Monday, October 27, 2014

No Lye = No soap

I get asked quite frequently if I put lye in my soap.  My answer is always the same - "You absolutely need lye to make soap".  

Soap is an alkali (sodium hydroxide aka lye) that when combined with fats, goes through a reaction called saponification.  Once this process has been completed, you are left with soap.  Without the lye, the soap won't harden.  Liquid soap uses potassium hydroxide for the saponification process.

Every fat needs a required amount of lye to turn it into soap.  Soapmakers usually use an online Soap Calculator.  We enter the measurement of oils we want for our recipe and the calculator gives us the amount of lye that we need to add so that it produces a hard bar of soap.  All soapmakers use more fats than the lye can convert into soap.  This prevents extra lye in the finished soap.

Now, having typed a brief explanation, you can also get melt & pour (glycerin) soap, pre-made or soap shreds where you don't actually have to add the lye yourself because it was already done when it was initially being made.  With melt & pour, you purchase a block (see below) and you can cut it, melt it, and then add your colour and scent.  Soap shreds (below) are usually melted in a crockpot with a bit of water, other liquid and/or oils.  Once melted, you would add your colour and scent.  So no, you aren't directly dealing with the lye yourself, but it was added to the mixture from the company.

Glycerin Soap Block

Rebatched Soap

This is just a brief description.  This is a lot to soapmaking and it is quite complex.  You do need to be extremely careful when you are handling lye.  To purchase any of my soaps that were made with lye, click here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Moisturizing Made Easy - No Really!

I don't know about you but I really, really, really don't like to moisturize.  In fact, I dread it.  I was thinking about this the other day and thought that I would write a blog post about it as I can't be the only one, can I?  It's not too often that I actually have to put on moisturizer.  Why you ask?  

Well, here's where I have to toot my own horn because I do make some fabulous products that help keep your body moisturized.  The first step is to use Head 2 Toe's handcrafted soaps.  I add cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut milk to all my bars.

On a chilly night there is nothing like sitting in a hot bath to relax.  Drop in a Vanilla Tub Truffle and let your yourself get immersed in the skin softening cocoa butter.  I promised that you won't need to put lotion on afterwards.

If you feel you do need a bit of lotion, these Lotion Sticks are fabulous.  They are small but really do go a long way.  The best part though is that you don't have to get your hands covered in a gooey mess.  They go on just as if you were putting deodorant on and melt with the warmth of your skin.  These small sticks are perfect for putting in your purse and to take travelling.

Of course, I have many more products that help moisturize your skin but these are the ones that really stand out to me at this time of the year.

Check out all my other products HERE.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photo Shoot Day

I am very fortunate that my husband, Tony has a marketing and photography business.  His primary business is Real Estate marketing and photography but he also does some other photography projects.  He is very creative and has a great eye for details. It was his suggestion to bring in a model. 

He was able to find a model for me named Crystal (yes, I know, my name is Crystal too).  She was willing to come in and have Tony take a whole bunch of pictures of her with some of my products.  This way the photos are unique to me and not random photos from the internet.  All in all, Crystal was here for about an hour and Tony ended up taking about 120 photos.  She was such a good sport about the whole thing.

I now have the task of going through all the photos to pick and choose the ones that will use for the products, website and social media advertising.  Could take awhile so stay tuned!

Monday, October 6, 2014

DIY Remineralizing Toothpaste

In my last post I wrote about Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil.  Pretty close to the same time I starting pulling, I was using homemade toothpaste.  I have read a lot of pros and cons about fluoride and I am deciding not to use it whenever possible.  Some countries have even banned it.  I know a lot of people will disagree with me and your opinion on fluoride is yours, and mine is mine.  I just want to share my toothpaste experience and recipe with you.  

First, I made a tooth soap where I would wet my tooth brush and rubbed the soap. It tasted a bit soapy but really didn't have any taste at all.  I am pretty programmed that I want my toothpaste to be fresh and minty so the tooth soap didn't really last that long.

