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The Luxury Body Cream – What’s in it?

Last Friday saw the release of the brand new Luxury Body Cream in eight varieties, and I promised to write a blog post explaining what each ingredient is, and why I’ve used it in this product. So here we go.

A set of eigh different tins of body cream

Over the last few years I’ve found myself getting more and more frustrated, and frankly, irritated, by the whole ‘everything must be natural, preservatives are evil, “chemicals” are toxic‘ movement. There seems to be a huge swathe of the population that doesn’t understand how ludicrous it is to claim that any product can be made ‘without chemicals’. There also seems to be a belief in some quarters that anything with a scientific sounding name must be a ‘nasty chemical’. I’ve seen a good few blog posts that claim that if a product contains ingredients that you don’t recognise, or are unpronounceable, then it must be bad for you, and should be avoided. I’m here to tell you that a lot of this is baloney. Not everything natural is good for you, or necessarily safe. Synthetic ingredients are not bad for you, and are always (certainly in the UK and Europe) used at safe levels. Preservatives are safe to use and are ESSENTIAL in many products. Chemicals are not inherently bad – arrgghhhh – do I really have to go there? I know most people reading this will understand the ridiculousness of this argument. Water is a chemical, our foods are chemicals… I’m not going to labour that point any more.

But I digress. Let’s dive into the Body Cream ingredients list. It’s worth noting that it is a legal requirement for all ingredients to be listed on products AND at point of sale* in their INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) format. You may also list them in plain English, but the reality is that most packaging doesn’t have the space for that kind of duplication. Here I’ll first list the ingredient as it appears on the packaging, and then in plain English if necessary.

Aqua = Water. The ultimate skin hydrator. Distilled water is used to ensure purity.

Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter = Cocoa Butter. Cocoa butter can improve skin elasticity and, like shea butter, contains fatty acids and vitamins which nourish the skin. The fat content in cocoa butter helps create a skin barrier to reduce moisture loss.

Butyrospermum Parkii Butter = Shea Butter. Shea butter is a great skin conditioner which has high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins which add to its skin softening properties.

Isoamyl Laurate. A vegetable-based emollient derived from sugar beet or coconut and in this formulation is used as an alternative to Dimethicone. While dimethicone is perfectly safe for use in skincare, I chose a naturally derived alternative because Dimethicone is not biodegradeable, and Isoamyl Laureate is. Isoamyl Laureate aids in softening the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride = Fractionated Coconut Oil. Made by separating out different fats in coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil is, in its natural state, a clear, lightweight liquid which again is used as an alternative to non-biodegradable silicones in skincare products. It is a great emollient which helps soften and hydrate skin while being quickly absorbed, leaving the skin feeling silky and smooth.

Glycerin. Added to the formulation because it is an excellent humectant. This means that while it doesn’t actually add moisture to the skin, it attracts moisture and helps the skin retain moisture and therefore helps improve skin hydration. It also has emollient properties which means it adds to the skin softening properties of the cream.

Peg-100 Stearate / Glycerol Stearate. I’ve bundled these two ingredients together because that’s how I buy them, already combined. Together they form an emusifying wax, which is what turns the water into a cream-like consistency. Both ingredients are derived from plant sources – palm oil and/or palm kernel oil, coconut or sugar beet. Unfortunately there is currently no supplier in the UK that can guarantee their supply is palm-free. But I keep searching.

Cetearyl alcohol, chemically speaking, is a fatty alcohol derived from coconut or palm. Again, I’ve been unable to find a supplied that can guarantee that their product is palm-free. It is used to stabilize emulsified creams and is also adds a thick and creamy feel to skin products. It has the added benefit of being moisturising and skin softening.

Cetyl alcohol is a flaky, waxy, white solid derived from coconut, palm or vegetable oil.Β  Like Cetearyl alcohol above, it shouldn’t be confused with more aggressive alcohols like isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that is gentle on the skin and is actually used to treat skin irritations. It’s used as a thickener, and emulsifier, but more importantly, for its moisturising properties.

Parfum = Fragrance. This might be naturally derived essential oils or synthetically produced fragrance oil.

Xanthan gum. This is a thickening agents which enhances the texture of cosmetic creams also stabilizes the emulsion to ensure that it doesn’t separate. It’s produced by the fermentation of glucose and sucrose (plant based forms of sugar)

Tocopherol = Vitamin E Vitamin E is a strong antitoxidant and anti-inflammatory, making it an excellent addition to skincare. It’s also a very effective emollient and humectant, which means like other ingredients above it can attract moisture to the skin and help create a barrier to stop that moisture from escaping.

Phenoxyethanol = Preservative. This is what prevents fungi, bacteria and yeast from growing in the cream. It gives them a longer shelf life and ensures safety. If your cosmetics products aren’t correctly preserved and become contaminated, they can be very harmful. Products which proudly claim to be ‘preservative-free’ are only good for a week or two at the most before they start to become dangerous.

So there we go, a full run-down of all the ingredients and their purpose in the new luxury skin cream. I hope this is helpful and answers any questions you might have. Please do ask if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

*If you come across a company online which does NOT share its product ingredient lists on its website, it isn’t legally compliant and personally I would avoid it.

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Wax Melts

What are they and why should you try them?

