Thursday, January 30, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Butterfly Swirls??), Flirt and New Soap Packagin...

Here are just  a few more soaps on curing the rack:

Butterfly Swirl Effect

This wasn't exactly the swirl that I planned.  The swirls were supposed to be coming in towards the center from the top corner and opposite bottom corner, but I guess I sort of stumbled onto a new technique.
When placed together, the bars formed a butterfly pattern that I thought was pretty cool.
I did the same circular swirl pattern with my skewer that I've always done.  I think that my new tall skinny mold played a HUGE role in this.  It sort of forced the colors to one side, where in the past with my normal size molds, the swirl stayed in the center of the loaf.  Two other batches done the same day, had this same effect. 

This is really a unique kind of scent.  It blends bakery types with fresh.  Which sounds very weird yet somehow works very well.
"A blend of Maple, sweet Spices, Coconut Pulp and creamy Vanilla accents on a crisp ozonic base of Clean Linen"
"A flirty heart of light florals  kissed with Purple Passion Fruit, sun-ripened Tuscan Grapes and Vanilla musk"
I'm not really a floral kind of girl, but I'm getting there!  They are growing on me.  This soap was a hit last Valentines Day, so I brought it back.  I actually don't mind doing these embeds. They're fun and who can resist sparkly hearts?
In the past, I've always created my own cigar bands, printed them, cut them out, wrapped all the soap bars then shrink wrapped them in plastic soap sleeves or more recently, smell through film.  But since I am, for the most part, a one woman show, it really is becoming a bit much in regards to time. 
So, I've switched to vellum paper and sticker labels.  It took me only a few days to do what normally takes almost 2 weeks.  Customer feedback will determine if I stick with this.  I like it though ;0)

Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Curing Rack...

There are just 4 more days to go until my shop is back up and running.  I always get so nervous and excited before releasing a new line-up.  Anywho, here are a few of the goodies coming soon:

I add a batch of BRV to every release.  Not many people can resist this delicious blend. The look changes every single time.  I've never designed this soap the same way twice.  I really like this look though.  Maybe I'll stick with it for a while...
Jolt is a "wake-me-up!" kind of scent.  Notice the exclamation point, lol.  I think citrus is always a great scent for the morning shower, but Jolt has a kick of Rosemary and Mint to really open your eyes.
This was sort of an attempt at a tiger stripe.  Sort of.  I changed the design at the last second and just started pouring.  It looks more like a faux funnel pour but either way, I'm happy with it.
Last for today, but certainly not least:

I'm a total sucker for fresh scents.  Sunday Afternoon reminds me of my younger years sitting in my Granny's backyard while she hung the clean sheets out to dry.  Sweet fresh air with juicy notes of clementine, nectarines, freesia and sparkling crystal clear water on a base of exotic woods and musk. It's like the perfect relaxing breeze. 
That's all for today.  I'll be back with some more.  Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Soap Crackling

*Please see Edit at the end of this post.
Crackling or Glycerin Rivers isn't an issue that I generally struggle with.  I believe that it is occurs when soap that contains Titanium Dioxide overheats.  Since I primarily soap in an HDPE mold at cool temps, this almost never happens. 
 This is my most recent batch of Achilles Bay.  It's a fresh and tropical aquatic blend.  See those clear veins?  That's crackling.  It doesn't affect the soaps performance in any way.  Cosmetically, it's just a bit of a nuisance.
Since I've been using my temporary wooden mold, almost every batch has a bit of it.  None like this one though.  So, I'm guessing that the  fragrance blend may have a role to play in this as well.
Here's a batch of Beguile made the same day in the same mold.  This is a coffee and marshmallow blend.  All of these soaps heated so much that most of them cracked on top.  Again, something I don't normally struggle with.  The wood must really hold heat!  If you look very closely, you may see that the swirls inside the bars have a bit of crackling.  The white portion on top of the bars doesn't have any though.  Go figure.

I thought maybe it had to do with my switching to water soluble TD.  But in this batch of Sundance, there's no crackling.  All citrus notes here with just a bit of clove.
Same with Geisha.  I used TD for the white base.  This has sweet florals and plum.  I'm not sure if it went through full gel but it did heat up so much that you could smell the scent around the corner, up the stairs and into the kitchen.  Yet the loaf was crackle free. 
I'm just really a confused soaper right now.  Any thoughts?  I'd love to hear them.

*EDIT:  I just wanted to highlight this response by Andee from The Sage.  I found it very helpful and wanted to make sure my fellow soapers benefit from it as well.
My experience is that Titanium Dioxide (and clays) show this off, but the "crackle" is actually is an underlying occurrence in a soap due to multiple possibilities. Titanium Dioxide doesn't cause the crackle, it just acts as a magnifying glass or microscope.

Crackle is (in my experience) caused by fatty acids in the oils that had not melted completely or started to solidify again. This is more common in soaps that have lower starting temperatures, techniques that are cool or use lye to melt the hard oils, or even oils that weren't melted completely. Excess heat hasn't been a culprit for me, but using oils that have a fractionation problem (or are prone to fractionation) as well as oils that have a high amount of unsaponifiable matter like lanolin or jojoba can also contribute to crackle.

This happens in more batches than we realize because only Titanium Dioxide and clays highlight this. When we have a dark soap colored with cocoa, pigments or micas, it won't show up as easily because they are different from Titanium Dioxide and clays (which behave similarly in soap).

I don't know the complete scientific reasoning behind this, but this is what I've had experience with and asked questions of the Technical Team here at TheSage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back in the Soap Shop

It's a new year, vacation is over and I'm back to work.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
I've been back in my soap room and have some goodies on the curing rack.  It's always a little weird for me, after a taking a break for one month or more.  You don't forget how to soap, but somehow, I feel a bit rusty.  Don't know if that happens to anyone else.

I decided to start with some simple, straight forward batches that I couldn't mess up too bad on.  The talented Rich at Soap Hutch, is making a new custom mold for me with more chambers but he's a bit backed up at the moment and soaping MUST go on.  So, for about $50, we made a crude 5 chamber mold to hold me over until the new one arrives. 
She's no beauty, but definitely get's the job done!
In the mold we have OMH (Oatmeal, Milk & Honey), Achilles Bay, Geisha, Flirt and Sundance.  I'll be back with some pictures of the cut bars and details on each batch.


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