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Musings on the Nature of Soap – A Guest Post

Blogtober 2021 – Day 20

When it was suggested to me that I could include guest posts as a ‘Cheating But Not Really’ way to help with this daily posting palaver, I could have jumped for joy. Of course! Great idea! The one flaw in the plan was finding someone to actually write a guest post. Haha!

I need not have worried. Within the hour I had a guest post on the nature of soap! Lovely LOVELY Laura, a customer and friend who’s also a moderator in our FB group, came up with the goods in record time. I absolutely love this piece of writing ,and I’m very happy to be able to share it with you today. Thank you Laura!

Anyway, enough from me. Read, and enjoy.

Soap. What is soap? It’s an everyday necessity, a regular occurrence, our familiar friend. To some a status of the divide between poverty and power, to others a luxury treat, a revelation that is transformative in its magic as it takes you from a hard days work or sleepless night to a new being, fresh and filled with promise.

Yet to most it’s still just a lump of lather that encapsulates cleanliness, soft scented and subtle but mostly thoughtlessly forgettable as bubbles disappear down a gurgling drain along with the unseen nasties of daily life and it deserves far more recognition!

There are so many layers and complexities to soap, endless forms and shapes carved by its creator. A gorgeously hand poured chunk, lovingly cured and embraced with bevelled curves, a bland boring bar complete with the stamp seen a world over, anonymous blocks in hotel bathrooms and the luminescent liquid beside every unknown public sink. You see it, touch it, invite it into crack and crevasse; every stretch mark, hidden scar, palm lines and fingertip whorls unchanging as soap prepares hardened skin for what is to come and gives it a moment of unadorned peace.

Soap can be sensual, caressed onto a partners back at the beck and call of a shared shower, or loving as you rub between your child’s fingers over the sink in rushed seconds before the oven timer signals a family meal. It can be gifted, cherished in neatly cut wrapping and passed along from friend to companion at birthdays, Christmases, special occasions. It can be treasured, adored, used daily or hourly then lost for months down the side of the bathtub and re-found in a fit of joy; bubbles and aroma untouched where other goods would have perished. Soap is reliable, sturdy and honest, shrinking softly over time as you take what you need and it gives unrelenting to you, silently contented to fulfil its only purpose.

Soap makes its mark creeping onto life’s calendar unseen; regularity with a nightly shower or the final chapter on a bathroom break visit. It gives its tender touch to the first bath taken by a wailing red newborn and the final gentle wipe of the mortician. It is universal, everyday mundane and yet more often than not made with love, blood, sweat and tears, an unseen seal of dedication by its maker, yet it is unassuming in it’s simplicity setting, a brown paper parcel box waiting to be torn open and enjoyed.

The shy, unseen side of soap is that it’s essential yet humble, and if you take a single thought from these words just know that your soap is much more a part of existence than you could ever imagine and will continue to be, so give it the admiration and recognition it deserves. Choose well with what you invite into your skin for its scent will become synonymous with your own.

It is beautiful, it is basic and it’s a bargain for Β£5 bar

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A New Stockist – Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum

Blogtober 2021 – Day 19

One of today’s tasks was packing up a wholesale order for a brand new wholesale customer – Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth. Typically for me, I forgot to take a photo of the contents of the parcel before I sealed it up, but they’ll soon be receiving a fabulously smelling box of all of these:

I’d been thinking for a long time that I wanted to find a stockist in Aberystwyth, but yet hadn’t got around to doing any research, so imagine how thrilled I was (am!) that the museum approached me to enquire about becoming a stockist.

The museum is currently open Thursday to Saturday 11am – 4pm, is free to visit and has a rather nice gift shop from which, very soon, you’ll be able to buy your favourite soap. Do pop on by πŸ˜‰

Find them on Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AQ.

