Productive Sunday!

I am thankful for activities to keep my mind and my hands (and feet too) busy. I am someone who needs to be doing something in order to keep my mind from being idle and wandering off to not-so-positive thoughts that only make me feel bad about myself.

It’s the third day since I sprained my ankle. There’s more swelling and pain every time I put weight on my foot but I have to be careful with how I position my foot when walking. I still cannot point and flex my foot so much because it still hurts a bit.

Still, nothing could stop me from being productive today. In the morning, I was able to make peppermint and charcoal soap and also blog about it (click here to read).

This afternoon, I crossed off another item from my list of cookies to try to bake. Snickerdoodles!

I will post an entry about it soon but let me say how thrilled I was that it turned out really delicious! And this is coming from someone who tends to look for flaws in her accomplishments!

And yes, my snickerdoodles look way too brown. That’s because I rolled my cookie dough in a mixture of cinnamon powder and dark brown sugar instead of white. Reason number 1: I love brown sugar better than white sugar. Reason number 2: I ran out of the white sugar.

I am currently using an ice pack on my foot because all the standing and walking somehow took a toll on it. Pain’s not as bad as it was last Thursday though. I hope to fully heal by next week because I have lots of stuff in my to-do list to accomplish!

Thanks to my mom and our companion, Joann, for assisting me in my projects today! I swear, they’re the most supportive people when it comes to my little projects at home.

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Peppermint and Charcoal Soap

“There is a legend that if you go take shower and scream out loud “Mom” three times, a nice lady appears bringing the towel you forgot.” -Source unknown

As promised, I am back with another soapmaking project. This time, it’s peppermint and charcoal soap.

I decided to eye-ball my measurements again and trust my instincts. Since there will be no flower buds or teas going into this soap, I was not very wary about what the results might be.

To start, I chopped up my last bits of opaque white glycerin melt-and-pour soap base to get 1 & 1/2 cups of melted soap.

Before melting the soap, I took 1 tsp of shea butter and melted it in a glass measuring cup using the microwave. It was at this point that I realized my soap base melted quicker than the tiny amount of shea butter I put in. I had to wait for a couple minutes to put it back in the microwave to heat and melt further. I was afraid the glass measuring cup will not be able to take more of the heat and shatter inside if I did not stop every 30 seconds until the butter has completely melted.

Now on to the star of the soap…

Activated charcoal is said to be very good in helping remove impurities. I have also used a few charcoal soap bars and my skin always felt squeaky clean afterwards.

I dissolved 1 tsp of the activated charcoal in the shea butter before adding to my soap base that I melted after three 30-second bursts in the microwave. Most of the recipes I looked at called for 1 to 2 tbsps of charcoal for every 2 lbs of soap base so I felt like 1 tsp should already work for the amount of soap base I had.

I was not expecting my soap base to turn into an intense black color given that it was so opaquely white. If I had used clear glycerin or goat’s milk melt-and-pour base, I am sure it would have turned much more darker and closer to black.

Next, I added about 20 drops of peppermint essential oil, stopping when I reached my preferred level of the scent’s strength.

I love peppermint anything from tea to candies to peppermint mocha drinks. I also love it in bath products like the Peppermint Fresh Scalp Shampoo from SkinFood that my sister let me use when I stayed with her in Hong Kong.

I poured the mixture into two of my round silicone molds and was able to fill an equivalent of nine round soaps. Then I sprayed the tops with alcohol to try and get ride of air bubbles. Then I let the soaps cool and harden on their own.

I waited for two hours before popping them out and here they are!

Some of the charcoal powder refused to completely dissolve in the shea butter and sank at the bottom of the mold during the cooling process. Hence, those specks of carbon you can see on some of the soaps.

The soaps smelled so good and lathered up nicely. Despite the addition of shea butter, it is still advisable to follow up with moisturizer. My dermatologist always reminds me to moisturize even if it does not feel like a very exciting idea when you live in a country with tropical climate.

I still have a few melt-and-pour recipes to try but I am now very curious on how I can make the soap base myself. I just need to prepare all that I need to safely handle the use of lye. Also, I will need the patience in allowing the saponification process to take its course of a few weeks before being able to use the soap base safely. Guess I really have to save up for the Php 5,500 workshop to learn the tricks.

To read about my other soapmaking projects, click here.

Calm Me Down Soap

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax.” -Bryant McGill

It amazes me how despite how much soap I have already made, I still have lots of dried lavender buds left from the single pack I opened when I first tried to make a lavender and rosemary soap. I had this urge to use up all the remaining buds from that small pack so today, I paired lavender with chamomile. I got the inspiration from the lavender and chamomile soap from A Pumpkin and a Princess. I just eye-balled the amount of ingredients I put in, trying to experiment a bit and hoping I don’t create a disaster.

Instead of goat’s milk soap base though, I made use of most of the remaining opaque white glycerin melt-and-pour soap base from my first attempt. I chopped it into small cubes for quicker melting in the microwave. I think it took around 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds, for the base to melt and yield one and a half cup worth of base.

