Friday, September 24, 2010

And my Very Green Soap

That metal circle will be a great frame for a wedding picture
of the kids. I have just the right photo for it but need to
 photoshop it to fit. I also dried some of my Hollyhock.
I actually intended to try to make another blue soap with indigo be cause the first one was a total failure.  I had put the indigo powder into oils and it did not give any colour.  So I figured that I should put it into the water, so I tried that.  Well, that sure didn't work either so I changed direction and reached for my dried herbs in the hope that I would be able to make green soap.

I chose Comfrey, since I have quite a bit of it already dried and still a lot left in the allotment garden.  I think maybe I read that Cocobong has used that and gotten a good green, but I'm not sure, it might have been nettle.  I know that I have read that Parsley is supposed to give a good green.  I tried to put that into oil.  Do not do that.  It's completely pointless.  So now I'm drying some and I will try to put that into the water for a soap sometime.

But back to Comfrey.  I have some of that in oil and also some that I simply dried.  Since the infused oil isn't particularly green I put some crushed dried leaves into the lye water and let it sit for a while and it did turn a bit green, but not a lot.  So I decided that I would leave the leaves in and attempt to make them smaller with the stick blender.  Which I did and it worked fine.  I don't usually like to leave flecks in the soap if I can help it, but if I hadn't there wouldn't have been much colour at all.

Since I had just bought some patchouli EO I decided to use that for the first  time along with some Bergamot and Lemongras EO's.  I have to admit that I wasn't sure what Patchouli was like because I have never had it.  It is very Hippy to me.  Reminiscent of the seventies.  Which is good.  A bit masculine also, and that is good since I haven't done a masculine fragrance in a long time.

I did a very simple soap.

Coconut oil 30%  150 g / 5.3 oz

Olive oil 40%       200 g / 7 oz
Soybean oil 25%  125 g/ 4.4 oz
Cocoa butter 6%    30 g / 1 oz

Water  38%          190g / 6.8 oz
Lye                        72g / 2.5 oz
5% SF.

So the soap wasn't particularly green at first, but when I cut it it was this beautiful grass green.  Alas, it has now turned olive green.  A nice olive, but that green was amazing.  How I miss it!  But these are perfect soaps to give as a gift to a few guys that I have been working with.  There are a few women in that group also, so I now am thinking up a recipe for a pink soap using my Rumex oil for the colour.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Incredibly Green Cream

I had dried herbs hanging all over the house in the autumn
and I am always looking out for suitable containers for dried
herbs, face creams, body lotions, lip balms and toners.
I have been making face creams for almost two years now. I really like that and I use no commercially made creams anymore.  In fact, my cousin and I were talking and she was telling me how someone had given her a sample of a well known brand of face cream and she almost threw up because it smelled so artificial.  I so agree.  All those famous brand creams now are about as appealing to me as nuclear waste.

The creams I make are usually made with beeswax as an emulsifier.  That makes a thick, very creamy and slightly oily cream that is very good for the night.  It is concentrated and a little goes a long way.  I tend to slather on lots and lots, probably I use too much, and I really shine in bed at night.  But I have been searching for a lighter emulsifier as an option for daytime.  I ordered some vegetable emulsifier and it came with an ingredients label that said: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate!  That is very irritating to the skin and it is one of the ingredients that I want to avoid.  So I haven't used it at all.

I was really please to read Texia's (at Sanga natural) post about homemade emulsifiers.  She did two recipes and I have made them both and already used one in a cream.  I have a lot of dried herbs and herbs macerated in oil and I figured that I should use all my herbal oils for something.  So I decided to make an incredibly green cream.

The Incredibly Green Cream:

Oil phase - 70g of macerated oils: 20 g. each yarrow (Achillea) oil, chickweed (Stellaria) oil and Calendua oil.  10 g. mock orange (Philadelphus) oil.  And additionally almost 1 tsp. Njóli (Rumex) oil.
Into the oil I added a pinch and a dash of AHA and A retinol.  I don't have a scale that measures accurately in small increments so I eyeball the small stuff.

Water phase - 120 g. herbal tea: I made tea with the following herbs: Yarrow (Achillea), chickweed (Stellaria), shepherd's purse (Capsella), Comfrey and Viola.  I let this steep for about an hour and then I added a bit of licorice extract and niacin as well as the preservative Natrium benzoat.