Second try was a mixture of baking soda, coconut oil, xylitol and peppermint essential oil.  I really liked this mixture.  I used it for about 2 months as I only made a small batch of it to try it out.

I had to go for my cleaning appointment at my dentist and I decided that I wasn't going to bring it up until my next 6 month check up.  Well, that didn't last long because the hygienist wasn't even in my mouth for five minutes before she asked what I was doing because my teeth looked great!  I was shocked and really excited to hear this.  I told her that I had been oil pulling and using natural toothpaste.  She started asking me all kinds of questions and even said, "if you were to ever sell this, I would be your biggest advocate".  WOW!  Hearing her say this I knew I was on the right track.  She did mention though that I should add calcium magnesium and trace minerals to the toothpaste.  I went on a mission to find a recipe that had these ingredients and this is what I found:

6 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp. Baking Soda
2 Tbsp. Calcium Magnesium Powder
2 Tbsp. Xylitol
2 tsp. Real Sea Salt
20 drops Essential Oil (I used Peppermint)
10 drops Trace Minerals

Mix all ingredients together really well.  The trace minerals add a bit of a fizz. The calcium magnesium powder and the trace minerals I had to purchase through Amazon.

I am now using this recipe and love it.  I does take some time to get used to it but keep with it.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 29, 2014

To Pull or Not to Pull....

Approximately about 3 months ago I started oil pulling.  I first heard about oil pulling from a distant cousin when our family was out to dinner one night.  She started asking me about what I do, what products I make, etc, etc.  She told me that she has a friend who was oil pulling.  I had never heard of it before and although my cousin hadn't tried it herself, I knew I wanted to possibly try this. I kept thinking about the concept every few weeks and finally started researching it more.  

There is a lot of skepticism about the whole thing but I still wanted to try it for myself.  There are different oils you can use to pull - some use olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil (to name a few).  I wanted to try coconut oil so I went out and purchased organic cold pressed coconut oil.

Oil pulling claims to help whiten teeth, make your breath fresher and lead to massive improvements in your oral health.  

The first day was a little difficult for several reasons.  I took a teaspoon and it was solid when I put it in my mouth and it took about 30 seconds for it to melt. Now it was time to swish, swish, swish.  I have read that you are supposed to swish back and forth through your teeth for 20 minutes (yes, you read that correctly).  I could barely last 5 minutes as my jaw started getting quick sore.  

Over the course of a few weeks I did this every night and really started noticing a difference and it didn't take very long for me to work up to the 20 minute mark.  I now do this regularly about 4-5 times a week in the evening.  It is actually easy to do while you are watching tv, having a shower, surfing the net, etc. 

I have to be honest and tell you that I LOVE it and I am a big advocate of it.  I really have noticed that my teeth feel cleaner, shinier and I have fresher breath - especially in the morning. I really hope you try it too.  Please comment with your results.  I know it isn't for everyone but since I see results, well, I'm going to keep with it.

Here are some links to more information if you are interested:

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Place I Call Home

I am very fortunate that I get to call Kelowna home.  I live in a beautiful valley in the Okanagan.  We are a city of about 180,000 people and are known for our hot summers as we are also considered a desert.  Kelowna gets a lot of tourists both in the summer and winter.  In the summer, we have golfing, beaches and several local wineries that put on wine tours.  In the winter, we have a couple of ski mountains to choose from.

My husband and I drove up to the top of Knox Mountain to take some pictures and I wanted to take a video to share with you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do You Need to be Scrubbed?

I have recently started making body scrubs - well, truth be told, I have actually been making them for quite a looooong time.  I could never seem to get them right.  They really are tricky things I tell ya!  Either they are too thick and not enough oil, or they are way too oily.  One batch was so bad that I had just finished trying it on my hands and they were so slicked with oil that I had to wash my hands with soap and water three times (yes, three times) before they felt ok.  Now, I know that is not such a bad thing since, ahem, I am a soapmaker and like to test out my own soap but Yuck!