That was a quick one huh? That’s what Blogtober does to you πŸ˜€

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

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Five Tips For Using Soap Based Shampoo Bars

Blogtober 2021 – Day 18

Once upon a time, everyone used regular soap to wash their hair. They didn’t wash their hair anywhere near as often as we tend to today, but nevertheless, they used soap and their hair, generally, didn’t fall out. Then, in 1934, Proctor & Gamble launched the first synthetic, detergent-based liquid shampoo, and this became the go-to product for most people for many decades. During this time, some people continued to make, and use, soap specifically for hair washing – and STILL their hair didn’t fall out. I’m labouring this point because I’ve read a LOT of negative nonsense recently about soap based shampoo bars – claims that they’re bad for your hair and scalp. Well, I’ve used this type of shampoo bar, and nothing else, for the last four years and honestly? My hair is thick, long, and most definitely NOT falling out.

Soap-based shampoo bars are a great choice if you want to limit the amount of synthetic ingredients in your shampoo and they are less likely to cause skin irritations. They are free from sulphates and silicone, which can make them a good choice for dandruff prone hair. Shampoo based bars can also work out a lot cheaper gram for gram that syndet bars and, in my experience, last a lot longer. By the way, almost all traditional liquid shampoos are also synthetic detergents.

There are, however, some things to be aware of if you’re trying a soap based bar for the first time.

  1. Soap based shampoo bars work best in soft water areas. It’s perfectly possible to use them successfully in hard water areas – I have customers who do – but you may find it’s difficult to work up the big lather that you need for best results.
  2. You MAY experience the ‘Transition period’. Soap based shampoo affects your scalp very differently to traditional shampoo and it is perfectly normal to experience heavy, lank or greasy hair when you first make the switch. This is completely normal, and it can take from one to eight weeks for your scalp to rebalance sebum production. It WILL pass though. During the transition period it can help to use cider vinegar in the final rinse – simply mix one part apple cider vinegar with ten parts water.
  3. Make sure you work up lots of lather during washing. I’m not 100% sure why this works but having lots of lovely, abundant lather does make a difference.
  4. Rinse really, REALLY well. Any residual soap left in the hair is going to make it feel lank.
  5. If you use conditioner, use it on the ends only. Your scalp doesn’t need conditioner – it’s basically a detangler which protects the hair from becoming damaged while combing when wet. Ideally use a Soap Mine Solid Conditioner Bar along the length of the hair, paying particular attention to the ends.

The Soap Mine Shampoo Bar recipe is significantly different to the regular soap bars. It has been carefully formulated as shampoo and actually contains apple cider vinegar to lower the alkalinity a little. Nevertheless it is still soap. If you find that you simply can’t get on with it, just use it on the rest of your body. Nothing lost, and no waste!

I hope these tips help – please comment below if there’s anything you think I should add.

And if you’ve tried your best and soap based shampoo bars are definitely not for you, then why not try one of our Zero Waste Path Syndet Bars?

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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Minya Zavood Vicki

Blogtober 2021 – Day 17

Did that title catch your attention? Pique your interest a little? Did you get that I’m learning Russian? Or perhaps you and everyone else will avoid clicking on this one, assuming that the pressure of Blogtober’s daily posting has finally driven me a little round the bend…

But no, today’s post is a little about me, and my passion for language/s. I have a degree in Linguistics, but today’s post is about my ongoing, on and off attempts to learn Russian.

I first started studying the Russian language back in 1992, when I started my degree in Linguistics. In my first year I had the opportunity to study two additional subjects, and I opted for Archaeology and Russian. Archaeology because I have a love of history, and Russian because all languages fascinate me, and it seemed like a bit of a challenge. I wasn’t wrong πŸ˜€

After that first year of study, Russian took a back seat to allow me to focus on the Linguistics, and in the years that followed I forgot a lot of what I’d learnt. Much later (circa 2002/3) and living in Manchester, I decided to pick it up again at evening classes, and eventually got my GCSE in Russian Language. Don’t aske me for proof, I have absolutely no idea where that certificate is!

Fast Forward to Now

I did very little with my basic Russian in the subsequent years, but have always retained my interest in it. Earlier this year, nearly twenty years since I last studied it and because I clearly don’t have enough to do ;-), I decided to take it up yet again. With two young children and a business to run I don’t have an awful lot of time, but my current learning medium of choice is Duolingo. Duolingo offers loads of different free language courses, and I’ve slowly been working my way through the Russian one. It has a nifty little feature that keeps track of your efforts in the form of a learning ‘streak’ – now I can’t NOT practice for fear of breaking the streak. I’m currently on 120 days!