Making cream is just like making soap, minus the lye.  I warm the ingredients in bain marie and then pour the water phase into the oil while whisking with a stick blender.
I forgot to write how much emulsifier I used, but I think it was somewhere between 10 and 20 g. and I put it into the water phase.

I like the cream very much, so thank you Texia.  I've been using it for about 2 weeks now, both morning and night.  It absorbs well so that my husband's goodnight kiss doesn't slide right off.  It is chock full of goodies for the skin and smells a bit green and I am pretty sure that it has taken twenty years of my appearance already.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calendula soap - Triple luxury

That improvised soap mold worked beautifully and I could
easily use it to practice swirls. The heart shaped evening bag
is pretty and the ornate hairband is a little over the top.
Now I know that it's fall again.  My cousin and I just started to make soaps together again after taking the summer off for the most part even though I have made a few soaps on my own.  I can't not do it.  I guess it's an obsession of sorts, or it's just too much fun to not do it.  And there always seem to be some really fund things to try out.

But our joint soap making sessions are ususally fun.  We always manage to agree on what to do and this time she wanted to make calendula soap with her homemade Calendula oil and my dried Calendula petals and her dried flowerheads.  We ended up making it in a tray mold that I had picked up at "The Good Shepherd" a thrift shop charity where I spend all my spare cash.  It isn't really a soap mold, that much I know, but I can't imagine what else it could be used for.  I frequently get asked by the staff at the till: "What is that you are buying?" and very often the answer is: "I have absolutely no idea".  I usually figure it out or find some use for the stuff myself at some point.  But back to soaps.

Very pretty and very nice soap for delicate skin.
We intended to make just one recipe and since we wanted it a bit yellow we used carrot juice and we also hoped that the infused Calendual oil would contribute a bit of colour.  But as it turned out we made a 3 layer soap because the mold required at least 3 pounds of soap and we just made a regular size batch the first time.  So we made the other two a bit different, just for fun.  We could have made swirls, but didn't since she wanted to put dried flowers on top and I have to admit that that looks very nice.

I was asked for cut pictures and here they are, the little hacked up darlings.  It did surprise me that the dried calendula petals came through with their colour so orange, but I don't know if that will last.  We used no fragrance.  Two reasons for that.  I placed an order from a UK company at the beginning of June and am still waiting for it!  This might turn into a separate post about fraud pretty soon.  I've called and emailed... But... later.  Anyway, in the absence of the EO's that we should have received a looong time ago we thought we would make this unscented and therefore suitable for people with allergies and sensitivity to fragrance.

The recipes are:

Layer 1:
Olive oil            56%        420 g / 14.8 oz
Coconut oil       28%        210 g / 7.4 oz
Cocoa butter       6.3%       70 g / 2.5 oz
Sunflower oil      5%          50 g / 1.8 oz (Calendula officinalis infused)

Carrot juice         38%       285g / 10 oz
Lye                                    103g / 3.6 oz
8% SF.

The infused oil was added at trace as well as a generous amount of dried Calendula petals.  This layer turned out to be a slightly yellowish tan colour.

The next layer is almost the same except we added unrefined palm oil which I found in an Asian store and couldn't resist trying even if there are all kinds of ethical issues.  So layer one has different percentages, but mostly the same numbers are layer 1.

Layer 2:
Olive oil                   52.5%      420 g / 14.8 oz

Coconut oil              26.3%      210 g / 7.4 oz
Cocoa butter               8.75%       70 g / 2.5 oz
Sunflower oil              6.25%       50 g / 1.8 oz (Calendula officinalis infused)
Unrefined Palm oil     6.25%       50 g / 1.8 oz 

Water        38%       304g / 10.7 oz
Lye                         109g / 3.9 oz
8% SF.

To this we also added dried calendula petals and the infused oil went in at trace.  This layer turned out a very pretty yellow.

The third layer was the same as the first except we used water instead of carrot juice.  That layer is quite white and is a perfect backdrop for the dried flower heads we pushed in on top for decoration.

