Archive for May, 2011


May 31 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff

There is mucho excitement here today, and l have voluntarily banned myself from using the Soap Curls Machine. You know what happened last time l got excited and made soap curls ;-)

The reason for all the excitement?


For quite a while l have been hankering to make a muddy soap…something with charcoal or black colouring, or mud, or Rhassoul Clay…or just *something* muddy in it. l used to adore clay facial masks, and am really getting into the whole skincare thing and wanting to experiment a bit. And on my travels l discovered a supplier who sells Dead Sea Mud.

*total falling off the chair excitement*… l couldn’t get it in my shopping cart fast enough!

This morning it arrived…sadly it is packaged into a far too neat and clinical white plastic container…but that’s okay, if it had come in a bag l most probably would have dropped it on the floor and ended up digging the remains into the veggie patch after l’d scooped it up.

After it arrived, l did some research. Mostly because my partner John spent the next 20 minutes doubled over with laughter when l told him l’d bought a kilogram of mud.  He offered to dig me up some dirt from the veggie patch to put in my soap. Not funny! So here’s what l found out. He’ll be getting a crash course in all things mud when he gets home tonight.

Dead Sea mud, also known as black mud, is a high quality, mineral-rich mud used for centuries for its cosmetic and health benefits, sourced from the Dead Sea in Israel. Because the Dead Sea is not connected to any other body of water, it evaporates every year, leaving an extremely high concentration of salts and minerals from seawater to soak into the mud on the sea bed. It is these minerals and salts that give Dead Sea Mud special properties.

Thousands of people every year visit the Dead Sea and there are many photos to be found online of visitors in beachwear slathering themselves in black goop. l can only imagine the smell!

Dead Sea Mud is claimed to:

  • pull out toxins and pollutants from the skin, unclogging pores and purifying revealing younger, healthier skin
  • remove dirt and cleanse your skin, while infusing it with minerals
  • be extremely effective at relieving acne
  • improve blood circulation and natural skin re-generation by gently peeling away dead skin cells

l can’t wait to soap it.


4 responses so far

Simple Foot Scrub Recipe

May 30 2011 Published by under Bath & Body Recipes

(created for Jo O’Dea)

It’s really easy to make a lovely foot or body scrub from ingredients that you have in your home pantry or from the local supermarket. You’ll need the following:

  • 125g copha (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • a few drops of essential oil (your local chemist is usually a good source)

Using hand beaters (l use my kenwood chef for larger quantities), whip the room temperature copha in a small bowl until it is light & fluffy. Add the water, essential oil and white sugar and keep beating until very well combined.

This scrub is quite thick – you can add small amounts of olive oil to it a tablespoon at a time, beating well between additions. This will loosen it a little and make it more ‘spreadable’.

Store in a small plastic container and use within 3 months.

Experiment with different sugars for differing results. Raw brown sugar is good for a foot scrub because the crystals are slightly bigger; castor sugar or cooking salt are good for all over body scrubs. You can also add things like poppyseeds, lavender buds from your garden, even dried flower petals like rose or marigold (calendula). This recipe is probably best as a foot scrub as it is quite greasy and extremely moisturising – this doesn’t bother me, but some people might like something a little ‘lighter’ for all over body use. (l’ll be posting another scrub recipe soon!)

2 responses so far

Soap Giveaway – Citrus Trio

May 27 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap competitions

It’s time for another soapy competition!

l’ve decided to give away a Citrus Trio to one lucky winner – three beautiful bars of my favourite citrus scented handmade soaps.

Included are:

  • Spiced Orange – with Sweet Orange Essential Oil, Clove and Rosehip tea
  • Calendula – chock full of ground organic calendula petals and scented with refreshing May Chang Essential Oil
  • Lemon Poppyseed – a gorgeous Lemon Myrtle fragrance, with black poppyseeds for gentle exfoliation

Your prize will be gift wrapped and include complimentary postage to you. To enter, you need to leave a comment for me on this post, telling me your favourite soap/bath/beauty scent of all time. I’ll give you a bonus entry for liking the Simply Soap facebook page and sharing this giveaway on Facebook.

The competition ends at midnight on Friday 3rd June 2011, and the winner will be selected randomly – check back here to see who the lucky recipient is!

Updated 4th June 2011:

Congratulations Moira (comment number 14)your comment was ceremoniously drawn out of the tupperware jug first!

