Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Solid Cologne

I decided to finally take a dabble in the perfume world.
I by no means claim to be an expert on blending aromas.  There is so much to learn there.  However, I like to smell good and like to do so as natural as possible.  Which has led to some fragrance blending.
I also love all the aromatherapy benefits of using essential oils.

What I do know is there are scents that are top notes, middle notes, and base notes.
The top note is the first scent you will smell, followed by the middle note, and finally the fragrance of the base note.
This link to aroma web is one I refer to often when looking up blending tips.

The base recipe for a solid cologne is:
3 parts carrier oil
2 parts beeswax
1 part fragrance.

This can be tweaked.  If one did a search on the web there is a lot of variations.

For my recipe I wanted to make enough for one.
I used:
1 1/2 tsp. of carrier oil (1 tsp. almond oil and 1/2 tsp. castor oil this time)
1 tsp. of beeswax
30 drops of essential oils
For this particular recipe I used
15 drops of blended sandalwood(meaning it is already in jojoba oil)
10 drops of cedarwood
5 drops of scotch pine
2 drops of bergamot

I am going for a more woodsy/masculine scent.
Like I said I am new to all this scent blending.  While there are a lot of recipes out there I always feel like I am missing a scent or it is for a big batch.  That is why I blended my own.
I am not quite sure if I made this scent strong enough.  Time will tell.  You could make it easy and just use one scent but where's the fun in that! 

I melted down the beeswax using a double boiler method.  I find it handy to use a glass measuring cup and place in the boiling water.  It makes it easier to pour later.
Then I added my carrier oils.
Since this is such a small amount it didn't take long to melt down.
Quickly I added my essential oils.  I had this already figured before I even started.

I then poured into my little tin.

If you stick it in the fridge it will set up real nice and real quick.

It pops right out.

Nice handy size to rub on your wrists or other pulse points.

Then I decided this was just a little "cute" for that special man in my life.

So I remelted in a small Altoids tin.

This tin makes it really handy to travel with you too.

The heat from your finger will melt the cologne down when you rub.  Then rub on your pulse points.

My "woodsy" solid cologne.

Maybe I should call it "Lumberjack Cologne", hmmmm???

Below are two sites I reference a lot when looking up anything natural beauty.  They also have their own version of a solid cologne(but you will find it's very similar).

At the site below I also found a recipe but felt it was a little too big for my need.  I thought it was worth mentioning though.  They use lip balm tubes and I think this would make a great Christmas gift idea!

I really like the idea of finding a locket to store the cologne in too.

If you end up doing this project, keep notes!  For whatever project you do, they are so handy to reference later!

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Bear soap follow up

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Follow up to the soap making adventure we went on last week.
We made a little over 5 pounds of soap.

Click here to view that post.
Bear Soap

 Here is the recipe we used.
Even though my mom and I have been making soap for a few years now we are still very amateur.
It's important to point out that each fat and oil out there have different qualities and all react differently with the lye.  Each recipe is specific to the oils used in it.  There are calculators that can figure out a recipe for you.  Right now I find it easiest to find a ready made recipe.

Tallow Blend Soap (Kathy Miller)

44 oz. beef tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
12 oz. lye crystals
32 oz. cold water

 Like I said this recipe made a little over five pounds.  Since we just could not decide what scent to use we divided the batch up.  Into five batches to be exact.  Would NOT recommend this, it is just too much.  In the past we have divided a batch into two.  That was doable.  Five was too many, but now we know.  We also know what varieties we liked.  Which was all of them : )  Good thing this recipe barely made a dent in my bear fat supply!

We poured (x) amount of the soap into a bowl, added our additives, poured into mold and went back and did again.  Five times.

This first batch was scented with woodsy scents.  We used cederwood, scotch pine, bergamot, and a little benzoin.  We are calling it our "up north" soap.  While I was trying to come up with a blend guys would like, I can say with confidence this is gender neutral.  It's a smell anyone who loves the fresh scents of the woods will enjoy.

I cut the bars so they are smaller, 1.5-2 ounces.  Perfect so I can give a variety as gift.

Second batch was lavender.  You just can't go wrong with lavender.

