Alternative Liquids in Soap – Cactus Juice

The theme of this month’s soap challenge is using an alternative liquid in making soap.  The guidelines: make a soap by replacing 100% of the liquid with something other than water and any colorants must be natural – no dyes, pigments, oxides or micas.  Additionally we were required to research the benefits of the replacement – does it have any or is it just label appeal?  Shortly after signing up for the challenge I happened to walk through the juice section of Fresh Market (my small town’s version of Whole Foods) and saw cactus juice.  Without hesitating I decided that was the one.

Finding information of the benefits proved to be more of a challenge.  A search of cactus juice benefits turned up quite a few claims ranging from curing or preventing cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and hangovers.  Not surprising that most of these sites were fronts for companies selling the juice but there were a few reputable sites that reported the health benefits as well:  Mayo Clinic, LiveStrong.com, WebMD to name a few.  All of these of course resulted from drinking the juice or eating the prickly pear fruit.  Most of the references to the benefits of cactus juice for the skin are found along with references to aloe vera.

The most extensive and scientific report  (Cactus: a medical food) contained the following statement:  “Prickly pear is widely used as folk medicine for burned wound, oedema and indigestion and it is found that the effect of fruit extract is better than those of stem extract (Choi et al. 2002). Cactus pear fruit contains vitamin C and the radical scavenging properties. ” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550841)  The paper goes on to say:  “Its other uses include preparations of mock-gherkins, jams and syrups, soap from its leaves, alcoholic drinks, seeds for honey and cheese production.  Unfortunately it does not give any more details.”

Something specific about skin care benefits was finally found in Allure magazine February 2015:   “But prickly pear—which contains amino acids, vitamin B, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and iron—is just as good slathered on your skin as it is ingested. That’s probably why it’s been making an appearance in so many skin-care products.”   In conclusion, I believe adding cactus juice to soap equivalent to using aloe vera.

Before making my soap, I had to try a little of the juice.  It is not to my taste – especially with its price ($5 for 1 liter).  I will not be buying it again for consumption.

My vision was to make a green soap with a rounded top and a sprinkling of hibiscus and rose pedals.  I researched what I could use as a natural green color and decided on comfrey powder because it was an ingredient that I had on hand.  Although the sugar content was not very high, I decided to start by freezing the juice.  I was so excited when I started mixing the lye the pink started to turn green.

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Pretty pink juice

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Could the pink actually turn to green? I wanted the soap to be green!

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Too bad it turned tan. But lets add the comfrey powder – maybe we can still get green.

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Oh no – its almost black. Was not expecting this

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No green soap but added the hibiscus and rose pedals anyway

Nothing to be done now except wait.  Well we didn’t get a miracle – the soap is still brown.  But I am starting to like it.   It smells great – scented with a blend of citrus essential oils.

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Thanks Amy for another fun challenge.

The Clyde Slide

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The Clyde Slide is named after a talented soap maker who has posted several YouTube videos on this technique.  It is basically an “In the Pot Swirl”,  but instead of pouring your colors in different areas of the base soap and then taking a spatula quickly around the pot to mix the colors,  the colors are alternated in the same spot in the pot (or several spots) and then poured without any further mixing.  Using this method often produces feathery looking swirls.  The objective of this months soap challenge club was to get a nice feathered swirl.

I am not sure why I found this rather difficult – I made four passes at it.  The first one may have a few feathers but boy you have to look hard to find them so that one was a reject immediately.

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First attempt at The Clyde Slide

My last attempt was also rejected.  I thought the colors were just too dark for my taste and many of the slices reminded me of an ultra sound to determine the gender of a baby.

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Fourth attempt

The second and third try are closer to what I was trying to achieve and a toss up as to which one to enter.

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Second attempt – scented with Midnight Path

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Third attempt – scented with Mango Madness

Since only one entry is allowed we will go with Mango Madness.

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Thank you Amy for another fun challenge.

Mantra Marbles Soap Challenge

When I heard the name of this month’s soap challenge I couldn’t imagine what the design would be.  Turns out it is a combination of two designs – the mantra swirl and Ebru marbling techniques and the soap had to be made in a slab mold.  It will be much easier to show some pictures than try to explain the process.

IMG_3264The fragrance I decided to use for this challenge was Arizona Sunrise.  It is well behaved in soap and smells very fresh and uplifting (mainly citrus).  A quick Google search yielded this picture for color inspiration.

IMG_3265I reached for my smallest slab mold since I wasn’t at all sure about this design.  This mold will yield 8 to 9 bars depending on how it is cut.  The dividers were required for the design so I made them out of cardboard that I covered with packaging tape.

