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Monthly Archives: January 2013

playing with wax

Holy Cannoli & Mamma Mia whoever thought candles were so involved?

Candles are a simple luxury I’ve always enjoyed, and spend money on. I thought, I make soap, lots of people who make soap make candles, too. How difficult can it be?
I’ll just make my own. Genius.

When I started researching, I was surprised at what I found. I guess I never paid attention to the fact that there are so many different types of waxes;
I just used my sniffer to decipher what I liked.
Paraffin, Soy, Soy-blends, and Beeswax. Container wax, votive wax, pillar wax.
My head was spinning.

Soy wax sounded nice. Grown in the USA, clean burning candles,
yes, please! I’ll start with Soy.

Four types of candle wax later, and there’s still one more that I’m interested in.
Some of the waxes cracked and caved after pouring, or ‘frosted’,
or developed ‘wet spots’. New terms, that I unfortunately came to understand.
Others had barely a scent.

I’ve never looked at a candle with such discriminating eyes before I made them myself.
This particular wax was easy to work with, and poured beautifully. The tops look creamy, and there was no cracking or caving.
This wax is primarily Soybean, with just a bit of paraffin added.
From what I understand, this gives us the best of both worlds.
A less-finicky pour, and the cold scent throw is strong.
Blackberry Marmalade

Next is the test-burning.
Test-burning is a series of burns, in which you record how well your chosen wick works in your chosen wax, within your chosen container.
Dye and fragrance oil also factor into the outcome, so it’s good to keep accurate notes.
The test-burn will also tell you how many hours your candle will last,
which is helpful if you plan on selling.

You want to make sure your candle is not under or over-wicked. An over-wicked candle will have a large, flickering flame and use up the wax-fuel quickly.
An under-wicked candle will not burn hot enough, which causes tunneling,
or it may even extinguish itself.

I haven’t produced a truly successful candle yet, but I’m determined.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed on these, and lucky me, it’s time to
trim the wicks and test burn!

Always, always trim your wicks, kids.

Burn, Baby, burn. Not too hot, but not too cool, either.
I’d like a Baby Bear Burn, please;  just right 🙂

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the joy of moving your business in december

As if the holidays alone aren’t enough work!
Due to some unfortunate, (or perhaps fortunate, as it turns out) events,
I lost my lease right before the holidays. I had been working in the same
location for four and a half years, and the news came as a BIG shock.

So I did something that I thought I’d never do,
and brought my business home. Amazingly, it’s been a dream!

However, It’s been more work than I could ever possibly imagine,
and I’m only now starting to catch up with things.
I can tell you one thing I’ve learned from the experience: haste makes waste.
For sure.

I’d love to tell you that everything I make comes out perfect,
but as any soap-maker would tell you, that is impossible.
I’ve never found soap-making easy, but it’s enjoyable, and I’m persistent.
I would never sell anything that I wouldn’t use on myself or my own family.

Thanks to my gnawing desire to make time for creative endeavors
while trying to settle in, the first soap I made in my new and beautiful
home-studio was diagnosed with the most
dreaded-affliction-known-to-hand-made soap..lye-pockets.

What are lye-pockets, you ask? These crystal glazed, dangerous little pockets
in the finished soap, are filled with unsaponified lye water.
This can happen when the soap batter is not mixed well enough,
which is what happened in my case.
Mermaid Cold-ProcessIt’s not easy to see, but the little white areas are the culprits!
I threw the whole batch in a bowl, and sure enough, the next morning,
there was a small lye puddle at the bottom.

I added insult to injury by posting how I had just made my popular
‘Mermaid Soap’ on Facebook, and I had almost the
whole damn loaf sold within minutes.

It only took me a month, but a bad soap situation, even of this caliber,
can usually be safely rectified..by cooking the hell out of it!

I shredded the whole loaf, and incorporated a small portion of the shreds into a
fresh batch of oils, which is then cooked until neutral in a crock-pot.
Unlike cold-process, after the ‘cook’, this type of soap is ready to use immediately.
Hot-Process Mermaid Soap
I still have plenty of the original loaf left over to re-cook; not a bad thing.

The new hot-processed soap is more rustic looking than cold-process,
but still beautiful, mild, and bubbly! It’s in my shower now, and I’m loving it.

I’m happy with the new soap, and my new surroundings. Lesson learned.
I love happy endings..and new beginnings, too!

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