Guest post by Amber Beltran of A Squirrel & A Scholar Soap Co.
ALL THE PRETTY PURPLES!
No doubt about it, wherever you look, it’s become abundantly apparent that spring has sprung! There’s nothing quite like the days growing a little longer, the sun burning a tad brighter, or the breeze blowing a bit warmer that gets me thinking about flowers, botanicals and botanical infusions more! When it comes to incredible fragrances which sing of all things “spring”, Nurture Soap has a phenomenal selection! Some of my personal favorites include “Cottongrass”, “New Beginnings”, “Fairy Garden” and “Sambucus” fragrance oils, just to name a very few (And restrain myself from going on a huge “gush-fest” about fantastic fragrances!), but most recently, I’ve been itching to get Nurture’s “Lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil into a batch of soap!
If you love the pure, unadulterated scent of real lilac blossoms in full bloom, you will love Nurture Soap’s “Lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil! I cannot even count how many times I’ve given up on lilac fragrances in the past. I’ve smelled a few which had a beautiful scent bouquet out of the bottle, but developed an odd, plastic-like undertone in soap. Most lilac-inspired fragrances I’ve smelled though, have carried aromatic notes which I personally refer to as being “romanticized” versions of lilac. It’s my nice way of saying they smell more like a stale, heady, heavy perfume than actual lilacs. I had sort of written off lilac fragrances altogether... Until I took a chance on “Lilac Blossoms”.
Nurture Soap’s “lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil is SENSATIONAL! It isn’t just lilacs; it’s that exact lilac bush growing in your yard, or the one you remember from childhood days. To me, it’s the whole plant in full bloom. It’s the aroma of green, budding leaves and delicate blossoms; that unmistakable scent which remains on your hands after picking the flowers! Without question, I had to get this fragrance oil into a batch of cold process soap, and compliment all that lovely lilac goodness by making a botanical infusion with real lilac flowers too! I knew I wanted this project to be all things spring-like and purple (Lots and lots of purple!), but as I went through my collection of purple micas, I couldn’t make up my mind. It was settled then... I would just have to make a batch of lilac soap using every single purple mica I own! So, come along with me as we transform “Lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil into the most purple of purple handmade soaps, using all the pretty purple micas Nurture Soap offers!
LOVELY LILAC INFUSIONS
The very first thing we’ll need to do when making our lavish lilac soap is to get that beautiful botanical infusion going! For this soapy project, I chose to infuse dried lilac flowers (Purple and white blossoms!) into the olive oil portion of my soap recipe. Any light carrier oil you prefer to use will work just as great though. There are generally two ways in which one can infuse natural botanicals in oil, and both are very easy! One option is to place the infusion in a jar, and allow it to sit in a sunny spot in your home for 2-3 weeks. Another option is to place the infusion on very low heat for about 3 hours. Since I’m an impatient soap maker, I chose the latter. After separating the stems from the blossoms, I placed my infusion in a pot on my stovetop.
How much of a certain botanical you add to your oil is a matter of personal preference, but I personally like to use a ratio of approximately 3:1/oil: botanical. You’ll want to be extra careful not to overheat the infusion, so paying close attention to temperature is important. The infusion should get warm, not hot, and maintain that same level of warmth throughout the entire process. That’s why when it comes to making infusions which involve botanicals (Either fresh or dried.), I enjoy making them on my stovetop. I feel I’m better able to control and maintain lower temperatures on my stovetop than I am with my crockpot. How you feel most comfortable making botanical infusions is absolutely fine though! Just remember to keep temperatures very low when making botanical infusions the “fast way”. I like to think of it as a tea... If my infusion gets hotter than what I’d steep a cup of tea at, it’s too hot, and I need to reduce the heat.
After about 3 hours on super-low heat, you’ll notice that the botanical itself will have imparted its lovely, natural aroma to the oil. Depending on the botanical being infused, it can also impart a beautiful color to the oil as well! That’s when you’ll know your infusion is ready to be strained. For this specific project, I strained my lilac infusion well, then gave it time to cool down. A cloth coffee filter works great for this, as it allows me to squeeze every last drop of infused oil out of the lilac blossoms. That’s all there is to it! Within a few hours, we’ve made ourselves a wonderful lilac infusion which can be incorporated into our soap recipe!
