Friday 17 November 2023

The Tale of St Florian

 St Florian...who is he you might ask? 

Well, he was a Christian holy man who lived 250 - 304 A.D. and Patron Saint of chimney sweeps, soapmakers and firefighters. An odd combination don't you think. His feast day is May 4th and really that's about all I know of him. I stumbled upon him some time ago and thought that if I ever made a soap that I believe to be just about the best I've made I shall name it after him. So here it is.

And, here HE is...putting out a fire rather than making soap but you can't have everything.

I have spent the past few months experimenting with a new formula for this very special soap and have formulated a recipe which delivers a hard bar of soap with a super-creamy lather. It also accepts essential oils particularly well and I've had a great deal of pleasure experimenting with new blends.

I bought some lovely oval moulds which fit the bill perfectly and they emerge beautifully when unmoulded with a sheen that I've never managed before so yet another reason for them to meet the strict criterion of a St Florian soap.

So, in honour of the great man here they are...

The first batch contains an unusual blend of essential oils, these being ylang ylang, peppermint, basil and grapefruit which, to my astonishment, worked much better than I could ever have imagined. This soap has transformed my morning bath and I've followed it up with some other interesting blends.

I will be packaging them singly at this stage; they deserve something beautiful...probably along these lines...

I think they will make gorgeous gifts, made after months of experimentation, planning, formulation and, essentially... made with love.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Rhubarb Rhubarb!

 Adventures with Himalayan Rhubarb

I'm always looking for natural colourants for my soap so I was delighted to read about the wonders of Himalayan Rhubarb Powder which is used amongst other things as a dye for fabrics.

The first thing I needed to do was to infuse it in olive oil and let it sit for a couple of weeks.

Infused, it made a very dark brown murky looking mixture. This morning I decanted it and set it aside for mixing with my soap oils.

As soon as it was added the lye mixture turned a deep red. 
What magic ...what alchemy!

Then it went into othe mould with the addition of some precious ylang ylang and palmarosa essential oils

I have no idea what this will look like tomorrow when it's set and ready to come out. 
Soap is notoriously tricky when it comes to holding colours so we shall see.
Tune in tomorrow for an update!!

16/5/22   STOP PRESS!!!

24 hours on and here it is...

No longer the deep burgundy that it was on pouring but a much more delicate shade, perhaps terracotta would be a good description or maybe just rhubarb!!

Monday 9 November 2020

Still at the Beach!

When having a tidy up the Khandala Soap workshop recently I came across a silicone mould with small shell and fish shapes which I'd forgotten all about.  

Each soap piece is small, barely an inch across, so pretty perfect for dropping into individual bars. 

I've created the 'sand' base with Rhassoul clay, a favourite of mine when it comes to clays, so I'm hoping for a lovely bar when it's ready. Oh yes, it's fragranced with  Rosemary & Tea Tree essential oils.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Experiments with Soap Art

Determined not to waste all the hours I now have at home since the pandemic began I decided to experiment with soap art!! This means colours, swirls, new techniques and, best of all, lots of fun!

My first attempt was something called a Taiwan Swirl, a tricky technique involving the use of soap dividers in the mould which are removed once the different colours have been poured and then, if things are going well, you swirl away to your heart's content. Although my first batch looked the part, I'd poured it at too thin a trace and the whole batch had to be binned. It was back to the drawing board.

However, the second batch (Fig & Cassis) was a little more promising...

Bouyed by this I tried a more complex design...

...fragrancing it with a heady mix of essential oils - cedarwood, bay, black spruce and lavender. Every time I look at these I see art deco polar bears!!

Putting the swirling to one side my next step was an attempt at making distinct layers. This batch is a Patchouli & Lavender Layer.

It was relatively simple (and smells wonderful)... but lots still to learn and perfect.

I called this next batch 'Seascape'. It reminds me of a Van Gogh!! 
Fanciful or what!

And now to my most complicated to date. I wanted to create a soap that reminded me of Shropshire Fields in the summer. Here is my first attempt...

I have to confess that whilst this could be considerably better, I am, nevertheless, over the moon. Or should that be the sun!

