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We've had to disable the website template for the blog as it interferes with the text display and causes bits of it to disappear completely.

It's a bit rough and unvarnished looking, but hey ho...:)

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  1. Shea Oatmeal Soap

     

    One of the great conundrums of soap making is how to make a good milk soap with a light colour. Milks add creaminess and gentle cleansing qualities to the finished bar, but can be a bit of a nightmare to get right.

    The main thing to consider is the temperature of the milk when you add it to the water, as the lye when added will cause the milk to heat up, and even scorch if the milk is too warm. What is too warm? That depends on a number of things, such as the room temperature and time of year, although even here in the frozen north I have to freeze my goats milk before soaping with it.

    Freezing helps to control the temperature of the milk when the sodium hydroxide is added to the lye/water solution, although the finished solution will still be on the yellow/slightly orange side, depending on the time of year. If the kitchen is very cold in the winter, the solution will turn the colour of white chocolate (in my kitchen anyway) and a creamier-looking bar is possible.

    The cold process soap above was made at a room temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius with the milk frozen in 90g bars. I've heard of soapers putting the freshly poured soap in the freezer to stop the soap from gelling, which keeps the colour lighter. I usually gel my soap in a preheated slow cooker (my LPG cooker is too hot for CPOP), but I think I'll try freezing this particular soap next time round and post the results here....:)

     

  2. Shampoo Bars

     

    I've been asked about these more than a few times, and have been making them for our own use for a couple of years now.

    With shampoo bars, it's all about the castor oil, which means lots of lovely conditioning bubbles, but they take forever to harden, two months! They also have to sit in the mould for a couple of weeks till they're past the squidgy delicate stage, and we have a few mangled ones in our bathroom soap basket hiding from view.

    Castor oil also has a solvent-like effect on other oils, which causes the soap to be suitable for cleaning hair without leaving any residue, and it doesn't leave the hair feeling limp or lank.

    I tried the ACV/Bicarbonate of Soda (no poo) method for a few months, and it was OK at first, but eventually my hair felt a bit grubby, so instead I use these shampoo bars or their liquid equivalent, and I can still use the ACV rinse. If you feel that your hair needs conditioning after doing an ACV rinse (that's apple cider vinegar, by the way), you can also make a simple conditioning rinse.

    To make a vinegar rinse use 15ml vinegar in 250ml water, and to make a conditioning rinse use 7.50ml glycerine and 1ml lactic acid in 250ml water. Use all of the vinegar rinse for one wash, and use just a few squirts of the glycerine conditioning rinse. How much you use depends on your hair type. Finally, rinse with clean water.

    Years ago, I used to make a normal cream lotion-type conditioner, but figured that the glycerine and lactic acid were the most effective ingredients. The other ingredients were just there to create an emulsion.

  3. Lavender Peppermint Soap

     

    Still on the natural colours theme, this Lavender and Peppermint soap has alkanet root as the only colourant.

    It needs about a tablespoon dried alkanet root infused in the olive oil part of the soap. I usually heat the infusion in a double boiler until the water is boiling, then turn the heat off and leave to infuse for a few hours. The oil will be a deep pink so don't worry, the lavender colour comes once the oil is mixed with the lye. At first it will be grey/green, then blue and finally lavender once the soap has cured, which takes about a month for this soap.

    Alkanet root is alkali-sensitive - the ph of soap is too high to ever get back to the pink colour of infused alkanet, so it's usually used as a purple.

    Olive pomace was used in this soap, and was another lucky seizing escape, so olive oil first pressing it is from now on! For this recipe, anyway.

  4. May Chang Turmeric Soap

     

    Who knew that Turmeric would give you not only a lovely golden yellow, but speckles and freckles as well?

    Probably everyone except me. I added May Chang essential oil to this batch, and the delicate lemony fragrance turned out to be just right for a cheerful, sunny soap.

    This is a new recipe, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out as I wasn't all that confident a month ago - the soap set up far too quickly for my liking, probably just a couple of minutes away from a total seize. Plus having to guess how much turmeric to mix into the soap batter.

    Luckily it was mixed and moulded just in the nick of time. Phew!

    Although I scraped through by the skin of my teeth this time, think I may just play it safe in future and hot process this one....


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