Craft Fair Crazy

I’m doing my first craft fair next month. I have a booth at a women’s fair, at a winery that invited me. I’m going to be crazy busy the next week making soap, and after that making things like sugar scrubs. I’m debating if I should put much energy into men’s products like beard oil and beard balm, and my gut instinct is to say yes, have some men’s products available, as women like to shop for the people in their lives and not just themselves. So I will have men’s shampoo bar, and unisex shaving soap, and possibly some men’s scented lotion and body wash. Just a few, though. I don’t plan on having a lot of lotions and body wash, as it’s a pain in the ass to make and a lot of labeling law stuff, but I definitely want to offer it. I really want to focus on soap. SOAP! 

I’m making SO MUCH soap. I wish my husband was home to make me a second soap mold. I could make one, but I need to be making soap or cleaning up from making soap. As it is, I’ve decided that using the PVC column mold may not work for me. All the soaps I’ve made in it have been difficult to cut and ended up with rough edges that almost shatter. I didn’t use sodium lactate, so I can’t blame that on making the soap brittle. 

But as you can see, the soap came out very rough despite my best efforts to make smooth cuts. Also, the rose clay went from the rose color I was expecting to more of a bologna color, prompting several people I know to call this “sausage” soap. As a result, it may be just gifted away or saved for home use-we always need the Gardeners bars-and I will make a new batch using rhassoul clay instead. I also want to be sure to get the fragrance oil in this time. I have this great smelling cedarwood and amber fragrance that is begging to be used in something. This seems perfect. 

My favorite part of making all this soap is getting to plan what every batch will look like. From rainbow swirls with a crisp cotton fragrance, to pooch poo, which has no scent and no colorants so it’s not irritating for dogs, I’m having fun developing the recipes while I impatiently wait for some important ingredients to arrive. Activated charcoal, I’m talking about you! Where ARE you? 

I’m also doing a fundraiser right now. I’m making a batch of Aleppo style soap, and selling it at a fairly high price point for me. All the profit, however, is going to Doctors without Borders. If all 15 bars sell, I should be able to make about a $45 donation. It’s not much, but every dollar helps. And during this crazy time when the feeling of helplessness against the powers that be is occasionally overwhelming, being able to do something, anything, is good. Raising money for a good charity is something proactive. As long as I stay proactive I’m less blue. I only have four bars left to sell before I hit 15 bars. Yeah!

In other news, I’ve checked out Squarespace and Shopify and feel like I could make Shopify work for me. I have a web domain, so now I just need to get the website built and going. But that’s taking a backseat to real-life stuff like getting ready for this craft fair. I will get pics of each soap as I get them made though. That will be a big help. I need to grab some matte posterboard. I think I can figure it out from there. I was going to build a light box, and I might still, but I think with the poster board and some lamps I could get decent pictures. Depressed that the house has such horrible natural lighting. If the weather holds, with posterboard I could snap pics outside on a nice day. Definitely a thought! 

That’s all that’s going on here, business wise. My personal life is chaotic and busy as ever. Baby is getting bigger and more independent, and sassy 5 yr old will be 6 in a few months. They grow up fast. Bug is about to turn 16 and get his learners permit, so watch out on the roads. He’s scared of my car, though, since it’s a stick shift, so I guess I’m teaching him in the van. He’s on varsity bowling this year. Everyone else is doing well. That’s your family update in case you know our family. 


Fruitcake Soap

This year I decided to make two different soaps to give out as Christmas presents. I made a Pumpkin Pie soap that was based on shea butter back in the summer, so it would have 5 months to cure since it didn’t have any “hard oils” like palm, lard, or tallow. It looks like pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top, and smells good enough to eat. I also decided to make fruitcake soap, to compliment the fact that my husband makes and gifts fruitcake to friends and family every year. 

Most people who try my husband’s fruitcake like it, even if they profess to hate fruitcake. I’m not sure what he does different, but even I admit that it’s definitely better tasting than anything I was forced to try as a child. Giving away slices of fruitcake soap this year to match his loaves of fruitcake and continue the Christmas theme seemed perfect.

 I avoided any kind of a rum fragrance (I’m not even sure how you’d do a rum fragrance but I know there’s beer fragrance out there so it probably exists). Instead, I used Brambleberry’s “Sleigh Ride” fragrance oil. The description for it off the website reads: “With a top note of orange, followed by a middle note of green apple, and winding down to peppermint and cloves, this scent is so fantastic….” and so on. It really does smell like holiday baking, and was perfect for this project. 

