popular colours in soap making, yet for all their popularity it is often difficult to get the exact shade you desire. Many reds morph towards the purple part of the spectrum or even into browns. Some of the problem lies with the yellow undertone of the soap base, but more often it is the dyes used to colour the mica in a particular shade of red, which react in the high pH environment of cold process soap making. To help you take the guesswork out of soap colouring and prevent unhappy results, I’ve tested the micas available at Pure Nature to help you choose your shade of red and pink for your next soap project!

The soap recipe I’ve created for the colour tests contains olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil and castor oil, which gives the soap a creamy off-white base colour, and will hopefully most naturally reflect the colour of the micas. I, purposefully, did not go for a near-white soap, because only few soap recipes are truly white.

The micas I’m testing are all from Pure Nature. The colours this week are: red mauve, red pearl, red wine, sweetheart rose, juicy pink, and magic pink. Usage rate is 1 teaspoon per 500 g of soap.

As you can see, there are no true reds here. I have to admit, I have yet to find a mica that will give me a true red. I’ve tried previously to mix different red and orange micas, but without satisfactory results. Here are some tests I did last year trying and failing to create a red for my Christmas soaps.

Your best bet for a true red is with soap pigments or lakes. Allura Red, a lake available from Pure Nature has a very bright, brick red that stays true in cold process (see here).

Check back later this week for a gorgeous cold process soap tutorial and a vibrant lipstick tutorial!