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SOAP MAKING SERIES: How our soap is cut and cured

We are often asked how our soap bars are made, so as we thought we’d do a series of blog posts to show you the process.

Today the soap we made on Friday is ready to be cut into bars, so we’ve taken some pictures of the process to show you how we do it.

The pictures aren’t professionally shot (taken by us instead) so they’re a bit rough and ready. Nevertheless, they’ll give you a good idea of how the soap bars you use are cut and cured.

Can you tell which soap we’re cutting today?

1) The soap block is unmoulded and placed on the cutting board ready to be cut

This block will be handcut into 35 bars.

 

2) The soap block is sliced into 3 ‘logs’; these are then sliced into bars

3) The freshly sliced bars are placed on their own curing tray

Each soap variety has its own individual curing tray. This ensures that it retains its own, unique natural scent and does not take on the scents of the our other varieties.

Instead of buying new curing trays, ours are upcycled from wood from an apple farm.

Can you spy the jars of Soapourri shreds in the background?

4) The soap bars are left for at least 4 weeks to ‘cure’

Just like fine wine or cheese, soap gets better with age. We cure our soaps for at least 4 weeks before releasing them for sale. This ensures that every bar you choose is mild, creamy and long lasting.

The soaps are gently rotated during the curing phase to ensure that each side has cured evenly and is nice and hard.

5) The fully cured bars are available for you to buy from our website or market stall in Central London.

Honey & Oatmeal Gentle Scrub Soap Bar

 

The batch of Oatmeal Soother bars we cut today will be sold through the website and on our market stall in around 4 week’s time.

Our previous batch of Oatmeal Soother bars is fully cured though and available to buy right now.

(Note: we will be at Spitalfields market as usual from this Friday, 25th January.)


Watch out for more posts in our Soap Making series.

There may even be some videos of making the bars!

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New year, new hues

A very Happy New Year to you all! We hope you had a fab festive season and are enjoying welcoming in a new year brimming with promise and possibilities.

We’ve bounded into 2013 with a definite spring in our steps and have set about creating a lot of lovely new shades and soaps, which we look forward to sharing with you over the coming weeks and months.

Charcoal Grey

The first of our new hues comes in the form of our Charcoal Detox gift soaps. It being the depths of winter, we thought a softer, more comforting shade would be a nice change, and so our stylish, formerly black, cakes and hearts will start the year an appropriate shade of charcoal grey.

Light Ginger

The second new hue is in fact a new colour and an entirely new soap! We’ve been thinking for some time now that ginger would be a lovely, comforting smell to take into the shower or bath, and what better to pair to it with than lime! Some might say a margarita in bar, we’re super excited to try this when its finished its 4 week cure. Coloured 100% naturally of course with ginger powder and a touch of healing turmeric.

Mystery Variety

And what’s this I spy curing on the drying rack? Well..you’ll just have to wait and see.

 

The grey Charcoal Detox Hearts and Cakes are available for pre-order now. Orders placed today will be shipped in around 3-4 week’s time.

Lime & Ginger soaps will be available to order online in 4-5 week’s time.

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Habitat gets a style injection from our soaps

Habitat Catalogue Cover featuring All Natural SoapWe’ve always said that our black and grey Charcoal Detox and Mens bars add a touch of style to any bathroom, and it turns out that Habitat agree.

One of Habitat’s photographers was recently spotted perusing the stalls at Spitalfields Market, London looking for ‘just the right black soap’ to complete one of his bathroom shoots, when he was drawn to the ALL NATURAL SOAP stall.

We were pleased to see the very stylish gent approaching us, and he told us he had been looking everywhere for a stylish, chunky black soap but none he had found had quite fit the bill.

All Natural Soap in Habitat Catalogues_cropHe proceeded to look through our wide selection of hand hewn grey and black bars, and after a few minutes’ consideration, the Habitat photographer announced he had found just what he was looking for. Armed with a black Charcoal Detox and grey Mens bar he happily trotted off.

It seems that the soaps were indeed ‘just right’, as one of them has made the final cut and is being used to dress an elegant bathroom scene in the latest Habitat and Habitat in Homebase catalogues.

The photographer opted to use the square cut, black Charcoal Detox bar, and we must say we think it looks fab.

Habitat in Homebase Catalogue Cover featuring All Natural SoapNot only nice to look at, the Charcoal Detox bars are also lovely to sniff and, imagine that, also great to wash with 🙂

Why not pick yourself one up to spruce up your skin and sink this festive season?

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Latest batch of G&T soap cakes – How nice is that green?

We’re really taken with our most recent batch of G&T soap cakes as the colour turned out even more vibrant than normal.

That’s the beauty of working with natural ingredients – every batch is unique. Olive harvests vary from one season to the next and as olive oil is the main ingredient in all our soaps, so do our soaps. The natural green clay used to enrich and colour our G&T variety also varies from batch to batch, and for us this more emerald hue is the most stunning yet. What do you think?

These little beauties are over half way through their 4 week cure now and will be ready to buy from 1 November. If you’d like to pre-order yours now, simply let us know via the contact form or call us on 0207 272 2572.

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NEW! Minty Fresh Scrub Bars

Minty Fresh Scrub Bar_All Natural SoapWe’ve been trialing this variety on the stall now for a couple of months now and you know what, we think it may actually be overtaking our Citrus Sunshine bars as our current customer favourite!

Both men and women have told us that they really like the scent, and that the scrubby texture is just right. Some women have been using it to help get rid of ingrowing hairs and men seem to like how it makes them feel “really clean”.

