How to Use Oils, Colorants, Additives & Molds
That was all the science about soap making. That was all the, 'cause it's like if you do that, if you always use the same recipe, always use the same lye and water and never do anything else, your soap will turn out perfect every single time. There is, there's no, it's science. This is where the artistry comes in. Choosing your fragrances, your extracts, your additives and your colorants. So there's a couple different ways that you can fragrance your soap. There's essential oils and there's fragrance oils. What's the difference? Essential oils are all natural products. That means that they come from nature. So they are extracted by steam distillation, sometimes they're extracted by physical, manual pressing. They can be extracted by chemical solvents. Because they're natural, essential oils have batch variations just like wine does right? Red wine from the Colombia valley doesn't taste the same year after year because of differences in temperatures, in rainfall, all of that stuff. It's...
the same with essential oils. They have batch variations from year to year. Also natural disasters can cause essential oil pricing to vary greatly from year to year. I remember a few years ago there was fires in Indonesia and that made the patchouli oil, essential oil very, very high in price because their crop went down. Essential oils are limited to what you can find in nature and what you can get oil from. So you're like, "Oh, I really love cherries. "I wanna make a cherry soap. "There's so many cherries everywhere, "of course I can make a cherry soap." You can't because cherries make juice. They don't make oil, same with strawberries. Chocolate doesn't make an oil, vanilla's very hard to get any sort of oil out of. So there are things that you can't really find in nature that make oil which is why fragrance oils were created. Fragrance oils are a mix of synthetic chemicals and aroma chemicals and essential oils that mimic smells that you might find in nature or might not find in nature. So things like cherry or bubblegum or birthday cake. These really fun, wonderful fragrances that are synthetic and you can't find in nature. If you want to stay all natural with your soap, you're only going to want to soap with essential oils. If you don't mind a little bit of synthetic in your soap and you use, you use essential oils and fragrance oils at less than three to five percent of your total recipe. So if you don't mind a little bit of synthetic in your soap and I personally soap with fragrance oils all the time, then fragrance oils is what you want to do to get the widest range of fragrance. Some things, yes Kenna?
One question that had come in earlier when you were talking about both the cold processing and hot is what method of soap making retains the most fragrance? So, are one, do they do differently as a --
That is a fantastic question, thank you for asking. So when you're doing hot process soap, versus cold process soap. Which one retains the most fragrance? And the answer is the hot process soap will retain the most fragrance. So the hot process soap, doesn't have to the fragrance in hot process soap does not have to deal with the lye. The sodium hydroxide. This soap, when you first make cold process soap, it's very caustic. It will burn your skin, we'll talk about that in safety but what that also means is it's a lot of hurdle, it's a big hurdle for the fragrance to work through and overcome to get through all the heat and the high pH. With hot process soap, you've already dealt with the high pH, you've already dealt with the heat because you're adding your fragrance at the very end of the hot process soap, soap making method. So hot process soap retains fragrance better actually. That is a great question. I love fragrance. So another note on fragrance oils. When you choose fragrance oils and essential oils you do have to think of, well what color is this product naturally? So this for example is a gorgeous vanilla based soap I made and you can't even see it because there is a really beautiful multi-colored hanger swirl in here, it was difficult to make but since I used a discoloring fragrance, vanilla bean, which smells amazing you can't see the design. And so fragrance oils that contain vanilla or vanillin, think of what color a vanilla bean is right? They're very brown. Those fragrances will go brown in your soap. So that is one thing to keep in mind when you're formulating your designs. You can always work with discoloring fragrances. For example this beer soap that I made. Obviously I worked with the discoloration and was able to get a beautiful design but it's something you want to be aware of when you're formulating your recipes. Usage rates for fragrances and essential oils tend to be about .7 ounces per pound of finished soap. So you can do the math yourself or your brambleberry.com has a fragrance calculator where you can go in and input the amount of soap you're making and how, which fragrance you're using and it will calculate usage rates for you. This is a good example of discoloration. This is orange 10 X essential oil. So that's orange essential oil that's been re-distilled 10 times and it naturally turns the soap a gorgeous kind of orange yellow color. It's fine but you need to be aware of that 'cause if you're trying to get a purple color for example, purple plus orange yellow, it's hard to get a purple color. So you think, you need to think about that when you're thinking, fragrance oil versus essential oil, which one. Another really, really fun part about soap making is all the colorant options. This is really what makes soap making a consumable art form. Right, like every single batch is different and you can design so many things with a lot of different colorants. There's a variety of colorants you can use when you're