I’m learning a fair bit, but this week I’ve started to need a little extra help so I sent Dean into the attic to dig out my old Russian text books. After much huffing and puffing he found me two dictionaries and a very old and dog eared copy of The Penguin Russian Course.

How far can I get with this with independent study? I’m not sure to be honest. I think I need to find some podcasts and perhaps some kids’ programmes on YouTube maybe? If you have any language learning suggestions please pop them in the comments – they’d be very much appreciated!

Oh and I almost forgot – the post title simply means ‘My Name is Vicki’ πŸ˜‰

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow πŸ˜‰

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Blodau (Flowers) Soap

Blogtober 2021 – Day 16

Phew! Made it to the halfway point! Tonight’s post needs to be a quick one because as always, I have nothing prepared and Saturday night is family TV night in the Hinde household and we have a date with The Cube!

It’s been a busy week making soap (I’m still catching up with stock levels) so I thought I’d show you one of the batches that came off my one-woman production line this week. Blodau (Welsh Flowers) is scented with a 50:50 blend of lavender & ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang on its own can be a bit heavy for some, but combined with lavender it’s just gorgeous. This bar has been my 7th best selling variety of regular soap bars on the website this year, but for some reason it’s more popular in wholesale orders where it’s my 4th most popular.

I generally make four loaves of soap in one batch – this was Blodau in the mould this week:

Blodau in the mould

The next day I unmoulded and cut the four loaves, and ended up with 60 bars of soap, no two of which were the same. I love how ever bar of soap I make is individual and unique:

Freshly cut Blodau
Freshly cut Blodau

All sixty bars have now been put to bed for their six week cure, but as always there’s plenty available on the website, get yours here!

Blodau Handmade Soap
Blodau Handmade Soap

Thanks for reading! Back tomorrow with Day 17 πŸ™‚

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The Purity Range

Blogtober 2021 – Day 15

I LOVE good smells. I’ve always been the one who has to sniff every variety of whatever’s on offer, and of course as a soapmaker, fragrance plays a huge part in my daily life. Not everybody feels the same though, and over the years I was often asked whether I offered a fragrance-free soap. It surprised me, actually, how regularly the subject came up. For a long time the only unscented soap I could offer those customers was Castile. Castile – pure olive oil soap – is a wonderfully gentle and mild bar but it doesn’t have the fluffy, abundant lather of my regular bars. Finally, last year, I decided to create a fragrance-free bar with that same fabulous lather.

That was was when Purity (Purdeb in Welsh) was born. I chose to make it uncoloured as well as fragrance free, and while I love my fragrances and colours, there is definitely something beautiful about a plain white bar in all it’s glory

Purity Handmade Soap

Purity proved to be a popular choice as soon as it was launched. It seemed to make sense to create a new category on the website for all the uncoloured/fragrance free options, and so the Purity range was created. If you’re not a fan of fragrance for whatever reason, you can now find fragrance-free soaps, solid shampoo, solid conditioner and a facial bar all in one place on the website.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow when I’ll be halfway through Blogtober! Hooray πŸ˜€

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It’s a Wax One…

Blogtober 2021 – Day 14

Today is our wedding anniversary. Sixteen whole years ago, on the 14th October, 2021, we got married, and look how young we were!

Happy

Sixteen years is DEFINITELY worth celebrating so we had a lovely lunch out, and then it was back to work for both of us. Might have eggs for dinner though!

