Several years ago, I was in a women’s class at church where in one session, we were encouraged to purchase a tea cup and saucer, and set time apart to drink tea, and probably read too (It was a looooong time ago, so I do not remember all!). It sounded very British to me, and being a lover of most things British, I was in! Despite the fact that I do not drink tea (or coffee for that matter.), I went to Goodwill and bought a fancy looking single tea cup and saucer. I was living with my mom at the time. By now she was used to me drinking apple juice out of fancy wine glasses (I had these pretty wine glasses that I used for juice, since I do not drink wine either)
Anyway, this soap has brought back those memories. It is the second challenge in which I participate from the Soap Challenge Club and originally I was going to skip it. The challenge consists of using a drink item, and an edible item in the soap. Since I have already done beer soap, wine soap, coffee soap, soap with carrot puree and soap with pumpkin puree, I thought I did not have anything to learn. However, I am glad I changed my mind! As I determined to use something different this time, and when I read in the guidelines that using something local to us was encouraged, though not required.
I raided my pantry and freezers (which was great in itself, as it forced me to figure out what the mystery bags were):
- I had four bags of coffee grounds, most of which I put in the garden and only kept one.
- I had a leftover homemade natural ice cream (made only with frozen bananas and cocoa powder) which I ate in the spot.
- My husband had a very spicy sauce, unlabeled.
My advice? Do yourself a favor and always label and date whatever you freeze, make it a law for others who live there too, especially if it is spicy and you cannot handle spicy food. Just take my word for that.
In the end, I decided to use peppermint green tea for my drink item, since I figured it would not discolor the soap batter too much (or would discolor to a green, which I could incorporate into the design). And for the food item: Blueberries! I have gone blueberry picking here before, so though perhaps Texas is not famous for blueberries, I know they do grow here.
I originally had chosen apples, since I had several on hand, but I did not cook them or peel them before putting them in the food processor and later on the mortar. (There were still chunks and peel pieces that I was concerned would eventually mold in the soap, it was not quite getting the texture of a puree. (Later, when I read a blog post from the challenge help tips, I realized I should have cook it briefly). I did not have that issue with the blueberries, since they are softer, and I passed them through a colander after blending them, to avoid big chunks.
I decided to aim for the Advanced level of the challenge and use only natural colorants and essential oils for fragrance. (I have a stash of essential oils I need to use up before the end of the year anyway.) This meant though, that even any decorations I planned to use (such as soap dough embeds) would need to be colored naturally. Thankfully, I had some soft soap left over that had been colored with kaolin clay and partially colored with orange 10x essential oil (a soft yellow). I had used it to make the sun embed, in the Sunshine Soap Collaboration. and kept it in a sealed plastic bag. So, I used this soap dough to make the tea cups, and painted them with indigo powder, rose clay, and annatto powder. It was tricky, but I am very happy with the result.
I also made some soap dough with natural colorants, with mixed results, however, indigo was one of the colors that were successful, so I was able to make blueberries with it.
Peppermint Tea and Blueberries Soap
|Coconut Oil, 76 deg||214.68||7.57||0.47||25%|
|Rice Bran Oil||274.79||9.69||0.61||32%|
|Ricinus Oil (Castor Oil)||60.11||2.12||0.13||7%|
|Karite Butter (Shea)||94.46||3.33||0.21||11%|
|Lye – NaOH 100% Purity (5% Superfat)||118.37||4.18||0.26||9.71%|
|Green Tea (34% Lye + 66% Tea Solution)||229.77||6.11 (8.11- 2 oz)||0.51||18.85%|
|Soap Weight (Pre-Cook)||1,218.94||43||2.69||100%|
The oils temperature was 87° Fahrenheit / 30°C and the peppermint tea was frozen and kept in ice bath, I walked away and when I came back it was in the 50’s ° Fahrenheit / 10’s°C
- Standard soap making tools and protective equipment
- 3 lb Loaf mold OR 8″ silicone mold
Colorants, Additives and and Fragrance:
2 oz of Essential oil Blend. I used:
- 0.30 oz of Rosemary Essential oil
- 0.75 Litsea Cubeba Essential oil
- 0.65 Peppermint Supreme Essential oil (2x would be better)
- 0.30 Orange 10X Essential oil
Colorants I used:
- 1.5 teaspoon of indigo powder dispersed in 0.80 oz of water (2 tablespoons)
- 1.5 teaspoon of indigo powder and 1.5 teaspoon of french green clay dispersed in 0.85 oz of water (2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon of kaolin clay dispersed in 0.40 oz (or 1 tablespoon of water).