making soap. So let's start with the easiest ones. Food coloring, everybody has some matter with food coloring right? Food coloring is F, D and C colorants. Food, drug and cosmetics. That means that they've been approved for use in food, drug and cosmetics. It's a liquid colorant and they are F, D and C dyes, and you can either use food coloring or a brand called Labcolors which has 144 different F, D and C colors. So any color you could possibly thing of. On the bottom of the screen there with emerald green, the blue mix, the royal blue, red velvet, those are all Labcolors. So why a variety of colorant choices? Labcolors need to be diluted when you get them. Not all food colorants are stable in cold process soaps so that's something to consider. Remember that high pH I talked about? In addition to being tough on fragrances, it really can be tough on colorants as well. They're super easy to use. So why wouldn't you use a Labcolor every single time right? Those are literally the most gorgeous colors. They're so bright and so happy and so cheerful. The reason you wouldn't use a Labcolor every single time is because they bleed. So up there on the screen you can see the red halo and here you can see the red halo. What that means is Labcolors and food coloring, they're water soluble. So they migrate, they don't have clean, crisp lines. So like example is, this is a nice beautiful, clean, crisp line. You can clearly see that there are some beautiful embedded chunks in here that haven't migrated out and that's because this soap uses a mica. So what's a mica and why would you use it in soap? Mica is an all-natural colorant that's mined from the earth to start with. You can make them synthetically in the lab or you can mine them from the earth. Like a diamond it needs to be shaped, shined so that it can reflect and refract light. Mica's what's most commonly used in eyeshadow. So for example if I'm making eyeshadow I use an eye safe mica. They work best in clear soap and they're colored with either all natural pigments or they can be colored with food coloring, F, D and C colors. So sometimes they're natural, sometimes they're not. In cold process soap, they give an opalescent sheen because remember they need clarity, they need clear in order to shine. So for example this is, this soap uses glitter but you can see that you get a little bit of shine and reflect and refraction in it, it's very pretty. If I was to put that same glitter in cold process soap which is opaque you wouldn't get that sort of shimmer because you wouldn't get any light ever hitting the glitter. So same thing with the mica. It needs the light to reflect and refract and really shine and do some brilliance there. Some micas do bleed so they get the, they get the little halo sometimes. However why would you use a mica then right? Like sometimes they bleed, they don't really work perfectly, the reason you'd use mica is one, there's a huge array of colorants that you can get with micas. So a lot of different colors. Most of them are stable in cold process soap and this is my favorite part, since they really are designed for use in eye shadow they have a very, very fine grain. So they're very easy to mix in to your soap. They're not gonna clump when you, they're really easy to make sure that they're smooth and even in the color. Oxides, so if there was one colorant and you're a beginner and there's only one thing you could buy I would tell you to buy an oxide or a pigment sampler pack because oxides are always stable in cold process soap. They always do what they say they're going to do and what you see is what you get. Oxides in the 70's and before that were mined from the earth and then purified in a lab because the FDA noticed that there was high levels of arsenic and lead coming from all the, these clays and these oxides and pigments that were coming from the earth. So they said ah, you guys we need to purify these things before we put them on people's skin right? No one wants heavy metals going onto their skin and the purification process became so intense that most oxides and pigments, though they can be mined from the earth are now manufactured in labs and so they're considered to be nature identical and so when all the kind of natural oxide pigment, earth colored beauty products, use, usually nature identical pigments and oxides. You have a lot of different colorant options with oxides though less than you would with a synthetic colorant because of course you're limited by what you could actually get in nature. I love oxide, that's what we're gonna be using for this particular recipe and again, for a beginner, they're economical, they are stable and that's exactly what I would use. They do take a little bit of extra premixing because if you notice, the there's chunks in here right? And if you put this chunk of pigment or oxide into your soap, what ends up happening is A, it might not mix in and B, when you're using the soap, if you hit that chunk of pigment you'll end up with a purple streak down your arm. Yeah, no purple streaks are not good. So we'll be, I'll be showing you how to premix your oxides and your pigments when we get to making our soap. And finally natural colors. So there are a large amount of different natural colors that you can use in your soap making. Things like charcoal, rose clay, annatto seed, paprika, kelp powder. In fact my, my natural soap making book, my second book, I have an entire page that showcases gorgeous colors you can get with natural colors. So why wouldn't you use natural colors all the time right? A, they can be more expensive. B, a lot of them require pre-processing. So for example these anatto seeds. They are, they come this way and they, if you just put this in your soap all you're gonna get is bumps right? So you have to infuse them in oil. So they require a little