Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To have insurance or NOT to have insurance?

So, this is a MUCH debated question amongst the soapmaking community.  But then again, anything humanly-minded can be debated and lets face it, common sense is an oxymoron, right?  Now-a-days people sue over almost everything; hence the reason why our premiums on everything is so high.  But, have you ever heard of a soapmaker being sued over their soap?  Personally I haven't and I have not been able to find of anyone who has been sued over their soap.....sooooo, does that mean it won't happen or can happen or will happen?  I like to always think of "Murphy's Law" and what can happen, WILL happen.  So, do I have insurance, yes, yes I do.  And yes, it's an expense, not cheap.  I go with my membership from the Soapmakers Guild and purchase my insurance through them. 

Do people sell their products without insurance?  Of course they do.  Is it safe?  Can't answer that, it's a personal preference and how comfortable you are with your business.  I'm a Sole Proprieter, so my business assetts are not seperated from my personal assetts.  If you are a registered LLC with your state, then this should seperate your business assetts from your personal assetts therefore if sued because your product caused someone a bad rash, then your business alone would take the hit.  Well, you say, what about the Sole Proprieter?  If you have some major personal assetts, they can take it all if you have no product liability insurance!  I personally have no personal assetts.  We rent, our cars are paid for and old, so they wouldn't get much from them if they were taken, we wear hand-me-downs and Goodwill clothes, and barely have any savings.  We have no fancy high price toys and no ownership of real estate such as land.  So, I feel safe with being a Sole Proprieter for my business at this time.  AND I still have insurance! 

Now, some people of this craft community will say, "well, with just soap I won't get insurance cause it rinses off the skin and insurance is too expensive.  But if I sold lotions or anything that requires a preservative, then I would get insurance."  While this is maybe logical in some sense, soap is still placed on the skin and how many of us has bought commercial detergent bar or bodywash, used it and have it break us out or cause our skin to burn, etc do to a reaction to an ingredient in the product?  I know I have.   Yes, it's is expensive, but it is more expensive to go without it IF Mr. Murphy decides to place residence with you.  And trust me, Mr. Murphy likes you!  ;)

Then there is the argument, or shall I say heated discussion, on when you do have insurance, for your policy to "truly" cover you, how much record keeping should you have, what extra things need to be placed on labels, testing of preservatives, etc.  This makes perfect sense and haven't really thought of this until today, actually.  I have insurance, but I have not had my preservative tested in my products.  So, does this make my insurance valid if someone was to sue me over my lotion?  Will my insurance deny the claim?  Hm, I'm not sure at this time, and will have to look further into that.  Let me add, that I do not test my lotion's preservation because it is SUPER expensive from the last time I researched this.  I'm talking $1,000's via going through the FDA for the testing.  Now, can I go to any lab and it cost the same?  Not sure, I'll have to research this some more and get back to you.  I will also add too, that I preserve at the recommended manufacturer percentages in my formulations of my lotion and creams.  All my recipes and formulations are done by percentages which makes for a more accurate and safe product. 

If anyone has more information on this, please respond.  I would like to hear (or read, haha) how insurance companies are handling things regarding when a claim is filed and what is actually involved on accepting and denying claims.  (Regarding soaps and cosmetics)

As my conclusion, the world is the world and humans treat each other badly.  And, no matter if you have listed on your label "use at own risk, external use only, if rash/irritation occurs, stop use immediately" people will still try to sue you, even when they KNOW what you have warned them about.  God refers to us as sheep for a reason.  (By the way, sheep are not very smart animals!)  I use these types of warnings on my products as well, but only because truly some people just don't know.  Remember the common sense thing?  So, if you are serious about this type of business, get insurance.  You can't do any craft shows or farmers markets without it.  And, just a side note, if you think you're going to make money at this business from the get go, you're in for a rude awakening.  Just like with any business, there is start up cost, and it takes a good while to make that money back because most of your money goes right back into your materials.  So don't get your hopes up too high in the beginning.  Treat it as a hobby business for the first year (with insurance still!) and see how it goes.  You'll know by the end of the year whether you want to take it further or keep it as a hobby just to replace your materials so you can keep making more goodies. 

Happy Soaping!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Road trips in life.

Wow, I haven't wrote on here in a while and I'm sorry for that.  Our family has been bombarded with various trials and we are finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.  If someone looks as though they have it all and/or a perfect life with no trouble or worries, then get to know them better because it just is NOT so.  We can be content, but to actually have NO problems, is fake. 

We are still traveling an bumpy road.  Homeschooling is almost to a complete hault, we are in the process of short saleing our home, just moved, and our daughter of 10 months was recently in the hospital for 5 days very sick.  Whew!  I have to say, there were some days I was so distraught, all I could do was cry and say "God help me."  Maybe it wasn't even a prayer, but more like a plead.  I needed His strength, I was on empty.  My husband had to miss 3 days of work because of Gabriella's hospitilization and now risks losing 3 days of pay, having to pay to have FMLA paperwork filled out AND (this is the kicker) make those 3 days up.  That's right, make 3 days up he missed (he's salary btw) and make them up WITHOUT pay.  WHAT?!?  I'm sure the state Wage & Hour department will love that, but that's besides the point.  So now, with probably an almost $10,000 hospital bill coming our way, my husbands pay will get docked because he needed to be with his daughter during her illness.  I guess that's business...

