AN HONEST CONFESSION
I’m a little bit of a junkie when it comes to a certain freshly-handmade retailer that starts with an “L” and rhymes with “gush”! It’s one of the MANY reasons why I love Nurture Soap’s fragrances so much... I’m able to find so many of my favorite scents, and have the creative freedom to make anything I want with them! I’ve found Nurture Soap’s duplication fragrances to be so accurate in their scent depictions, it’s literally made me squeal like a child before (hello “Earth Meets Sky”)! Even fragrances I thought I didn’t particularly care for from the “original guys” have really had me rethinking them when I’ve smelled their Nurture Soap versions (on a personal level, I really think some of Nurture Soap’s duplication scents are even BETTER than the originals!). Now, here’s where Nurture Soap’s new “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil comes in! As any self-proclaimed “Gushie” can tell you (a term folks who have a certain obsession with said place that starts with an “L” and rhymes with “gush” call themselves!), the scent which Nurture Soap’s “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil duplicates (“Flying Fox”) is the same scent known as “Lust” at this retailer too, as they have many products which share the same scent (referred to as “scent families”), but carry different names for different products.
With this being said, as a self-proclaimed “Gushie” myself (just change that “G” to an “L”!), on a strictly personal level, I have never particularly cared for the “Flying Fox/Lust” scent family. Why on earth would I so adamantly want to make soap with a fragrance I know I already dislike you ask? Well, the answer is simple (to me at least!): Nurture Soap’s fragrances have surprised me, in the best of ways, so many times before, I really wanted to keep an open mind and see if it were possible to reevaluate my feelings about this scent! Also, just because I don’t particularly care for a fragrance in the form of a shower gel, bath bomb or solid perfume, doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t enjoy it in cold process soap! And so, the moment of truth arrived (AKA: My package from Nurture Soap!). When I first smelled this fragrance out of the bottle, I immediately recognized it. This fragrance doesn’t just say “I’m jasmine”, it loudly and proudly proclaims it from the rooftops!
Where I live, Jasmine thrives and grows plentifully! It’s not uncommon to be walking by, just minding your own business, and suddenly catch the scent of it seducing your olfactory senses. This is the jasmine that I love... That newly blossomed aroma of sweet jasmine flowers floating on a warm, gentle breeze, beckoning you to come over and admire those dainty, white flowers; maybe even pick one or two and rub them between your hands (Mother Nature’s perfume!). “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil, on the other hand, is just like its “Flying Fox” doppelganger and isn’t quite as subtle. While it’s undoubtedly jasmine, the scent itself carries a more mature, ladylike vibe, and is more on the heavy/heady side to my nose than the fresh variety. With all this being laid out on the table though, I have to truthfully admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find that just from my first out of the bottle impressions alone, I didn’t hate it! In fact, the more and more I smelled it, the more and more I became intrigued by it (I’d smelled another “Flying Fox” duplication fragrance once from a different supplier that made me involuntarily gag- true story!). This was the original “Flying Fox” scent I remembered, but somehow better! When my husband first smelled it from the bottle, his face immediately lit up as he excitedly exclaimed that his jasmine-adoring mother would love it! That’s the precise moment when this fragrance went from intriguing to special to me! My jasmine-adoring Mother-in-Law is a stone-cold fox herself, and as much as she adores jasmine, I adore HER even more! I knew this batch needed to be special, so I immediately went online and ordered myself a bag of whole jasmine buds, grown and dried right here, in the very same state I live in!
MAKING A JASMINE INFUSION!
I knew I wanted this batch of cold process soap to feature jasmine, jasmine, and more jasmine! After all, we’re talking about a very “jasminey” fragrance here! I wanted to infuse jasmine into anything that I could! I even contemplated garnishing the top with some dried jasmine buds as well (they smelled SO GOOD!), but ultimately decided that I couldn’t be trusted not to completely crush them to smithereens once they were on there! An infusion with jasmine, though, would be perfect! I decided I’d incorporate my dried jasmine buds in as many ways as I possibly could in this batch. The first order of business was to make an oil infusion with these delicate and dainty buds, and infusing them into the olive oil I’d be using in my recipe was the ideal choice! I’ve made many an infusion in my day; lemongrass, ginger root, lavender, roses, blackberry leaf, hibiscus... The list goes on and on, but I'd never actually infused jasmine before. When it comes to making oil infusions with various botanicals though, there are generally two ways in which you can go about doing it. First is to crush or grind up the botanical, then place it in a jar (Mason jars work great for this). Cover the botanical with a carrier oil, then screw the lid on, allowing it to sit for three or four weeks (some even prefer to place the jar in a sunny spot in their home to take advantage of the sun’s warm rays). The second, and faster, way is to place the botanical in the bottom of a pot or crockpot, cover with carrier oil, and on VERY low heat (so as not to destroy the more volatile properties of the botanical), allow it to “do its thing” over the course of about three hours, give or take. In either scenario, you’ll know your infusion is ready when the botanical itself has imparted its beautiful hue and aroma to the carrier oil (depending on what you’re infusing, oftentimes the botanical itself will appear saturated and plump, as it has soaked up the carrier oil too. This is the best part of the infusion, so when you go to strain it, make sure to squeeze out as much of the oil as you possibly can from this as well.
