Saturday, 17 October 2015

Alternative Liquid Soap Club Challenge

I've joined the Soap Challenge Club again, this month is looking at alternative liquids. A couple of years ago I planted some borage (Borage officinalis) which has been gradually taking over the back yard. But its pretty, and the bumblebees like it (we don't get honey bees up where we are on the peninsula). Initially I was trying to see if I could put the flowers in soap and have them stay blue.
Borage is also known as the cucumber herb. Cucumber juice makes nice soap therefore (in my mind) borage should also make nice soap.
Borage is used as a natural insecticide as a companion plant (especially for brassica and tomatoes) and is used in salads and as a tea. Traditionally it was used as a tea to restore energy and morale (this link). I did find one page that states "Externally, it is employed as a poultice for inflammatory swellings" (link here) And so it could be soothing in a soap especially for insect bites. Sweet.
I also make goat milk soap (in fact that is all I make, so a real challenge for me would be to soap with water) so I decided to make it half goat milk soap as well. Goat milk in soap is amazing. Here are a few benefits:
 - it contains lactic acid which acts as a gentle exfoliant 
 - it is packed with vitamins and minerals such a vitamin A which helps rejuvenate skin
 - the pH is very close to that of human skin
 - it makes a mild and creamy soap
There are millions (o.k. lots) of websites explaining the benefits of goats milk in soap but here is a good one : (I love the before and after photos with the disclaimer).
So I actually ended up juicing all the borage, it is really stringy and tough and I'm not sure the juicer attachment on my blender has forgiven me!
Cut borage
Borage juice ready for freezing
And some goat milk (still in the goat - with some baby goats piled in the background)
I use the Anne Watson frozen milk method of soap making and I used that for the borage juice as well. I made one batch of oils and two batches of lye/liquid and then split the oils between the lyes. I used an essential oil blend of lavender, lemongrass, patchouli and peppermint that I got from the LovinSoap Studio Recipe Book by Amanda Gail.
For my design I did a goat milk layer, cocoa powder pencil line, in the pot swirl boarge and goat milk, another pencil line then the rest of the goat milk soap. I always forget to take photos once I start making soap so here we have:
Goat milk portion
First cocoa powder pencil line
Finished Soap
Whoops no photos of the borage portion at all. I also added 1 tablespoon of kaolin clay to the goat milk portion and 1 tablespoon of French green clay and 1/4 teaspoon of chlorophyll to the borage portion. I feel that the borage soap may turn brown and hopefully the clay and chlorphyll will counteract that.
So then the cut soap:
I'm so happy with how it turned out! My in the pot swirls are usually epic fails so I feel like I have finally nailed it!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

May Soap Challenge "Mini Dessert Soaps"

This month is mini dessert month! Four different desserts, using a food item as an ingredient and it has to be a small version of a full size dessert.
For this I figured I'd branch out in all directions! Different food types to match the dessert! Different soaping techniques! I had grand visions of making incredibly cute looking ice cream sundaes in shot glasses! A swiss roll with chocolate and whipped cream (it involved a rolling pin and a pastry filler) Lots of other ideas with exclamation marks!
So I started out strong thinking I have a silicon cup cake mould but can't make cup cakes so what could minature down into a cup cake? I know, pies! So I thought I'd make a banana cream pie (which isn't really a thing in NZ so apologies if what I made bears no resemblance to the actual dessert) and an apple pie. For the food aspect I always make goat milk soap so including milk was hardly a challenge. Instead I made a soap batter, split it in three and added 15 grams of mushed banana to one and 15 grams of apple juice (which I made from the wrinkly apples you find in the bottom of the fruit bowl). The other third was for the pie bases and I added a tablespoon of ground rolled oats to make it look like a crust.
Apple juice, mushed banana and essential oils ready for the soap batter
For the apple pie I thought if I poured the base and then poured the apple soap directly on top some of the base soap would go up the sides and form a crust. It sort of worked. For the banana cream pie I poured a base layer and was going to layer the banana on top but the banana soap thickened up a bit quickly so it didn't layer evenly. Then back to the apple pie and I piped the lattice top on it. They turned out quite well and I used a little bit of clove and cassia essential oil to make it smell like the actual pie. I was quite impressed with the colour of the apple soap, it is kind of pink. The banana soap started off yellow with little banana flecks in it but I added a bit of vanilla to make it smell so it went brown. Left over batter went into large ice cube trays for the mini cakes.
Banana pie of the left, apple pie on the right. I tried to 'weave' the lattice top on one and quickly gave up!
 Next up was whipped soap for the cream pie topping, cake layers and my not actually eventuating ice cream sundae. I used the tutorial off It breezily mentions that whipped soap can seize and 'becomes impossible to pipe'. Mwah ha ha so guess what happens? I had lovely whipped lard/tallow/coconut/cocoa butter and slowly added my lye milk and got some piped and then it just froze. I've never made this before so I'm not sure what happened. I don't have any pictures of the whipped soap process but I'm wondering if the fact I nearly burnt out my super cheap electric beaters might have been something to do with it. They still work but starting making weird noises and smelling like fried electrics! So if the challenge was to create soap that looks like mashed potatoes I would win. Or it could be the fact I was using goat milk? I got the banana pies done, and two mini cakes. I realised the ice cream sundae wasn't going to happen, made some mashed potato balls, kind of iced another ice cube of soap (rustic chic mini wedding cake?) and called it a day.

