TGQ "Just for FUN"
Good Morning Gentlemen,
I hope everyone had a joyous and Happy New Year! Now I'm one of those folks who like to look back on the past year and think about where I'd like to see things improve in my life.....not just in business, but "me" as a person. One thing I decided right off the bat is that I do not spend enough "fun" time over here.
And while in the end this is about soap.....but I thought it might be interesting for you to see the process. OK.....I see I can only upload five photographs at a time, so we'll do this in segments....like a mini series
First let me say that I no longer make soap from my home basement, after 4 years the business had taken over our home, and when the little house next door came up for sale, my sweet Husband made the downpayment ( cuz he was tired at looking at our home decor of Black and Decker shelving )
These pictures are from the "Little House" which is right next door. And I love it! I can walk right over with my cup of coffee, and its nice and quiet...and far more organzied than how it was here at our home.
- These are the wooden molds I use to pour the soap into. Each has a lid and after the soap is poured a lid is placed on top and then the molds go under an insulating blanket for 24 to 48 hours.
- Gathering up all the supplies to make my lye solution
- Melting the oils on the stovetop under gentle heat. My preferred formula is soybean oil, food grade A Olive oil, Coconut oil, Castor and Palm oil.
- Mixing the lye INTO the distilled water "and NEVER the other way around"....the solution becomes immediately hot....up to the boiling point, but doesn't boil which is kinda cool, if you look close you can see the condensation from the heat on the glass. When first mixed I have on goggles, and rubber gloves because the lye solution is caustic and gives a nasty burn, especially if it gets on your face
Because my method of soapmaking is known as "Cold Process" the oils are heated under gentle heat ( no smoking oil here! ) just until melted. Then that boiling hot lye solution is placed into a cold water bath to lower the temperature down to my preferred range.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask or make any comments.
Nice pictorial! Looking forward to seeing more posts detailing your entire process -- it's fascinating stuff!
I noticed the bottles of your EO scents (?) in the background. What does the "11/1|07" and "APAS" mean?
You're speaking my language, sister. I didn't even know you were dabbling in Aftershaves. And a high Menthol content Aftershave?
Originally Posted by Soapmistress
Please do let me know when you begin offering these. Do you plan on offering them in all your scents?
Collen also does her scents in colognes but you have to ask. I like the Ironwood but it is strong so I have to be light with it.
Very Nice post Colleen, if you upload the photos to the B&B gallery there is no limit how many photos you can use.Pm me for help if you need to.
Colleen - good to see you posting and hope to see you 'round here more often.
This is pretty high test and not for the faint of heart.
Originally Posted by Baloosh
Some initial remarks were "it burns".... "coughs" and then oddly enough....they wrote back to say that after they used a time or two they decided that they liked it...
I'd be happy to send you a sample on the house ( you cover shipping ) and you can run point.....see what you think. As far as the things I make.....why Gentlemen....I make ALLLL kinds of things, but it goes back to that fanatical OCD behaviour where I hate to put something on the table for sale that I'm not quite sure it's where it needs to be.
This is why every few months I always have samples of something for test. I do have enough various Aftershaves ( which are really more like a milk or a balm) to send out say......5 samples. Just send me a PM if you're interested. If you're interested in the High Test Menthol, be sure to specify that. OK. Oh....and their all essential oil based. I've been pretty stubborn about that which leads to longer trial periods while I've been trying to come up with some new blends and specifically trying to use EO's that I think not only smell good, but are good for your skin too.
I think I love to do samples almost more than anything, because this is how I develop and tweak my product. I can certainly say that the shaving soaps have come a looooooonnngggg way from their original beginning and here lately I'm getting some very nice compliments on the shaving cream; which is not to say that I didn't have nice compliments before, but I have an understanding that I can do better with the cream...if that makes sense. So with the shaving cream I continue to make adjustments and the comments of late have been very positive.
The "soap opera" part two
1) almost ready:
At this particular stage of soapmaking both the oils/butters and the lye solution are at the same temperature. Some soapmakers go for a higher temp, say around 125 F or 130 F but I prefer a lower temp....below 100. And at this stage of the process things will begin to happen very quickly, so the name of the game is to have "Everything" ready. Which is why I showed you the molds in the first set of pictures. LMAO....ask me how many times I got to this stage and realized I hadn't lined my molds
2) 1st stage of pour. If you look back in the earlier photographs you'll see that the oils are clear. When you pour the lye solution into the oils and you are stirring like crazy, the oils "immediately" begin to "saponify" or make soap. ( it really is just the coolest thing ) You will also see some bubbles....
3)2nd stage of pour - you can see that the liquid is much thicker now, and the color is changing. This is natural and the color of the soap can vary based on the initial oils used in the soapmaking process.
4) measuring out the oils to scent the soap - It takes almost 6 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil to scent the size batch I'm making in these photographs. This particular batch is for "Cavendish Black".
5) Scent into the soap - When I pour the fragrance oil ( and it would be the same if it were EO ) because the soap is already thickening the oil sits on top, and now must quickly be stirred in before the soap begins to set up any more. Or hits what is called a heavy trace.
annnddd on that note. Dinner is late, so I gotta run. Be back in the morning over coffee.