Because I’m an impatient crafter through and through, naturally, I chose the fast method and decided to use the stovetop method to infuse my jasmine. When doing it this way, make sure to keep an eye on the temperature. Temperatures must be kept low, and get no hotter than if one were steeping a bag of tea in water. If you can dip a clean fingertip in your infusion and find you need to quickly remove it because the oil is too hot to withstand, the temperature is too high. Temperatures should be low enough to where you can dip a fingertip in it, and can keep it there because the oil is warm, but not intolerable. As for how much botanical to add, this is completely personal preference, but many people find that a ratio of 2:1 is a good amount. This should be done by volume, not weight. If you want to infuse four cups of oil, you’d use two cups of the herb or botanical to infuse into it.
I began preparations for my oil infusion by crushing my jasmine buds. The dried buds themselves were so delicate, I was able to easily do this just with my hands. That’s when something awesome occurred to me... After crushing my jasmine buds and starting my infusion on super low heat, I kept getting the most beautiful and addicting whiffs of something teasing my nose. Turns out, it was my own hands from crushing the dried jasmine buds! This scent hit me like a ton of bricks because I recognized it immediately! I grabbed the bottle of “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil and about fell over when I realized that the exact scent I was smelling on my hands was the exact scent of this fragrance oil from the bottle! My appreciation for this fragrance grew ten-fold the moment I discovered this! “Foxy Lady” smells just like dried, crushed jasmine flowers! I went from appreciating this fragrance oil to being downright amazed by it!
JASMINE TEA ANYONE?
While my jasmine/oil infusion was doing its thing, I decided I wanted to incorporate even more jasmine in my soap by making a “tea” of sorts, with which I’d use as an alternative liquid in the main portion of my recipe. Making your own “tea” to use as an alternative liquid isn’t just fun, it’s really easy too! To do this, simply take your water (or liquid of choice), warm it up on your stovetop to a good steeping temperature, then add whatever crushed or ground botanical or herb that you’d like!! For this project, I used aloe juice, warmed it up to where it was just hot enough to steep tea (don’t allow this to get too hot or begin to boil), and then added crushed jasmine flowers to it (how much you add is personal preference, but two tablespoons per cup of liquid is a good place to start). At this point, I removed the “tea” from the heat and allowed it to steep for 10mins in the ambient warmth of the aloe juice.
After 10 minutes, you should be able to clearly smell the scent of the herb or botanical you’ve steeped in your liquid, so the next steps are to get it strained and then placed in the refrigerator to chill. Once chilled, you can use your homemade tea in your cold process recipe in the exact same way as you’d incorporate any liquid into your recipe! Easy and fun with a touch of luxury; what more could be better?
After three “low and slow” hours, my oil/jasmine infusion was looking great! My olive oil was tantalizing my nose with the gorgeously rich scent of dried jasmine buds, the color of the oil itself had transformed into a light, golden, amber-type shade, and my crushed buds were looking a little swollen from their time in the warm oil. It was time to get the oil strained and ready to be turned into soap! Squeezing the excess oil from the jasmine is ideal, so the best way that I’ve personally found to strain my infusions is to use one of those “old school” cloth coffee filters. It doesn’t allow any little bits of organic material to pass through, and makes it easy to squeeze every last drop of infused oil from the remaining herb or botanical too. If you don’t have a cloth coffee filter handy, using a pair of (clean!) nylons or stockings that you’ve cut will work just as well!
