Saturday, June 2, 2012

WEEK 11 SOAP CHALLENGE Natural Soap



Thank you for visiting and I hope you'll help me become a better soap maker by leaving a comment, suggestion or advice - it's much appreciated!   ~Suzy


I  joined this challenge during week 7 and regret not knowing about it sooner. The challenges have pushed me to try new techniques, colorants and essential oils that I may not have tried otherwise.  AND, they've introduced me to a great group of soap makers with talent galore!  I don't think there's a better motivator than watching someone else, who loves soap making,  create.


Again, a big thank you goes out to Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks  for pulling this together.  I know I'll continue to use what I've learned in all my future soap loafs and stay in contact with some of the talented and fun women I've met!


This week's challenge was to create a natural soap.  There seem to be several ideas as to what that means, but I interpreted it to mean natural plant based colorants,  fragrances and additives in addition to the lye and oils - nothing more.  


To see more natural soaps from those who participated, please take a look at:
  Amy's link for the final week, Week 11 !!


I used a favorite slow trace recipe of olive, canola, organic palm, coconut, cocoa butter, and castor oil. Someone let me know if any of these ingredients aren't considered organic...I wasn't totally sure and read conflicting information online. I'd like to know for any future soaps.


For colorants I used activated charcoal and then ground some calendula petals in my coffee grinder to create a golden yellowish powder that I hope will hold up in the soap.


My fragrance was a combination of Chinese Star Anise essential oil and Peppermint 2nd distill essential oil in a ratio of 2:1  (total 1.5 ounces) and I used a 4 lb wooden silicone lined loaf mold.


I mixed the ground calendula with about a cup of batter and did the same with the activated charcoal, then did a two color pour into a non-colored base. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I did some swirling on the top.  My original game plan was to make a goat's milk soap - I even had the frozen goat's milk ready - but I decided to save that for another day when I had more time.  Simplicity has it's own appeal, right?!


(colorants and essential oils from Bramble Berry, all oils from Soap Making Resource )



Soap loaf in silicone mold



...and another shot of the top of the mold


closeup -  top of the loaf with some basic swirls


I really like the way this two color pour came out. Each piece is a bit different, and the calendula and charcoal mixed well together. I just hope the color holds after it cures.


 Another close up.  I'd definitely try the ground calendula and charcoal again...maybe adding a brown and a deep orange natural colorants. The calendula adds a grainy texture which I kind of like!





Seven of my favorites from this loaf.  I'm so happy when things just turn out as planned !!



Just for fun:  I had a bit of extra soap, so poured it in a plastic mold I've used in the past for honey based M&P.  I think it's just the cutest bee/hive mold and would love to use it for a CP honey/beeswax soap sometime.  Not the clearest picture, but there's a bee on top that you can detail with colored M&P (or CP soap) prior to pouring the rest. This mold came from Bramble Berry a few years back, but I'm sure it's available out there somewhere if not at Bramble Berry.



26 comments:

Jenny said...

Beautiful soaps, Suzy! The calendula and charcoal look great together, and the swirls are so cool-looking! Anise and peppermint sounds like a great fragrance combo, too.

Jennifer Marie said...

Lovely colors! Love the EO blend you used!

Suzy Whitten said...

Thank you! I'm going to take a few more pics - I'm not sure these really represent how the soap turned out, but the EO combination is a good one! (in moderation!!) I'm sure it will last a long time in this soap loaf and I'd rather have that then a gorgeous mild fragrance that fades away. Thanks for checking out my blog!!
~Suzy

Unknown said...

What a great plan and the swirl turned out nice. With the chopped calendula such a good idea. The scent blend sounds good to my nose!

Suzy Whitten said...

Thank you! I always have more ideas than time it seems, so have a long list of things I'd like to try. Winters in Minnesota are long and I feel like I need to be outside on a gorgeous Summer day, so will stockpile these ideas for colder weather. I appreciate your commenting!! Suzy

Suzy Whitten said...

Thanks, Jenny! I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. I've used calendula before, but haven't ground it into a powder to use as a colorant. It gave some texture and I'm really hoping the color holds! I love anise, I love peppermint..the jury's out on the two of them together. Maybe the fragrance will mellow as it cures. I'm more of a subtle fragrance person, so only used 1.5 oz for my 4 lb mold and it's pretty darned strong to me, but a good combination!! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it. xx Suzy

Simple Pleasures Handmade Soap said...

Beautiful! I love using calendula, especially because it will retain it's colour but I usually add it for a soft exfollient, so it's a fairly course grind when added. Did you grind yours to a fine powder? It contrasts very nicely with the black, looks like gold.

Suzy Whitten said...

Thanks, Eileen !! I'm glad to know the calendula retains color...at least in the coarse grind. I did grind mine to a fine powder, but it still gave a lot of texture to the soap. So many soap recipes and ideas, so little time! :-D Thanks for your comment and I hope you'll stay in touch!
~Suzy

Katy said...

These are beautiful soaps, Suzy! I love the color that calendula gives. You've got me wanting to finely grind it to use as colorant now! I've never used anise EO, either. I'm intrigued.
So nice to meet you through this soap challenge! I hope we can keep in touch through our blogs!!!
Katy (fourmessybabies.wordpress.com)
(I haven't done the past 2 weeks of challenges yet, but plan to get back up and running ASAP!)

Amy Warden said...

Your soaps look fantastic, Suzy!! I love the black and yellow - and the swirls are so pretty! I think your eo blend will mellow some - you might enjoy it yet! :) Thank you so much for participating in the challenges!

Natalia said...

Wow, your swirl is really beautiful!

Suzy Whitten said...