PASSIONATE ABOUT PURPLE!
As I set my lilac-infused olive oil aside to cool, I used the time to create melt & pour embeds, which would adorn the top of the soap batch. As always, the soap frosting portion of this project, as well as decorative embeds, are completely optional, but I felt they added such a sweet touch of springtime whimsy! Using Life of The Party brand molds, I made pretty flower embeds in “Silver Mist” mica, and vibrant leaf embeds in “Cheshire Cat” mica. For my dragonfly embeds, I chose to use the exquisite “Blackberry” mica, as it was important to me that this mica was given a chance to shine in this springtime soapy project too! “Blackberry” mica can be a touch on the unstable side in cold process soap, and can possibly take on more of a charcoal-like shade in application, but in melt & pour soap base, it looks positively royal! I definitely wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to include this magnificent purple mica in this soap’s design as well!
As previously mentioned, my indecisiveness in color selection led me to the decision that I was going to incorporate every single purple mica that Nurture Soap carries into one single batch of pure purple awesomeness! As I got busy getting my lye solutions made, and batch oils combined (Including the heavenly lilac-infused olive oil!), I reserved a small portion of the infusion, and used it to disperse all those blissful purple micas; twelve colors in total. For this magical lilac creation, those colors include: “Northern Lights”, “Cheshire Cat”, “Purple Haze”, “Iris Purple”, “Cyber Grape”, “Orchid Purple”, “Queen for A Day”, “Purple Vibrance”, “Fantasia”, “Berry Twist”, “Silver Mist” and “Jam Session” micas (Whew!). Needless to say, I was living in my own purple dream world!
POURING A PLETHORA OF PURPLE PORTIONS!
Admittedly, being a touch more time-consuming, the pour or design of this sudsy creation is actually very simple (And so much fun!), and will produce such a unique and beautiful effect in the finished soaps! Making a 12-color soap design might seem like a daunting task, but I promise, if you divide your soap batter and fragrance oil into 12 equal portions, and concentrate on working with one portion at a time, it becomes super manageable and easy-peasy! After bringing my soap batter to just past emulsion, I split the entire batch up into portions, then incorporated all those perfectly purple micas into each one. Dividing “Lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil into 12 equal portions was helpful in that I was able to stir the fragrance oil into my soap batter, one portion at a time, just before pouring it into the mold.
For the pour itself, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by how simple it truly is! I wanted to create layers with my purple portions, but not in the traditional way... I wanted each subsequent layer that I poured in my mold to break through the layer it was poured over, but only that layer. To do this, I simply poured each layer over a spatula (In the same manner as when one would create even layers in soap.), so that I could control exactly where I was pouring the portion, but I poured it over the spatula from up high. This ensured that each subsequent portion of soap batter broke through the layer immediately under it. Once poured, I then took my spatula, and in a back-and-forth motion, used it to smooth the layer over. This was done so that the two different purple portions would mix together a little and produce sort of a “wispy” effect in the soap.
If making this soapy project at home, you’ll just want to repeat the pouring process I described above until every portion of soap has been poured into your mold. Be sure to use your spatula to smooth over the last portion of soap you poured too, so that the top of the loaf is evenly flat and ready to have soap frosting piped on top of it. If you’d like to omit the soap frosting portion of this project though, that’s no problem! A bamboo skewer, or any other swirling tool you prefer, can be used to create some pretty swirls on top of your soap loaf... Either way, it’s going to look awesome!
LILACS AND LAST TOUCHES!
For this lusciously lilac handmade creation, I chose to color my batch of soap frosting in “Winter White” mica, but of course, more eye-catching purple was to come! After I’d completed piping the top of the loaf with an open-star piping tip (To create a lovely ruffled effect.), I grabbed one of the most magnificent purple Enviroglitters known to humankind, and gave the top of my soap frosting a good dusting of it. I’m referring to Nurture Soap’s glamorous “Imperial Purple” Enviroglitter, and even though pictures will never be able to do Nurture’s fabulous Enviroglitters enough justice, in person, it simply sings with glints and glimmers of radiant purple and soft pink shimmer!