Anniversary eggs, as fresh as fresh can be πŸ™‚

According to Google, sixteen years is traditionally celebrated with wax, which seems like the perfect opportunity to mention a lesser known Soap Mine product – Wax Melts

Some time ago I asked Jodie at Charismatic Cat whether she could make some exclusive wax melts for The Soap Mine. I wanted the same fragrances as six of my best selling bars/bath bombs – Lavender, Cysur, Traeth, Rose, Sugar Drops and Fresh Linen:

As the evenings draw in, wax melts are a great way to enhance cosy evenings. They give a gentle glow to the room while spreading the most delicious fragrance, or melt one in the bathroom while you take a bath with a matching soap and/or bathbomb – perfection! Get yours here

That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Back tomorrow πŸ˜‰

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A Day for Everything (or Anything)

Blogtober 2021 – Day 13

One Mothers’ Day, a few years back, my children gave me a teddy bear. They said they felt sorry for me because they had a lot of lovely teddies and I didn’t have even one! To be honest, I’ve not really given Elwyn the bear the attention he deserves, but when I realised that today was, wait for it… Bring Your Teddy Bear To Work & School Day I couldn’t resist πŸ˜‰ (Today is also No Bra day, you should be very thankful that I chose what I did…)

October 13th is…

Firstly I packed a few website orders. Every single retail order that leaves my workshop will contain a sample bar – something I think the customer might like to try. Elwyn did a very good job of reminding me to add a small sample bar into each parcel before it was sealed. Those bags are cellophane by the way, not plastic πŸ˜‰

Sample bars

Elwyn was great at checking a wholesale order before it went to be bevelled and labelled:

Checking a wholesale order before bevelling & wrapping

We bevelled and tidied up some bars of Eryri. Each individual bar is bevelled by hand – using a regular potato peeler – before it gets wrapped in its eco-friendly paper wrapper.

Bevelling Eryri Bars

Finally, we did a stock check – a LOT of soap bars have left the workshop in the last 10 days and I needed to know exactly how many of each bar I still had available – both fully cured and not yet cured:

Checking stock levels

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow with a slightly less infantile post, but at least I got to show you just a small portion of what goes on in a typical working day at The Soap Mine.

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A Conditional Delay

Blogtober 2021 – Day 12

Tonight’s planned blog post was supposed to be all about soap for our four legged friends – it seemed appropriate after yesterday’s post about Jac the Crazy Collie. However things don’t always go to plan and now I find myself at 9.30pm having just finished work and with absolutely nothing prepared for today’s post…

Let me tell you why.

Last week I made lots and lots – hundreds! – of solid conditioner bars for a wholesale order.

Conditioner bars in the mould

Although I can only make 100 at a time (yes, I really do need to get additional moulds) I knew how long I needed to get them all made and I was organised and in control – or so I thought. What I didn’t count on was delays at the printers. My plan was to pick up the labels on Friday, box and label all the conditioner bars over the weekend (breaking my no weekend working rule AGAIN), and then deliver the whole lot on Monday.

Unfortunately the labels were overlooked on Friday but I was assured they’d be printed on Monday. I’d already told my customer that I’d be delivering them on Monday, so I had to email over the weekend and explain the delay. But somehow the printing got overlooked again on Monday – Dean turned up to collect them late Monday PM and YIKES they still weren’t done. Luckily I’d given myself a little bit of wriggle room with the new delivery time – late Tues pm or Wed am, I’d said – so when I finally got my hands on the labels at 5.30pm today I headed straight over to the office to get to work. Four hours later I’m finished and all boxed up and ready for delivery tomorrow morning:

So there you go. Sometimes mistakes happen, and things go awry, but at least it gave me something quick to write about this evening πŸ˜€

Click here to check out The Soap Mine range of solid conditioners for yourself.

Now I’m off to have something to eat and sit down and enjoy The Great British Bake Off a bit later than planned. Thanks for reading – back tomorrow.

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Our Jac

Blogtober 2021 – Day 11

Last week, in our FB group The Soap Mine Community, I put out a plea for blog post topics – I needed a little help given that I was going into Blogtober totally unprepared πŸ˜‰ This was one of the suggestions:

Ah, permission to waffle on about our lovely Jac! Well, ok then πŸ˜€

Jac joined us almost exactly three years ago, in November 2018. Our eldest child, Carwyn, was eight years old and had developed a real and profound fear of dogs. It’s no exaggeration to say he was absolutely terrified of all dogs. No matter their size, or how friendly they were, he couldn’t go anywhere near them and seriously panicked if one approached him (or even if there was one in the distance). It got to the point that he didn’t want to go for a walk or out on his bike in case in he came across a dog and it had a very negative impact on his day to day life.

