Monday, October 26, 2009


  There are times when my head swirls with all of the important steps one must follow when running a business.  There are so many more legalities that one must abide by. So many rules and regulations, which are meant to protect the consumer, and are a good thing.   But, they can be a headache for the business owner.
   My biggest  worry right now is finding lip gloss flavors that actually work.  Too many choices, many of which, are not good.  I need to order Bubble gum, a mild peppermint and licorice. One of my suppliers is undergoing building and storage issues, so I have held off ordering.  I also need to pay for a large shipment of glass bottles for storing my fragrances in.  Costly.
    Unscented soaps are selling well.  Many people suffer with multiple chemical sensitivities and are unable to tolerate fragrances of any kind.  I have two unscented versions on Artfire that are listed.  Aloe Vera Swirl and Unscented Jumble.  I will be making more, shortly.    More later.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is the view just off of the land that I hang laundry up to dry. This was taken in the spring, so nothing much is growing.
This is the Friends Good Will.

Sunday, beautiful Sunday

Went to church this morning and then to South Haven to work on beautiful Friends Good Will.  She is an 1812 replica vessel that sailed the great lakes.  We have a good time crewing on her, but, haven't had much of a chance this year.  Way too busy.  She is being de-rigged for the winter. Many bits and pieces to take apart and stow away.  We had beautiful sunshine, but, cool weather all in all, so not so much of a pain to do. The MM museum owns her and many volunteers make light work.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


  It's really great to get sales in a row.  LOL  I sold some soap on Friday at my Artfire site and today, I sold some to a friend's daughter who stopped by.  Yea!!!  Business is picking up.  I have a craft show a week from today and I still need to make lip gloss, bath fizzies and package my lotion.  Hope I get it all done.  Did I mention that I also have to label this stuff..LOL

Monday, October 12, 2009

A lesson in Soap making

Here is a little article I wrote up for a local newsletter.

 Let's explore all of the possibilities of making soap We know we need lye, water or other liquid, and fat of some kind.  But did you know that ANY naturally occurring oil from vegetable matter and ANY fat from animals, can end up as soap. One thing we don't use is any petroleum oil products.  They just don't saponify (turn into soap when combined with lye water). The most common oils used are olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soy oil, coconut oil and rice bran oil. The other most important oil to use is castor oil, as it brings lovely creamy suds. Use at no more than 5 % of batch. The most common fats are lard, tallow and poultry fats. Lanolin from
sheep and many vegetable butters, such as shea , Brazil nut or mango are used regularly.
Additions to the soap can be fragrance oils, essential oils, botanicals, clays, and colorants.  The possibilities for creating are endless.  The ancients experimented with many different additions
during the Renaissance, using floral scents like rose, lavender, iris and marigold. Olive oils and animal fats were used most often.
  So, that being said, what do you want to make?  A great conditioning bar for your hands this winter, because we know that our hands are drier in the winter months? Or, a hard working
scrub bar for those dirty projects we all get into?  From a woman's point of view, what about a moisturizing beauty bar?     
  All right, we now have three possibilities for our soap making journey. But, knowing what you want to make is only the beginning. You must also consider the fats/oils that you want,
the kind of liquid to use, (water being the one used the most, but teas and milk are also used), what fragrance to use if any, and, the shape and size of your bar. There is an enormous choice of molds and other containers to choose from.  In my personal stash, I have cat face molds, dragon molds, Celtic scroll molds, guest soap molds, a log mold made from an old treadle sewing machine drawer, a flat wood mold, old freezer containers, yogurt cups, others.  Almost anything can be used, if, you can easily remove the soap from it after the proper cure time.
  One other important step to consider before beginning this journey, is whether or not you have the necessary solitary time needed to accomplish this task. Children under the age of 12
should never be around soap making.  Lye or Sodium Hydroxide is a very potent chemical that produces heat and breath-taking fumes when combined with an aqueous solution.  This is why
you must have latex gloves and protective eye-ware available. Combining the two must be accomplished under a strong exhaust hood or outside away from animals. And, remember: Never,
Never use aluminum to hold the mixture.  Having a safe and secure spot to allow it to set undisturbed until it cools down to the temperature necessary is also important.       
   For the beginner soap maker, (who is not averse to using animal fats), lard and beef tallow makes some of the whitest and hardest bars. A nice essential oil to use would be lavender or rose, as the animal fat scents will come through the soap making process and these help to mask the fragrance. There are so many available essential oils one can purchace, but a more cost effective alternative are fragrance oils, where you are then able to find certain florals that would be too expensive to get in pure essential oils, such as Lilac and Hyacinth.

