Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Sneek Peak At My New Mini Lavender Soap

Here is a preview of my new mini lavender soap that will be available in my Etsy shop in a few days. These bars contain dried lavender and chamomile flowers to help exfoliate and boast a lovely lavender scent. Please let me know what you think about it in the comments section. Thanks!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where Can I Find Glass Bottles for Packaging?

This is a quick post directed to my fellow Canadian, and more specifically my Toronto readers. I am really having a hard time finding glass bottles to package bath and massage oils, so I'm asking for your help. Do you know of any glass bottle suppliers in the greater Toronto area? Please let me know in the comment box. I would be forever grateful!

I mean, I have found bottles I like online. The problem is, if they come from the U.S. I have to pay an arm and a leg for shipping and sometimes even a lot of money for shipping within Canada. I am specifically looking for a tall, skinny 4oz bottle and also a standard Boston round 8oz bottle. At first I would like to buy small quantities, but down the road, maybe larger quantities. I've tried online searches, yellow pages, dollar stores, flea markets.... and nothing! There must be some glass company/supplier in Toronto. Any help you could give is appreciated!
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Bath Oil Is The Trick...
In light of my work on some bath oils that I will be posting for sale in my Etsy shop very soon, I thought I would share a very simple recipe for bath oil that you can make in about two minutes.

First, some information about bath oils: Bath oils are a wonderful way to add scent and that sense of luxury to any bath. They provide that extra note of relaxation at the end of a tired day. Although they are not as commonly used as traditional moisturizers, bath oils can be an excellent, in fact, the best way to add and retain moisture in your skin. You might be thinking... "Don't dermatologists recommend applying moisturizer directly after bathing?" or "Doesn't the woman in that recent Johnson's Baby Oil commercial apply baby oil to her skin directly after showering and without toweling off?" Well, I have a few qualms about this: Moisturizing after a shower... Great. That's fine. But you can get more moisture into your skin without the chemicals in commercial moisturizers, by simply using a bath oil. Furthermore, baby oil is basically mineral oil with scent. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum and has been known to clog pores. It's just not the best thing you can be putting on your skin. Also, by applying an oil to your skin directly, you generally have to wait about two hours for it to soak in enough so that you can dress! Bath oils don't cause this inconvenience when used in the proper amount per bath. 

So, all you need to do is this:

1. Purchase a carrier oil that is suitable for aromatherapy, such as olive oil or grapeseed oil. (Please see my post about carrier oils here if you have any further questions about what oil to use.)
2. Purchase your favourite essential oil or fragrance oil. (Please make sure your oils can be used for aromatherapy and beauty products.)
3. Add the desired amount of essential / fragrance oil to about 1 cup of the carrier oil. I usually use about 0.5 oz of essential oil, but it depends on your personal preference and the strength of the scent you are using.
4. Stir the oils together.
5. Add about 3 tablespoons to your bath and enjoy!

Make sure you store your bath oils in an airtight container, and in a cool dry place at room temperature. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments about your bath oil experience!
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Soap The Easy Way

There are many ways of making soap, but two of the most popular methods are the cold process and the melt and pour method. The cold process involves mixing fats with a solution of water and lye and takes anywhere from half an hour to over two hours depending on the level of difficulty of your recipe. However, the undisputed easiest method of making soap is the melt and pour method. I suppose it is the easiest because you are not really and truly making the soap. The crafter simply needs to melt the soap and add his or her desired fragrances, colours and botanicals. This is the best method for anyone who has a tight schedule or who is making the soap as a children's craft. However, there are some tricks to using melt and pour soap.

The materials you need to make melt and pour soap are:

- a chunk of good quality melt and pour soap
- soap mold
- fragrance (fragrance oil or essential oil)
- colour (make sure your colour is compatible with soap making and NOT food colouring)
- botanicals or finely ground nuts (optional to make an exfoliating bar)
- rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

Make sure that you have the correct amount of soap to fit in your mold. For instance, if your mold is a two pound tray mold, use two pounds of melt and pour soap. If you are making a single four ounce bar, than use four ounces of soap. If you use a mold designed for soap, it will usually state the capacity right on the mold. If you are not entirely sure of the capacity of your mold, just estimate the amount. Always estimate more rather than less, because you can always let the leftover harden and remelt it for another use.

Be creative as you wish in terms of mold choice! Use cake pans, bread pans, those little mini silicone cupcake pans you find at the dollar store. You can use anything for melt and pour soap, but if you ever venture into making cold process soap, never use a metal mold as the lye in the soap will eat right through the metal. Trust me, I found this out the hard way...

First, cut up your melt and pour soap into small chunks so that it melts easily. Next, make sure you have all of your ingredients (fragrance, colour, etc.) measured and ready to go. The amount of fragrance, colour and botanicals you use are your choice. I try to stay away from using too much liquid, as it will eventually change the consistency of the soap. Also, I've heard that many soap makers use tea leaves to add as a botanical-type substitute. Please be aware that most brands of tea bleed their colour into the soap after a few days. A fellow soaper told me to try Celestial Seasonings brand because in her experience, the tea did not bleed.

