I'm alive!!

After the disappearing act from the blog world I am back again!! Life was hectic but also a lot of fun the past couple of weeks...so hectic I couldn't even share pictures of the last soap I made. And when I want to share, I realize I have just one not so great picture. Will talk more about the soap in a bit, but let me first tell you about the fun I had with my family. We (hubby, his parents and I) went on a road trip to a lovely private beach, an old temple constructed by my husband's great grandpa, a man-made dam and a boat ride in the reservoir to reach a partly submerged hill that now has a museum with pre-historic artifacts and also relics from a Buddhist stupa and monastery that once adorned the hill. While driving, we passed through some of the most lush green paddy fields. It was the most beautiful green carpet with coconut trees, small ponds, gurgling streams and happy birds as far as the eye could see. Paradise for me!! We have my dear father-in-law to thank who drove all the way and for this wonderful trip I will forever cherish. 

Another thing that happened while I was at my parents...I was interviewed by a magazine called Yo Vizag (Vizag is the city where I was born and grew up) and they wrote an article on handmade soaps, which will feature in this month's or the next month's publication. I was pretty nervous as that was the first time I was showing my soaps to anyone other than family or friends. And while the two young and very talented guys from Yo Vizag admired the soaps, scents and packaging, I relaxed a little and got through the interview in one piece (though I can ramble on for pages while writing, sitting face to face with someone has my tongue in knots). I read the final edit and now have to wait for the article to be published.  

Moving on to even more soapy stuff, here is the last batch of soap I made. Scented with Lavender and Orange essential oils and swirled with turmeric. Base oils: Coconut, Palm, Olive and Sesame. The color from the turmeric is quite different from what I expected but I decided to name it Orange twist anyway. 

Will post about the new packing later. 
Have a great week people!!

Soaps for my aunt!!

Here are the cut pics of the two batches of soaps ordered by my aunt for her husband's 60th birthday. Thankfully I could make the soaps she ordered for in two batches instead of three. 

First batch of soap: Scented with Orange, Grapefruit and Rosemary

These soaps didn't gel, which was quite strange
considering the daytime temperatures here

Soaps from the first batch

Second batch of soap: Scented with Bergamot, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary

These soaps didn't gel completely,
but came out a little darker

A flower shaped soap...one from each batch

Soaps on top: Batch 2
Soaps below: Batch 1

I like the soaps which didn't gel, coz they have a creamier white color. They were a lot more crumblier while cutting though. The soaps from my first order are curing and will be ready in about 4-5 weeks from now. I hope the guests at the party like them!! 

It's an order!

I got an order!! I got an order!! My aunt placed an order for 40 soaps for my uncle's 60th birthday party. She is a wonderful person with a very kind heart and is extremely supportive. Her plan is to have a candle(made by her daughter) and a soap(made by me) packed nicely in a box as giveaways for the guests at the birthday party. In Andhra Pradesh (a south-Indian state, where I was born) a guy who reaches sixty marries his wife again in a traditional wedding ceremony. The whole event is so much fun, especially for the younger ones who missed the couple's first wedding ceremony, because they weren't born yet. :) My uncle and aunt won't be having the whole elaborate wedding, but they will have a party for family and friends.

All the soaps are going to be round and speckled with Calendula petals. The first batch of about 15 soaps were scented with Grapefruit, Orange and Rosemary EO's. The second batch which is resting in the Pringles can is scented with Bergamot, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary EOs. Both blends are really lovely! They smell fresh a little herby and beautifully camphorous. I still have to figure out what the third batch of soap has to scented with. I am out of Rosemary EO. I have a lot of camphor EO but have never used it in soap...don't know how much of it can be added as it could be harmful in large quantities. Have you used camphor in CP soaps? If yes can you please share how many grams of Camphor EO per kilo of oils.

Will post pictures of the soap soon!! Today we celebrate Diwali....the festival of lights. 
Here's wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali!!