Needless to say, my business is on the back burner at this moment.  Oh it's something I want to get off the ground so bad and just take time to work on it.  But my family needs come first and right now my time management is not there.  I'm not saying it won't happen, I'm just not going to meet my deadline.....maybe.  LOL...There is still have a month of April left, so we'll see.  I have made some cold-process soaps which won't be ready til the beginning of May and they look and smell yummy.  I have tons of fragrances and recipes to try.  Soapmaking is a patient art and it takes time.  Lots of time.  My lotions can be made pretty quickly and will be made to order, since this is easier for me and better for you.  You will get fresh lotion which will have a longer shelf life, and you'll get to choose the scent.  I even have now the choice of a 4 oz lotion bottle or tub.

However, I have ALOT of soap I need to get rid of!  LOL....I'm running out of room to cure and store!  I will be following up soon with a complete list of what is ready to get out of my house.  And when I mean get it out of my house, I mean get it at GREAT prices because I have new stuff to follow suit!

So, I'm still here!  LOL....busy as ever.  As one wise woman said, "If a woman says they are not busy when they are a homemaker/stay at home mom, then she isn't doing something right!"  Amen to that!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade laundry detergent...does it work?!?

Ok, so I'm finally getting a chance to do this.  Most of you probably know that I've been making and using homemade laundry detergent for probably about 2 years now?  Anyways, can't remember the exact time, but a while.  I have messed around with recipes several times because I'm always thinking something can always be better even when its already good.  I started out making the powder, but this actually costs a little more money than making it into liquid.  So then I went to making the liquid and I like it much better.  My first recipes called for grating up soap, then adding borax and washing soda.  I started making laundry detergent before my soap adventures began and it was actually what made me want to make my own soap!  I began with Fels Naptha, which smells great, but didn't clean as well as I'd like.  Then I found Zote, which is a huge bar of laundry soap by the way, for like $0.90 at Big Lots.  Fels Naptha and Zote are specifically made for laundry, please don't purchase these and use them on your skin.  So I began to use Zote for liquid laundry detergent.  I would grate the soap up, melt in on low heat with about a quart of hot, boiling water until it was dissolved.  Once dissolved, I would put it in my 1 gallon glass jar, add 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup baking soda.  I have tried the recipe without baking soda (and NO you can not substitute baking soda for washing soda, not the same chemical compound) and found the baking soda give a good boost to the laundry detergent.  Once the dry ingredients were dissolved in the liquid soap, then I would add cold water til the jar was full.  I'd sit it on the kitchen counter and give it a few stirs throughout the day, and let it sit overnight.  Usually in the morning, I'd wake up to a gloppy-gel detergent.  Sometimes, the water would seperate, but a few more stirs just put things back together. 

Well, THEN I came across a no-shred laundry soap recipe from Mike on http://soapmakingforum.com/  So I had to give it a try!  The recipe is:
500g coconut oil (or you can use lard, just run it through your lye calculator because it has a different SAP value)
2L cold water
92g NaOH (sodium hydroxide)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1.25L hot water
EO or FO for scent (optional)

I put it together first by measuring out my lye and water (I still used distilled for the cold water).  I took a little of the water, about 10 oz and used this to mix my lye into.  Remember to always pour lye into water, never the other way around!  Once this was dissolved, I began to weigh and melt my coconut oil.  Once the coconut oil was melted, I put in my 1 gallon glass jar.  I then added my lye/water solution to the coconut oil, stirring slowly with my stick blender without pulsing.  I gave this then a few pulses with my stick blender, just to incorporate and get the saponification process started.  I didn't stick blend to trace.  After this I added the rest of the cold water and stick blended.  Then I added the borax and washing soda, stick blended until dissolved.  Then I added the hot water.  I used tap water, but I boiled this for a while to kill buggies.  Stick blended again for a little bit, added my fragrance oil, and stick blended some more.  Then I just put it on my kitchen counter with the lid on, and watched the experiment.  LOL

At first all the soap solids seperated from the water and settled on top, while on the water was on the bottom.  So before I went to bed, I gave it a good blend with the stick blender.  In the morning, I still had soap solids on the top and water on the bottom; however, there was much more soap on top than before, so I knew it was working.  So I stick blended everything again.  This time, about 75% of the jar was soap and only a little water left on bottom.  This soap takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 days to set up.  You have to stick blend 2-3 times a day, or whisk.  Each time I stick blended, I got more excited (I know, sad, right! LOL) because it was soooooo creamy and smooth.  Not gloppy like all the other I had made from bar soap!  Mine set up in about 2 days. 

I chose coconut oil because it has high cleansing properties, plus I have made 100% lard laundry soap bars for my laundry soap and I didn't find they cleaned as well as the store bought. 

Here is what it looked like after my last stick blending, if you are a soaper, it'll look like soap does when you have reached trace. 

It will get a little thicker, like pudding or custard, but so smooth!  Here is what it looks like today after I gave it a stir with my handy dandy wooden spoon :)

The measuring cup I'm using is for 1/4 cup.  This recipe you'll use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup depending on how soiled your clothes are and your water conditions.  We have a salt water softner.  This will have to be your experiment to determine what's the right amount for you. 

Here is to give you an idea how it suds....none.  This would be great for a front loader.  I put it in my water before adding my laundry.

I thought I would test on towels and bibs, my dirtiest laundry!  For this experiment, I did NOT pre-treat any stains or add oxygen bleach.  The bib in the next picture has sweet potatoes set in, this is not fresh, but I think from yesterday.

So all I used was 1 cup of my new homemade laundry soap and warm water.  I dissolved the soap in the water before adding my laundry.  Oh, and I use white distilled vinegar in the rinse using a downy ball.
Here is the wash a few minutes in.  You can see that its working by the looks of the water.

