One of my early blog posts was a picture of this soap, and a rant about the evils of palm oil and palm kernel oil and not much information about this terrific soap. Yesterday I sat down and plotted out ideas about making another batch and it occurred to me that I ought  to share the base recipe with my blog and decide if I wanted it square or round along the way (there are pros and cons to both). 

Gardeners Soap

Apricot kernel Oil 15%

Canola Oil 10%

Castor Oil 10%

Coconut Oil 30%

Lard or Tallow 25%

Olive Oil 10% 

14g fragrance (essential oils or fragrance oils) per 500g oils if desired. I like a pine, cedar, woodsy blend with frankincense, birch, and cade for smokiness. Essential oils get expensive, however, so buying a Christmas tree blend fragrance oil gets you something very much the same with 1/10th the cost and hassle. It’s not “all natural”, but if you order from Brambleberry, it’s high quality, paraben and phthalate free. Just a suggestion. That goes for citrus blends, for just about anything. Definitely for vanilla blends.  I have a Cedarwood and Amber fragrance oil I may use this time. It has the added benefit in that it turns your soap a nice, light tan, eliminating any need for colorants.

4% Superfat  and 33% water discount, soap at total room temperature. Room temperature lye solution, room temperature oils. Mixture will be only at light trace when you add pumice and cornmeal and that’s fine. Yes I know I said 4%. And I mean 4%. It’s still perfectly safe in case of lye glitch, but it’s less greasy and gets the excess oils off of oily, nasty, grubby hands. I personally might even drop mine to 3% after I washed my hands in a pinch with a bar of  1% “laundry soap” and had them get super clean when they were particularly gross with grease and charcoal. So 4% it is. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference between 5% and 4%. But you’ll get cleaner.  

Use 1 tbsp fine pumice and 2 tbsp cornmeal per 500g oils. If that seems like more than what you usually hear, it is, but this makes a hard, scrubby bar for taking off oil, paint, and other dirt and grub from hands.  I will also add sugar, 1/2 tsp per 500g oils and kaolin clay, 2 tbsp per 500 g oils. I add the clay to the oils pot and whisk it in before adding the lye. 

As for the recipe itself, you can use avocado oil in place of apricot kernel, and you can use all canola or all olive instead of splitting them up. I’m just having really good results with this particular blend, of 50/50 canola/olive for my bulk liquid oils. Adding some “higher octane” oil like avocado or apricot kernel rounds out the fatty acids and with the hard oils ends up a great bar of soap. 

 What to do if you don’t use lard or tallow? First of all, go read this page I wrote about the topic and then you can make appropriate substitutions. I hate it, but you can use palm oil. You can also use shea butter with a longer cure time. You can even try a hydrogenated vegetable oil, like soy with a much longer cure time. I’m told that works somewhat well. However, nothing quite replaces animal fats in soap. Please read the link. 

How do I know how much lye and water to use? This post assumes you’re at least a novice soap maker who can use a soap calculator and has made soap before. If not, you need to do some research, watch some YouTube videos on soap making… I suggest hitting Soap Queen, Humblebee and Me, and Candle and Soap online and possibly on YouTube for how to instructions and videos. I did a beginning soap blog post but it was truly horrible and I don’t think anyone could learn anything from it. On my “About” page, you can find information about where I buy supplies, what soap calculator I use, etc. Stuff that you may find helpful and/or vaguely interesting. 

I think I will make our next batch in the tube mold. Our tube mold is just 3″ PVC pipe, cut to 12″ section. It holds 1000g of soap. In an odd blend of Imperial and metric, both my molds hold 100g of soap per inch 😉 We have pipe left, I keep meaning to have my husband cut me another, shorter, section since I tend to make smaller batches from time to time. I can put anything from 500g and up in the mold I have now, but if I want a tester batch, having molds that are only  4 and 6 inches tall would be awesome. The log mold is easy to use. You grease it up with mineral oil or petroleum jelly, and seal the end well. I sit mine upright in a coffee can once it’s filled with soap. I know some people actually put rice around it to keep it steady and with a more liquid soap I may need to do that someday but so far I’ve only used it for basic, single colored soaps. I am having a soap making extravaganza very soon, and I will need all my soap molds to make gardeners soap, shaving soap, beer soap, Neem Oil soap, and rainbow rimmed soap all in one day. Maybe two days, lol. 
Enjoy the recipe. Happy soaping! 


Cracking the combination

​I have the worst combination skin. It’s dry and flaky on my cheeks, and even at times on my forehead, but just a hot oily mess across my nose and chin. Since I’ve been making lotions and creams, I’ve attempted two face moisturizers. One balm, which left my skin feeling oily and heavy, and one lotion just packed with every skin loving ingredient I could think of, which tingles when I first put it on, and while it doesn’t add to the oily mess, it isn’t quite enough for the dry skin. 
Recently, Marie over at Humblebee & Me posted a recipe for a moisturizing  skin balm. It relies on using mango butter, which goes on deliciously dry and silky, and a cocktail of “drying” oils, along with a bit of arrowroot starch for a matte finish and to absorb shine. I tweaked her recipe because I didn’t have the exact oils on hand. You can possibly tweak it a little further, as noted. 
Actually, when I first read it, I had hopes of turning it into a lotion as well. But there’s no way to incorporate a starch into a water based lotion, it would simply become a glue like substance which is not good at all and would be conducive to mold and other bad things. So I made it as is, and it’s actually very nice. 
You can find the original recipe, which is called Seabuckthorn Mattifying Moisturizer, here.
 My version, which I am loving, is below (I took the text mostly word for word off the Humblebee & Me website) : 
Mango Butter Mattifying Moisturizer