 I made three colors of soap to represent the candied fruit that’s in fruitcake. I used shine red mica from Soap Goods and made red, hydrated chrome green oxide for green, and yellow oxide for yellow (both those came from Brambleberry). Once they had cured for about a week, I chopped them roughly into cubes with my crinkle cutter and left them to cure a little longer in a bowl. In retrospect, I should have chopped them a lot finer, about half the size of what I did. The cubes were almost too big to make the project work! 

I used 800g oils for the “candied fruit” and another 800g oils for the batter part. If I make this again, I will decrease how much soap I make for fruit to 600g and increase the batter or cake part to 1000g. I calculated based on how many cups the mold held that I needed 1600g oils. My recipe was as follows:

# Oil/Fat %

1 Apricot Kernal Oil 13%

2 Canola Oil 20%

3 Castor Oil 7%

4 Coconut Oil, 76 deg 35%

5 Lard, Pig Tallow Manteca 25%

I also used 1 tsp sugar in my lye water, and 3% or 24g of 60% sodium lactate solution as well. This was my first time using sodium lactate but I’m impressed with how easy it made it to unmold the final soap. I also included about 4 tbsp of kaolin clay in the oils pot with the fragrance oil to help anchor it, before I added the lye solution. 

To the cake part, I added 2 tsp ground cinnamon. It added just enough color and texture to make it look like actual batter. Then I brought the whole mixture to a fairly thick trace so it would suspend the colored bits evenly, and put it in my silicone bundt pan. I had to stir it in the mold to get all the nooks and crannies filled, and rapped it on the counter frequently to get it to settle and get air bubbles out. 

Because the bottom wasn’t completely smooth, after I unmolded it and sliced it I had to trim the bottoms of each slice. Once again, using smaller pieces of colored soap would probably have prevented this and made for a smooth bottom on the mold. Oh well. It’s still cool soap. Each slice makes a very thick chunk and I am going to advise my giftees to cut them into thirds crosswise to make smaller, dish sized slices that are more manageable. But sometimes presentation is important as function.

This is officially my 24th batch of soap. It’s weird to think I’ve only made two dozen batches. I have so many more planned for after the holidays, I will dramatically increase that number I think just rebuilding my Etsy shop and getting back on my feet. Looking forward to it! 

December Soap Challenge! 

This month, the challenge was to do a tiger stripe. Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks, also here in Kansas, did these two soaps for the tutorial so we could get an idea of what we were striving for. 

Tiger stripe with a hanger swirl

Tiger stripe using the tilted mold technique

There were also a lot of other links to videos on tiger stripe technique so this month, there were a lot of resources to learn the technique and visually /mentally practice it before diving in. I was excited about watching YouTube video after video, while the baby napped this week, but ultimately decided to try the tilted mold technique. 

For my colors, I chose Shine Red mica from Soap Goods, and from Brambleberry, I picked Sunset Orange mica, Buttercup Yellow mica, and Kermit Green mica. I also used white, with titanium dioxide (also from Brambleberry). I used the last of my Shine Red, which means ordering more soon. I’ll have to wait til I need other supplies to offset the shipping costs but that’s the best bright red I’ve found yet that stays true in CP soap. 

I had another scare with my colors! I specifically remember checking that they were safe in cold process soap-and stayed true. However, once mixed with soap, my sunset orange deepened dramatically and my buttercup yellow turned bright orange. I decided to just go with it (because I was committed, since at that point my soap was in squeeze bottles and I was working against the clock). After I was (finally) done getting the soap in the mold, I had a chance to read the jars and was relieved to see that orange said it would mellow as it cured and yellow said it would initially change color in CP soap but would change back as it cured. Sure enough, as the hours went by, I was able to watch the swirl design I did on top of my soap slowly change colors. The shine red stayed true, but everything else changed colors. The orange mellowed, the yellow changed from orange to yellow, green brightened, and white whitened. It’s hard to see in the picture below but you can definitely see all the colors if you look, and this was taken at the halfway point.If

I wasn’t able to unmold my soap for three days because it was too soft and it was in a silicone mold. In the meantime I made “fruitcake soap”; you should read my blog post here on that! It was the longest three days of my life and I needed to keep myself busy. 