Milk and roses

Finally I made the rose soap I had been planning to make for a while. Most of my soaps these days are made with the same amount of palm, coconut, olive and sesame oils. One thing most observed by all the people who tried my soaps was how soon they vanish. So I decided to try a higher percent of palm oil, which seems to be fine on my skin because of the high humidity factor. My normally extra dry skin (in European weather) is doing well without a moisturizer. However I wanted to make this soap a little special so I made it with buffalo's milk and superfatted it with shea butter.

Buffalo's milk is known for it's high fat content so the superfat is 2%. The sink was filled with ice cubes to keep the frozen milk from getting hot, but it did turn a bright yellow and then a pale orange with the lye. The hand blender was kept away because of the seize situation with the earlier batch of soap but somewhere after 10 minutes of hand stirring I gave in. In spite of stopping the blender way before the soap traced, the second the essential oils went it, I could sense a panic attack in the offing. The spirit of Speedy Gonzales kicked in and the essential oils got stirred in by hand at a pace even the hand blender couldn't beat. In a flash the entire soap was in the mold, decorated with petals waiting for the gel phase to arrive.

Small soap blocks ready to be sliced up
The scent blend was Rose, Geranium, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Clove and Black Pepper EO's. I like the blend, but wish it tones down a little during the curing period. It smells really rosy! Maybe more spicy and woody EO's next time.

The soaps are darkening as they cure

Just have to keep that blender out of my sight!!

Soap rescue!!

I have some good news to share! My broken heart got mended with the help of the microwave..YAY!! The yellow spots in my last batch of soap were indeed essential oils that seeped out due to the high speed trace and also a little seize situation. I tried to go to sleep thinking 's*** happens' but the next morning decided to go and lick my soaps again. :P Get this people...no sting...only lots of essential oil fragrance that hung on in my mouth for quite long. I licked and re-licked and confirmed it wasn't undissolved lye (I poured it through a strainer when I made the soap, so it was kinda impossible to get so many yellow spots) and then took the knife to it. My mom and dad helped with the chopping and grating and we had about 2.5 kilos of finely chopped and grated soap noodles in no time.

Then in small batches I microwaved the soap with just a tad of water, mixed the whole soap thoroughly and poured it into the mold again to set up. The next morning rustic looking and lovely smelling soap!! Zap test....Hallelujah!! The soaps are still quite soft to the touch, due to the extra water, but a couple of extra weeks of curing should take care of that, I hope.

I tried the re-batch thing only once before and hated it (I used the freezer bag in boiling water method) so much I called my soap 'Scrap c***'. But with the microwave it was very easy and quick. I chopped up the soap into really tiny cubes, so that and the soap being pretty fresh might have helped with the quick melting. I feel pretty smug about the whole soap saving thing!! :)

I have another batch of soap in the mold and have my fingers crossed hoping it won't wipe the smugness right off my face! ;)

Heart broken!!

I made soap that ended up with undissolved lye crystals. I don't know how that happened because I poured the lye solution through a strainer. Scent combination was bergamot, lemon and ylang ylang and it smelled pretty good. The batch was pretty big(for me) about 2100 gms of oils, plus about 600 gms water and round about 295-298 gms lye.

I started off with a vessel too small to hold all the ingredients when mixed...mistake no. 1.
I couldn't find a big container so decided to split the oils into two steel vessels and add the lye solution accordingly...mistake no. 2.
Taking the help of a hand-blender...mistake no. 3.
Soaping in the afternoon heat....mistake no. 4.

The soap and lye solution in the bigger container came to trace quite fast, so I quickly dumped all the essential oils into the smaller container hoping to have enough time to pour the soap back and forth into the two containers to achieve a homogeneous soap mixture...HA!!
The soap in the smaller container seized the minute the essential oils were added. I hurriedly tried to mix the two soaps and hand stir them. It didn't work, so I decided to use the blender. All the while my mom was running around in the kitchen trying to help. She found a plastic container big enough to hold the whole messy mass and we quickly poured dumped and scooped the soap into it. Hand-blend, hand-blend, hand-blend. The soap was pretty(very very) thick by now. We rushed and again scooped the whole thing into the mold. I bashed and banged the mold on the counter and very optimistically went to bed last night. The only thing that got left behind were the soap balls I had planned to add to make this a polka dotted soap. Or so I thought.