Wax melts are small, scented pieces of wax that are designed to be melted in a wax warmer or burner. They are similar to candles, but instead of a wick, they rely on heat from an electric or tea light wax warmer to melt and release their fragrance.

  1. Compared to traditional candles, wax melts offer a longer-lasting fragrance experience. Because they’re designed to be melted slowly, the fragrance is gradually released over a longer period of time, providing more consistent scent diffusion.
  2. Unlike candles, an open flame isn’t necessary to enjoy wax melts. There’s a huge range of electric wax burners on the market, which makes them a safer alternative for households with pets or children. You can of course also use them in a traditional burner with a tea light if you prefer the ambience of a real flame.
  3. Wax melts are so easy to use – simply place them in a wax warmer and turn it on / light the tea light. They don’t require any wick-trimming or other maintenance, making them extremely convenient.
  4. Wax melts are cost effective because they’re often less expensive than traditional candles. This makes them an affordable option for people who want to enjoy great smelling home fragrance on a budget.
  5. By melting more than one melt together you can try different combinations. Create your own, completely unique home fragrance.

At The Soap Mine we offer six different wax melt fragrances to complement six of our most popular soap fragrances:

Wax melts offer a safe, convenient, and cost-effective way to enjoy home fragrance, and their customizable scents and longer-lasting fragrance make them a great choice for anyone looking to freshen up their living space.

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Bar Soap 101: 8 Tips and Tricks to Make Your Soap Last Longer

Enfys Rainbow soap on a soap dish

When you’ve invested your hard earned cash in a bar of luxurious handmade soap, you’re going to want to make sure that it lasts for as long as possible. A well-made and properly cured bar will generally last longer than a bottle of liquid soap (or a bar of commercially made soap), but by following these tips you can ensure that your bar lasts as long as possible.

1. Store it properly: Until you’re ready to use it, store your soap in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Soap can fade or discolour when left in sunlight, and it might also begin to lose its fragrance. Our grandmothers knew how to store soap – in their underwear drawers! This had the added plus that clothes would become scented by the soap – win-win!

2. Keep it dry: Clearly, you need to get your soap wet while in use, but allowing it to dry properly afterwards, and keeping it dry between uses, will keep your bar of soap nice and hard right to the very end. It’s also important not allow your bar to sit in water for any length of time.

3. Use a soap dish: The best way to keep your bar dry between uses is to store it on a soap dish or stand. There’s a mulittude of different options out there – some dishes have holes to drain water away, or ridges to ensure the soap sits above any collected water – just make sure that it drains well to ensure that your soap isn’t sitting in a puddle of water, however small. You can find soap dishes for all budgets here

4. Position: Keep your soap dish / stand away from the shower where it might be exposed to excess moisture. Keeping your soap in the shower might be convenient, but it won’t help your soap to stay dry between uses if it’s being dripped or sprayed on. For the same reason don’t leave it by an open window if it’s raining outside.

5. Use a washcloth: Using a washcloth / facecloth / loofah or similar can help extend the life of your bar by creating abundant lather which means you can use less soap.

6. Reduce friction: Handmade soap is a pleasure to use but as tempting as it is to roll it over and over in your hands, try not to do so if you want your soap to last as long as possible. Less friction = longer lasting soap.

7. Reduce the temperature: The hotter the water, the faster your bar of soap will dissolve. Cooler water is the best option for handwashing IF you want your soap to last longer.

8. Use a Soap Saver: Finally, when your bars of soap have worn right down to a sliver, think about using a Soap Saver Bag. Made from sustainable natural materials, these bags create an exfoliating skin scrubber when filled with soap ends, thus ensuring that every last little scrap of your soap is used.

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10 Great Reasons to Switch from Liquid Soap to Bar Soap

Bar soap sometimes gets a bad rap and, for a soapmaker and obsessive solid soap fan, this is hugely frustrating. There are so many good reasons to swap from using liquid soap to bar soap and here, in no particular order, are my top ten great reasons to consider switching. Please note that these points relate to real, handmade soap rather than commercially produced soap. That is a different kettle of fish altogether!

