Many natural ingredients can be added to soap as exfoliants to scrub away dead skin cells. As with colorants, the more you add, the more of an effect it creates, both visually and in its scrubbiness. Start with 1 to 2 tea- spoons per 1 pound (454 g) of oils or soap base and vary the amount from there based on your preference.
One note of caution: Remember that whatever you put in your soap will end up in the bottom of the shower or bath. Some exfoliants, such as poppy seeds, look great in the bar of soap, but can make a mess in the shower.
- Calendula petals: give a light scrub and retain their yellow colour nicely.
- Chamomile flowers: provide a medium scrub, especially if not finely ground.
- Citrus peel (dried and ground): offers a medium scrub; add a trace.
- Coffee grounds: scrubbiness is determined by the coffee’s grind; brew the grounds first or they will bleed into the soap.
- Cornmeal: medium scrub; premix with oil and add a trace.
- Eucalyptus leaves: gives a medium scrub, especially if not very finely ground.
- Lavender buds: can be used whole for a medium scrub, but will turn brown in cold process soap and look like mouse droppings; gently grind them first to avoid this.
- Loofah: light to medium scrub, and can be either whole in a long, round loaf of soap, sliced in an individual bar, or ground and mixed into the soap.
- Mint: light scrub, but prone to bleeding; steep as a tea first.
- Oatmeal: like coffee, the scrubbiness is determined by how ground it is.
- Poppy seeds: light to medium scrub; they look great in the bar of soap, but end up scattered all over the shower or bath.
- Pumice: heavy-duty scrub; great for mechanic’s or gardener’s hand soaps.
- Rose hips: medium to high scrub; also adds natural colour.
- Rose petals: a lovely light to medium scrub, but they turn black in cold process soap.
- Sandalwood powder: gives a medium to high scrub, and makes a lovely purple colour.
- Seeds: ground stone fruit pits (apricots, peaches) and berry seeds (ground or whole) give a medium to high scrub factor.
- Tea leaves: provide a light scrub; prone to bleeding so use already steeped leaves.
- Walnut shells: ground shells give a nice medium scrub and a lovely medium brown colour.
coloured and swirled soap—the difference is purely visual appeal. But colour and design elements transform your soaps from practical to usable works of art.
There are several types of colorants that can be added to soap:
- Dyes: Often in liquid form, these colorants
give a full range of hues—from subtle to bright and bold. Because they are water soluble, though, they can bleed between lays ers or swirls of soap, especially in melt-and pour soap. Some are not stable in cold process soap, so test them first.
- Oxides and pigments: Today, these iron-based colorants are synthetic versions instead of being mined from the earth. They have a more “earthy” range of colours, but are very stable and strong in soap.
- Micas: It is unclear whether the word “mica” comes from the Latin word mica, meaning crumb or grain, or from mi care, which means “to glitter,” but it is a very popular sparkling colorant used in both soap and cosmetics. Mi- cas have a layered crystalline structure and are coated with other oxides, pigments, or dyes to give an even more complex effect.
Think of a time when you were very happy. Visualize it for a moment
Chances are, in addition to visualizing it, you also recall what it smelled like. Our sense of smell is connected directly to the fore brain and the limbic system (our primitive lizard brain) and is strongly linked to memories and emotions. Scents can help us feel relaxed, uplifted, energized, and more. Part of their effect is chemical (from which the whole field of aromatherapy stems), and part is mental, through their connections with our emotions.
As soap makers, either in the form of fragrance oils or essential oils, scent is one of the most important and enjoyable additives to our soap.
Essential oils are just that, the “essence” of a plant. Whether it’s the scent from a freshly peeled orange, a crushed sprig of rosemary, or a rose petal, it’s the essential oil in them responsible for the scent. It can take hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds of plant material to extract a pound of essential oil. They are used in perfumes, food, cosmetics, house hold items, and, yes, soap.
Fragrance oils are formulated from a mix of various chemicals. Some of these constituents are natural, coming from plants or animals, and some are synthetic. Sometimes they are created to smell like something occurring in nature (lavender straws berry shortcake, fresh-cut grass), or sometimes they are created to smell like a feeling or a concept (energy, desert sun, winter moonlight.) Some fragrance oils contain essential oils as part of their makeup and some do not.
Be sure the fragrance oils or essential oils you use in your soaps are safe to use on your skin. Just because an essential oil is natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe on your skin. Likewise, just because a fragrance oil is synthetic, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.
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