To Scent or Not to Scent, Part II

Essential oils require much more knowledge than fragrance oils and thus, more due diligence before using them.

Is the scent skin safe? Is the percentage rate limited? Will it survive cold process soap? Is it permissible for soap but not for bath or leave-on products? Will it work in candles? All of these factors must be known before one can safely use essential oils in candles or skincare products and thus, require the user to do research on each oil he hopes to use. Be sure to seek out reputable sources of information regarding essential oils. Unfortunately, too much misinformation is found out there that is inadvisable, if not dangerous. One of my favorite non-vendor sites for reliable essential oil information is www.aromaweb.com.

 

How much fragrance oil should I use? The answer is simple. First of all, check with the vendor for proper usage rates for your product. That not being possible, the rule of thumb for cold process soap is .7 oz. per pound of soapmaking oils. For instance, if you are making a two pound batch of soap and have measured out two pounds of oils, you will use about 1.4 oz. of fragrance oil. You may safely go up to 1 oz. per pound if necessary, and some scents will perform beautifully at .5 oz. per pound. Hot process will require less scent than cold process soap. Most other products use less scent than soap. Start at .5 or 1% and add a bit more if necessary. This works for most anything outside of cold or hot process soap. Be careful if making cp soap, however, because not all fragrance oils are suitable. Some rice or accelerate, which can be tolerated, but others seize like a motor without oil and require emergency measures to deal with. Save yourself the hassle and inquire about your oils prior to using them in cp and make sure of their usage in other products you intend to make, as well. Note: some fragrance oils, such as those you find in craft stores are not suitable for cold process soap at all; they are meant for potpourri and body products. Additionally, some are sold for use in candles and potpourri, not for products meant to be used on the skin.

 

As you can see, fragrance oils are much simpler to use than essential oils, provided you check the usage information; but don’t let that be an obstacle to using these wonderful, natural gifts of nature! Just be sure to thoroughly research any oil you care to use and use them properly.

 

Want to know whether your colleagues use more fragrance oil or essential oil? Check out the Raves for Faves issue just released today! Need a subscription? http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Soapmaking Oils: What are They all About?

“I am out of shortening. May I substitute another oil? I don’t want to use palm oil anymore. What can I use instead?”

 

These and similar questions are not uncommon among soapmakers. The answers are at times, simple, and at other times, not so simple. For instance, good 1:1 substitutes for shortening are tallow, lard or palm. Not so simple? The person who wants to substitute shortening without using any of the aforementioned oils! At this point, the soapmaker may have to rework his formula to find one that yields a similar bar.

 

In order to substitute oils, rework formulas or make up our own formulas, we need to know what each oil contributes to soap. This is best accomplished by learning about the fatty acids that make up each oil. The fatty acids that we track for soapmaking oils are: lauric, myristic, linoleic, linolenic, oleic, palmitic, stearic and ricinoleic.

 

Wait! Don’t let your eyes glaze over yet. Stick with me and I’ll try to make it easier.

 

Oils high in lauric and myristic acid contribute to a hard, lathering bar of soap. These include coconut, palm kernel and babassu oil.

 

Oils high in palmitic and stearic acid give us hard bars. These include palm, tallow, and shortening (the hardening which is further enhanced by hydrogenation). Additionally, butters such as cocoa, mango and shea, among some lesser known as illipe and mowrah butter.

 

Finally, oils high in conditioning are high in oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. This encompasses a large number of oils such as sunflower, safflower, olive, sweet almond, and apricot kernel oil. Although these oils are primarily used for conditioning, they are thought to make soft soap. More about that in our next installment.

 

Learn your oils and you hold the key to creating the perfect soap bar!

 

Want more help with soapmaking? Subscribe today!

 

 Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

Go Forth and Color: Ultramarines and Oxides

 In three installments, we have reviewed the various types of colorants that can be used in soap and bath and body products.  We’ve talked natural colorants, such as spices and herbs, as well as FD&C dyes and micas.