Then, using the double boiler method, melt your soap. Always use a double boiler. While the soap is melting, stir it very very gently or just push the chunks of soap around the pot. Do not stir vigorously, as this creates air bubbles in your final product. After the soap is melted, let it sit and cool until it forms a skin on top. If you ignore this step, your final product may be slightly sticky and not a 'hard bar'. In soap making, the harder the bar is, the better because it lasts longer. After you have let the soap cool, stir the skin back into to soap.

This is the time to add any fragrance, colour or other additives. Stir them in gently. Slowly pour your soap into you molds and spray the back of the soap generously with rubbing alcohol to get rid of air bubbles. Let your soap set and harden undisturbed for about six or seven hours and then unmold. Some crafters report having stubborn soap that refuses to budge from rigid molds. If this happens, place you soap in the fridge (not the freezer) for about thirty minutes and try to unmold it again.  Always wrap your melt and pour soap in air tight packaging, such as plastic wrap.

On Making Layered Melt and Pour Soap:

If you should decide to be adventurous and try making a layered bar of soap (and you should because it's great fun), here are a few tips:

First, make one layer at a time and let the first layer set pretty completely before adding the next layer. If you do not wait, you will end up with a marble looking mix of colour in your final product.

Second, and most importantly, many crafters (including myself) report having difficulty getting the layers of soap to adhere to each other. I had this problem with my first batch of layered melt and pour soap. At first the layers looked like they were going to stick together, but after the soap sat for a few days, they came apart. To avoid this problem, after the first layer is partially set, use a fork to scrape the back of the soap to create ridges for the next layer to seep into. Also, just when you are about to pour the second layer onto the first, spray the back of the first layer with a good amount of rubbing alcohol. I've also heard that if you use a rubbing alcohol that has a higher alcohol content (not as diluted), the layers will stick together much more easily.

Lastly, try to stay away from liquid soap colour. Liquid dyes have a tendency to bleed into each other after the layers of soap are assembled. There are powdered colours and micas you can buy for soap making.

I hope you enjoy my tips for making melt and pour soap. Happy soaping!
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Simple Bath Salts

In lieu of my new Eucalyptus & Peppermint Stress Relieving Bath Salt that will be in my Etsy shop today, I thought I would discuss the making of bath salts.  These can be very simple to make and they are a wonderful treat at the end of a long day.

 What you will need:

- desired salt (sea salt, Epson salt, dead sea salt)
- scent (essential oil, fragrance oil)
- colour (must be suitable for making cosmetic products, optional)
- wax paper (for drying)
- cookie sheet (for drying)

First, the main ingredient in a bath salt recipe is... how did you guess? Salt! You may have seen many popular bath salts that use Dead Sea salt to make their products, however there are many other salts that you can use for your craft. For instance, you can use just plain old sea salt that you can find at either your local grocery store or bulk food store. You can also use Epson salts, but in most recipes Epson salts are not used alone, but are blended with sea salt. If you desire Dead sea salts, they are not that difficult to find: Try your local healthy living store. I know in the U.S., GMC carries Dead Sea salt. Salts usually come in fine and coarse grain. Most people look for a medium to coarse grain when making bath salts.

Next, decide what scent you would like your bath salt to be. I suggest something that makes you think of the sea, such as lavender or sandalwood, but be creative! Some scents, for example vanilla, still smell very nice (don't get me wrong) it's just that when one thinks about the combination of vanilla and salt... Well, they don't seem to be a fair match! This is a great tip to keep in mind if you plan to sell your bath salt. For your personal crafting projects, if salt and vanilla doesn't make you crinkle your nose, go right ahead! The scent will still blend well with the salt.

Now, when I talk about scent, you can either use a fragrance oil or an essential oil. The difference being that the scent of a fragrance oil will generally last longer than an essential oil, but essential oils are more natural for your skin and are derived from plants and botanicals.

You can also add colour to your bath salt, but it is optional. One of the repetitive questions I've been asked about making bath salts is, "Can I use food colouring?". Well, Yes. You can use food colouring, but do you want to use food colouring? Food colouring is great... until it stains your tub and your skin! If you use a small amount, it's not such a big problem. If you desire a deep, dark colour, food colouring is not your best bet. You should head over to a crafting supply store and find colouring that is suitable for making soap and other bath products. This type of colour is meant for this purpose and will not stain your skin in the least.

So, you have your salt, your scent and your colour. So, how do you make this stuff? Simple: Get a zip-loc style plastic bag and place your salt inside. Then, add your colouring and scent. Do up the bag and knead it with your hands until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. For a one cup recipe, I recommend using about 6 drops of colour and around 12-14 of your desired scent.

