Category Archives: Crafts and Tutorials

Rustic Peppermint Lime Hot Process Soap Recipe with Parsley

PeppermintLimeI’m ready for summer. I love the serenity of winter, but I’m ready to get outside. This rustic soap makes me think of warmer days. Peppermint and lime are so invigorating. Blended together, they just smells like summer. I colored the bar with parsley, which worked great. It gave the bars a great spring green color. I love to use natural colorants, and it’s even better if I have them on hand.

You must use caution when working with lye. Wear goggles and long gloves, don’t breath in the fumes, and make absolutely sure there are no children or pets in your work area. If you’ve never made cold process soap before, please read up on it before attempting this or any project. 

Recipe:

8 oz coconut oil

8 oz deer tallow (you can use palm oil instead, but be sure to run it through a lye calculator if you do)

7 oz olive oil

1 oz avocado oil

1 oz castor oil

8.25 oz water

3.547 oz sodium hydroxide (lye)

.7 oz lime essential oil

.3 oz peppermint essential oil

2 tablespoons parsley – ground in blender (I use a Magic Bullet)

2 pound mold or individual molds

Stick Blender

Crock Pot

Safety Gear–Goggles & Gloves

Though this recipe has been calculated carefully, it’s always a good idea to double check any recipe with a lye calculator. 

To Make the Soap:

1. Heat the oils in the crock pot until melted. Turn off the crock pot. Blend the parsley with the oils.

2. In a heat safe bowl (not aluminum), carefully sprinkle your lye into your water. Do this in a well ventilated area, and be very careful not to breath in the fumes. Stir the mixture until it is clear, and then set it in a safe place to cool.

3. Very carefully add your cooled lye mixture to your oils, and blend with a stick blender until it reaches light trace. This will look like thin pudding.

4. Turn the crock pot to low, and then cover with the lid. In fifteen minutes, stir the soap. It should be starting to thicken up.

5. In another 10-15 minutes stir the soap again.  Continue to stir and wait until the soap is the texture of mashed potatoes. It will be somewhat translucent and waxy.

6. At this point it’s a good idea to test the soap’s ph. If the soap is finished (below a 10) then transfer it to a heat safe bowl to cool for a few minutes. You don’t want to wait too long, just a few minutes so it isn’t quite as hot when you add the essential oil.

7. After a few minutes, stir in the peppermint and lime oils, and then transfer the soap to your mold. Press it down firmly with your fingers (since the soap is still hot, I keep my gloves on the entire time). Wait 24 hours, or until set, and then cut your bars.

The soap is ready right away, but the longer you let them cure, the harder they will be–and the longer they will last.

Enjoy!

Hot Process Tallow Soap Recipe with Citrus Oil

I’ve been promising this recipe for awhile! Well, here it is! Basically, all I’ve done is taken my usual recipe and swapped out the palm oil for the tallow I rendered and adjusted the lye. As you will have noticed if you’ve browsed my blog at all, almost all my soap recipes feature citrus oils. That’s because those oils are fabulous for cutting grease and grime. I rarely make a soap without at least one of them!

I planned to take a picture, but of course my camera battery decided to die. This picture is from my lemon hot process, but I promise you it looks identical. I hope you enjoy it!

RusticLemon2

You must use caution when working with lye. Wear goggles and long gloves, don’t breath in the fumes, and make absolutely sure there are no children or pets in your work area. If you’ve never made cold process soap before, please read up on it before attempting this or any project. 

Hot Process Tallow Soap with Citrus Oil

9 oz coconut oil

8 oz olive oil

7 oz deer tallow

1 oz castor oil

3.58 sodium hydroxide (lye)

8.25 oz water

1.2 oz citrus essential oil – I used orange

2 pound mold or individual molds

Stick Blender

Crock Pot

Safety Gear–Goggles & Gloves

Though this recipe has been calculated carefully, it’s always a good idea to double check any recipe with a lye calculator. 

To Make the Soap:

1. Heat the oils and tallow in the crock pot until melted. Turn off the crock pot.

2. In a heat safe bowl (not aluminum), carefully sprinkle your lye into your chilled tea. Do this in a well ventilated area, and be very careful not to breath in the fumes. Stir the mixture until it is clear, and then set it in a safe place to cool.

