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!

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Treasury Feature 21/02/14

Treasury Feature 21/02/14

Happy Friday!!

There’s been lots going on for me this week as aside from working and posting out orders for our new aromatherapy candles, I’ve also been cat shopping as my boyfriend and I have decided to leave my beloved cat Jackson Brown with my Mum, and get ourselves a kitten. I was going to bring him with me to my new home but I’ve realised now that it would be better for him if I left him where he is. He is happy there and besides, my Mum would miss him terribly. I have always wanted a British Shorthair cat so I’m excited about finally getting to own one. We’re going to get either a blue or lilac one.

Also this week, my colleague asked me if I can make some wedding favors (soaps and candles) for her wedding in August. I’m really excited about this as it means that I can use this as a catalyst to expand into the hugely successful Wedding Market. She has pretty much given me free reign (within reason), to design and make her favors so I set about giving her some ideas this week, including this:

Himalayan Pink Salt French Clay and Poppy Seed Soap Parcel

wedding favor 2

wedding favor

I’m planning on making a variety of different soap types so that I can eventually do a show at one of the bridal exhibitions and hopefully gain a new client base!

Without further ado here are my latest Etsy Treasurys:

The treasury is entitled “Meet you in my dreams” and features my black Tuberose and Ginger candle (which seems to be VERY popular right now!)

treasury typewriter

treasury fountain pen

treasury perfume

“Indian Mistress of the Night” Tuberose & Ginger Soy Candle

Indian Mistress 3 notonthe

This gorgeous Treasury is entitled “Winter Wedding” and features our Frankincense & Myrrh candle F&M

treasury hair vine

treasury wedding bouquet

treasury pearl earrings

“F&M” Frankincense & Myrrh Candle

F&M 4 notonthe

And lastly, this treasury is entitled “Mint Home Décor” and is a collection of refreshingly minty homewares. It features my Mint Green candle “Bois”

treasury bowl

treasury pillow geo

treasury light

“Bois” Sandalwood and Cedarwood Candle

Bois 2 notonthe

To see the full Treasury for “Meet you in my dreams”

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/NzkxNTc0NHwyNzIzMTU1MzI5/meet-you-in-my-dreams

To see the full Treasury for “Winter Wedding”

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/MzE0OTMwMjJ8MjcyNTcwODYzMA/winter-wedding

To see the full Treasury for “Mint Home Décor”

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/ODcxMzE3MnwyNzIzMTQyODU1/mint-home-decor

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this weeks treasurys, and I hope to be back with some new scented favors for you to see! Also, if you know of any good wedding shows in London happening this year then do tell me about it as I’d like to visit a few to see what kind of products are being exhibited there, gain some inspiration and get some idea’s!

Have a great weekend all! 🙂

Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane Market

So, I exhibited in Brick Lane Market this Sunday. It was extremely busy there – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people at a market before which I took to be a good sign. I had to wake up at 6: 00 am in order to get there for my early start at 8:30 am! As I’d never traded there before I didn’t want to leave anything to chance in terms of parking, locating my stall and setting up etc so I got myself there an hour and a half before the market opened to the public. The market itself is huge – it’s situated in an enormous warehouse where there are traders selling everything from gelato and international cuisine, to clothes and jewellery, art, furniture, and handmade goods. The market I traded in is exclusive to Designer-Makers and was bright and roomy. The table I got to showcase my wares on was huge! It doesn’t get as much traffic as the main market “Upmarket” but is more niche, and you know you are getting quality when everything sold there has been handcrafted by the trader. There did seem to be quite ALOT of traders selling food which seemed to be extremely popular and I guess I didn’t do too badly, but I did feel as though people were there to find a bargain, and not necessarily to buy quality goods. As much as I’d like to offer my products for next to nothing, the materials I use certainly don’t cost next to nothing to source and neither does my time in creating them and I find it hard striking that balance between offering a good price, and offering products at the price they cost, and are worth. You are always going to pay a premium for handmade goods anyway, particularly luxury handmade goods. I began to get the feeling that this wasn’t my target market when in the 3rd hour of me being there, despite there being hoards of people present, people were sniffing, complimenting, oohing and aahing, but weren’t buying. It was very frustrating to say the least. But I forced myself to put things into perspective when a man approached me saying that he ran a couple of Markets around London (including one in Fulham and a new one that he’d like to run regularly in Islington) and said that he really liked my products and was doing a special Christmas event in Islington which would be heavily publicised in the media, and at which there would only be 32 traders selling similar high end products to my own trading there. He invited me to exhibit there and said that he’d send me the details in the coming weeks. Sounds promising!