But wait – there’s more!

The kids really got into the spirit of holding a competition and decided there was going to be a Second and Third prize too. So l’ll send a surprise soap to 2nd place Charlyn, (comment number 8 ) and 3rd place Michelle (comment number 22) as well. Email me your details and l’ll get them in the post next week!

And a big thankyou to everyone who entered – l loved reading everyone’s favourite scents, and really appreciated all the lovely comments too.

39 responses so far

swirls and other things…

May 25 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

I’ve been practicing my swirls. I’m kind of happy with how these turned out, this is a possible new look for Pomegranate Sage soap. I tie myself in knots over my soaps appearance, because they don’t always reflect what l want to say about my soap. Or maybe that should be what my soap says about me? Mind you, it would probably help if l knew what it was that l wanted to say LOL. Sometimes l’ll soap something really natural and earthy and think ‘oh, it’s nice, but l wish l had tried a megawatt swirl’ and then l will achieve a very respectable swirl and think ‘oh cripes, it’s nice, but a more natural look would have been better’.

l do love this rustic lavender soap quite a lot. It fits in with my KISS motto very well:

but one of my favourite soaps is the Spiced Orange. Sometimes l think it’s better if a soap can stand on it’s own two feet instead of needing a load of curls and swirls and chunks and glitter and god knows what else to make it sell. And it doesn’t get much simpler than Spiced Orange ;-)

but then l found this soap that l made a couple of years ago and remembered how much it made me smile at the time…

It’s so easy to get distracted LOL!

What is your favourite soap look?


One response so far

I remembered…

May 23 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap photos

that mother nature likes colour too.



4 responses so far

on natural colors & fragrances…

May 22 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

I’ve started a new website client, and spent a good few hours the other day reading her blog trying to get to know a bit more about her business. Sonya from Ishbarn Emporium is an aussie soapmaker too, and l was so enthralled by her soaps. She uses only essential oils and natural colourings, and they are really beautiful and so creative. l was blown away by the range of homegrown ingredients she adds to them – herbs from her own garden, coffee beans that she grows and roasts herself (so impressive!) and honey and beeswax from bees on her property.

I dither around a bit on the idea of ‘all natural’ soaps, because it’s something l admire and would love to aim for. But l don’t think l can give up bright purple or red soap colour, and l most certainly cannot give up Vanilla or Chai Tea fragrance oils. And l am joined at the hip to my Pomegranate and Sage fragrance LOL.

But l did decide it was time to investigate this natural colouring thingummy and maybe learn something new.

l made up some small soap batches. The two white bars on the left are Honey and Oatmeal, but without any Honey & Oatmeal fragrance. l’ve seen some H&O soaps made with just the oatmeal and some real honey, and they were described as having a lovely natural fragrance of their own. I’m not sure whether mine smells of anything much, but it certainly looks nice. l also left out the soap whitener Titanium Dioxide, just to see if it made a huge difference to the finished bar. As you will see further down the page, there wasn’t much difference at all, so l think l’ll leave it out from now on.

The green soaps are scented with Lime Essential oil, and coloured with wheatgrass powder that l bought from the health food shop. The middle bar has a little bit, and the two bars on the right hand side have much more. The end bar l stirred some extra in with a spoon just to get a bit of flecking, which l quite like. Of all the natural colours l used, wheatgrass powder is probably the only one l would continue with, because the others were much more surprising.

The rectangular bar on the top of this next photo is my standard lemon poppyseed soap. The love heart soap is the same recipe, but instead of yellow soap colour l added a little bit of tumeric stirred into olive oil. It turned out not bad at all, but l did think l would have gotten a ‘yellower’ yellow. And when you look very closely at the bar, there are little tiny tumeric flecks throughout it. l don’t mind a fleck, but they are also a little abrasive, which l noticed much more in the third bar. This one came about because l was hoping for more yellow, so added double the amount of tumeric. It didn’t work though, l just got a muddier yellow ochre kind of colour, and the scratchiness of the flecks was quite annoying. Apparantly you can buy a natural soapmaking dye where they have extracted or concentrated the yellow colour from the tumeric so that it turns out much stronger and cleaner, without the flecks. l might try this one day.