Today morning I peeked and thought all was well, but noticed a small orange spot on the soap. I thought it must be some essential oil that seeped out. An hour back my heart broke. I took the soap out of the mold and  cut a few slices to see orange spots in quite a few places(almost every slice of soap). Zap test....OUCH!! I might just grate up the whole thing and give it to my mom to use as laundry soap. Would that be ok to use as laundry detergent? Any kind souls out there with any ideas?


Goat milk is not easily available though we have a lot of goats around here, where my parents live. I was asking the local people if anyone would be willing to sell some goat milk and my requests were met with utmost curiosity and uncontrollable giggles. Finally one generous local goatherd agreed to sell me some goat milk. What more, we even convinced him to bring his goat over and milk it at my parents home. :D

Here's the goatherd and his pretty goat:

Isn't she a pretty goat!! Also a little scared...poor thing!! 

The goat and goatherd at work, with a lil'
help from our cleaning lady. Three excited
spectators......grandma, mom and meeeeee

I froze the 200ml of milk that came and finally got to make some soap with it.

Showing the top face
Made on 09.10.2011
About turn!!
This soap was made with palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, goat milk (2/3's goat milk and 1/3 distilled water) and superfatted with cocoa butter. The swirls were made with cocoa powder and scented with vanilla oil. I had to keep and eye on my mom to keep her from eating it!! She thought it looked and smelled like marbled cake. :)

Cut into an easy to handle size with a happy helper...my dad 
Since the vanilla oil was a real dark brown, I added it only to the soap base with cocoa powder. Luckily every bar of soap has enough cocoa swirls and the scent is coming through nicely. 

Easy and simple cocoa swirls
The soap didn't go through gel, and I am happy about that. Just hope the soaps don't darken over time though, coz I really like this cream and cocoa contrast.

Happy soaping everyone!! 

Dared to go bare!!

Unscented soap with Frangipani flowers from my mom's garden.
Also known as Temple flowers they are my favourite flowers.
 I jut love their colors and scent. 
If not for my cousin who sneezes when she uses any kind of scented soap on her face, I don't really think I would have made an unscented soap. While moving back to India, almost 90 percent of the weight in my bags was due to soap or something soap related. But now I have a lot of happy guinea pigs (mom, grand-mom, aunts and cousins...maybe some friends too in a few days) trying out the soaps I made while in Austria. :)
Over the weekend my cousin came over to see how soap gets made and together we made the first batch of unscented soap and also the first batch of 'Indian' soap. Thankfully no soap volcanoes in spite of humidity and higher temperatures. I used coconut, olive, sesame and palmolein oils and kept the superfatting at 5%. Palmolein was something I had never worked with before and I was worried it would cause some problems. But Hallelujah to the world wide web and the teachsoap forum where some other soaper had the exact same doubt, whether palmolein and palm oil had the same SAP. She used the same SAP and so did I. It came to trace very quickly, but that wasn't much of a problem as I didn't have to add any essential oils or color or any herbs.

Though the soap is unscented it has it's very own scent, which my guinea pig cousin customer loved when the soap was being made. I hope this unscented scent doesn't give her the Achooooos!!

My mom generously offered to hold the soaps while I clicked.
The dark pink is another variant of Frangipani.
Again from my mom's garden

Just some plain soap

Soaping across continents

I am finally back home in India, after a lovely almost one year stay in Austria. We are currently on the lookout for a house that we can set up and call home. In the meantime I get to spend a nice 2 months with my parents before my husband finishes his project in Austria and is back in India.

With all the soaps I made while in Austria I tried to keep the ingredients list quite short coz I didn't know how easy or difficult it would be to soap without some of those exotic additives that one can get in Europe, but not in India. While waiting for some essential oils I ordered from a supplier in Bangalore to arrive I bought coconut oil from a girl who sells coconut and sesame oils going door to door (we have a lot of sellers coming home with their wares here). I want to try and keep all the ingredients as local as possible and also when possible to buy ingredients from people who work so hard walking so many miles in the heat everyday to earn their daily bread.  