bit of extra work and oftentimes natural colorants, herbs and extracts just aren't stable long term. Meaning when they hit the light they end up eventually three to six months fading. It's not a big deal if you know that that's coming but if you have products that's in a shop that might be sitting there for a year, that is a big deal. One of the things to consider when you're thinking natural colorants is, is this something I can eat? If you can't eat it, you probably don't wanna be using it as a natural colorant and would this be a natural skin irritant? Right, so if you're like, ooh paprika. That is a very pretty red. I should totally try that in soap. You might not want to use that in your soap because think of all the areas that we soap. That would super irritating. So when you're going with natural colorants, kinda be thinking of the end user and be thinking is this safe to eat and would this irritate skin? So spices are generally a no-no for coloring your soap with. Some other additives that you can use in soap to turn it from a straight science and really make it your own and turn it into this beautiful art form are things like clays. And clays are, it's funny because clays are basically purified dirt. When you think about it. In the U.S. they're extracted from sites that are approved and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Geological Survey. One thing to think about when you're using clays and there obviously so many gorgeous clays. The round soaps there with the purple and the yellow, those are using clays. So you have a large variety of colorants you can get from clays and you wanna make sure you're using cosmetic grade clays. If you for example, see a pottery place and you're like, "Oh, they have such beautiful clays "and I love these colors." You don't want to ever use those in bath and body products 'cause they may not have been refined to levels that we want them to be. Without the lead, the arsenic, the cadmium and all those heavy metals. When you're using clays you want to make sure you're adding them at trace and clays are a natural drying agent right? Like we've all seen them in face masks and they're awesome for purifying skin and the reason they do that is 'cause they draw moisture and they draw oil from your skin. So what are they gonna do in your soap? They're gonna dry out the soap. So when you're doing clays, you mix 'em with a little bit of water first and then you add it at trace and the reason we mix 'em a little water first is so they can pull the water out of that water and not out of your soap recipe. I've actually had soap that's just cracked all the way down the middle when I use clays because the clays are doing their job. Pulling out all that moisture and pulling out all that oil and then kind of ruining the look of my soap. So when you're using clays in your soap, premix with water and add at them trace. There are so many beautiful herbs that you can put into your soap. So for example in the soap we're making today, this gorgeous lavender soap, we have lavender on the top of the soap and in this soap right here I put poppy seeds in the soap and then I also put some calendula on top. You'll notice that I don't have the lavender inside of this bar, it's only on the top for a little bit of decoration and why is that? Most herbs go brown in soap no matter what you do which doesn't look great. The only one that stays the right color is calendula herb and that stays nice and yellow for whatever reason. But the other herbs all go brown. So usually herbs are either used for infusions right. For their wonderful properties they give a bar of soap, or they're put on the top for decoration. If you have seen beer soap for example or milk soap in the past. Making milk soap is a really popular thing to do. Do you always, you're like, "Oh how are they doing that? "Do I always have to use water? "How can I keep personalizing my soap? "My husband makes beer in the garage, "how could I turn that into soap?" That's a really advanced technique when you're substituting any liquid for the water. In general you wanna make sure that anything you're adding that is not water you have frozen completely and you add your lye to it very slowly. So for example, when we start making soap, you'll see that lye gets up to 180 degrees. We all know what milk does when it gets to 180 degrees. It scorches, it curdles, it smells bad and so usually when you're soaping with a tea, a milk, a beer, or a wine, or champagne you're gonna wanna start with a frozen liquid first and then add your lye to that. And one additional word on alcohols and alcohol is something I cover in both of my books at great, great length. You have to boil any alcohol you're using, to get the alcohol off. If you add lye to alcohol it will volcano on you. It will actually start to bubble and bubble over and, just (imitates explosion) all over. It's very unsafe. So if you, so that's why you said, that soaping with beer or champagne or wine is a very advanced technique. You have to boil your beer or your alcohol first for 15 minutes, let it sit out in a very wide mouth, open container, overnight and then slowly add your lye to it. So that's an advanced technique but the first rule of soaping that I want you guys to be thinking of is of course safety. That is a safety thing and then the second think I want you to be thinking of. If you can't eat it, you probably don't wanna put it in soap. So I'm trying to think of a liquid that you can't eat that you wouldn't wanna put in soap. I'm coming up blank, but you know motor oil for example. That would be a liquid. You're like, "My husband's a mechanic, "I really wanna make that cool soap." You can't eat it, don't use it in the liquid phase for your soap making. So are there any questions coming in right now that I should stop and talk about Kenna?