  1. Bar soap is more convenient to travel with as it’s less likely to leak or spill, and of course if you fly hand-luggage only, you won’t be forced to bin it before going through the security checks.
  2. Bar soap can be more satisfying to use than liquid soap, as it creates a rich and luxurious lather that feels indulgent on the skin. Contrary to what many detractors say, well made soap is NOT as drying as most liquid soaps on the market.
  3. Bar soap is usually much cheaper per use than liquid soap, making it a more cost-effective option.
  4. Bar soap is available in a huge range of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find a product that suits your needs. There are vegan and non-vegan (eg tallow soaps) options, soaps fragranced with essential oils or fragrance oils, or with no fragrance at all. Soaps coloured with clays, or botanicals, minerals or natural/synthetic micas, and soaps with no added colour whatsoever. There are goats milk soaps, and coconut milk soaps, soaps with added spices and soaps with exfoliants. Soaps made with fancy, expensive oils and those with more basic ingredients. There’s something to suit everyone, which isn’t necessarily the case with liquid soap.
  5. According to the McGill Office for Science and Society*, the carbon footprint of a bar of soap is about 25% less* than that of a bottle of liquid soap. This is partly because liquid soap is largely water, which makes it heavier and requires more energy to transport. Another reason is that the plastic container and the liquid soap itself both typically take more energy to be made than does a bar of soap and its packaging.
  6. Solid soap doesn’t require the use of a plastic dispenser, making it a more eco-friendly option. Bar soap is more environmentally friendly as it typically comes in minimal packaging and generates less waste than liquid soap.
  7. Well-made and well-cured (for a minimum of 4 weeks) solid soap lasts longer than liquid soap. This is epecially true if it’s kept in a dry place between uses. Again, the McGill Office for Science and Society* says: “On average, people use about 2.3 grams of liquid soap to wash their hands but only about 0.35 grams of a bar soap”.
  8. As a general rule, bar soap is more gentle on the skin than commercially produced liquid soap which, in actual fact, is usually a synthetic detergent, originally created as laundry soap. These synthetic detergents often include ingredients that can cause dryness, skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  9. Bar soap is easier to store and takes up less space in the bathroom than bulky liquid soap dispensers. Plus you get to treat yourself to beautiful soap dishes!
  10. By buying handmade bar soap you are usually supporting a small business, whether from the maker directly or a local independent retail outlet that stocks their products. This puts money back into the community rather than a large conglomerate.


Share this with anyone who still needs convincing. Oh, and do comment below with any reasons people still have for not using solid soap. I’ll work on some counter-arguments πŸ˜€

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The Spring Specials, 2023

April’s weather is so changeable isn’t it? One minute the sun’s out, lulling us into a false sense of security and tempting us towards sandal wearing and planning barbeques, then next it’s absolutely pouring down. Like today…

Ah well, it’s undoubtedly warmer, and the days are definitely getting longer, so I can safely declare it’s SPRING, and time to talk about this year’s spring specials. This year I made four bars and each one is the return of an old favourite from a few years back, albeit with different names and designs. In an ideal world I would prefer to have at least a couple of new scents for each season release, but the run up to Christmas was so busy I didn’t manage to do any fragrance testing, so old faves it had to be, this time round…


First up is Sakura. Sakura is the Japanese term for Cherry Blossom, so you won’t win any prizes for guess what this one smells like. It’s a sophisticated floral blend of cherry blossom with jasmine, rose, lily of the valley and freesia on a base of musk, precious woods and crystal amber.

This one has proven to be the bestseller so far, with one happy reviewer saying:

“So pleased to find this one has returned….the scent is just like walking through an orchard in full blossom. Can’t beat it on a spring day!”

But don’t take my word for it, check out all the five star reviews for Sakura HERE

Two bars of pink and white Sakura handmade soap and a white facecloth
Sakura Handmade Soap


Next up is Persephone. This one was simply Pear & Freesia last time it made an appearance, but I wanted all the spring bars to have a seasonal name this time round, and as the Greek goddess of spring, she seemed like a great source of inspiration. (Let’s just gloss over the fact that she also later became the wife of Hades and queen of the underworld – that wasn’t her choice to be fair!)

Persephone is scented with a sparkling fruity/floral scent, reminiscent of the Jo Malone fragrance English Pear & Freesia. Click HERE for reviews.

Two bars of yellow, purple, white and green Persephone handmade soap and a  facecloth
Persephone Handmade Soap


The third bar is fragranced with a scent I’m pretty sure I once swore never to use again. It’s a gorgeous lemon verbena scent, a crisp and sparkly herbacious/citrus fragrance that smells amazing. As one customer says:

“Tangy, fresh and a wonderful soap for the morning to get you up and out enjoying the springtime”

But BOY does it misbehave in soap! This means that as soon as the fragrance is added to the soap batter, it almost immediately starts getting thick. Then, VERY quickly, it becomes too hard to do anything with. Soapmakers have a phrase – ‘soap on a stick’ – for when this happens, and it’s extremely frustrating when you’re trying to make pretty soap. That’s why this one looks quite different to the other three. The first bars I made looked, quite frankly, like a dog’s dinner so I grated them up and very quickly mixed them into some plain white soap batter. I do really like the ways these bars look, but they’re definitely the odd ones out πŸ˜€

Oh and the name? Aloysia is simply the latin name for Verbena. Click HERE for reviews

Two bars of white and green Aloysia handmade soap and a white facecloth
Aloysia Handmade Soap


The lasf of the spring specials for 2023 is Zephyr. Zephyr was the Greek god of the warm west wind, considered to be the gentlestof the winds and the harbinger of spring. Whilst it’s not necessarily a masculine scent, it definitely leans more towards typical ‘male’ scents than the other three. A warm, woody, unisex scent beginning with top notes of fresh citrus and forest herbs. The heart is a spicy blend of black pepper and maple, rounded off with base notes of cedar and sandalwood.

Click HERE to see reviews for Zephyr

two bars of Zephyr Handmade Soap and a white facecloth
Zephyr Handmade Soap

Click on any of the photos above to take you directly through to the listing on the website, or click HERE to take you to the spring specials category where you’ll see the full range on one page.

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New on the Soap Shelves – Pineapple

I’m not sure which planet I was visiting when I decided that committing to weekly blog posts was a good thing. It’s just not happening is it?! Sanity has returned and I’m back on planet Earth, realising that weekly posts may not be possible, but I CAN still find a middle ground and keep the blog relatively current without busting a gut every Sunday to find something to write about.

