The Camelia in my Garden
A dear friend popped in for a cuppa last Tuesday. It had been at least two years since we last saw each other...but it never seems like that when we meet. You know those few and far between friends that you can just pick up from where you left off and it seems like yesterday? Well she is one of those.
Leah is also an amazing photographer! I mean amazing! As I looked through her work I felt inspired to get my camera out and go to one of those far away exotic places and take the perfectly framed photo with just the right amount of artistic licence to make it prize worthy.
Well...that will never happen...so I found my old point and shoot digital camera that I bought from the Post Office, and walked out my front door, looking for some strange creature or insect or something! Why is it that when I never want to see a spider, I see them everywhere, and when I really want to see one, there are none to be found?
I then spotted my Camelia tree dripping with soft, delicate, shell pink flowers. I love the old fashioned Camelias. There is something so beautiful in their symmetry. So I took two pictures. Only two...because the batteries ran out in my camera and I didn't have anymore AA batteries in the house.
Well here they are! One Camelia two ways! Now I sound like someone off Master Chef...Perhaps I should do deconstructed Camelia two ways..
Anyway...Thank you Leah for showing me the world through the lens of your camera!
Beanies, Knitting and Grandmothers
When I was a small girl growing up in rural NSW, I lived around the corner from my Grandmother. She was a wonderful knitter, and often I would sit beside her as she patiently taught me to knit one, purl one, as I tried to knit a scarf littered with holes. I haven't knitted in years. Too many years to count!
I was in town the other day, looking for ribbon and paper to wrap my soaps, when I saw the wool isle, filled with beautiful yarns and skeins of wool in so many wonderful colours and textures. Standing there, I was transported back to my Grandmother's verandah, sitting beside her while we knitted together, her with a pink cabled jumper for me, and me knitting my multicoloured scarf.
It was at that moment that I decided to take up the challenge and knit a beanie. I knew that I had two boxes of wool and patterns at home tucked away in some forgotten space, and I was determined to resurrect them and give those balls of wool a life and a purpose! No longer to sit in the dark, but to be worn for all the world to see!
I then spotted some beautiful Australian wool dyed in multi-colours...it was beautiful! And...I would get a free pattern book if I bought four skeins of wool! How could I resist?
So, I am now knitting a green beanie...my practise beanie, before I begin to knit with my new multi-coloured wool...and as I knit and listen to the click of my needles and try to remember to count my stitches....I think of my Grandmother and a little girl sitting beside her on a verandah.
Preservatives and Liquid Soap
If you are thinking about making liquid soap as part of your soap making experience, and especially if you are thinking of selling it, then the question of whether to use a preservative or not is a hotly debated topic!
Some sites and soap makers say no, while others will say categorically yes! Well which one is correct?
So let's look at some of the information out there!
My recipe for liquid soap does not have a preservative, but if you decide to use one, then it is easily incorporated into the recipe. Your main decision will be on deciding which preservative to use. However, the information in this post should be helpful for you. Choose a preservative that works in an anhydrous solution.
I have used information from three very useful and informative soap making sites that I believe are reliable and know their products. Each of these sites is listed in the Reference section of this post.
So why use a preservative in your product? Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in our products, which can cause separation of our emulsions, speed up rancidity of our oils and butters, and cause weird smells. Contaminated products aren't pretty and they're dangerous. There are countless reports of unpreserved lotions causing contact dermatitis, rashes, and worse1.
When should you use a preservative? If you make a product with water, you need a preservative. Anhydrous products don't need preserving, although products that might come into contact with water, like scrubs or in shower lotion bars, require preservatives.2
'Cold process soap (made with sodium hydroxide) does not need a preservative. For other high pH products such as liquid soap, generally if the pH is above 10 a preservative may not be required. If the pH is below 10, an expert microbiologist advises liquid germall plus can be used (despite the supplier recommended use below pH8). Alternatively, Suttocide A or Glydant Plus can be used.'3
It’s a common myth that anti-oxidants like vitamin E, Grapefruit Seed Extract and rosemary extract are preservatives but they are not – http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/when-should-you-use-preservative.html Oxidation of oils and butters leads to rancidity and anti-oxidants slow down this process. These anti-oxidants do not prevent bacteria, yeast, or mold from spoiling your product. (Yeasts and moulds are fungi).4
The following information is taken from 'Talk it out Tuesdays' at http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/lotion/talk-it-out-tuesday-preservatives/
What kind of preservatives are out there?
