Archive for the ‘In The Soap Shop’ Category

 rosemary goat milk lotion

Being a farmer, I am used to working outdoors, year-round.  This winter, with making preparations at the new farm, we are working outside a lot more than normal. 

Working outside in the cold and wind has left me looking like I am competing at a seaside lobster-fest, uncomfortable and a bit red in the face for January, especially after I forgot to stop and treat my face while working outdoors all day. 

One morning, my lips felt extra chapped before I headed out the door to feed the goats.  I eyed the bottle of goat milk lotion containing rosemary essential oil sitting next to the supplies I was taking out the door with me.  The rosemary lotion was something I made at one point but didn’t like as a skin lotion, too herbal (like something to be cooked).  As I headed out the door that morning, in a pinch, I decided to apply a drop of the lotion to my lips.  Surprise! It felt wonderful.  It was cooling and my lips felt better conditioned and really did feel more protected as I worked in the cold.

The next morning I deliberately applied the rosemary goat milk lotion to both my lips and my chin area.  A girl needs all of the protection she can get from the nasty outdoor elements.  It worked again.  Now the rosemary lotion application is a ritual before I head out the door.  Funny how the store-bought lip ointment no longer seems to do the trick.  Toss it too? Probably.  Just like I did the store-bought face cream.

Perhaps it is the aloe vera, or the jojoba, or the shea butter, or a combination of everything in the lotion formula that works.  I know the rosemary is doing a great job. 

The fun of discovery…the almost…not quite.  With it being personally helpful to the body.  I like it.

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Since our Ocean Breeze goat milk soap is being discontinued, I want to point out that our Still Waters goat milk soap is a close follow up if you are looking for something similar.  It has a fresh clean scent, not overpowering, with a silky lather. 

Still Waters is a good soap to hi-lite this week since it is a year old, first introduced to our online soap store last January, with a theme in mind – calm after the holidays.   

I hope you are experiencing peace and calm this new year!

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Goat Milk Soap

After nearly a year, we are putting our Ocean Breeze goat milk soap to rest.  It started out as a beautiful blue/green soap with white chips – representing the waves of the ocean, white sea foam, and white sand.  Even the change to the Ocean Breeze edition (pictured above) was pretty.  But we found the blend to be an incredibly difficult fragrance to work with.  The soap batches often seized, or at times did not “take” at all.  Goodbye Ocean Breeze, with your clean fresh scent, you will definitely be missed!

On the curing racks are goat milk soaps with cocoa butter.  We are going to call them For Limited Time Only, but who knows, we (and you) may love them so much we will keep them in production.  We shall see.  How about a Sandalwood Lime fragrance blend? I find the aroma to be light, warm, and soft.  Masculine, but not so much.

Enjoy your soap – we enjoy knowing you are happy!

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geranium rose and ylang ylang facial goat milk soap

Recently we experienced the disappearance of all of our product images from our online store. 

All of the images have since been restored.  The job was made easier by the fact that we have less soaps to display until we rebuild our soap stock, following a wonderful holiday season.

As orders began to trickle in, despite the absence of photographs, it became obvious to us that our “regular” customers do trust our integrity.  They know we are going to deliver the same quality soaps and lotions, pictures provided or not. 

Thank you to everyone!

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It isn’t very pretty, is it?

This is what we have been working on all week, each morning before sunrise, every night after sundown, in single digit temperatures on a few occasions.

Two 1000 foot long trenches along the driveway, each 4 feet deep were completed for water and power lines. 

Our legs hurt.  Our backs hurt.  And perhaps our heads hurt too, I say with a sense of humor!


Someone was watching over us today as we finally got the electric connected to the meter box on what will be the new soap shop.  The temperature broke over 30 degrees today, which helped us bend and pull the heavy wiring.  I stood inside the shop on a 10′ ladder, my husband stood outside on another ladder, as we pushed and pulled.  We got it done! The power company can now energize us at any time.

We definitely have been hard at work.  It is a very busy season for Annie’s Goat Hill, my husband’s business, and with the preparations at the soon (to be) new farm.  It is all good!

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Troubleshooting Handcrafted Soap

You might be asking yourself what a soap doctor is.

Can you visualize a soap doctor? She/he would be wearing a white lab coat while checking the soap for thickness, hardness, lastability (is that a word?), or mildness.

Humor aside, soapmakers do become soap doctors.

What happens when a batch of soap doesn’t turn out as expected? The soap doctor steps in to diagnose the cause. 

In this case, a soap bar with a circular pattern (or “ring”)  inside, tells me that the room temperature when the newly made soap was poured into the mold was very cool and that the soap was not well insulated.

Sometimes the soap inside the ring is less solid, it can be crumbly.  The appearance of a ringed pattern in soap does not mean it cannot be used for bathing.  Rings can be a cosmetic type of thing, not affecting the stability or use of the soap at all.  As I prefer to do, usable (slightly flawed) soap can even be sold at a discount – with explanation, as it isn’t grade A+ soap.   Botched soap can also be donated to the Clean The World foundation, www.cleantheworld.org

P.S. Additional blog posts on troubleshooting to follow! Imperfect soap happens.