Today however I DO have something to share – brand new Pineapple soap.

2 bars of Pineapple Handmade Soap
Pineapple Handmade Soap
6 bars of Pineapple Handmade Soap
Pineapple Handmade Soap

I first made this bar as one of the 2021 Summer specials, and loved it so much that I brought it back again for Summer 2022:

Pineapple Handmade Soap
Pineapple Handmade Soap Summer 2021
Pineapple 4
Pineapple Handmade Soap Summer 2022

Fast forward to January 2023 and Sugar Drops and Cucumber were both being discontinued. I was looking to add a new fragrance to the core range to replace them and Pineapple seemed like the perfect choice, and not just because I personally absolutely LOVE it. It’s a straight-up ripe pineapple fragrance, sweet and juicy, fresh and zingy – it LITERALLY makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Put that delicious fragrance together with my regular luxury soap recipe and you’ve got a year round winner that’s good for your skin, your pocket AND the environment.

Why not add one to your next order (find it here) and give it a whirl – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Weekly Round up w/e 22nd Jan 2023

It’s been a productive week, with four big wins to shout about.

I finally made the Spring Specials, having intended to get them done last week (release date still be be decided, but March sometime). I may make some more – so far I have 50 of each and now I’m doubting myself and cosidering making another 50 of each like I did last year. Sales are down, people have less money to spend on luxuries like handmade soap, but I don’t want to regret NOT making more. I suspect I’ll make more πŸ˜‰

Here’s one in the mould:

And another (Sakura – Cherry Blossom) freshly cut:

Sakura handmade soap

The second big win was, miracle of miracles, finally setting up my mailing list. It’s been on my to-do list for literally years. Social media is great but not always reliable for getting information out to the customer – reach seems to be decreasing all the time – and so being able to email customers directly is becoming more and more important.

Everyone signing up to the newsletter will receive a 20% dicount code for the website, and you can unsubscribe at any time – just click here to subscribe.

Thirdly, I got my tax return done, woo-hoo! I always say I’ll get it done WAY before the 31st Jan deadline, but never seem to manage to get it done before Christmas. Next year will be different. I’ve set myself a goal to get it done before the end of July. To (hopefully!) facilitate that I’ve committed to do accounts and paperwork every Friday morning. It’s in the diary and everything! I did consider just putting it in the diary once a month and do a whole month’s worth in one go, but it’s proving to be far quicker and less daunting to do a week’s worth at a time, and so I’m far more likely to stick to it.

Last in my list of successes this week is getting another category of the website updated with new photographs. The haircare category has now been completely re-shot on a white background – much better no?

A busy week coming up – lots more soap to make and more new photographs to take, so there should be plenty to share in next weeks round up post. I’ll be back!

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Weekly Round up w/e 15th Jan 2023

Two bars of Fresh Linen Handmade Soap

This was the ‘proper’ 2023 first week back at work. The kids went back to school on Monday, and I was able to work full time again – woop! I made the most of it on Monday with a productive day dispatching weekend orders and making a double batch (128 bars) of a new addition to the core range – Pineapple. This has twice been a seasonal special and as Sugar Drops and Cucumber are both being discontinued this year, I’ve decided that Pineapple will take their place. It’s a fairly selfish decision, I absolutely love the fragrance and can’t wait to be able to bathe with Pineapples any time time I want to!

Other than making a HUUGE batch of Conditioner Bars on Wednesday, the week was fairly uneventful, and I spent some time taking new photographs for the updated website (coming soon *crosses fingers*) with my fancy new lightbox. I’ve decided to ditch the patterned backgrounds for good, and all product photos will now have a clean white background, like these below. Photography really isn’t my forte but I think they look a lot better than they did. What do you think?

That’s it, I’m not going to waffle on for the sake of writing, maybe I’ll have more to tell you next week, or maybe there’ll be a little ‘non-round up’ post midweek (but don’t hold your breath!). It’s enough, for the time being, for me to get back into the swing of posting regularly, however briefly that may be πŸ˜‰

Thanks for reading – back next week!

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Starting Afresh

It’s been a while. I decided to take a short (!) break from the blog after completing Blogtober in 2021, and never came back. I don’t really know why, I think I just got out of the habit and never got around to setting time aside to write.

Anyway, here I am, in front of my screen, committing to sharing (at least!) a weekly round-up post at the end of every week, most likely on a Sunday evening. I think. Maybe. We’ll see that works out…

I suppose I should really be inserting here a whistle stop catch up of the 14/15 months since I last posted, but I’m not going to. 2022 felt like a bit of plod. A year to get through, rather than a year to grow and enjoy. On a personal level there were definite high points, interspersed with a few health niggles, but business-wise I felt I was chasing my tail for the whole year, trying (and failing) to hit the level of sales of the previous year. The economic climate hasn’t helped of course, but I can’t blame it all on that. I need to up my game, be more organised, work more efficiently and promote the business better. And part of that, is reinvigorating the blog.

Last week was a strange one, work-wise. The kids were still off school, so the first week of the year was a very part-time for me. I had a sale on what was left of the Christmas range (at time of writing there are a still 9 bars of Candy Cane left – at just Β£3 – in case anyone’s interested :-D) and the Plastic-Free Starter Set was reduced to Β£25 (still a bargain at Β£30 now for SEVEN products to start/help you on your plastic free journey.