There absolutely are and again we've got people tuning in from all over. I wanted to share one. Jane Agamoth who is tuning in from Nigeria.
And she says, Jane says, "Thank you so much for this class Anne-Marie. "You're just amazing, I've seen about a hundred episodes "on Soap Queen TV but watching you live is the best." So it's really really awesome. That's why we do what we do here at Creative Live. Jane, give us your questions so we can ask them directly to Anne-Marie as well. So a couple of questions and if you have any here in the studio audience let me know as well. One question that had come in that was specifically about some of the Bramble Berry products.
Was Alexandra Paniagua says, "When using a fragrance that contains vanilla "or vanillin, vanillin."
Vanillin, thank you. "What would be the percentage of, to use of, "the BB vanilla stabilizer?"
Vanilla color stabilizer, sure.
"So that the soap doesn't turn brown."
So there is a product that Bramble Berry sells called Vanilla Color Stabilizer and what that means is it's a chemical and it stops the browning. And it stops the browning really well in melt and pour soap because melt and pour soap, remember easy pH, no real chemical process. In cold process soap, it'll stop the browning as well but it doesn't stop it for long. Within about three months, the browning does come back. So if you're making a hot process soap and you're like, "I'm gonna sell this right now. "I really want it be white and it's gonna be used right away "or it's a bridal shower right? "It's gonna be given away right away." The usage rate for vanilla stabilizer is a one to one ratio. So if you're using .7 ounces of fragrance oil, it's .7 ounces of vanilla color stabilizer. If you're using one ounce, it's one to one. So it's exactly the same amount. And know with melt and pour, it works perfectly, it will stay stable, it will totally slow and stop your browning entirely. In cold process soap, because of that high pH and because of just very, very hot, caustic environment that it is in, it only slows it down temporarily. So you'll start to see, the over in about three months, it'll start browning on the corners. So vanilla color stabilizer works great for melt and pour, less great for cold process soap. That's a fantastic question. Is there any other questions before I move on?
You, out of the four soap making processes, you said the melt and pour was the really nice one to design and has that sharp colors. Does the first one, the cold pressed, is that easy to make the sharp lines and designs as well 'cause you said the other two are more rustic and natural.
So the question is, "Can I get, kind of this look with cold process soap?" And you absolutely can. This is about the closest one I have here that kinda got some really nice, sharp lines. So this is cold process soap. And this is melt and pour. You can see these line are really gorgeous and really sharp. It's a little more difficult to get sharp lines with cold process soap because remember we only have one to three minutes, one to five minutes to work with that soap. Whereas with melt and pour, you literally melt it down in the microwave and then you can melt it down over and over and over again. You get do overs with melt and pour whereas with cold process soap, once that train has left the station you are pouring whether it's the perfect design you want. So with melt and pour soap, I love, I have two children. I craft all the time with them and we like, two and four year olds. We make soap all the time. When they have their little friends over, we make soap with their little friends. It's so fun and easy to do and again, instant gratification for sure.
Cool, so it's not as natural but it's definitely the best way to go if you wanna get the fancy designs and stuff.
So melt and pour soap is not as natural but it's definitely the best way to go. And so Bramble Berry has shea and aloe and honey and goats milk and hemp melt and pours. There's a wide variety of different bases that you can use that get you some really great properties and the ingredients that are put into the soap, to make it be re-meltable aren't as natural. That said, these have coconut, palm, olive oil in them. So they are, they do use some great vegetable oils as the main bulk of the recipe.