Many people like their products and soaps to be all-natural, but sometimes there just isn’t a way to make everything 100% natural. Currently there isn’t a good quality, affordable, all-natural preservative on the market for home crafters. I (Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Brambleberry Soap Making supplies) have done quite a bit of research into this and come up with what I think is a great range of preservative options:
Germaben – It is also great preservative to use when you are making lotions, as it helps to keep them nice and creamy. Usage rate:.3-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 140 degrees.
Optiphen – Optiphen is a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative. It is best to use in your oil-based recipes like shampoos, conditioners, and some lotions. Found out how to use Optiphen when making your own homemade conditioner. Usage rate: .5-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Optiphen ND– Optiphen ND is a water-soluble, broad spectrum preservative. This preservative works best in surfactant based systems, shampoos, conditioners, gels, creams, and lotions. Usage Rate: 1% of the total weight of your recipe and must be used at a temperature lower than 176°F.
Optiphen Plus – Optiphen Plus is a water-soluble, paraben- and formaldehyde-free preservative. You can use Optiphen Plus in any recipe your are using water in and it helps to protect against bacteria, mold growth and even yeast! Usage rate: .75-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
Phenonip – Phenonip is a liquid preservative that helps to suppress the full range of microbial growth in your cremes, lotions, salt scrubs, dusting powders and liquid soap bases. When making products at a higher temperature, this is going to be the preservative you are going to want to use. Usage rate: .5-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 200 degrees.
What is NOT a preservative!
An anti-oxidant is not a preservative. It lacks the anti-microbial qualities that other actual preservatives (Phenonip, Germaben, and Optiphen) possess. Many people get confused when they are researching preservatives and what is or isn’t a product that can help preserve their lotions and scrubs. We believe that a full-spectrum preservative (like Optiphen, Phenonip or Germaben) must be used to truly prevent mold and bacterial growth in your lotion products.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – Grapefruit Seed Extract (commonly known as GSE) is a thick and golden antioxidant that helps to prevent your oils from going bad in your lotions and lotion bars, but is not a preservative. We never recommend using GSE as the only preservative in your products. But if you are looking for a great anti-oxidant, GSE is the one to go with!
Rosemary Oleoresin – Rosemary Oleoresin, also known as Rosemary Oil Extract or ROE is an oil-soluble, all-natural extract that is used to prevent rancidity in lotions and oil-products. It helps to extend the shelf life of your product, but as with GSE, will not preserve it.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a thick and viscous oil that is super easy to mix into lotions, liquid oils, and even bath bombs for its skin-loving properties. It is a wonderful anti-oxidant, but it isn’t considered a preservative because it has no antimicrobial properties to it. Many home crafters use it thinking it will preserve their products, but all it can do is extend the life of the oils in your product (similarly to ROE and GSE).
What products need preservatives?
You wouldn’t want to find that your fabulous sugar scrub went bad after a few weeks, would you?
Any recipe that includes water in it or any product that may get water in it needs a preservative.
That includes most lotions and cremes, sugar or salt scrubs, and some types of body powders. Preservatives aren’t generally necessary in liquid soaps, but can be added if desired.5
As a natural soap crafter, you want to not only make natural products, you also want your products to be Safe! It can be dangerous to wash your self or lather yourself in nasty bugs that can cause serious skin conditions or even infections. So...I would ere on the side of caution and use a preservative like Liquid Germall Plus or Phenonip in your liquid soap to ensure that it remains safe to use.
Aussie soap supplies has a good list and supply of preservatives to choose from. You can find them at the following website http://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au//catalogsearch/result/?type=catalog&q=preservatives
An excellent source of information on preservatives, and well worth reading is an article on Making Skincare. You can find this article at http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/.
3. Reviews of 27 preservatives http://www.makingskincare.com/preservatives/
Do you use preservatives in your liquid soap? If so...which ones? I would love to hear from you.
Mother's Day had come and gone.
I stood looking at all the flowers. So many flowers. Row upon row of flowers being blown by the wind as it whipped over the top of the hill and tore at my hair. It looked like the remains of a Spring Carnival...only silent...except for the wind.
The flowers were out of place in this landscape...there should be life around flowers.
There is only silence in a grave yard.
I looked out at the row upon row of flowers, discarded by the wind and thought that there were so many mothers under those flowers. So many husbands, daughters and sons must have come to visit their mother on Mother's Day. What did they say? What were they thinking as they carefully bent down and placed their flowers. What can anyone possibly say to such SILENCE.