I ended up rebatching this batch so I could try molding in little tins I have.  This process isn't recommended because the soap doesn't get very pour able again and ends up kind of lumpy.  But I was just experimenting.
Normally one would rebatch their soap right away if the soap didn't turn out.
After normal soap has cured people will melt down the soap again and that is called hand milled soap.  This is where one can make varieties of soap with out having to deal with caustic soap.

Third batch is eucalyptus.  Again I tried rebatching and this time adding some dried ground eucalyptus.

It gave a green color.  As far as my soaps go you won't see me putting unnatural dye in it.  I really could care less if my lavender soap is purple.  To me it kind of defeats the purpose of trying to put natural stuff on my skin, but that is me.

However, some natural additives to give a little twist, I will try.
The batch already had the eucalyptus essential oil added.  I re-melted added the ground herb and re molded.

You can see some white chunks, that's from the soap not totally remelting.  The reason it's not ideal to re batch soap if you don't have to.  It's not horrible, I kind of like the ruggedness of it.  Just not the nice solid chunks you would see for sale.

Fourth batch, lavender-eucalyptus.  I just have a thing for those two smells.

I left this one as is and in small bars.

Fifth and last batch, a gardeners soap.  This one we had thought out ahead of time so everything was done before placing into the molds.
It is scented with rosemary and lemongrass.

Dried rosemary, caraway seeds, psyllium husks seeds, and poppy seeds were added so give some exfoliant when you wash your hands.

Right out of the mold about 24 hours later.

The soap is still soft enough to cut.


All this soap is still a bit soft.  As it cures over the weeks it will get harder.  I have it all cut up in paper bags, my cupboard smells like heaven!

Little bit about my soap background.
How my fascination for homemade beauty started was from a gift of homemade bear fat soap.  I personally felt such a difference and was HOOKED.
It has led to more than just soap, but also to lotion, lip balm, perfume, and so much more.

Below are a couple books I had picked up at the library to help me learn more.  There were lots of books but these two I liked.  I think because of the pretty pictures.  A lot of the older books are very informative but lack in pictures(Soap: Making It, Enjoying it by Ann Bramson is a good one).  While the older books shouldn't be tossed aside, I do LOVE pictures.

Handmade Soap: A Practical Guide to Making Natural Soaps

She had a couple vegetable base soap recipes as well as numerous hand milled varieties.

The Complete Soapmaker by Norma Coney

In this book this author gives you quite a few base soap recipes.  A lot using tallow, which is actually hard to find.  She also has a lot of hand milled recipes.

Of course we also have the wonderful Internet to guide us!

Happy soap making my friends!



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homemade Cold Process Soap made with bear tallow.

In my freezer there has been a bag of rendered bear fat itching to be used.
Then on my sink I have this cast iron soap dish with a bear on it.  Just waiting for a bar of soap to grace it's presence.
Bear soap needed to be made!
All the signs were there!

It was a little tough finding a recipe with beef tallow(bear tallow is very similar to beef).
After some searching I found one.

Tallow Blend Soap (Kathy Miller)

44 oz. beef tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
12 oz. lye crystals
32 oz. cold water

When making soap it helps to have everything laid out and organized.
Here we have our lye, distilled water, equipment used only for lye which is labeled as such, and safety equipment.  While soap making is not hard you can never be TOO cautious with the lye.  Make sure you use gloves and safety glasses.  Wear shoes and long sleeves. 
Lye is a base so if you do get some one your skin rinse off with vinegar(an acid).  Lye will also react with aluminum, cast iron, and steel.  For this reason we use some plastic, probably picked up at the dollar store.

Here we have our oils all set up.  The zip lock bag is rendered bear tallow.  The pot and stick blender are only used for soap making.  You will also need thermometers for checking temps.  One for lye and one for oils. A scale is important for exact measurements.
If you are interested in making your own homemade soap, you are going to want equipment that will only be used for soap making.  Search your cupboards for bowls and pitchers you don't use anymore.  Hit up some garage sales and thrift stores.  It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Like any hobby there is costs however this hobby will get you homemade soap that is better than any commercial bar out there!