3. Very carefully add your cooled lye mixture to your oils, and blend with a stick blender until it reaches light trace. This will look like thin pudding.

4. Turn the crock pot to low, and then cover with the lid. In fifteen minutes, stir the soap. It should be starting to thicken up.

5. In another 10-15 minutes stir the soap again.  Continue to stir and wait until the soap is the texture of mashed potatoes. It will be somewhat translucent and waxy.

6. At this point it’s a good idea to test the soap’s ph. If the soap is finished (below a 10) then transfer it to a heat safe bowl to cool for a few minutes. You don’t want to wait too long, just a few minutes so it isn’t quite as hot when you add the essential oil.

7. After a few minutes, stir in the essential oil, and then transfer the soap to your mold. Press it down firmly with your fingers (since the soap is still hot, I keep my gloves on the entire time). Wait 24 hours, or until set, and then cut your bars.

The soap is ready right away, but the longer you let them cure, the harder they will be–and the longer they will last.

Enjoy!

The Day the Dog Ate the Christmas Gifts

Technically, Gunther didn’t eat all the Christmas presents. He only ate the candle supplies, and thankfully–he just sort of chewed them up. I imagine we would have had a fairly expensive vet visit last week if he’d actually eaten all six bags of wicks.

DSC_01361

That’s right. This sweet baby destroyed six bags of wicks, one 10-pack of clamshell tart cases, and he tried to sneak off with a freezer bag of fragrance oils. Thank goodness I caught him with the oils. Who knows what that would have done to him.

Out of twenty planned candles, I was only able to make nine. Nine. Needless to say I had a little more Christmas shopping than I had planned for. Those candle tutorials will have to wait as well.

Gunther still feels terrible, I’m sure. Right now he’s snoozing on his cozy microfiber blanket in front of the Christmas tree, wallowing in remorse.

December Candle Fragrance and Jar Testing

I’ve been busy testing the new jars and fragrances I purchased. I have a love/hate relationship with testing. On one hand, it’s really fun to try new fragrances and jars. On the other hand, it makes you want to pull your hair out when things don’t go as planned.

I bought Candle Science’s Tumber Jars, and they are absolutely gorgeous. They are 3 1/4 in diameter at the top. Since I’m using GW 464, a wax I am very comfortable with, I was pretty sure an Eco 14 wick would be perfect. I was wrong. For some unknown reason, the melt pool the wick is creating isn’t reaching the edge of the glass. Or even close. I replaced the Eco for an RRD wick and then an LX wick. Nope. Not working.

I ended up double wicking the jar with Eco 8. That’s crazy–it seems like overwicking on a major scale–but it is burning so nicely now. I have about a 1/2 inch melt pool after about 3 – 4 hours of burning, the flame is a good height, and though it does flicker a little more than I would like, it looks good. I might try a couple Eco sixes later. We will see.

Moving on to fragrances. All tested in GW 464 with Eco wick at 7% fragrance load. I make little votives for my fragrance testers. They don’t require a lot of wax or fragrance, and it gives me a good idea if the scent will throw at all. All of the fragrances are Candle Science Brand except for the Pumpkin Souffle which is Peak’s.

TestVotive

Here are my results from this batch:

Red Velvet Cake  –  Excellent hot/cold throw. Very strong to the point of almost overwhelming (and a little nauseating out of the bottle). My husband swears it’s a true red velvet cake smell–vanilla with a hint of chocolate. I smell carrot cake. Whatever. It’s definitely a bakery scent, and my son was really bummed when he found out it was a candle on the counter and not a cake in the oven. It’s much yummier burning than it is as a straight oil.

Black Raspberry Vanilla Type – Excellent hot throw, decent cold throw. After about an hour and a half, the little votive completely filled my bathroom with scent. Very pleasant, and it smells much nicer burning than it did straight from the bottle. I detect very little vanilla fragrance, but the raspberry is pretty true.

Peach  – Good hot/cold throw. This is a pleasant peach scent. Maybe a little sugary, but my husband really likes it that way. Not much to say. I like it; I’m happy.