I thought is this the sum of a person's life? Is this all there is in the end? A silent grave decked out with Spring flowers when we all know that it is Winter.
I stood looking at my future.
In silence I went to their graves. It feels strange to stand over the bones of those you love...I say love because this dreadful thing called death, and the silence of the grave can not sever those bonds.
I greeted each in turn...Father, Brother, Step-father, Aunties, Grandmother, Grandfather...no one answered me...Just the wind.
The day after Mother's day was sunny and windy and cold and silent.
And then it seemed like the wind spoke to me, an echo from a distant past and reminded me, "that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39
This soap smells wonderful, but I am disappointed with the white spots caused by the Titanium Dioxide. I mixed the titanium dioxide in room temperature oil, but next time I will warm the oil up so that it disperses well. It ruins the look of the soap I think...so I will either leave it out all together or make sure that the oil is warm.
I love using peppermint essential oil...it doesn't take much to create a lovely fragrance. I also used Australian Pink Clay for the colour. Clay is very conditioning and cleansing and gives soap a lovely smooth feel.
This soap is still curing but I am sure that it will be ready by Compassion Day! If you want one then please contact me via the contact page.
Don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter...you just might find it interesting!! :)
Yesterday I watched sadly as the local Council cut down the big Eucalyptus tree on our fence line. This was such a beautiful tree.
I thought about how many years the tree had been growing and how quickly it disappeared under the might of the chainsaw. I will miss its shade and that lovely spicy smell that only comes from an Australian Eucalypt or Gum tree as us Aussies would say!!
I must have been feeling very nostalgic for my missing tree, as before I knew it, I was cooking up a batch of soap using pure Australian Eucalyptus oil as my fragrance.
I decided to use the Hot Process method as in many cases I prefer this to Cold process. I suppose because the results are more predictable. :)
Also, by using the Hot Process method I could achieve the rustic look that I wanted.
To temper the aroma of Eucalyptus I decided to use Lavender flowers throughout the soap mix. I did not want to use Lavender Oil as I really wanted the Eucalyptus to shine!
You can find the recipe for this soap by clicking:.
Hot Process Australian Eucalyptus and Lavender Flower Soap
Do you use Eucalyptus oil in your soap making or around your home for a natural and effective cleaner? I use it in the bathroom instead of any chemical or harsh cleaners.
Have you ever found that sometimes when it's just you and your child in the car...it's then that an interesting conversation often occurs?
This happened to me the other day with my 15 year old son. He asked me, "What do you think happiness is mum?".
I paused...for to be honest, I had never really thought about happiness before...not in a meaningful way...
I said that I didn't really know what happiness is...that I think it is different for everyone. I can only tell you what happiness is for me.
Happiness for me is often fleeting and gone so fast that I wonder if it ever arrived!
Happiness comes in little treasures like pearls or semi-precious stones...sometimes out of nowhere when you least expect it. I looked at him and said...always be open to happiness and welcome her visits.
It is different to joy. For me, Joy is always there...joy is something deep in my spirit that is like a well for me to tap into...it is not happiness.
I quoted the words of St Paul when he said, "I think myself happy". Acts26:2
I think myself happy when suddenly I catch a glimpse of my children, old and young, and see the wonder that used to be in their faces when they were small and just discovering the world.
I think myself happy when out of nowhere I see a daffodil or smell the fragrance of Freesias or Daphne on a mellow, sunny day.
I think myself happy when I receive a gentle smile or see my small grandson running and chasing dogs so big that I wonder how he can manage to not get knocked over, or when my grand-daughter holds her arms up to me for a cuddle. I think myself happy.
Happiness is also knowing when you are not happy...confused?
My son sat quietly and listened. Do you understand what I'm saying?
Happiness for me is not a state of being it is a state of mind.
I think that if we are happy all the time, then we wouldn't learn and grow.
We would not be stretched and challenged...we would not be able to recognise happiness when it arrives.
What are your thoughts on the nature of happiness? I would love to read your opinion or experiences of happiness. Write a comment.
Hi! Welcome to my Soapy Conversations about Soap and AllSorts of other Topics! I live in NSW Australia and I am a mother of five, Grandmother of Five and I sponsor seven children through Compassion Australia. I love making soap, reading, teaching English, and being an Advocate for children and women living in poverty.
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AllSorts of Soaps