Did you know that the Soap Kitchen is situated in a small North Devon coastal town? We are so lucky that we can just pop to the seaside on a sunny day!
This week, we wanted to create a #MIM soap recipe with an extra DIY twist and a summery theme. Not only is this a great chance to learn a different cold process technique but, we encourage you to make your own soap embeds too.
Creating your own embeds:
Creating your own melt and pour embeds is a great way to dress up a CP soap as you can use all sorts of shapes and plastic moulds with M&P. For our seaside recipe however, we have found some gorgeous shells in our photography cupboard and thought this would be a great opportunity to try out our new moulding putty. This putty is wonderful for creating smaller moulds out of found objects and of course, embeds!
To create your embeds, all you have to do is mix equal amounts of both putty colours together and place your shells in until the putty sets. This doesn’t take very long! Once you’re sure the mould has set you can remove the shells and continue to heat up the melt and pour in the microwave (30 second blasts) . You can add colour to the soap before you pour it in to the mould but, for our shells, we poured the white M&P in and then waited until the soap had set before hand-painting the shells with a tiny bit of liquid dye.
See visual demonstration below:
How to make whipped soap:
Whipped soap is a variation of cold process soap that is created at room temperature. Instead of melting the oils, they are whisked together when solid to create a whipped cream texture. With experience this soap can be piped.
What you need:
Large Glass, Stainless Steel or Plastic Bowl
Another 2 Small Bowls or Jugs
Electric Hand Whisk
1kg Silicone, Cardboard or Wooden Loaf Mould (Silicone wouldn’t need lining)
Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment listed above BEFORE you start and weigh them out into suitable containers ready to use.
Always wear safety goggles/glasses and use protective gloves when soap-making to avoid injury from spills and splashes.
First choose your mould. Traditionally, soaps are made in wooden moulds lined with waxed or siliconised ‘grease-proof’ paper, but a cardboard box lined in a similar way is fine or you can choose to use a silicone cake-baking mould, as they are usually lye and heat-resistant. Also, many forms of plastic kitchenware will be suitable and may also not need lining, such as ‘tupperware’ type containers.
If choosing a traditional lined wooden mould, make sure the lining paper is not cut or holed in any way below the top of the mould. It must be folded into corners etc. to ensure there are no leaks.
Measure out 244g of cold clean water into a jug. Weigh (accurately) 95g of sodium hydroxide beads (or pearls) into a suitable container. Carefully add the sodium hydroxide to the water, stirring all the time with a spoon or spatula. Be careful not to breathe the vapour that is initially given off, so hold your breath and stir until all the sodium hydroxide has dissolved and there are no lumps stuck to the bottom of the jug.
The solution (now known as Lye) will heat up to nearly 200oF and will need to be left to cool. Important… If the room temperature is generally warm it will help to refrigerate the lye to ensure it’s completely cold before use.
Meanwhile, measure out exactly 200g of coconut oil and 400g of palm oil into the saucepan ready for whisking.
Using an electric hand-held whisk (shown) start to whisk the coconut and palm oils into a creamy consistency, then continue whisking whilst incorporating the 50g olive oil.
Once all the oils are completely mixed and whisked to a light and creamy consistency, carefully and slowly add your cold lye, continuing to whisk all the time.
Once you’ve added all your lye to the oils you are ready to add your fragrance or essential oils which you need to gently mix into the airy mixture.
For this recipe we are now going to divide our mix in to 3 bowls. This so we can create different colours.
Add some Ultramarine Blue (Diluted) powder in to 1 bowl of mix to create a dark blue colour.
Now doing the same add a little less to your next bowl of mix to create a lighter blue colour. You now should have two different shades of blue soap mix.
For the last bowl of mix, you’re going to keep it uncoloured and instead we are going to add some ground nut shell. Hopefully to give the appearance of sand!
Then pour your mixtures into layers into your mould. The mix will be starting to thicken and can be gently worked to form peaks if you wish. Start with your dark blue and continue with the light blue, leaving your sandy colour for the top!