Thanks, Katy !! I missed you on the last challenges, but have kept up with your blog. You have your hands full :-D For sure we'll keep in touch..I really enjoy your stories about the little ones and soaping both.
The anise oil has such a great licorice smell to it, but on it's own I'm not sure I'd care for it. I'm going to try mixing it with an herb EO next time. Do give the ground calendula a try for a golden/yellow color. I needed to grind it in small amounts and for quite awhile (was afraid I'd burn my coffee grinder motor out!), but have enough for another batch and am anxious to see if the color fades or morphs at all. "See" you soon !!! xx Suzy

Suzy Whitten said...

Thank you, Amy ! This has been soooo much fun, I can't tell you. Good to hear you think the EO might die down a bit....my soap curing room in the basement sure smells great !! Again, have a fabulous summer with your girls. ~Suzy

Suzy Whitten said...

Thanks, Natalia! I start out hoping nothing goes too terribly wrong, and sometimes I'm surprised by a fun result. This one turned out pretty well. I have more air bubbles than I'd like and need to work on that, but the colors were fun and I'm going to play around with natural colorants a bit more. They give a subtle look and I lean more towards the bold and bright, but I'm starting to appreciate subtlety. Keep in touch, will you?? ~Suzy

Carol said...

Holy fantastic, Minnesota! I *LOVE* it! Good to hear the calendula holds it's color-great idea! I love that yellow (I'm a bit obsessed with yellow) Fabulous swirls. I could see you doing this soap again in the Winter, only using the Frankincense and Myrrh EO. I don't know why. That's just what came to mind the second I saw your soap-And the wise men brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh!

Glad to get to know you and I know we'll keep in touch. :-)
Hey! I just realized I can write on your blog now-NICE!

lwal50 said...

Wow a very exciting looking soap. It's just gorgeous, and I love how you planned it from the beginning. What a great idea to grind up the calendular petals - very, very original, and looks fantastic, I love it, x Linda

Louisa McFarland said...

I love the contrast between the black and yellow, the calenula makes it look like a gold nugget swirled through the soap. Well done. I had calendua growing in my garden and I was so looking forward to using it is soap this past summer, but none came up. I'll have to plant more next summer.

Suzy Whitten said...

You bet, girl - I changed the commenting for YOU! I turned to friends who know blogging and websites because I had no clue how to do it. I'm such a dork when it comes to the details of technology - but my prior job was installing a computerized shipping system! Go figure.
I like the idea of Frankincense and Myrrh EO'S for the Holidays. I don't know what they smell like, but the idea sounds great with these two colorants and would make nice Christmas gifts if elegantly packaged. Thank you! I've added that to my soaping journal and will for sure give you total credit. Your three soaps are amazing....all the ingredients sound good enough to eat....and if not for the sodium hydroxide, you could! Let me know if you'll be selling them or if they're just for your family's use, k? Chat with you soon!! ~Suzy

Suzy Whitten said...

Aw, thank you Linda! I appreciate the kind words, as always. As a beginner, I'm just happy when things don't flop *shakes head and smiles* This one was a nice surprise as I was pretty pleased with the swirl in it and the way the colors behaved. Trust me, I took good notes right away hoping that I can duplicate it again in the future. Hit or miss, that's how I roll. I hope we can stay in touch and share those hits and misses - that's how I learn and it's really been fun. Your comments are so appreciated....I really enjoy having online friends who share the same interest. My girlfriends are supportive, but have NO interest in soaping or most crafts in general and that's okay. Until then, Suzy

Suzy Whitten said...

Hey Louisa! I didn't realize until I did a bit of reading that calendula is a pot marigold and part of the daisy family ! I would have been like you and attempted to grow some if I'd have known. I'm not sure how well it would do in our area, but I've tried some tropicals in the past and did okay with them as an annual for color or interest in the right sunny spot.
I ordered more calendula than I know what to do with and then recieved three huge samples with an order I placed, so if you'd like some free dried calendula - e-mail me and I'd be happy to send it to you. Let's keep in touch via blogs? Thank you again for taking the time to comment and for your kind words...they are MUCH appreciate! Suzy

Louisa McFarland said...

Suzy, I am not sure what the climate of Minnesota is like, but I would be very surprised if calendula wont grow, it used to grow like a weed in my vege patch, I started pulling it out and mulching over it, before my soap making days. I picked all the flowers in the previous summer for soap, and then this summer none came up. Not sure if it was because the last 2 summers have been too mild and wet, or if my eradication program finally paid off. Probably the latter. Oh well it will grow again, I am doing some pre spring planning in my head of what I want to plant, that is on the list. Thanks for the offer of sending some my way, but the international postage is not worth it. Winter has just hit full force here today, but I know spring is coming. Then I will be planting.

Suzy Whitten said...

Louisa, we're considered a zone 4-5 which means our winter temps often fall well below 0 degrees F. and this week we're expecting temperatures all week in the mid 80's F. (30 degrees C).
Hold tight for Spring !! If you're like me, you're looking at gardening catalogs and planning what you'll grow. xx Suzy

Susan / Bella Fresca said...

Great job with the soap! I like how the calendula looks in the soap. I've used anise and peppermint in soap and it's really nice. Doesn't seem too powerful, so would think your soap will be fine. But it's a bit subjective too. Anyway, nice job!

Suzy Whitten said...

Thanks, Susan! It's been a week and the peppermint/anise fragrance has died down quite a bit. Now I'm worried it's going to disappear totally!!! I really like the combination and will try it again with maybe a lavender EO added. You're right, fragrances are so subjective. I've loved some that my husband hasn't been able to tolerate and vice versa. Thank you for commenting!

Kim said...

Very pretty soap! Love it!

Suzy Whitten said...

Hey, thanks Kim!! And congrats on your upcoming graduation :-D Are you super excited? nervous? I wish you all the best this week with finals. xx Suzy