Kisanii Festival

Kisanii Festival

Kisanii

I have finished my soap favors for the Kisanii festival in October!

In the end I made 2 types of soap: Meadowfoam & Neroli Rebatched Soap and Cocoa Butter & Rose Soap. I also made 2 types of solid lotion bar: Rose & Lavender Solid Lotion Bar and Vanilla & Ylang Ylang Solid Lotion Bar, and some Travel Candles. I’m really happy with them and think that people will really like them too!

My cousin who is organising the event told me last night that it has been postponed due to a sponsorship and venue issues, so it won’t be happening in October anymore but later on in the year or mid next year so I’ve promised her that I’ll save them for her to use at another event instead. It’s a bit of a shame but at least they won’t be going to waste.

The soaps are in the process of being cured so I haven’t had a chance to use them yet but I’m very much looking forward to sampling them. According to the Soap Calculator they both have some pretty good properties!

Now that I’ve done a bit more soapmaking I’m much more comfortable (though not completely comfortable you understand!), about doing more. I’m feeling much more adventurous and it IS exciting coming up with new recipes and creating new fragrances – it’s also what I do best!

 

Roses

 

 

 

Rebatched/French Milled Soap

Rebatched/French Milled Soap

 

It’s very unfortunate to say but it is looking like I’m going to have to rebatch my Neroli and Lavender Meadowfoam soap. My Cocoa Butter and Rose soap was a success, infact if I had any complaints about it at all it was that it took quite awhile to trace, something like 15 minutes, BUT it looks and smells glorious! My Neroli and Lavender Soap however has issues: I think the lye wasn’t properly incorporated into the batch when I made it – I unmoulded the soap after 24 hours and found that there were oil/lye pockets throughout. I waited for awhile in the hope that perhaps it would dry out and rectify itself but after 3 days the wet patches are still there so I think it would be safest (particularly as they will be provided to strangers as complimentary favours) that I rebatch and start again.

Now I have never rebatched soap before so I’m not 100% certain I know what I’m doing but I have it on good authority by reading a number of soapmaking forums that once it’s rebatched it’s perfectly safe to use, and in this way you can save your failed soap or improve it by adding various nutrients, colourants, fragrances etc that would otherwise have caused your cold process soap to seize when made in the traditional cold process way. Often the reason why people rebatch is because they have forgotten to add an ingredient. My case is simply because I don’t think I stirred it for long (or thoroughly) enough. It was taking awhile to come to trace and I got impatient. Because my experience with other soap batches was so different (they all seized on me within seconds due to, I realise now, the fragrance oils I used). I expected the batch to seize in a moments notice and I was preparing for it to do so but then I was also worried that it was going the other way..it was taking too long to trace. And so the soapmaking story goes!

Well I have been warned that when you hot process or rebatch soap it doesn’t come out quite the way you hope it to (aesthetically that is), and that is a shame because I am not particularly a fan of the rough, rustic, knobbly look, alas it will have to do as as perfectly looking as my soap currently is (aside from the lye spots that is!) it’s not going to retain it’s smooth look after I have rebatched it. On the flip side, at least I’ve learned a valuable lesson about how long it takes to bring this particular recipe to trace, and I had previously written in my notes that I would have preferred a little more Neroil Oil in the batch and with this rebatching method I will now be able to remedy this. ALSO, and for me this is the most exciting thing of all (sad I know), I will now be able to call this soap technique French Milled Soap (though apparently you can’t actually use this term to describe your soap made here, it has to have been made in France!). I know that it basically means the same thing as rebatched soap but this version sounds more desirable to me! lol

There are 3 ways (and possibly more that I’d love to hear about in the comments below if you know of any!) of rebatching soap namely: Microwaving, Oven Method and the Double Boiler Method. I will be using the Microwave Method because it’s much quicker and I don’t intend to spend much more time on it!

Soapmakin’ Troubleshootin’!

Soapmakin’ Troubleshootin’!

 

So last night I made another batch of cold process soap!

As you know, my last batch didn’t come out well at all (seize alert seize alert!) and I was fearful that this batch would be a repeat of my past failure. I done a lot of research beforehand trying to eliminate all possible causes of a botched batch. I opted to use pure essential oils instead of fragrance oils, soaped at no higher then 80 degrees faranheit, added the essential oils to the oils before trace, made a smaller batch, used less hard butters and more soft oils and stirred my soap with a spatula instead of a hand blender. What a change eh?!