And yes, when it come to towels, bibs, and everyday used blankets, it all gets thrown together.  I've got too much to do to be that particular!  LOL
Here is the wash about 10 minutes in:

Look at that water!  So far, I'm impressed!  Wow, this picture really shows my broken softner compartment, sorry!  Hence, why I use a downy ball now!  :)

When the wash and rinse were done, my laundry smelled amazingly clean and like my fragrance oil.  And yes, I sniff my laundry continuously when taking it out of the washer and putting it in the dryer.  I think being a cloth diapering mama has developed this habit!
Here is the bib afterwards:

Still can see some staining, the picture shows it alot more than in actuality.  For no pre-treating and/or using a bleaching agent along with the detergent, I'm impressed!  I have also washed some of Eric's work shirts and white undershirts, along with some of my shirts.  I always do the armpit sniff test on shirts to make sure they're clean, and all of them smelled great!  No BO or deodorant smell, they just smell like my laundry soap!  Deodorant can be a PAIN to get out.  Again, impressed!

So there you go, my 2 cents of me on my soapbox regarding this new laundry soap concoction.  Thanks to Mike for sharing his recipe!

On a side note, this has alot of water in it.  I didn't use a preservative because we will use this quickly around here, and I've never used a preservative even with making laundry soap with bar soap which uses alot of water as well.  Plus the preservative I use Optiphen Plus wouldn't work because it has to have a pH of 6 or less, and soap is alkaline.  But if you feel like it needs a preservative, by all means, add it, just make sure the preservative your using is suitable.

Happy Soaping everyone!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The down and dirty....preservatives.

Sorry for the delay in making a new post, but I have been sick around here, and if you're a mom, you know this means the whole household pretty much stops and everything hangs on by a thread.  My kids got taken care of and that was about it!  LOL...then Gabby got sick, and its been interesting.  Well, today is a better day, I'm on the mend and Gabby is taking a nap....sooooo....I've been wanting to make a post regarding preservatives!  I recently was asked about my preservative in my lotion, so here we go.  Bear in mind, some of this information can be boring.  If you've been using commercial lotions for years on end, then obviously your not concerned what's in your lotion preservation wise.  Commercial lotions are overkilled with preservatives (usually 2 or 3 different kinds) so they last for 3+ years on a store shelf or on your shelf.  Plus they are overly perfumed because the chemicals they use stink to high-heavens....literally....that's why alot of them so soooo strong and sometimes will give you a headache.....anyways, I can go on and on about that, but that's not the main reason for this post. 

First off, a little history.  Most of us know what cosmetics are, they are usually defined as anything to improve our appearance.  The FDA has a good page you can find here about whether its a cosmetic, a drug, or both?  (Or is it soap?)  This will give you an idea of our present history of how things are to run in the USA regarding cosmetics, drugs, and soap.  However, cosmetics date wayyyyy back, and was first really brought to light in documented world history with King Tut who ruled in 1350 BC.  Most of the products then were made by priests and considered a much honored art.  Egyptian women used somewhat crude paints and this peaked around Cleopatra's time period.  They all had one problem, preservation.  And even today, there is still ongoing developments in preserving because bacteria continues to develop differents strains resulting in all kinds of nasties. 

The trend right now is "natural."  Everyone wants an "all natural" lotion or "all natural" product.  Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as a truly ALL NATURAL product.  The only way to have a natural product is if it is something WITHOUT water and is placed here on earth by God.  For example, a whipped body butter of shea and coconut oil is natural.  It requires no preservation because it has no water in it.  Shea and coconut oils have shelf lifes of around 1 year, if you want to make them last longer, add a strong antioxidant like Vitamin E oil up to 1% of your formula.  Now if you want a lotion or cream, you have to have water and emulsifying agent.  As you know, water and oil don't mix, so you need something that is going to make the water molecules attached to the oil molecules to make them one (or the oil molecules to the water molecules, depends on how you are doing your phases).  It's chemistry people! ;)  I use emulsifying wax to do this.  You could use beeswax and borax, but there is a big debate on whether borax is natural, etc., and you really have to work at it to get a good emulification with this, plus do you want to put borax on your skin....also, people with allergens to pollens might not want beeswax in their products.  Here is some information from swiftcraftymonkey's blog (her blog is awesome and has an overwhelming amount of dead-on information, she is highly knowledgeable when it comes to lotion and soap making!)
EMULSIFYING WAX NF (various manufacturers)
INCI: Cetearyl alcohol and Polysorbate 60
Comes in pellet or flake form and must be heated and held to use.

As you can see, this is a high HLB emulsifier (polysorbate 60, HLB 14.9) and a low HLB emulsifier (cetearyl alcohol, HLB 4.5 to 4.7) combined to create an emulsifying system. The cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that offers some low level conditioning, emolliency, and thickening (much like cetyl alcohol).

Emulsifying wax offers emulsification with the addition of emolliency (the cetearyl alcohol is like cetyl alcohol). So your lotions will have more slip and glide and more greasiness than some other emulsifiers. Some of us (including me) like this feeling and others find it annoying. You can add IPM to the mix to reduce the greasiness, choose other esters, or use dryer oils like macadamia nut or hazelnut oil.

