Friday, September 20, 2013

Mary's Tears Spikenard Essential Oil Soap and How It Came To Be!

 Whoa!  An $18 bar of soap?!  Are you nuts?  Some days I think I am.  Let me explain.

This soap has been in the works for nearly a year; noodling in the back of my brain and begging to come out!  My husband first suggested I make this soap and I was like 'no way!  No one will pay that much for a bar of soap'!  He kept pushing the issue saying this would not be a normal soap; this would be something very special.

I finally conceded and purchased some Spikenard Essential Oil - ouch!  Almost $40 an ounce!  I was so afraid to use it that it sat on my shelf for another few months.  Let me step back and explain what spikenard even is!  Spikenard was the essential oil that Mary used to anoint Jesus' feet with in John 12:1-8
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Spikenard has been described as a combination sweet/spicy/musky, a very organic earthy scent. I added a touch of lavender essential oil to it to soften/sweeten it. I think it smells a lot like patchouli. Remember in the story how Judas was so upset that Mary 'wasted' such an expensive item on Jesus? Well spikenard is still an extremely expensive essential oil today.

So, I finally decided it was time to make this soap actually happen and was having a tough time envisioning what such a special soap would look like.  I knew I wanted everything all natural in terms of coloring but that was about it.  So, I asked my husband (since he got me into this, right?!).

I sent him an email and was totally blown away a while later when he responded with this:
How about round bars like the shape of the tomb stone, brown swirls with auburn for Mary's hair and bits of red for the spikenard berries.
He even went so far as to include pictures of Mary anointing Jesus feet and of spikenard berries!  The man is brilliant!  I had tears in my eyes as I read his description.

So, I set out to make the berries first.  The berries are unscented soap bits and are colored deep red with madder root powder.  Once I had all my berries ready it was time to jump into the real soap making!

I made a soap that is very heavy on the olive oil and used by PVC tubes to make round soap like my husband suggested.

Then came the waiting!  I always want to cut my soaps right away but need to wait a good 24 hours and with an olive oil soap like this, even longer!

After waiting and waiting and waiting......I finally cut the loaves into bars!  May I now present, Mary's Tears.

Each soap will come in a gift box as pictured below. Why not a fancy, gold box you ask? Well, Jesus wasn't a fancy, gold box kind of guy. He came from humble beginnings therefore just a brown box with brown shredded paper (to look like hay).

I hope that the specialness of this soap comes through to you.  There is such meaning behind it that I get choked up even thinking about it.

To purchase your bar please visit my website or Etsy Shop.

Thanks for all your support!  tracy

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tracy Tracy Quite Contrary....How do you color your soaps?

Do you like plain looking soap or soap with style?  I personally like to have some style and therefore like to add various colors and swirls to my homemade soap.  There are many ways to color cold process soap like I make.  I get asked quite often if the soap I make is "all natural".  Believe it or not, the word "natural" is not a regulated or defined term in the soap and cosmetic industry.   

Here are the various ways I color my soaps: 

Oxides &  Pigments - According to Bramble Berry (a great supply place for soap makers!), Pigments and Oxides are considered “nature identical” meaning they are the exact same chemical structure as the platelet minerals found in the earth.  But they are created in a lab to ensure purity.  Oxides and pigments are the same product that mineral make up lines use to achieve lovely natural hues.  Manufacturing nature identical products keeps the bad stuff, like lead and arsenic for example, out of the colorants.  Industry wide, pigments and oxides are labeled as natural in all types of mineral makeup and soaps for this reason because they are nature identical and many don’t contain any synthetic dyes.  

In this example (Cherry Blossom Soap), the red is an oxide, the yellow and purple are micas, and the white is titanium dioxide:

Micas - According to Bramble Berry, some micas are natural and some are not. It depends on where their source of color comes from.  Micas that aren’t considered natural would be the ones that contain FD&C dyes.  I do not use micas that contain FD&C dyes.

In this example (Patchouli), both the red & black colors were achieved with oxides, the green/tan is kelp powder:

Under My Spell is a mix of micas, oxides and titanium dioxide!  (oh, I love this soap!)

