Soap Challenge August 2015

Yay!  its time for Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge.  I’ve missed a few months in a row,  just too much life in the way.  But when I saw this month’s Mantra Marbles challenge, I had to try it out since it’s pretty much outside of my soap box!

I used Amy’s suggested recipe (swapped out the lard and used sustainable palm instead), decided to do the stripe version, chose my colors and a mix of different melon-ee fragrance oils

TD, Orange & Pink from MadOils, Green and Purple from Nurture
TD, Orange & Pink from MadOils, Green and Purple from Nurture

I used my little 3 lb slab mold from Brambleberry, just measured for 6 bars of soap and covered by cardboard dividers in packing tape.  Also (since I was pressed for time) I picked up some little sippy-cup squirt bottles from the dollar store, they worked pretty good

My mold with paking tape covered cardboard dividers and squeeze bottles ready
My mold with paking tape covered cardboard dividers and squeeze bottles ready

Totally forgot to get a pic of the soap batter before I did my “figure 8” swirl.  So Amy said “practice your figure 8″ B4 you actually swirl in the soap.  Somehow my practice went really well, but by the time I dragged my chopstick the 12” from my practice area to my soap, I forgot what I was doing.  So it started off a little shaky, but then I got into the groove.

Slab of soap just out of the mold
Slab of soap just out of the mold
cut bars
cut bars
Melon Mantra Marbles
Melon Mantra Marbles

It was a fun little challenge and I’d like to try it again, now that I know what I’m doing.  Thanks Amy for guiding us through another great soapy learning experience!

Birth of a Beauty Bar – Chamomile Calendula

Some of my previous posts have been somewhat step-by-step of my soap making process, but I thought I’d share how I make one of my most popular botanical soaps – Chamomile Calendula – aka the Beauty Bar.  I call it the Beauty Bar, because it is best used for the face.  Chamomile is a natural skin brightener, anti-oxidant and has intense cleansing and moisturizing properties – it helps fight acne, infections and leaves your skin with a healthy glow.  Calendula contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and is  known to regenerate skin cels.  Calendula is used in many cosmetics to protect from premature aging and thinning of the skin.

As with my other botanical bars, I always start with infusing the botanical – in this case chamomile buds and calendula petals – in olive oil.  I start by washing and air drying the plant matter then loosely pack into a large jar and cover in olive oil.  Add a tight lid and let sit in a non-sunny windowsill for a few weeks.  I gently shake the jar every few days.

Chamomile & Calendula in olive oil along side ground calendula petals in the small jar
Chamomile & Calendula in olive oil along side ground calendula petals in the small jar

I also grind dried calendula petals to be added later to the final soap batter.

The day before I’m ready to soap, I strain the olive oil a few times through a coffee filter to use with other oils and butters in the soap.

Strained golden chamomile calendula infused now golden olive oil
Strained chamomile calendula has now become infused golden olive oil

When I am ready to make the soap, I gather all the ingredients  and additives – like organic heavy cream, my mixture of fragrance oil & ylang ylang essential oil, mica colorants diluted in sweet almond oil and kaolin clay

additives ready to add to the soap batter
additives ready to add to the soap batter

Once my oils (infused olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sustainable palm, sweet almond oil, caster oil, cocoa butter and shea butter) have been weighed, melted and brought back to room temp, I add the sodium hydroxide (hydrogenated salt that soaponifies the oils) and blend until emulsified.  Then I add the additives mentioned earlier and mix well, then add the ground calendula petals to the batter

all ingredients including ground calendula ready to pour into molds
all ingredients including ground calendula ready to pour into molds
molds ready and waiting
molds ready and waiting

Once the soap batter has been poured into all the molds, the filled molds get covers and then get wrapped in towels to encourage gelling (a heading process) and they set or soaponify for about 36 hours.  I then unwrap and let them sit in the molds and air out a few more hours.  then I un-mold all bars.

fresh out of molds before trim
fresh out of molds before trim

These will now go onto the drying racks for 5 – 7 days to dry a little to make it a little easier to trim all of them on a planer.

All bars have been trimmed on my little planer
All bars have been trimmed on my little planer ready to  go back to the drying racks

They go back on the drying racks for another 4 weeks to cure completely.  Then they are ready for labeling & bagging.  Next step, they’re off to Sunday Market to find their way into your home!

By the way this is the same process I use for all my botanical soaps, Chamomile Calendula, Lavender Green Tea, Rosemary Mint, Rose Geranium & Lemon Geranium