 I'm not sure if two identical design yet different execution cakes would count as two different desserts so I figured I needed to pretty up my "rustic mini wedding cake". I managed to find some melt and pour soap (coloured purple) left over from some other soapy project. I used the fondant soap recipe but I don't have a microwave so had to melt it over a water bath, then it wouldn't melt properly and I got impatient and just added the cornflour and glycerin, mixed it all up and coloured it pink. With purple bits of unmelted soap. But I cut out some little flowers and blinged up the cake.
So in conclusion? I'm not sure dessert soaps will be something I will pursue long term, I love other people's dessert soap but I don't think I've got the patience! I'm keen to master whipped soap though, it has some cool possibilities. And I'm excited about banana and apple, I can't wait to try these soaps and see what they are like. Also a huge tip: Always make soap while your significant other is around! I couldn't get the lid off my bucket of lye and my husband was at soccer, I had to wait for him to get back to open it for me.
Here are the final soaps:
I can't wait to see what everyone else has done!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Soap Challenge Club - Spinning Swirls

I finally bit the bullet and joined Amy Warden's Soap Challenge Club. You get to make a soap each month with a theme or technique and when I saw the spinning swirls challenge I thought "Hey I can do that" and signed up. What I can't do is follow deadlines correctly so my soap is not in the challenge as I got the dates wrong for posting my photos. However I'm blogging this anyway!

The idea is to pour soap in a faux funnel, where you alternate pouring different coloured soaps on top of each other and then spin the slab to swirl them together. The other thing to do is pour double thick so you can cut each soap horizontally and get the swirls on the inside. My slab mould is pretty big so I didn't want to try and pour double thick the whole thing so I partitioned off a section and lined it with plastic. And that took ages, seriously is there any good, easy way to line a mould? So here's a photo of the liner, first challenge solved!

Although you can see it's still wrinkly! Need to work on that one. I decided to make a lavender rosemary goat milk soap. Ok all my soaps are goat milk soap, but I have been really into lavender and rosemary and I knew it wouldn't accelerate trace. So I thought I would use green clay, pink clay, charcoal and purple oxide and leave some soap white. Then I decided to chuck in a bit of red and green mica to the clays to see what would happen. And then some titanium dioxide for the white bit so it would stay white. So here are all my colours waiting for the soap batter

So I made the soap and was so terrified of over mixing and ending up with gloopy soap that I hardly stick blended at all and then became convinced it was all going to separate out. I added the soap to the colours and the pink went orange and the purple went grey. But I was soldiering on regardless as adding more colour would end up meaning more mixing and then my soap would be too thick to pour!

So I poured my soap, I didn't really have a colour pour plan and had 5 colours so it had very random orders but it turned out really well.

Then time to spin. I am always worried about over swirling soap so I stopped when it looked like this, not everything had swirled but I thought it looked neat. It took alot of spins to get it moving.

The purple looks purple in the photos but at the time it was still quite grey. I then left the soap to set hoping it wasn't going to end up a pool of caustic oil because of under mixing.

A few days later I cut the soap and this is what I got (plus some small soaps with the left over batter). I need to work on my horizontal soap cutting, it was a bit rough in places but is not as bad as it appears in this photo!

And here is the photo that I was supposed to upload so everyone else in the challenge could see:

Kind of rustic and a little uneven (I will probably trim them up better but they are still kind of soft) but I'm really proud of them! The two on the left are from horizontal (inside) cuts and the one on the right was from the top. So what did I learn? Not to panic about purple going grey, it went purple when it set! The pink clay and mica went back to a reddy pink but still kind of on the orange side. And I probably over mix my soaps, this was a good exercise in stick blender restraint! And I'm really happy that I saw a technique and was able to replicate it and have it work! Now to just pay more attention to the dates for the next challenge!