But finally three days was up and I was able to cut my soap.

It was so soft from using such a slow moving recipe that I ended up using fishing line to cut it to keep from smearing the colors. Of course, I could have waited a few more days, but who has the patience for that when they need to peek inside?!! And here’s what I found: 

This one is my favorite: 

Before I forget, my recipe for a very slow moving soap is like so:

il/Fat %

1 Avocado Oil 15%

2 Canola Oil 15%

3 Castor Oil 5%

4 Coconut Oil, 76 deg 25%

5 Lard, Pig Tallow Manteca 25%

6 Olive Oil 15%
I don’t add sodium lactate or clay to this recipe, as I’ve found those things to accelerate even at room temperature. I don’t notice the faint acceleration they cause most of the time, but in tricky recipes where I want my soap loose til the end, I avoid them. I wish I could use may be 1% sodium lactate, though, to harden the bars for cutting. Maybe I’ll experiment with that on a non-challenge soap! I also avoid working with any new fragrances or “hot” essential oils. This time I used Energy, by Brambleberry, and based my colors around its almost fruity scent. My daughter commented that it looked like sherbet wave soap. So that’s what I’m calling it: Sherbet Tiger Stripes. As soon as it hardens off enough, I will plane the pieces that need to be smoother and set it to cure. Because I used my little silicone mold, this made smaller than usual soaps. I’ve often considered packaging them in three packs. Well I guess we’ll see! 

Happy Soaping! 


Still working on the perfect liquid shampoo…

So about a month ago I made myself shampoo bars especially formulated for MY hair, with extra cleansing power and less moisturizing oils since my hair gets so oily so fast. I even added bentonite clay and scented them so that J would love them with patchouli and cinnamon. They smell awesome even if they are ugly, but they need about two more weeks to cure completely.

 In the interim, I’m back to trying to create the perfect liquid shampoo out of my liquid soap paste. I could use a different shampoo bar; we have several around the house, but I hate to start one when mine will be done in such a short time. I think making a small bottle of liquid shampoo to last two weeks makes more sense. 
As always, because this is real soap, I’ll be following my washes with an acidic rinse of either 25% apple cider vinegar and water, 5% citric acid (about a tsp in 8 oz of water), or 50% lemon juice and water. I believe you can actually go down to 25% Lemon juice but I’ve never tried it, I’m just repeating recommendations other soap users have given. I’ve tried the ACV and citric acid and can tell you for sure not to get it too strong; you’ll dry out your hair and make it brittle. You can make the water part out of anything, so feel free to brew up a great tea of whatever you like. I use bamboo, horsetail, and marshmallow root to have natural silica and other goodies that impart strength and shine to your hair. I have vinegar infusing with these herbs so I can just use that, but it won’t be ready for at least a month. So sad and depressing. I think for now I’ll use a herbal tea with citric acid and some great essential oils- whatever I put in the shampoo, I’ll put in the rinse. For fragrance lately, I’ve been relying on a sample bottle of “Green Smoothie” that Brambleberry sent me. It smells like fresh cut grass and other green things and is light and refreshing. I really like it and wish I could make it into a soap, but it’s labeled to behave badly in cold process soap so I’ll just keep using it as a hair rinse until my shampoo bars are cured.  I have some leave in conditioner I need to use up so I’ll be using that if I need anything to detangle and smooth my hair. Probably not, since it’s so short now but you never know. The detangler also has bamboo extract and keratin in it, and silk proteins, so it’s great for adding healthy stuff back into your hair. I’ll post the recipe for that soon. 

 As for liquid soap, 
here is what I’ve come up with: 

100g liquid soap paste.    For now, I’m using the lovely babassu oil soap paste I made recently but any liquid soap paste would work. If you dilute your soap out all at once, you’ll need between 175-200g of liquid soap, total, and skip the step about “softening” the soap paste (obviously). For the record, you could totally sub in a good liquid soap like Dr. Bronners here if you wanted, and leave the essential oils out later (or use unscented and have fun dressing it up). Just please don’t try using liquid “hand soap” from the grocery store. That’s not soap, it’s mostly detergent, and it’s really bad for your skin and especially your hair.

1 tsp silk powder (other types of silk will work!)