You might be asking…

Why Essential Oils instead of Fragrance Oils? – Because Fragrance Oils speed trace. Due to there synthetic nature, and particularly due to the inclusion of alcohol in Fragrance Oils which reacts with the oils in soap, you will nearly always have an accelerated trace when using Fragrance Oils. Depending on where you buy your Fragrance Oils, some of them have been tested for there behaviour in cold process soap, and this can be helpful BUT as with most soapmaking it is a scientific thing, variable depending on a number of factors namely your recipe, or what temperature you soap at.

Essential Oils are much more stable in that they allow you more time to work with your soap before it reaches trace, giving you time to add colourants, herbs and clays etc. Needless to say though, this differs depending on which Essential Oils you use, typically Floral Essential Oils and some Spicy Essential Oils can accelerate trace quite dramatically therefore it is always suggested to test your fragrance in a small batch first. I used Neroli (citrus oil) and Lavender (herbaceous floral oil) in mine.

Why soap at such a low temperature?
– Because heat accelerates trace. Some people say that soaping at low temperatures stops the saponification process from happening but the saponification happens when you combines the lye with the oils, combining them at a lower temperature does not stop this from happening.I soaped at 80 degrees but some soapers combine the oils and lye at a much lower temperature then this, indeed some leave both the lye and the oils in the fridge overnight and soap the following day!

Why make a smaller batch? – Incase of a botched batch! I could have wept the last time I made a full 1 kg batch of soap only to find that it had seized irreparably. It was painful indeed. Not just because of the time and effort it took to make the soap but because of the ingredients which were not cheap! Therefore I thought that as I did not want this to happen again I would make less first to test, and then if it was a success I would increase the quantity.

Why use less hard oils?
– Because hard oils accelerate trace! A ratio of 45% hard oils to 55% soft oils are recommended to achieve a good consistency, but up to 55% hard oils should be fine also. Anything more and you run the risk of a fast trace. Hard oils are those that are solid at room temperature such as Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil etc. I replaced the Mango Butter that I had in my original recipe, with Sweet Almond Oil, which is a soft oil.

Why add the Essential Oils before trace? – Because this too speeds up trace! It is advised to add the Essential Oils to the Oil blend before adding the lye to it which allows the Essential Oils to be fully combined, this leads to less of a shock when the lye is added. The chemical reaction is much less severe when done in this way.

Why use a spatula instead of a hand blender? – I’m sure you’ve guessed it – because it speeds up trace! I also have the windows wide open when I’m soaping to keep the room cool, and to speed up the cooling down process of the oils and lye.

So, using all of these processes I began making my soap. I’ve agreed to make some complimentary favours (including travel candles), for a festival that my cousin is organising at the beginning of October and thought that soap would be a perfect favour to give.

When I was making my soap I did indeed notice a difference in the consistency when soaping – it was much much lighter, indeed it allowed me to be spontaneously creative and add herbs which would have been impossible for me to do before. I could also have added a colourant but as I wanted my soap to be white I just added some calendula petals and left it colourless. Or at least I thought that it would be colourless anyway!

This morning I went to check on my soap (which was a suspicious bright orange colour when I last left it) to find that it was still (surprise surprise) ORANGE!
And yes I was a little surprised as I expected it to turn white overnight. I looked over the ingredients:

Meadowfoam Oil – a very light yellow colour – no
Shea Butter – creamy white – no
Lavender Essential Oil – no
Sweet Almond Oil – a very light golden brown colour – no
Coconut Oil – white – no
Palm Oil – BRIGHT orange
Neroli Essential Oil – greeny, yellowy

I was stumped. The Palm Oil that I used previously was a creamy white, slightly yellowish colour and I will admit when I compared it to the Palm Oil that I received yesterday I was a little concerned as it was BRIGHT ORANGE. However I just put it down to the fact that it was from a different batch and therefore might have different visual characteristics. But when I done research on whether Neroli Oil discoloured soap I couldn’t find anything and so I wondered….
I looked back on my previous order for Palm Oil to find that there are infact 2 different types of Palm Oil (Unrefined and Refined), and on the previous occasion I had ordered the Refined Palm Oil which had obviously been bleached to make it white. Red Palm Oil however is much more sustainable then the former and is naturally a reddish orange colour. I called the supplier to make sure and they confirmed that yes, the Red Palm Oil does discolour soaps and there isn’t really anything you can add to remedy this. After my initial shock I soon came to accept that it was a small error but infact it is better knowing that my soap has been naturally coloured, is more sustainable and most importantly WAS NOT A BOTCHED BATCH. Hallalujah, I did not make a botched batch!! 🙂

If I am so inclined (as you know I am not one for taking pictures!) I will out up a picture of my new and improved soap which according to my lye calculator indicates that it is going to be a very hard and creamy, wonderfully conditioning, thoroughly cleaning, relatively bubbly bar of soap!