Because the whipped soap has a thicker consistency, you can use a teaspoon to manipulate a texture in to the top of your soap.
Last but not least, when your soap has thickened slightly, you can add in your DIY embeds.
As an organic and natural cosmetic formulator and the Education Manager at Formula Botanica, people are always asking me what my favourite ingredients are to work with. Today’s market is flooded with colourful oils, nourishing butters, wonderfully potent and aromatic extracts and essential oils. The list is endless and is growing day by day.
Today I am sharing the 5 ingredients I use most frequently in my formulations at the moment.
Personally, I feel that these ingredients don’t get enough attention, which is understandable since most DIY skincare makers tend to stick with what they already know and trust. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. In fact, experimenting is the way to becoming a great formulator so don’t be afraid to get stuck in and try something new.
I love Illipe butter. It has two variations, True Illipe and False Illipe. It does not mean that one is the real butter and the other is fake, but they are from two different species of tree. False Illipe is like cocoa butter but without the chocolatey scent. It is a hard butter, with a higher melting point than cocoa so you can add it to your lip balms, balms, stick deodorants where a harder butter is required. True Illipe is like shea butter without that strong, smoky aroma shea butter is so famous (or maybe infamous) for. It has a lovely white colour so it would not affect the final colour of your product. It is a great emollient and a good choice for dry, chapped skin.
Honey has been used for a very long time not only as a medicinal remedy but also in skincare. Many cultures believe in the power of honey since it has various minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium, is high in antioxidants and is antiseptic. It is a humectant which means it draws moisture to the surface of the skin. You can use the powdered version, which is freeze-dried honey, in masks, add it to creams and lotions, salves or even facial tonics. Just like with regular honey, you do need to be careful when it comes to preservation and of course, to avoid stickiness. One advantage of using the powder form is that it is easy to work with. It readily dissolves in water without requiring heat. Make sure you keep the powder in airtight container or you may end up with a gooey lump in a jar.
You may want to expand your horizons from making balms to making bubbly shampoos or body washes. The problem that DIY skincare formulators often face is that natural or naturally-derived surfactants (the ingredients that help with cleansing and make your products foam) cannot be thickened easily.
Before, when sulphates were the trend, we just added some salt to thicken up our shampoos. These new surfactants will require some gums, such as xanthan gum instead of salt to achieve a good consistency. This is where lauryl glucoside can help. It is a thick, paste-like surfactant that is accepted in natural skincare formulations. You will need to heat it, till it is transparent before blending it into your formulation. It works well with the gum of your choice; it helps thicken up the product nicely and it works well with other surfactants in your products. Stir it slowly to avoid creating a huge foam and make sure you have adequate preservative in your cleanser formula.
Now that it is getting warmer it is time to think about getting your skin summer ready. The first step is to give your skin a nice scrub rub to reveal a lovely, dewy skin ready for some sun. Making scrubs can be really easy and the key thing to keep in mind is: choose an effective but not harsh exfoliant. This is why ground olive stone is my go-to exfoliant. As the name suggests, it is basically the stone of the olive that has been ground and it has a brownish colour but no aroma. Although it is fine, I would not recommend it for facial products but it is certainly a good choice for body scrubs. You can choose an emulsion, a butter or even a gel base as it can be suspended well in all these environments which means it will not sink to the bottom of the jar. Make sure you add the exfoliant at the end of the formulation process.
This ingredient is really amazing. I recommend it to those of you with some formulating experience, since it can be tricky to work with. Sucragel AOF is a cold-process emulsifier based on sugar chemistry which can create both sprayable and thick emulsions and some oily gels.
The benefit of oily gels is that you can create a preservative-free p
roduct, which has a gel-like consistency but turns into milk when in contact with water. This takes creating facial cleansers, make up removers to another, exciting level.
