March 28, 2012
March 24, 2012
“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Mmmmm honey, the anticipation of it's thick flavorful offerings-it's good for so many things-one of which is soap. There aren't many ingredients I won't sacrifice for the sake of soap; herbs, teas, beer-are all fair game. I have to admit though I have a soft spot for honey, as I measure out each deliciously fragrant spoonful of honey- I have to admit I'm a bit remorseful, wishing instead that I were enjoying it decadently drizzled on a delicious scone, or perhaps enjoying a touch in my morning tea. However, knowing it's extraordinary contributions to soap, and ultimately the skin-I willingly make the sacrifice.
Honey, like glycerin is hygrogropic meaning it attracts water-moisture to your skin leaving it soft and dewy throughout the day. Honey also boasts natural anti-oxidant and anti microbial properties along with a litany of other beneficial properties making it a perfect "food" for your skin.
On the downside, honey is notorious for being a bit troublesome to work with in terms of soap making, so I thought I would share with you a few tips that I have found that make it a bit easier for me. I use a fair amount of honey(1 tbs. per pound of oils) to make my Orange Honey Drizzle with Oats soap;a soap I've been making now for probably a couple of years-it's my very favorite of all time and if I had to choose only one soap to use from now on it would be this one-hands down. I love that it smells good enough to eat and even more importantly the way it makes my skin feel.
* I'd like to add a change right here-in the above paragraph I stated that I used 1tbs. of honey per pound of oils. Previous to switching to this mold I was using a silcone mold, and so I never experienced any sticking issues-the mold below is a transitional mold(a move up in batch size) that I just started using. I line with freezer paper and with this batch I experienced some sticking to the paper on the bottom of the block. I'm thinking the next batch I will pull back on the honey just a bit. I'm thinking I might go 6tbs. to the 8 pounds of oils to see if the sticking issue is eliminated by a bit less honey. This is to say, that you might need to play around just a bit with your honey ratio as well to avoid overheating, sticking etc.
So here we go-
- Working with honey can be a sticky,icky mess. I find that if I lightly coat my measuring cup+ tablespoon with vegetable oil the honey doesn't stick to my cup or spoon making things much easier to deal with.
- Secondly, if you've ever made soap with honey and thought it was all integrated only to find those caramel colored splotches in your finished product-you know how frustrating integrating honey can be. I find that adding just a bit of water to my honey and slightly heating it makes it much easier to fully integrate into my oils. I like to get my oils to emulsification first, then slightly heat my honey/water in the microwave-just so I can tell the honey is loosened and a bit watery and then I add it to my base oils being sure to stick blend a bit to get it nicely mixed in. Adding a bit of water to the honey is okay for me because I use a water discount anyway so adding a bit back does not make my batch too wet and it saves me the frustration of honey that does not get mixed into the batch well-so sad when that happens(and it has happened-thus these little tips.)
- Also,when soaping with honey (a hot additive due to it's high sugar content) you need to be careful. I find that letting my lye get fairly cool(I tend to soap with my lye around 110 degrees Fahrenheit.) and my oils even cooler-works well for me. In my experience, soaping on the cooler (esp.with ingredients high in sugars) side is very key to avoiding cracking and even worse a volcano. This brings up an important tip-if you suspect you may have a volcano incident on your hands (with beer, wine, honey, coconut milk, goat's milk or anything with lots of sugars)-put your mold over a tray of some kind to catch the mess and watch your eyes as it can spew raw soap all over. I've never had a volcano happen, but know people that have and it is a a mess to be avoided. I have had cracking on top-a precursor to a volcano.
- Avoid over insulation of your mold. I use a wood mold and while I used to insulate and still in the cooler months throw a light towel around my mold-I don't insulate at all in the warmer months. It's always important to consider the ambient temperature of your soaping environment.Ambient heat with an already hot batch equal trouble.
Freshly poured batch-the top is a little crazy,but I'm not overly concerned because the top will be trimmed. One of the challenges in working with honey is that it also attracts ash(due to it's hygroscopic nature)-by trimming the top I don't have to worry about this. I will cover this soap with the lid to the mold,but will not insulate.
Oh! and be sure to tell share YOUR favorite tips for working with honey or perhaps your horrible volcano stories..
March 23, 2012
March 19, 2012
* I should add that with proper care-your cutter will last a very, very long time. I purchased my cutter within the first year of soaping and have had great luck with wires etc. I give it a thorough cleaning once in a while and wipe it down after each use-with proper care it is a true workhorse.
March 18, 2012
March 17, 2012
March 14, 2012
Tis the season to pay even more attention to shaving needs-shorts and bathing suits are on the horizon. Read what one happy customer has to say about her experience with a Tierra Verde Shave Round-"I admit, I "stole" a lavender shaving round of yours intended for hubby and use it for my legs! Loving it!"
Tierra Verde Shave Rounds come in 2 scented options-Clove and Lavender and 2 unscented options Olive Oil and Goat's Milk and Fresh Aloe.
March 13, 2012
“Some people won't be happy until they've pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away.”