However, given that my soap batter turned brown because of the tea, if I were to redo this, I may do a single color or just two layers instead of multiple. So I would probably just use 2 teaspoons of indigo for the whole batch.
- 6-8 oz of blueberries (only 3.75 oz are needed to do the 1/8 proportion to oils, but I needed more as I strained them to get the seeds and large chunks of skin out). This is equivalent to 1/8 of the oils. It is the highest amount of fruit or edible item suggest for soap, and it was part of the advanced category requirement. I would normally only use 1 or 2 tablespoons of food.
- 1 packet of peppermint green tea or several peppermint leaves (the green tea with peppermint leaves turned brown when mixed with lye) and 9 oz of water to brew it with (some will evaporate)
Supplies for Decorations:
- I hand molded the tea cups and blueberries. The video shows this process slightly.
- Fine round brush for painting
- Sculpting tools or a pen, rolling tool, exacto knife
- Indigo powder, rose clay, french green clay
- Green, navy blue, yellow and off white soap dough
On the left, how it looks when freshly cut, on the right, a few days later. It seems the blueberries are causing the brown color once exposed to air, while the yellow discoloration of the essentials oils mixed with the indigo caused the initial green.
- Grab a small piece of soap dough colored with indigo powder, and roll it between your palms in a circular motion. I ended up with an oval shape, so I used my thumb and index fingers to squeeze it, which resulted in a shape similar to blueberries. (I will post a video on the making of the soap dough next week).
- If you have a tiny star shape stamp, you could use it on one end of the blueberry, entirely optional though.
- If you have a small leaf shape mold, just press the green colored soap dough against it and pull out.
- You can also shape or cut the leaf with your fingers as shown in the video, and add texture with a pen or with a stamp.
It is hard to explain how I shaped the teacups, I quite struggled with most of them and they were all done slightly differently. But I found this mold that might work.
PREPARING THE FOOD AND DRINK ITEMS
The day before or several days before:
- For the blueberries: I was using frozen blueberries, though fresh could have been better. I blended them with the stick blender, until a paste consistency was achieved.
- If using frozen blueberries, let the mixture sit on counter for half hour if you can/want. It makes straining it easier. To strain them, just push the paste through a strainer with a spoon and into a container until you have about 4 oz (I needed 3.75 oz)
- Put the strained puree into an ice tray and freeze.
- For the tea: Brew the leaves or tea for 3 minutes in hot water, let it cool and put it in ice tray and freeze.
MAKING THE SOAP
- In a well ventilated area, wearing your safety equipment, add the lye gradually to the frozen tea cubes, there should not be many fumes if frozen. You can prepare this several hours ahead, and use it when at room temperature, or if you keep it in ice bath, a lot sooner. The idea is to work in cooler temperatures due to the sugars in the blueberries.
- While you wait for the lye water to cool down, you can weigh and melt your oils, and weigh your essential oils into a glass or ceramic container
- When your oils and lye solution are at room temperature or about 80°F (30.°C) , add your lye solution to the oils slowly, to avoid splatters pour it on the blender shaft.
- Stir with the blender on Off position initially, then blend in short bursts, until you reach emulsion, which is before reaching trace.
- This takes about 40 seconds with this recipe. ENTER DETAILS HERE
- Add the essential oils blend and be ready to mix and pour quickly after that. Stirring with a whisk should keep it fluid longer than with the blender.
- My intention was to do two thick layers with one thin layer in the middle. This soap moves quickly since in addition to the sugar from the blueberries, I also have a 34% lye to water concentration. (If that sounds greek to you, read this.) In the future I may just do one single color or two at the most. So I divided the soap batter in half, and out of one of the halves, I poured out a small portion to be colored with the kaolin clay.
- Add the indigo powder to one of the halves and the indigo + french green clay to the other.
- Disperse the indigo with the blender and pour on the mold
- Disperse the kaolin clay on the smaller portion and add to the mold as a middle layer, repeat this process with the remaining batter.
- If you want to do any swirls, now is the time
- Once the top of the soap is somewhat firm, add the blueberry, leaves and teacups embeds
- Wait 24 hours and start checking for hardness. Try releasing from one side of the mold, and if nothing sticks back, it is ready to be removed from the mold and cut. If it still sticks, wait longer (8-24 hours or so) I let it sit for 48 hours as it was still sticking and not quite firm after 24.
Here is the video for the making of the soap
Next week I will post a video of the making of the soap dough