For the final finishing touches, I happily placed my flower, leaf and dragonfly decorative embeds on top of the soap frosting and called it another soap-tastic day! Nurture Soap’s “Lilac Blossoms” fragrance oil preformed beautifully for this project, allowing me plenty of time to pour and smooth over each purple portion of soap batter with my spatula. The scent itself was superb! At one point, my husband had even come over while I was pouring the batch to plant a kiss on my cheek, and exclaimed that I smelled “really nice” (His exact words, and he’s a man of few words, but they’re always important!). I had to admit to him that it actually wasn’t me who smelled so nice, it was the soap, but hey, I’ll take the compliment either way! In any case, what I wasn’t getting from this scent was a stuffy, headache-inducing perfume-like lilac aroma, rather one of true lilac authenticity, and its sweet bouquet lingered in my home all day!
At the time of this writing, it’s been exactly one week and a day since I made this batch of lilac-infused cold process soap, and the fragrance oil in application has only developed truer and more genuine! It’s undisputedly lilac, with none of the odd plastic-like undertones I’ve smelled in other lilac fragrances elsewhere. In full sincerity, I had given up on ever finding that honest-to-goodness, bona fide lilac scent, but my faith has been restored! I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the cut as well... Each purple mica brings an absolutely stunning look to the soaps, and all are so gorgeously pigmented and vibrant! This batch encompasses the spirit of spring for me, and after staring long and hard at the bars themselves, it was actually my husband who gave them their name. He said he could see breezes, hilltops and lazy-flowing streams in their design, so “Lazy Lilacs” is what he suggested... I loved it!
LAZY LILACS FOR BUSY SOAP MAKERS!
If you’ve made soap making your profession or another source of income for you and your family, then I’m sure you know all too well just how busy life can get, and how it often feels as if they just don’t make enough hours in the day anymore (I am right there with you!). One of the best things about soap making though, is that when you do what you love, those busy days, and those disappearing hours don’t really feel like work or nuisances; they feel like pure joy!
With ideas for wonderful botanical infusions (Which pretty much make themselves!), color-packed designs (That only look complicated!), and FABULOUS fragrances (Which set the bar for outstanding quality!), my highest hope in sharing this soapy creation with you, my dear fellow soap artists, is that even if the days feel busy, or seem to fly by in the blink of an eye, perhaps you’ll be able to find more of those joyous moments, where you’re able to stop and smell the lilacs! HAPPY SPRINGTIME SOAP MAKING, MY INCREDIBLE CRAFTY COMPANIONS!
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water OR Aloe Juice @ 33.33% Lye Concentration (2:1/Liquid: Lye)
- 40% Lilac-Infused Olive Oil (*See how to make botanical infusions above!)
- 30% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
- 10% Shea Butter
- 6% “Lilac Blossoms” Fragrance Oil
- 3% Sodium Lactate (*Optional. Added to cooled lye solution.)
- 3% Hydrolyzed Oat Protein (*Optional. Added to cooled lye solution.)
- 1/2TBS/PPO White Kaolin Clay (*Optional. Mixed directly into fragrance oil.)
- 1TSP/PPO: “Berry Twist”, “Cheshire Cat”, “Cyber Grape”, “Fantasia”, “Iris Purple”, “Jam Session”, “Northern Lights”, “Orchid Purple”, “Purple Haze”, “Purple Vibrance”, “Queen for A Day” & “Silver Mist” Micas
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33.33% Lye Concentration (2:1/Water: Lye)
- 40% Lilac-Infused Olive Oil
- 30% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
- 10% Shea Butter
- 1.5 - 2TSP/PPO “Winter White” Mica
- “Imperial Purple” Enviroglitter (*Dusted on top.)
- Melt & Pour Flower Embeds in “Silver Mist” Mica
- Melt & Pour Leaf Embeds in “Cheshire Cat” Mica
- Melt & Pour Dragonfly or Butterfly Embeds in “Blackberry” Mica
- ATECO #826 Open-Star Piping Tip