The temperatures here are quite high and I will have my fingers crossed when I actually get to soaping to avoid a soap volcano. Till I get all my supplies I am enjoying life in the countryside, watching goats, buffaloes, sheep and pretty butterflies. :)

Clicked at butterfly park, Mainau Island

Clicked at butterfly park, Mainau Island

My mini-tank

How do you guys cut your soap? I tried and tried and tried with a knife, every time cutting my bars unevenly and having to trim off most of the soap later. I start off fine, but then somewhere in the middle I realize I am too pro and decide to do a quick swish with the blade. I end up with a 'top-thick bottom-thin' bar or else a 'top-thin, bottom-thick' bar. Grrrr...
So with my sad cutting stories I was on the verge of giving up. See, I don't have that much coal to buy me a tank cutter and frankly I really don't need a tank to cut some six bars of soap. Then came along the spoon-swirl frenzy and I reached the lovely French lady's video (I think her name is Ka fee??). The spoon-swirl soap was terrific, but I was looking at something else. Hey!! What is she cutting the soap with?? Some wire kinda thing. First I thought it was a saw with the blade replaced with a wire. The bulb slowly lights up....there is hope!!! Finally I might be able to use an even bar of soap. I decided to make it the instant I set foot in India. No idea why I keep linking everything to the moment I set foot here or there...always trying not to set foot in my mouth though (I do have that disease, let me tell you)!!

Without further ado, let me introduce to you:

The Mini-tank aka Tortenschneider (cake cutter)
(Google image)

All I had to do was set foot in the local grocery store. Cost me 2 Euros. Hallelujah!!! It does need a guide though, any two pieces of wood or two cutting boards...else my soaps end up not just uneven, but wavy too. It gives are real clean cut. A great buy for budding soapers/profi soapers (who can spare that much cutting time). Its fun to shower with an even bar of soap!!

Sunshine soap

These days nothing gets thrown away before careful consideration...you never know what can be used to make soap. I held onto a broken umbrella handle for a few months too, while my husband wondered if I lost my marbles. So we got two cans of Pringles (thankfully the small size) that travelled with us to Slovenia and came back with us empty. The chips flew lightly out of the can and settled heavily in the butt. I am at a loss to understand how a few grams of snack can turn into a few kilos the second they hit the mouth.

I am one of those green soap lovers and have been wanting to make one for sometime now. The contents of a bag of nettle tea leaf had been soaking in olive oil for more than two weeks now. Molds were ready. Something was missing...what could it be? Has to be something to make me break into a panic sweat in the last minute of soaping. Well this time it was the cardboard tube around which aluminium foil is rolled. Now that is exciting enough. The grand plan was to do a soap embed with fresh soap in a different color. See this was supposed to be a morning soap, with the sun rising from the center. I can be imaginative too people!!

The outcome wasn't too bad actually. The cardboard pulled up a little too much soap with it. I shouldn't have waited so long before taking it out from the mold. Wish the green was a little greener and the yellow (from turmeric)  a little yellower/orange. I couldn't give the sweats a miss though....it was really hot here yesterday.

Hoping the sun doesn't set on me, by fading away

Scented with Mint, Tea tree and a tick of Lime essential oils. The mint masks the green smell really well. Thanks for the mint tip Amy W from Soapy Stories. About 11% Shea butter and 10% superfat. I drastically cut down the Coconut oil too this time.  A little bit of the end piece lathered very well. Not big bubbles, but nice small and creamy ones. :) 

Why do I even try to cut with a knife???
Had to make corrections later.
Little heart samples.
Funnily they turned green with turmeric??
This soap is fully natural, including the colors. I feel pretty good about it!! :)

The Cocobong magic

Last Saturday I was checking the post every few hours as I didn't want to keep the parcel waiting. It was Cocobong's salt bar that I had won and I just couldn't wait to see what it looked like, smelled like, felt like...

Cocobong's blog was the first one I found once I knew about handmade soap and it was love at first sight. I was mesmerized by the soaps that Julia makes, the pictures she takes and her beautiful style of writing, so heartfelt, warm and imaginative it carries me into a peaceful and happy place immediately.