 

Finally, in our series on colorants, we explore ultramarines and oxides.  Many soapmakers think they are “from the earth” natural, but that isn’t quite true, and it’s a good thing!  At one time, these colorants were used, but it was found that they contained contaminants such as arsenic.  Since then, they have been lab-created, free of toxins, to be what is termed, “nature identical.”

 

 Ultramarines and oxides have long been used in soap and cosmetics.  Users like them because they generally remain true to color in products and are inexpensive considering the amounts needed to provide color.  Use a small amount for pastel color and more for intense color.  These are matte colorants.  Mix ultramarines in a bit of water or glycerin before adding them to your soap base and add oxides to a bit of your soapmaking oils before adding them to your base so that they don’t clump or speckle.

 

They are used for mineral makeup and for bath and body products, but again, test them before you sell to make sure you’re product is not oozing color all over the tub, shower and washcloths.  Customers are not generally happy when that happens!

 

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is often included in this category, but it is unique in that it occurs naturally in minerals and is extracted for use in dozens of applications other than bath and body, from food to siding to paper.

 

Now, you have it.  Go forth and color!

 

Until next time, may your days  be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Colorants: FD&C Colors

This is the third in our series on soap colorants.  We’ve discussed natural colorants and micas; so today, we turn our attention to FD&C colorants.

 

First of all, what does FD&C stand for?  It refers to the FDA’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic approved colorants.  Each color is approved for specific uses and the color title indicates which uses the colorant is appropriate for.  If a color is named, FD&C Red #40, for instance, the product is approved by the FDA for food, drugs & cosmetics.  If it’s labeled D&C Red #34, on the other hand, it’s approved for drugs (used externally) and cosmetics.  Knowing this makes it easy as a formulator to determine which products each colorant may be used in.

 

FD&C colorants:  These are dyes which permeate the product and thus, are likely to bleed in soapmaking.  If your soap is one color, you have no worries.  If you want a distinct pattern, however, you’ll probably be disappointed.  These colors are intense and easy to use, as well as inexpensive, but they don’t always like alkalines, so their use in CP or HP soap is sketchy.  Most manufacturers who sell these also provide or sell charts that instruct how they should be used in soap and other products.  When you see a color followed by a number such as D&C Yellow Number 11, you’ll know this product is a dye.  These colorants, by the way, are often used for melt and pour soaps and other cosmetics, as appropriate, because they color well and reliably; whereas, they are trickier in CP soap.

 

You may have heard the term, “Lake” used in conjunction with colorants.  They are FD&C type colorants, but you will see these labeled like the other FD&C (or D&C) colorants, except for the addition of the metal substrate used.  For example, the additional descriptor, “Aluminum Lake” would be added at the end.

 

As with all colorants, it’s always smart to test colorants out before adding them to large batches of soap or other products!

 

Stay tuned for our final installment, Oxides and Ultramarines.

 

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Coloring Soap and Cosmetics With Mica

Continuing on in our series on soap colorants:

We talked last time about natural colorants such as herbs and purees.  Today, I’d like to talk about man made colorants, specifically micas.

 

If you want strong color, you’ll likely be using micas, FD&C colors, Lakes or pigments.  Therefore, you’ll want to know the differences between them so that you know how to get the result you desire in your soap and avoid disappointment.

 

Micas are lab created versions of natural micas found in the earth plus oxides, etc. added for color.  The mica itself is called “nature identical,” but the added colorants may not be.  They come in every color of the rainbow, and more–shimmer, glitter and metallic types included.  They may be used without caution for melt and pour soap, but might morph or disappear before your very eyes in cold process/hot process soap!  I’ll never forget the green I once added, only to make a lovely purple in my cold process batch.

 

If you’d like to use your micas in CP/HP, be sure to do a bit of research to find out how each one works in soap.  Some vendors offer lists or reviews on how each mica they offer works in soap.