I gave up trying for awhile and then felt inspired to try again and boy am I glad I did.  I think I have the perfect blend of sugar and oil combined!  My new recipe is just the right amount of oil that leaves your skin very soft and not greasy or oily.  It is wonderful in the shower for a full body scrub or for just using on your hands and feet.  

I hope you enjoy watching the video of me making the Energizing Body Scrub and you can find it and other scents for purchase here.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, try again....and yet AGAIN!

This months challenge is the Holly Swirl named after Holly from Missouri River Soap who created this swirl technique.  It is also called a swirl within a swirl. The technique looked easy enough and I was really excited to take on this challenge.  I thought is was going to be fairly easy peasy.  Uh huh, well I did two attempts at this soap.

First attempt:

I used a fragrance oil called Juniper Breeze from Bramble Berry that I have never soaped with before.  This is never wise as you don't know what is going to happen and you hope for the best.  I used neon purple for the base colour and wanted to do a neon blue and yellow swirl.  For this batch it wasn't the fragrance oil that was the problem - it was the soaper, aka, me.  I wanted to keep my soap batter fairly thin and I thought it was at the perfect consistency.  Well my blue and yellow swirls turned green and basically turned into green globs in the bars.

When I cut the bars the next day I summed it up that my batter was way too thin and I would try again with a thicker batter.  This is the video and pictures of the first batch.

Second Batch:

Again I decided to use another fragrance oil that I have never used before - Rice Flower & Shea from Bramble Berry.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  My batter basically thickened as soon as I added the FO.  Now what?  Well I ended up spooning and glopping it into my swirl bowl.  As I am doing this I am thinking - how in heck am I going to pour this into the base colour?  Yeah well I ended up spooning my swirled mixture into the base colour that was already in the mold.  Of course it was just getting thicker and thicker.  My swirled colours started mixing together and turning a little brown - nice!  Now having said that, I am actually ok with how the bars turned out overall - considering everything that the poor soap batter went through.

Overall, I know the first batch was too thin and the second batch was way too thick.  I would like to attempt this swirl technique again but I will use a fragrance oil or essential oil that I am familiar with.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Peacock Swirl Challenge

I have decided to participate in a monthly soap challenge put on by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  She put on the previous challenge and although it was a little overwhelming because of it being weekly, I still loved it because it really inspired me to do some things that I have seen other soapmakers do and wanted to try, but never actually did it.  The challenge forced me to do it, which is good for me because I am somewhat a bit of a procrastinator.  I work better under pressure and under the gun.

This first challenge is the peacock swirl.  I have seen this technique several times and I oh and ah EVERY single time I see pictures.  I was worried about my soap setting up too quickly (which it did as you will see in the video) and about the tools I had.  

I used my large slab mold and I usually have some issues with this mold as my soap usually comes out really soft.  The mold comes with dividers and I always struggle with releasing the soap from the dividers so I decided not to use them.  I used Ylang Ylang essential oil and coloured it with activated charcoal, neon blue, neon purple, and green chrome oxide.  The colour combination looked awesome in my head but it ended up turning out too dark for my liking.  I think it looks cool, but next time I will do more contrasting colours to really make it "pop".

I used a comb instead of hair roller piks or skewers and I now know that the comb is not a good idea.  I have since purchased the hair piks and will make my own contraption for the next time.

Sorry about the bad pictures, I didn't have a lot of time to edit them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A brief look into the workshop

I thought I would share this video with you all.  My husband was playing around one time while I was taking pictures of my soaps.  My room is a little messy so please look past that.

I have been attending the Penticton market every Saturday and I LOVE it.  It is such a great, positive atmosphere.  This Friday I will also be starting the Lake Country Farmers Market and will be there every other Friday.  This is where I got my start and I am exciting to be doing it again for a fourth year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 4 - Leopard Spot Soap

Let me just start out with saying that I was really, really excited about this challenge as one of the cats I own is a Bengal Leopard!  I was quite intrigued about this soap, but was also a little nervous.  It looked fantastic in my head when I was planning it out, but then the soap cutting revealed something totally, completely different.  The whole thing was a fail.  I am disappointed, but it is still usable so I will carry on and attempt the leopard spot soap another time.