There seems to be some debate about the HLB of cetearyl alcohol with some saying it is as high as 15.5 and as low as 4.5. Since it makes no sense to me that you would combine two high HLB emulsifiers and have them work, I'm going with the lower number. Having said this, I find emulsifying wax NF is not as reliable as I would like, and I tend to use it only in anhydrous scrubs or bars in which I want emulsification on the spot without worrying about stability.
So, this is what I use.  In conjuction with ewax, I use stearic acid, which helps the stability of the ewax and helps with the thickening part of the chemistry action.  If you want to read more about stearic acid, you can go here.  Overall, stearic acid is distilled mainly from animal fats, so not exactly up PETA's ally!  Now, onto the preservative.
I use Optiphen Plus.  ISP's second globally approved preservative in the Optiphen family developed as an alternative for personal care formulations requiring a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative system, particularly within lower pH systems. Optiphen Plus performs best in formulations below 6.0 pH, but is also proven effective at pH levels above 6.0.
Recommended use levels: 0.5 - 1.5%.
Appearance: Clear liquid
INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid
(info from lotioncrafter.com)
Lotion has a low pH whearas soap has a high pH.  I do not preserve soap because the chemical process with lye kills everything and the water evaporates.  The chemical reaction makes a cleansing agent, so there ya go.  I do, however, add Vitamin E to my soaps depending on the oils I use.  Some oils have shorter shelf lives and need Vitamin E to keep them from going rancid.  Now onto Optiphen Plus.  This is a fairly new preservative.  Another popular one is Garmall.  I chose this one because its about as natural as you can get.  A while ago there was a huge article produced about parabens that gave everyone a big scare.  So then people trended to wanting paraben free products.  When selling, you give what your customers want and what the market trend is.  However, parabens have been around for 100's of years and yes we have increases in cancer, but think of all the other things that have been proven to cause cancer (such as our processed food diets!) and you catch my drift. 

Optiphen Plus has been known to give alot of lotion makers some trouble with their emulsifications and alot of them prefer not to use it.  It can be a difficult preservative to work with.  I have found it to be temperature sensitive to whether your lotion will stay emulsified.  It takes work to work with and to figure out how it works best for your recipe.  I use it at 1% in my formulas and I don't have a problem.  I have tested it to preserve my lotion for close to a year without any problems.  I've never had any fungus or bacteria grow in my lotions using this preservative. 

Phenoxyethanol has been stated to me "it has its own troubles."  Well, let me tell you, everything has its own troubles.  Essential (volatile) oils are natural, yet can cause you to miscarry (such as sage) if you don't know about them and especially if you are using them in your products to sell to other people, you need to know a little bit about what your using when formulating products, especially to sell.  Just because its natural, doesn't mean its safe, and as with all things, you must use the recommended usage.  If you don't use the recommended usage, such as too little, it won't preserve, if too much, you can cause health problems.  Careful formulation (and using a good lotion calculator!) is vital.

Well, phenoxyethanol is not natural.  Its chemically made by scientists in a lab to keep you from getting nasty bugs growing on your skin from the lotion you use.  Anything synthetically made has its own troubles.  Look at the medicines our pharmaceutical giants make.  When you take care of one problem, there will eventually always lurk another.  So, with this said.  I always suggest doing a patch test with my lotion.  Everyone is made uniquely by God and what might not cause a rash for one person, might cause one for another.  Preservatives are usually your culprit, unless you have a sensitivity to alot of natural allergens environmentally.  I'm a very sensitive skinned person and this preservative doesn't affect me.  It also doesn't give me that "burn" you normally get from commercial lotions, especially if you have skin that has cracked on your hands.  So, if your wondering what phenoxyethanol is, here you go:

Now, lets go on to another.....problem.  Many people get into lotion making without doing their research and think they can use a "natural" preservative.  Because like many of us, we want natural.  One of the popular ones is Grapefruit Seed Extract. Grapefruit Seed Extract has wonderful qualities just like essential oils do, but it is NOT a preservative.  It might keep your lotion from going rancid, it is an antioxidant, but it won't keep the nasties from growing.  Read about it some here with links for studies.  From my research, Grapefruit Seed Extract (alone, not when used in a formula) has a 7-9 year shelf life because it has synthetic preservatives mixed with it for bottleing and to be able to be placed on the shelf at your health food store or internet supplier.  Just like with everything else, it too has its own troubles.  It is NOT a broad spetrum preservative and should NOT be used to sell your product.  If you are making lotion just for yourself and use it up quickly, this might be a good way to keep your lotion for maybe 3-4 weeks, along with refridgeration.  I have a motto that goes "when in doubt, throw it out."  If you are weary about making someone sick with your product, then do your research into a broad spectrum preservative and purchase it to use.   If you are a person who doesn't want a nasty skin infection from your lotion or other body products such as balms, creams, sugar scrubs, anything with water in it, then purchase a product with a broad spectrum preservative in it.  And remember that all natural doesn't always mean all safe. 

I use the safest products I can possibly get in my products.  I use distilled water for purity.  Oils and butters for their qualities. I will use Vitamin E for its skin properties in lotion and I use it as a superfatting agent in soaps to keep DOS (dreaded orange spots) and my short shelf life oils from going rancid.  I use a broad spectrum preservative to keep nasties from growing in my lotion.  Researching never ends and better products come out all the time.  One manufactuer is always trying to "beat" the other manufactuer.  You are your best advocate for your health and what you put on your body.  Read your ingredient labels, do your research and go with the product you think is best for you and for your skin.  If I didn't have confidence in my product, I definitely wouldn't be selling it.

Also, if you are interested in reading more on preservatives, go to http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/2009/04/preservatives.html and she'll give you her insight as well.  She is also way more qualified and more experienced than I am.  I respect her intellect and profound amount of research she has done.  AND she backs up her research, so go check her out. :)

Well, there ya go, the partial nitty-gritty of preservatives and why I use one.  Do your research and be realistic!   