When it comes to formulating with Sucragel, you will need to pay close attention to your method. Stir Sucragel slowly using a butter knife or glass rod while adding your oils literally drop by drop. Using a pipette will help. As you add the oil, your blend will slowly start to thicken up creating this lovely, shiny oily gel. You can use any oil of your choice. Some beautiful green hemp oil or maybe some sunny orange carrot oil so your final product will have the most amazing colour as well. Let your imagination go wild.
Remember the key to successful formulating is to challenge yourself, embrace the mistakes but most importantly, enjoy the successes.
Formula Botanica is an accredited and award-winning organic cosmetic science school. Fancy becoming an organic and natural cosmetic formulator? Then try out their sample class, or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I don’t know about you, but we love a summer celebration filled with love and forever happiness. Are you getting married this year or know somebody that is? We have a DIY recipe that could make that day extra special and personal. Who doesn’t love a handmade and heartfelt token!?
You don’t have to stick to our choices in this recipe, you can mix it up as much as you want. We have lots of fragrances and dried flowers/botanicals in stock.
What you need:
*Makes approx 20 favours*
60ml Jars and Aluminium Closures
130g Dendritic Salt
120g Epsom Salt
750g Coarse Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
10ml Champagne Fragrance
Botanicals – Calendula Petals, Heather Flowers and Pink Rose Buds
Measure out and combine both 130g of dendritic salt and 120g of epsom salts.
Using a measuring spoon, add 10ml of champagne fragrance and use your clean hands to mix thoroughly.
Add 750g of coarse sea salt and again, mix thoroughly with your hands.
At this point we added the dried Calendula petals and mixed them in with the salts. This creates our base of bath salts shown below.
It’s time to put your favours together!
Separate your bath salts equally in to your jars
Dress with more petals/botanicals. We added a layer of heather petals on top and then several rose buds to top it off.
There must be a baby boom at the moment because all we see is bumps, scans and congratulations posts online, and then not to mention a couple of grandparents-to-be here at TSK! This calls for a baby themed #MIM and we are always looking for ideas for ways to introduce new moulds to our fabulous customers.
Our new, simple and very sweet teddy bear bath bomb mould is a wonderful DIY creation that will make lovely gifts for any friends and family that will be sharing this joyous moment with you. Make these for a baby shower as guest favours or use this idea to reveal to your loved ones what gender the new addition will be!
What you need:
3 x teddy bear bath bomb mould
Water spray bottle
*Makes roughly 6 bath bombs*
600g Bicarbonate of soda
200g Citric acid
25ml Cotton Flower fragrance
Coated micas – Caribbean yellow, Ocean blue and Passion pink
Using your scales, measure out the bicarbonate of soda and the citric acid into one of your bowls. Mix well to combine both ingredients.
Add 25ml of Cotton Flower fragrance and blend thoroughly using your hands.
Now you should have a fragranced mix of bicarb and citric! Divide this mix equally between your 3 bowls.
Next, a little pinch at a time, add one of the coated mica colourants to one of your bowls of the mixture. By doing this a little a time, you can determine how bright you want your bath bombs to be. We kept our’s very pastel which required just a small pinch of colourant. Feel free to go as vibrant as you want!
Repeat this with your other two bowls of bath bomb mixture. You should then be left with 3 bowls of 3 different coloured mixtures.
Using your water spray bottle, give each bowl a spray or two as required. *ONLY ADD ENOUGH WATER TO HAVE THE MIXTURE START TO HOLD TOGETHER WHEN LIGHTLY SQUEEZED IN YOUR HAND* If you have difficulties determining the right amount of water you need for the perfect bath bomb, follow this link for a visual direction:
Grab your mould and press in enough mixture until it’s nice and compact. Repeat with all your colours.
Leave them in their moulds until they are hard enough to remove and you’re done!
In recent years, Activated charcoal has exploded into the health & beauty
industry as a natural detoxifier, this extremely effective ingredient is now being
used in a wide range of personal care products. The primary use for activated
charcoal in the health and beauty industry started off with tooth whitening, with
the help of relentless adverts on social media platforms we saw a huge trend of
people using charcoal to remove tough stains from the teeth, resulting in a
brighter smile, almost instantly without the need for the peroxide based
bleaching systems we are all so used to.