At Homegrown I also revealed my brand new hair care products that I’ve just created: Hair Elixir.

I made 2 testers and brought them along with me to the show so that people could try them out, and I could gain some valuable feedback on what people thought of them. People really seemed to like them so I think it’s only right that I make them available for sale online and in person. I might even try and get them into salons too.

There are 2 types of Hair Perfume that I’ve made: Number 1, is a non greasy, Alcohol-free Hair Perfume made with Jojoba Oil, Glycerin and Vitamin E to nourish, moisturise and deeply penetrate the hair, with a beautiful floral Essential Oil blend.

And the 2nd is a Perfume Hair Mist Spray, made with Orange Blossom Water and Vitamin E to fragrance, refresh and revitalise the hair. Both are 100% Alcohol-free and scented with pure Essential Oils.

I can’t tell you how much they will be just yet as I need to finalise some packaging details but I will soon! I think it’s pretty safe to say that every woman will want one of these badboys!

Here is a picture of my stall @ the Homegrown Market in Brick Lane:

Homegrown Brick Lane 2

Photography Pt II

Photography Pt II

Last weekend as promised I made a start on my new product photography. I recently registered as a seller with not on the highstreet, which I’m really excited about, but before I opened my shop I wanted to make a strong first impression with a collection of original, striking, creative imagery of my products. As is advised with product photography they are generally more effective when taken in natural light so to some degree I’ve been at the mercy of the elements, as you know as well as I do that UK weather is nothing if not unpredictable and mostly when your hoping for the sun to shine, it rains instead! Thankfully, on this occasion it didn’t rain but it was very overcast and I didn’t want to spend hours on taking photo’s to be left with pictures that were dark and shadowy so unfortunately I only managed to take a couple.

I have tried to utilise the space and light in the best way that I could, with slight variations in the presentation of the products, but still keeping with the general theme. I found that the photo’s taken in the contrast of the wood and lifestyle shots on the mantle piece were generally the most effective so I tried to take a variety of those. I’m going to try again this weekend, and to maximise my chances of good lighting conditions I might take some photo’s in the back garden with an erected backdrop.

Here is some of my photography. All comments, critiques and suggestions are welcome!

new creme 12

ambrosial peach soap 11

Lavender with love 5

Why choose The Secret Scent Societe’?

Why choose The Secret Scent Societe’?

The Caspian 5

Because our middle name is “luxury”
Because we are completely transparent about everything that goes into our products
Because we use natural ingredients
Because we are eco friendly and use locally sourced products
Because we create unique fragrances that you and your friends will love
Because our products are 100% handmade
Because we are not mass produced
Because we are passionate about what we do
Because we use quality products and our emphasis is on quality not quantity
Because we believe in signature fragrances for men and women
Because we want to compliment your home and business and help you in your quest to make your environment look and smell beautiful
Because we think we create the perfect gift!
Because we provide choices: colour choices, fragrance choices, ingredient choices
Because we make our luxury fragrance and skincare with you in mind 🙂

Try our beautiful handmade skincare and fragrance products and see for yourself!

http://SecretScentSociete.etsy.com

“Favourite things” Etsy Treasury!

“Favourite things” Etsy Treasury!

I’ve been trying to keep up with my Treasury listings on Etsy and I created 2 new Treasury’s today which I wanted to share with you. My first Treasury is called Favourite Things, and is a collection of some of my favourite items from my favourite Etsy shops. I really love this collection as some of these handcrafted items really showcase my own personal style and taste.

Here is a little preview:

Treasury pillow
treasury bikini
treasury gemstone
Treasury bracelet

You can see this treasury list here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/treasury/MjI5MzU0MTF8MjcyMTg1OTU3MQ/favourite-things?index=1&atr_uid=

My second Treasury list is called New Beginnings, and is inspired by the beauty and the innocence of babies.

Here is a little preview:

treasury baby dress
treasury mobile
treasury headband
treasury booties

You can see this treasury list here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/treasury/MjI5MzU0MTF8MjcyNDQyMzA2Ng/sweet-beginnings?index=0&atr_uid=