Sunday, February 28, 2010

How are handcrafted soaps different from commercial soaps?

How are handcrafted soaps different from commercial soaps?

The chemical process used to make soap is dictated by nature, but the ingredients and process used by large scale commercial soapmakers is very different from handcrafted (small scale) soapmaking. The biggest difference is that most commercial soapmakers start out by using pure fatty acids (with no glycerol molecule attached), which they combine with sodium hydroxide to make soap. They do not use natural triglycerides, and so the end soap product does not have any glycerin in it. I’m not sure what a pure fatty acid looks like, and would have no idea where to buy it. I use olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and castor oil…all of which are natural triglycerides and contain a mixture of fatty acids and glycerol.

Why is glycerol (glycerin) important?

Glycerin is a natural humectant. The molecules of a humectant love to create hydrogen bonds with water so much that they pull moisture from the air like a magnet. The water moisturizes the skin and the glycerin holds onto the moisture. This is good for your skin.

Coming up...How does soap clean?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What is Soap?

What is soap?

Soap is simply the product that comes from mixing a mild acid (fats and oils) and a base (sodium hydroxide, also called lye) together. When combined, those two ingredients produce a basic salt (soap) and glycerin. This is not the kind of salt that you sprinkle on your eggs, but is chemically related. This process is called saponification.

What makes one soap different from another?

Soaps will have different cleaning properties and lathering capabilities, depending on the kinds of fats and oils used to make them. Oils and fats in nature are actually triglycerides, which means that there are three fatty acid molecules linked to one molecule of glycerol.

The kind of fatty acid varies, depending on the oil/fat and each one has its own personality and purpose. For example, Stearic, Ricineoleic and Palmitic fatty acids all give soap a more stable lather. Lauric and Myristic fatty acids make a fluffy soap with good cleansing properties. Linoleic and Oleic fatty acids make a nice conditioning bar. You’ll be tested on these names later. The point is, each one on its own doesn’t make a great bar of soap. In order to get all of those properties that we appreciate in good soap, they must be combined and balanced. That’s where the art and craft of soapmaking comes in. It’s like baking, you need to know the ingredients and how they will combine and react with each other to get a great end product.

Coming soon...How are handcrafted soaps different from commercial soaps?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Pioneer Woman

It's been quite a weekend! On Friday, my soaps were featured in a lovely post by Ree Drummond on her widely read blog The Pioneer Woman. She is a great writer (very funny), a great photographer, an excellent cook (from what I hear) and an all-around awesome, sassy redhead. She lives with her husband and four spunky children on their working cattle ranch and blogs about their life there. I read her posts regularly myself because I love her writing style and adore her photos of her family and ranch life (this post photo courtesy of Ree). I also enjoy following her blog because I can identify with so many of the images and stories that she posts, having grown up on a ranch myself. She also homeschools her kids. I couldn't go there myself, but I like reading her posts about what they are learning and the whole teaching experience, yet another thing we have in common. Basically, it's a great site worth visiting often...and I'm not just saying that because she likes my soap.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ballard Art Walk

This Saturday evening, February 13th, is Ballard's monthly Art Walk. It's a great event and will be a fun night on the town just before Valentine's Day. Seattle Sundries will be the featured artist at Venue this month. If you've never been, you should make a point of stopping by to check out their terriffic selection of art and creations from local makers. My soap has been available at Venue since last fall, so I have the pleasure if stopping by there on a regular basis. It's in a great location in Old Ballard, right near the intersection of Ballard Ave. and 22nd St.

There's so much to see and do in Ballard these days! The streets are packed with pedestrians out strolling, munching, sipping and browsing their way through the neighborhood. I love all of the activity and the festive vibe. Grab your honey, pet your dog, get a babysitter and come out for a night on the town!!

Valentine's Day Give-Away Winners!!

And the randomly selected (numbers chosen by my kids) winners are:

#7 710 East Myrtle Avenue "I love...your blog's old-timey slideshow :D"

#18 Nancy B "I love...the way it tickles when you clean out your ears with Q-tips!"

Please contact me if you were chosen. Soaps will go out in the mail today or tomorrow so that the winners receive them in time for Valentine's Day. Thanks to everyone for reading and entering the contest. I'll be doing more give-aways again in the future!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentine's Day Give-Away

In honor of Valentine's Day, Seattle Sundries is giving away some free soap! Two lucky winners will receive a lovely pair of one-of-a-kind tins filled with sweet bubbly goodness. Winners will be announced on Monday, February 8th. For a chance to win, just leave a comment completing the statement "I love..."

I family; cheese; the smell of freshly cut hay; the beer garden after a long, hot day of piping competitions; making soap; the movie "Across the Universe"; and walking through cool, shady grass in my bare feet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weddings in Woodinville

I'm settling back into my routine after a busy week of organizing for the Weddings in Woodinville event. Happily, it proved to be a lovely and well-attended occasion that I hope to participate in again in the future. I was showing at the JM Cellars location and had the pleasure of meeting the owners there (John and Peggy Bigelow). They have a beautiful space that is warm and very genuine feeling. I'm trying to come up with an occasion that justifies renting it out myself...15th wedding anniversary party, maybe?

The whole place was organized and decorated to the nines by M.G. Davis Events, so that visiting guests could easily envision themselves at their own wedding celebration, and get ideas that they'd like to incorporate. The flowers, which were done by Scarlet Blooms, were unbelievably beautiful. Again...wish I had some occasion coming up to hire them for. Guests were shuttled around from one venue to the next in style by my friends at Butler Valet, so that no one had to deal with parking their cars or worry about how much wine they were sipping along the way.

I'm sorry that I didn't get better photos of everything, but in packing all of my stuff I didn't have room for anything but my little point and shoot camera. Which explains the unfortuate lighting of this shot:

This was my little display. I had over 40 different examples of wedding favor soaps in varying colors, ribbons, fonts, and vintage images for guests to peruse and sniff. It was great being nestled in amongst the rows of wooden wine barrels that JM Cellars uses to age their tasty creations. Oh yeah...I got to sip wine all day too. It was rough!