The tooth whitening industry worldwide is worth around $1.4 billion and growing year on year, so it was no shock that a
new, natural product unleashed onto the market was going to be successful. This
also led to saturation in the market, with new brands arriving daily, many of
which disappearing just as quickly as they arrived!
In terms of longevity, is charcoal a quick fad that will fade away and make way for the next new shortlived
online fascination? Or is it here to stay? A good indication is that the worlds
biggest cosmetics brand, Loreal, has recently launched multiple skincare
products with activated charcoal being the main ingredient, along with a full
scale marketing campaign featuring television adverts solely based around their
activated charcoal products, this is a very good sign. You can now go into any
high street cosmetics retailer and find a number of charcoal based products from
a number of different brands, big and small. The majority of the products on offer
are found in the skincare department, so what makes charcoal so good for the
The super adsorbent properties of activated charcoal make it an ideal ingredient
for cleansing the skin and gently removing toxins and oils, leaving the skin
feeling smooth and detoxified without the use of any chemicals. In todays world,
consumers are becoming ever more conscious of what they are putting in, and
on, their bodies, which is fuelling an exponential growth in the demand for
natural products free from a number of potentially harmful chemicals.
All of our cosmetics grade charcoal derives from coconut shells, which are burnt
into a char, crushed into a fine powder then activated using high temperature
steam in an oxygen free furnace, reaching temperatures of over 1700 degrees.
This process is what gives the charcoal its ability to adsorb a huge amount of
impurities, attracting harmful organic substances, which remain bonded to the
surface of the charcoal.
When sourcing our charcoal, we focus on two major factors, the first is
effectiveness, the question we ask is ‘does it work?, because its fantastic to have a
natural alternative to what’s currently available on the market, but does it work
as good? Does it serve its purpose? Because ultimately, that’s what matters to
customers and that’s what will bring them back for more.
The second major factor is quality, there are many Chinese suppliers who sell activated charcoal for
very competitive prices, it looks and feels great, but the majority of these cheap
grades coming in from China are of extremely low quality and contain a very
high ash content, thus heavily diminishing the effectiveness of the overall
product. This would potentially cause declines in repeat business and low
customer satisfaction due to the product not being very effective. Analysis
conduced on Chinese grades of charcoal have also found high concentrations of
heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which combined with a high ash content
actually could be worse for the body than the chemical laden formulations many
people are consciously trying to avoid.
Did you know?
The surface area of activated charcoal is actually quite remarkable, a single gram
has a surface area of over 3000m2, which is about half the
size of a football pitch! It’s hard to imagine how such a small amount of black
powder can have such a large surface area. This allows a massive amount of
impurities to be collected and removed from whatever it comes into contact
Going forward, we anticipate charcoal being more widely used and becoming the
obvious choice for cleansing and detoxifying the skin naturally.
Are you feeling the love this Monday after the royal wedding festivities? we certainly are! That’s why this #MIM is perfectly timed.
In the TSK kitchen, we have been thinking of crafty ways to utilise the odds and ends we have in our soap cupboard. Whilst stumbling upon some cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes, we immediately thought about using these to create some sweet little soaps out of the loaf ends that usually get left over. These new soapy shapes look lovely as guest favours or travel minis but, how about threading them on to some thick cotton rope to create a ‘soap on a rope’ masterpiece that will look lovely hung up in your bathroom?
Of course you can use any shape you wish!
What you need:
*Soap slices/odds and ends
*Something to pierce a hole through your soap (We used the end of a metal funnel)
Here at The Soap Kitchen we have never considered whether we are ‘ethical’ or not, as it has never crossed our minds that anything we do. The stock we sell is relevant to our customers if it was not done or sourced in a way which showed complete respect for our planet. The people who inhabit it, which includes all the workers that produce and ship the goods we stock and sell, our own customers, our staff and ourselves. Long before it became ‘trendy’ to offer published ethical statements we have been operating our business in a manner which meets our own high standards.