Lastly, break out the old cookie sheet an cover it in wax paper. Take your bath salt out of the bag and spread it in thin layer all over the wax paper. Because you have moist ingredients in the salt, you need to give them a few hours to absorb. When I make a one cup recipe, I will spread the mixture over two cookie sheets covered in wax paper to achieve a very thin layer for it to dry. I use wax paper because when it come time to package your  bath salt, you can just lift the wax paper up on each side and tip it into the container without missing one grain. Drying times will vary depending on what oil and how much of it you use. I leave my salts out for about twelve hours. This long absorption time is because if you do not let the moist ingredients soak into the salt, when you package your product and open it for use some time later, you might notice that the salt granules have stuck together and your bath salt is unusable. Here is my salt drying on wax paper:

Once your salt has dried, make sure you package it in an airtight container. Use about 1-2 tablespoons per bath. You're finished! Yes, it is simple a that! Just a few ingredients and you have your own luxurious bath salt. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I invite you to share your bath salt crafting experiences in the 'comments' section. Happy bath salt making!
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Monday, February 22, 2010

I Want To Create Luxurious Massage Oils... Wait! What's A 'Carrier Oil'?

Photo courtesy of

In addition to my soap making, I also have been making massage oils for my friends and family. Soon, I plan to sell some of my favourite scents at my Etsy shop. Massage oils are not difficult to make: The simplest blends contain just your preference of essential oil and a carrier oil. But what is a carrier oil and which one should you use for your particular project?

Carrier oils are vegetable oils used to dilute essential oils without loosing the scent and without compromising the characteristics of essential oils. In other words, they are oils that are used to carry the scent and properties of the essential oil onto the skin. This is done because many essential oils can irritate the skin when applied directly. There are many different types of carrier oils that each have a distinct purpose when used in a therapeutic fashion:

Grapeseed Oil - This oil is a preferred carrier oil of mine because it is considered an all purpose oil and has a thin viscosity. Is has an almost clear colour and a light, nutty aroma.You can't go wrong with grapeseed oil! Indeed this oil is very common in aromatherapy products (as it hold scent exceptionally well) including massage and bath oils, and it is noted for it's high content of fatty acids that are excellent for your skin. The only downfall of grapeseed oil is that is has a relatively short shelf life from 6-12 months. You are likely to find this carrier oil at your local grocery store.

Sweet Almond Oil - This oil has similar attributes of grapeseed oil: It is considered all purpose and has a light, nutty scent. However, this oil can generally be stored a few months longer than grapeseed oil and it has a slightly thicker viscosity. Also, as grapeseed oil is relatively clear, sweet almond oil has more of a yellowish tint. It is still very a pleasant and highly recommended oil to use for your bath and body crafting projects.

Olive Oil - I decided to write about olive oil, because I suspect many of my readers would now say something along the lines of, "Olive oil is a vegetable oil. I have some in my kitchen right now! Can I use it?" The answer is YES! You can use olive oil for you bath and beauty crafts, BUT I highly discourage it. My reasons being that olive oil is very thick compared to other carrier oils, has a very distinct green colour and if you are planning to sell your product, many do not like the overpowering olive scent of this oil. However, if you do choose to use it, olive oil contains fatty acids great for the skin and it can be easily purchased at your local supermarket. Make sure you buy a cold pressed olive oil for the best product.

Jojoba Oil - Jojoba oil is a wonderful carrier oil to use for massage products. This is mainly because of it's natural anti-inflammatory properties and it is most compatible with the skin. Also, this is the best oil you can use if you are creating a product directed towards those who have oily or acne prone skin. This carrier oil absorbs very well and has a medium viscosity with a yellow tint. Jojoba oil has almost an indefinite shelf life.

These are some of the best and most well rounded oils you can use, but if you feel courageous some other great carrier oils are: Apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, pomegranate seed oil, hemp seed oil and macadamia nut oil.

So, I encourage you to test out your own massage oil recipe! Just add the desired amount of essential or fragrance oil to a small amount of your selected carrier oil, and VOILA! Your own handmade massage oil! I invite you to share your findings and recipes in the 'Comments' section of this post. Happy crafting, everyone!
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Friday, February 19, 2010

My Quest For Lye: I Found It!

Just a very quick update to let my fellow Canadian soapers know that I successfully found lye at 'Home Hardware'! However, It was NOT the 'Gillett's' brand as stated in my previous blog post. After speaking to the store manager, he said that they do not carry the 'Gillett's' brand anymore, but they do have lye crystals that come in a three kilogram container sold for $19.99 and labeled as their 'Home' store brand. I do not know if the 'Gillett's' is sold at other 'Home Hardware' stores, or if just the one store stopped carrying it. If you live in the Toronto area, the location I went to is just west of Bloor Street and Ossington. The manager said that they usually have a fair amount of stock. Here is a photo of the product I bought:

Well, I hope this helps my fellow soap makers! Have an excellent day and happy soaping!
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