I’ve got really behind with posting about the soap making classes, because I was going all out to finish the recycled mini-album and have been very busy with other things.
In the third class we did layering and embedding with the soaps. The first one we did was supposed to be like a snow globe, but unless you use crystal clear soap base (which is not SLS free and may not be hypoallergenic) it is rather translucent and spoils the effect a bit. We were provided with little plastic gingerbread men to embed in the soap, suspended on wires while the soap hardened. We were supposed to put glitter in the clear soap, but of course Shoshi forgot, so hers is a snow globe with no snow lol! (Global warming, perhaps?!!) Anyway, most of our results fell short of satisfactory, with most people’s gingerbread men coming out at a jaunty angle and looking drunk, and mine certainly fitted that description, made worse by the fact that his feet were sticking out through the base!
I was very unhappy with this. This style of soap isn’t what I’m interested in making anyway, because as you know, cutesy isn’t my style… However, my lovely cleaning lady loved it, so I am giving it to her! At least someone is happy…
The other two soaps we made were much more satisfactory.
First of all, we made tiny red hearts from white soap base, in small moulds. We then put some white soap base (coloured if we wanted, and with fragrance added) into the base of a full-sized heart-shaped mould, and the teacher took these away to pop in the freezer to speed up the setting process. When they came out, we scored the surface to roughen it, and sprayed it with a little rubbing alcohol, both of which helped the next layer to adhere properly. We then poured in some clear soap (also coloured and fragranced as desired) and while it was still liquid, we added the little red hearts we’d made earlier. These came out very much better.
In the fourth class, we made bath bombs. This didn’t grab me at all… You mix bicarbonate of soda with citric acid (both white powders) and then spritz with water, taking great care not to make it too wet or it just fizzes away. For colour, we used powdered colour rather than liquid, and added a few drops of essential oil or fragrance oil for scent. We mixed it up well and kept spritzing until it had the consistency of wet sand, and then squashed it into a mould and turned it out onto the table and left it to dry.
I hated doing this; the powder got into my mouth, nose and eyes, which was most unpleasant, and I had a job getting the consistency just right. I managed to make quite a good selection, though, and once wrapped, they looked pretty good.
I tried one in the bath, and after an initial fizz, that was it! I much prefer a good soak in bubble bath, so shan’t be making these again. The ones I’ve made will be nice for presents because I know a lot of people do enjoy bath bombs.
In the fifth and final class, we made bath melts. This was a lot more satisfactory than the previous week’s efforts. We mixed shea butter and coconut oil with some almond oil, in some empty tin cans the teacher provided – she had made wire handles for these. They were lowered into a pan of boiling water on the hob, and melted gently. Once melted, we could add fragrance and/or colour, and then pour the liquid into moulds to set. Again, the teacher put them in the freezer to speed things up, because these take quite a long time to set, preferably being left overnight, and we had to have them hard enough to carry home.
Again, I don’t think I shall bother to make these again. Really they are just a base for introducing fragrance into the bath, adding a bit of moisturising along the way. Not bubbly enough for me!
The other night I had my first aromatherapy bath. I’d read online that you should not put neat essential oil into the bath because it tends to clump together and can come into contact with your skin, which can cause irritation because it is incredibly strong. There are very few essential oils which are safe to apply direct to the skin; normally they are diluted in a carrier oil. One website said that you should mix it with a tablespoonful of carrier oil (I used olive oil) and pour that into the bath. I used lavender oil, and also put some in the top of my little oil burner that has a tea light underneath, and leaving the bedroom lamp on and turning off the other lights, I lit several candles and had a wonderful soak – I’d also added some fragrance-free bubbles – it was the most fantastic experience, really relaxing and lovely, but oh boy, the state of the bath afterwards… I use an inflatable bath lift (known as Boris!) and also a non-slip rubber mat, and everything, including the bath, was extremely greasy. After feeling so relaxed after the bath, all I wanted to do was fall into bed and enjoy the benefits, and not waste the whole effect by spending half an hour cleaning up the mess, so I left it till the next day. It took me ages to get it clean, and I had to use some multi-surface cleaner to disperse the oil (Ecover, made of natural stuff, but even so, that stuff gets in my throat and makes me cough!) – I was NOT a happy bunny.
I went on the soap making forum I have joined – they have an essential oils section – and asked for advice on a painless way to clean up, and several people said that they never used the carrier oil as the clean-up was such a bore, and I now have some instructions for home-made bath salts, using Epsom salts, into which you sprinkle some essential oil and keep it in a jar. You can colour it, too. It looks gorgeous! I now have some Epsom salts on order and am keen to try.
This is all a huge learning curve, and it is great fun learning how to make my own beauty products, and I know exactly what’s gone into them, and can colour and fragrance them as I like. They also make gorgeous presents. I am also learning about making my own cleaning products which will be natural, and also very cheap to make, and not full of harsh, strong-smelling chemicals, which I have come to dislike intensely since I developed M.E. – many people develop chemical sensitivity, and it’s nice to be able to avoid these things.
I’ll keep you up to date with the things I make. I’ve gradually been collecting bits and pieces online, mostly from Ebay – moulds, essential oils, soap bases, etc. I shall also be using my other skills to create pretty labels and packaging for them, and I am saving suitable empty bottles and containers.