Tuesday, December 17, 2013


My semester is over and I am re-learning how to be a normal human! It's an uncomfortable transition, not having more to do than minutes available, and suddenly I've found myself with time to spare.

Despite taking a math, a science, accounting, and history which is whatever, I managed straight A’s this semester. My GPA is 3.92 but who’s counting! (I am. I am counting.) During finals week, I got my Etsy shop up and running (doing those two things at once is not recommended), and have since been channeling all my scholastic efforts into my soap business.
soap samples for everyone!
It's been fun channeling my inner Martha to come up with appealing packaging, and I'm happy for any excuse to use washi tape.

I forgot how easy it is to get lost down the rabbit hole that is Etsy! I'll just be browsing away, when suddenly I look up and it's an hour later! Where did the time go? It's been a couple of years since I've been active on Etsy (having taken a break to focus on school), and it seems to have grown exponentially while I was away. The number of talented makers is overwhelming!

Tannenbaum soap! Fir needle, frankincense, and clove essential oil w/pumpkin puree.
So, reader... do you have an Etsy shop? I'd love to check it out! Leave a comment with your URL and I'll hop on over and give you a like. If you would like to do the same, well, shucks!

peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus soap with cambrian blue clay

Monday, December 2, 2013

soap fail

Soap! We all use it*--some of us more frequently than others. Contrary to what my mom will tell you, I shower often. Since I started making my own soap last year, I've become a soap addict, and my shower currently contains about a dozen different bars of soap--a different one for every mood!

Last night I made 10 pounds of soap, 3 varieties to sell and one for a friend. Here are two:

top: lemongrass + ginger with calendula;
bottom: rosemary + litsea with poppy seeds

I've never made so much soap at one time and was feeling very accomplished! I noticed that the rosemary soap was overheating and put it in the fridge overnight, but apparently didn't catch it in time because I woke up to this:

Dang! Consensus among experienced soapers is that the soap was already too hot when I put it in the fridge, so the shell cooled quickly while the inside remained hot. The temperature difference caused the soap to crack. I'm so disappointed because I tried a swirl with two different colorants (sea clay and olive leaf powder) and now my pretty is no more. I've been using these wooden molds that my dad kindly made me, and they are great, except I am having to adjust to the fact that they insulate way more than silicone molds, so the soap can overheat more easily! Lesson learned.

UPDATE: Turns out my fridge is dying, hence why the soap overheated! It was almost 50 degrees inside. Don't ask why I didn't notice sooner, because I don't have an answer for that. Now I know!


*Actually, a lot of what is called "soap" is actually a synthetic detergent! Soap is the product of an exothermic reaction between sodium hydroxide (lye) and oils; this reaction also yields glycerin, which is part of why handmade soap is so good for your skin. You know how Dove bar soap claims to contain moisturizers so it won't "strip your skin like soap"? Well. The moisturizers in Dove are sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, and sodium palm kernelate. Translation: saponified tallow, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil... AKA SOAP! The "soap" Dove says strips your skin is actually not soap, but a synthetic detergent which may or may not contain saponified oils too. Ok I'm done.

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