5g Castor oil (please use castor oil!) 
7g Mango Butter (please use Mango Butter! Shea butter and cocoa butter are too greasy and heavy)

4g Broccoli Seed Oil (If you don’t have this, sub in any skin loving oil like grapeseed or even argan if you want to splurge)

4g Rose Hip Oil (other choices here are evening primrose oil or hazelnut oil)

18g arrowroot starch (can substitute cornstarch or wheat starch)
2 blobs benzoin essential oil or 15 drops essential oils of your choice. 
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer in a small saucepan.
Weigh the castor oil, mango butter, broccoli seed oil, and rosehip oil in a small heat resistant glass measuring cup. Place that measuring cup in your water bath to melt everything through—that’ll take ten minutes or less.
Once the oils and butters have melted through, remove them from the heat and stir in the arrowroot starch and benzoin with a flexible silicone spatula, taking care to break up any clumps, until you have a smooth, uniform mixture. Stir frequently until it starts to get viscous or the starch will just sink to the bottom, but keep it soft enough to pour into your container. There’s definitely a sweet spot. If you let it cool to much, pop it back in the hot water for a few seconds. 
Place a 30mL/1 ounce tin on a small plate. Pour the oil/starch mixture into the tin and carefully transfer the plate with the tin to the fridge (the plate is only there to make it easier to move the tin).
Leave the tin in the fridge to set for one hour. Voila! To use, just take a wee bit of the moisturizer into your hand to soften it a wee bit, and spread it across your skin.
I can’t emphasize enough that this is not my invention, only a slightly modified version of someone else’s hard work that I’m sharing with you. That being said, I hope you get some enjoyment and use out of it. I make an oil and corn starch anti chafing balm in the summer that’s been a godsend, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try something like this. But in between the drying oils and the light and silky Mango Butter, it doesn’t leave a greasy finish and the starch helps soak up a good deal of the oil my face puts out throughout the day. Also, some of the dry skin on my cheeks is clearing up. I’ve considered trying some with sericite mica in it along with the starch, so that it would help blur imperfections and fine lines. It’s definitely a possibility! I think I can increase this by 2-4g before it beads up on my skin. I may melt it back down and add 4 g of the mica. Watch for an addendum if I do! 

Soap Challenge Club! 

I got ambitious, again, and signed up for the next THREE months of Soap Challenge Club. The prizes this month are awesome, with a cash prize and a bar mold from Brambleberry up for grabs. There’s only a slim chance of me winning as a beginner and against hundreds of more experienced and more talented people, but dang it, I’m going to certainly try my best! 

Here’s what the October Soap Challenge Soap looks like: 

I did not make this soap, it was made by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soap Factory. But the challenge is to make a wood grain patterned soap, and there are many ways to achieve that look. I have an idea of how I plan to do mine, but you’ll have to wait for that blog post to find out how I did it. Don’t worry, it’s coming up soon as the deadline is in about two weeks. Not much time to research the techniques, develop a slow tracing soap (a problem I had in the last challenge), and get it done. 

This time, for the wood grain technique, you can make an entry for the all natural category (doesn’t use any synthetic ingredients) or the regular category (uses some synthetic ingredients, even just titanium dioxide), and if I’m understanding correctly, you can make an entry for each. Because I intend to use oxides as well as clay for my colorants, I’m fully in the synthetic category, but it would be nice to know if I could at least try an all natural bar if I wanted. I have black walnut extract, cocoa, cinnamon, rhassoul clay, and any pureed fruit or veggie will oxidize to brown during saponification so there’s that. I could make an all natural bar, I guess. I might just do that. First I have to find out if you really get both entries. 

The November soap challenge soap looks like this: 

And it’s called Cosmic Wave technique. My guess is it’s going to be crazy difficult, even though it looks deceptively easy. It’s being guest taught by Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap and I think she’s a creative genius. She also makes really cool soap cutters. 

Finally, in December, we are doing something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile on my own and just haven’t done. Tiger stripes. 

Once again, none of these soaps were done by me, but all by the instructors who teach the tutorials for the soap challenge club and answer our questions. They are also part of the judges and they review every blog, FB page, or other way you post your entry. I think it’s a lot of dedication and I wouldn’t want that job, lol. 

I’m looking forward to making each soap and planning to place an order for some non-accelerating oils from Brambleberry so I can make them smell amazing for gifts (assuming they all turn out better than the last soap challenge). There are some great woodsy blends out there for the first soap, and I’m going to try to find a scent for November that works with sea green (maybe an ocean scent?), meanwhile for December, I need something very hippie and full of sunshine as I plan on using red and orange with brown for contrast. So a citrus blend! 

I’m off to the Brambleberry website to shop and price check some things. I’ll be making that wood grain soap very soon. You’ll get it all in pictures here!