Candy Cane Handmade Soap
Candy Cane Handmade Soap
Plastic Free Starter Set
Plastic Free Starter Set

Coming up this week – a thorough clear up of my workspaces – making studio / office / packaging room, making some/all of the spring specials, doing a little prospecting for new wholesale customers, trying out recipes for a new solid lotion bar (exciting!) and generally restocking. Hopefully that will give me plenty to tell you in next week’s round up post *crosses fingers*

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Blogtober Done and Dusted – Woop!

Blogtober 2021 – Day 31

Happy Halloween! Hope the weather is better with you than it’s been here today – heavy rain and gale force winds mean that any plans for Trick or Treating have been binned. We did however spend some time carving pumpkins:

We have plenty of Halloween treats in for the children and I’m planning on making some spiced pumpkin soup later on this week so it’s not been a complete washout.

So, that’s thirty one days of successive posting done, and Blogtober 2021 completed. Truth be told there were times it was a bit of a chore resulting in a teensy bit of blogging fatigue. Given that the main reason for doing Blogotober was to get back into the habit of writing posts, this is not an ideal outcome :-D. I really will make more of an effort though. I still have some post ideas – perhaps the lack of time pressure will make it a little easier in future. Ooh maybe there’s a blog post right there once I’m done…

Thanks for reading – until next time!

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A Few Days Away

Blogtober 2021 – Day 30

We’re home! On Tuesday we took advantage of school half term and travelled down to Fishguard for a short break in a self-catering cottage. It was a few days of family fun away from work, and was just what I needed to clear my head ready for the run up to Christmas.

I’m not going to bore you with a blow by blow account of all we did, but we did manage to squeeze quite a LOT into our three days. We walked the coastline, visited an aquarium, spent evenings playing scrabble, went to St David’s to see the cathedral, had some fabulous pizza, saw a seal in the wild, taught the children to play Yahtzee, played on the beach, went to Folly Farm and generally spent more uninterrupted time together than we have done for aaaaages…

Seal near the shore
Strumble Head Lighthouse

Off Strumble Head

We arrived home today with two VERY tired children and we not much better. So, the washing machine’s been loaded and tonight’s all about putting our feet up and getting over the journey – it’s always fun when the children tag team feeling sick, necessitating a stop every half hour…

Oh, and just to squeeze in at least one mention of soap – and to prove that I practice what I preach, here’s a quick snap of my wax-wrapped bar stack – one soap, one solid shampoo, one conditioner bar and my facial bar, before I packed them to take away:

Get yours here

By the way, did you notice yesterday’s definitely-not-so-deliberate mistake? Although I’d pre-scheduled all the Blogtober posts for while we were away, they kept failing so I had to manually make them live. But yesterday I forgot (waaay too busy having fun) and it went live this morning instead. Just a minor blip, but I suspect nobody’s reading these posts so it really doesn’t matter πŸ˜€

Thanks for reading the penultimate Blogtober post, back tomorrow for the last!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Santa’s Cookies

Blogtober 2021 – Day 29

Last (but – of course – not least) in the Christmas 2021 limited edition line up is Santa’s Cookies. It smells just like Ginger Snaps – a bit of biscuitty sweetness but leaning more towards the ginger, rounded off with nutmeg, molasses and vanilla. Just don’t leave one of these out for Santa to nibble on – he won’t thank you for it πŸ˜‰

There we go, four days, four Christmas specials. Which one’s your favourite?

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow with the penultimate Blogtober post – hooray!!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – North Pole

Blogtober 2021 – Day 28

The third of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is North Pole. This one’s a bit of a departure from the norm, but the fragrance is perfect for a winter soap. It’s a fresh, cool menthol/eucalyptus blend with a touch of camphor, pine, lemon and spice. Oh so invigorating!

Thanks for reading! Back tomorrow with the fourth and final limited edition Christmas special for 2021.

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Snow Fairy

Blogtober 2021 – Day 27

The second of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Snow Fairy. This fragrance was the runaway favourite amongst my customers last year, so it had to come back for a second appearance this year (with a new look, of course!)

Snow Fairy is fragrance that’s difficult to describe, so I’m going to break my unwritten rule and just copy the supplier’s description. Let’s see what you make of this:

“A captivating blend of sparkling pink snowflakes laying gently on opulent velvet moonlight rose mingles with zingy black raspberry to complete on a seductive base of warm dark smooth ambers, earthy patchouli and sheer musk”

What do you think? Any the wiser? If you know what pink snowflakes smell like, please do share! All I can tell you is that it smells absolutely gorgeous, as a great many of my customers from last Christmas will testify….

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Noel

Blogtober 2021 – Day 26

The first of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Noel, and I’m sharing it first because I think it’s my favourite of the lot. Noel is fragranced with a blend of rich festive fragrances including citrus fruits, spicy clove and cinnamon, and notes of sweet vanilla, patchouli, cedarwood and amber which round off the scent. This is a gem of a fragrance, and is especially wonderful for soap because:

  1. It’s a fragrance that contains vanilla that does not discolour to brown and
  2. It’s a fragrance that contains spice elements that does not accelerate (thicken up too quickly) during the making process.