Together with the soap base while heating in the microwave was 1/2 tbsp of refined shea butter that I bought from PurpleButterflyCrafts for Php 150 (100 grams).

I lightly mixed the oil into the soap, careful not to incorporate too much air in the melted base. Then I poured in 1/4 tsp of lavender essential oil for a light fragrance.

I tried chopping the lavender buds a bit (and failed) and opened two chamomile tea bags to get the contents. This was a tablespoon of lavender buds, which finally was the end of the first pack I opened.

It does not look very nice at this stage. The base was not a suspension type so the lavender and chamomile kept floating at the top of the mixture. I shall try to wait until the base has cooled a bit more next time to see if I can get ingredients such as these to scatter throughout the mixture.

I poured the mixture the rectangular soap mold and got three bars worth plus a few teaspoons more. The remaining teaspoons of mixture were poured in another cavity of the mold because I intended to use it as a sampler after the soap has hardened. I waited for around two hours for the bars to cool down and harden before popping them out.

They’re here!!!

For the first and third bars, the side facing up was the one that sat in the bottom of the mold. As for the middle bar, I did not flip it over to show how much most of the lavender and chamomile floated up. I should really try to find a suspension-type soap base.

The soap still lathered up well despite the addition of shea butter but I realized I should not have used too much chamomile and lavender buds. They were too much for the amount of soap base I had. Also, since I only used 1/4 tsp of lavender essential oil, it was not enough to overpower the scent coming from the chamomile tea, which I was not partial to. I suggest following the original recipe to the letter.

I think that’s enough of lavender for now. My next soapmaking attempt will be a peppermint and charcoal soap. I am truly looking forward to it. I shall endeavor improve my eye-balling skills too. Or better yet, I should endeavor to sticking to original recipes.

DIY Jasmine Lavender Clear Soap

“Jasmine is just the most delicate and beautiful scent.” -Natalie Portman

When I was a little girl, my Mom had a jasmine-scented perfume that I loved. I think it was a Jasmin Ulric perfume although I cannot be very sure. I do remember the black and gold box and the most beautiful scent I have ever smelled!

Mom used to tell me that jasmine was the favorite scent of angels. For that reason, I wanted to spray on her perfume to see if angels will appear. At one point, I took a chair and used it so I climb the countertop and reach the cupboard where she hid her perfume. I managed to get it but I slipped on my way down and slammed onto the floor. Surprisingly, I did not have any scratch, bruise or fracture despite the height of my fall. Maybe an angel caught me and made sure I was safe.

After successfully making a lavender and rosemary soap recently, I was bent on making more soaps. Today, I saw a post on making jasmine lavender soap from Bulk Apothecary. I had all the ingredients on hand so I proceeded to make it though I halved the recipe.

I got my clear glycerine melt-and-pour soap base from PurpleButterflyCraft for Php 115 for 500 grams. I used about 4/5 of the block to reach 1 and 1/2 cups of soap.

I still used the full 1 tsp of lavender buds that the recipe called for. The lavender buds were from my previous purchase when I made the lavender and rosemary soap.

For vitamin e, I bought Myra capsules from the pharmacy. They were not very expensive but were not cheap either. I had to pierce the capsules to get the vitamin e oil out which took some time to do since I had to squeeze out 1/2 tbsp worth of the oil. I will try to find vitamin e in a bottle with a dropper next time.

My white jasmine essential oil was from another online shop that I lost the details of. It came with a dropper which made it easier to use the right amount (1/2 tsp for my soap). I believe it was repackaged from a larger, more expensive bottle.

I chopped the soap base into small cubes for easier melting. I popped it in the microwave and heated it for 2 minutes at 30-second intervals. Then, I poured the vitamin e, lavender buds and the white jasmine essential oil. I mixed them only a little bit to avoid air bubbles before pouring them into a mold.

Yes, I have proper soap molds this time (yay!!!) after buying from Raw Essentials. I got this mold for only Php 171. The shop has other shapes and sizes of soap molds that I am planning to get in the future.

There was a little left over that I poured into a rectangle soap bar mold but it only filled half of one cavity.

After about an hour, the soaps were already set!

Because the glycerin soap base I used was not a suspension-type pf base, most of the buds settled in one place rather than getting suspended in the middle as I would have wanted. It does not matter much to me though.

I wrapped them in clear plastic because glycerin soaps have a tendency to “sweat” and form unsightly beads around them. I think they would make cute gifts!

It lathered up though not as much as the previous soap I made. The scent was not too strong but did leave some trace of the scent on my hands. It left my skin feeling squeaky clean but not too tight and dry. I love it!

Do you have melt-and-pour soap recipes that I should try? What combinations of essential oils would be amazing? Please do let me know in the comments. I would really appreciate it.

Suds and Bubbles

I was looking for activities to do over the weekend when I saw a post about a workshop on making soap. At around Php 5,000 (roughly USD 108), I was hesitant on joining since I also saw that it involved the use of lye. I read somewhere that lye does not have a pleasant smell so it was a big no for me because it might trigger an asthma attack for me.