Next up are honey & oatmeal bars. The one on the left is the same as the one from the green soap pic above. Because the soap didn’t gel in the mould, the colour didn’t darken very much, and l had been hoping that the honey would caramelise a little and give me a deeper colour. The heart next to it is exactly the same recipe but l forced gel in the oven, and look what happened – a lovely deeper beige! l love this one.

Next along is my standard H&O bar that is for sale on the website. This is the only one in the pic that has Titanium Dioxide in it (whitener). I much prefer the recipe without it though! And lastly, on the right hand side is a H&O bar that heated up probably just a little bit too much because it has gone quite dark, probably from the honey content.

My next experiment was with tomato paste. Ugh, it wasn’t nice, l most definitely won’t try this again. I thought l might get a cranberry red colour like the bar on the right, but instead l got ‘pasta sauce orange’ and it does nothing for me at all. lt was about now that l realised how much l really love my soap colours in a bottle LOL.

l’m going to buy some alkanet powder and try that, as well as blue clay and indigo powder…but l think it’s fairly safe to say that l won’t be crossing over to the dark side any time soon ;-)

3 responses so far

Soapy cleanout

May 16 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff

l’ve listed some unwanted soap and candlemaking supplies on ebay. Fragrances and moulds and some botanicals. You’ll find the goats milk moulds here

and one lot of fragrances here, plus there’s more. Happy bidding!

No responses yet

Chocolate Bar

May 16 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps

Dark chocolate soap made with cocoa butter (of course) and lots of cocoa. l showered with some this morning and it does smell exceptionally like chocolate – a little disconcerting!

I was very lucky to get any sort of swirl going in this batch. l had slowly and deliberately designed the whole log to be beautifully swirled, and waited patiently for the right temperatures, thickness of trace etc. Then poured and layered and poked with chopsticks and coathangers. lt was a work of art, l tell you. Then l looked down at the bench and saw the little measuring cup of fragrance oil waiting to be mixed in. OMG, l had completely forgotten it. So the whole carefully swirled batch got hurriedly poured back into the bucket and remixed. (did someone say soapmaking is meant to be relaxing? LOL!) The swirl that you see is what l managed to create at the last minute while crossing my fingers and hoping it wouldn’t seize on me.

One day…one day l’ll be a calm and collected soapmaking artisan LOL.

2 responses so far

Shower Gel Review

May 08 2011 Published by under commercial soap reviews,daily soap stuff

I’m always thinking about the Handmade soap vs. Commercial soap thing. Sometimes l worry a little that all the stuff l write on my blog and in my soap descriptions might sound a little cheesy, a little too much like a carefully designed & scripted handmade marketing speech. I try to speak from the heart, but l’m sure potential customers think l am just trying to sell things. l guess yes, to a certain degree l am. l love my soap, and l DO want to sell it. There are many soapmakers the same. But there’s also a very big part of me who honestly believes in my ingredients and what l make. I worry about the amount of chemicals in modern day life.  l hate washing my hair in the shower and reading the back of the shampoo bottle and wondering what it all is. And l hate that l never have time to check those ingredients and find out whether they are safe or not. I hate feeling that somehow l am being tricked into using something that l would normally not touch with a bargepole, all because l don’t have enough time to decipher the name and investigate it.

So l decided the other day to start reviewing some commercially available soaps that you can buy in any supermarket. At first l was going to concentrate only on bars of soap, but then l remembered that so many of my friends and family have told me that they don’t use soap in the shower because of the soap scum issue. Instead, they swear by shower gel. And this pretty lime coloured one was positioned right in front of my eye in the soap aisle of my local supermarket, so l decided it could be the first review subject.

Initially l had decided only to investigate the ingredients, because l know l’m always rabbiting on about the ingredients in handmade soap and how wonderful they are. So it was going to be a simple breakdown of what makes up each product.

Halfway through compiling this list, l started to wonder if l should actually USE it, and also describe how it made my skin feel compared to a bar of my handmade soap. I used to love shower gels, especially with those loofah sponges. But by the time l finished reading the label, typing out everything, and googling/researching, and then listing it below, l’m not so sure l want to go anywhere near the stuff! I was actually going to give it to my kids to use in their shower, but now l don’t think l’m comfortable even with that.

I’m not sure if l’m just being a scaredy cat, whether l am so biased towards handmade soap now that l am unable to think objectively or fairly.

What do you think?

