As you may have noticed, I like to do a blog post about my latest batch of soap every few weeks so that I can keep track of the ingredients I have used and how much and whether I was happy with the result. This year I have made a variety of soaps and, for the first time, have started using fragrance oils as I find that the batches I add essential oils to often lose their smell. I noticed that Gavin from The Greening of Gavin had some for sale so I bought a few from his Little Green Workshops to experiment with. I must say I have been very happy with the result as the soap keeps its scent a lot better than when I use the essential oils.
This batch of Calendula Soap with Green Clay had Lemongrass and Persian Lime fragrance oil in it and it just smells lovely. The soap lathers up well and feel wonderful on the skin so I would say it is my favourite batch for 2016.
Hot on its heels is goat's milk soap and my first try at 'swirling'. I also used the room temperature method this time around in which you don't heat up the oils. Goat's milk soap has a very luxurious feel to it and I can recommend giving it a try if you are a beginner and have already made a few batches of soap. Just read up about how to make it first as you need to freeze the milk beforehand.If you haven't heard of the room temperature method before you can read more about it in this post Soap Making Workshop using the room temperature method.
I had another go at swirling using a couple of colours which ended up looking quite pretty and I was quite pleased with the result. It takes a fair bit of practice to get the soap to trace at the right time and not too quickly but I was starting to get the hang of it.
As in everything there are failures as well as successes in soapmaking and I learned how not to rebatch soap this year. The main lesson I learned though was not to buy cheap so called 'essentials oils' from the $2 shop as they can make your soap seize. Oops!
I had bought some Cocoa Butter during a visit to Simply Natural soap supplies outlet last year and wanted to use it up so when I came across a recipe which used it I added it to a batch ....Soap with Cocoa Butter and Carotino Oil and I can't say it ended up being in any way spectacular so I don't think I would bother buying it again.
If you want to make a soap that gets darker and darker as the weeks go on then give Oatmeal Stout Soap a try. This soap started off with a light colour as in the photo above and ended up being dark brown and it has an amazing scent. The fragrance oil Oatmeal Stout was sent to me by Suzie, my soap making friend from The Curing Room as she wasn't fond of it. I love it though. Check out her Etsy shop as she makes amazing soaps.
Another couple of products I bought from the soap supplies outlet were pink and green clay and I was keen to use them up after having them sit there looking at me for 12 months so I used both of them in Soap with Pink and Green Clay to which I added the most wonderful fragrance oil Egyptian Amber. I had a few issues with this soap as it went to trace too quickly even before adding the fragrance oil so I had to cut off the top of it as it cracked and looked dreadful. It actually ended up being a really nice soap so all is not lost when things go wrong in soapmaking.
My last batch of the year was Coconut Milk and Lemon Balm Soap which is still curing and this was my first go with using coconut milk so I am keen to see what it feels like on the skin and whether it is any different from goat's milk soap.
While still a nice soap the Coconut Oil Soap with Aloe Vera was my least favourite batch. This is a very hard soap which seems to last forever and it did lather up a little but didn't feel as nice on the skin as the other soaps.
So those are most of my experiments for 2016 although there is still time to make one more batch of course :-) I have borrowed Anne-Marie Faiola's Pure Soapmaking from the city library and there are lots of interesting recipes in there which I would like to try including....
...Buttermilk Honeycombs using bubble wrap in cupcake moulds. I lined an EasiYo jar with bubble wrap a while back and liked the result so will give this method a try as well and then the indentations will be on the top and sides of each cake of soap.
This book is actually on special for $20.50 from Book Depository at the moment as there is 41% off at the time of writing. If you really want to try soapmaking then do some reading on The Soap Queen as there are lots of tutorials there for beginners as well as the more experienced soap makers and she takes you through the process from beginning to end.
How about making your first batch in the New Year :-)