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Yes, we develop noses before we are born, but what I am going to talk about is fine-tuning the sense of smell.

A good perfumist develops a nose after a length of time which enables them to distinguish between pure, quality essences and those that are poor quality or adulterated (extended or modified by the inclusion of chemicals or other oils). 

I call myself a “budding perfumist.”  My olfactory system needs many years of training before it will tell me everything I need to know when greeting new essences.  Training consists of a lot of sniffing, and studies that include reading, and comparing-grouping of essential oils in general. 

I was surprised when I opened a tiny bottle of chamomile that I purchased from a different supplier.  It didn’t smell right.  In my mind, it had to have been adulterated.  For the aromatherapist, one that needs pure unadulterated oils, the chamomile that I purchased would act as a placebo.  It simply is not workable.

What does this mean to me? I am not exactly sure, except that I am developing a nose for something, something other than the man-made deodorants that can fill our air.  Is this a good thing? I believe so.  It is one more step towards knowing what I do not want to smell in a perfume formula. 

For those of you who are not perfumists, have you developed a nose for particular fragrances and oils through the years?

For those of you who work with essential oils on a regular basis, or have studied them, or better yet, for those of you that are experienced perfumists, when did you notice your nose developing, and would you say it is still in-training? My thought is, for those of us passionate about fragrance, our noses will always be learning.   I find it fascinating.

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As I’ve said before…I am a soap nerd.  I never get tired of the process of making soap.  Finding time to make soap is the biggest problem, it certainly is not boredom!

I wanted to share with you how the Annie’s Merlot Wine soap looks in the mold, as it heats (goes through the gel stage), as the soapers call it.

When you look at the soap in the mold, you wonder how it ever gets to this point:

The bars often are a bit more brick red, sometimes lighter, darker at other times.  I attribute the variances to the nature of the sugar in the wine, even to different brands.  Subtle differences adds to the ambiance of handcrafted soap!

I boil the alcohol out of the wine before it is used to make soap.  It is not complicated, but I do follow an entirely different process than I do when making milk soap.

Pretty, isn’t it?

I simple cannot say it enough…I am blessed to be doing what I love!

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Goat Milk Shampoo Bars

We drink goat milk. We eat goat milk cheese, and wow, it is a popular item right now! We bathe with goat milk (soap).  Why not wash our hair with goat milk (shampoo)?

Here is where I am at in the journey with goat milk shampoo bars:

In the past I made a test batch of shampoo bars that left my hair with a sticky, stripped feel.  The hair did feel clean after it dried, however, it felt dirty and heavy after a mere 1/2 a day.  Not desirable!   

Last month I returned to testing goat milk shampoo bars.  I left out one key base oil.  Why? I did not trust it and worked the formula to use the oils that I already had on hand.  Results:  my hair felt clean, and seemed to have more body.  My scalp and hair did not feel dry, and my itchy scalp stopped, however, I normally do not use conditioner, and with the shampoo bars I did apply a touch of conditioner to the very ends of my mid-length hair.  Using a shampoo without waxes, detergents, or man-man chemicals for body or luster, leaves the hair in a more natural state.  Be prepared to know your “real” hair!

What you are seeing in the photo above are the shampoo bars that I cut today.  I used all of the oils that I could have used to make a conditioning and thick lathering soap.  I definitely can tell the bars are richer at this early stage of the game, 48 hours after making the soap.  The shampoo bars will need to cure for at least 6 weeks, for hardness.   I will test them at 4 weeks for cleansing and conditioning properties. 

Most shampoo bars include distilled water, why not goat milk? It works so beautifully in bath and facial soap. 

More of this digest will follow, I am excited.

As my dad always said, “We shall see!”

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Soap Scales

It was a break from soap making that I did not ask for, but it was productive.

The electronic scales that I used to weigh soaps, lotions, and shipments started acting up about 2 weeks ago.   The same day that I ordered the new scale my old unit quit working altogether.

As I waited for the new scale to arrive I was able to ship packages.  You would have loved to have seen what I did.  I used an old manual food scale that I had in the kitchen.  I calibrated it to a can of green beans.  Well, it worked!

I could not make lotion, and thankfully did not receive any lotion orders until mid-last week.  The one lotion customer was patient enough to want to wait for fresh goat milk lotion. 

What I did during my down time was contemplate where I want to go next with products, the business, and mainly the soaps.  I  planned autumn soaps.  I am pleased.

For those of you that make soap and other products, this scale is terrific.  I choose this model because it weighs in increments of .001 ounces, instead of .01.  The only problem with this unit is, even though the weight can be tared out, you must break everything down into smaller containers or pieces if your soap batches weigh more than 5 lbs (mine do).

I am excited to be back in production, and doubly excited to have some fall soaps planned.  It may be 90 degrees outside, but us northerner’s know, fall will be here in a blink of the eye!

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