Real interesting, are there more to come? I think pictures of your packaging would be good for anyone who has never seen the beautiful way Colleen packages her soaps.
Good Morning Gentlemen!
Originally Posted by crankymoose
crankymoose, thank you for the compliments on the packaging. I know it takes me longer to come out with new products due to my obsession with the packaging and design factor.
And this obsession began when I "juried" for the Tamarack http://www.tamarackwv.com they stated in our first seminar, that our packaging was important....because we ( the maker of the product ) would not be around to talk to potential customers about our product. In other words, "You're product must be good enough to sell itself". So packaging and design became my new obsession, it must grab the customer's eye, just so they would "PICK IT UP", if they don't pick it up, they are going to smell it, and if they don't smell it, they're not going to buy it. My product sits amongnst several other soapmakers and my edge, was to spend some time designing packaging that would "catch" the customer's eye. I felt like if I could just get a person to "pick up" my product and "smell it"....then they would buy it, and they do
I continue to sell wholesale for the Tamarack and truly it is expected of me....to put forth "my best effort"....my very best. This is the basis of the Tamarack, housing some of the most Talented Artists in WV.
It's a high benchmark sometimes, just because it takes ALOT of TIME and effort and thought has to go into this, but still is so very important to me because if my sales fall too low at the Tamarack I can be replaced and on an important note the Tamarack played a very large hand in helping me to get a website built thru the "Artisan's Resource Center".....so I do try to put forth my best effort in putting out a quality product first, and then really nice packaging because I want my customer to know that you're about to get something special.
Next weekend I will be attending my first trade show for buyers at http://www.pipestemresort.com/ which is also part of the reason I'm closed over the next week. Lots of inventory to catch up on and I have to get ready for the show too.....Holy Cow! lol.....
Soap Opera Continues......part three
1) right before I added Cavendish Black fragrance blend, the soap thickens to a point in blending called " trace "....(you have trace, light trace and heavy trace.) Rather than being liquidy ( < new word ) the soap becomes more like pancake batter and then more like pudding. You know you've reached trace when you can pull your stirring utensil up out of the pot and what falls off the spoon, back into the pot..."lays" on top....it doesn't sink back in. This is when it's time to pour. If you look closely at the difference in the photos when 1st poured and now this photograph you can see that the soap is much thicker.
2)The soap is poured over into these large wood molds, each mold has a 5 pound capacity. When I make soap, I make it 10 pounds at a time, and if you ever hear me refer to a "Batch" of soap....this is what I mean. The exception is when I make specialty soaps, those I usually do in a smaller 3.5 pound mold.
3) This is one of the differences in Cold Process soap making, because no external heat is applied after the oil and lye have been mixed together. In the beginning photographs you saw that the oils were barely melted, and the lye solution cooled. When the two elements of an Alkali and Acid are poured together, they create their own heat, the cp soapmaker wants to capture this heat to allow the saponification process to continue. So you place your soap molds close together.
4) then you cover them with a heavy blanket (wool is best ) and you allow them to stay covered for 24 to 48 hours.
But there's still another step or two, and this is gettin kinda long. Maybe I can come back and visit this evening.
I'm a little confused and ignorant about the big molds. How do you later portion the soap in those molds out into individual bars/cakes? Is it just a matter of melting it and pouring it into individual molds?
I suspect it's a big ol' knife that does that :) It's a bath soap, isn't it?
Originally Posted by MooingLizard
Originally Posted by MooingLizard
Good Morning Gentlemen,
Yes....these molds are for Bath soap, after the insulation process the soap is removed from the mold. Now I like to like to let mine air for a day or two before cutting. Each bar is hand cut, that's why the weight of the soap can vary just a bit, but each one is cut and then weighed to make sure it will cure out around 4 oz. and most cure out around 4.2 oz. Bars that weigh less than that end up being samples.
Then the soap must "cure".....the curing process has to do with the excess amount of water used at the beginning of the process. ( lye solution ) When the soap is taken out of the molds right after insulating......it's not exactly "hard"......hmmm....sorda like a stick of butter when you take it out of the refridgerator, which feels hard....but if you pressed your finger into it, it would leave an indentation.
This excess water must evaporate to harden up the soap. The interesting thing is that while a longer process......the end result is a bar that is hard, but with a very fine texture and a beautiful, rich, lather.
This next picture is of two batches of soap, with a roll of glad wrap on the table for a little size comparison.
and the next picture is of soap that has been cut and is now curing.... Oh, oh....and just for fun. You've now seen the Cavendish Black bath soap from the very beginning....and this is what it looks like now....
The pipe in the photograph belongs to my Husband; a Meersham carved into a buffalo head. And thats where the idea came from for the Cavendish Black and the Buffalo Head on the label.....
Making shaving soap is a different process, and the shaving cream is a "really different" process.
Last edited by Soapmistress; 01-28-2008 at 06:33 AM.
Reason: my OCD behavior
That's alot of soap in the second picture. I have that same storage rack in my garage.
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