A Solution

After much research and discussion, we asked Car if he thought that having a puppy might help him. It wasn’t a snap decision, and to be honest it took some time, and persuasion, for me to come round to the idea – I’d always been a cat person – but Car really wanted to get over his fear and we all felt that getting a dog of our own would help.

Not long after we’d made the decision we’d been told about some Border Collie puppies available on a local farm and went along ‘just to have a look’. Yep, that’s right, ‘just a look’ πŸ˜€ We left with Jac.

Puppy Jac
Puppy Jac

I’m not sure which of the children chose his name, but he was officially christened Jac on the journey home from the farm. ‘Jac’ because there’s no ‘K’ in the Welsh alphabet. Let’s just gloss over the fact that there’s no ‘J’ either!

Jac Settles In

Over the next week or so, two completely different issues almost made us question the sanity of our decision. First off, toilet training a puppy is neither easy nor fun. Logically we knew that it wouldn’t last long (and in fairness it didn’t) but when you’re doing it for the first time it is a bit of a shock to the system.

Secondly, and much more worryingly, Carwyn was struggling to get used to our new housemate. Jac was small, but he was boisterous and jumpy, with sharp little claws and teeth. Car took to walking around the house holding a child’s car booster seat in front of his legs to protect himself from the pup’s attentions. Thankfully within a couple of weeks he’d got a lot more comfortable with having Jac around and they started to become buddies. And before long they were the best of friends. What a relief!

Best buddies
Best buddies
Jac being patient!
Jac being patient!
Helping with Homework
Helping with Homework

Three years later, Carwyn is completely at ease with all dogs. Within a few months of becoming best mates with Jac, he was fine around other dogs, and these days actively enjoys meeting new dogs.

And Now

There are, of course, other benefits to having Jac in our lives, not least the fact that one of us HAS to leave the house at least twice a day to take Jac out. He’s an active dog who needs a lot of exercise, whatever the weather. He loves to play with his frisbee and jump in puddles and so, rain or shine, we’re out every day. Interestingly, unlike many Collies, he’s never chewed anything in the house. It could just be a coincidence but I think it might have something to do with us seeing it as a personal challenge to try to exhaust him every time we go out πŸ˜€

Lovely Jac – always so happy to see me in the morning and crazy excited when he senses we’re about to for a walk. He gets gently jealous if I’m hugging the children, trying to poke his nose between us if we’re standing, or plopping his head on my lap if we’re sitting down. Jac’s generally very quiet and rarely barks, or makes any noise at all really, until he’s in water – give him a puddle or a stream, a river or a lake, and he’ll swim around barking with pure excitement. He has a really sweet temperament – he loves people and will drop his frisbee at any old stranger’s feet – but woe betide any dog who tries to get between him or his frisbee!

I’m sure there’s plenty more I could say but it’s nearly 11.30pm and I need to press the ‘publish’ button before it’s no longer Day 11. So good night, and thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 12!

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The Making of Eryri Handmade Soap

Blogtober 2021 – Day 10

My number one bestselling soap is Eryri, the landscape soap:

Four bars of Eryri handmade soap
Eryri Handmade Soap
Eryri Handmade Soap
Eryri Handmade Soap

I’m pretty rubbish with technology, but I’ve been asked so many times to record some videos of my soapmaking I thought I ought to give it a go, and this video shows me pouring and sculpting Eryri. Some people use scrapers to ensure that all the bars are uniform in design, but I sculpt my layers freehand, so no two bars are ever the same. I like them that way πŸ˜‰

I always make this in batches of six loaves (90 bars), but you only see five in the video – the sixth was just out of shot.

I don’t think there’s much else to say about this one, but if you have any questions just pop them in the comments below and I’ll respond asap.

Thanks for reading (and watching). I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 11.

