Monday, March 30, 2015

Soap au Naturale

Lately I've been on a quest to make my natural soaps even MORE natural.  Every now and again I get questions from potential customers about how my soap is made, and I've found that some people have a real aversion to fragrance oils. While I know that I get my fragrance oils from high quality, reputable sources, some people are just really uncomfortable with soaps that use fragrance oils instead of essential oils. Since there's clearly a market for essential oil soaps, I've been trying my hand at some new, more natural, techniques and materials.

From Top to Bottom:  Grapefruit Orange Soap, Oatmeal Honey Soap, Mother Earth Soap

First, I wanted to incorporate more essential oil soaps into my lineup and on my Etsy shop.  I ordered some additional essential oils, and used what I had on hand while I waited for my shipment.  The first of my au naturale soaps was Grapefruit Orange.


Grapefruit Orange Soap

I used orange 15x, grapefruit, and lemon essential oils in this one.  I was a little bit concerned about scent retention, since citrus essential oils can tend to fade over time.  I made this batch almost two weeks ago, and so far the scent is stable.  Of course, time will tell on this one! For colorant I used titanium dioxide and iron oxides, which I personally feel fall into the "natural" category.*  I'm always trying to perfect my design techniques, so I used a hanger swirl with this batch.

Next in my pursuit of a more natural soap, I decided to try my hand at making a rustic hot process soap. I'm not usually a fan of hot process.  I started out doing melt and pour soaps, and quickly moved on to cold process and never looked back.  I've only done hot process a few times, with a few rebatches here and there as needed.


Hot Process Oatmeal Honey Soap

The other day I was in Teresa Deleen's jewelry shop here in Des Moines, WA (she has some awesome jewelry, by the way) and saw that she had handmade soap for sale.  I'm always up for trying a competitor's product, so I bought some.  I'll be honest; I wanted to hate the soap.  I wanted to feel superior and scoff at the competitor's crappy product.  Imagine my disappointment when I tried the soap and it was a really, really nice bar of hot process soap. Feeling competitive and deflated, I immediately hunted down a recipe for Hot Process Oatmeal Honey Soap from The Nerdy Farm Wife's website.  I'm so glad that I did! Her blog is amazing, and the soap turned out so well.  The great part about hot process soap is that it's ready to use right away (no four week cure time like cold process soap).  After this batch I didn't feel so put out by my competitor's fantastic soap!

Lastly, I decided to play with some natural colorants.  I ordered some madder root and alkanet powders, but in the meantime, went to my spice rack for inspiration. Armed with dried parsley, a mortar, and pestle I got to work!  I used an essential oil blend of bergamot, cassia, cedarwood, nutmeg, lavandin, and peppermint and called this one Mother Earth.

Mother Earth Soap colored with dried parsley
With my recent essential oil purchase, I'll be sure to have more au naturale soaps to show off soon.



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*Generally speaking, I use mica and iron oxides, ultramarines, and titanium dioxide to color my soaps (along with other natural colorants like coffee, calendula petals, etc.). Iron oxides are naturally occurring, however, when found in nature they contain impurities that would be dangerous. Oxides used in cosmetics are "nature identical" which means it has the same structural components, but is created in a lab to ensure the product is free of impurities. Because the term "all natural" is not regulated, it is up to each individual to determine what they consider natural. Oxides are generally recognized as being a natural product.