So you can imagine my happiness and excitement when the packet was in my hands. I opened the envelope to find not just a salt bar, but also a sample of Cocobong's Lemongrass soap and a perfume. The scent that wafted out of the package was heavenly and comforting. Each soap wrapped in a simple cream colored paper with a cigar wrap around it. A perfect match to the creamy soaps that they hold.  

I first washed my hands with the Lemongrass soap made with coconut milk. The lather was creamy and the bar had such a soft and silky feel. And the scent is wonderful to say the least. It has this mild fresh smell, yet warm and comforting at the same time. The type of scent that makes you close your eyes, take a deep breath and just drift into a dream. I washed my extremely dry hands with it. Usually, a few minutes after washing I see the skin cracking up and flaking. That didn't happen with this slice of soap. I also washed my face with it and didn't have to use a moisturizer afterwards. Wow!!

Next I tried the perfume L'air de la Cocobong. A small label, handwritten in gold adorns the glass vial. First to float up is a breezy coconut followed by a sexy spice that mellows down the coconut beautifully. I am not crazy about coconut scents, but this is something I would definitely love to wear.
Oh that sexy spice!!

I saved the salt bar for the end. Another lovely looking bar of soap scented to perfection. Made with goat milk and honey, but not tan colored. A milky white hard bar of soap. I read that salt bars don't lather much, but this one lathered beautifully. Not the un-ending kind of thick lather, but decently big and lasting bubbles. Maybe the water is softer here? This is my first time with a salt bar. I like the soft and clean after-shower feel. I just moisturized my hands and face. My arms felt a bit dry afterwards, but I like to let my skin breath every few days. I surely want to make some salt bars in the future. If they turn out even half as good as Julia's I would call it a mega success. Julia makes soaps that many of us can only dream of making. I almost forgot to mention, this soap is quite tasty too. ;)

Sorry I didn't take a pic before using it
So this was my amazing experience with Cocobong soaps. As much as I was excited and happy to receive Julia's soaps, I was also very scared to write about them. What can you write about the soap goddess and her creations?

Thank you so much Julia for Cocobong and the chance to cherish your lovely handmade miracles!! <3

Lavender - Take 2

Lavender - Take 2 means Lavender - Take 1 flopped. Well flopped it did, but I want to say, only partially. This soap expert wanted to try the CPOP to make some colors 'pop', but it seems like it wasn't just the color, but also most of the soap that 'popped'. A 'rough' or 'wrinkled' texture formed due to the high oven temperature. Thanks for the info, you kind fellow soapers! <3

So, moving on to Take 2...I used the same recipe as Take 1. I really wanted to see the end result of equal portions of 4 oils. Canola, Palm, Coconut and Olive. Superfatting at 10%. Scented again with just Lavender EO. Some of the soap cubes from Take 1 got used. This is what came out of the mold:

Lavender soap

I like the translucent effect

Lavender soap cubes from Take 1

Well I am quite happy with the result, so there won't be a Take 3. Thank heavens!! For my next soap, I want to make a nice facial bar with Tea Tree oil (I really don't like the smell, but I also don't like acne). Till then!!

Yours lavenderly,

I can't believe it!!

While brooding over a failed batch of Lavender soap, came a lovely surprise in the form of an award!! Oh my God...I can't believe I won!! Thank you so much Claudia from alegria mediterraneo soap. What a lovely way to encourage a soap newbie!! If you haven't visited Claudia's site, don't wait any longer. She makes lovely soaps!

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1 – Make a post and link it back to the person who gave you the award
(and include their website address)
2 – Share 7 random things about yourself
3 – Award 7 recently discovered bloggers with this award and
contact them to let them know they have won.

I enjoyed reading about the soapers who I so admire and learn so much from everyday. 7 random things about me:

1-  I love animated movies. Some of the new animated ones I feel have a nice message for adults more than kids. 

2- My marriage was arranged. In about 10 minutes of talking with my now husband I decided he was the one. We've been happily married for 8 years.  :)

3- We will be moving back to India in November....can't wait. I love all the places that we have lived in, but India is where I feel at home...quite natural. 

4- While growing up I wanted to join the armed forces but then decided against it, coz women aren't sent to the war front in India. 

