So we are at the height of summer in the UK and with it comes the usual range of insects to nibble you in the evening glow.
So what is the alternative to getting bitten? Stay indoors or light up a candle that wards of the little blighters whilst you enjoy your evening of cold Pinot Grigio ( other beverages available).
So what does deter the insects and can it be done naturally?. Most outdoor insect repellent candles control DEET or if you are really clever N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide. DEET was developed by Samuel Gertler for use by the United States Army following its experience of jungle warfare during World War II and was originally tested as a pesticide on farm fields.
So whilst the mosquitos intensely dislike the smell it is also not so pleasant for us humans so I though I would look for an alternative to make up some summer candles myself.
There are many recipes available on the old interweb thing – it is down to which fragrance you like. I have added Essential oils in combinations of Citronella, Clove, Peppermint, and Cedarwood, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass. With my pale skin I am a natural target for the bugs but have found with a natural candle burning the bites are getting less.
I am of to light a candle and have a glass of something cold whilst the sun goes down……enjoy your summer and watch out for the flying ants.
Over the last few months I have been trying to put together a formula for a shampoo bar to replace my normal plastic bottles. It has been quite difficult, once I decided on the mix of oils I wanted and the essential oils for stimulation and scent I spend and afternoon in the workshop missing it up.
There has been an ever increasing interest in shampoo bars, partially because of our quest to reduce the plastic footprint, we want to know what chemicals we are putting on our body and east of transport when going to the gym or travelling.
What’s in a bar of Shampoo?
Well a shampoo bar is similar to a bar of soap, it is just designed to cleanse the hair and scalp and may need to have some additional properties to help dryness or maybe itching. There are lots of recipes for shampoo bars, I have been adding castor oil to mine, it adds a creamy lather but also acts as a humescent holding moisture to the scalp. Jojoba Oil is another ingredient, know for its antimicrobial properties so it discourages bacteria. There are a few other secret ingredients,,,,but that is why they are called a secret!
As with all the soaps I sell they are handmade so I know what goes onto them. However when people make the transition from traditional liquid shampoo to a bar it can take a while to adjust. Products that you have used before will have built up over time and through the transition period you may experience oiler or dryer hair this is all part of the process before you find what is normal for you.
When will they be on the website?
Now that I have decided on my final recipe I need to send it off to be cosmetically certified – this can take up to 2 months so we are likely to launch our new range in the autumn, that will give you time to use up all the bottles you have on the shelf!
Is there a hole in your dish? Maybe a strange question but very important if you are using handmade bar soap.
When you are using your handmade bar of soap it loves a good roll around in water and creating lots of bubbles but to prolong the life of the soap when not in use you should ideally place it on a dish that has some holes in it allowing the soap to dry in between use.
Now if you where the original material girl aka Madonna what would you choose as the material for your soap dish?
Years ago you would have been very limited in colour and design but nowadays you will find some beautiful dishes available in glass, wood, stone, metal, rock and of course manmade materials like plastics and resins.
Original Soap Holder
The original soap holder may have been…Soap on a Rope!. This was the gift in everybody’s christmas stocking and it worked. Once you bathed you hung it from the bath tap or shower if you were posh and it drained naturally between use. Maybe soap on a rope that will be a new addition to the range this year?.
Did you know Farmers markets date all the way back to Egypt over 5, 000 years ago?. Traditionally the farmers along the length of the Nile joined together to sell their wares. Traditionally the markets would be fruit, vegtables, meats and grains however the markets existed in countries worldwide and reflects local culture and economy. The first farmers market in the UK was established in 1997 and there are now over 500 nationwide.
The Grocery Store
The grocery store, or corner shop started to appear in the 1800’s and as they became popular and also started to offer ‘home delivery’ via the boy on the bicycle the trips to the farmers markets began to reduce. Over the last few years there now appears to be a trend of people shopping again at their local market.
They wan to know where the food or product comes from and meet the owner of the food they are eating – with the introduction of Farm To Fork.
Fresh Soap & Beeswax Candles
So amongst the other products seen at the markets, flowers, bread, pastries, beers, jams and cheese there is also a growing trend for local soap makers and bee products. Years ago farmers wives would have made soap from tallow, goats milk and beeswax and these traditions are continued today.