It’s a looooooong ingredients list below. How does it make you feel when you get to the bottom of it all? I’d really love to know, truthfully.

I’d also like to mention that as much as possible, l have simply cut and pasted content from other sources – none of the below is my opinion. ln all cases l googled the name of the ingredient, and then cut and pasted the most relevant bits. All l was trying to do was find out where the ingredient came from and why it might be included in a bottle of shower gel. And then if there were any side effects to follow  l included those. (l didn’t deliberately go searching for emotive reviews.) As much as possible l have linked back to the pages where l found the information. So l’m not saying ‘don’t ever buy shower gel again’. What l am trying to say is ‘here are the ingredients inside a typical bottle of shower gel, and here is some of what l read about those ingredients’. The same sort of information that l included on my soap ingredients list.

So here we go.
250mls of Lime Shower Gel, packed with essential oils. The ingredients list, l assume listed in order of quantity from most to least:

  • Aqua (water)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent. SLES has been shown to produce eye or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects. Some products containing SLES have been found to contain low levels of the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.
  • Cocamide DEA, or cocamide diethanolamine, is a diethanolamide made by reacting the mixture of fatty acids from coconut oils with diethanolamine. It is a viscous liquid and is used as a foaming agent in bath products like shampoos and hand soaps, and in cosmetics as an emulsifying agent. Cocamide DEA is an allergen that may cause contact dermatitis in individuals who are susceptible to skin allergies. Cocamide DEA showed a high irritation potential.
  • Lime Oil (l’m going to assume this is the essential oil mentioned on the front of the tube, although l am finding it a bit hard to believe there are the equivalent of 40 limes inside the tube!)
  • Glycerin (information credit here) is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin. Glycerin is a natural by-product of the soapmaking process and while commercial manufacturers remove the glycerin for use in their more profitable lotions and creams, handcrafted soap retains glycerin in every bar. Glycerin is a neutral, sweet-tasting, colorless, thick liquid.The process of removing the glycerin from soap is fairly complicated – in the most simplest terms: you make soap out of fats and lye. The fats already contain glycerin as part of their chemical makeup. When the fats and lye interact, soap is formed, and the glycerin is left out as a “byproduct”. But, while it’s chemically separate, it’s still blended into the soap mix. While a cold process soapmaker would simply pour into the molds at this stage, a commercial soapmaker will add salt. The salt causes the soap to curdle and float to the top. After skimming off the soap, they are left with glycerin (and lots of “impurities” like partially dissolved soap, extra salt, etc.). They then separate the glycerin out by distilling it. Finally, they de-colorize the glycerin by filtering it through charcoal, or by using some other bleaching method.
  • Lauramidopropyl Betaine has low irritation to skin and hair so it is used in shampoo, bubble bath, hand washing, and all kinds of personal washing products. It can improve the comb ability and smoothness of hair. Therefore, it is especially suitable for the application in high standard shampoo, bubble bath, baby shampoo, hand cleaner, Also, LAB can be used as detergent, wetting agent, thickening agent and antistatic agents.
  • Sodium chloride, also known as salt, common salt, table salt or halite, is an ionic compound with the formulaNaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms.
  • PEG-150 Distearate is used in beauty products and cosmetics as an emulsifier and thickening agent; it is most often seen as an ingredient in shampoo and other hair products. The 150 designates the molecular weight of this specific PEG. PEGs are controversial ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products, in part because of their ability to penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the body, or assist other chemicals and ingredients in absorption.  PEG 150 is a high weight PEG and is not easily absorbed by the skin.
    The Cosmetics Database finds PEG 150 Distearate to be a moderate hazard depending on usage and notes contamination and toxicity concerns. According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, PEG 150 Distearate can contain harmful impurities, including: Ethylene Oxide, known to increase the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer, according to experimental results reported by the National Toxicology Program; 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen; PAHs, known to increase the risk of breast cancer; lead; iron; and arsenic (Source).
  • Lactic acid, also known as milk acid, has gained importance in the detergents industry the last decade. It is a good descaler, soap-scum remover, and a registered anti-bacterial agent. It is also economically beneficial as well as part of a trend toward environmentally safer and natural ingredients.
  • Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer is listed as a moderate hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database. The EWG notes contamination concerns including methacrylic acid, a potential toxin and carcinogen; acrylic acid, a human respiratory toxicant, known toxin and potential carcinogen; and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, a known immune syste, human lung and skin toxicant. It is, however, “Considered safe based on assumption of low absorption.”
