Long before I ever sold a bar of soap, I made many many batches to test for how oils available to me locally behaved in soap, how climate affected curing, and I also tried keeping soap away for a length of time to see if it was true that old soap was like old wine.
My experience has been interesting. A short while after I started making soap, I had to move house and I packed up a lot of soap in a box that was kept in a store room and I literally cried when I opened the box a couple of months later. While some of the soap looked like they had mould growing on them, rats had also found a way into the box and earned themselves serious tummy ache guaging by what was left behind in the box. I cried, people. Then I asked the gateman to throw the box far far far away (aka the big dustbin outside the gate).
After that episode I paid better attention to storing the soaps and that episode has never been repeated. I’ve been going back into my stash of old soaps and rediscovering the thrill of using extremely mild old soap.
The one I’m currently enjoying is the papaya salt bar I made over a year ago.
It used to look like a rose 😀
While the added fragrance has faded, the soap itself is a delight. At first the lather was a little sluggish because of the 20% coconut oil that was not turned into soap floating about in the bar. But after running some water over it and giving it a rub, the lush lather came bounding back.
The white specks are coarse sea salt crystals
Its been in the bathroom ever since and I only just remembered to take pictures of it 😀 before its all gone. I’m not sure I’ve drank really old wine but I can imagine its the same experience 😉 .
I feel privileged to be able to find an outlet for my creativity through soapmaking at its the old soaps that thrill me because it reinforces how far I’ve come on this journey. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to pass on this passion to others and seeing what they are doing with the skills they’ve learned!
One of the beautiful things about soapmaking is the creative expression it allows. Soap can be basic and functional, a work of art, or both. This definitely falls into the ‘both’ category.
This soap (isn’t that pillar intriguing) was created by Funmi at Remzo Creations. This is her original recipe black soap and would you believe those cream coloured chunks are raw Shea Butter! This takes the luxury skin-loving rating of this soap through the roof! I wish I had thought of it 😀
Remzo Creations original black soap with shea butter chunks
This particular recipe is targeted at people who want to even out their complexion and achieve a healthy glow. Want some? You can hook up with Funmi by email.
Back when I was a wee lass I used native black soap because I had to. Even then I used to tinker with it because I wanted a soap bar that I could use directly on my skin. Fast forward a few decades and I’ve finally done it…well, sorta.
Where I’m from, black soap is made with Palm (/Kernel) Oil and Shea Butter, in addition to burnt plantain skin and cocoa pods. The resulting brown and black crumbly soap is always surprisingly gentle on the skin.
Personally I’ve never been interested in making black soap from scratch so that’s not what this is about (sorry!)
My inner TinkerNini led me in 2 directions: cold/hot process and a clay blend.
For cold and hot process, I used a recipe with PKO, Palm Oil, Shea and Cocoa butter (90%) and softened black soap and camwood at 10% of the recipe. My PKO had been infusing orange peel for a couple of weeks and I also added orange peel powder into the soap batter. My great grandma would have protested but I added kaolin clay and honey also.
Hot process Nini Original ABS. I know, Funmi, i have to work on my pictures 😀
Here it is, a gently exfoliating black soap I can hold 😀 This soap is not fragranced and leaves a warm bathroom smelling smoky (in a good way 😀 ) As much as soap can, it leaves touchably smooth skin behind. Which got me thinking of a baby (or super sensitive skin) soap like Castile with 10% ABS instead of just a swirl like I made a while ago…
The second route needed a little more elbow grease and I will blog about that another day.
Orange peel powder is so fragrant, it almost totally overtook the natural fragrance of the virgin coconut oil I infused it in within the first day.
I soaped the infused oil with 20% Shea butter and a full tablespoon of unsifted orange peel powder, dark unsweetened cacao powder, honey and kaolin clay.
I left this soap unfragraned to see how the orange smell would come through and at the end, I threw in some soap shreds I had made a few days prior just for visual interest. Next time I may make orange shreds in keeping with the chocolate orange theme.
I couldn’t wait to get this soap unmoulded and kept sniffing it as I walked by 😀 The orange doesn’t hit you in the face but its there…nice and subtle, waiting to be activated with warm water. The orange peel grounds make for very gentle exfoliation so this is one to use directly on the skin.
This is a keeper, perfect for people who don’t want or can’t handle fragrance in their bath products.
Looking in my stash of fragrance oils recently, I found a gem I didn’t know I had in stock…fankinsence and myrrh fragrance oil #happydance
Of course it had to go into my Christmas soap collection so I quickly made some orb and nugget embeds and dusted them with 24kt gold mica to complete the third part of the gifts presented to baby Jesus.
The complexion of the soap and the wavy cut is my nod to the manger. I also added some purple pigment at the top (not too visible) to hint at royalty.
What does it smell like? I have nothing to compare it to since this is the first time I’m smelling the combination. Its nice though, which doesn’t seem an adequate description.
This metaphor-laden soap is now curing alongside the other Christmas soap orders.
How do I describe Edith? Passionate is a little tame when it comes to her love for soapmaking. I first ‘met’ her when she called to order a specific soap that MUST contain lavender eo and camwood.
After that, I became aware she was interested in soapmaking and because she was too busy to attend a class, she bought some supplies from me and I customised a manual for her which she said “you wrote this with me in mind”.
In a manner of days she was creating soaps using additives I’d not even tried 😀 She however is not a fan of the 4 to 6 week wait so I wasn’t surprised when a few days ago, she bought a crocpot. This is the first beauty she created with it. ❤
This soap is reminiscent of a cruise (it reminds her of the sea). Olive and coconut oils make up the base recipe and she added ground oatmel to both portions of soap. Just based on the ingredients I know this will be a very soothing soap as we enter the drier seasons.
All I can say is look out for Edith and her brand Iamzibah
I enjoy warming menthol crystals in my essential oil warmer because in the cooler months, it helps us all sleep easier. A little goes a long way so I have quite a bit on hand.
Funmi – who has been busy experimenting with soap recipes and additives – mentioned that she was going to make soap with menthol crystals to see if she could match a popular blue antiseptic soap. Of course I took up the challenge and also whipped up a batch.
Menthol chocolate soap in the raw
I stuck to a very basic recipe in case things went awry but couldn’t resist adding yogurt, kaolin clay, honey and dark baking cocoa. I also couldn’t resist adding glitter to the top. I mean, why not?
At 2% strength, the menthol came through enough for my liking but something tells me this is a soap to keep away from the ‘nether‘ regions 😀