Apple Harvest  – Excellent hot/cold throw. I’ve made dozens of candles in this fragrance, so there was no reason to test it. It’s awesome. Beyond awesome. After pouring the candles, my kitchen was filled with this fragrance for a good day and a half. They are boxed up now, but I can still smell them. This isn’t a traditional cinnamon apple. It’s a little brighter, a little more complex.

Blueberry Cheesecake – Excellent hot/cold throw. This is the free sample I received, and I’m very happy with it. Honestly, I don’t think it smells much different than the Blueberry Cobbler (which is also really yummy). I get a faint cheesecake note, but really it’s the blueberry that shines through. Everyone seems to like this one.

Rosemary – Haven’t tested yet. I’m the only one who seems to like this scent, so I think I’m going to save it and make myself a few Rosemary/Orange/Spruce candles after Christmas.

Pumpkin Souffle (Peak Candle) – Excellent cold throw, weak hot throw. This was the free sample that came with my wax. As I mentioned a few days ago, I haven’t had much luck with Peak fragrances in GW 464. I’m not going to give up on this one yet. I have a bag of EcoSoya Advanced, and I have noticed that many fragrances that don’t do well in 464 work great in it. The scent itself is different. I don’t smell much pumpkin. It’s a very sweet spicy smell. I’m not sure I like it, but both my mother-in-law and Jake say it’s not bad. I don’t want to judge it until I really smell how it burns.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be posting the tutorials soon!

December Candle Supply Unboxing

You know what’s exciting? When the UPS man rings the doorbell. At least, I think it’s exciting. Everything is finally here! I ordered two boxes of Classic Tumblers (12 in a box), a 10-pack of clamshell tart cases, and five 4 oz fragrances (apple harvest, peach, rosemary, red velvet cake, and black raspberry vanilla type). Candle Science, being awesome like they are, added in my free sample of blueberry cheesecake fragrance, which I was able to pick out when I made my order.

CandleSupplyHaul

Add all that to the 10 lbs of wax I bought from Peak, and I’m all ready to get started! Tonight I will make a test candle to determine if my Eco 14 wicks will be the right size for this jar, and then I’ll make small votives to check fragrance throw in the wax.

I’ll let you know how it all goes!

Fast Shipping and a Free Sample!

FreeSample

Remember the post I wrote yesterday about candle supplies? I made the order yesterday afternoon, and the package arrived today! Granted, Peak Candle is located in my state, but still–it’s impressive. As always, Peak tucked a surprise free sample in my box. I love that about them–it’s like a Christmas present just for me.

Now if you read yesterday’s post, you might be wondering why I have a shipment from Peak when I said I was going to order from Candle Science. Well, I ordered from both. Candle Science has two shipping warehouses now: one in Nevada and one in North Carolina. Because Nevada was out of my wax, they were going to send it from North Carolina–which meant double the shipping.  Knowing Peak carries GW 464, I went ahead and ordered it from them. It saved me about ten bucks. That’s a significant amount when we’re talking about shipping costs.

Plus…free sample!!!  Now, I don’t always have luck with Peak fragrances in soy, but I’ll definitely make a test candle and see how it does. Candle Science also sends out a free sample with orders, but you get to choose it, so it’s not a surprise. Honestly, that’s usually a good thing, but still–surprises are fun!

Homemade Christmas Gifts: How to Make the Best Heat Pack (It’s Not Filled with Rice!)

HeatWrap

Christmas is right around the corner, and if you’re making gifts this year–you’re running out of time! If you want a quick, easy gift, try making heat packs. I have a little secret for you–my heat packs aren’t filled with rice. Nope. They’re filled with flax seed. They also have a removable, washable cover. That’s pretty awesome.

Why flax seed? Well, the little seeds are filled with lots of oil. When that oil heats up, it stays warm for a long time, and it will never get that ‘scorched’ rice smell. Also, heat packs filled with flax seed are considered to have a moist heat. They’re really, really wonderful, and I used to sell a ton of them.

