Friday, July 27, 2007

Soap stuff

The soaps I make now are all made from the same recipe. The oils I use are olive, palm, coconut, avocado, castor, and stearic. Only the scents, colors, and additives change from bar to bar.

But lately I've been playing.

Red palm soap
It's made from red palm oil (virgin palm oil), which makes it turn this cool yellowy-orangy color. Other oils are coconut, olive, rice bran, shea butter, castor, and stearic. It's scented with a mixture of Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, and Ginger essential oils, and I got cutesy and stamped it with a Red Palm (dipped in mica).

Hemp soap
The oils for this one are olive, palm coconut, hemp, shea butter, castor, and stearic. The scent is a mixture of Vetiver and Ylang Ylang essential oils, and the color comes from French green clay.

Island soap
The oils are olive, palm, coconut, macadamia, shea butter, cocoa butter, castor, and stearic. I used red Moroccan clay and scented with a mixture of Rose Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, and Patchouli essential oils.

Sunflower Shea soap
I think my new stamp is kind of defective. It's supposed to be a sunflower but the middle portion is sunk very low and doesn't come out on the soap. Bummer. I decided the outline of a sunflower was better than nothing at all, then towards the end I worried that anyone who'd seen The Ring would be afraid to buy it. Argh! The soap smells great, though - Clary Sage and Rose Geranium essential oils. I used Rose clay, and the oils are olive, plam, coconut, sunflower, shea butter, castor, and stearic.

These are all experiments. I've been playing with this idea for a while - to make soaps using pricier scents and ingredients. I'll have to sell them for more $$ so we'll see if people are willing to pay more.

I heart my infrared thermometer, it's one of my favorite soapmaking tools. But guess how many times I've headed off to town with that in my pocket instead of my cell phone.


Nuthatch said...

Okay, this I have wondered for awhile. With all the controversy over the environmental destruction associated with palm oil plantations, how do you source palm oil from sustainable plantations?

Chris said...

The soaps look great and I bet are pretty good. The avacado would certainly force you to raise your prices (and the EOs). Does the stearic make the bar harder?

I would be careful with the nut based oils, such as the macadamia. Some people with peanut allergies might be affected by that as well.

and OMG!!! That thermometer! How accurate is it? How high does it read? How fast does it work? Sorry, I am down to one since I dropped my second one, and have been hesitant to replace it.

Anonymous said...

Guess how many times I've tried to change the TV channel with my phone?

Or picked up the channel clicker and started talking into it when the phone rang.


Rurality said...

Nuthatch, Palm oil from sustainable sources has not trickled down to the handmade soapmaking industry yet. Rather, I should say that it is not available (as far as I've been able to find) in small quantities - those of us who don't even buy in drum quantities, much less pallets, truckloads, or tankerfuls.

I think it is coming though. The Body Shop is using it (in their cough, cough, 14.5 million bars of soap per year!) and I think that will do a lot to drive demand.

The other alternatives are to use animal fats (namely, tallow) or hydrogenated vegetable oil (like Crisco). You could also use more olive. Any of those would change the character of the soap significantly, and I haven't decided to do that at this point.

When the palm oil controversy came to light several years back I checked with the World Wildlife Federation, and their answer to, "Should I stop using Palm oil?" was "No." Their efforts were aimed at the producers rather than the consumers.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for sustainable palm sources for small soapmakers SOON!

Chris, the avocado is pricy for sure. Olive has gone way way up since I started making soap. I kept the same prices for almost 10 years but finally had to raise them when olive more than doubled in price. I have found that people with nut allergies always check the label! (As an aside, did you know that people with latex allergies sometimes are allergic to avocado as well?)

The thermometer is great! I can't remember the upper limit but it is over 500ºF. The best thing about it is that it is so fast.

Bill, LOL, glad I'm not the only one.

Rurality said...

Oops, I forgot to say, yes stearic does make the bar harder. It also helps it to last longer IMO.

Chris said...

Thanks! The thermometer sounds like a worthwhile investment. I will have to look into finding one.

I figured the stearic would make the soap harder. I am more familiar with using a water discount for a harder bar... or is there an added benefit as well?

Anne-Marie said...

Amazing soap! Love the orange and pink combo! Very creative! =)

robin andrea said...

I like the artistry in your soaps, Karen. I wish I could smell them through the computer.

pablo said...

Ylang Ylang?

Rurality said...

Chris, to me a water discount just makes the bar harder faster. The stearic acts like another hard oil, and I think the bar does not dissolve as fast. You don't have to use much - I think the starting point is 1/8 teaspoon per pound of oils. I use about one ounce for a recipe that makes 30 bars of soap.

Thanks Anne-Marie! I was going to make it red, but didn't have any red mica so I went with purple LOL.

Thanks Robin Andrea! Yes we need smell-o-vision in the worst way. :)

Pablo, yes yes! A yummy floral.

KFarmer said...

Very lovely soaps!

Floridacracker said...

Do you add bling bling to soaps?

My wife has a latex allergy and you are right about avocado. You are also right when you say that people with allergies check labels.

I really like your artwork too. How is a stamp applied to soap? Do you make the stamp? How?

lisa said...

Those soaps all sound great...I gotta order more soon! (I'm down to using up my old crappy "Softsoap" :(