Thursday, April 4, 2013

Today's Soaping News

Well, there were a few things that came up today with soaping news for me.  The first of which is that my order of fragrance oils from Peak arrived today.  I received the 20 one ounce containers that I ordered plus an ounce sampler of Country Garden scent for free.  Here is a picture of my little haul.

The scents included are Blackberry Sage, Applejack and Peel, Cinnamon and Balsam, Juniper Breeze, Jasmine, Lavender, Lilac, Midsummer Night, Red Clove, Sage and Lemongrass, White Tea and Ginger, Asian Sandalwood, Mountain Lake, Nag Champa, Frasier Fir, Black Canyon, Birds of Paradise, and Stargazer Lily (I got two each of Midsummer Night and Sage and Lemongrass).  Of the scents that I got, I really like the Midsummer Night, Juniper Breeze, Lilac, Red Clove, and Sage and Lemongrass.  Some of the others a bit sweeter then I would normally like scents, but most of the scents are not one's that I would actively dislike having in the apartment (I do not like using the flowery scents myself, but have picked them up for friends and/or family).

Another piece of news I got today was that I was in touch with the person that sent me the fragrance oils that I posted about previously.  She had seen my blog and said she could identify the Mystery Soap for me.  With the magic of modern technology and a really bad picture on my part, I was able to get the news that the fragrance of the Mystery Soap is Harvest Moon from The Sage.

Next in my soaping news for today is that I made my first large batch of soap.  I have been doing one pound batches, and the batch I did today was four pounds!  It may not be a lot to some of seasoned pros out there, but it was a big batch for me and, of course, it comes with the adventure story!

Well, I have been using one bowl to make my soaps in and it has been roomy, but I did realize that it was not going to be large enough to hold four pounds worth of soap.  So, I started out using a larger bowl and thought that all was well, I measured my water and then added my measured lye to it and set it out of the way.  Then I measured my hard and soft oils and put them into my nice big bowl and then came the realization that the bigger bowl would not fit into the microwave to melt the hard oils.  So, I had to pour my oils into my usual, smaller bowl and put that in my poor little microwave.

Then there was the adventure of lining my mold.  I chose to use a cardboard box as a mold rather then wait for the mold I ordered on Etsy to arrive, because I need to have this soap mailed in to Bramble Berry at the end of the month, and it needs to cure some before then.  I tried to put some plastic wrap as a liner to help avoid leaks in the box (after I used packing tape on all the bottom edges of the it).  The plastic wrap was very unwieldy, especially since I had my gloves on from handling lye and I am being frugal and did not want to have to use more then one set of latex gloves.  I quickly got frustrated with the wrap and used parchment paper on the bottom instead.  I pressed it into corners and did not do a very neat job, but, well, it is lined.

From there, I go back to actually start making the soap.  My soap is scented with Cranberry Fig fragrance oil and I would normally use enough to have a strong scent, but as I was limited in how much of the fragrance I actually had, I used enough to get a light to medium fragrance (from the current smell in the apartment you wouldn't be able to guess it was a light scent though).  I added the fragrance at a light trace and then separated two bowls and colored them red and green leaving the main portion of the soap uncolored. 

Well, in the process of mixing the colors into the soaps, the thin trace that I had in the soap became a thick trace.  I attempted to do an in the pot swirl with the colors I had.  This would involve pouring the colors at different heights so it would break through the layer of the base color soap and it could be mixed at different depths as well as through the soap.  One pouring from the highest point I could get, the soap landed on the uncolored batter and spread without breaking through.  I was a bit daunted by this, but went bravely forward and poured most of the rest of the batter in different "corners" of the bowl.  I did a swirl with my spatula and then poured it into the waiting mold.

I was able to scoop bits of the color that I had remaining in the two bowls out onto the top of the soap and I created my first ever swirled top.  All things considered, it came out looking fairly nice.  I hope that I can manage to cut the soap at least halfway straight and that the inside looks okay.  I don't have any more fragrance oil or money to buy more of it, so this is kind of what I have for the swap one way or another. 

So, this is how the top of the soap looks currently as it is in the box. I have now covered it up and "put it to bed." I will see what it looks like tomorrow or Saturday!

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