Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Talking While Soaping

I always envy those who can talk and soap at the same time and doing it so elegantly!  I'm a silent soaper, the only sound I have is the radio and my pets, talking while soaping and video taping is out of question, well, till now!

I have 20 soaping videos before this one and they are all voice-over style.  Meaning I video taped myself then edit it with voice over afterwards.  That is a lot of work and it usually takes days!  The reason I don't talk while soaping is because there's so much going on in my head.  I do fairly complicated project and designs, not only I have to concentrate on the sequence, I also have to look out for any unexpected incident that would cause me to move on to plan B or even plan C.  My mind is always rehearsing but try to keep calm.  This time I decided to challenge myself, first time in my soaping history, talking while soaping plus video taping all in one.  I'm no actress, no written script, excuse me if I sounded like I was mumbling! 

I present you, the making of Cocobanana Soap:

Cut photos will be posted on Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ShiehDesignStudio

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time for Laundry

I know there are easy DIY laundry powder recipes out there but I've never had the chance to try it myself.  Why?  Because it's better to use lye heavy soap than regular "healthy" soap (lye-discounted or superfatted) and I don't have any lye heavy soap unless I specifically make one batch.  The reason behind using lye heavy soap or non-lye-discounted soap is so you don't give the chance for that extra fatty acid from the oil to soak into your cloth.  The point of laundry is to clean and degrease, not to pack oil back in, right?!
For the longest time this post had remained as draft for months!  Well, it finally got its chance to be published!  This is somehow the bad news good news bitter sweet situation to me.  Bad news, I finally accidentally made a batch of lye heavy soap and it was so pretty, see this previous blog post: lye Heavy Soap  Good news also is, I finally made a lye heavy batch of soap now I can try out DIY laundry powder... yikes...
See the difference between the lye heavy soap shred and the lye discounted soap shred?!  Lye heavy soap is very crumbly and dry and this is a fresh one day old soap.  Lye discounted soap shred literally feels like cheese.
One thing I worry about is the color I used in that accidental lye heavy soap.  Hot pink and charcoal grey for laundry anyone?!  In the effort of lightening the color, I used 2/3 lye heavy soap + 1/3 white lye discounted soap.  To adjust the free lye percentage I "cooked" it in my crock pot with some water and apricot kernel oil.  This laundry powder should end up with just slightly lye heavy according to my calculation.
Hey, not too bad!  Pink laundry powder anyone?!
There are many different DIY laundry powder recipes, some recipes call for borax and some don't.  It is said to soften the water and help to lift stains.  I have no borax in the house at the moment but I do have oxyclean powder, will use that instead.  I added equal parts of washing soda AND baking soda then drizzled some lavender and lemon essential oil.

Oh gosh, its a lot of work!  My fingers hurt!  It take a lot of effort to get it fine powdery look, I give up, this is good enough.  It's only for laundry for God sack!

I have front load energy efficient type washer that requires much less laundry detergent than the conventional top load type.  Front load washer uses minimum water and cleaner therefore the less bubble the cleaner produces the better.  This is the only application we actually want the opposite of what we usually ask for from a soap.
I tested one fully packed load right the way using one small scoop of this pink powder plus one small scoop of oxyclean powder.  I'm surprised by how well it did!  My cloth came out smelling light and fresh, I didn't even need to put any fabric softener which I need when I use commercial detergent.  Bonus feature, it cleaned out 75% of that musky wet dog smell of my 5 year old front load washer!  Woohoo!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lye Heavy Soap

If you are a soaper you know what the title means... very sad...
If you are not a soaper, well, it's a longer story...  Lye heavy soap means it contains more lye than the fatty acid (from the oil and butter) can ever handle, therefore, excess free lye in the soap resulting in totally unusable soap because pH is so high it would "burn" your skin.  This is the worst nightmare to a soaper, worse than an ugly soap because at least you can call that soap!

