Well – what a month it has been with the predicted April showers dispersed with blasts of sunshine and few rainbows.
As we find our own way of managing the COVID19 crisis and taking every opportunity to wash our hands there have been plenty of rainbows to help us through and this made me think does the colour of the soap we wash with effect our mood?
I am sure over the last few weeks you have picked up lots of handwash and maybe traditional bars of soap on your limited shopping trips. Have you noticed how many colours of soap there are and ever though what is in the product?
Glitter to Botanicals
I noticed there is just about every colour and hue available in the shops for liquid soaps, lots of bottles with glitter and floating balls- did you succumb?. I am not sure that they are any better for washing in however it may encourage the children to wash more?
We do use colours in our handmade soaps, however they are all derived from natural ingredients and botanicals.
So our mini soap rainbow is made up from:
Red – Rose petals on our Vanilla & Rose bar
Orange pieces on our Orange & Cinnamon
Yellow on our Lemon & Poppyseed
Green in our Peppermint
Blue – how we feel when we run out of stock!
Indigo – Patchouli
Violet – Cardamon & Lime
So when this social distancing is over and you meet us at one of our events let us know which soap of the rainbow is your favourite.
Most of you will have heard of a Slush Puppy – the ice cold drink loved by children around the world. An ice bed with some coloured flavouring. Here at Whit & Wick we have a SLUSH GOAT and it is definitely not for drinking.
Last year we introduced our creamy goats milk soap to our range and it has proven to be a best seller. The Goats Milk Soap takes a little longer to make than our Cold Processed range. There are a few extra preparation steps that are key to keep giving the soap that lovely creamy texture whilst retaining bright white colour, we do not add any chemical additives to our soap for colour.
The lowdown on the SLUSH
The slush comes in the form of the goats milk before it is mixed with the oils. We freeze the fresh goats milk in ice cube trays, when ready to make the lye we add it cube at a time and keep stirring and about 40 ice cubes later we have a mixture that resembles the slush. If it is a hot day we also keep the mixture on an ice bed. All of this preparation ensures that the milk does not scorch and it results in the pale loveliness of the soap.
So once it is combined with the oils and left in the mould for 48 hours it is removed, cut and left to cure for approx. 10 week. Finally we hand wrap our soap in recyclable paper ready for you to stock up on your favourite bar.
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.
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?
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!