There is plenty of information out there about how different oils effect skin and what properties they will have when turned into soap. I am still new and learning, but I am pretty picky about my ingredients, because irritated skin is, well, irritating. I try to research not only the products themselves, but also the company behind them and we try to support those who are engaging in sustainable practices.
When I first decided to make soap, I logged in to Amazon and just started searching for ingredients, not paying much attention to brands, just the best deal. I found Essential Depot sodium hydroxide (Lye) and really liked the reviews and after several successful bars, I looked into the company. They are made in USA and support small carbon footprints and small businesses. Essential Depot is also researching more ways to create green health and beauty products. I am now a member of their Green Life Club and love the oils they supply and how upfront they are with their practices. I currently order lye , olive oil pomace, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil from them. Also I am going to be trying some tallow soaps with tallow that they rendered.
Another oil that gives my soap cleansing power is sunflower oil. I currently use CadaDia which is from Argentina, as part of Integrative Trading, which is an international agricultural business supporting sustainable farms around the world. I love this oil, it is light and smooth on the skin.
Shea butter is a great conditioner and helps create harder soaps. Unrefined high grade shea butter from Yellow Brick Road on Amazon has been my pick, while they don't have a ton of information on their practices, when the butter arrives it is beautifully smooth and free of debris, which not all unrefined shea butter arrives that way.
Harmonious Goat has a goal of having a few goats for milk, but currently that isn't possible. In the already made milk soaps, it is store bought or locally sourced goats' milk.
In some of the soaps, instead of water, I mix the lye into a fruit juice. For this I buy or gather fresh fruits and juice them myself.
For coloring I have been trying a variety of cosmetic grade mica minerals, but since I've also had some trouble getting vibrant colors, I've recently purchased soap dye, which is mica colorant mixed with water in a concentrated form, which I'm hoping will help me make more brightly colored soap.
Fragrance is provided by essential oils, which I buy from Rocky Mountain Oils. This company has won several awards for its natural and pure essential oils and is very focused on sustainability and green living. Rocky Mountain Oils encourages sustainability in order to make sure that they continue providing top quality products. They also offer recycling discounts, for sending them back empty bottles (something that I am hoping to offer in the future for my contained products).
The organic materials that I use as toppers and exfoliation are either purchased as organic and food grade or grown and gathered by us. It is our future goal to provide most our organic material in house.
Thank you so much for reading. I know this is a lot of information. If I left anything out or you have any other questions about what we put in our soap, please let us know. We are trying to make beautiful, natural, and sustainable soaps to share with you.
There are lots of different considerations when making soap. I started out using one basic recipe and then customized it for each brick, but I now have a program that will help me calculatedhow much of a variety of oils to provide soap qualities like lather, cleansing, hardness and conditioning. Most of our soaps provide a gentle moisturizing cleanse.
I use the cold process which means that I mix the the lye solution on ice. Lye is a harsh chemical and can be dangerous as when you mix lye with liquid it gets very hot, so putting the mixing pan on ice keeps it safer. All the ingredients are measured by weight and it has to be within hundredths of an ounce because the smallest difference will change the quality of the soap.
The water/milk/base liquid is measured and put in the pan on ice, then I weigh the lye in my lye only container and set aside. Next put all the oils and shea butter in a sauce pan to warm/melt. While the oils are warming I slowly add the lye to the base liquid, stirring until
completely dissolved. This can be a fun stage, especially when not using water as the heat and chemical reactions can drastically change the color of the base liquid, like orange juice which I use for our gentle orange soap turns bright red (top left picture). If making a milk soap and wanting a whiter end product I recommend pre-measuring and freezing it otherwise the sugars in milk will be quickly caramelized and it will end up a light tan color instead of white.
Once the lye is dissolved, the oils are usually warmed and melted, time to add a little vitamin e oil and essential oils. Stir the sauce pan well, then slowly pour the oils into the pan on ice and begin
mixing with emulsion blender. It will take five to fifteen minutes of blending to get the soap to trace...which I compare to just shy of stiff peaks of a meringue. At this point it's time to mix in any
colorant or organic materials and pour into molds.
I use a two pound brick silicon mold which I then wrap in a flour sack towel and then in old bath towels. Insulation is important in helping the soap set. After 24 hours, the soap is usually ready to be cut, then it sits on a cooling rack for a month to six weeks to cure.
It is such a fun process and watching the soaps change both as making them and as they cure, sometimes they don't turn out as planned and I'm still learning so much an example being the peppermint eucalyptus soap (upper right picture) that is almost done curing, I used a teal liquid colorant on half it and it looked a beautiful light green blue when I pored it in the mold, but when I uncovered it for cutting the half I tried to color just has red specks on the out side (which I am now saying represents the peppermint). It's not the look I was going for, but is a stepping
stone as I learn.
If you have any specific questions on the process please feel free to contact me, this was a very brief overview.