1 tsp hydrolyzed oat protein (or wheat, etc)

5 g glycerine 

5 g grapeseed oil or coconut oil-grapeseed oil is awesome and light but coconut oil actually penetrates your hair shaft so decide what you need for your hair

1/2 tsp aloe Vera powder

2 tbsp aloe vera liquid

2 tsp bamboo (I use tea bags) but you can also use 5g bamboo extract (Making Cosmetics) 

2 tsp horsetail (also called shave grass)

2 tsp marshmallow root 

0.5% Liquid Germall Plus (I can’t give you exact amounts because I don’t know how much shampoo you’re going to end up with. Just multiply it out then add the preservative! There are too many botanicals in here not to be safe and have a touch of preservative!)

Start by soaking the soap paste until it’s the right consistency. I’ve found that pouring very hot or boiling water over it and then leaving it for a day or two usually takes care of things; you come back and you’ve got liquid soap. Start with about 70-100g hot or boiling water over the soap paste in a container that can take the heat- I use a canning jar. Cap it off and leave it. If you come back and it’s too thick, add about 30g boiling water, stir (mash) gently and leave it for another 48 hours. Yes, this is time consuming, but it’s down time so get other projects done! If you don’t have add powdered aloe vera, you can sub liquid aloe vera for half the water to soften the soap. Yes, heat up the aloe too! You can find big jugs of aloe vera juice in the aisle with the laxatives at Walmart and Target. Remember to store it in the fridge after it’s opened. 

While you are waiting on your soap to soften, blitz the herbs in a spice or coffee bean grinder- preferably one you only use for DIY stuff- until it’s turned into a fine powder. Sift that through a sieve to catch any big bit and reserve the powder. 

In a small container, mix everything else except essential oils and preservative, and mix well. You may need to use a fork and a slim rubber spatula to break up lumps and incorporate them into the small amount of liquid that will be present. If necessary, add 1-2 tbsp more water. Let this sit overnight so the herbs can soak up moisture and release silica and other goodies. 
Once your shampoo is ready, add the contents of the small container and whatever essential oils you are using, and stir gently until completely incorporated. Tada! You have shampoo! Almost! 

 Weigh your shampoo, deducting the weight of your container, and add the appropriate amount of preservative that you’ve chosen.

I’ve been using Liquid Germall Plus (Lotioncrafters) for just about everything. I’ve only occasionally felt like I need Optiphen ND for items that are almost pure water (think hair spray, bug spray, etc.) and I am really pleased with the Liquid Germall Plus. It’s a fool proof preservative, works well in lotions and has a broad pH which is why I’m able to use it in this shampoo.

Once everything is blended, decent into the bottle of your choice. Not glass! We don’t take glass into the shower! A pump bottle would work well here, but I’m going to use a repurposed pop top bottle that used to hold a children’s drink (think bug juice). It holds exactly the right amount when all is said and done. I’ll use more of them for travel; I have one with citric acid solution, one with a similar liquid shampoo, and one we use for “baby” liquid soap (liquid soap with jojoba oil in it) already in my travel bag. I guess it’s a good thing my granddaughter really likes bug juice when we go on road trips! 

Because of all the botanical material in this shampoo you DO have to use the preservative that will stand up to that pH. Please don’t assume the very basic pH of liquid soap will keep you safe the way bars of soap are safe. This recipe added WATER to the soap concentrate and then PLANT MATTER which is notorious for spoiling. You MUST use a preservative. I didn’t one time and had to toss half the bottle because it turned into a foamy fermented mess. Don’t do what I did; it was pretty gross. 

Besides using the Brambleberry fragrance, here are some Essential Oil Ideas:

Tea tree 10 drops

Lavender 10 drops 

Rosemary 5 drops

Peppermint 5 drops

All of these essential oils have been touted as being good for your hair and they smell great together. 


Fir Balsam 



I like this combination because the bergamot is just citrus like enough to brighten it but the cedar is a little dark and smokey. The fir balsam rounds it all out. I would start with 7 drops Fir balsam, 4 drops cedar, and 5 drops bergamot then adjust according to your nose one drop at a time. 


Orange 10 drops 

Allspice 5 drops 

Juniper  5 drops

You could also use Frankincense instead of juniper. If you want it to have a decidedly masculine feel, try adding spruce or vetiver but just a drop at a time. 


