Thursday, November 11, 2010

Scented Soap

My first attempt at making soap worked great!  I have been using the Oatmeal Honey Soap that I made in September.  The oatmeal gives it a little exfoliation and the vegetable oils are a great moisturizer.  The only think I don't like about the soap is that I didn't add any essential oils for scent.  It smells a little unappealing... take a big whiff of straight olive oil and see if you feel like rubbing it on your skin.  So, I thought that my next attempt should be all about scent.  I bought 5 essential oils (citrus burst blend, pink grapefruit, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus lemon) from Essential Wholesale and I couldn't wait to try them out!

I feel guilty writing about scent because these essential oils smell so amazing that I don't think I can do them justice.  I decided to make one batch of lavender soap and one batch of pink grapefruit.  I used the Soap Essentials Bar recipe from The Natural Soap Book by Susan Miller Cavitch.

Soap Essentials Bar
3 pounds cold distilled water
473 grams sodium hydroxide
4 pounds olive oil
2 pounds 8 oz coconut oil
1 pound 8 oz palm oil
30 grams grapeseed extract (natural preservative)- optional
40-50 grams pure essential oil- optional

Additions:
45 grams essential oil

The original recipe makes 40 bars, so I cut the recipe in half and split it into two containers when it was time to add the essential oil in order to make two batches of 10 bars with different scents.  I used the same soap making process as the Oatmeal Honey Soap, so read here for the specifics.  The only difference was adding approximately 12 grams of either lavender or pink grapefruit essential oils instead of the honey and oatmeal additions just before the soap is poured into the molds.  I have to admit that I forgot to line my cardboard molds with wax paper ahead of time, so I rushed it and did a pretty sloppy job.  I paid for this later when I realized soap had leaked in between the layers and I had to peel paper out from layers of soap... lesson learned!
Soap in my sloppily lined mold
I left the soap to harden in the molds for about 3 days.  I found that the extra couple of days proved to be much easier to handle the soap when it was time to cut it since it was a little more firm.  I'm still working on my cutting techniques, but I think I'm getting a little better at making the bars square... kinda.
Cutting lines marked on soap
Not quite square soap bars
The soap bars will now cure for 6-8 weeks in a cool, dry place, aka. my closet.  Next time I'll experiment with adding colors and other additives/nutrients.

Another scent related thing that I'm trying is drying lavender leaves.  I know it is usually the flowers that people use for potpourris and other things, but we pinched lavender at the greenhouse and I figured that it couldn't hurt to dry some of the leaves and see if they hold their scent.  This could possibly be an additive for the soap.  I'll look into it and see if it would hold up in a soap bar.
Drying lavender leaves

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