I had some soy wax leftover from a big project - four different wax blends - one is a basic traditional soy container wax, one a pillar/votive blend, and two new "modified" waxes that have been "molecularly blueprinted" to reduce polymorphism. (They both contract a bit when they cool, so they are awesome for clear glass container candles.)
Here are photos, tips and instructions from my day of soy candle making!
Hopefully you remember the story of the Lovin Soap Project which has been traveling to Haiti to teach women in tent villages how to make soap - and through it, transform their lives. Amanda Gail and Benjamin Aaron are back in Haiti today, working with the women of the OFEDA tent camp. Talk of body care products was weighed down with heavy news that the women are going to be evicted from the land the camp is on. So not only are they losing their homes, but the community they have built.
There are still glimmers of hope, however strained it may be. As Benjamin wrote to me today, "Soapmaking and bodycare production are the vehicle in which positive and fruitful change will come to pass. Under the circumstances of today's events, which aren't anything we can really grasp, they showed up. The women we teach have complete faith in the process, in themselves and us. They know they will be successful."
Take a minute to read the whole story at the Lovin Soap Project website. You can learn more about the project and how to lend your support.
May and June are great months for soap and candle conferences!
In addition to the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild's conference, the Tennessee Soap and Candle gathering is also in May. It's an annual gathering of soapmakers and candlemakers from Tennessee and the Southeast region, and this year's lineup features some of the best and brightest teachers and soap/candle making personalities in the country including Amanda Griffin, Benjamin Aaron, Kayla Fioravanti, Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Marla Bosworth and more.
June 13-14 is the Lone Star Soap & Toiletries Seminar, deep in the heart of Texas and will feature the wonderful Elin Criswell, Stacy Durham, Theresa Mendez, Pat Potter, and Kathy White. Also in June is the Alabama Soap & Candle Association's gathering featuring Lela Barker, Kenna Cote, and several other great speakers. I've been to both the Texas and Alabama gatherings and they are truly wonderful!
A "gathering" is a truly marvelous place to share ideas, share tips, visit vendors and see in-person demonstrations. If you have not been to one you are really missing out! If there's not one in your area...create one. It just takes a few (two or more?) soap makers in a kitchen or recreation center to make a gathering. It just take a gathering to make a basket full of great soap and candle making memories!
Photo: Trinette Reed / Getty Images
Original Artist: Stradamus - Hulton Archive / Getty Images
I'm doing some cleaning and organizing in my essential oil closet. I find myself sniffing every bottle and just reveling in how lucious all of these scents are! I've stated many times how much awe and appreciation I have for essential oils. They are amazing and powerful natural elements! We may know that they come directly from the plant's "essence" - but how do they get extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots or other parts of the plants? Here's more information about water and steam distillation of essential oils.
"When we peel an orange, walk through a rose garden, or rub a sprig of lavender between our fingers...what exactly is it that we can smell? Generally speaking, it is essential oils that give spices and herbs their specific scent and flavour, flowers and fruit their perfume." - Julia Lawless inThe Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
Spring is here...at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. That usually means more working around the house and yard. So, whether for your own use, or for gifts, it's great to have some "household" soaps on hand. About this time of year, I'll make up some batches of Household Soap Combo soaps. Whether it's my gardening soap or my super scrubby pumice soap, they're fun to make, make great gifts, and do a great job cleaning up dirty hands. They also make delightful, useful, housewarming presents. And...if you don't have time for cold process soap to cure, you can use melt and pour soap base and have it ready tonight!
You may have started out just making old fashioned plain white soap. Or you may have started using color from the beginning. Over the past couple of years, the art of marbling or swirling color into soap has become a real passion and a real art form among soap makers. Here is a collection of tutorials, resources and videos to get you started making marvelous swirls in your own soap.
As soap makers and folks who make bath and body products, we use salt in a lot of ways. We make bath salts of course - and a close relative to them, the fizzy bath bomb. We add a pinch of salt to our recipes to make the bars harder, or we add pounds of salt to our soap to make super-hard, exfoliating "salt bars." Quite recently I discovered a relatively unknown German soapmaking process called soleseife - or brine/saltwater soap - where the process is a little different in that you dissolve the salt first in the lye water rather than added at trace like traditional salt bars.
But I was wondering, just why do we put salt in our soap or our bath tubs in the first place? Why is salt good for your skin and/or body?
This is what I found out...
Photo: George Doyle / Getty Images
They're a little bit bath salt, a little bit oil, a lot relaxing, and a lot of fizzy fun....the fizzy bath bomb.
You can make them round or tablet-shaped...or using individual soap molds. They use mostly simple ingredients that you have around the house - salt and baking soda - and citric acid. The recipe I have used for years has a few more ingredients and adds a bit of luxury oil to the bath. And why else do we take the time to relax in the bath if not for a bit of luxury!? It's a messy project - but a great project for kids too! And be sure to check out the new video version of the fizzy bath bombs project instructions.
Robert Tardio / Getty Images
I've said many times that working with essential oils is one my favorite things about soap and candle making. And if you've been making soap (or candles) for very long, you've probably amassed a cabinet (or at least a shelf) full of essential and fragrance oils - samples, small vials, ounces you've shared with others. But too often, folks are afraid to experiment with blending. Creating your own fragrance and essential oil blends is easy - and really rewarding. How does one come up with the various combinations of blends? First, get to know the individual characteristics of the oils - through books on essential oils, or just from experimentation. A drop of this...mixed with a drop of that. Don't get too caught up in having to have a balance of top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Use them as guides for your blending - just follow your nose...and be sure to take good notes!
Some people like their soap rich and smooth and creamy.
Some like it full of scrubby stuff.
Most, like me, like it somewhere in between...or a combination of both
After cleansing, exfoliation is one of the most important parts of overall skin care; a little bit of scrub is actually quite good for you! So why not incorporate a little bit of scrub along with your cleansing? Along with dozens of natural colorants you can add to give your soap (both cold process and melt-n-pour) color, there are many natural exfoliants you can add to give your soap some scrubbiness. Here's a growing list I've been compiling from my own soaps, tests and other soapers.
Using Natural Exfoliants in Soap.
You really will notice a difference in your skin if you regularly exfoliate.