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Here is my newest artisan creation:  a castile soap made of saponified cottonseed, soybean, coconut, and olive oil.  It has 50% olive oil.  I scented with Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Grapefruit essential oils and it smells soooooooo yummy!  I got some new colorants in and decided to try a cool swirly.  So I used green and black micas, and I'm VERY pleased with these colorants.  Very easy to use!  This was my first time working with micas and they are sooooo worth having.  This soap will be ready in about 2 weeks!

And the Edy's Thin Mint ice cream was a coincidence, I truly didn't plan for the soap to urn out looking like the ice cream!  LOL

Friday, February 10, 2012

Check her out!

It's amazing what the internet can do!  There is a whole community out there for us mama's who cloth diaper and homeschool.  And for WAHM's!  One of the communities I share in is diaperswappers.  I have met some incredible mama's and some great Work At Home Mom's.  It even has a marketplace where you can find ALL KINDS of stuff for buy/sell/trade, from homeschooling curriculum, clothing, video games, anything pertaining to babies, and yes, of course, cloth diapers!  I've got a few posts in diaperswappers and this is where I also have announced Jodi's soapbox and have gotten some testers for my products.  Through doing this I have met a wonderful mama who also blogs!  So go check her blog out here!  She's an awesome mama and a great supporter to us WAHM's.  Thank you Polly for your support!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's involved...

So there are some of you wondering...what's involved with starting this type of business?  Well, let me say....ALOT.  Its not something that can be taken lightly and the ol' "I'm just going to whip up one kind of soap and sell lots of it" attitude will kill your business before it even starts.  It is HARD work.  90% of it is business and the other 10% is making the actual product.  Not to mention the time of a year or more before even considering you have a good enough recipe to sell!  I have mainly just shared on this blog the 10% of what's involved.  (I'm hoping to do a tutorial soon on how lotion is made.)  Now, just to touch on the 90%.  Here are some things of "what's involved".

*Register a fictitious business name with the county
*check on business license/permit
* check on local zoning laws
*Register your business name through the state and ask about a license
*get a sales tax #

All in the meantime you're working on product, logos, labeling, packaging, formulations/recipes, business plans, inventory, and supplies.

Some things to consider:

Do you have product liability insurance and do you want personal liability insurance?  Yes, these are 2 totally different things!  Product is if your product harms a person and they want to sue you.  Personal is if for example someone is shopping in your home and they slip and fall, they get hurt and want to sue you for their damages.  Also, if you are going to use your car for your business, do you need to look into different car insurance policies?

*Get a business account.
*get a good book-keeping system and accounting software
       I actually went with Soapmaker 3 pro edition and it is VERY detailed.  It keeps track of my inventory, when my supply is low to reorder, does my lye and fragrance calculations, tracks my invoices, prints customer receipts, and even calculates the cost of my materials and labor to give me the price of the bar of soap.  For the price, I'm very impressed with it.

*Find a tax professional who will be available to give you answers to any tax questions you have
*Check FDA requirements and lINC codes for labeling.

This is just lightly touching on some things of "what's involved".  There are a TON of stuff involved with a craft and home business. And, depending on what your craft is, there are laws and requirements for each thing.  For example, if you are doing a craft with wool, there is special labeling.  Children toys have special requirements.  Kneedlework with yarn has special requirements by law.  Check Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Information Services.

I'm not much on quoting other people, but I have to quote Maria Given Nerius for she says this the best and all of us can pretty much say "YEAH, THAT!"

"I wish I could tell you that crafting is considered an important and highly respected profession.  But that impression might lead you to stumble.  I have a resume that contains seven pages of published work listing my more than 500 designs in print and my own television segment on a national cable network.  But when I tell people I'm a professional crafter, nine out of 10 respond by saying, "How cute.  Must be nice to sit home all day, making crafts."  And my husband and family wonder why I don't have a big ego.  If you hear comments like this often enough, you'll want to pull your hair, hold your breath until you turn blue, and pitch a temper tantrum.  So much for professionalism!  I've learned over the years to smile and tell all who are listening that indeed I have the best of all worlds as a sole proprietor.  I'm a small business owner who has the freedom of creativity and expression while earning an income from my crafting."

There is much more to a craft and home business than "sitting and making a craft".  It is hard work.  You have to be able to balance your time properly.  This is challenging with small children at home, a husband, homeschooling, and so many other things in our lives.  It is a job.  But, its one I'm loving.  I'm teaching my children, my husband is getting involved making it something we have together, and I'm able to do this from the comfort of my own home with my children.  :)

Stay business savvy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fruity Doggy Soap

As a request I took on the task of developing a doggy soap.  So, I researched and found a recipe I thought would do well, then tweaked it to my liking by adding different essential oils and infusing some teas.  This dog soap is basically a Castile soap.  The oils are made up of olive and coconut.  I used nettle and chamomile teas in the lye solution.  I discounted my water to 28% considering this is mainly an olive oil soap.  Nettle is very much known for treating hair and scalp conditions, its good for all hair types.  Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and it also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasitic properties.  I used essential oils of eucalyptus, sweet orange, citronella, and lemongrass.  All of the essential oils add anti-fungal properties and the citronella and lemongrass add anti-parasitic properties.  It also has finely shredded orange peel in it.  This soap was hot processed, so it was already saponified when the essential oils were added thus keeping the benefits of the essential oils in the soap.  It is theorized that with cold-processed soap that essential oils don't survive because the saponification process kills not only their scent, but their therapeutic benefits.  I'm not licensed in Aromatherapy or am I a professional in Aromatherapy.  I've done massive amounts of research.  I have found mountainroseherbs to be very helpful with information regarding herbs and essential oils. Here is a picture and you will notice the pretty swirls the orange peel gave the soap and the pretty color the tea leaves gave.  :)

This will take at least 2 weeks to cure and harden up.  It smells wonderful!  I'm so excited for my best friend to try this soap on her dogs and be my critic!  I do hope that it helps with their itching and that "dog smell" that all dogs get.  It should be wonderful!

