Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beldi - Moroccan Black Soap

Have you heard of Beldi soap?  It's also called Moroccan Black Soap, made of 100% olive oil and black olive paste.  It is used in Moroccan bath or Hamam Maghrabi.  It starts with an overall rinse, then smear black soap all over your body, followed by sitting in a hot steamy room for awhile until your pores all open up.  Then someone will take a scrubby sponge and scrub the heck out of you, LOL  It is then followed by a body mask to detox.  The whole process takes about an hour.  Your skin is supposedly like baby soft again.
Anyway, I tried making Beldi soap the other day, except I used herbal infused olive oil and fresh rosemary puree instead of black olive paste.  Beldi soap uses potassium hydroxide to saponify oils, same process as making liquid soap.  The only difference is it stays as a paste and not diluted with more liquid to form final liquid soap.
I used glycerin method to avoid cooking.  It's very fast, done  within 10 minutes.  Glycerin method is by using glycerin in place of water to dissolve potassium hydroxide.  This method requires no cooking, no additional external heating required.
Usually after I saponified my liquid soap using glycerin method I would let it cool down on the counter.  By the time it's cool enough to touch it's pretty much thicken to a sticky paste consistency.  I store the paste until I need soap then I'll dilute is with hot distilled water.  But when I did the same to my Beldi soap it didn't get thick like my normal liquid soap.  Over night it actually stayed jelly like but got really shinny!

I'm thinking it has a lot to do with the puree rosemary I added that made the soap more like jelly than sticky paste.  Jelly is definitely easier to apply on skin than sticky paste, I'm not complaining!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rainbow Cake Soap Fun

Days ago I saw this link on Facebook about making a rainbow cake loaf, it got me very excited!  Normal people see cake, I see soap!
This is a very time consuming project, it needs to be made in multiple stages, actually very similar to baking a cake and then decorate it.  To start, I went to home improvement store and bought a sheet of plastic corrugated panel, it's lightweight but non stick and not that hard to cut.  I made myself a cheap mold so I can make a skinny loaf of soap.
I used banana blended in coconut milk to make the "cake."  The speckles from banana is perfect for imitating an actual cake don't you think?
The next day I unmolded the soap and made some whipped soap for icing to cover all 5 sides.  Curious about what whipped soap is?!  Well, I got it covered, see this post about making whipped soap: How to Make Whipped Soap
The reason I used whipped soap for icing is so I would have plenty of play time to get it all smooth and pretty.  And whipped soap texture is the closest to the real texture of cake icing or whipped cream.  This is the time consuming part.  After slapping on the whipped soap with a knife I started using a silicone scraper to smooth all sides out back and forwards many passes.
The last stage is the color drizzles.  This is the part that went crazy on me.  Splitting a very small batch of soap into 7 colors is not a good idea.  I was not able to keep the soap batter fluid enough, it was more like icing than syrup.  Instead of drizzling on the "cake" top, I had to improvise and scoop each color soap into a sheet of saran wrap each, scrunched up all sides, poke a tiny hole at the center and squeeze it like a pipping bag.
They look like rainbow worms crawling all over my cake soap!
Here is the cut to see how it looks like inside.  Why not make a white cake inside just like the inspiration photo?  Well,
 my design concept is you only get to see a piece of rainbow right after a stormy sky, never see a rainbow in a perfectly bright sunny day!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baking Soda Soap

Did you know that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is amphoteric (react with both acid and bases)?  I didn't until recently.  I know by combining baking soda with some kind of acid will set off fizz, that's how we make bath bomb (or fizzy) to self disperse in bath tub filled with water.  A quick kitchen sink drain cleaning is to flush down some baking soda with vinegar.  But, I've never tried reacting baking soda with a base.  I just learned recently that reacting with a strong base baking soda would turn into washing soda which is a water softener.
Since baking soda reacts with lye which is a strong base, making cold process soap with baking soda is somewhat tricky.  I have seen soap makers failed by adding too much baking soda into the soap batter.  Too much baking soda added would end up off setting the normal saponification process and resulting in mushy soap, which is not soap at all.
As curious as I am, I just have to try this.  I live in a hard water county, majority of our water source is from the underground.  We did install a heavy duty water softener tank in our garage where the water enters the house, but it's never as good.  In fact I cannot bring myself to drink the tab water, it tastes funny, yucky.  I can never have a luxurious bubble bath with 10 inch high foam because my water is hard.  If adding baking soda in soap can help combat the hard water and cut down soap scum I think I would feel like I hit the jackpot.
To prevent baking soda off setting normal saponification I decided to use lower lye discount and only add 5% of the oil weight.  Since all I heard from other soap makers' horrified story is that baking soda reverses trace, I decide to take a water discount.  With 5% lye discount, 5% baking soda, 33% lye concentration, my first baking soda soap didn't go too well.  It went way pass plan A, totally skipped plan B straight to plan C which is just trying my best to squish all I can into the mold before it started to harden.
 I was not surprised at all when I unfolded this small 5 bar test log, there were potholes EVERYWHERE.
It was very bad.  This photo was taken after I tried to patch up some potholes using the scrap soap from the soap pots. There wasn't enough scrap to fill all that holes.  I had to sacrifice 1/2 bar of soap to fill the rest of the holes.  These are the 4 bars left:
How did I fill those potholes?!  Soap is still considered soft and pliable when first unmolded.  All I have to do it smash it like clay and push it into the holes with a knife (or scrapper). This only works the first couple hours of the soap out of the mold, else it gets too dry to work for seamless patching.
2 days later I took a sample piece to the sink for lather testing.  I can still feel the baking soda, it smells powdery and a little chalky, but not scratchy.  So far I'm not seeing a noticeable different in lather, maybe I'll wait a few weeks to wash again.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How Exact Can I Recreating a Soap Design?!