5- I use a comb that is at least 15 years old. It was a new year's gift from two of my cousins who were around 10 years old then.

6- I dream of kings and brave warriors and love movies made on these lines.

7- After going back to India, my cousin (a candle-maker) and I plan to start a small business. 

Now to pass on this lovely award to other wonderful soapers. I will try to pick some who haven't already been selected, although I would love to pick everyone whose blogs I follow and new ones that I keep discovering.

Lavender - Take 1

With a 5% superfat drying out my skin, I got brave enough and tried a 10%. The recipe is a basic one, from Naturseife by Claudia Kasper. Easy calculations:

25% Coconut oil
25% Palm oil
25% Olive oil
25% Canola oil

Scented with just Lavender essential oil and colored with a tiny bit of food color (violet). Outcome was...well...see for yourself:

What is that uneven texture all about??
After pouring the soap into the molds, I wrapped it up and put it in the oven at around 50 C - 60 C for about an hour and then turned the oven off and let the soap rest for about 12 hours. Could it be due to the CPOP? It was just the top layer. Just below this surface is perfectly good soap.

Lavender cocktail anyone?

I cut the whole soap into tiny cubes. Even the small sample sized heart soaps had the same rough exterior.

Rolled up some scraps with lavender buds

Those tiny lavender cubes will be recycled into a new soap. The bubbles with this oil combo are great though. Stay tuned for Lavender-Take 2!


Is anyone else having problems with blogger?? I am just not able to leave comments on many lovely blogs. The drop down list which enables you to select the profile.....well, there is no drop down list for me. If I try Internet Explorer, no matter how many times I sign in, it doesn't log me in. This happened before too, but it automatically corrected itself out...but not this time. :(  I use Chrome by the way. Does anyone know what to do?

On a more soapy note, some of the 'Everfresh' soaps I had poured into individual molds. The colors didn't turn out like I hoped and the soaps were still a little soft when I took them out of the molds (Yes!! Impatience can be my other name). So I cut those up and tried to re-batch. I called them 'Fuglies' for a few days before grating them up. 

Now I call them Soapnuts!! 

Ohrange lav

Immediately after trimming the last soap, I rolled up the leftover scraps into balls. They look nice and I really don't know why I couldn't think of doing that before (I threw away many a scraps...yikes, not knowing what to do with them). So as I was rolling away, ideas kept rolling in my head and then....BAM!! This soap was created that very afternoon.

Made on 21.06.2011

Oils: Coconut, palm, olive and canola buttered with Shea. I don't know why, but the soap had some white specks. I remember reading someone else had the same problem (guess it was Cocobong)...must be the Shea butter??

Trimmed one, but later decided to keep them curvy

Scented with orange and lavender essential oils, it smells heavenly and perfect for summer. Every time I walk into the room, the beautiful fragrance allures me to pick up the soap and smell it. 

And....we're rolling again!!

Oh how I luv this orange and lavender scent!!


Made on: 20.06.2011

After many weeks I made soap again. The original plan was to make a green soap with nettle tea but who sticks to original plans anyway?? Definitely not me!! It's not like I didn't try though. I made a strong nettle tea (dried leaves) over the weekend, but when I looked at it later, the tea was more brown than green. Not wanting to take a chance I made the lye solution with distilled water and added a green color towards the end. I still want to make an all natural green soap. It seems spinach makes a green soap, so I will try that out sometime.

For now here is the soap that got made:

Slices of soap

Coconut, palm, olive and canola oils with extra cocoa butter loving...topped with Calendula petals.

My pics getting any better at all??

Scented with Lemon Eucalyptus, Lemongrass and Rosemary essential oils. The evergreen Eucalyptus and amazingly fresh Lemongrass....Everfresh!! :P

I like these molds. Perfect guest soaps I think 

And I stamped them too!!


Now a patient 4 week wait!! By the way the nettle tea is still in the fridge...should I go ahead and make some soap with it or is it no good anymore??  And, is anyone else having a problem with blogger? I have not been able to comment on many blogs (the ones where the post comments is embedded in the page itself). Hope it gets fixed soon...