Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Sneek Peak At My New Mini Lavender Soap

Here is a preview of my new mini lavender soap that will be available in my Etsy shop in a few days. These bars contain dried lavender and chamomile flowers to help exfoliate and boast a lovely lavender scent. Please let me know what you think about it in the comments section. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where Can I Find Glass Bottles for Packaging?

This is a quick post directed to my fellow Canadian, and more specifically my Toronto readers. I am really having a hard time finding glass bottles to package bath and massage oils, so I'm asking for your help. Do you know of any glass bottle suppliers in the greater Toronto area? Please let me know in the comment box. I would be forever grateful!

I mean, I have found bottles I like online. The problem is, if they come from the U.S. I have to pay an arm and a leg for shipping and sometimes even a lot of money for shipping within Canada. I am specifically looking for a tall, skinny 4oz bottle and also a standard Boston round 8oz bottle. At first I would like to buy small quantities, but down the road, maybe larger quantities. I've tried online searches, yellow pages, dollar stores, flea markets.... and nothing! There must be some glass company/supplier in Toronto. Any help you could give is appreciated!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bath Oil Is The Trick...
In light of my work on some bath oils that I will be posting for sale in my Etsy shop very soon, I thought I would share a very simple recipe for bath oil that you can make in about two minutes.

First, some information about bath oils: Bath oils are a wonderful way to add scent and that sense of luxury to any bath. They provide that extra note of relaxation at the end of a tired day. Although they are not as commonly used as traditional moisturizers, bath oils can be an excellent, in fact, the best way to add and retain moisture in your skin. You might be thinking... "Don't dermatologists recommend applying moisturizer directly after bathing?" or "Doesn't the woman in that recent Johnson's Baby Oil commercial apply baby oil to her skin directly after showering and without toweling off?" Well, I have a few qualms about this: Moisturizing after a shower... Great. That's fine. But you can get more moisture into your skin without the chemicals in commercial moisturizers, by simply using a bath oil. Furthermore, baby oil is basically mineral oil with scent. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum and has been known to clog pores. It's just not the best thing you can be putting on your skin. Also, by applying an oil to your skin directly, you generally have to wait about two hours for it to soak in enough so that you can dress! Bath oils don't cause this inconvenience when used in the proper amount per bath. 

So, all you need to do is this:

1. Purchase a carrier oil that is suitable for aromatherapy, such as olive oil or grapeseed oil. (Please see my post about carrier oils here if you have any further questions about what oil to use.)
2. Purchase your favourite essential oil or fragrance oil. (Please make sure your oils can be used for aromatherapy and beauty products.)
3. Add the desired amount of essential / fragrance oil to about 1 cup of the carrier oil. I usually use about 0.5 oz of essential oil, but it depends on your personal preference and the strength of the scent you are using.
4. Stir the oils together.
5. Add about 3 tablespoons to your bath and enjoy!

Make sure you store your bath oils in an airtight container, and in a cool dry place at room temperature. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments about your bath oil experience!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Soap The Easy Way

There are many ways of making soap, but two of the most popular methods are the cold process and the melt and pour method. The cold process involves mixing fats with a solution of water and lye and takes anywhere from half an hour to over two hours depending on the level of difficulty of your recipe. However, the undisputed easiest method of making soap is the melt and pour method. I suppose it is the easiest because you are not really and truly making the soap. The crafter simply needs to melt the soap and add his or her desired fragrances, colours and botanicals. This is the best method for anyone who has a tight schedule or who is making the soap as a children's craft. However, there are some tricks to using melt and pour soap.

The materials you need to make melt and pour soap are:

- a chunk of good quality melt and pour soap
- soap mold
- fragrance (fragrance oil or essential oil)
- colour (make sure your colour is compatible with soap making and NOT food colouring)
- botanicals or finely ground nuts (optional to make an exfoliating bar)
- rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

Make sure that you have the correct amount of soap to fit in your mold. For instance, if your mold is a two pound tray mold, use two pounds of melt and pour soap. If you are making a single four ounce bar, than use four ounces of soap. If you use a mold designed for soap, it will usually state the capacity right on the mold. If you are not entirely sure of the capacity of your mold, just estimate the amount. Always estimate more rather than less, because you can always let the leftover harden and remelt it for another use.

Be creative as you wish in terms of mold choice! Use cake pans, bread pans, those little mini silicone cupcake pans you find at the dollar store. You can use anything for melt and pour soap, but if you ever venture into making cold process soap, never use a metal mold as the lye in the soap will eat right through the metal. Trust me, I found this out the hard way...

First, cut up your melt and pour soap into small chunks so that it melts easily. Next, make sure you have all of your ingredients (fragrance, colour, etc.) measured and ready to go. The amount of fragrance, colour and botanicals you use are your choice. I try to stay away from using too much liquid, as it will eventually change the consistency of the soap. Also, I've heard that many soap makers use tea leaves to add as a botanical-type substitute. Please be aware that most brands of tea bleed their colour into the soap after a few days. A fellow soaper told me to try Celestial Seasonings brand because in her experience, the tea did not bleed.

Then, using the double boiler method, melt your soap. Always use a double boiler. While the soap is melting, stir it very very gently or just push the chunks of soap around the pot. Do not stir vigorously, as this creates air bubbles in your final product. After the soap is melted, let it sit and cool until it forms a skin on top. If you ignore this step, your final product may be slightly sticky and not a 'hard bar'. In soap making, the harder the bar is, the better because it lasts longer. After you have let the soap cool, stir the skin back into to soap.

This is the time to add any fragrance, colour or other additives. Stir them in gently. Slowly pour your soap into you molds and spray the back of the soap generously with rubbing alcohol to get rid of air bubbles. Let your soap set and harden undisturbed for about six or seven hours and then unmold. Some crafters report having stubborn soap that refuses to budge from rigid molds. If this happens, place you soap in the fridge (not the freezer) for about thirty minutes and try to unmold it again.  Always wrap your melt and pour soap in air tight packaging, such as plastic wrap.

On Making Layered Melt and Pour Soap:

If you should decide to be adventurous and try making a layered bar of soap (and you should because it's great fun), here are a few tips:

First, make one layer at a time and let the first layer set pretty completely before adding the next layer. If you do not wait, you will end up with a marble looking mix of colour in your final product.

Second, and most importantly, many crafters (including myself) report having difficulty getting the layers of soap to adhere to each other. I had this problem with my first batch of layered melt and pour soap. At first the layers looked like they were going to stick together, but after the soap sat for a few days, they came apart. To avoid this problem, after the first layer is partially set, use a fork to scrape the back of the soap to create ridges for the next layer to seep into. Also, just when you are about to pour the second layer onto the first, spray the back of the first layer with a good amount of rubbing alcohol. I've also heard that if you use a rubbing alcohol that has a higher alcohol content (not as diluted), the layers will stick together much more easily.

Lastly, try to stay away from liquid soap colour. Liquid dyes have a tendency to bleed into each other after the layers of soap are assembled. There are powdered colours and micas you can buy for soap making.

I hope you enjoy my tips for making melt and pour soap. Happy soaping!