Our aim has always been, and remains, to source natural products that meet the highest standards of quality from importers and suppliers around the world that themselves share the same standards.
Most of all we strive to ensure that we work with suppliers that have the following ethical considerations when sourcing their products.
Environment: Products should be sourced sustainably, there should be no negative environmental impact on endangered species. There should be minimal production emissions during transit, there should be careful use of resources to process ingredients. There should be no genetic modification of plants used for production of their products.
People: Workers should have the right to union membership, production facilities should respect health and safety. Workers should have fair pay and fair working hours, there should be no discrimination and no child labour.
Animal protection: There should be no animal testing of ingredients or manufactured products. Where possible they should only use vegetarian or vegan ingredients.
Shipping: The distance ingredients travel are minimised. Packaging materials should be recyclable or biodegradable where possible.
Recyclable Packaging Paper
We realise that everything we do and every product we supply has an impact on our planet one way. Whether that be in the sourcing of the products we stock, the shipping of those products to us. The stock holding of those products in our own warehouse. The onward shipping of those products to our customers and the welfare of our own staff. Operating our business in a way which respects every stage of this process we try to minimise any negative impact.
Ethical Biomass Boiler
At the Soap Kitchen we employ the following practices:
Recycling: We recycle the maximum amount of all incoming packaging materials and waste possible.
Heating: We choose to heat our premises with a Biomass Heating System that uses only sustainable fuel.
Plastics: We strive to minimise the use of plastics in all our protective packaging wherever possible.
Electricity: We choose to source our electricity from suppliers that offer energy from renewable sources.
It is our aim to continually evolve our policies in line with best practice to ensure we continue to meet the high expectations of our customers.
#MakeitMonday – Apricot and Walnut Hydrating Deep Exfoliating Scrub
New product alert!!
With the new ban on microbeads in cosmetics, it is important that we as suppliers of cosmetic ingredients offer our lovely customers the best alternatives. This quick recipe contains a wonderful combination of the beautifully hydrating, nourishing apricot butter and our new product – walnut shell powder!
Walnut shell powder makes a brilliant natural deep exfoliant and when paired with apricot butter, you can create a fabulous DIY natural skin product that will give you fresh, super soft and revitalised skin. Perfect for summer!
Benefits of Apricot butter: Soothing, Moisturising, Said to be high in Vitamin A and E, Revitalising, Nourishing, Non Greasy.
Benefits of Walnut Shell Powder: Exfoliating, Removes Dead Skin Cells and Dirt Deep in the Pores, Eco-Friendly.
This recipe is great for face and body! Walnut shell can be too harsh for delicate skin areas so be sure to minimise the QTY of this ingredient in any product you make that will be used on those areas. It’s all down to personal preference on how much you use too!Ingredients:
60g Apricot Butter
150ml Fractionated Coconut Oil
40g Kaolin Clay
1 Tbsp. Tapioca Starch
Approx 1-2 Tsps. Walnut Shell Powder ( Down to preference)
15 Drops Apricot and Pear Fragrance
*Makes enough to fill approx 3 x 60ml jars of scrub*
Plastic or Glass Bowl
Measuring Utensils and/or Accurate Scales
Storage Jars (Link to 60ml Glass Jars as Pictured)
By using a wooden or metal spoon, mix your apricot butter in to a thinner consistency.
Next, combine the fractionated coconut oil and whisk thoroughly. You should end up with a creamy liquid.
Slowly add in the tapioca starch whilst continuing to whisk. It’s important that you add a little at a time to avoid any clumps!
*Tapioca starch is added to this recipe to make your scrub less greasy*
It’s time to add the Kaolin clay. Similar to the tapioca starch, add a little at a time and continue to whisk. You should now notice that your scrub is beginning to thicken. This is perfect!
