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
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!
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!
Swirling with the Best!
28 page Tutorial on Swirling, written by top winners of our ‘Best Swirl’ contest.