I have now had a stall at the local farmers market for over a year and there is a lovely community feel with the traders and customers alike. It is a great opportunity to chat with people and explain the process that goes into making the soap and beeswax candles and where I source my ingredients from.
So if you see me on the stall- stop and have a chat….
Many of you will know that no matter how small you are as a producer of cosmetic products that they have to be registered on the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal or the CPNP but what happens after Brexit?
All our soaps have a Cosmetic Safety Assessment and the details of the recipe, packaging and most importantly the Responsible Persons have to be uploaded to the portal so if there is ever an incident or possibility of poisoning the authorities ie the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) and trading standards can contact the relevant people/company to find out the content of the product and advise on the best treatment if needed
Post exit, in a no deal scenario, a cosmetic product may not be placed on the market unless there is a Responsible Person established in the UK. UK Responsible Person accounts and those used by market surveillance authorities will be suspended or deleted from the EU’s Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) after exit in the event of no deal. The UK Government is establishing a cosmetic product database to replace the CPNP in the UK.
The Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 statutory instrument has been laid in Parliament and seeks to ensure continuity of the legal framework for product safety in the UK. If the amendments made by the Statutory Instrument (SI) come into force, their purpose will be to provide the legal framework, including for cosmetics, that businesses will need to comply with to trade in the UK should the UK leave the European Union with no deal. It will also ensure that consumers of cosmetic products continue to be protected and have the reassurance that the UK will retain an effective product safety regime.
March 2019 is looming and there is a short period to enter the data onto the new portal to ensure that we are compliant. I could look at this as another hurdle in becoming a small business but at least by providing a check and challenge situation it does mean there are some standards and this means a safer product for you the customer.
So the next time you buy some soap from a market trader or craft fair – check are they cosmetically assessed and then you know the contents are safe for your skin.
Neroli is one of my favourite essential oils – light and fresh and suitable for all seasons. So have you ever thought about the folklore and tradition behind your essential oils?
The princess of Nerola in Italy gave her name to this oil which is used in many perfumes. It was traditionally used in brides bouquets to calm nerves before the big event.
The oil is steamed from the flowers of the orange blossom and is to be found in many countries with a Mediterranean climate including Tunisia, Morocco and France.
This versatile oil has many uses for skin care circulation and the digestive and nervous system. Neroli is also used widely used in the pharmaceuticals industry for perfumes but also in the food industry as it is added to alcohol and soft drinks.
I choose to combine this sweet oil with orange oil to give a gentle feminine scent to our handmade soap – I hope you enjoy it.
Over the last few months I have noticed a change in customers habits when stopping to admire and smell my soaps and candles. I have had some great conversations with customers on topics such as: bar soap vs liquid soap, the use of Palm Oil, various skin conditions and can you use it in the shower……
It has been noticeable that people are beginning to take more of an interest into what goes into a product and if I actually make the soap myself.
Some of the comments have been: ”they smell lovely but I only use liquid soap”, “Do you have some of the Shampoo Bars they sell in LUSH”, “Are you’re soaps suitable for Vegans”, “How long will the soap last”, and lastly – “Do you have any Unicorn Soap”.
The Truth IS….
I know exactly what goes into my soaps as I buy all the ingredient’s from a few key suppliers that I have been trading with for the last 3 years. I make the soap myself, I do not have any little helpers and do not outsource it, I also make soap for a few customers and label it under their own branding but I still remain the ‘Responsible Person for the soap as listed on the CPNP (Cosmetic Product Notification Portal). My soap has been cosmetically certified and not tested on animals.
Palm Oil – yes I use it in my core range – palm oil is used in thousands of everyday products that maybe some people are not aware of, I am looking at replacing it but I do have an alternative range that does not contain palm oil but does contain Goats milk so it is not suitable for the Vegan customer. As much as I would like to make soap to cater for everybody’s preferences it is not possible to do so but do thank all the customers who have bought from and supported me over the last few years.
So what next?
I have been trialling recipes for a Shampoo bar but not yet happy with the results so will continue testing with a view to having the product ready in the summer. To answer the question of how long the soap will last will depend on how often you wash and if you keep it out of water on a soap dish in between use.
I will never have the same soap sold in LUSH……
I do not have any Unicorn Soap but 2019 may be the year…..
The only person to answer this is you, there may be no right answer and there may be a case for both.
