Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Soap this, Soap that: Pigment clumping

Now I like colour pigments (oxides, ultramarines etc.) as much as the next soaper. They give good strong colours, they don't bleed and they don't fade either. But they do tend to clump. A LOT! Just look what it did to this soap below.

A classic example of oxide clumping can be seen in this first batch of this "Avocado, Cucumber & Lime" soap.

 So here are a few tips on how to avoid pigment clumping in CP soap making.
  1.  ALWAYS premix your colours in a little oil before adding to soap batter. 1 teaspoon oxide in 2 tablespoons *oil for every 500 grams soap is a good starting point. You can use less for a lighter shade, but a teaspoon should give you a strong, solid colour.
  2. Mix vigorously or use a mini mixer. (I use a mini  frother and it works very well!).
  3. Premix colour right before you have use them, otherwise mix again to incorporate particles that may have settled.
  4. When adding purees or juices (as was in my case), DO NOT add both colour and additive at the same time. Mix in puree/juice first, blend, then add your premixed colours, otherwise what happens when you add both together is that the water-based additive will affect your oxide and cause it to clump irrespective of whether you premixed it or not.

*Titanium Dioxide comes in two forms: Water dispersible and Oil dispersible. Premix in appropriate base.
**Also, while premixing oxides in oil is best, ultramarines prefer water.

And that's that! If you don't mind the clumping then you needn't worry about all this. Otherwise a little extra effort goes a long way. :)

Happy Soaping!


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Soap this, Soap that: Using botanicals in soap

When adding any natural herbs, leaves, flowers, any botanicals really to soap, there is one thing you should keep in mind and that is: IT WILL TURN BROWN OVER TIME.

Not very attractive, is it?
An example of botanicals browning in Cold Process soap.

This rule is not specific to Cold Process (CP) soaps only. In the title picture used for this segment, I used dried whole rose buds in a CP/MP soap. The rose buds were added to the MP (Melt and Pour) part and admittedly did go a while before turning brown but it eventually did. I attributed this to the MP sweating (remember glycerine sweat from here) and inadvertently "wetting" the rose buds, introducing moisture and hence the browning.

As with all things, it is a matter of choice so if you don't mind the browning at all then go ahead, but if you do, here are some tips:

1. Consider an infusion - If what you want is to add the properties of the flower/herb to your soap then an infusion would work just as well without the browning effect.

2. If you still want to add some of the actual herb/flower/leaves, consider grinding it and sprinkling only a little on top of the soap and only after unmoulding - it will still turn brown but not as much. (note that this will not work for rose buds as they will need to stick to the soap while it is still soft).

3. Do not spray botanicals with rubbing alcohol - this will only accelerate the browning process in my opinion. Spray the top of your soaps and then add the botanicals.

4. Consider flower buds, rather than petals. (I find they work better for me. I leave the petals for bath salts and bombs).

5. Use Calendula (for some reason they don't brown in soap at all).

I hope this helps.
Happy Soaping,