Now for the walnut shell! This is completely down to your preference as to how much you wish to add. For facial scrubs, only use a small amount – we used 1 tsp. Add a tiny amount at a time to determine how exfoliating you wish your scrub to be.
Using a pipette, add around 15 drops of an apricot based fragrance and mix. This will add to the feeling of freshness and will leave your skin smelling lovely.
Package your DIY scrub! It’s essential to use an air tight container and try to avoid getting any water in to the product to avoid the growth of unwanted bacteria!
Superfatting, it’s probably a word you’ve seen in many articles and on many blogs, but what does it actually mean?
If you’ve already got to grips with SAP values (and if you haven’t you can read more about it here) you’ll know that each oil has its own sap value and that it takes an exact amount of sodium hydroxide to turn a specific oil into soap, that’s saponification. So when creating a formula you calculate how much sodium hydroxide is needed to turn the weight of each oil into a soap and add them together.
So not only is soap making a science, it’s a mathematical formula too.
Weight of oil x SAP value = weight of sodium hydroxide need for saponification.
Olive Oil has a SAP value of 0.134, so if your formula has 500g of olive oil
500g x 0.134 = 67g of sodium hydroxide
Coconut (refined) has a SAP value of 0.190, your formula has 300g of coconut oil
300g x 0.190 = 57g of sodium hydroxide
Palm oil has a SAP value of 0.141, you are using 200g of palm oil
200g x 0.141 = 28g of sodium hydroxide
67g + 57g + 28g = 152g of sodium hydroxide
For your 1kg of combined oils you would need 152g of sodium hydroxide to turn all of the oils into soap.
Superfatting is either adding extra oil into the formula or discounting some of the lye used, so that there will be oil within the soap that has not saponified, that is oil that has not turned into soap
Basically if every last drop of oil is combined with lye and turns into soap there’s not much oil left to make your skin feel good is there. Superfatting allows small molecules of oil to become trapped between the soap molecules and these are transferred to your skin when washing. Now luckily whilst the lye turns the oils into soap it also produces glycerine, which is a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin and forming a protective barrier to prevent your skin losing moisture. Essentially it is what makes natural soap so moisturising.
But the main reason to superfat is to eliminate the risk of your soap being caustic. If every drop of oil finds every drop of lye (the caustic alkali) then the soap should have no caustic alkali left. So what happens if you had a gram or 2 more lye or a few grams of oil didn’t make it into the final pot? You’ll have a nasty caustic bar of itchy scratchy soap that’s what.
SAP values are averages, I mean really, really, good averages but oils will change very slightly from batch to batch. And however brilliant our equipment is, unless you have lab quality scales you can never be totally accurate on the weights and small variations may happen. Even a small amount of extra lye would make your soap unusable. A formula that does not allow for superfatting would never receive a CPSR (cosmetic product safety report), so you wouldn’t be able to sell it either.
So now on to how?
The easy way is to use a soap calculator, there are loads available on the internet, but if you try 3 or 4 different sites you may be surprised to see they all give you different calculations.
If you regularly use a soap calculator you’ll be used to it doing the calculations for you, but it’s really quite easy. Personally I prefer to work it out myself, just to be safe.
But the next question really is how much to add or discount. In order to superfat you don’t actually have to add any more oils, I find it much easier to discount some of the sodium hydroxide instead. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much, many people work on 5% some less although I wouldn’t recommend it. We work on around 13%, it sounds high but we perfected our formula over 15 years ago and it works, so why change it.
As always you’ll need to experiment, you don’t want your soap to become too soft and a lot will depend on the oils you are using as they all lend different attributes to your soap.
So this is how I do it.
Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) (Total – 15%)
Total Weight of Oils
Total Sodium Hydroxide
x 33% (= Water needed)
Hopefully this will give you the confidence to give it a try, and as always if you have any questions just ask. If we don’t know the answer we’ll do our best to find out.
If you’re looking for some ideas on what oils to use, why not read our previous blog article on “What oils to use in cold process soap” by clicking right HERE