And as recommended, anytime a shampoo-type bar soap is used on hair, dog or human, please follow up with a apple cider vinegar rinse.  Soap is Alkaline between 8-10, so the apple cider vinegar will bring your hair back into normal pH.  Here is one I use:

Brewed Nettle tea strong.  I keep this in the refrigerator and use an old shampoo bottle.  I fill the shampoo bottle 3/4 of the way with the nettle tea, then add 3 TB of apple cider vinegar.  I use this as a rinse after shampooing and rinsing.  I leave the rinse in my hair, but sometimes I rinse it out, just depends on what I'm feeling at the moment! :)  The apple cider vinegar smell will leave once your hair is dried.

I think doggies and their parents will be very happy using this soap and making bath-time more enjoyable!

Happy Soaping! :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We are having many laughs around here lately.  Our second child Gabriella (aka Gabby) is learning to crawl and can move around pretty well.  She can go from a crawling to a sitting position and vise verse.  Well, in try to go from the sitting to the crawling position, she sometimes just falls over, then of course bangs her head on the floor.  Not saying this is funny, but she then looks to see if someone saw her do that, then her reaction is by what your facial expression is.  What's funny is that every time she bangs her head, we start clapping and go "Yay!  Look what you can do!" and then she starts laughing and clapping.  LOL.  Here is a picture:

  Had to show the love and how cute our little girl is!  (No, I'm not biased! hehe)

Ugly Soap reformed!

Remember this soap, again?  It has turned out to be an amazingly hard bar of soap.  The fragrance oil caused it to turn more of a beige color rather than the pretty white you see in the pic, but it is still amazing.  I've been using this on my face, actually using the bar of soap on my face, not lathering on my hands first, and the oatmeal is a great exfollient, the smell is nice and light and my face looks so much better.  I can actually feel the oatmeal tightening my pores up.  So today, I used this on both my kids during bath time.  Gabby has had a little bit of a red bottom (from juice) and so I took this bar of soap and ran it under the water while the tub filled.  It made the water like a little bubble bath, but also made it feel somewhat silky.  This soap is so mild, I'm so impressed with it.  I used it to bath my little ones in and it didn't burn their eyes.  When I got Gabby out of the tub, her redness had decreased dramatically, again very impressed.  I decided against selling this at first because the fragrance oil didn't leave the bar of soap a pretty white, but now I'm rethinking because it truly is a good bar of soap for kids and babies, even to just have to run under the water while the bathtub fills.  If you're interested in trying, it's $3.00 plus s/h, no s/h if you are local.  If you have little ones, this soap may be for them.  It's 100% saponified handmilled olive oil with colloidal oatmeal and oatmeal, milk, and honey fragrance which is very light. :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Honey Bee Soap

So, I finally was able to squeeze in a quick soap-making adventure.  Of course, I love this hobby/craft, but  its on the bottom of the priority list.  Make it happen, right?

Since, I was short on time, and tired...I made a small batch that I knew would trace and cook fast...and it did.

Ingredients:  Vegetable shortening, coconut oil, beeswax, lye, distilled water, honey.

Here's a picture of all the stuff you need:
(this picture was taken prior to starting the Castile Soap, but still gives you the idea)

*Your oils for your recipe
*Distilled water.  This is debated among soapmakers.  However, the more experience you get, the more you will realize how the difference in water can make your soap.  If you can collect fresh rainwater, this is great for your soap.  I like to use the purist I can get, which is distilled for me.  I would think the lye would kill all the buggies and germies anyways, but I haven't researched it enough to know....so spend the $0.83 at WalMart and get a gallon of distilled. :)
*crock pot - size will determine how many pounds you are making.  I have a large one and a small one :)
*silicone scraper
* glass or plastic measuring bowls/cups
*a seperate designated measuring cup for lye (mine is marked with black marker) and a designated measuring and mixing pitcher for the water (remember your lye will be mixing in this, so glass or dishwasher safe plastic only)
*an accurate scale
*100% lye
*a mold to put your soap in.  I use an ice bin that is dishwasher safe, but even plastic storage containers could work or shoe boxes.  I would advise with CPHP to oil the mold.  Some people use mineral oil because it can't be saponified, but personally I use coconut oil.  If using wood or shoe boxes, parchment or freezer paper will work just fine to line the mold.
*measuring spoons
*lye safety materials: apple cider vinegar to neutralize a spill, gloves, and goggles
*wooden spoon(s)
*stick blender (optional, but makes life much easier in soapmaking!)

First, caution about Lye.  It is caustic and you will find horror stories regarding people messing with it.  Always, always, always, treat it with respect.  I do not mix lye around my children or have it within reach.  When I'm not using it, it is stored, locked away from reach.  This container has a child-safety type cap on it. Lye can be hard to find locally, most people have to order from the internet and before having it shipped to you, you have to fill out a special form, usually.  Fortunately, I can get mine locally from Lowe's in the drain cleaning section.  IT MUST SAY 100% LYE.  Do NOT use Draino for soapmaking, it has other metals in it, and you're asking for trouble.  I can usually get 2 lbs. for around $14.00.  I know it's cheaper on the internet but 1) shipping is expensive, so it adds to the same price anyways 2) I don't have to wait for a shipment when I buy locally 3) I don't have to fill out a form.  Always, pour the lye into your liquid, NEVER the other way around.  If you do, you will be sorry with a dangerous mess on your hands.  So just remember that, and don't test that one out! :)  Here's a picture (and use a glass or plastic container to mix you lye solution, not aluminum...I also use a wooden spoon)
Wear rubber gloves and some old clothes.  These gloves would be covering my arms (better yet, wear long sleeves) but I'm allergic to latex and it makes me itch like crazy, and these are latex gloves.....I know, get some non-latex gloves!  haha....I normally mix my solution while its in an ice bath, but I forgot to get the bath ready with this one.  Here's a picture of what I'm talking about.
Lye heats up to about 200 degrees F.  You can see in this picture how hot it is, see the steam in the container?  Also, lye lets off some nasty fumes, so keep your face away while mixing and even during the whole process.  I use my vent over my stove to get rid of the fumes.  You do NOT want to inhale these!  Oh, and another note, wear safety goggles while messing with lye too!  You will get splatters!