My family was brought up on traditional bar soap and yes I can also remember being told to wash my mouth out with soap when we had been naughty!
Soap has been around for a very long time and the ingredients have not changed drastically or the process for making it. What has changed is the fragrances we add, artificial or natural and how we package it. There has also been a change to attitudes towards soap, during the nineties it was reported to be unhygienic and now that though has been reversed. People where put of by the potential mess of soap if not stored and left to dry out. Nowadays we have a myriad of choice in soap dishes with holes for drainage so this is no longer an issue and we also have exfoliating bags to store your soap and ensure you get to use the very last piece There are also some creative ways to recycle so last ends, you can find suggestions here for your leftovers
So the technology that is shower gel came along to tease us with its bright colours and sleek bottles. Shower Gels contain an agent to create the bubbles – SLS – or sulfates to you and me and this has been the controversial element of our convenience needs. Have you every noticed how quickly shower gel disappears down the plug whole – like a jellyfish?
Whilst it is easier to transport for swimming, and weekends away there is also the waste products of the plastic bottle at the end – which you can also recycle.
So the winner is….
Neither – both if chosen ethically and responsibility have a place in our modern cleansing and beauty regimes.
So have you ever wondered how that little bag is made and why it is a great accessory to use with your soap? Sisal is a plant fibre extracted from the leaves of the Sisal tree commonly know as the Agave Sisal Ana. It is a biodegradable fibre and it is great for making bags to hold all your soap ends.
More Than A Bag
Sisal has many uses and it can be found in many everyday products from rope, twine, carpet, paper, hats and footwear. Sisal is a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated in many other countries, and yields a stiff fibre used in making various products. The sisal plant has a 7–10 year life-span and typically produces 200–250 commercially usable leaves. Each leaf contains an average of around 1000 fibres
A small sisal bag has many uses around your house but in particular in the bathroom. These versatile bags are great for holding your handmade soap, either to hold the full bar or all the small ends that you have left.
Exfoliation & Soap
Sisal fibres act as an exfoliant so the bag will help to wash away dead skin cells and combined with your luxury handmade soap your skin will be left feeling clean and refreshed.
I wrote a bout this subject on another blog but is is still a topic of conversation for soapers old and new
This is a question that each soap maker has a choice over. So what is the gel phase when making soap you ask and why do we get so excited or exercised by it?
Each batch of soap made with the same set of ingredients will have a slight difference in the appearance depending on the gel phase.
I make cold processed soap and the gel phase is the reference to the saponification process when the soap gets to a certain temperature and becomes gelatinous, this can occur up to 170 degrees ( not a good idea to put your fingers in the soap at this stage to see if it really is hot!).
Gelling is a common occurrence when making soap. If I have gelled my soap then in the first few weeks of pouring the batch it will become quite hard as it evaporates the water. If I did not gel the soap it will take a little longer to harden and will also develop a slight translucent appearance.
In this age of appearance it is down to personal choice as to gel or not as it does not have any effect on the quality of the fully cured bar of soap.
How Do I Gel?
So if I want to gel my soap I insulate it soon after pouring, this entails placing it in a cardboard box and then covering it in some old towels and left in a warm draught free area for 24hrs. Now what do you class as a warm room I hear you ask? This is personal to you and the environment you live in – however too hot and the soap can ‘volcano’ or tunnel or just explode ( only happened once with some Honey & Oat soap) so watch your temperatures.
If I don’t want to gel my soap then I soap at colder temperature and then place the soap in the freezer or cold area immediately after pouring, I also leave it uncovered except for a top cover to prevent soda ash ( story for another day).
When to gel?
Up to a few months ago I have always preferred to gel with 2 exceptions.
If I am making Honey & Oat soap I do not gel – the sugars in the honey already add heat and I like the paler colour when it is not gelled.
I have also just started to make goats milk soap: gel phase and milk soap are not friends. Any type of milk soaps are best soaped cold (very cold), or else you run the risk of scorching the milk proteins and sugars. From first hand experience this results in a brownish soap that doesn’t smell great!
Also from personal experience I can confirm that it can result in a huge soapy fudge like mess as milk soaps are already prone to getting too hot. I was still able to use the goats milk soap it was just a darker colour thank I had aimed for.
So the question to gel or not is a bit like the marmite question – do you love it or hate it?