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11 July 2011

My Other True Love = Salt Spa Bars ..

I'm getting myself all confuzzled as to where's the best place to share my soap porn - forums, blogger, facebook, or You Tube ??

I really don't want to bore people with the same images over and over, but I have different subscribers & friends on each site, so what's a girl to do?

Anyways for those who haven't already seen these, they're all Salt Spa Bars .. That is, they have a large portion of course Sea Salt in them - but they're not scratchy or drying as you might expect .. Oh no, these bars turn gloriously smooth during repeated use, think: 'tumbled river stone'.. They're heavy like one too!

Washing with a Salt Bar is a very unique bathing experience, and one that leaves you feeling clean and fresh, like you just swam in the ocean .. Only without that annoying residue & sand :P

Lovely and lathery, yet good for all skin types .. Some even use/recommend them as a facial bar for troubled or acne-prone skin ..

My 'like a Mermaid' bar it's my absolute most favourite soap in the world♥
Seriously, if I had to choose only one soap to use for the rest of my life,
without question this would be it ..

'Monkey Farts' has a fun fruity aroma that's loved by pretty much everyone ..
Especially my Son!

'Heavenly Honeysuckle' - a very true to life floral fragrance ..

'Bay Leaf & Black Pepper'
- this one has exfoliants in it (Crushed Black Pepper, Hemp, & Fennel Seeds) ..

10 June 2011

Playing is Creating ..

I've had an awesome week playing with all my new goodies .. From M&P to new extracts, to hydrosols, & new oils .. I've made Whipped Tallow Body Butter, a Super Intensive & Fanciful Conditioner, Toner, Face lotion, & all of these bars below:

Hempy Hands made with M&P base with Shea Butter, Crushed Fennel, Jojoba Sphere's, Mica, Charcoal, & BB's Wasabi FO ..

Sole Sloggers made with Hemp Base and extra Hemp Oil .. Seas Salt, Pumice, & ground Hemp Seeds .. (unscented)

Spicy Rose Guest soap - made with hemp base, Rosehip Oil, Ground Nutmeg, TD, Mica, Cosmetic Glitter, and my own blend of FO's ..

I've had a total blast making these, but sadly that's the end of my samples .. I'm tempted to buy more, but a little birdy did happen to mention they may just be sending me some *I'm spoilt!*

And I really want to move on to Syndet (solid shampoo) Bars next .. Sooo who makes them - any hints & tips to share with me - here or email me clear.marie [at] if you'd rather not share your secrets with the world - err I mean people who read my blog :P

I still don't have the ingredients as they're not available in NZ, but am thinking a mix of SCI, SLSa, Coco Betaine, & some Poly/Decyl Glucose etc ..

~ have a fun & safe week-end everybody!

06 June 2011

Melt & Pour, Sugar Scrub Cubes, & Why I'm Glad I Take Photo's ...

I've been thinking about trying my hand at M&P for well over a year now, only I never seemed to get around to ordering any - that was until the week before last .. So when two samples of Melt & Pour finally arrive on my doorstep, it took less than two hours for me to tear them open and get to work on two different kinds of bars .. Followed by a couple more before mid-morning the following day :D

Experimenting with this new medium has been sooo much fun .. Playing with colours, layers, embeds, & curling techniques .. It's just so easy, and gives so much instant gratification that I think I have a new addiction! Though sadly, I only have enough for maybe 2 bars left :(

Above is Hemp Base to which I added Manuka Honey & some finely ground Oats, Mica in the bottom layer as well as DS's Buttermilk & Honey FO ..

And this is the Organic Clear base to which I added various colourants, Sea Salt & Chamomile for a bit of exfoliant and interest, and scented with BB's Sea Moss ..

After making and testing these and more out in the shower, I decided to move on to the oh so popular and cute Individual Sugar Scrub Cubes .. My very good soaping friend Patti who's blog you can read here: (Soap, Soup and Everything In Between) had sent me some a while back and I thought they were a really neat and fun idea .. Thanks Patti, you totally inspired me!

I decided to make three batches, each with different yet complimentary colour & fragrance, as well as a different carrier oil to test how that effects the finished texture both for storage & during use, and of course skin feel .. I also experimented with adding the colour in different ways; mixed into the fragrance, directly into the sugar, or with a little Glycerin ..

And this is why I'm so glad I took some quick pics during the process - I could have sworn and have it written down in my notes that I used Macadamia oil in the Pink batch I'm making here .. But that's clearly Safflower oil in the bottle & on my scale!
Pink - Safflower Oil & scented with TCS's Caramel Apple
Green - Sweet Almond Oil infused with Vanilla Beans & scented with Lime
Yellow - Virgin Coconut Oil & scented with BB's Pineapple Cilantro

To be honest I still prefer my emulsified scrub, but these are great for traveling and obviously make great gifts .. So I do want to tweak them to perfection, and already have some ideas of how to improve them (eg: use a different exfoliant) .. But first I'd like to know what others think as I know I like a LOT more scratch in my scrubs than the average person does .. So Tanya & Patti (I'm fairly confident you will both read this) would you be ever so kind as to agree to test these for me ??