Lemon 5 drops

Grapefruit 5 drops

Orange 5 drops 

Lime 5 drops

Rosemary 3 drops

Bergamot 3 drops

This is my favorite citrus blend. The Bergamot and Rosemary really accentuate all the citrus


Litsea Cubeba 10 drops

Clove 10 drops 

You can also use just lemon or grapefruit instead of litsea Cubeba 


If you like florals, try michelia alba, honeysuckle, jasmine, neroli, or maybe either geranium or rose geranium. You can also check out something like the company Piping Rock and their fragrance oils which I’ve found to be high quality. 

Dancing Funnel Soap Challenge

Wow! What a challenge! This soap challenge, my second, proved much more difficult than my first and tested my patience and sanity.

First of all, I originally decided to do an all natural soap. This meant I had to learn about infusions and make some in my crock pot, and that was fun. I ended up with several made to use at a later date and a really pretty alkanet infusion that I thought should color my soap a nice rich color.

Alkanet in olive oil

I made my soap batter and then I made my fatal mistake: I added 4 tbsp kaolin clay. I always add clay to my soap batter, as I think it improves the soap. Unfortunately, this time, the added clay did two things that ruined this batch for me. It dramatically increased how fast the soap was setting up, and it clogged the nozzles of the bottles and made it impossible to do the technique. I ended up doing a quick ITPS with my colors and pouring the batch in a log mold as not to waste it.

In  a way, I’m glad it happened this way as the alkanet color morphed into this light blue gray, and I wanted bolder colors.

So the next morning I got started into round two, using some treats I just got from Brambleberry and have been itching to play with. I decided on Crisp Apple Rose fragrance oil, as it was marked to behave well in cold process soap.

I also decided to use some fun colors that I thought would contrast well.

Hot pink, mixing titanium dioxide and an old favorite shine red mica for one color, Sunset Orange from Brambleberry for my second color, and hydrated green oxide as my base color. I debated lime green and in the end kind of wished I had gone that route as the hydrated green oxide came out darker after being put in the oven than it does in regular cp soap.

I got to work, and I’m afraid I didn’t get many pics after I got going because I had to move fast. My soap went from emulsified to medium trace lickety split. I can only think it was the fragrance oil because while it didn’t turn to mud, it sure thickened up! Since I was working at such a water discount, I added some water to each color to thin the soap batter and give me more time to work. It helped a little bit but I never had the liquid soap to work with as shown in the tutorials. I would try this a third time but I have orders for my Etsy shop to fill for this week and I’m simply out of time to play with it anymore!

Here is the soap going into the oven.

I wish the soap was a little thicker but overall I’m pretty happy that I was able to accomplish the technique despite all the trouble. I had just purchased the Brambleberry 9 bar slab mold, and a lot of the reviews recommended 1000g of oils which seemed perfect for this soap. Unfortunately, I think to get a decent size bar of soap  you need twice that in oils, which most definitely wouldn’t work for this technique. I have some wood left from building my awesome log mold; maybe I need to make a very small slab mold for times like these, as rare as they are. A soap challenge mold 😉

Thanks for soaping with me!


 Addendum and update! 

I just was not happy with leaving things like this, so I decided to try it one last time. Having estimated from my last bars that I would need to double my oils, I decided to split the batch and literally make two batches of soap. One right away, one when I ran out and the pan would be, theoretically, half full. So I made two pans of oils and set them to cool, and two things of lye water. I soap at room temperature so this was not a big deal. I also had tweaked my recipe to be extra slow tracing after the last two batches. 

Well, I think I learned a few new things. You can actually have something trace too slow. As in, it doesn’t even want to emulsify. And when you think you’ve got it done and in squeeze bottles, all it does is run all over your mold and make you cry in anguish. 

I finally threw in the towel as a conquered woman. This challenge beat me. However, I also learned that part of why my second batch thickened so quickly and produced such small thin bars is because I MUST have left out an ingredient. I doubled this batch and it should fit in the mold but only half of it does. I screwed up last time, which oddly makes me feel better. Doing everything right and getting bad results is disturbing. Figuring out where you went wrong is satisfying so you don’t do that again! 

Half my soap I made today, colored with indigo extract and using the brown from my circles, is in the slab mold, and will be cut and beveled for fun. I put the other half, which I colored with cochineal extract, into round silicone molds and sprinkled sparkly edible glitter on top. The pretty berry color is something I happy held through saponification! 

