Soap Gem

I played around with some soap yesterday and came up with this:

soap gem turquoise

They are fun to make but more time-consuming than making a regular batch. I'm trying to decide whether to list it at my shop and make more... I'd have to list it at a higher price point than my regular bars. What do you think?

Etsy Talent

I recently found an adorable gift for my daughter at Etsy - I wanted to find something for her that was non-commercial so of course I was shopping handmade! I found dmollison's Handcrafted Sock Puppies and was immediately intrigued. When I clicked on her shop section for Teapot Babies, I knew this was what I'd been looking for! I found my little one the sweetest dolly ever, a one-of-a-kind Teapot Baby made from recycled wool sweaters. She is soft, cute and cuddly and has an innocent expression you can't help but love. Click on the photo to go see what new creations are waiting for homes at dmollison's Etsy store!

Tea Pot Baby from dmollison at Etsy


It's a Keeper

Today I have a helper to present the latest soap on the curing rack:

Sock Monkey presents to you his favorite soap -

sock monkey and a bar of black and white almond soap

This bar is scented in pure almond, yum!


Waiting is the hardest part

I've made four kinds of soap this weekend and if I could I'd list them all now!! But they must cure, so off they go to the curing shelves. I can, however, give you a sneak peek. For right now, here is my favorite of the four, a jasmine-scented pink soap with a bold black swirl.

pink soap with black swirl


It's a sunny soapy day

and the right way to start a sunny day is to get up, have your tea and unmold a couple of logs of soap... stare at them while sipping, pondering what might be inside. Go about your morning chores with a feeling like there's a surprise waiting for you - that's a good feeling. Put it off a little longer to make it last. Finally, go get your soap cutter. Take one last look at the long smooth sides of those gorgeous logs, and cut them up. Ahh. Now that's how to start a sunny soapy day.

soap logs


Yes, Saponification can be Fun!

I know I just posted about lye, but I ran into this page and had to share it. Even kids will understand this super cute explanation of how lye and oils turn into soap, with a little extra info about how soapers must calculate their ingredient amounts properly and why it's important.

How Soap is Made.


New Item!

I've added one of my favorite products to my Etsy shop - a deodorant made with (of course!) unrefined shea butter. I've been using it for a couple of years now and absolutely love it. Before I started making my own, I tried switching from typical commercial brands to some of the "natural" deodorant brands on the market. I liked their convenience but found that they didn't work all that well. My formula works much better for me, and I like being able to customize the scent with my favorite essential oils for their antibacterial and fragrant properties. My favorite right now is my Orange & Tea Tree blend. I also offer an Unscented variety for those who prefer to go fragrance-free.

deodorant butter from Savonara


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The Lowdown on Lye

I've often received the question, "Does your soap have lye in it?" from potential customers who worry that soap made with lye may be harsh and unpleasant to the skin. In the past, lye was made from wood ash and the strength of the solution was variable, so that the soap maker could not measure precisely how much to use. Grandma's lye soap was remembered by generations as being awfully harsh. Now of course we can measure quite precisely, and research has been done to determine exactly how much lye it takes to saponify each unit of every type of fat a soap maker might use.

So what was that word, saponify? That is what happens when you mix a fat or oil with an alkali or 'base'.(lye is an alkali). As explained at Wikipedia: "The fats and the bases are hydrolyzed by water; the free glycerol heads bond with the free hydroxyl groups to form glycerin and the free sodium molecules bond with the fatty acid tails to form soap".

Huh? All that means is the chemical reaction breaks up all the molecules of the lye and oils, and they go back together in different formations. The newly formed substances are glycerin and soap. No soap can be made without an alkali like lye, and no lye is left in properly made soap - it has all been used up creating the soap and glycerin molecules.

So no, there is no lye in my soap. :)


How I Started Soaping

A recent forum topic asked how the members got their start soapmaking, so I thought I'd share here as well.

In 1996 I was a single mom living in the center of a small town. My way of relaxing was to research "lost arts", and learn them. This satisfied my creative needs as well as provided useful and pretty things that I couldn't afford to buy myself. One day I was browsing inside a local bookstore/boutique just to look at all the wonderful treasures for inspiration, and I came across Anne Bramson's book Soap. I was immediately fascinated with the idea of being able to make something so completely necessary and useful, and not being a fan of commercial bar soaps that stripped my sensitive skin, I was excited about making a soap I could actually use.

I walked over to the local grocery store. At that time, grocery chains still cut some of their own meat and the store had a tallow bin. I confused a couple of employees with my request for tallow, but eventually they got me to a butcher who knew what I meant and he reached into the freezer bin and pulled out a wrapped lump the size of a ten pound bag of sugar, and equally heavy. I lugged that thing home, and spent the next couple of days rendering it. Not the most pleasant task, to be sure, but the satisfaction of seeing the pot yield a clean, white disk of tallow was all the encouragement I needed to keep going.

Next chance I got, I set up my soap making assembly line and mixed the ingredients with my fingers crossed. I had no stick blender at the time, the book I had referred only to hand stirring, and the internet was not a common household name then; I was on my own. So I stirred, and stirred... eventually the mix came together into a creamy thick consistency and I added some cedar essential oil and a decoction of rosemary (It amazes me that even with my first batch, I jumped right in to scenting and adding botanicals!)then I poured it into a shoebox lined with plastic.

Little did I realize when I started this batch that I would end up with about 12lbs of soap!! But I still remember turning out that gorgeous, white block of soap... what a beauty it was, even with all its wrinkles and bumps... I was hooked.


Tea Tree

I've one more Castile-style soap on the curing rack right now, and while the fragrance isn't exactly the kind you'd wear for perfume, I'm finding myself inhaling deeply when I walk by it. Tea tree is an essential oil with antiseptic and antifungal properties, with an herbal, medicinal smell, and it makes me feel squeaky clean just thinking about it. This bar would be appropriate for skin that isn't perfect, like most of us have. Studies have shown that a preparation of Tea Tree Oil can be as effective for acne as bezoyl peroxide. I've added French Green Clay as it is traditionally used for acne-prone or oily skin. These bars will be available for purchase at my Etsy shop the end of April.
handmade tea tree soap from Savonara