01 June 2011

Vanilla Files (final) - Yep it's the end of the Vanillas!

I have lots of new photo's of soap, experiments, & projects I want to share, so time to finish this thing off!

Quick Recap of my last VF entry:

All the Vanilla Bars are now aged around 1.25yrs old ..
Last week (or was it the one before?) - Recently! I took a layer off the top of each bar to show the fully cured colours .. And lined them up for comparison:

Scented at only 3% FO you would expect quite a dramatic fade-out after all this time, particularly if the bars weren't stored away in boxes right ?! Well today I sniff-tested each of the bars that HAVE been fully exposed to air - though kept out of sunlight etc, their entire life, and found the following:


Musk Vanilla, Vanilla Bean, Drizzled Honey Vanilla, Buttercream Frosting, & Sandalwood Vanilla are all super strong! As strong as when first made!!

Marshmallow Fluff, Pink Sugar, Very Vanilla, & Vanilla Bean Noel, & Black Raspberry Vanilla are all moderately strong (still very obviously scented) - when held to ones nose .. That said, BRV, a scent I know well as I've made many batches of it since this experiment began, has unfortunately taken on a slightly different note .. Dare I say it's a little plasticy at a mature age ?! It's not too bad, and I will still use it as it's super popular with my family & friends .. But it's definitely not sweet & rich like it once was :(

And then we have Warm Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla Abricot, Vanilla de Madagascar which you really need to touch your nose and take a few good huffs to smell .. *Vanilla Abricot nearly made it into the 'moderate' list but fell just a tad short as you really do need to almost eat it to smell it if you kwim lol ..

Now these are my opinions on the DRY bars .. To be perfectly honest I'm kinda over working with these so haven't gone through them all to see which, if any, still come alive in use .. I do know that Sandalwood Vanilla, Pink Sugar, & (this may surprise you) Vanilla Bean are the stand-out's that I absolutely ADORE and NEVER want to be without!!!

And that Pink Sugar, Sandalwood Vanilla, Musk Vanilla, & Drizzled Honey really linger on the skin .. My neighbour says the Black Raspberry Vanilla & Marshmallow Fluff do too, but personally I don't find this so, or at least not enough for me to praise them on it .. A fresh bar of BRV yes, at this age nope - I smell 'soap' but not a specific fragrance ..

So what happens to all that soap now the projects complete?

THIS is the vital ingredient that gives my Salt Spa Bars their distinctive 'crushed shell where the ocean meets the land' look .. Only I use colours in my Mermaid Bars that some of you have tried :)

You see I'm all about rural-coastal living, and spend many many hours at the beach; camping,walking, kayaking, taking photo's,collecting bits of driftwood, shells, sea-glass, and whatever other jetsum & flotsum I find for various art projects .. And I don't know what it is bout the combined (absolutely heavenly) smell of these Vanillas, but they along with my love of all things ocean inspired what I now make and call my 'Sand Dollars' ..

So finally I want to say Thanks to everyone who has been following me down this Vanilla Scented Path .. I really hope you gained from my experience, and I really appreciated your feedback, emails & comments etc .. I just hope you stay around to read what I get up to next!

~°¤ Vanilla Files - Complete ¤°~

21 May 2011

What Can I Make With That ??

Ok so this is not the second part of the Vanilla Files Update, sorry .. You'll have to wait for that lol .. Today I want to share with you something I whipped up yesterday ..

Since I've had a big break from B&B over the summer it made sense to really sort through everything I have .. Not just on my soap shelf, but in all the raw ingredient storage spots throughout my house - and there are quite a few .. In the craft room I have all my FO's, colour additives, hand tools (spatulas, whisks etc) & packaging bits & pieces .. In the lounge cupboard I have my EO's .. Three large tubs of moulds, mixing bowls, lining materials, and bulk oils etc lives in the laundry .. With the rest of my oils finding a home in the kitchen/fridge .. Then finally all my clays and various other lotion making supplies are in a blanket box in my bedroom :D

So this last week I've been working out what's too old to salvage (eg: my Avocado Oil is rancid ?!!), what I need to buy more of (I'm totally out of Ginger & Rosemary EO), what I'm no longer going to order (Mango Butter & Macadamia Oil), and why the heck I bought Laureth 2, Xanthan Gum, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Strawberry Fruit Powder, & Liquid Soy Lecithin ??

Anyhoo, after a few days of this I had a mounting range of supplies on the kitchen table - benefit of my lifestyle is I can leave them there all week and it wouldn't bother anyone! But I was itching to actually MAKE something ...

So went to the ever reliable blog of Susan Barclay-Nichols 'Point Of Interest' and started looking for things including the ingredients I wanted to use-up .. In her new (Favourite Recipes Handout) she talks about a Cuticle Balm she made for her mum, so I thought I'd give that a whirl ..