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Saturday Morning Board Meeting

Blogtober 2021 – Day 9

No, silly, not THAT kind of board meeting! This morning’s meeting was with a friend, to go paddle-boarding. We met up at 8am and drove all of two minutes up the road to our nearest lake with our trusty boards and paddles. We’d already checked the forecast and knew it should be dry, but it was also incredibly still, and the surrounding scenery reflected in the lake was just stunning.

We made our way up to the end of the lake where the water flows in, and started to make our way up stream. This was my first time exploring this way and also my first time trying to paddle upstream, and it all felt very Swallows and Amazons πŸ˜€

We got quite far before the force of the flow became too strong and we had to admit defeat and head back the way we came, into the lake again

We made it right around the lake and back to our starting point by 10am, where we enjoyed hot chocolate and flapjacks on the shore before heading home. That’s MY kind of board meeting πŸ˜‰

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend whatever you’re up to – back tomorrow with something soap related, but I’m sure I don’t know what yet!

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Soap Tops

Blogtober 2021 – Day 8

I lurve soap tops. Fancy or plain, swirled or textured, it really doesn’t matter to me, I love them all. My favourite posts on Instagram are often the tops of bars, wet or dry, in the mould or cut… So, having had a really busy day trying to finish off everthing before the weekend (and not having spared a single thought for today’s blog post) I thought I’d share some favourite pics of some of my recent soap tops.

Serenity handmade soap
Clarity handmade soap
Watermelon handmade soap
Traeth handmade soap
Botanica handmade soap

Back tomorrow for Day 9

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The Cut of Serenity

Blogtober 2021 – Day 7

A quick and easy post today in the shape of the cut of Serenity made on Monday – 120 bars cut on my ancient single string soap cutter! It’s quite a so process and I’m getting very close to ordering a fancy-pants multi-string cutter – yey! (Maybe it’ll be here before the end of the month so I’ve got another easy blog post πŸ˜‰ )

So anyway here they are, some quick snaps of Serenity taken today, literally seconds after they were cut from the loaf:

I love how there’s never, ever, two identical bars. These particular ones have now been put down for their 6 week nap, but there’s plenty available on the website – get yours here.

Thanks for reading, almost a quarter of the way there now! Back tomorrow with Day 8

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Cold Process Gets Hot

Blogtober 2021 – Day 6

During the summer, while I was trying to button down the fragrances I wanted to use for the autumn specials, I came across the most amazing Toffee Apple fragrance. Unfortunately it was an absolute nightmare to use in cold process soap. It massively accelerated trace, and did actually turn the soap solid in the bucket before I could even think about adding colour, never mind pour it into moulds. Nevertheless, I adored the fragrance and decided to break with tradition and offer my customers a soap made using the hot process method. If you’re not sure what that is – check out this post

Now I’m really not an expert at this method, and while some people can make amazing looking soap this way, my attempts have always been pretty basic and rustic looking, with no fancy swirls or patterns, and that was just how this one came out.

I honestly didn’t think I would sell very many at all, so only made 30 bars, but completely underestimated my lovely customers loyalty and preparedness to try something new and sold out within the hour – arrghh! I felt duty bound to make more PDQ, which I did. A couple of days ago.

Hot process soap is generally made in a slow cooker / crockpot, and is so called because additional heat is added to the soapmaking process to speed up saponification. However, knowing how quickly this fragrance accelerates trace, I dispensed completely with the crockpot but made sure that my oils and lye solution were significantly hotter than I would normally have them. I added the fragrance to the heated oils and butters first and mixed very well, to ensure that it was completed incorporated. I then slowly added the hot lye solution to the oils and mixed well again. It turned solid in the bucket quite quickly, and I let it sit for a while it continued to heat up. This is NOT something I would recomend for any beginner soapmakers, overheated caustic soap batter is dangerous.