I decided to use a citrus mint blend essential oil blend that smelled great....until 24 hours later when I cut it.  It doesn't smell bad, you just can't smell the mint part.  Since I was using essential oils, I wanted to keep my colours natural as well so I used charcoal powder for the black and cocoa powder for the brown.  I wanted to try and keep it to the original leopard colours.  Well as you can see by the pictures, my brown is way, way too dark and completely blends in with the black.  My soap appears just to have black spots - which doesn't look too flattering.

This was the final week of the 2013 Soap Challenge and I want to thank Amy Warden at Great Cakes Soapworks for creating this challenge and look forward to another soaping challenge in the future.  It truly has challenged me to create soaps that I normally would not have done.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 3 - Mica Top

Week 3 is a Mica top challenge.  I have seen many other soapmakers do this and love the look of it.  I think it looks fantastic when there are at least two different colours used but for my first time, I thought I would go with one colour.  I have lots of things to do today, so time is valuable.  

I decided to use Honeysuckle fragrance oil and a hot pink mica.  I wanted to do a swirl throughout the soap and had visions of a very fine swirl.  Well, as most soapmakers experience, what we have in our heads is not exactly what ends up happening!  We have really good intentions but sometimes the soap batter has a mind of its own.  My mixture traced quite quickly and I really had no idea what to expect since I have never worked with this fragrance oil before.  It wasn't bad, just thicker than what I would have wanted, so I made the best of it.  In the end I think I used too much pink colour for the swirl as I find the mica top gets lost with the soap mixture because there is too much pink.  The next time I try this technique (yes, there will be a next time), I will use more than one colour and something contrasting that really "pops".  As you can see by the photos - my "hot pink" mica turned orange.  It still works for Honeysuckle though!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 2 - Elemental Swirl

Welcome back to week 2 of Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge.  This week the challenge was to do an Elemental Swirl.  This challenge made me nervous and excited at the same time.  Nervous because I have never attempted anything like this before and the fact that timing is everything.  I certainly didn't have time to procrastinate.  I was worried that my soap batter was going to thicken way too quickly and that it wouldn't work out.  I used a fragrance oil that I had never soaped with before (which really isn't a good idea when trying something new - especially with swirls).  It worked in my favour, to my relief!  I had to pre-plan everything out.  It took me awhile to decide on which colours to use.  Excited because I have seen this technique before and wanted to try it but too nervous too!  LOL.  So it is a good thing for this challenge, as I probably wouldn't have attempted this on my own.

The process went ok but I am disappointed with the results.  I like how the bottom layer turned out but I am not happy with the top layer.  I think it looks too muddy.  The colours I used didn't do it justice either.  Oh well, I tried, right?  I am not sure I would do this technique again though - only time will tell.  At the end of the challenge I will be posting all the soap challenge photos on my Facebook page.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 1 - Tiger Stripe

Last week I signed up for a soap challenge.  Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks ( initiated this soap challenge and there are several other soapmakers from around the world participating.  Amy did a soap challenge last year but I missed out and was really disappointed, so I was quite excited that she introduced a new one for 2013.  I was quite thrilled about week 1: Tiger Stripe.  I decided to make two different batches, one using Essential Oils and natural colourants and the other using a fragrance oil and micas.

The first batch I did was the Essential Oil blend with Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin and Wintergreen.  I used Activated Charcoal, Annatto and Dulse for the colours.  I have used Activate Charcoal and Annatto several times and I love the way it mixes and how the colours turn out.  I have never used Dulse before and it didn't mix very with in the oils, but I still think it turned out all right, even if it is a little speckled.

The second batch is Blackberry Spice using mica colours.  I am thrilled with how both these batches turned out and now that I know this isn't all that difficult, I will definitely be making more soap using this technique.  The results are stunning!

Thanks Amy for putting on another challenge.  I look forward to learning new skills and techniques in the coming weeks ahead.