First I weighed out all the ingredients:

Lanolin - Bees Wax - Macadamia Oi
Soy Lecithin - Mango Butter - (lip safe) Honey Fragrance & Lemongrass EO

Put everything except the Fragrance/EO into a double boiler & mixed until melted & combined .. As usual the beeswax took forever so I should have done that first then added the rest but oh well - it's been a while & I forgot!

Once melted I took it off the heat, let it cool a little,
then whisked in the Fragrance & EO ..

Then poured into my container (+ a small sample one for my SnL swap partner), and popped it into the freezer to cool off ..

This is very tacky and personally I'd prefer some more Beeswax in it .. I also think I'd go with Olive Oil over the Macadamia if the situation were different (cos I'm obsessed with OO)

But it sure was a great way to use up my Macadamia, Mango, and Lecithin!

Oh and the reason I used lip-safe fragrance (aka Flavour Oil) was so it could serve double duty as both Cuticle & Lip Balm .. It's very shiny on the lips which again isn't isn't what I personally want in such a product - however I Love how shiny my fingernails are looking this morning after applying this only once before bed last night!

Well that's it from me for now .. I'm tripping over the hill (mountain range) to catch up with a soul-mate I haven't seen or spoken to in nearly six months!

Have a great week-end everyone .. I hope you enjoyed my little Show & Tell, and that there are lots of comments waiting when I return :P

18 May 2011

*update* on the Vanilla Files (Part 9)

Once again I apologize for my complete lack of posting here .. I try, I really do! It's just that everyday chores and responsibilities keep getting in the way of any 'free-time' .. And when I do manage to make a little I often have other things I want to do .. For example, this last week-end I did a major sort-through of ALL my soaps curing and in storage - every single batch & box inspected!

Annnnnnd, you'll be happy to know I seized this opportunity to take some updated photo's and notes on my Vanilla Bars :


I gave them all a good wash and then took a layer off the top and side of each bar for colour comparison .. I found it interesting that only one batch still shows a slightly lighter interior, that being 'TCS's Pink Sugar' :

Also of note, especially since all these were made with the same formula, same batches of oils, in the same moulds, and stored in the same conditions ever since - the two lightest bars (Unscented & Black Raspberry Vanilla) have both started to show DOS (dreaded orange spot/rancid free oils) .. Something I've only ever had happen twice before in 2+ years of soaping!

The BRV only has a couple of spots on two of the bars, whereas the Unscented is so discoloured and foul smelling that I've actually thrown all but one out ..

The Unscented bar (bottom row, far left) is now seriously Yellow & 'cheesish' :

Soooo does one assume that FO can help preserve/extend the life of soap by way of acting as an antioxidant ?? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this ..

I'm afraid I've run out of time but have more pics and fragrance notes (including a surprising new favourite!) to share, so hopefully I'll get that up in the next couple of days .. Don't laugh (or hold your breath) - I'll do my best!

And just before I go I've had a couple of questions about DS's Drizzled Honey-Vanilla, which as far as I know is still available .. I absolutely hate trying to navigate their site! But just had a quick look and was able to find it on the sample list, under 'For the Love of Vanilla Collection' :D

07 March 2011

Best Soap Blog (I've been nominated?!)

I want to say a HUGE Thank-You to whomever nominated me for the Great Cakes Soapworks Best Handmade Soap Blog Competition ..

I've been put into the 'Best Information' category for my Vanilla Files project, and am truly honored to even be considered! As much as wanting to experiment with the fragrances myself, documenting the results was all about sharing and hopefully benefiting others so I'm thrilled that it worked out :D

Anyhoo, I'm going to post the link below for those who wish to check it out or vote etc, and again THANKS to whomever added my name to the list - it's fantastic encouragement to keep on experimenting and sharing {{hugs}}

Link: ** Best Handmade Soap Blog Comp **

On another note, I had hoped to return to making regular posts here sooner, but with the Christchurch Earthquake as well as a sick 9yr old, well lets just say I've been super busy .. What I have been working on and will be posting next, is more Fragrance Oil tests with photo's, and a list of scents I've found that stick around for a loooooong (think Castile) Cure .. So stay tuned!

25 February 2011

Christchurch Earthquake

Just a quick note to let everyone know that while my daughter was in the worst hit part of Christchurch when the earthquake hit, she is now home with me in Golden Bay - uninjured, but severely traumatized ..

The majority of our friends and family that live there have also been accounted for, though sadly at least one person she knows has passed away as a result ..

Please keep the people of Christchurch in your hearts and minds, especially the families of the 102 confirmed dead and 300 still missing, presumed crushed beneath rubble .. New Zealand is a very small country and nearly everyone will know someone, or someone who knows someone, who has not survived this tragedy :(

11 February 2011


Because a rejuvenated, renewed, & best of all improved *Artisan Soaps* will be making a comeback real soon!