IMG_3268So the blue is the sky with the red yellow and orange the reflection of the rising sun.  I poured the sun colors in horizontal lines in an attempt to get streaks of color across the sky for the Marble part.  Now to remove the dividers and on to the Mantra swirl.

IMG_3270Yes I made a huge mess.  I think the cardboard dividers intimidated me.  There are some drops in the blue but I have learned that they will not make a difference after the soap is swirled.  When I first started soaping I would have been horrified that I colored outside the lines.

IMG_3271The first side is finished with the Mantra swirl which is simply making figure “8”s down the length.

IMG_3283I used the same instrument to make the figure “8”s on the second side but had an entirely different result.  My guess is that I must have held it at a different angle.  It is in the back of my mind to experiment with this later to see if I can determine the difference.

At that point I was not very happy with my soap.  But after cutting it I think it is a very interesting design and I am happy that the orange and red are distinguishable (wasn’t sure they would be as I was pouring the stripes).

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Thanks Amy!  Another one that made me go outside my comfort zone.

Embracing Opposites Soap Challenge

Hot cold, big small, tall short, happy sad, vibrant dull,  opposites all – in just a few minutes one can come up with so many.  This month’s soap challenge is embracing opposites – the idea was to portray your chosen opposites in soap using a loaf mold.

The first idea I had was to see how many opposites I could get into one design.  What came to mind was horizontal and vertical, cool and warm colors and then I wondered if there was such a thing as opposite fragrances.  A quick Google search came up with a fragrance wheel – much like a color wheel the opposite fragrance are supposed to blend.  I am posting a copy below in case there are others like me who didn’t know this existed.  Also including a warm/cool color chart here and will explain why.

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When I showed my finished product to my son who is an accomplished artist he commented that my green was really yellow green so it is really a part of the warm side.  What- green is green – isn’t it?   Okay that didn’t quite work out for colors.  But happily the fragrance combination did – soft oriental and citrus using Sandalwo0d and Blood Orange.  It is a lovely scent that seems to be improving.  Here my first try:

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So with the green being off and the horizontal stripe needing some improvement it was off to another design.  This time I settled on winter and summer.  For winter I wanted a pine tree in a snow storm (a rather simple design) and for summer the idea was to create a wild flower meadow with a blue sky and wispy clouds (a complex design).  I used is Peppermint essential oil for the cold winter and although I wanted to use a real flowery scent I decided to go with just Lavender essential oil to allow time to pour.

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Just cut

 

 

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These challenges are always learning experiences for me.  If I had time to do the summer/winter soap again I would definitely use squeeze bottles for the flowers and pine tree.  My squeeze bottles are huge (probably 32 oz) and since I only needed a small amount of soap batter in these design features I decided to try it free hand and use a spoon to dribble the soap.  Had I used the squeeze bottle I think the lines that formed the pine tree would have been a more consistent thickness and the colors of the flower field would have been more distinct.  Also I thought I was being very careful in removing the divider but I must have tilted it a little at the top.

Nevertheless I am still pretty pleased with the way the summer/winter soap turned out and that will be my enter this month.

I love the way these challenges push me outside the box.  This month was particularly fun – thank you Amy!

Making soap using the Turkish art of Ebru – June Soap Challenge Club

It has been a couple months since I participated in Amy Warden’s soap challenge club.  This month when she announced the challenge was using Ebru designs in soap, I decided to join in the fun.  Ebru is actually painting on water and then transferring the design to paper.  I have made soap before using Ebru designs without knowing it was Ebru – a good example is the peacock swirl.

Our challenge was to find an inspiration and execute it in soap.  Many Ebru patterns employ a “rake” or other special tools to achieve the look, however, our instructions stated that we must draw the design free hand using a pick or chop stick.  I choose a picture from the website http://marbleart.us/CableCurl.htm.  I recommend visiting the site – he has so many different design – I would love to try more.

cable and curl ebru red

It took me a while to figure out how to do this on soap.  I watched a number of YouTube videos and finally decided how I would try to get this patter.

_DSC1997Colors ready – teal green, peacock blue, black oxide, cosmo martini, and titanium dioxide to go with the Ed Hardy for Men fragrance I choose.

first pass with the colors

first pass with the colors

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the colors are ready for the swirls

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in the process of drawing up and down lines fairly close together vertically and then horizontally.

 

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the next step was to draw lines to make squares

To finish I drew curls in each of the square.

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wet soap immediately after finishing.

 

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close up of the design

I tried a couple other designs but they will have to wait for another day and another post.  The deadline to submit our entries is tomorrow afternoon but I will be at the farmers market so my personal deadline is now.  This was so much fun and I am sure I will be re-visiting many of the Ebru sites – it is absolutely fascinating to watch those artist create their beautiful paper.

Thank you Amy!  Can’t wait to see what you have in store for July.