A bit of a soapmaker’s dream come true really!

Available from the 13th November

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

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Rainbows for Christmas

Blogtober 2021 – Day 25

I promised a photo of the cut bars of Enfys (Welsh for ‘Rainbow’) that I made yesterday, and here they are πŸ™‚ Fragranced with a sweet and fruity berry-like fragrance.

Just over 90 bars of Enfys, freshly cut and still a little tatty around the edges. Please forgive their current rought and ready appearance – once they’ve dried a bit they’ll be bevelled and generally tarted up, but they’re a little too soft to be titivated at this stage.

They’re currently out of stock, but when they’re ready – around the end of November, you’ll find them here.

I had thought to tack this photo on the end of a completely different post today, but Blogtober exhaustion has hit, and I reckon as long as I get SOMETHING posted every day, that’s good enough. We’re also going away for a few days tomorrow, and so today has mostly been a day of washing and packing, rather than composing an interesting and constructive blog post πŸ˜‰

Speaking of which. When I first decided, on a whim, to take part in Blogtober this year, I completely neglected to consider our little trip away. It’s just a few days in Fishguard, on the Pembrokeshire coast, but it’s a few days away from work, to enjoy time with the children, and I’m not taking my laptop. So over the next four days I’m going to introduce the four limited edition Christmas special for 2021, and I’ll be back with a ‘proper’ post on Saturday. Which, in all honestly will probably just consist of photos of our trip.

So, short and sweet, but thanks for popping by anyway. There will be a post tomorrow, and the following three days, but I’ll be back in person on Saturday.

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A Busy Weekend

Blogtober 2021 – Day 24

It may be the weekend, but I’ve still been busy making soap. I generally try to avoid working on the weekend, but it’s half-term this week and we’re going away for a few nights, so I’m getting caught up in advance πŸ˜€

Yesterday I made 180 bars of soap – 60 Cysur, 60 Fresh Linen and 60 Rose:

And today I cut all the loaves into bars:

Yesterday I also cut the loaves of Luxury Facial Bar that I made on Friday. If you’ve never considered washing your face with soap, then this might the thing to change your mind. It’s cleansing but super-gentle, and won’t leave your skin feeling tight. Just check out the reviews on the website listing here

Today I’ve made 88 bars of Enfys (the Rainbow bar) – the most I’ve ever made in one go. These are currently sold out but are a great seller at Christmas, so I was really keen to get these made before we went away. Hopefully I should be able to get them all cut tomorrow (Monday) and then I can forget about them for a few weeks. All being well I’ll share a photo of the cut bars in tomorrow’s post.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow!

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Becoming a Full Time Soapmaker

Blogtober 2021 – Day 23

Another question that came up when I asked for blog post ideas in our FaceBook group was this one:

I actually thought that I’d written about this aaaaages ago, and thought it would be a nice quick and easy to update and repost… But no. If I did write it, I can’t find it πŸ˜€

So, this is the story of how I came to be a full-time soap maker.

Sometime back in (I think!) 2009/2010 a friend came to visit and showed me a piece of soap she’d made. I was amazed. Not only did I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how soap was made, I couldn’t believe that it was possible to make it at home. This was something completely new to me and I REALLY wanted to know more.

I started scouring the internet for ‘how to’ articles, I bought loads of books, and started watching soap making videos on Youtube, until eventually I was ready to make my very first batch of soap. My first attempt was made using a kit bought online. It provided pre-measured oils, butters and lye, and with hindsight was massively overpriced for what it contained, but never mind that – I made soap!

It doesn’t look like much but I was SO proud of that soap! It was supposed to be fragranced but there wasn’t much smell to it, but it worked like soap should work, so I was happy.

After that there was no stopping me. I made lots and lots and lots of soap, in lots of different colours and fragrances, and pretty soon I had way more than we, friends or family could possibly use in one lifetime. All this experimentation took quite a while, during which time I’d had our first child and given up work to look after him. Needless to say the prospect of making a bit of extra cash by selling soap was very appealing and I hit upon the idea of starting up a little business that I could potter away at, while still being a full-time mum. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.

One thing I’d realised from my research was this: Selling soap involves a lot more than just making it and then finding a market. Every single product that is designed to be used on the skin, whether a leave-on product (like lotion) or a rinse-off product (like soap), needs to be assessed and approved by an appropriately qualified chemist and needs to be covered by a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR).

Once the CPSR had been obtained I made sure I was properly insured and also had my soaps recorded on the European Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP)* Then I had to ensure that my labelling and ingredients list etc were compliant, and that batch numbers were recorded for all products. But eventually, I was ready to give it a go.

We were living in Manchester at the time, and I signed up for a few artisan craft fairs at the weekends, but it really wasn’t the earner that I’d hoped it might be. Sometimes I’d do well and go home buzzing, but often I’d sell a few bars and earn just enough to cover the fees that I’d paid to be there. I generally made enough to keep buying more supplies to keep making, but to be honest for a long time I wasn’t doing much more than covering my costs.

By 2014 we’d had our second child and decided to move the family back home to north Wales, where I was brought up, and it was here that the business really took off – mainly with the support of a few local businesses who agreed to stock my soaps. Over the years I managed to get my products in more and more shops, and then in February 2020 I launched the website, and thank goodness I did. Covid hit, and craft fairs and retail outlets all closed their doors.

