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….
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.
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.
The benefits of drinking goats milk are very widely publicised but have you tried it in soap? Earlier this year I wanted to broaden our natural range of soaps with some new products and an opportunity arose to try Goats milk soap again.
A lot of people love goats milk soaps and have had success when using it to relieve symptoms of problematic and sensitive skin.
Goats milk is a beautiful creamy shade of white – sounds like something on a paint chart!
What shall we make?
So the next part of the journey was to decide which base oils to use, everybody has favourites and preferences when it comes to the choice of hard and soft oils. Should I go Palm oil free?. Should I include extra butter to give the soap a creamy moisturizing finish? So after a lot of deliberation the base recipe would be made up of Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Shea butter.
Which scents to choose – fragrance or essential oils?
Not a difficult choice here – I went for essential oils, the difficult part was the selection and combinations. Weeks later and I came up with my choice, my husband has never smelt so good as he had all the oils on his socks!
A few favourites, Lavender, Lime and Patchouli but also a few different touches with Vanilla, Vettiver and Fennel. I also tried some different combinations of additives settling on turmeric for it healing properties and activated charcoal for its cleansing power.
Into the Workshop
So once I had settled on my new recipes I sent these off to be checked by a chartered chemist and get the legal cosmetic safety assessment which is required to sell soap in the EU.
So with certificate in hand it was down to the workshop and a week later I had produced the first batch of each soap.
Goats milk soap takes a little longer to cure to become the mild creamy soap we love but it is worth it!
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?