So I researched about how to make soap without having to deal with lye and I found tons of articles that led me to discovering melt and pour soap bases. These are basically blocks of pre-made soap that you melt to mix in other ingredients you would like in your soap.

I found instructions on how to make lavender and rosemary soap from Mother Earth Living (click link for the recipe) and decided to give it a try. I have loved the scent of lavender ever since I was a kid and the fondness for rosemary scent was discovered just a few years ago. I wondered how they would smell together since I was more used to lavender being mixed with peppermint. I only used half of everything specified in the recipe.

The first challenge was to find where I could buy my raw materials. Fortunately, online shopping made things easier for me. Here’s a list of the stuff I was able get over Shopee:

Shop Name: PurpleButterflyCrafts

Melt and Pour Glycerin White Soap Base 1kg – Php 275 (I used only 1/3 of the block).

Lavender Essential Oil 15ml – Php 315

Rosemary Essential Oil 15ml – Php 270

Purple dye 10g – Php 90

Shop Name: Tiny Buddha

Organic dried lavender flowers 10g – Php 55

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2 packs of lavender flowers at 10g each.

First, I made my infusion of lavender flowers alone. It slipped my mind that we had dried rosemary leaves in the house already, ha-ha. Too much excitement on my part. My bad.

Please be careful in handling the steaming hot water to avoid any injuries. The flowers need to steep for around ten minutes so it is best to do this first since the rest of the steps can be done in no time. It will also give off a lavender scent in the air while you work on the base. img_4412.jpg

Next, I chopped 1/3 of my soap base into small cubes with a large kitchen knife. The base itself was not that hard (chocolate blocks are much harder) so I did not have to exert so much effort.

I placed the chopped up base in a microwave safe glass measuring cup that I got from the housewares section of the department store at Php 429.75. I opted to use glass because I am not sure how plastic would react with essential oils that will be mixed in later.

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Bought a purple silicone  whisk specifically for this because, why not? =)

I melted the base in the microwave, mixing every thirty seconds before putting it back to be heated again. It did not take very long for the base to melt and it did not splatter all over my microwave despite not having any sort of lid on.

I do not recommend trying to smell it yet at this point. I did and it was not pleasant at all.

I added 1/8 cup of my infusion to the melted soap base then proceeded to adding the essentials oils. The recipe called for more lavender than rosemary because the latter has a stronger scent. img_4416.jpg

When working with essential oils, one must be aware of the materials of the tools to be used because of varied reactions to the oils. Every tool I bought for soap making was intended solely for that purpose and will never be used for food preparation.

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Placed them in a muffin baking tray just to support the molds and help them keep their shape

After they have all been mixed, I prepared my silicone molds. I was hoping to get cute trays of molds from the baking tools section but all three places I went to ran out of them. I could not wait anymore to order from Shopee again because shipping takes some time. I had to make do with the individual cupcake molds (Php 149.75 for 6 pieces) because I am stubborn and could not be prevented from making soap today (I shopped for the tools yesterday). Again, these molds will never ever go into the oven. They are just for making soap.

I first poured the white base around 3/4 the size I wanted them. I then added purple powder coloring to the remaining base. I learned too late that I was supposed to dissolve it in oil so that the color will be consistent all throughout. Oh well. Lessons learned.

It is best to add coloring to base a little at a time because that coloring powder I got was potent. Really, truly potent! Thankfully, the color did mix into the soap mixture. I poured them over the white base and used a toothpick to swirl the purple color around. Try not to mix too much or you’ll end up mixing the two colors completely and lose the swirls.

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After pouring all the soap mixture, I sprayed the tops with alcohol because I watched some YouTube videos on DIY soap where I learned that this will help prevent formation of air bubbles on top.

The next part was to wait. At around 45 minutes, I could feel the tops harden already. I took out the molds from the pan that has already absorbed so much heat from the mixture so that the soaps will cool down much more quickly since the bottom half are still liquid at this point.

After another 45 minutes, the soaps were completely hard! The best part about silicone molds is the ease of taking out whatever you put in. So, I started popping the soaps from the molds, excited to see how the rest of the soap looked like. Tada!!!

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I tried one of them right away and discovered that they lather up really well but the lather has a purple tinge to it because of the dye. Not to worry, it did not stain my hand and rinsed off very easily. However, people with sensitive skin are advised do a patch test first before lathering themselves with the soap. This is to check for any possible allergic reaction to the ingredients.

The site where I got the recipe from classified this soap under soaps for blemishes. The soap can be drying (probably to dry out zits), so moisturize after use. The soap has a lovely scent to it though I could smell more of the rosemary than the lavender.

Since this project can pass as a success, I cannot wait to try to make other kinds of soaps. I will also try to find liquid dye because powder dye was a little too tricky for my comfort. I wonder what scents are great to combine and what other ingredients can I add to the soap base. No matter, I am sure that my next step will be to buy silicone molds intended for soaps. Luckily, Shopee has a lot of them.