Remember back to the days when you first began to make soap or candles. For some of you, it’s a distant memory. For others, it’s easily recaptured. Regardless of the time and path traveled from then until now, try to remember how “green” you were– maybe far enough back that “green” only meant the color or that you were new to the craft! Are you remembering how confusing everything was, how many terms you had to learn, how to procure the equipment and supplies? Remember carefully studying the safety tips others gave you? I want you to put yourself in that place again for a moment.
Why? I have a couple of reasons in mind; one of them is empathy. If you can remember how much there was to learn and the trepidation that you felt at the beginning, you can feel empathy for the newbies you run across. Yes, it may feel as if you’ve answered a certain question a hundred times and yes, it might seem obvious what the answer is to another. Nevertheless, you can answer that question or help the person figure out the answer, paying back what has been given to you.
I don’t have to tell you that soap and candlemaking have been serious industries and crafts for centuries, their secrets closely protected and passed on to future generations. Just as in the past, this vital information must be passed on to others now, so the crafts will be preserved for the future, which is my second reason for asking you to think about where you began. I personally remember many teachers I had–Rita Scheu of TLC Soaps and many others I “met” online who taught and encouraged me along the way. Indeed, I’m not finished learning. Just a few days ago, I asked a question which other soap makers helped me with, and that knowledge will make me a better soapmaker.
Potential and beginning soap and candle makers these days face a different challenge than many of us faced. Before the explosion of the internet, instruction was difficult to find. Today, they are barraged with information, much of it inaccurate at best, and dangerous at worst. If you can lend some encouragement along the way and show newbies where they can find good information (Saponifier), you’ll be doing them, the craft, and you, a world of good!
Until next time, bubbles up!
We soapmakers love our oils, do we not?
Many of us like to try a wide variety of oils and become connoisseurs, learning the color, viscosity, and nutrients found in each of them. Those of us who make other bath and body products, even more so. We want the best oils for a balanced bar of soap, for the perfect consistency of lotion, for massage, and a host of other products. They are, indeed, a mainstay of our businesses or hobbies.
One of my favorite oils for soap and for other body products is sunflower seed oil. When we visited my city’s farmers’ market this summer, I gazed lovingly at the bottles of golden liquid sunshine offered there and had an interesting discussion with the vendors about how nice it was for soapmaking, as well as for cooking.
Why do I like it so much? One reason is because it has a nice skin feel, being light and not too greasy. It contains tocopherols, vitamin B, and trace minerals. Sunflower oil is a beautiful color and creates an almost-white soap used alone. The imagery of fields of golden sunflowers lifting their face up to the sun is warm and inviting, and cheerful, at the same time. What’s not to like? The fact that it is readily available and cost-effective helps, as well.
What about you? Tell us about one of your favorite oils.
Have you finished reading your Sept./Oct. edition of the Saponifier yet? I confess that I haven’t either. Not from lack of interest, mind you, simply from a lack of time! What I have read, however, has been fantastic.
Having recently purchased argan oil, the Miracle from Morocco, I couldn’t wait to read Marla Bosworth’s, Moroccan Gold: The Beauty of Incorporating Argan Oil in Soaps and Skincare Products. She reminded me why I wanted this oil so badly, given its high vitamin content and polyphenols, not to mention its cachet in high-end cosmetics! You too, will enjoy learning about this amazing oil and trying out the formulas she provides.
I was actually excited reading, Growing as a Soapmaker, by Jean Broughton. It’s a little sappy, I guess, but when I read of another soaper’s success, whether a good first batch of soap or a big account like Joan’s, it just makes me smile. Joan’s frank account of her experience, from first phone call to delivery, was thrilling to read. It was instructive too, you’ll find, as she recounts the steps involved and doesn’t hesitate to inform us of just how hard she worked and how much help she needed to pull it off.
Have you read these articles? Tell us what you think!
Authors and editors are working hard on the next issue of the Saponifier! It’s due to be released on September first, but here’s a sneak preview:
Have you been hearing about Argan Oil recently? It’s one of the trendy oils, but for good reason. Read Marla Bosworth’s article, Moroccan Gold: the Beauty of Incorporating Argan Oil in Soaps and Skincare Products, to find out what’s behind this newly re-discovered, yet ancient oil. It’s use in the Middle East continues, but is fast becoming popular in the US. You’ll even find formulas for face, body, hair, scalp and soapmaking.
Start your own product line with this goldmine!
You might remember guest author Larry Strattner, and his humorous article involving learning to make soap. You’ll be happy to note that he is back again with yet another article, My Soap Went Up in Smoke. A title like that will lead your imagination everywhere! I can’t wait to hear about his latest episode in soapmaking with his mentor, Liz.
Stay tune for more previews!
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!