Yes, this is THE batch...
So how did I find out this is lye heavy?  I knew I used a well behaving fragrance, slow trace recipe because I want to do time consuming multi spot funnel pour.  Sign #1, it traced faster than I expected.  But as you can see from the wet soap photo, still looked perfectly fine.  Sign #2, less than 12 hours the exposed surface (top) is already hard to touch.  Now that's unusual.  I used slow traced recipe plus no water discount, should not even firm up for 24 hours.  I was able to take it out of the mold without any struggle, slipped right out.  Sign #3, the raw soap crumb burned my paper cut fingers to pink.  Soap saponification usually lasts 24 to 48 hours depending on your recipe, sometimes even 72 hours.  My recipes usually take about 24 hours.  Nevertheless, the crumbs should not burn my wound.  It would feel harsh but not burn.  At that point my instinct told me something is not adding up.  I rushed back to my computer screen and stared at the lye calculator for a good few minutes... I started screaming and pulling my hair out...
What happened is that I was using the lye calculator for a new wool wash liquid soap recipe I'm developing.  That means the lye selection was set at KOH (potassium hydroxide).  Then I used it to resize my cold process batch so I can test out some new fragrance oils to see if I want to use any for future projects.  I totally forgot the lye setting was still at KOH not NaOH (sodium hydroxide).  There it is, the KILLER!!!
Oh why do you have to look and smell so good lye heavy soap?!  How am I supposed to throw you into the trash can now?!  You are killing me!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Got Balls?!

No dirty thought please!
Literally, there's a trend on my Facebook page, any soap I made with balls gets commented and talked about.  What's with balls that people just love to see?!  Is it the work it's involved?  Is it the cuteness?  You tell me!

New Mojito (now with balls)

Pink Sugar (more balls)

Strawberry & Champagne (made 2 versions and still, people just want the one with balls!)
Nautica (by "pressure" I used guess what?! balls again!)
Cocolime (are you tired of balls yet?!)

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Fancy Up a Plain Soap

Does plain soap have to be boring?  Absolutely NOT.  If you soap one color plain soap what else can you do to make it more eye catching?
Last month I talked about using oil mica swirl to jazz up soap top, read this one: Soap Top Oil Mica Obsession  But that's not the only other technic you can play with shimmery sparkling micas.  Here is my story:
More and more often I found myself soaping with fragrances that either discolor or accelerate trace or both.  Any fragrance that has sweet notes usually contains vanillin which is the synthetic duplication of vanilla scent.  Vanillin oxidizes and turns soap to different levels of brown depending on how much is in that specific fragrance.I'm pretty sure I'm not the only soaper tired of dealing with browning soap.  There's only so much you can do to brown color!  Because of this I hit a soaper's block due to frustration, was going to give up and just soap it plain jane looking.  But part of me refused to cooperate.  Then a light bulb lighted up in my head, I can paint shimmery mica on top for some bling bling!

Stage 1: make the plain soap and pour into the mold with peak top
This is made with deflated California Cabernet Sauvignon and Australian red clay and scented with Apple Berry Picnic (oh so yummy...)

Stage 2: paint mica on the top once the soap is harden up and ready to take out of its mold

I just used a cheap small soft paint blush so I can deliver mica into any tight nook.  That was fun!
Now look at them shine under sunlight!

 3 color gold mica gradation effect, from light gold to pure gold then copper gold!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Blog and Ads.

I apologize if my post is going to offend anyone who happens to read it.  This is purely from my personal point of view.

Often I discover a new interesting blog and get excited to book mark it under my to read list, only then to find out that there are ads running on the side, under each post, or wherever it sees fit.  Personally, I hate it, and I would just delete the blog and not go back unless I absolutely have to for some reason.  I started my own blog because I want to share my passion.  I do run a small home based business, but that's just to support my hobby, not making a living.  I just cannot understand the thought behind selling your blog to big companies who pay you to run their ads.  Unless it's my own ads on my own blog helping my own business.

I can assure my readers that I pledge to have my blog ad-free.  Same with comments, any that embeds link to sell or advertising other products will be spammed!