Cutting the soap turned out to be a bit of a challenge.  I hadn't really thought about how I would do that since the mould is larger than any knife I have.  I guess I need to make a wire cutter if I use that mould again.  I had thought that we would end up with 3x4 soaps out of the mould, but when I had cut (hacked?) them up they were way too big so I cut them in half again.  And they look kind of cute, if a bit crooked.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My bad - Salt soap

Etageres are irresistible to me.  This one is new, but looks
old. It was an impulse buy, but looks good in the sunroom,
filled with whatever little trinkets that needs a home.
Feeling a bit blue and bored the other day, I had the idea to make a blue soap.  I have some indigo and have read that it will make a blue soap.  Salt soap, I thought, would look nice in blue.

Feeling quite a bit less blue,  I took out the bag of the coarse sea salt that I picked up the other day and happily pulled out my oils.  I made a pretty simple recipe, but there was nothing pretty about the outcome.  It didn't have a trace of blue and it was just pure ugly.  But it smells nice, still.   Don't know if it will last.

There is something really sad about ugly soaps.  Soaps should be pretty.   This soap is very ugly.  Even more so than the photo suggests.  I sometimes try to like my ugly soaps.  Try to think of them as ugly ducklings that will turn into beautiful swans.  Sometimes they actually do.  Some of them turn out to have a great lather or smell or feel on the skin and end up as my personal favorite in the bath.  But some are just ugly soaps and there is nothing to be done, but rebatch.  I don't even know if it is possible to rebatch salt soap!

Appart from the failure to turn blue, nothing much went wrong, perhaps I just don't like the coarse salt.  It doesn't have a good feel to it.  Crumbly and difficult.  I need to try it out in the bath to see what it's like.

The recipe was a rather uninspired 30% coconut oil, 25% lard, 20% olive oil, 15% cocoa butter and 10% sunflower.  I put the salt into the soap at trace at the ration 1:1.  The fragrance I used was lemongrass, bergamot and peppermint.  At least it smells nice.  I need to find out more about indigo in soap.  This obviously didn't work.  But what the heck!  Chuck it up to experience.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mock orange / Philadephus coronarius - oil infusion

My mother gave me that colander and I use it for all sorts of
things. It's perfect to separate the stamens from the petals.
I have two Philadelphus bushes in my garden.  They are on either side so when I walk into the garden when they are in bloom, the air is filled with this magical fragrance that is so different from any other.  To me it is like the scent of oxygen, if it had any.  Just so refreshing and light and a hint of vanilla.  I have often thought about trying to capture the fragrance somehow and the scent is so unusual.  So this year I decided to collect the flowers and pour oil over them to see what happened.  I have done this with roses and viola, but one of the dogs got into that jar and licked it up!

It is time consuming to collect enough quantity, but I was in the company of eager bees and it was nice and sunny.  The bushes were absolutely covered in flowers so they still looked pretty after I had raided them.  I then tried to isolate the petals from the stamens (the things in the middle of the flowers) and was successful using the old Swedish colander that my mum gave me and shaking it.  Then I put the petals in a jar and poured oil over.  This I let sit for only 24 hours during which I try to poke the petals into the oil.  They tend to float up.  I find that longer time does not work well with Philadelphus petals, they wilt quickly and start to look bad.  When that happens there is no fragrance left in them.  So I strain them out and let the oil sit for a bit.  There are always some impurities and bits that gather at the bottom.  These are water based and and heavier than the oil so they sink to the bottom.  When the oil looks completely clear I pour it into another container.  A turkey baster also works well.

I managed to make two infusions, one with Apricot kernel oil and one with almond oil.  I infused the first 3 times and the second 2 times.  The fragrance that was left in the oil smelled surprisingly of pinapple to me.  It's not the same as the fresh scent of the flowers, especially when I sniff the oil directly.  But when I put it on my skin it smells heavenly.  I intend to make this into a body lotion.  I know that this would never survive a lye bath.

I looked for medicinal uses for Mock orange and found some described for P. lewisii which is the American variety.  I haven't found anything about it's European cousin, P. coronaria, and don't know if they are similar in this respect or not.  But the American mock orange is described as used by native Americans as anti-hemorrhoidal and anti-rheumatic, used as a poultice or in oil.  Apparently the leaves are very high in saponins and can therefore be used instead of soap.  I found that a bit amusing.

Sombre colours

I bought this fantastic linen yarn on a cone. It was quite fine and I usually like chunky yarns to knit.  But I love linen and this was a...