Have you ever gotten into a situation where you accidentally (or not) created a soap that's surprisingly great and would love to recreate it again and again but just can't?!
I made this soap inspired by a color palette from Design Seeds:
I really like this vibrant happy summer color combination in a white soap base.  Unfortunately the yellow color faded to almost nothing within 2 days.  Here's my previous post about color fading: Disappointing Color Fading  
It looked like this 2 days later:
Now, I really, really want to recreate this!  Give my yellow back!  Without the yellow, the soap just doesn't look the same!  Without knowing exactly why the yellow faded so fast, either the colorant or the fragrance, I decided to use a different scent AND a different yellow, I am NOT doing this the 3rd time!




Four weeks later, all colors settled a little, not as neon but didn't fade!  Thank goodness there's not 3rd time!  The faded 1st batch still smells great and good soap but too bad the look is not up to part, it'll go to the unsellable pile for personal use or donation. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's All About The Scrub

Summer is coming, no more thick socks and closed toe boots!  Scrub is a must when trying to get ready for the pretty sundresses and trendy sandals.  The traditional scrub is oil base.  It's basically liquid oil and butter mixed with either salt or sugar as exfoliant, serves the purpose of polishing off the dry dead skin on the upper layer but leaves a layer of greasy oil no mater how many times you try to rinse with water.  I'm not a fan of traditional scrub because it leaves my shower floor oily and slippery.  I've been modifying it to the emulsified version and loving it much better.  An emulsified scrub is a tradition oil scrub with added emulsifier.  Why do we need emulsifier?  We all know that oil and water don't get along.  In order to cut down the grease and for easier rinse off we need an emulsifier to act as a binder between these 2 elements.  The emulsifier also acts as a suspension for the heavier solid exfoliants to disperse evenly and not sink down at the bottom of the jar like the traditional oil scrub.  Here's my new sea salt scrub:
I have to made this emulsified "lotion" first:
Then add different exfoliants:
Some people find salt to be abrasive and can sting cut and scratches.  This is definitely not for sensitive skin but it's by no mean coarse.  If you have a cut on your skin everything is going to sting.  I love using this on my feet and elbows.  Salt can soften the top layer of dead skin and does not melt as easy as sugar under hot shower.  And many people might have forgotten the fact that salt is an anti-inflammatory, a bonus!
But, if you still are not convinced that salt scrub is the way to go, let's talk about sugar scrub.  It seems like people prefer to use sugar scrub as an overall body scrub.  I love the idea of combining cleaning and scrub together, no need to do it in 2 separate steps!  This is foaming sugar scrub, using mild surfactant based cleanser cream together with exfoliants.
When I make scrub, either salt or sugar, I like to layer my exfoliants, like a system.  I use combination of different size particles from fine powder like pumice (volcanic ash) to dust size ground apricot seed to either finely grind sea salt or raw sugar (I don't prefer the white table sugar) and finally to large round poppy seeds.
Some of you might raise your eyebrow about using surfactant because it's not natural.  Chemically made surfactants are often misunderstood as being harmful to human skin, which is not true at all.  Carefully chosen surfactants can be milder than natural soap because the pH level is much closer to our skin.  Surprised?!  Natural soap is high in pH, somewhere around 9-10, and guess what our skin pH is?  It's around 5.5!  Anyway, for people who insist on using natural soap, I also made a cream soap version.  If you wonder what cream soap is, you can read this post: Making Cream Soap

If I didn't use a different pipping tip, would anyone be able to tell which one is natural cream soap based and which is surfactant based?
It's been more than 17 weeks since I made the cream soap, it's now much milder than fist made, so glad.  I think it's almost ready!  Now, who want to be my scrub tester?  I will select first 5 who commented under this blog, US only, each will receive 3 samples of scrub: emulsified salt scrub, surfactant based sugar scrub and cream soap based sugar scrub.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Disappointing Color Fading

I use all kind of colorants to soap, some natural some synthetic.  Sometimes I run into situations where color morphs into an undesirable hue, or fades during the curing process.  It's very common that natural colorants fade in time because most of them are light sensitive.  I can make a batch of soap with the most vibrant beautiful colors just to find them unsellable at the end.  Let's see the runner ups.

Here is the soap made with Spirulina (a type of algae).  Spirulina is a deep green powder that smells fishy and when it's added into soap and then forced gel it produces this vibrant intense leafy green color.  Then a few weeks later that vibrant leafy green turned into yellowish olive green.

Here's another one using natural colorant, Gromwell root infused 72% olive oil soap.  Gromwell root is widely used in Asia mainly for herbal medicine.  It is infused in oil and butters to make slave or balms to treat various skin conditions.  It can also be used as fabric dye for purple color.  Soap color made with Gromwell root infusion can range from blue purple to plum purple depending on the harvest.  Again, the beautiful intense color didn't last...

Now this final one surprised me.  I've used this specific colorant before and never have it fade on me in such a short period of time!  It turned to barely anything in just 2 days!  Yellow #5 lake is a strong yellow dye, it's synthetic, not natural.  I suspect the fragrance I used for this batch has something to do with the yellow disappearing.
What colorants have you tried that don't last?

Monday, April 21, 2014

You Tube Live Event - Making Blood Moon Soap

Not bad for my first YouTube Live Event!  Consider it was Easter Sunday night, still managed to have 17 viewers.  It's hard talking to myself the whole time.  I usually soap pretty quiet and take my time "playing" with my soap.  I was so conscious about giving the right amount of information at the same time trying not to soap faster to not bore viewers.  Well, the hardest part is over, you will be the judge of how I did.  Any constructive criticism welcome, please comment here or on my Facebook page.
If it is well received I would really consider doing this with a regular schedule, what do you all think?

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