15th October 2020

My latest creation certainly looks good enough to eat and reminds me of those popular Viennetta desserts from years ago. (Can you still get them?)
This is Lemongrass & Black Pepper soap with poppy seeds.

Well here I am, a couple of weeks on and still experimenting!

I returned to my Shropshire Fields theme and made a second batch. I'm not sure that I've improved it - some pluses and some minuses I think.

After that came Lavender Swirl...

...I love the chunkiness of this!

Then Bergamot & May Chang...

I look at this and see gentle surf washing up on a sandy beach (yes, bonkers I know).

21st October 2020

Christmas Squares....

...and Spearmint & Rose...

I've used essential oils of rose geranium and spearmint to frangrance this. I felt it was an unlikely combination but it's actually worked supringly well.

29th October...still at it!

Life's a Beach

Soap on a Rope...I hear it's making a comeback!


Saturday 11 April 2020

Dandelion & Honey Soap - Day 2

Well here it is, 24 hours on. The yellow has faded in the saponification process but it's retained it's creamy lush appearance. 
It will be now left to cure for 4 weeks.

The joy of soap-making!

Friday 10 April 2020

Dandelion & Honey lockdown.

It's a long time since I've written in the blog and even longer since I first made Dandelion & Honey soap - 2014 to be precise.

So here I go again, sharing this marvellous experience with you!
I collected my dandelions from the local fields on my permitted 
walk yesterday.

What makes this process magical is that when you steep the dandelions  overnight you end up with a rather murky dark green infusion.

The magic happens when you add the lye water to it and back it goes to a 
lovely yellow colour again!

Wow! The power of nature.

I mix in the solid oils, then the liquid ones and finally the essential oils - in this case lemongrass, red mandarin, may chang and orange and give it a final whizz with a stick processor and pour.

This now needs to set or in soap-making terms 'saponify'. I won't know for a couple of days how this will turn out but I shall 
keep you posted!

Saturday 4 May 2019

A year in Shropshire - celebrating with a bang!

To be strictly truthful we've been in Shropshire for 18 months but today marks a full year since we've been in lovely St Martins. Yesterday I felt I needed to make a new soap to celebrate and was inspired by Dan's passion for green tea - Gunpowder Tea to be exact! I recorded the making process and here it is...

Mixing the tea infusion with the hard oils.

For some reason, tea always turns the lye mixture brown. However, it lightens once the soft oils are added and still further as it emulsifies. Next I added the wheatgrass powder.

And gave it a quick whizz with the food processor.

 I added essential oils of tea Tree, basil and Juniper...and poured...

I could tell immediately that this will be a nice soap, it has a sort of silky bloom. It's quite a soft bar at the moment so will need 4 or 5 weeks curing time.
I've unmoulded it but not cut it yet, I'll give it another 24 hours.

It looks lovely, smells gorgeous and I'm super excited about my new Gunpowder Tea with Wheatgrass!
Happy Shropshire Soaping.

Saturday 10 March 2018

First Post from Shropshire

I can hardly believe that it's been three months since we made our big move from Surrey and our home of 34 years to the rural outskirts of Shrewsbury in Shropshire.  It's been an interesting time not least because of the weather - a foot of snow after our arrival, not to mention teeming rain and gale force winds - and various problems like a defunct boiler ...and many other hurdles to be overcome.

However, overcome them we did and we are fairly happily settled here in Myddle although at the moment we're renting our house and currently in the process of looking for somewhere permanent to buy. House hunting has its fair share of ups and downs but on the whole it's fun and hopefully our dream house is not too far away although we've not found it yet.

I had thought that perhaps the skincare business would have to take a backseat once we'd moved but it hasn't turned out to be the case and I'm busy making products for our delightful village shop and I've been keeping my hand in on the soap-making front, as usual experimenting with different designs and techniques so here are just a few of my Myddle soaps!

Rosemary & Eucalyptus


Savon d'Alep

Creamy Lavender

I've booked my first Craft Fair at Wem on 20th April so I'm really starting to feel at home here in glorious Shropshire.