I don’t craft for profit anymore, but I still make these for friends and family. If you would like to make one (or six), here’s what you’ll need for each pack:

For the Pack

7″ x 44″ cotton quilting fabric (I like muslin for the packs)

1 1/2 lbs flax seed (you can buy whole flax seeds at health or natural food stores

For the Cover

7 1/2″ x 44″ terry cloth or other machine washable fabric (minky and polar fleece are also nice)

You’ll also need a sewing machine, thread, pins, and a ruler.

To Make the Packs:

1. Fold the cotton so you have a rectangle that is 22″ long. Sew 1/2″ around the whole piece, leaving about three inches open to fill. Turn and press.

2. Measure seven inches from the seam at the side, mark a line. Measure another seven inches, mark another line. These will be your stitching lines after you fill the pack. (Refer to the picture)

3. Fill the pack with flax seed. Top stitch around the entire pack.

4. On a flat surface, spread the flax evenly through the pack. Where you have your first line marked, use the side of your hand to make a line in the seeds. Pin this line and sew through both layers, being careful to keep the seed away from your stitching area. Repeat the process, and then stitch the second line. This step will make sure you have your seeds evenly distributed in the three pockets.

To Make the Cover:

1. Fold the cover fabric so you have a 22″ rectangle.

2. Sew a 1/2″ seam on both sides (do not stitch the fold).

3. Turn under the raw outside edge 1/2″ and stitch. I like to surge this edge before I turn it, but that’s up to you.

That’s it! You’ve made a flax seed heat pack!

To use:

Heat the pad in the microwave on high for 60 – 90 seconds. Do not overheat, and do not microwave a synthetic cover!

Elsa Dress Costume

DSC_0037

Guess what Chelsea’s costume was?

I tried to talk her into something else–anything else–but she had to have the ‘it’ costume of the year. I didn’t care for how puffy all the Elsa costumes were in the stores (I’m sorry, but Elsa’s dress was not puffy). Instead I used a pattern I had for the bodice and then continues the cut out into an A-line. The fabric is a little too dark, but it was covered in sparkles, so Chelsea had to have it.

I started this dress at about 8:30 the night before she needed it and finished at 10:30. I would have made these changes if I’d had the time: I would have used a sheer fabric for the shoulders of the bodice and made a modest sweetheart neckline with the satin, and I would have added the long sheer sleeves. I would have also made some translucent snowflakes and appliqued them to the dress.

Oh well, you can’t have everything. I guess I should let it go

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

DSC_0038

Free Autumn Bird Label Download – 2″ Circle

Autumn is my favorite season. I just love it! Here’s a free 2″ circle label download for all your crafty fall projects. These fit on canning jar lids very nicely, and they are cute on top of apple butter, canned apple pie filling, dry potpourri, and loose tea blends. I hope you find them useful. Enjoy!

AutumnBirdLabel

Rendering Tallow for Soapmaking

What did I do yesterday? Oh, you know, I had coffee with my step-sister, Marlo. We talked about my book, and we rendered down one of the four gallon bags of deer fat she brought. Yes, I know what you’re thinking–yuck. Why would we do that? Why?

DeerTallow

Well, my reasoning is simple. Why not? The fat was going to be thrown away, and that’s such a waste. Also, tallow acts like palm oil in soap recipes; it makes the bar hard and long-lasting. I have been patiently waiting for hunting season so I could try it out myself.

Actually, the process isn’t that bad. The fat had very little odor, and what I did notice reminded me of a pot roast on the stove. I believe this had a lot to do with Marlo and her crazy fat trimming skills. Everything she bought was just nice, white fat, and nothing else.

Can you write nice fat? Does that even work?

Anyway, we cooked the cubes down in a pot with several inches of water, and we used my Pampered Chef masher to help the process along once the fat began to turn translucent. The fat cooked on low for about half a day. Once there was a significant amount of liquid in the pot, I strained it off into a couple soaping containers. After they cooled on the counter, I placed them in the freezer for the night.

Right now the tallow is warming up on my counter. Once it’s warm enough to work with, I will slice off the gelatin and impurities, and into the pot it will return. After one more round through the pot and freezer, the tallow will be poured into a mold, cooled and sliced, and then frozen until I am ready to use it for soap.

I will post about the finished product when it’s all ready.

So tell me, have you ever used tallow in your soaping recipes? If so, how did you like it?