Now that all the pre-preparations for my recipe were complete and ready to go, it was time to move on to the designing part of the project! I’d had it planned from the moment I smelled “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil that I was going to do a straight layer design, with four layers in total (two main layers, and two smaller accent layers). I’d received two micas in a recent order that I was particularly dying to get into a batch of cold process soap, and when I closed my eyes and smelled “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil from the bottle, these colors just seemed to go perfectly with the scent in my mind’s eye. These were none other than Nurture Soap’s fabulously fairy-like “Amaranth Pink” mica, and the newly reformulated, “Baby Blue” mica, with its starlight-silvery undertones accentuating the tranquility of this soothing blue! These two colors conveyed the sophisticated, ladylike qualities of the fragrance well to me, but as with anything called “Foxy Lady”, I knew I needed to incorporate a little “sass” with the sweet as well! An accent layer in “Nocturnal” mica just seemed right, and to add a nice contrast to the bold, pitch-blackness of this mica, for my last color and accent layer, I chose one of my most favorite colors (one I go through quickly because it’s such a fabulous shade in both melt & pour AND cold process soap!), “Rapunzel” mica! I positively love this shade of gold! In melt & pour embeds, it’s the most stunning, shimmery-metallic shade of platinum gold, and in cold process, it’s a positively scrumptious shade that reminds me of creamy buttermilk!
Before getting too far ahead of myself though, I started by making some melt & pour embeds with Nurture Soap’s Clear, Low-Sweat Soap Base, as this would be a high-top batch, complete with soap frosting and decorative embellishments. As a tribute to foxy, yet sophisticated ladies everywhere, cameo embeds made with “Gold Enigma” mica and a backing of “shimmer Gold” mica, seemed a great homage to these classy vixens! Leaf embeds in “Baby Blue” and “Amaranth Pink” micas seemed a good choice to tie the whole design together, as well as represent the botanical qualities of the jasmine infusions I’d be incorporating. As I finished unmolding my embeds and getting my mica colorants dispersed in a bit of carrier oil, I was really loving the overall simplicity of this design, as understated elegance was the precise look I was aiming for!
THIS FOX RUNS FAST!
After reading helpful reviews from fellow crafters about “Foxy Lady” fragrance oil on Nurture Soap’s website, I began my soapmaking process with the awareness that I might experience some acceleration, and I silently thanked myself for ultimately deciding on making a layered design! Accelerating fragrances can actually be advantageous in some soapmaking designs, and layers is one of them! I was being extra cautious, however, as the recipe I used contained 10% castor (higher usage rates of castor may cause one’s recipe to move faster), and my usual liquid discount of 2:1 (a 33.33% lye concentration). Keeping this in mind and playing it safe, I blended my soap batter to just past emulsion, then split the batch into two equal parts. From each of those two equal portions, I then poured off about six ounces from each one to make my accent layers of “Nocturnal” and “Rapunzel” micas. To the two larger portions, I incorporated “Amaranth Pink” and “Baby Blue” micas.
Working layer by layer, I decided I’d only add the fragrance oil to each layer, one at a time, right as I was just about to pour it, and I’d stir the fragrance oil in by hand as well. Playing it cautious like this really paid off, as I don’t think I would have been able to successfully execute my intended design if not for doing so. In my specific recipe, I experienced very heavy acceleration... I wouldn’t quite call it seizing, as I had about 15 seconds or so before it became crucial to get the layer poured, but as soon as my soap batter was in the mold, it set up, almost immediately. Achieving perfectly straight layers wasn’t quite in the stars for this batch (close though!), since after pouring each layer I had to smooth the tops as best as I could with my spatula. On the bright side though, there was no ricing, and this heavy acceleration made it very easy to pour each layer over the other! Because my soap set up so quickly, I didn’t need to use my spatula to break the fall of the next layer. In a situation like this, saving time by being able to just dump the next layer right overtop the previous one can really help to get that batch poured!
Don’t let my experience scare you though! How a fragrance oil behaves is EXTREMELY recipe-dependent (among many other factors), and despite how this fragrance oil performed in my recipe, I was STILL able to successfully make my batch, as intended, by staying focused and moving quickly! If accelerating fragrances still intimidate you though, employing tips and methods in your soapmaking process can really help to lessen the severity or likelihood of acceleration! Tips like working when your lye solution and batch oils are at cool temperatures (I recommend no hotter than 80°F); working with a recipe which uses sparingly, or omits, additives and/or ingredients known to speed up trace (such as natural sugars, castor oil, activated charcoal, etc.); increasing the soft oils in your recipe while decreasing the amount of hard oils or butters used; and either using the full recommended amount of liquid in your recipe or only employing a slight liquid discount. All of these things can really help to make an accelerating fragrance oil much more manageable!
FOXY FINISHES & OPEN MINDS!
Because the fragrance oil moved so quickly in my main batch, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible to use it in my soap frosting recipe, but leaving my soap frosting batch unscented didn’t have me worried in the least! This fragrance is so richly potent, I knew that the scent in the main batch alone would be more than enough to make for a wonderfully scented bar of soap! For the soap frosting itself, I incorporated more of the gorgeously fabulous “Rapunzel” mica, and got started on getting this jasmine-celebration of soap finished up!