I’ve tried to upload a video of the mixing of the batter but I can’t seem to get it work, but here are a couple of photos:

Once I was happy that it was all thoroughly mixed and of the right ‘vaseline-like’ texture I plopped it into the moulds. They’re certainly not the most beautiful ‘in-the-mould’ photos πŸ˜‰

Toffee Apple in the mould

Yesterday I unmoulded and cut the loaves and I’m really happy with how they turned out. While I usually give my regular bars a full 6 weeks cure time, these psuedo-hot process bars don’t need quite so long, and will be available for purchase on, aptly enough, 31st October.

Toffee Apple freshly cut

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow for Day 7

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Today’s Makes

Blogtober 2021 – Day 5

This morning I made 120 bars of Serenity soap. Serenity the fourth best selling soap on the website, and so far this year I’ve made a whopping 720 bars.

It’s fragranced with a custom blend of Ylang Ylang, Lemon, Orange and Patchouli essential oils, and I’m often told that it’s a very ‘spa-like’ fragrance.

They’re overnighting in their moulds as I type, but I’ll unmould and cut them tomorrow, and will share a photo of the cut in a future post.

Thanks for reading – I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 6!

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A Custom Landscape Bar

Blogtober 2021 – Day 4

So, Day 4 and I confess I wonder what on earth possessed me to do this. The reality of having to come up with a blog post every day (when I’ve managed about three in the last year) has well and truly hit home. Had I made the decision back in September I might have pre-written a bunch of posts, or at least prepared some topics / ideas beforehand. But noooo, that would have been too easy…

But back to today, and it’s probably time for a soap related post. I was approached a few months back by Penmaenmawr Museum who not only wanted to stock my soap in their museum shop but were also interested in having a custom landscape-type bar created exclusively for them.

The town of Penmaenmawr is situated on the coast of north Wales and has an old slogan which goes ‘Penmaenmawr – twixt mountain and sea’, and the customer sent me the following sketch to give me an idea of what they wanted:

And this was what I made, scented with the same ‘outdoorsy’ essential oil blend as my regular Eryri landscape bar (get yours here)

Thankfully, the customer loves them and I quote: “These soaps look beautiful!Β  Thank you so much, exactly what we were hoping for.” Hooray!

Once they’re fully cured and properly wrapped and labelled for sale I’ll update this post with a ‘finished’ photo, but I thought Blogtober was a great opportunity to share them for the very first time. I hope you feel honoured πŸ˜€

If you’d like your o

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

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A Goal Achieved

Blogtober 2021 – Day 3

I had thought to write a quick round of ‘The Week in Soap’ today – always a good Blogtober fallback – but then something pretty cool happened and my fallback is no longer required πŸ˜‰

Some of you may know that back in June I had an operation on both of my feet to correct bunions and to treat advanced cartilage deterioration caused by arthritis. I’d been on the waiting list for nearly 4 years, and had suffered daily pain for far longer than that, so when the hospital called asking whether I would be willing to be admitted for surgery within a fortnight, I didn’t have to think about it for too long.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the surgery went ahead as planned on Wednesday 23rd June. The affected joints in my big toes were broken and had steel rods inserted to fuse the the joints. It was a day case under general anaesthetic and I was given special shoes to get me back on my feet straight afterwards but I had to make judicious use of painkillers and rest for long periods of time afterwards. I spent the whole of the unusually great weather during July (and my birthday!) in plaster casts, but they eventually came off on the 2nd August and rehabilitation began in earnest.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Prior to the surgery I walked a lot. I averaged 17,000 steps a day, but 22,000 wasn’t unusual. Obviously this dropped right down post-op, but as the weeks go by I’ve slowly been increasing my activity and this week, for the very first time, I managed to walk over 10,000 steps EVERY DAY! This is a massive milestone for me, and worth a blog post dontcha think? πŸ˜‰

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow πŸ™‚

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The Autumn Specials

Blogtober 2021 – Day 2

So, I’ve done a little research and I’m happy to announce that I am NO closer to having a plan for this 31 day jaunt into Blogland. Search Google or Pinterest and there’s no end of ideas for Blogtober blog posts, but I’m massively underqualified to write about ‘My Favourite Fall Outfit’, ‘Updating Your Make-Up for Autumn’ and ‘Making the Perfect Pumpkin Spice Latte’ so it looks like I’ll be winging it. There’ll probably be a little bit about soap and soap-making, a little bit about The Soap Mine, and a little bit about me.