Closer look at that bear fat : )  

Measuring out your fats and oils.

Pour oils into stock pot and slowly heat up.  For this recipe since the tallow is hard as is the coconut oil we found in order to melt all the fats down the oil heated up way past what we needed it at.  We then had to let it cool down.  This process took the longest.  For future note we will get the oil melted down well before we start the lye water.  

When the lye hits the water it heats up fast.  The goal is to get it to the temperature down to what your soap recipe says.  In our case between 110-115 degrees.  To help cool it down we will stick the pitcher of lye water into a ice bath.  Another option would be to measure out your water the day before and freeze it.

While I was setting other stuff up I had my pitcher of distilled water sitting in the ice bath already.

Measuring out the lye needed and where to find lye.  We have always had luck at Menards, and I haven't tried anywhere else.  If you can't find it ask, they don't always keep it on the shelf and if they do they only keep one bottle on at a time.  Lye is often misused for horrible purposes.  Also, make sure it says 100% Lye.

Equipment just for lye.

Our oils are melting down so we will wait a bit to combine the lye and water.  You should have an idea if you are going to add other stuff to you soap.  It's good to organize all that you need in exact measurements so they are ready.  You never know how fast things can move a long.  Better to have a little down time waiting on temps than being rushed and frazzled.  That's when accidents happen.

You can add some extra fats after the soap traces for superfatting.  You can add fragrance or other additives for texture.

One of our batches is to be a "gardeners" soap.  We added rosemary and lemongrass essential oils for the scent.  For the exfoliant we added a mixture of poppy seeds, caraway seeds, dried rosemary, and psyllium seed husk whole.   If one was to recreate this they could just pick one.  We happen to have these four ingredients on hand so decided to do a mixture with all.

Exfoliant for our gardener's soap.

Another thing to ready before you get started is a place to keep the soap for the initial set up.  It is recommended that your soap should slowly cool down.  Most instructions will say to wrap your mold in towels.  We also place our molds in coolers.  Just helps insulate a little better and it's safe from being bumped or knocked over.

You will need something to mold your soap in.
Miscellaneous containers we have found here and there is what we use for molds.  Soap is initially caustic so over time the soap you make will break down the molds.  Ours were cheap so we are ok with that.
I really love the silicone loaf pan.  It holds a little over 2 pounds of soap and the soap always comes out so easy.  If you are using old tupperware it helps to line with wax paper and grease it down a bit.

Back to the lye and oil.  The oil and fats have melted down and are now cooling so we now are going to mix the lye and water.  Always pour the lye INTO the water and slowly!

Make sure your gloves and safety glasses are on!

Stir it up and do not lean over it.  You could wear a mask during this step.  Make sure the area is well ventilated.  There will be harmful fumes.

Almost instantly the temperature gets to 150+ degrees.

Now we wait some more.  The oil is still cooling and now the lye needs to cool.  If your oil gets cooler before your lye just heat it up again.
When both reach desired temps pour lye water INTO oils.  Always.

Very quickly the oils start to thicken.
The process of the lye and oils combining is called saponification.

Follow this link, they give a good description of saponification.

If you don't have a stick blender you will need to stir by hand.  You will be stirring for a LONG time.  Time does vary based on the oils used, but it still takes a long time.  The stick blender is.a.LIFESAVER!
For this recipe I think we stirred with the stick blender for about 20 minutes.

You stir until the soap reaches trace.
Trace means the oils and lye have combined.

Now we have soap.  Add any other additives at this point.

What combination of fats and oils makes a good soap?
Here just a couple links I found that explain the different characteristics commons fats and oils used in soap making.

In a nutshell soap making directions.
  1. Collect ingredients
  2. Weigh ingredients
  3. Get fats/oils to desired temp
  4. Get lye water to desired temp
  5. Add lye water to oils
  6. Stir until trace happens
  7. Add any additives
  8. Pour into molds
  9. Let sit for about 24hrs
  10. Take out of molds, if hard enough, and cut.
  11. Cure for 4-6 weeks
  12. Always use caution when working with lye.

I will end this post here.  In a few days I will post again showing you the outcome of our soap adventure!

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