While the lye is chillin, start weighing and melting your hard oils.  Must have an accurate scale.  I mostly measure in ounces.  My dear husband recently got me a baker's scale, that is digital (awesome!), tares (double awesome!), and measures in %, Gm, ounces and pounds.  With soapmaking, everything must be weighed accurately.
Most people would melt the vegetable shortening first, then add the lye solution, bring to trace, then add the melted coconut oil and beeswax.  Well, I'm not most people...you see the beeswax, but it was going to take too long, so I took it out and used my designated beeswax container and melted it in the microwave, so much faster!  Then added it to the other oils once they melted.  Beeswax will make your soap trace really fast!
Melted oils together:

Now I have my crockpot (smaller one, since this is a small batch) in the sink and I gave it a few stirs to finish  melting the rest of the oils.  I put it in the sink, in case I have a spillage.  If you are able to plug it in and cook your soap in the sink like this, that would be good because occassionally, soap will volcano while cooking, and this is no fun to clean up because the lye is still caustic.
Pouring lye solution:
slowly!  You could swirl your stick blender around (not mix yet!) to incooraporate it, but I chose the wooden spoon.  Once all your lye solution is in, you can safely start mixing.  I put the empty container in the adjacent sink next to me and run cold water in it.
See how quickly it changed color and started getting thick?
Next lets whip with our stick blender!
I whipped very, very shortly and was already at thick trace.  Trace is when you can lift your mixer out of the solution and the drippings "trace" the top before settling back in its solution.  Like pudding.  Different oils will cause different tracings.  Some oils will only trace very lightly and not come to a thick trace like this.  Only experience will make you better aware of whats going on.
Put the crock on low and cook:
See the sides?  This is only 10 minutes into the cook.  It will bubble up the sides and turn over on itself.  I check on mine about every 15 minutes, sometimes I stir, sometimes I don't, depends on what it looks like to me.  If its completely turned on itself, I stir it up.  Some will go through stages (sorry I don't have pics of this, yet) separation stage, applesauce stage, mash potato stage, and then Vaseline/waxy stage.  You are done when your soap is waxy and shiny, looks like Vaseline.  Then you can add your additives and fragrance.  With fragrancing, I always let mine cool in the crock til about 140 degrees F.  This will keep, especially your essential oils, from "heating off".  Plus you won't need to use as much to fragrance.  Once that's all done, mold it up!
I use an ice tray bin I found cheap at WalMart, its dishwasher safe so I knew it could withstand the heat of hot soap.  Fill in layers and bang the mold on the counter to get the air bubbles out (anger management, right?), then cover with plastic wrap.  I have the plastic wrap over the container to take the pic, but don't leave it like this because the steam will cause water droplets to fall from the plastic wrap onto your soap.  I slide the plastic wrap down over the soap, and if I want a smoother top, I use the plastic wrap to do that, but if I want a wave-like-fluff on top, I just get the plastic wrap as close as possible to it without mashing my work down.  All this does is allow your soap to cool evenly.  You could leave it uncovered, it will just make the top cool quicker and give it a lighter color and sometimes, more brittle than the rest of your soap.  Not a big deal, its what you preference.
Let it stand til its completely cool.  I like to let mine sit overnight, if I think I can cut it the next day :)  Just check on it.
Cut soap:
I let them dry out about a week before storing, sometimes longer if they still feel moist.  I didn't have to add any fragrance to this because it smells naturally sweet.  I did add honey after the cook, so with that and the beeswax, it smells honeylicious. :)

Now start soaping! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ugly soap! LOL

Well, there have only been a hand-full of times where my recipe for a soap didn't turn out very well.  Like any soapmaker can tell you, sometimes you can follow a recipe exactly and it still doesn't end up, um....pretty.  So, I attempted a CPHP 100% Olive Oil Castile soap and it wasn't even my recipe.  I usually use soapcalc for my recipes in formulating, but this one I found in an ebook.  Side track note, ALWAYS USE A SOAP CALCULATOR! ALWAYS!!  Tell me how I know this!  HA!  Well, when I dive in, I dive in....first off, 100% Olive Oil Castile soap takes FOREVER to trace, like an hour of stickblending, which isn't fun when your stick blender gets hot and you have to let it rest.  Needless to say, the next time I decide to do this, I will definitely decrease the water, and superfat to probably 7%.  I find alot of my advice from http://soapmakingforum.com/.  Any-who, I couldn't get the soap to gel, it went through the separation phase, applesauce phase, and then the mash potato phase.  Each stage took forever, and I actually stick blended again between the applesauce and mash potato phase because it was taking so long.  After about 4 hours of cook, I put the crock pot on keep warm and went to bed, it was 1am!  Got up when hubby did for work (4:30am!), checked on it and still mash potato phase.  Put it up to low and let it cook another hour, still the same.  Tried to stick blend again, and it just got to thicker mash potato phase.....whatever, I molded it!  By this time, my patience had worn thin.  Then, to my surprise, it hardened rather quickly!  Hardened enough to unmold and cut, but it looks like dry-wall....lol....ugly, very ugly. So, in conclusion of my disastrous, adventurous, and patient-killing attempt to do a pure 100% Olive Oil Castile soap is partial failure.  I'm going to let it cure for a while, like a month, and see where we're at.  When cutting it, it stung, so definitely wasn't done cooking.  Will definitely make some changes the next time around.  And will definitely NOT sell this, will use it myself either for dishes or laundry detergent.  No soap goes waste....it really is hard to ruin a batch so bad that it has to be dumped!  To show my shame, here are what the bars look like.  Enjoy your laugh!  LOL