  • Trideceth-7 – surfactant & emulsifying agent
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a highly effective surfactant and is used in any task requiring the removal of oily stains and residues. For example, it is found in higher concentrations with industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps. It is used in lower concentrations with toothpastes, shampoos, and shaving foams. It is an important component in bubble bath formulations for its thickening effect and its ability to create a lather.
    It has been shown to irritate the skin of the face with prolonged and constant exposure (more than an hour) in young adults. SDS may worsen skin problems in individuals with chronic skin hypersensitivity, with some people being affected more than others. SDS has also been shown to irritate the skin of the face with prolonged and constant exposure (more than an hour) in young adults. In animal studies SDS appears to cause skin and eye irritation.
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, widely abbreviated as EDTA is a polyamino carboxylic acid and a colourless, water-soluble solid. It is widely used to dissolve limescale.
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone is a preservative with antibacterial and antifungal effects within the group of isothiazolinones. It is effective against bacteria, yeast and fungi. It was first used in cosmetics in the 1970s. In high concentrations it can cause chemical burns and it is a skin and membrane irritant and so it was largely removed from most cosmetic products except for those with only short duration skin contact such as rinse-offs. Prohibited in cosmetics in Canada & Japan.
  • Methylisothiazolinone or MIT, sometimes erroneously called methylisothiazoline, is a powerful biocide and preservative within the group of isothiazolinones, used in shampoos and body care products. Though long considered safe for use in cosmetics, two recent in vitro studies have shown that MIT is neurotoxic, causing damage to rat brain cells in tissue culture.
  • Magnesium Chloride is nothing short of a miracle mineral in its healing effect on a wide range of diseases, as well as in its ability to rejuvenate the aging body. We know that it is essential for many enzyme reactions (especially in regard to cellular energy production), for the health of the brain and nervous system, and also for healthy teeth and bones. However, many are not aware that it is also an impressive infection fighter.
  • Magnesium Nitrate – as far as l can tell, it is used as a  preservative.
  • Limonene is a colourless liquid hydrocarbon classified as a cyclic terpene possessing a strong smell of oranges. It is used in chemical synthesis as a precursor to carvone and as a renewably-based solvent in cleaning products. Limonene takes its name from the lemon, as the rind of the lemon, like other citrus fruits, contains considerable amounts of this compound, which contributes to their odor.
  • Citral is an aroma compound used in perfumery for its citrus effect. Citral is also used as a flavor and for fortifying lemon oil. It also has strong antimicrobial qualities.
  • Linalool is a naturally occurring  alcohol chemical found in many flowers and spice plants with many commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness).
  • CI 42090 – A brilliant blue colour with good all round stability, excellent for blending with other colours especially tartrazine to achieve green shades
  • CI 19140 -Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow dye used as a food coloring. From Wikipedia: Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance. Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine. A variety of immunologic responses have been attributed to tartrazine ingestion, including anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance. Certain people who are exposed to the dye experience symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity even at extremely small doses, some for periods up to 72 hours after exposure. In children, asthma attacks and hives have been claimed, as well as supposed links to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, and hyperactivity.

I welcome your comments.

6 responses so far

Chai Tea Handmade soap

May 03 2011 Published by under daily soap stuff

My poor sore thumb and bruised ego have been soothed by a new soap that l made. It smells absolutely divine – a blend of Chai Tea fragrance oil with some Cinnamon oil, as well as a few other bits and pieces (not bits of thumb LOL!) It’s lovely and warm and spicy and fragrant, and reminds me of a big milky chai latte. l could go one right now!

I was taken with surprise by how fast the mixture traced and then hardened – all while still in the three containers being coloured. It must be an accelerating fragrance. The thoughtful layering process that l was hoping for ended up being a bit of a mad panic of scooping in huge chunks of thick soap, pressing them down with a spoon and madly adding the next coloured layer before it started gelling in the container. And then a couple of big slams of the mould on the bench to get it all to settle. l was so lucky to get away with it turning out nicely – there are one or two bars with big air holes, but the remainder survived beautifully. l’m currently making a new batch with full water allowance, and am going to soap it completely cold – hopefully this time l will be able to take a more leisurely approach!

6 responses so far

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