From here, things moved along beautifully and smoothly! I added big, fluffy dollops of buttermilk-colored soap frosting to the top of my soap loaf, “bedazzled” it with a generous dusting of the ALWAYS breathtaking “Gold Dust” Enviroglitter, and lovingly placed each melt & pour embed on top for the final finishing touches! Despite having to work at a lightning-quick pace while pouring my main batch, I was actually really pleased with this fragrance! Already something wonderful was beginning to happen within my batch of soap, with the jasmine notes in the fragrance developing into something MORE than what I could initially smell from the bottle. In application, something about it was blossoming (pun intended!). No longer was I detecting a heavy/heady, mature-type floral. Notes of fresher, greener, even sweeter jasmine were beginning to come through, and my interest was definitely piqued! I STILL wasn’t sure if this fragrance would make a complete convert out of me, but I couldn’t deny that even if this fragrance ultimately turned out not being for me, there was no way someone out there wasn’t going to love this!
As I sit here typing away on my computer, imagining the “you” whom I’m writing to (hey there, you foxy thing you!), worrying my blog posts are too long, and hoping with all hope I can share something you might be able to gain insight from, or at least find a little value in, I can’t help but think how important it is to write to you with full sincerity in my words, and an open and honest heart. For inspiration, I’ve also got a bar of my 5-day old “Foxy Jane- Jasmine-infused Cold Process Soap” sitting right here on the desk next to me. I decided to name this batch “Foxy Jane” since an unidentified or unspecified woman is commonly referred to as being a “Jane Doe”. But in thinking about said “Miss Doe”, I can’t help but think that even the Jane Does of the world must’ve been anything BUT unspecified! Just like anyone else with a beating heart, they were complex human beings... They had hopes and dreams, fears and regrets, strengths and weaknesses, laughter, love, and tears. Most importantly, they HAD to have been complete foxes themselves!
To return to my original thought of it being extremely important to me to always write to you, my fellow crafters, with full honesty and integrity (I truly don’t take the honor of being a guest blog writer lightly), it is my sincerest and honest opinion in mentioning that I POSITIVELY LOVE THIS FRAGRANCE! Did it behave like a total bugger in my cold process recipe? You bet it did! But as I sit here, catching beautiful whiffs of its aromatic bouquet within my soap, I am in complete aromatherapy heaven! In application, I truly believe this is a scent for all ages, but it still carries such a gorgeous, feminine sophistication! Fresh, green notes have emerged to dance around sweet nuances of authentic jasmine and an unmistakable honeysuckle note! This former “Flying Fox” disliker (“hate” is way too strong a word!) is absolutely smitten with this Foxy Lady! Was this fragrance worth it to me? In every aspect, YES!
It’s amazing how our perceptions and minds can change if we’re just willing to leave them OPEN! I truly believe this applies to all things though, not just soap making. As we navigate through this crazy-beautiful world of ours and lean on each other for support, guidance, and inspiration (because soapmaking truly CAN be your very own “Zen moment”; a wonderful and creative escape from the stresses of life), I hope each and every one of us can do so with an open mind and an open heart; sharing our knowledge, talents, and gifts with each other as we proudly applaud and encourage that stone-cold, soapmaking fox within us all! HAPPY SOAPMAKING MY FELLOW FOXES!
MAKE THIS RECIPE:
*Please note! This is the recipe that I used for this blog post. However, it’s recommended you use full liquid if wishing to avoid heavy acceleration. Remember to soap at cool temperatures as well!
35% Jasmine-Infused Olive Oil
30% Coconut Oil
15% Shea Butter
10% Castor Oil
10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
Lye @ 7% Superfat
Aloe Juice/Jasmine “Tea” @ 33.33% Lye Concentration
Sodium Lactate @ 3% Usage Rate
Foxy Lady Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate
Mica Colorants @ 1tsp/PPO: Amaranth Pink Mica, Baby Blue Mica, Nocturnal Mica, Rapunzel Mica
OPTIONAL SOAP FROSTING:
35% Jasmine-Infused Olive Oil
30% Coconut Oil
15% Shea Butter
10% Castor Oil
10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
Lye @ 7% Superfat
Aloe/Jasmine “Tea” @ 33.33% Lye Concentration
Rapunzel Mica @ 1tsp/PPO
Gold Dust Enviroglitter (Dusted on Top)
OPTIONAL MELT & POUR EMBEDS:
Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat Soap Base (Clear)
Mica Colorants: Gold Enigma Mica, Shimmer Gold Mica, Amaranth Pink Mica, Baby Blue Mica