If you like what I do, and you want to help me get Cloud Nine off the ground and up and going, consider supporting me on Patreon. You can pledge as little as $1/mo or more if you like and there are perks for every level.

Soap Bars vs Shampoo Bars

Someone asked me recently why I don’t make shampoo bars anymore. The short answer to that is that I do make shampoo bars. Every one of my soaps has the ability to be utilized as a quality shampoo bar (provided you follow it up with an acidic rinse, like ACV, citric acid, or lemon juice, with water).


You see, I try to formulate each bar with enough high quality oils and fats to get your body clean but also provide luxurious lather in quantities necessary to work as a shampoo bar. In addition, I add clay to every bar in case you use it for shaving to add slip and decrease the chances of razor burn. My shaving bars are packed full of the stuff; that’s a different post.

If you’re interested in the ratios I use to formulate my bars on average, they generally look like this:

Olive, canola, sunflower, or peanut oil: 20%
Avocado, grapeseed, apricot kernel oil, or shea butter: 15%
Castor oil: 10%
Coconut or babassu oil: 25%
Lard or grass fed tallow: 30%

If I’m making a vegetarian bar, the lard portion will be replaced with a higher percentage of coconut oil, and then usually a combination of sunflower and avocado oils. This makes a softer bar which gets an 8-10 week cure time instead of four. I prefer not to do this because of additional time incurred, expense, and so on. I also believe it makes an inferior bar of soap. There are plenty of people who make vegetarian soaps but typically they use palm oil, which I refuse to do, and that helps harden their soap like lard does. Alternatively, some soap makers use products like sodium lactate or stearic acid to achieve a harder bar of soap when using a lot of oils. I don’t. I use a long cure time and patience. Well, impatience. Whatever.

As you can see, there’s room for variance in the ingredients I choose, but they rotate around stuff that’s relatively inexpensive and readily available for the most part. I can buy most of that stuff at my grocery store in a pinch, and off Amazon if desperate (although I prefer to use a great company called Bulk Apothecary for all of it-except the lard and tallow, which I can get at a local meat packaging plant that services a grass fed ranch; it’s about an hour’s drive, but you get 40lbs boxes of fat scraps to render so it’s worth the occasional trip…and there’s a nice winery on the way ;).

And that’s that. Rub a dub dub, suds head to toes in the tub.

The end result is a pretty versatile all in one bar, although I just call it soap. So if you ever want to wash your hair with my soap, go for it. To make the bars last, I suggest cutting them in half before you start using them so only half is exposed to water at a time and you get more life out of the soap, but it’s up to you. That works for the square bars, but not for the smaller round ones.

In addition? I recently made and sold spa salt bars. They are the exception to this. They won’t wash your hair. They are body only bars. Unique and fun soaps for the body, but body only spa bars. They just don’t make enough lather and the lather is too salty for your hair.

PS: The soap pictured is some coffee and cream bars I made up. The fragrance oil of the coffee and the vanilla caused the soap to trace into glue like batter in seconds, so my plan for swirled layers went out the window. It smells great, but I’m disappointed. Next time I’m buying vanilla from Brambleberry and splurging on coffee essential oil instead of fragrance oil. Meanwhile? This is how we learn. I know fragrance oils are bad news and to stick with pure essential oils. Why don’t I listen to myself?


Molded to fit

I have a new soap mold, thanks to the husband! I have him the plans and he bought the wood and built me a fantastic mold. The plans came from Modern Soapmaking’s website and you can find the link here. I decided against using her plans, but Marie at Humblebeeandme also posts about her soap mold right here if you’re interested, and gives dimensions and useful information.

You’ll notice that my soap mold does not have a lid. I never concern myself with getting my soap to gel, and right now I’m more concerned with keeping things cool than warm as it’s summer in Kansas and my house doesn’t have central air. My kitchen is pretty toasty most of the day, meaning I soap in the morning and at night, but saponification is happening during  heat of the day and no insulation is necessary. It’s why I haven’t made beer soap, or tres leches soap yet, or anything else that needs things cool and cooler instead of being able to take a little heat. No milks or sugars or honey in my soap. The honeybee idea I had is on hold. But I have plenty of ideas. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to be a soap maker who has signature soaps and no creativity. Maybe I could have three signature soaps and one that changes all the time?

Sorry about the segue. Having a hard time focusing today.