Sunday 20 August 2017

On my (new) soapbox!

Can it really be over a year since I last wrote in my soap diary? It seems so. However, there's nothing like a new soap mould to kick things off again.

I found this lovely pine box, complete with liner and lid on Amazon. It was a snip and is just super as it provides its own insulation and the soap behaves amazingly well!

Yesterday I made a batch of what is fast becoming a favourite of mine - Sandalwood & Geranium; this is a lovely soap and in addition to the geranium and sandalwood essential oils I've also added some ylang ylang which gives it a spicy oriental note.

I've added a little colour to this and some gold mica to the top and it reminds me of an exotic ice cream dessert.

The silicone liner ensures a neat removal of the soap block...

So all that's left to do is to slice it up...

Then arrange them on a tray and leave to cure for 4 weeks...

Patience is a virtue!

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Anyone for coffee?

I'm so thrilled with my Cappuccino Coffee bar that I felt compelled to write about it!

Coffee is a buzz word these days, not only are we drinking it in huge quantities but it seems that coffee and the caffeine it contains offers many skincare benefits. Caffeine is a powerful anti-oxidant and also has anti-inflammatory properties; thus it can help reduce redness, even-out skin tone, prevent skin from premature ageing and on top of this it's a great exfoliator and leaves your skin feeling silky soft. Oh yes, I almost forgot, it's also said that caffeine reduces the appearance of cellulite.

I decided on an all-vegetable bar of soap with plenty of coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter. Once made I took away a quarter of the clear mixture saving this for the top layer and then added espresso coffee grounds (more caffeine in these!) to the rest of the mixture. Before pouring I added essential oils of patchouli and vetiver. This is a really great combination for this particular soap. Not only do these two oils contain great properties for the skin but the vetiver adds a dark chocolatey scent to the earthy patchouli. Mmmmm....

To complete the effect I sprinkled fresh ground coffee on the top.

This was made yesterday and today saw the great unveiling....

It looks good enough to eat and smells fantastic!

This is my second batch and the first was ready earlier this week and I can honestly say that this is one of the most glorious soaps I've ever made. It's rich and creamy and leaves your skin feeling fantastic. I use it on my face (yes, it's super mild) but it would be a great shower soap too.

A shower with this first thing and a cup of coffee at elevenses means you get a double daily caffeine hit. Nothing wrong with that!

Friday 20 May 2016

Rosemary and Parmesan Crackers

Well here I am again trying to improve my memory by getting my daily fix of rosemary! Not in soap this time but in these scrummy rosemary and parmesan crackers.

60 g butter - melted in microwave
80 g grated parmesan 
60 g plain flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt
black pepper

Melt butter in microwave then add the rest of the ingredients and combine until the mixture forms a dough. It will probably be quite crumbly but firm it up with your hands and pop in the fridge for an hour. Roll out and cut (or press by hand) into small cracker shapes. Pop into a pre-heated oven (mine is fan) at 160 and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until browning at the edges.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Monday 9 May 2016

The Power of Rosemary

For centuries rosemary has been associated with having a good memory and it appears that there may well be a lot of truth in this. However, this aromatic and fragrant
Mediterranean herb has many other useful benefits when it comes to healing, notably it can help with:-

  • stress relief
  • clarity and focus
  • boosting the immune system
  • easing headaches
  • alleviating join and muscle pain

It seems there is no end to the healing properties of this lovely aromatic herb.

My particular area of interest is its ability to help ‘future memory’ and mental clarity and this internet article (link below) provided by the BBC encouraged me to create a range of skincare products containing pure rosemary essential oil (rosmarinus officinalis). Naturally, I can’t make any claims for these products but I hope, when in use, they will provide an aromatic, refreshing and restorative boost.

The Khandala Rosemary Collections contains:-

  • A pure rosemary soap
  • Clear Thinking Balm (a specially formulated synergistic blend of essential oils designed to help clear the mind and enhance focus)
  • Rosemary & Spearmint Hemp Seed Lip Balm (with aloe butter and baobab oil)
  • Rosemary & Lemon Balm all-natural healing salve
Available on the website now!