And that's interesting that, a question had come in that said, "What is your opinion of shea butter "and coco butter when added with the oils "in cold processing?"
Ah, so my opinion of shea butter and coco butter with cold process soap. So when you are designing your recipe there are so many great oils that you can look at out there and you can design for all kinds of things right? Dry skin, sensitive skin, baby skin, big lather, small lather, lotion-like lather, surfers, they, if you have a friend that psoriasis, do they want a little bit of scrubbing in there to help get rid of their dead skin? So many different things and so coco butter and shae butter are butters and they are both considered to be very moisturizing and they're high in a variety of minerals and antioxidants and vitamins and so they're great in soap. However a general, general rule of thumb is the more expensive the oil, the less lather it has and the shorter shelf life. So if shae butter is so great, or coco butter is so great and it's so moisturizing and it's so good for skin, why wouldn't you make a 100% coco butter soap? You wouldn't do that because 100% coco butter soap doesn't lather at all. 100% shae butter soap, it doesn't lather at all. And so when you're designing your recipe, you're thinking what are my lathering oils and what are the oils that are gonna help provide a little bit of moisture? And generally, let's talk a little about those oil properties and I'm gonna cover that in a few, in a little bit in this course too but it's good to get a really basic overview of that. Your lathering oils are usually going to be your base of coconut oil and palm oil. So you'll usually see coconut oil or palm oil in most recipes. If you don't see palm oil, that's a secondary lathering agent and a hardening agent, you will often see things like sodium lactate or salt being used or different combinations of oils to try and get a similar lather, high lathering feel but coconut oil is your real powerhouse lathering agent. So if you want to make a really wonderful bar of soap that has coco butter and shae butter in it you'd do something like 50% olive oil, 20% coconut, maybe 10% palm and the rest would be your butters. Your moisturizing butters and to really get the love of the shae butter and the coco butter you'd probably do a super fat of 7%. A little bit higher.
Also thank you, Ava a question in the studio audience.
Hi Anne-Marie, my name's Vanessa. I had a question about, just about the fragrance retention. The question that was asked online about the hot process, or you mentioned the hot process retains the fragrance. In cold process soap making, I've read that some people like to use, add the fragrance oils with the, the base oils, as opposed to at the end. Do you have a view on which is better for that?
Absolutely so Vanessa asked a great question which is, "When do I add my fragrance oils "and which works the best?" Generally, I always add my fragrance oil at trace because you, soap making is a chemical reaction. When we add fragrance oils to our chemical reaction we're introducing a whole bunch of chemicals to our chemical reaction which has the potential to throw the entire thing out of whack. If you start with the fragrance oil in your base oil, the entire chemistry, the entire everything gets thrown off to start with. Now if you use a fully tested fragrance oil, not all fragrance oils will work in soap. For example, you never wanna use a candle fragrance or a potpourri fragrance obviously but at some, not fragrance, some fragrances just don't work in soap at all. And so if you're using a brand new fragrance that hasn't been tested in soap what could happen is if you add it to your base oils to start with, the entire process can get wrecked. Whereas if you add it at the very end after you've colored your soap and you kinda, you know exactly what the soap's gonna look like usually the worst that happens is you see it start to accelerate trace, meaning it starts to move a little fast, you would like, "Oh, oh my goodness, "I need to pour this right away." But your soap isn't entirely ruined. If the whole thing started moving really fast at the very beginning, you would have the potential to not add your colorant in there and the entire thing might get ruined. That said, if you have a really tried and true fragrance oil like for example, oatmeal milk and honey has been the best selling fragrance oil at Bramble Berry for a decade running and there's a reason for that. It's 'cause it works every single time and smells great every single time. Absolutely you know exactly how that's gonna work, add that to your base oil, save yourself from adding at the end at trace. But as a general rule, I always add my oils at trace to make sure I get the design I want and make sure my reactions work exactly the way they're supposed to. So moving on to home stretch before we make our soap and I'm so excited to make soap with you on camera so you can really see the chemistry happening live, in person and get a feel for how easy it is too. We're gonna talk about molds, tools and safety and then, time to make soap. So there's a lot of different molds that you can use when you are making soap. Some of my favorite soaps, soap molds for beginners to use are silicone molds and the reason I