Scrubbier than our other exfoliating bath bar – Citrus Sunshine – but less scrubby than our Kitchen hand Soap, this new scrub is now available online for you to try.

Grab your Minty Fresh Scrub bar now >

 

 

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Castile Soap – A traditional, effective all natural stain remover

Fresh OlivesLast week we were trading next to lovely Greek ceramicist at Spitalfields Market. We got chatting about ceramics and soap, and  I learned that her mother still made olive oil soap for the family using a traditional recipe.

They of course use the soap to wash with, but where she really said she thought her mother’s soap distinguished itself from all others, was a stain remover. In fact, she said that she thought it was better than any of the chemical stain removers that she’d tried for getting out grass, blood and food stains. Well…that sounded like a challenge to me :), so I put our Traditional Castile soap to the test on a variety of stains.

Lipstick, Curry and Unidentified Muck

Perhaps not the nicest of jobs, but in the name of experimentation I had a rummage through our house’s laundry basket looking for stains. What gems did I find? A black vinyl handbag of mine that had red lipstick smeared all over the lining – lipstick cap malfunction at a wedding; a white T-shirt with a nice curry stain  near the collar; and a beige hoodie with a really odd smear-stripe of what looked like black and red charcoal crayons.

Traditional Castile Soap_All Natural SoapTo the sink!

I thought I’d start easyish and attacked  the curry stained T-shirt with cold water and then a good scrubbing of our Castile Soap. I  saturated the stain, worked some soap in, rinsed and you know what? The stain was gone! I was so pleased. Minimal effort, no nasty chemicals penetrating my skin and soft hands to boot.

Onto the unidentified hoodie muck. Well for this one I pretty much attacked the stain in the same way I did the curry. This one required a little more scrubbing and a little more soap, but again, the stain was completely removed. Two for two.

The hardest challenge – onto the red lipstick.

I wasn’t really holding out much hope for my handbag as the lipstick had really managed to work itself in to the bag’s lining and was all over the place, but I starting scrubbing anyway. The fact that this was a bar of ‘stain remover’ helped a lot on this test as I could use it to really get into the stain. Previously I’d apply some eco friendly stain remover and let my knuckles do all the work. The lipstick, not surprisingly, was not budging quickly, but I persevered, rinsed, worked in some more soap and eventually, to my complete amazement, it was gone! One pristine handbag for lucky old me.

The verdict? Castile Soap really is a great stain remover

I realise this wasn’t the most scientific of tests, but I for one am extremely pleased with how our olive oil soap performed on these difficult stains and intend to keep using it. I love the fact that its such a simple, traditional product that works so well; is biodegradable and 100% plastic bottle free.

Interested, why not try our Traditional Castile soap for yourself? It’s great for the body too.

Traditional Castile Soap_All Natural SoapWhat do you have to say and share?

Have you ever used our Castile Soap as a stain remover or for any other unexpected uses you’d like to share (such as for washing with :))? Do you have any top tips for eco-friendly cleaning?

Let us know about them by leaving a comment at the end of this article, or we could even publish a guest blog by you if you have a lot to say of the subject. Just get in touch.

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A new scrub – great for all skin types, even sensitive

Honey & Oatmeal soap enriched with Coconut Milk_All Natural SoapWe had a look at our range recently and realised that we didn’t have any scrub soaps for people with sensitive skin. This clearly wouldn’t do, so we headed to our workshop to set about creating a gentle and soothing soap that also had exfoliating properties.

Milk soaps are great for gently cleansing delicate skin so we thought this would be a good place to start. Our Goat’s Milk and Calendula soap already does a good job of helping those with sensitivities wash without irritation, but for this new soap we wanted to go that little bit further and make it both exfoliating and vegan. Enter coconut milk.

Coconut milk has been used in skin care for centuries because of its ability to soothe and moisturise. When added to soap, it, not surprisingly, creates a creamy, milky lather that is truly a pleasure to wash with. First ingredient down.

Next we wanted to attract even more moisture to the skin so we added honey, a natural humectant. Second ingredient down. For the scrubby element, we wanted to choose something that could be used all over the body, including the face, and the natural choice was of course oats. Very soft, so non scratchy and caring on the skin, oats are also famous for helping to sooth all manner of skin irritations. Our soap was complete. Well almost…

We make a number of unscented soaps (or more specifically soaps with no added scent that have a lovely, clean natural smell – our most popular being our Castile range), but on this occasion we were keen to create and add a scent that appealed to everyone as, after all, we were trying to create a scrub soap for all skin types.

If you’re familiar with our range then you’ll know that we love a good citrus. Strong tangy smells aren’t everyone’s cup of tea though so we decided to make the predominant scent in our essential oil blend, Sweet Orange. Sweet Orange is a fragrance that we have found to be almost universally appealing as it is uplifting, fresh and clean, and neither too floral nor too citrusy. On the skin, it is also generally tolerated by most people, regardless of their skin type. The background notes? Well we thought it would be nice to let the natural properties of the ingredients shine through and so the heart and base notes in this soap actually come from the oats, honey and coconut milk. We think the combination is gentle and heavenly.

Enough talking, we need to get back to creating new, delicious soap varieties.

Our Honey & Oatmeal Scrub soap is available to try now. If our testers are anything to go by, we don’t think this current batch will be around long so you better get yours quickly!

Honey & Oatmeal soap enriched with Coconut Milk_All Natural Soap