 

Additionally, some micas bleed, while others do not.  If you see a dye in the INCI, it will probably bleed, so use it accordingly.  (Bleeding refers to color migrating into the the rest of the soap, not necessarily on to washcloths, and such)  Micas are a staple in mineral makeup and other body products, but be sure to ask for recommendations and experiment with small batches to make sure the colorant works.  For instance, you don’t want the colorant from bath salts clinging to the tub. I can pretty much guarantee that your customers will not be happy!

 

To add micas to soap, mix directly into soap or into a bit of rubbing alcohol for melt & pour or a small amount of soap that you add to the batch for CP/HP.  Most soapmakers find them quite easy to incorporate.

 

As for makeup and other cosmetics, research the colorant used in your mica to determine whether or not it is an approved colorant for your application.  For instance, green oxide is not permitted in the US for lip colorants.  Each country and the EU has its own standards for colorant use.

 

Next time, we will talk about pigments.

 

Until then, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

Coloring Soap, Do it Naturally!

I hope all of our US readers had a great Labor Day weekend with friends and family.  For our friends everywhere else, I hope your weekend was enjoyable, as well.

 

Today, we’ll explore natural soap colorants.  If you recall, in my last blog post I promised to write about them, so I’ve been combing my notes to share information with you.  As anyone using natural colorants knows, it’s a complicated topic, and to cover it all thoroughly, I’d be writing a book, not a blog post.  Therefore, I’ll keep it to mostly those I’ve personally used.

So many colorants are used, and in several different ways.  Some are best infused in water, others in oil and a few in lye water!.  Many herbs and such are added as powders or purees at trace.  One of the most important things to know, however, is that the colors usually fade in time.  Few natural colorants keep their color.  If you’re an m&p soapmaker, by the way, powdered colorants are for you, but don’t use much!

Here are some natural colorants commonly used in soapmaking.  Most of these, I have tried and have included my results for; but not all:

Yellow – Calendula (I’ve never gotten intense color with an infusion, but more with powder), turmeric, chamomile flowers (powdered), annatto seed (great color, but some are allergic.  Infuse in oil) and pureed carrots (yes, yellow)

Orange- paprika (don’t use much!), pureed pumpkin (really nice as a portion of the water amount), safflower petals (haven’t tried it, but sounds good), ground rosehips (peach)

Green – dill weed (bright green that fades quickly), ground parsley (good, but expect fading), French green clay (try infusing in lye water), kelp (be prepared for the smell), ground spearmint (green to brown)

Brown – comfrey root, cocoa powder, wheatgrass powder (green to light brown), beet root, cinnamon and cloves (but I suggest not using them since they are irritants), tea (green, black or white), coffee grounds, berries, corn silk (attractive gray/brown)

Purple – Alkanet (if you’re lucky.  Infuse in oil first), Madder Root, Red Sandalwood Powder (brown/purple)

Blue – Indigo (don’t go overboard because it stains), woad (I haven’t used either of these)

Red/Pink – cochineal (yes, ground bugs),  Moroccan Red clay (brick red), Rose pink clay (pink, but deeper if infused in lye water)

When it  comes to natural colorants, experimentation is to be expected.  Depending upon the method used to extract the color or to add it to soap, results vary widely.

It’s also important to note that the FDA requires approved colorants to used in cosmetics, so be aware.  Fortunately, most natural colorants also lend cosmetic properties to soap that make them advantageous to use.

If you’re willing to work with the inconsistencies of natural colorants, you’ll find a whole world of possibility at your fingertips.  If you’ve used these or others, tell us how they worked for you!

Speaking of fingertips, have you seen your new copy of the Saponifier?  Our writers have worked hard to give you a great issue sure to be helpful in preparing for the holidays!

Until next time, may your days be full of bubbles and wax–and colors!

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Soap Colorants

Color, color, color!  Although I know that some of you prefer not to add color to your soaps, a great many of you wouldn’t make a batch without.  Why is that?  Is a soap not as good uncolored as it is colored?  Of course it is!  A soap’s performance is not dependent upon color; however, our desire to add color is still important to us and often, to our customers or the recipients of our gifts.  

