Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Soapmaking

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for quite awhile, and I am finally finishing it up and getting it posted! 

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As I have been doing various soap related things the past month or so, I have been taking some photos with the intention of eventually doing a 'soaping' blogpost. And now, here it is!

When I first started making soap, a friend gave me a basic recipe for a non-goat milk soap. I altered the recipe to include goat milk and then tweaked it a bit more to get the ratio of bar-hardness and lather that I was wanting. Then came the fun of developing my own recipes for each different variety!

I do not know how many hundreds of bars of soap I have made so far, but I do know that I still very much enjoy the process! There are many various steps involved and here is a glimpse into some of them . . .

Measuring the paper that is used to line the mold in preparation for cutting the pieces

 Some of the main supplies . . . I order most of my oils in bulk in 35-50 lb. containers

At the very beginning, getting ready to start measuring oils, water, goat milk, etc.

Measuring the essential oils . . . here, it is the blend for the Citrus Bar. The notebook in the background is where I have all of my recipes.

After adding the lye/water mixture (which I always mix together outdoors) to the oils, I use an immersion blender to blend and bring the soap to trace (and at a certain point in this process, the goat milk is added.) No infused oils were used in this recipe which is why the soap mixture is white.

Once the soap reaches 'trace' (about the consistency of pudding), it is time to add the essential oils, additives, colorants (unless I am using infused oils - those are added at the beginning), etc. This particular soap, Lavender Orange, only had the blend of lavender and orange essential oils added to it so it was pretty simple. The orange is what gives it the bright yellow color. 

When using infused oils, the process is a bit different . . . at the beginning, I will measure out how much of each of the infused olive oil combinations that are to be used . . .

Regular olive oil with two different infused olive oils (paprika and annatto seed powder - both of which I use in the Citrus Bar.)

The olive oil mixture is then added to the other oils and instead of a white soap mixture, it is now colored , and this time, it is orange for the Citrus Bar . . .

At the beginning of the blending process . . . it has a ways to go yet before reaching trace.

Another way I color soaps besides using infused oils, is to add things such as paprika powder, cocoa powder, etc. after the soap reaches trace.

Once the soap reaches trace, has all of the colorants and additives added, then it is poured into the lined mold . . .

Lavender Orange soap in the lined mold and ready to be insulated and left for 24-48 hours to finish saponifying. Then it will be cut into bars which will cure for 4-6 weeks.

So that's some of the process!

Another part of soapmaking is developing different scent blends and figuring out what colorants to use. That is one of my favorite parts! I had been working with a blend of lavender, orange, and ylang ylang essential oils, and got it to the point that it was ready to try in a batch of soap. I really like the finished result . . . .

This is it curing. Swirled soaps are one of my favorites to make, though they do take a bit longer. This one had paprika powder mixed into half of the soap mixture which was then swirled into the remaining soap mixture.

Once the new varieties of soap are cured, it is time to photograph them, edit the photos, write a listing for them, and then list them in my shop . . .

"Orange Blossom"

Packaging up orders is another part of the process. The photos below are of soaps that are for baby shower favors, hence why each one is tied with twine. It is especially enjoyable putting together orders like this knowing what they are for!


All ready to be packaged up and mailed

There are also parts of the business that do not come easily to me . . . anything that has to do with design, whether it be business cards, soap labels, banners, websites, takes me awhile! It is rare for me to simply have inspiration, but I instead need to work and experiment and delete and add and change and get my family's opinions and sometimes start all over again before I have an end product that I am happy with.

Lately I have been working on one of these 'not so easy parts' which is designing new soap labels. After quite a few hours of work and a lot of the aforementioned experimenting, deleting, etc., I am finally liking how they are coming together!

Until the new labels are ready, though, I will keep printing and using the old ones . . .
Cutting more labels

So there is a glimpse into some aspects of my soap business!

8 comments:

  1. I can testify as to your soap being delightful, Sarah!

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  2. Thank you for sharing a bit on your soap making process; I found it very interesting! Homemade soap almost looks and smells too good to use!

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  3. Your comment brought a smile to my face, Elizabeth! I am glad that you enjoyed the soap. :)

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  4. You’re welcome, Anna, and I am glad that you found it interesting!

    I have actually had customers tell me that they weren’t planning on using the soap, but just wanted to use it as decoration and for the scent. :)

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  5. How much fun! Thank you for showing us all the work and creativity that goes into your products!
    Also, Becky's girls are still playing with their dolls, which have held up BEAUTIFULLY to the rough love toddlers/ small children give to their favorite toys!

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  6. It is, Tammy! And you're welcome. :)

    Aww, your comment about the dolls brought a big smile to my face! I am so glad that the girls are still enjoying them so much!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)