Just 2 weeks to go!

Just 2 weeks to go!

British-Vogue-Logo

Yes, tis a mere 2 weeks to go before my debut in British VOGUE Magazine and gosh am I excited!
My plan to replace all of the pictures on my NotOnTheHighstreet page is in process (a work in progress!) in preparation for lots of views (and hopefully, sales!)
It’s far from perfect but I think that finally I’m getting the hang of this photography thing, which is a relief I can tell you.

I have pre warned a few friends that I may be requiring there assistance should things get a little crazy following the VOGUE release and I’m giving away my very first batch of cold process soap to some specially selected friends and family with a prompt for them to review it and give me there honest opinion. I think this will be really helpful in order to improve on my next batch of soap, listening to there very honest advice and taking into account all of the things that they think constitutes a good bar of soap! I intend on doing many more soap tests to get the perfect bar before I release any for general sale.

I’m continuing to market my products on Etsy, though I’m not getting many bites. To be honest the only reason why I bother staying on there at all is for my presence on the internet, otherwise I wouldn’t bother. Despite my products being cheaper on there then on notonthehighstreet sales are still excruciatingly slow, almost non existent.

The feature in VOGUE is out on Monday 7th April so do pick one up! It’s called “Best Kept Beauty Secrets”

Also, if you haven’t already done so, do follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook and I will follow you/like you back! Links below.

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

Photography Pt 111

Photography Pt 111

Photography, as I’m sure you know by now, isn’t my strong point. I have seen so many handmade products with amazing photography and it makes me feel very frustrated indeed that I can’t seem to manage to take simple, professional shots of my products.

It isn’t simply a matter of buying the best camera, and it just about having the “eye” for taking pictures. It’s a combination of both. And good lighting. Always, always good lighting!

Alas even when I bought myself a professional light tent, with special daylight lamps to use to illuminate the shadows my pictures still didn’t come out the way I wanted them too. Sure they were an improvement on the previous, but they still weren’t clean enough, they weren’t white enough, and they were still very shadowy in places. To make even matters worse, it seemed as though I was at the mercy of the sun – everytime it moved I had to move. Reading forums about taking photo’s of your products, the advice of the majority was to use as much natural light as possible. But for me it just wasn’t possible. The natural light was too changeable, it wasn’t consistent enough and thus I was finding the quality of my photo’s diminishing as the day wore on. Frustrating.

So on Sunday my boyfriend and I spent the entire day working on finding the perfect camera set-up, the perfect setting on the camera, and the best position in the house to take the most simple and effective shots. Thankfully we found it. The decision after taking lots of pictures using different settings then comparing them all on the computer told us a few things: That we needed to turn the light tent the other way round (so that it had it’s back to the sun), this gave a less intense light but a more fluid light. And most importantly: It was no longer shadowy!

Also, we decided against using natural light. When we viewed them on the computer they seemed more grainy, less perfect, and unlike jewellery, or clothing, where it’s always better to see the texture of the materials used, imperfections in glass, isn’t so great. Using flash eliminated those imperfections, and made the product really come to life. Nevertheless it was a very subtle difference between the two, and that’s what I was looking for.

Over the next few weeks, before my article in VOGUE goes live (can’t wait!), I need to redo all of my photography so that it is in keeping with this new updated style. Up until now good photography has alluded me but not anymore!

Meadowfoam Soap

VOGUE 2

Hair Perfume

I would love to hear your thoughts on my photography! And if you know any trade secrets that could help me make them better I would be very happy to hear them, and of course, if you make your own products then I’d love to have a look at yours too!

And it went a little something like..

And it went a little something like..

THIS

Meadowfoam Soap 2

Meadowfoam Soap

I’m quite chuffed with the way it’s come out and it smells gloooorious! It’s a little bit wet at the moment – the rich oils I have used in it definitely need to be dried out so it might take a little longer then 4 weeks for the soaps to cure. But we’ll see. Cleaning up all of the equipment however, was a little more technical then I would have liked. I had to wait a day for all of the soap to dry up and then using gloves (as the soap is still caustic at this stage), I got rid of as much soap in the pots and pans and cutlery as possible and rinsed out the sodium hydroxide with water, then I put all of my soapmaking equipment into the dishwasher. There were lots of suds! But I had it on an intensive wash so I just let it run it’s course and when it was finished the suds had gone. I’m not sure whether or not this cleans the dishes entirely so that there is no poisonous residue and I don’t want to take the chance and get burnt so for now I’m going to continue to wear my gloves when handling both the clean and dirty soap equipment.

Tonight, I’m thinking of trying out another recipe, and another soapmaking technique.