Fast forward to today and althought the craft fairs are starting up again, I’ve decided not to participate any longer. I now have a long list of stockists and the website is doing well; doing craft fairs as well would mean stretching myself too thinly. I think anyone who runs their own business alone with know that it’s quite hard work, and I work at least 50 hours per week as it is – that’s quite enough thank you! Besides, starting the business was orginally a way for me to stay at home with the children rather than have to work outside of the home, and being at craft fairs all day at the weekend would mean missing out on a lot of family time.

*Since Brexit we in the UK no longer have access to the CPNP and instead have to submit a cosmetic product notification to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) for every different product and variety of product

Well, that turned into a bit of a long-winded waffle, but hopefully it answers the original question. If there’s anything you’re still wondering about please just ask away in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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50 Things That Make Me Happy – Revisited

Blogtober 2021 – Day 22

I originally shared this post way back in June 2017 and thought it might be interesting to post it again, highlighting anything that’s changed during the intervening four years.

Here goes:

And now for something completely different. Sometimes it does a lot of good to take a moment and count one’s blessings. I’ve realised how lucky I am that this really didn’t take me very long to put together…

  1. Making lists. Win-win!
  2. A large mug of tea.  Strong, just a drop of milk, absolutely NO sugar (urgh).  Oh, and a quiet 10 minutes to drink it!
  3. Gardening.  I don’t have much of a garden at the moment – it’s a work in progress, but I even enjoy the heavy, clearing work.
  4. Spotify.  Music while I work – yey! More often these days its Audible and audiobooks.
  5. A hot bath. With a good book – often the only time I ever get round to reading for pleasure.
  6. An empty ironing basket.  I REALLY don’t like ironing, so I don’t often have an empty basket πŸ˜€ I still dislike ironing but I’ve now got into a routine and often have an empty basket – hooray
  7. Trying new fragrance oils for soap
  8. Making soap. Obvs…
  9. A long shower.  It’s my child free, thinking time, so it inevitably goes on for a little longer than it should.
  10. Running.  I’ve got out of the habit recently – must get back to it, for so many reasons! I got back into the habit, and then out of it again when my feet were operated on. I’m not quite ready to get back to it, but I hope to sometime soon.
  11. An early night. Getting enough sleep is rare – must try harder!
  12. Linguistics books.  I love language, and languages.  I studied linguistics at university and it’s still a passion.
  13. Warm sunshine.  Need I say more?
  14. Camping.  Just me, the other half and the kids, and NO wifi. Heaven.
  15. Pink / purple hair.  I like jazzing it up sometimes. I’m not ready for frumpiness! Oh I need to do this again (but I think my hairdresser would throttle me)
  16. Homemade Pizza.  My husband makes the absolute best pizza in the world – his pizza dough is the stuff of legends.
  17. A good novel. 
  18. Kickboxing.  I only started at the beginning of the year, but I’m hooked. Trying for my orange belt in a couple of weeks time. I had to give up kickboxing a couple of years ago when kicking became too painful for my feet, but I got as far as my first brown belt!
  19. A glass of good red wine.  Malbec is a current favourite. And still is!
  20. Living here.  ‘Here’ is Beddgelert, in the heart of Snowdonia.  It’s often wet, but it’s also very green, very picturesque, very Welsh, and I never EVER take it for granted. I’ve done city living, now I’m home.
  21. Cheese.  Love love cheese. Except for goat’s cheese, bleugh…
  22. Barbecues.  With friends, sunshine and a couple of beers.
  23. My filofax. I’d be lost without it.  PLEASE don’t let me ever lose it!!
  24. The Archers. I don’t watch any soaps on TV, but I do like my daily 15min fix of this.  I stopped listening to the Archers almost two years ago, when it went off the air in the first lockdown, and I’ve never got round to picking it up again. Maybe I will now.
  25. A tidy, clear kitchen.  It’s rare, but yeah, I like it πŸ™‚
  26. Baking.  Cakes, cookies, scones, shall I go on?
  27. Netflix. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do get a free evening, House of Cards and Dexter are current faves. The Sopranos, The Killing & Breaking Bad were just incredible. There doesn’t seem to be as much good stuff on these days – or is it just me?
  28. Learning languages.  Currently it’s Russian. I did a short course at Uni, then did evening classes in my 30s and got to GCSE Level, and now I’ve taken it back up again with the Duolingo app. Now I just need someone to practice on!!
  29. Long walks in the countryside.  But at the moment they’re never long enough for me as we’re trying hard not to go too far and put the children off walks for good!! Since I wrote this Jac the Collie joined us, so I’m walking more than ever, but it’s not often the kids join us.
  30. Days on the beach. With the children.  Building sandcastles and playing in the waves.
  31. My children laughing.  I could have just said my children.  And they do, of course make me happy, but they also drive me utterly crazy at times.  But hearing them laugh?  That’s just the best
  32. Blog feedback.  A little click on that ‘like’ button, or even better, a quick comment, is always appreciated, and guaranteed to make me happy! Unless the comment is to tell me you hate my blog. That wouldn’t make me happy…
  33. Greek yoghurt with fresh berries. Not that horrid low fat rubbish mind – it has to be full fat!!
  34. Fresh bedding. Show me someone who DOESN’T like fresh linen on the bed!
  35. Modern Technology.  My fitbit is never off my arm, and I don’t know what I’d do without my bluetooth speakers!
  36. My mum’s trifle.She brought some to hospital after the birth of my first child.  Best post-delivery snack EVER.  But it mustn’t have jelly in it. Never ever put jelly in it.  Maybe I should share the recipe?
  37. Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups.  Not a huge fan of peanut butter really, but add it to chocolate and I could eat it all day.
  38. Christmas at home.  Surrounded by family.
  39. My husband’s cooking. I already mentioned his pizza up there ^^  But it’s not just pizza.  He does most of the cooking in our house and he’s flippin’ good at it. I’m a lucky bunny.
  40. Climbing mountains. It’s been over 7 years since I last climbed a mountain. Not since I was pregnant with my eldest.  The youngest starts full time school in September and I’ve already told my husband that he needs to book a day’s holiday THAT VERY WEEK and we’re heading to the top of the nearest mountain. We did! That very week! I still LOVE getting to the top of a mountain.
  41. Swimming in the sea. Or a river, or a lake. But not in the cold – I am a lightweight….
  42. Roller coasters and water slides. I’m a thrill seeker at heart.
  43. Adventures abroad. I’ve done a bit in my time – Asia, Australia, Europe, but the last time we were overseas was when I was pregnant with our eldest, and I’m getting itchy feet. Plans need to be made! We’ve still not been abroad – plans were made and then Covid struck. Maybe next year.
  44. The Big Bang Theory. Binge watched it on Netflix last year, and was bereft when we got to the end. Are they making more episodes? We’ve watched the whole series again since then πŸ˜€
  45. Nutella.  My guilty pleasure – I try not to indulge too much! I’m not such a fan these days, but I’ll bite your hand off for a dark chocolate digestive.
  46. Star Gazing. I used to be a member of the British Astronomical Association, and I’m fascinated with all things space-related.  Another of those hobbies that I hope to pick up again one day.
  47. Waking up really early, and actually getting up…
  48. Good grammar.  I’m a Grammar Nazi. I can’t help it, it’s in my DNA πŸ˜‰
  49. Going to the cinema. These days it’s usually to see kids’ films, but I still enjoy the experience. I’ve still not seen an adult film in the cinema since that time!
  50. Second hand book Shops.  Big ones, that I could get lost in.

