Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Did You First Start Making Soap?

I love hearing about how soapmakers first began making soap. I thought I would share some stories here from my Facebook fans. I would love to hear yours too!

Tanya from Titania's Dreamy Delights:

Handmade soap became my creative outlet in 2008 - the first one I ever had. Until I started soaping I believed I didn't have a creative bone in my body. Now I realise that everyone is creative and they just have to find the medium that 'speaks' to them in order to release it. I enjoy both creating luscious, mild soap recipes and playing with colour and shape to make something that satisfies my customers need for beauty.

Vicky from Maylilly's Garden Party:

One day back 2009 I was Internet browsing in my lunch break and accidentally looking at a page where you could buy a franchise and learn to make skincare. I thought "wow you can make your own?". Then upon further research I came across a supplies website and discovered you can make all kinds of skincare and bath treats! As someone who loved the body shop but never bought anything (too expensive), the idea of create your own was incredibly exciting lol. First thing I ever ordered was a melt and pour kit (along with some other stuff i can't remember). I actually thought that the soap would be the least exciting thing to make, but boy was I wrong! I seemed to have a knack at layering and found it to be rather rewarding. I had a little bit of a break (whilst planning a wedding, building a house and 2 pregnancies), but that didnt stop me watching my fave soapmakers on YouTube, or reading blog after blog, and I was finally able to get back into soaps and bath treats late last year. The love was still there hehe. I took the plunge at the start of 2013 and made my first cp. I don't get to make it as often as I want with two little girls running around, but that doesn't stop me romanticising about my next soap. I love the look of raw soap and of freshly swirled soap. I think about soap constantly. I dream of "winning the lotto" and I'd build a soap room, and I'd have a shop down in Shellarbour Village near the boat harbour. I am kind of getting there as I am planning to attend the markets there in a couple of months.

Annie from Sanctum Body Skin Soul:

The first soap I made was a castille style soap with an almost pure olive oil blend - I was stirring by hand and it took 3 HOURS to come to trace!!! Learnt very quickly about the joys of a stick blender!! I love essential oils and the fun of being creative - especially then being able to enjoy the end result like we can with soaps.

Christy from Sweet Treats Desserts:

Started in 2010 I wanted to be able to say I could make it but was scared to used lye. I just decided one day I was going for it, then got addicted. Took a couple of try's to get my formula right but after third batch started making a batch every other day. I think first batch was lavender.

Sue from Green Me Up Granny.

First soap was unscented and happened because I couldn't use supermarket soap. Now I am the grandma behind Green Me Up Granny and love making soap.

How did you first start making soap? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Even Layering Soap Tutorial

Want to learn how to make this soap? Head on over to the Great Cakes Soapworks blog, where I've written a soap tutorial on the Even Layering technique. This will be one of the techniques I teach in my upcoming soap book! 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Make a Long-lasting Bar of Soap

A common problem that beginner soapmakers have is making soap that lasts a long time and doesn't melt away in the shower. All the effort, work and ingredients put into making a batch of soap, only to have it melt away after just a few washes!

In my experience, formulating your soap to be long-lasting can actually be really easy, when you narrow it down to these three factors:

  • The base oils
  • The water discount
  • The cure time

Base Oils
If you want your soap to be hard and long-lasting, you need to use a balance of hard and soft oils. The best hard oil for long-lasting soap, in my opinion, is palm oil. It's economical, easy to buy, and it contributes hardness, longevity and a smooth creamy lather. Include it in your soap recipe at around 30% of your base oils for a good, hard bar of soap.

TIP: You don't have to buy palm oil from a soap supply store. It can be found in the supermarket in the butter & margarine aisle, called Frymasta in the yellow wrapper. 

Unfortunately there's been alot of controversy around palm oil lately, with many soapmakers (and soap buyers) opting to go completely palm oil free. If you don't feel comfortable using palm oil, try cocoa butter as a substitute. It's more expensive but you won't need to use as much - between 5% and 10% will greatly increase the hardness of your soap. Using more than 10% isn't recommended as it can make the soap dry and crumbly. As an added bonus, cocoa butter also imparts wonderful conditioning properties to the bar!

Water Discount
This is where you reduce the amount of water used in your soap recipe. The resulting bars will become harder much faster during the cure time.

I personally use a discount of 25% water, which equates to 250ml of water to 1kg of oils. I wouldn't recommend going lower than 25% otherwise you may end up with bars being too hard or crumbly. 25% - 35% water is considered the normal range.

TIP: Water discount is not recommended if you're using ingredients that you know may accelerate trace or seize! For example, cinnamon or clove essential oils, milk, honey or beeswax.

Cure Time
Cold process soap is traditionally cured for 4 weeks before use. However, the longer you cure the soap for, the milder and more long-lasting it will be. If you want a really hard bar, try curing for 6 or 8 weeks (or more!) and you will notice a big difference. 

Using The Soap
One more thing that should be noted is that when you're actually using handmade soap, it needs to be kept somewhere that allows it to drain and dry out between uses. Soap that's left sitting in a puddle of water will turn to mush. Make sure your soap dish or shower caddy allows the excess water to drain away and the soap will last much longer!

Questions? Leave a comment below!

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