 

As many soap artisans are truly artists, the appeal of color and design is just too important to bypass and half the fun of making soap is creating colorful designs.  Nevertheless, color isn’t important only to the more fanciful among us, but even to those of us who make simpler, one-colored soaps or other not-so-fancy soaps.  If we’re making soap that smells like the ocean for instance, we want color that is reminiscent of the ocean, and it makes sense that a rosemary mint soap be green.  Moreover, we want our orange scented soap to be. . . well, orange.

 

Even still, many of us are still confused by color.  We don’t know which colorants to use or how to use them properly.  Our colors morph or speckle or disappear.  How do these soapmakers do it, we ask?  Seeing the beautifully swirled and otherwise colored soaps of our sisters and brothers in the soaping world, we know it can be done, but how?

 

I can’t do the topic justice in just a blog post, but the most common colorants for soap are:

1.    Herbs and spices (and other natural sources of color)

2.    Ultramarines & oxides

3.    FD&C

4.    Micas

 

Which one(s) you choose depend upon a few different factors, such as the kind of soap you’re making.  Some colorants that work well in melt and pour soap do not work well under the high pH of cold or hot process soap.  Sometimes, for the effect we want, a bleeding colorant will add to the design; other times, a non-bleeding colorant is imperative.  A number of soapmakers want to use only natural colorants obtained by infusing or powdering herbs, spices and other naturally-derived agents, whether for their properties in the soap for strictly for color.

 

Your first task is to decide what is important to you when choosing colorants.  If bright colors and crisp designs are at the top of your priority list, for instance, choose ultramarines and oxides or micas.  If your desire is beautiful coloring that is easily  mixed into the soap, and you’re making a once-color batch or you want your colors to blend a bit, then FD&C colors are just fine.  If you’re looking for natural colorants, it’s herbs, spices, etc.  Once you decide, you can purchase your colorants and you’re on your way to making colorful soaps.

 

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about natural colorants.

 

Speaking of color and design, don’t forget to enter our contest!  Details can be found here:   http://saponifier.com/design-mania-contest-submissions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with colored bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Seizing, Ricing and Accelerating; Soapmakers in Crisis

Seizing, ricing and accelerating.  If you’re not a soapmaker or are a beginner, you’re confused.  If  you are a soapmaker, you’re probably recalling your nightmares. . . um. . . experiences, with each.  Few soapmakers survive their years without encountering any or all of them, causing instant crisis mode behaviors.  All three phenomena are caused by fragrance, and are caused by either fragrance or essential oils, but are most common with spice and floral scents.

 

Here’s the scoop:

 

Seizing:  aptly named, seizing takes place after adding fragrance to the soap.  It suddenly turns from a lovely, traced liquid to a hard block of Incredible Hulk-like material.  It seizes up and refuses to budge, hence the alternate term, “Soap on a Stick.”  Yes, I am exaggerating, but when it happens to you, it doesn’t seem that way.  Can anything be done to save the batch?  The best course of action seems to be adding cold water and stirring like crazy.  Pummel it into the mold as soon as possible.  After an episode like this, you will look as though you have just wrestled an alligator.  Consider this a win.

 

Ricing:  This sweet little phenomenon is a little better than seizing.  Upon adding fragrance oil, the mixture creates little rice-like bits in the mixture.  Unless you’re aiming for an attractive rice pattern, you’ll want to know how to counteract this one.  If you are surprised by the ricing, as in you had no prior knowledge of the possibility, stick blend like a mad person until you can mold your soap.  It may work.  If you know ahead of time that this fragrance will rice, then hold out a small amount of your soaping oils, warm them, and add the fragrance to these oils before adding to the soap.  Do not use a water discount with a fragrance that rices.