So there you go.  A little insight into what makes me, me.  

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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Me and My Welsh

Blogtober 2021 – Day

Or should that be, My Welsh and I?

One of the suggestions that came up when I asked for blog post ideas in our FB group (The Soap Mine Community) was to talk about my relationship with the Welsh language:

My parents met in north Wales, in the area in which I now live. My mum is Welsh through and through – both her parents were first language Welsh speakers and both were FAR more comfortable speaking Welsh than English. Dad was English, from Newcastle, and they met when he came to the area to work. They got married, moved away to England, and then six months after I was born we all move back to Wales.

I have absolutely no idea how much Welsh I heard during the first six months of my life. I do know for certain that if any of mum’s relatives were around they would all have been speaking Welsh, but it’s unlikely I heard it much day to day. That all changed when we moved back to Wales and by the time I was uttering my first words I was surrounded by Welsh speaking family. My Nain (grandmother) and Taid (grandfather) would never speak English unless it was absolutely necessary (or if it would have been rude not to), and the rest of my family, although much more confident speaking English, would probably not choose to unless there was a non-Welsh speaker around.

So I guess I never ‘learnt’ Welsh, I was simply brought up bilingually. I spoke English with Dad, and Welsh with mum, I watched mostly English language TV programmes, and spoke Welsh with some school friends and English with others. My primary schooling was all done through the medium of Welsh (other than specific English lessons), as is still the case for the majority of primary schools in Gwynedd. However I did most of my secondary schooling through the medium of English. It’s probably fair to say that although I was still speaking Welsh with family and friends on a daily basis, by the time I was 15/16 I was far more confident writing and reading in English.

At 18 I left Wales and, bar a few short periods of living at home here and there, it would be 26 years before I moved back here permanently. By that time I’d got married, had two children and didn’t know what the heck we were going to do about schools for them. None of the local schools in the area we lived in in Manchester were particularly appealing, and despite my neglecting my Welsh for so many years, both Dean and I really wanted the children to have some knowledge of their Welsh heritage and the language.

One thing that surprised me while living in Manchester (and actually really wound me up) was the lack of knowledge amongst friends and aquaintances about the Welsh language. People genuinely had no idea, and had trouble accepting, that Welsh is very much a living language, in daily use. I know many people who are more comfortable speaking Welsh, who only listen to Welsh radio, and prefer to watch Welsh language TV. I’m not going to get on my soap box here, but that common gripe about people only starting to speak Welsh when a visitor comes along is utter tripe πŸ˜‰ A tripe gripe.

So that’s me and my Welsh. I speak both English and Welsh every single day and if I had to quantify it I’m sure it’s almost always more Welsh than English. And to answer the original questions – Yes, I learnt as a young child and I was very much raised in a Welsh speaking community, as are my own children today.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!