Today’s post is going to be a quick round up of the limited edition autumn special range, which was released on Friday 24th September. It does feel a LITTLE pointless blogging about them now, given that they’ve already sold out, but it’ll be nice to have a record of them all in one place for posterity.

There were four autumn specials this year – Campfire Marshmallow, Hocus Pocus, Vetiver and Toffee Apple. Getting them all made in time was a real challenge; I was out of action for roughly three weeks during the end of June / beginning of July, and when the time came to make the autumn bars I was still in stock-making catch-up mode. As it was I ran out of time and was only able to make half the number of Vetiver that I’d planned to make. Toffee Apple threw another spanner in the works. It’s an AMAZING fragrance, but behaves very badly in soap, turning it solid in the mixing bowl within seconds. With this in mind I decided to experiment with the HP (Hot Process) soapmaking method which was very successful but resulted in a bar which looked much more rustic than the others in the range. Being sure that they wouldn’t be as popular as the others, I only made 30. Big mistake but hey ho…

Campfire Marshmallow

A delicious sweet-and-smoky toasted marshmallow fragrance with caramel & vanilla on a base of smoky campfire, and was back for it’s second outing after going down a storm last autumn. I made two designs – firstly an attempt at a ‘fire’ type pattern which I wasn’t 100% happy with, but which looked so much better once the soap had cured a bit, and secondly a more abstract pattern with identical colours. With hindsight I should probably have stuck with the first design – noted for next year (because I’ll get shot if this doesn’t come back as part of next years autumn range)

Campfire Marshmallow
Campfire Marshmallow

Hocus Pocus

The was a new-to-me fragrance which is predominantly sweet cherry with notes of almond, vanilla and sherberty citrus fruits. I’ve never made Halloween soaps as such, but I wanted this one to have that kind of feel, and the colours reflected that idea. I ran a competition in The Soap Mine Community Facebook group to find a name, and Hocus Pocus was the winner.

Hocus Pocus

Vetiver

This was another new-to-me fragrance which had been requested a few times, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the smell out of the bottle. In soap though? It’s phenomenal – a deep, woodsy and very sexy smell which I just kept going back to. I can’t describe it better than the description given by one of my awesome testers, so I’m just going to share it all here:

“This is the one I’ll buy for my husband cause it smells just like a whiff of gorgeous bearded man in the woods with an axe and just a hint of danger and sparkle in his eye!! A bit like sweet masculine sweat fighting with the fresh scent of soap they slathered on in a tin shower at dawn in the mountains, the two intermingled but perfectly balanced! And it’s the one I’ll borrow just occasionally enough so I can carry that image around with me”

How’s that for a recommendation!! I’m convinced this particular description is the reason it sold out within 12 hours, so thank you Laura!!

Vetiver

Toffee Apple

A delicious blend of tart apple with just enough sweet caramel to make it irrisistable! A very naughty fragrance but too good not to share, which I why I used the Hot Process method to make this one. Sadly I only made 30 bars and it sold out within the first 2 hours. I’ve had to promise to make more forthwith!

Toffee Apple

Day 2 of Blogtober wasn’t too painful. Just another 29 days to go πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow.

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Blogtober Madness

Blogtober 2021 – Day 1

So, last time I took part in Blogtober I got to the end and said NEVER again. As recently as a couple of weeks ago I said ‘no way’ would I even consider it this year. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Blogtober it involves publishing a blog post every day during October. And I’m waaaaay too busy dontcha know?! And even if I was to consider it, it’s absolutely the wrong time of year, what with all the Christmas prep to do…

But I miss writing.

So. Here I am, on the 2nd of October thinking well, actually, I might just give it a go. So I would like you all to please indulge me and imagine that this was published yesterday, and was my “1st day of Blogober” post. K?

All being well I’ll be back later with Day 2 *crosses fingers*

I might even have a plan by then