Titanium Dioxide - Titanium Dioxide is a naturally-occurring mineral, mined from the earth. After mining it is processed to remove impurities, leaving behind a mineral pigment in the form of a white powder.  A fellow soaper did a great blog post on titanium dioxide here.  

My Champagne Soap uses mica and titanium dioxide: 


I also use colorants that are derived straight from the earth and not synthetically created.  Among these are:

  • Alkanet
  • Annatto 
  • Beet Root Powder 
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Green Zeolite Clay
  • Kelp Powder
  • Lemon Peel Powder
  • Madder Root
  • Olive Leaf Powder
  • Rose Clay
  • Safflower Powder
  • Yarrow Flower 
  • Yellow Silt Clay

Here is an example of coloring derived straight from earth.  This is Peppermint & Rosemary and is colored with Safflower Powder and Olive Leaf Powder!

This is Ylang Ylang and is colored with Safflower Powder, Olive Leaf Powder and Yarrow Flower with a bit of cocoa powder for pencil lines!

Sometimes the fragrance oil itself will lead to color.  Take the case below of my Oatmeal Stout Soap.  I added titanium dioxide and ground oatmeal to the top layer to lighten it (and make it look like foam!).  There is no color added at all to the dark brown layer!  Although I did use dark beer as my liquid instead of water.


So there you have it!  In terms of color, my soaps are considered natural.  In my shop, it is the fragrance that makes or breaks the "natural" name.  My fragrance oil soaps would not be considered natural (but oh, so close!  Percentage wise the fragrance makes up very little of the soap) whereas my essential oil soaps are considered natural!

For me personally, I have no problem using fragrance oil soaps (in fact I love the abundance of available scents).  I liken it to wearing perfume.  I understand some people are sensitive to scents.  I have an option for you too!  I have a soap that has no scent and no color!  It is my Naked Shampoo bar (made of harder oils than my regular soaps) and doubles as a soap!  

I hope this helps you make your decision when shopping!



3/14/13 Amendment - In digging through my vast selection of colors, I found that I do have a number of micas that are NOT natural.  I apologize for getting this wrong above.  If you ever see ingredients like 'Blue 1 Lake' that will be your tip off - these are not natural.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Are Your Soaps All Natural?! Plus a Contest!!!!

I get questioned quite often if my soaps are ALL NATURAL?

That question is very difficult to answer because not everyone agrees what is natural and what is not.

Over the next couple weeks, I plan to discuss the different components that make up my soap.  I hope you enjoy learning about homemade soap!

This week I will discuss the main oils/butters that I use in my soaps.

Olive Oil - Olive oil cleans well, attracts and holds external moisture and forms a breathable film without blocking natural skin function.   It is rich in vitamin E and beta carotene, as well as being an antioxidant, it stimulates new cell generation, slows the progression of wrinkles, and gives skin a youthful look.   It is extremely mild, it also helps people with a variety of skin conditions.

Palm Oil - Palm oil is mild, and creates hard soap.  It has the ability to remove oil and dirt from hair and skin. It also contains a refatting agent that helps restore the hair and skin natural oils most soaps and shampoos strip away letting moisture escape.  It is added to skin care products not only for its anti-aging properties, but also because it provides deep moisturizing properties making the skin soft and supple.

Coconut Oil - Coconut Oil has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.  It is moisturizing and promotes lathering and hardness in soap.

Cocoa Butter - Cocoa Butter is the fat extracted from cocoa beans.  It has a distinctly rich aroma.  It is an emollient meaning it locks in the moisture in the skin.  It is great for dry and itchy skin.

While I do use other oils in some of my soaps, these are my four main ones.

So far, we are 100% natural!

Next time I will discuss how I color my soaps!

Have a fabulous day!  tracy

Oh, I almost forgot!  I am having a contest over on my Facebook Page to win 4 bars of soap!  Free shipping in the U.S.   Hop on over to enter!  Entries accepted through Sunday, March 3, 2013.