    So, let's make soap.  Here are three easy recipes:

Lanolin Soap --very moisturizing

  6 oz wt Hydrogenated Soybean Oil     Essential oil or fragrance
  5 oz wt Olive Oil                                    Oil of choice 
                                                                          .7 oz/# of oils
  4 oz wt Coconut Oil
  1 oz wt Lanolin
  2 oz wt sodium hydroxide
  6 fl oz water
 Weigh all ingredients first. Stir sodium hydroxide into cool water. Stir until completely mixed. Set aside to cool.
 Combine all oils and heat gently to melt. When completely melted remove from heat.
      Since Lanolin is temperature sensitive, cool lye solution and oils to between 100°F and 110°F. Combine lye solution and oils. Stir until trace. Pour into shallow molds, cover lightly. When soap is firm, remove from mold, cut into bars and allow to cure in a warm area with good air circulation.
      Lightly Sandalwood is a good scent blend for this soap. Wrap in 4x6 Flat Bags and tie with jute. Makes about 20 to 22 oz of soap.

Salty Spa Bar # 2 --very good for cleaning your hands after working

40% Coconut  - 12.8 ounces            4.1 ounces of Lye
30% Castor     -   9.6 **                      9 ounces of liquid *see note
30% Crisco     -   9.6            approximately 14-16 ounces of med. Salt

 "Again half distilled water, half aloe for the liquid."  Scent of your choice.  Add your salts as desired. I like using a heavy hand with medium sea salt and a light hand with the coarse. You can add oats or not. Separately weigh lye and liquid. Add  lye to the water while under an exhaust hood and stir until liquid is clear. Set aside and allow to cool.  Weigh oils. Combine and heat to about 110 degrees F. When lye water reaches 110 degrees F, add to oils and stir to a trace. Add salts. Add scent.  Pour into molds. Let set for two days........   It's too simple, but it's a goodie! You have to let them cure. At least for two months.. They truly get better with age.                   **  This is one recipe where the amount of castor oil is increased due to the action of the salt.

Vinyard Raids III  -  creamy bar

Corn oil  - 16 ounces               6 ounces of Lye                      
Coconut oil - 12                    15 ounces distilled water                      
Rice bran oil  - 10.4              Essential oil or fragrance oil of choice
Castor oil      - 1.6                  7oz/# of oils                                  Weigh lye and water separately.  Add lye to water carefully under an exhaust hood, stirring constantly until liquid clears. Allow to cool to 55 to 65 degrees F.  Mix all oils together after weighing. Bring to 80-85 degrees F. When at correct temperatures, add lye water to oils and stir until mixture thickens to a trace.  Add scent and stir.  Pour into appropriate molds.  Allow to cure for at least 18 - 24 hours before removing from molds.  Please allow four weeks for curing time, before use. Enjoy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Soap and its challenges

  I had planned to make a simple recipe, that I have made before.  My husband was out of town, I had the place to myself and I was raring to go.  ......Not so fast, Charlie.   I had already made a gallon of my favorite hand cream in the morning and I knew that I would have enough time to complete my intended soap making project. I laid out my supplies, the oils, my scale, my pots, the lye, the distilled water, my crock pot.....Oh, did I mention I was going to do HP soap?  That is where you actually cook the soap.  This process allows you to be able to use the soap sooner than the normal 4-6 week waiting and curing time.  This was going to be a man's soap with Norwegian Woods fragrance and mild green colorant.
  So, I dumped the oils into the crock pot, added the lye water and turned it on.   Easy-peasy.
 After about two hours, something looked awfully wrong.
 I had cottage cheese, albeit green cottage cheese, but, cottage cheese, none the less.  Not good.  I also noticed an awful lot of liquid. Hmmmmm!  This is the first time I had ever had this happen, so I was not prepared with an idea of what to do next.  I stirred it and it appeared to go back together to a pudding like trace. After another hour of cooking, I decided to pour.  And wouldn't you know, this was going into my antique sewing machine drawer lined with mylar and plastic.   (Another NO-NO).  Way too hot for plastic........It melted and poured right out of the bottom of the drawer.  Luckily, this was in my laundry room where I have two sinks. The drain got cleaned out as this was lye water.  Hunh? you say.  Now let me tell you the reason.
  This big dummy left out a major oil from the recipe.  Close to forty percent.  How I managed to do that, I'll never know.  The weird part of it is that I didn't figure this out until the next day.
  Luckily, I have reformulation skills from my position as QC chemist and R&D chemist.
 I dumped the semi hardened cottage cheese log back into the crock pot, crumbling and breaking it. I then weighed out the missing ingredient, added a slight more distilled water and calculated lye to the mix, and cranked up the old crock pot, again.
   After thoroughly stirring the mixture and cooking on medium for two more hours, I had what looked like normal crock pot soap. I used a different mold to pour into. It looked great.  By the next morning, I cut it.
  Would you believe the Norwegian Woods fragrance survived?  Of course, it has a pretty high flash point.
  The soap is hard, good color, great fragrance and no lye zap.   Saved by the seat of my pants.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Please look for my special coupon to the right.  It will give you 15% off of certain items throughout the month of October.  Made some pumpkins to be placed on Artfire. Keep looking for them.