 

Accelerating:  Like a teenaged boy with the family car for the first time alone, upon adding an accelerating fragrance, the soap will speed up trace as if you floored the gas pedal, meaning you may have pudding or even mashed potatoes within seconds.  This makes fancy coloring, swirls, and anything artistic almost impossible.  Again, it is caused by fragrance.  You may find that adding cold water helps when it happens, but mostly, you just want to get that puppy into the mold.  Yes, you may add color, but taking a long time to make many colors and fancy designs that require pourable soap is out of the question.  This is when I personally resort to the “Glop Swirl,” slapping spoonfuls of soap into the mold.  This should only be done in a safe spot where no one or no thing will be hurt by flying, unsaponified soap.  Try the ricing remedies and be ready to work fast when you know a scent accelerates.

 

Soapmaking, not for the faint of heart!  If you have other remedies, please share them with us.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

Scrub a Dub Dub. . . in the Shower

Do you make shower scrubs?  No, I don’t mean products you scrub your shower with.  I mean the ones you scrub your body with.

 

At their most basic, they are made of a simple mix of salt and oil.  Just pour salt into a container and add oil to cover.  Scent may also be added.  Why salt?  Salt is used because not only can it be obtained finely ground, but because it draws toxins from the body and contains valuable vitamins and minerals for the skin.  A certain well-known company offers them this way.

 

However, others are emulsified so that the mixture is consistent throughout, no stirring required at use.  They don’t leave the tub oily, either, making them favored by many.  They’re a little more trouble to make, but well worth it to those who like to use them.

 

Some use sugar instead of salt as sugar contains lactic acid that will help tone and clear the skin.  In addition, ground oats or herbs are preferred by many.  Jojoba beads might be added for color and exfoliation.

 

Are  you dizzy yet?  Not surprisingly, it seems that everyone making scrubs has a favorite formula.  Even emulsified scrubs are made with varied emulsifiers such as e-wax, BTMS, and polysorbate 80.

 

What is your favorite scrub like?  If you care to share a recipe, our readers would love to try it!

Until next time, happy bubbles and wax!

 

Beth Byrne

 

 

Three Methods for Using Herbs in Soapmaking

Adding herbs to soap is nothing new, but always fun to experiment with!

They are added for the color they impart, as well as for the attributes they contribute to soap.  They can be added using several different methods, as well.

Among the herbs I’ve used in soapmaking, using one method or another, are the following.  In parentheses are the reasons I’ve used them.

  • Comfrey (skin)
  • Parsley (color)
  • Dill (color, exfoliant)
  • Marshmallow Root (mucilage, exfoliation)
  • Calendula (skin, color)
  • Chamomile (skin, exfoliant)
  • Sandalwood Powder (skin, color)
  • Cornsilk (skin, color)
  • Plantain (skin)
  • Chickweed (skin)
  • Turmeric (skin, color)
  • Paprika (just a touch for color!)
  • Lavender (skin)
  • Annatto Seed (color)
  • Green Tea (skin, color)
  • Rooibos Tea (skin, color)
  • Poppy Seeds (exfoliation)
  • Cornmeal (exfoliation)

The methods for using herbs in soap:

1.     Make a tea with the herb and use it as the water amount.

2.     Powder the herb and add it at trace

3.     Make an oil infusion with the herb.  Make it 4 – 6 weeks ahead by infusing the herb in the oil and then using it as one of your soaping oils, or add the herb as you heat the soapmaking oils and remove the herbs once infused.

You might be asking why soapmakers use different methods, rather than choosing one.  The answer is complicated, but in short, the method is chosen because it yields the best results–the best color, the strongest infusion, or is easier to use a certain way.

For instance, Marshmallow root is best extracted in water, so soaking the material in water overnight yields the best mucilage that will make the soap most gentle on the skin, rather “slippery,” if you will.  Of course, powdered root will add exfoliation, so if that’s your goal, simply add it at trace.

The possibilities for using herbs in soapmaking are virtually endless.  We’d love to hear what herbs you use and how you use them!

Next Page »