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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...at least in the U.S. A. Whether you like it or not, you can't go far without seeing some manifestation of Christmas. But Christmas is just one of the many world-wide Festivals of Lights being embraced and celebrated this month that are part of mankind's annual ritual passage through the dark days of Winter. And where there is a festival of light, there are most likely candles.
From the earliest Roman festivals and pagan rituals, through Europe and Africa to the Americas, candles and their enigmatic light have been one of the key factors in the celebration of the winter holidays. They are both decorative and utilitarian, and as I've spoken of many times on this site, have a certain beauty and power that just can't be summed up in words.
So while there isn't an About.com site about Christmas specifically, there are dozens and dozens of craft and holiday related pages. I have compiled a list of my favorite Christmas and Winter-related links. Go make some candles and enjoy your particular special festival of light.
Most of us in the U.S. are in the middle of some really cold icy weather. I debated whether to feature the Peppermint Ice Soap project, or the Ice Candles. The Ice Candles won. At least the candles will add a bit of "warmth" to the house. But take your pick. Grab some of that ice and enjoy. Maybe next week, I'll make snowball candles...
The holiday season is upon us - and it's starting out delightful as always. If you're planning to make soap or candles for your holiday gifts, (and of course you are!) you'd better get busy! Here are some Christmas and seasonal soap making projects that are sure to delight your friends and family. Just make sure that you keep a couple extras for yourself!
Inspired by the cold process soap with Autumn embeds, I decided to make some gel candles using the same principle - and the same style of small cookie cutters. Like the melt and pour soap shapes, you make a sheet of gel wax - with color and/or glitter added - and then put those on the surface (the sides) of the container. Pour in some more colored and/or glittered melted gel wax and you have a festive gel candle.
While most everyone in the U.S. is feasting on desserts and pies, I thought it appropriate to bring back a yummy recipe that was inspired by a famous dessert. You have likely tried making soap with goat's milk, coconut milk or even cow's milk. But have you ever used all three? That's what I did when I developed this recipe using three different milks inspired by the yummy tres leches cake. I used my colleague Amanda Griffin's "milk in oil method" for adding milk to the soap recipe - and it works splendidly.
It's just a month away from Christmas, so I've been busy making soap to be ready for Christmas gifts. I've really been in love with my recent batch of 100% coconut oil soap, but I wanted to make a batch of soap that would be - and would be perceived as - real "luxury" soap. Many people equate "luxury" with oils like shea butter and cocoa butter, so I created this recipe, called Double Butter, that uses 25% butters in the recipe. It's otherwise a pretty straightforward recipe. I did this batch with an "in the pot" swirl. It is certain to delight your friends and family - but be sure to save a bar for yourself!
While you're rushing around getting your last minute ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, don't forget to dress up your table. Here are two great decorating projects that are sure to make your table festive!
Candles with Bows
Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Pillar Candles
And don't forget the Squash Tea Light Lanterns! Or if you have an extra can of (plain) pumpkin, you can make some pumpkin soap. (If you make it this weekend, it will be ready and fully cured by Christmas.)
You create multi-colored swirled embeds using clear melt and pour soap and mica - then embed them in a titanium dioxide fortified cold process soap recipe.
A great way to add some fun and colorful interest to your soap! (And you can vary the theme just by changing the cookie cutter shapes and mica colors!)
After I'm done with Halloween and making Pumpkin Soap, I love to do projects that seem in sync with the cooler weather. One of those is making soaps with liquids other than just water - tea, goat's milk, infusions, even beer. A cup of tea for the soap...a cup of tea for the soap maker.
Photo credit: Steve Wisbauer / Getty Images
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Many soaps in stores today are white - bright white - but because they are made with added colorants and/or surfactants and detergents - they're artificially white. Natural soap, especially soap made with olive oil is going to have a slightly tan or beige color. But it is possible to adjust your real soap recipe to be whiter using only natural ingredients.
Some tips to do it:
- The color of the soap is largely determined by the ingredients. While some base oils will give you a nice, white soap, others (incl. olive oil) will impart a more beige/green tint to the soap.
- Fragrance and essential oils can impart their color to the soap significantly...especially any fragrance oils that contain vanilla.
- Using milk or other liquids in the recipe can shift the soap's color too.
- While titanium dioxide is an additive, and has a chemical-like name, I pretty much think of titanium dioxide as a pretty "natural" ingredient.
For more information, check out How to Make Old Fashioned Hard White Soap.