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tonights soap-pot

Lord Willing, tonight I will be making a batch of soap to add to my inventory.  In the process, I will try to post some pictures of the process and how I make my soap.  Maybe even some lotion too :)  I recently got a new batch of essential oils and fragrance oils in and excited to use them!  Just so you know, my business will be open soon.  Follow me as I make my inventory, and if anything speaks to you to try, let me know!  Here are some pics of what I have so far :)
Ingredients: Distilled water, Pure Olive Oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid, Vitamin E oil, Optiphen Plus (paraben and formaldihyde free preservative), Sweet Orange essential oil, Vanilla extract

My best ever shaving soap for men (and women, too!). Ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, tallow, palm oil, coconut oil, buttermilk, sodium hydroxide, chamomile tea leaves, betonite clay, castor oil, sweet almond oil, essential oils of bergamot, lavender 40/42, and clove. This has a wonderful earthy-woodsy aroma and the betonite clay gives it that "slip" for shaving, while the essential oils adds wonderful skin qualities

Ingredients: Tallow, Palm oil, coconut oil, distilled water, and sodium hydroxide (lye), and fragrance. My standard recipe, long lasting with plenty of bubbles, and won't leave your skin feeling dry. :)

The beginnings...

Well, here I am!  FINALLY composing a blog.  Here are the beginnings of a new path for me.  Not really seeking for this path, but kindly given to me to embrace.  I started this path over a year ago when I became pregnant with my 2nd child.  When my husband I first found out we were pregnant again, we were elated!  We had been trying for 19 months!  God decided to reward us with another blessing!  Our first child, a son, who is getting ready to turn 6...*does the blink with unbelief*....was not a pleasant labor and delivery in the hospital, so when I got pregnant with Gabriella (aka Gabby), I became petrified.  Anxiety and fear started settling in.....even though I'm a nurse and work PRN (as needed) in a hospital, I don't like OB wards!  So, we researched.  With not having many choices in my area, I needed to at least see if the baby was ok and there was a heartbeat, so we saw an obstetrician.  One who was highly recommended by my friends....ok feeling good.  We go to our first appointment, and of course, we spend 45 minutes with the payment coordinator before even seeing the doctor.  Then, we see the nurse who says "pee in this cup and change into the gown on the table."  Ok.  Ya know, its not fun sitting on a cold table pretty much naked with a paper gown, waiting on a complete stranger to come look at you?  What's wrong with this picture?  Ok....get the soapbox name now?  Haha.  All the meantime, my dear husband is leaning up against the wall.  Finally, the doctor comes in (I do have my socks on by the way, so I guess not completely naked!)....brief introduction, honest (I think) handshake to Eric.....and, then I was pretty much man-handled!  I felt violated almost and actually apologized to my husband that he had to see that.  Papsmears and breast exams aren't fun to begin with, but c'mon!  After that appointment, we said "there has to be a better way."  So, jumping ahead, we decided on a homebirth.  And, it was beautiful.  We found beautiful midwives who took such good care of me, making sure nutrition and exercise were key.  On 6/11/11 we had a beautiful baby girl born to us in water.  I will have more on this in a whole other post.  What I want to hit on, was during my pregnancy, my skin got so sensitive, I literally couldn't use anything.  Everything broke me out or made me itch.  So, after spending $ we didn't have in trying more products that didn't work, I decided to make my own.  First was my laundry detergent.  After a few tweaks, we are still using homemade laundry detergent today.  I love it!  Well, this still didn't clear up my skin or help my itching, but it did save me alot of money!  This was what opened the can of worms people!  I started researching and experimenting.....then whoa, I can make toothpaste, dishsoap, dishwasher detergent, deodorant, and my own lotion!  Then onto soapmaking, ahhhhhh!  I fell in love!  I knew everything that was going into my product!  Then, we decided to cloth diaper, then woah!  I can sew that? Yes, yes I can.  Talk about being frugal!  I was not working part-time anymore, we were getting ready to embrace a new little gift, and preparing to start homeschooling Tyler for Kindergarten.  Two HUGE changes in lifes balance and activities of daily living.  So, learning how to truly save us money and recycle what we already had on hand were huge pluses!  I use to be a huge couponer; however, that frizzled out when realistically it wasn't possible for me to be running to 3-4 stores to save $20 on my grocery bill.  Plus the coupons were drastically getting worse in the nature of savings.  I still coupon,  but not like I use to.  Ok, stearing back (yes, I drift in my thoughts!), I LOVE soapmaking.  I have been formulating over a year using the CPHP (crock pot hot process) method.  The same goes for my lotion.  I actually started making lotion before I started making soap.  I make a very good lotion and a very good soap, if I say so myself.  So, here I am, over a year later, and taking things to a different level.  Selling.  So, here are to beginnings...welcome to my soapbox!