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Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Does Your Soap Have Lye In It?

I'm asked this question a lot; does your soap have lye in it? The answer is quite simple; no. Now if the question is, do you use lye to make your soap? Well the answer to that is yes.

By definition, soap is made with lye. If you're cleaning your body with something that didn't start out with lye, then your not using soap. Most likely, you're using detergent and it was probably made with petroleum ingredients.

The making of soap is a centuries old technique that involves combining a base (lye; aka sodium hydroxide) with an acid (the fatty acids in oils). The chemical term for the reaction of these chemicals is called saponification.

As is the case in chemical reactions, and how they differ from just mixing ingredients together (like in cooking), what you start with isn't what you end up with.

Through the process of saponification, our original base and acid yields soap and glycerin. That's right, glycerin, the ingredient that is added to most body detergents, forms naturally in soap.

Because the process of making soap literally is centuries old and well defined, the FDA doesn't require ingredient labels for soap (as of this writing). Most soap makers, however, are proud of the ingredients they use in their soaps and choose to list the ingredients.

The way in which ingredients are labelled, since not regulated, varies. Soap makers have choosen to label products by what they "put into the pot" or by what "comes out of the pot".

Most consumers who don't know the chemical process of saponification (and seriously, if you're not in high school chemistry class, why would you?) would be concerned if they saw the word 'lye' or 'sodium hydroxide' on an ingredient label for a handmade product.

For this reason a lot of soaps are labelled by "what comes out of the pot". The problem with this is you don't know what amount of glycerin, water, and unsaponified oils remain.

Therefore, going forward, Lora's Beauty has decided to provide both sets of ingredients on our website. You will now see "what goes in the pot" (starting ingredients) and the final product, after saponification, which is saponified oils of olive, coconut, rice bran oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter, glycerin, water, healing herbs, and tantalizing essential oils.

Paper labels due to space, will show "what comes out of the pot"; what touches your skin.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Honey Hopped Soap

What with the long weekend, a week of snow days, and a couple days of freezing rain, I was able to find the time to make a new soap I've been wanting to make for a while now.

Honey Hopped Soap is made with dried Cascade hops brewed as a tea then used in place of goats' milk in my soap recipe.

Cascade hops are the most widely used hops by craft brewers.  They have a flowery, spicy, citrus-like scent and are rich in alpha acids. Alpha acids are commonly used in skincare products for skin rejuvenation.

Used as a shampoo, brewed hops are wonderful for your hair, fighting dandruff and adding extra shine.

I added honey to this soap to provide additional moisturizing benefits. The soap is then scented with lemongrass and cassia essential oils. This is the first soap I've used cassia essential oil in and I really hope it holds the scent! It's a beautiful, warm, citrus scent and when added with the lemongrass, the soap smells like a citrus beer on a warm summer day. I also believe it's the cassia essential oil that created the lovely orange-pink color of the soap.

For appearances I added a dried hop to each bar. You'll want to remove it when you shower as it's just decoration.

A couple bars of Honey Hopped Soap and you'll have your soap and shampoo covered!

Look for it in the online store in a few weeks.

Speaking of the online store, the Lavender Meringue Goats' Milk Soap has been restocked and is now available.




Friday, January 13, 2017

The Making of a Nightlight

So apparently cockatiels have night frights. We found this out early one morning about 2 am when we heard the flapping of wings and the pitter patter of bird feet frantically emerging from Ed and Olive's birdcage. It took about 30 minutes to calm them down and as we didn't want to deal with that again, we did a little research to find ways to alleviate the problem.

One of the ways was quite simple; just like toddlers, cockatiels don't like the pitch dark and many people recommended putting a nightlight by the bird cage.

Oddly enough (well maybe not that odd. Ok, yes, probably odd) I went through this nightlight making period about 5 or 7 years ago. To make a long story short, it all started with these cool lampshades I saw in a store close to my house. As is usually the case, when I said I really liked them, Jeff commented about how easy they would be to make. I believed him, but knowing my limitations as an artist, I figured I'd start small and try the technique with nightlights.

I made a couple nightlights at the time. This one, I made for my sister and was my favorite. Remember, I said I wasn't an artist. Let's just call it 'folk-art' and I mean no offense to real folk-art.

Anyway, these are relatively easy to make and inexpensive. Even better, someone a little more arty than me could make a really nice one.

So, because Ed and Olive need a night light, and I still have some supplies left from my nightlight making phase, I'll detail how to make one and maybe someone out there will take the idea and run!

You will need the following supplies:

To begin with, if you're starting with a cheap nightlight like this, remove the plastic cover and throw it away.


Now, use your aluminum wire and wrap it around the base of the light. The wire will be used to create the form of your nightlight, in my case I'm making a bird, of course.

Using the wire, create your form.

Next, glue the tissue paper to the wire using small drops of glue. You don't need a lot of glue as the dope will be a little adhesive.

I used clothes pins to help hold the tissue paper in place while the glue dries.

Unlike the picture, it's best to pull the tissue paper as tight as possible this will give your nightlight fewer wrinkles.

Now, using a spray bottle, gently spray the tissue paper with water. This makes the tissue paper shrink and tighten even more.

After the paper is completely dry, use the dope and paint brush and gently brush it all over the tissue paper, front and back. You'll want at least two coats of dope on the tissue paper.

After the first coat of dope and while it's still wet, I use more tissue paper to create the design on my night light. In this case, the bird needs a face and beak. The dope will hold the new tissue paper in place and there's no need to use anymore glue.

After the first coat of dope is dry, I apply a second coat. Once dry, the dope makes the tissue paper stiff.

It only takes about 15 minutes for the dope to dry. Also, you'll want to make sure you use it in a well ventilated area as it has a powerful smell.

Once dry, your nightlight is finished!

Here's hoping this helps ward off the night frights for Ed and Olive!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snow Photos!

Who can get enough snow photos? This is what Portland woke up to this morning. Naturally, the city is shut down, closed, nothing to see here folks, moose out front should have told ya.

Without further ado, here's why.

Yea, we should probably take down the Christmas decorations at some point.

This guy had the right idea on how to get to work.

Snowshoes! I actually like my idea better; work from home.

What are the chances our garbage will be picked up today? The grey can is garbage, the green is food scraps and yard debris, and the blue is recycling, in case you were wondering.

The rain chain is frozen.

Yes, I did clean this off so the hummingbirds could eat.

Enjoy your day, I think I'll make another cup of coffee and actually start working!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Couple Finds and Refurbishes

We've had a cold, windy start to the New Year here in Portland. I've kept busy keeping the bird feeders full and the hummingbird feeders thawed. In between that, I did manage to do a little work painting this step stool. 
I picked this up at an estate sale last Fall for $3. The stool is sturdy and I figured with a little paint on it I could easily resell it in my Home and Patio Sale.  I painted it with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Tricycle mixed with a little Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint Curio. I then finished it with Dover's Chalk Paint Dark Wax. Not bad for a $3 stool.

Even better was the lamp globe we picked up free on the sidewalk! It looked to be what was left of a swag lamp.
I cleaned it up and fixed the latches on it so it would stay shut.  I then added a Hanging Lantern Cord with On/Off Switch and a light bulb. Voila, now the globe has it's swag back on! This lamp will be available in the Home and Patio Sale as well.
On a side note, Ed and Olive had their first visit to the avian vet last weekend. They surprisingly enjoyed the car trip sitting in their new travel cage.

We're such novice bird owners and we peppered the vet with a thousand questions but she was happy to answer them. We also discovered *gasp* the internet lied to us and some of what we've read about the birds was not correct!