If you click the link for Modern Soapmaking you’ll also get exact dimensions, but essentially? It’s long enough to accommodate parchment paper precisely and wide enough to allow easy calculation for oils. Each inch equals 100 grams of oils, so if I use all 15 inches of the mold, I can pretty much guarantee I will need 1500 in oils, and whatever water and lye that uses, and if I want to use less I measure off, put in the spacer, and work from there. Look at these pictures:


My mold, from the top. See the one inch markings?


My mold with a spacer wedged in there. It will now make ten 1″ bars or 1000 g of oils or about 4 lb of soap. By making sure the end bolts are very tight, the spacer stays in place.


To make two, 700 g oil batches of soap (what I will be doing today, in fact). This is better for the first few batches so the center block can soak up some water and swell a little and also so the weight of the soaps push against each other.


The ends. To remove the soap, you unscrew the bolts and remove them, then pop the long board near the wing nuts free. It’s held on strictly by pressure. Only the other long board is screwed and glued down. Then remove the ends, using the blade of a chef’s knife if necessary to pry free (although if you oil them with mineral oil or Vaseline before hand it isn’t usually necessary), and lift your soap and parchment paper free. Peel the parchment off and you’re ready for slicing. I also grease up the spacer bar with petroleum jelly so it pops out easily. All in all, it leaves very little residue on the soap, and only on the ends which I trim anyways before slicing to cure.


In this photo, you can see I pulled the board away and popped the end off. It is a very easy soap mold to use and I am very happy with it. I wanted to have J make me a 10″ one to replace my silicone mold which is getting very battered, but I don’t think we had enough wood for the sides left. That’s the size I use the most often and it would have meant I didn’t have to pull out this beast every time. However, I think I will enjoy working in grams very quickly-I like working in metric usually-and if it means whipping up two kinds of soap in smaller batches at first to “balance” the mold, well, that’s ok by me. It’s not breaking my heart.

Note: Unless I need the extra water for a very slow trace-or in the case of the fishing soap, a slow cure-I work at a 33% or 30% water discount, not 38% in Soap Calc. That decreases how much water I have in my batches slightly and makes them a little smaller. However, I don’t like my soap to be really huge and piling up over the mold like some people do, I want it pretty flat. Just take that all into account when I say these calculations work for me, ok?

Today I have planned fishing soap in anise and garlic. Sounds delicious, right? Probably not, but it catches catfish and I like catfish. Catfish are weird in that they bite on bait based on their sense of smell and they like odd smells…like soap and garlic and anise. Whatever, because I like catfish.
I smoked the last one on the grill and it was amazing.

I also want to make a whipped soap. This is like Ivory Soap in that it’s whipped so full of bubbles it actually will float. The technique sounds interesting and I’m curious to try it. I also want to add blue, yellow, and white color to it and have Swedish colors in my whipped soap today. Let’s see how creative I can get with this mess.

I need something in the other half of the soap mold so I’m putting in a batch of green clay face soap. When I made this the very first time, it didn’t turn out, so I rebatched it with some milk and made it into a soft scrub cleanser that EVERYONE liked. I now need to send out small bars to people who had the soft cleanser and ask which they prefer. I can also attempt to recreate the original with half this batch. I also want to take some liquid soap paste and dilute it with green clay and make a cleanser for my friends to test out. So there’s a lot going on there. But first, the bars of soap today!

And finally, today, I have to get more liquid soap in the crock pot. I didn’t realize how low I until I got a call for more and I ended up diluting out my last jar of concentrate for them. So except what’s in my hand wash container and dish soap bottle, I’m officially out of liquid soap.

I need to make lard and coconut oil laundry soap but I think it may have to wait until J gets home. I think we should be ok. If I make it in ten days, and it takes three weeks to cure, that means what I have needs to last a month. I have two more bars I can grind up beyond what’s in the coffee can, which is half full. It’s good. If we get deluged with bedding, I will break out the soap nuts, and if we get hit with a bunch of mud and filth, worst case scenario, I’ll can back up to my liquid soap and oxyclean. Period. I just hate tearing through the liquid soap because it is time consuming on a level that bar soap isn’t. Bar soap is all down time. You make it, you ignore it while it chemically reacts quietly on the counter. Liquid Soap needs attention. It’s the attention whore of the soap world. And I just added “whore” to my dictionary!

On that note, I’m out!