― Donna Schoenrock
March 12, 2012
Yesterday, I happened to come across an interesting question regarding wheat grass and it's staying power. One person was asking if the beautiful green color that is the result of using wheat grass as a colorant would "stick," and one of the responses to this question was "no-wheat grass has a large amount of chlorophyll in it that keeps it from being a stable colorant (unless is is kept in conditions that do not expose it to light.)"
Backing up a few months, I first spotted wheat grass used as a colorant over at Simply Soap in Australia when she did an experiment using varying amounts of "wheat grass powder" to get different shades of the most glorious green. I asked her about how it was holding, and if she was noticing the color fading at all and her response at the time was that if there were any fading it was imperceptible, so I went on the hunt for wheat grass powder. Now, wheat grass powder is not an inexpensive means to coloring soap-I'll tell you that right off, but if you're like me and prefer a natural colorant and are infatuated with green-this is a great way to go.
The following are some of my projects in which I used wheat grass powder.
1) Tree Hugger- this was my first go at using wheat grass powder. I wanted a light green,but didn't really get the satisfactory green I was looking for-instead it's a bit towards the olive(which isn't bad-just not what I had envisioned.)
March 11, 2012
This morning I woke up to comments from "Anonymous" spewing vile hateful words regarding the recent Cocobong review. In all the years I have been blogging I have never, never had anyone leave comments like that. My experience of the soap making community has been nothing but pleasant - thank goodness you are not the norm. You didn't even have the "huevos" to leave your name and according to your comments-"I'm pathetic?"
I'm sorry that you feel the way you do-but YOU are not worth a moment of my worry. That is all.
March 10, 2012
I've been reflecting a lot lately on my soap journey(it's been almost 4 years)and the time has truly just flown by. I've never been the kind for person to stick with anything for too long-whether it was a lack of discipline, or perhaps things just weren't a good "fit." I've left behind a trail of things tried and soon abandoned. Soap has been somehow a different ever intriguing journey. I floundered just a bit in figuring out my "soaping" style. I once thought to be successful I had to emulate the soaping styles of the ones I saw as the soaping "greats," but it was recently when I started giving in to my own inner voice that I've felt a peace about my own style. I once thought that my style of uncomplicated and "simple" soap would never sell. I was convinced I would never be successful until I could make soap like some of the greats even though it meant compromising the soaping style I felt a connection with. It's only been lately that I have realized how fitting and important my soaping style is to me-and that it's really an extension of the things I find make me happy in life. Things like the season's first taste of homegrown vine ripened cherry tomatoes bursting with sweet acidic juicy goodness, the sweet ozone smell of rain, fields of sunflowers tilting there heavy heads to greet the sun,the scent of whispering conifers on a crisp fall day, passing panoramic fields of lavender on a winding New Mexico road, the beautiful essence of floral in a thick gooey taste of farmer's market honey, the changing Season's fresh palette.These are the things that make me purr, the things that make life great-I guess by my very nature I am simple and uncomplicated and so my soaps are a natural extension of who I am-uniquely and authentically me.
March 7, 2012
A big shout out to Lynda and C'bong for their kind words of encouragement!
March 5, 2012
A glowing review is music to a soap maker's ear.
"Michelle Lang, owner of Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps, creates 100% natural soaps. Scented with fine essential oils and colored with natural pigments, then beautifully wrapped in recycled paper, soap doesn't get more natural than this :)
My first order from Tierra Verde was a bar of Tree Hugger. Wonderfully scented, with beautiful natural colors, this soap was a pure treat to use. I love finding good quality all natural products!
Celebrating her updated website, all bar soaps are 15% off until March 9th. I just ordered a bar of Fir Needle and the shipping was only $2.10 (very reasonable). This is the perfect time to try Tierra Verde soaps, if you haven't yet!!"
To see the full review go by Lynda's blog "Handmade Soaps and Other Obsessions"- Thanks Lynda-I'm so glad you enjoyed your handcrafted soap.
Also, don't forget all bar soaps are 15% off thru Friday-March, 9 at Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps.
March 4, 2012
The new updated website is live and to celebrate-all bar soaps are 15% off thru March 9.
Special thanks to my husband for his hours and hours of tireless work. (<3 U.)
March 1, 2012
The photos are perhaps not the best-I haven't found a nice angle for taking photos of soap in the mold,but I hope this gives you the idea. I didn't take the time to set up this photo properly-clearly(or not so clearly) I should have used a different aperture setting Oops!
Oh, and I also made a larger than usual mess in the kitchen-don't look dear...
Update (3-3-2012) I did finally get the kitchen clean. I used every measuring cup in the house for a different color-sooo, I had several measuring cups to deal with + the soap bowl and a couple of stick blenders-fun!! Amy, it's all your fault too!
I took the soap out of the mold last night and I'm just not sure if it is as pretty as Amy's (she has the faux funnel pour down folks) but we'll find out soon. I will be cutting it either this evening or tomorrow-it was a bit sweaty upon getting it out of the mold which means a bit soft. I like to let my log harden up a bit before cutting so that I don't damage the soap when I pick it up + I feel my cutter goes through a bit better. I'll keep you posted. I'd forgotten how lovely Spearmint as a single note smells-just so fresh and clean-a great scent for summer.