like silicone molds is because they have a lot of give. They're fairly inexpensive. This silicone mold's under $20. I'd love this 'cause you get crisp, shiny soaps every time and again, you can push the soap out really, really, really easily. The con with silicone molds is that because they're made out of silicone they're not breathable which means there's no water evaporation that's happening in the soap which means it takes longer to get the soap out of the mold. I personally think the trade off is generally worth it 'cause I love how shiny these are, I love how easy they are to use, I love the price point. They're under, these are under $ and so I love that you can get started easily and affordably with silicone molds. Recycled molds, so if you're like, "Ah you know what? "I love the idea of soap making "and I wonder what I have around the house." When you start to make soap, you see everything turns into a soap mold, everything turns into a soap mold. You'll walk by the tofu container, the seaweed container, the yogurt and you'll be like, "Oh, yeah, soap molds. "Soap mold right?" So you can use all kinds of different things from your house. If you buy a new pair of shoes, you line it with a plastic drop cloth, paint cloth or even a garbage bag, you can pour soap into that and make that, make that your soap mold. You can use any plastic food container, so long as you've cleaned it out, made sure it's really clean and it has give. So that's really important when you're thinking soap. If you pour your soap into a glass container like you look at your pie container and you're like, "Oh, I want to make a soap "that looks just like a pie." Not a good idea to pour the soap into glass 'cause you will never, ever, ever, ever get it out. And speaking of things that you have around your house, you also don't wanna use aluminum. So a lot of people have aluminum kind of cooking utensils and cooking stuff, you don't wanna use aluminum because aluminum reacts with sodium hydroxide to form hydrogen. Hydrogen is a volatile gas that can explode, explode if given, given an open flame. So no aluminum and no glass when you're doing soap molds. Another thing that you can do is wooden molds and there's a variety of wooden molds. So this is the wooden mold from brambleberry.com that comes with the divider set so you can just put this in and have perfect bars every time that are exactly two by three bars in case you're not a big fan of cutting, for example. Or this mold that we're gonna use today. This is the five pound, five pound bottom sliding mold from brambleberry.com that has the silicone liner. Wooden molds are great to use because, see how it slides. The whole thing just comes out so nice. Wooden molds are great to use because they're easy to insulate. We're gonna talk about gel phase at the end of our soap making so I can really show you about gel phase but they're really easy to insulate 'cause this is, pretty thick. This is a good insulation. They tend to be fairly inexpensive. They run at like, this one's like a $45, $35 to $45 mold and you can make large batches right? This is a five pound mold. That makes pretty large batches and the only con to wooden molds is they do have to be lined. You cannot just pour the soap directly in a wooden mold, it will never come out. So if you don't have a silicone liner you can use freezer paper or parchment paper. You cannot use wax paper because the wax gets hot and then melts into the sides of your soap which is not awesome. And finally, there, you'll see you'll see plastic molds online. And so plastic molds are great 'cause you can get fun shapes, you can get fun sizes. They're not ideal for large scale production 'cause can you imagine trying to make just the spaceship and trying to make 50 of them. Right, how many molds would you have to have? They'd be all over the place. They're relatively inexpensive, they're under $ and they don't last as long. So for example the silicone mold will last you through hundreds of batches of soap. The, any of the single cavity molds tend to get more brittle with use and then they can break pretty easily. That said, the cost of investment is low so if you have a friend that loves bumblebees by all means, go and you want to make a great present for her, go get a single cavity bumblebee soap mold. Use it a few times, but just know that if you're thinking, "I really wanna make this into a business, "how am I gonna make this into a business?" Single cavity molds are really hard to make a business from. Additionally to that, and we'll talk about this. Single cavity molds, lose their temperature quickly. So when you pour the soap into this, they get cold fast right? Cause there's not a lot of soap in here to keep them warm and so what happens is every so often when you're using single cavity molds something called soda ash develops. And soda ash is where the, the salt actually precipitates out of your recipe and creates an ashy looking feel on the soap. Soda ash is fine, it doesn't hurt anything. It's a personal preference thing but most soap makers don't love the look of soda ash because they want their soap to be shiny and beautiful and the design to come through. So that's another thing you have to watch out for when you're looking at which kind of mold you're going to invest in.