Thursday, March 26, 2015

Licorice & Rose Holly Swirl Cold Process Soap Tutorial

This super-stunning soap was created using the Holly Swirl technique and is scented with Aniseed essential oil and Rose Garden fragrance oil.  The combination is sweet and floral with an undertone of distinct licorice spice!  While those two scents wouldn't be the most likely pair to come to mind they have gotten rave reviews from everyone that has smelled the soap, proving that sometimes the best blends are the most creative!  The Holly Swirl (named after Holly of Missouri River Soap Co) is a technique that involves swirling two colours together in a pot first, then dropping it into a base layer of the soap already poured into the mold, then topping it off with the base layer again.  It creates a wonderful hidden pop of swirl!  This technique is an advanced technique, so make sure you've had several successful batches of soap under your belt before attempting this one. With this technique it's very important that the soap formula is one that's slow-moving (ie. doesn't come to trace too quickly).  Because we have to split up the batch into multiple portions and colour each one it's best to have as much working time as possible, so only use a formula that takes a nice, long time to come to trace, like the one below! 
What you'll need for 1 x 4 lb batch:
202 grams Sodium Hydroxide
500 grams Soft or Distilled Water
500 grams Coconut Oil 76
425 grams Sunflower Oil
200 grams Olive Oil
200 grams Palm Kernel Oil
50 grams Shea Butter
2 Tbsp Cranberry Fibre
2 grams Australian Pink Clay
1 gram Cotton Candy Mica
3 grams Activated Charcoal
Pre-blended fragrance combination of:
30 grams Aniseed Essential oil
20 grams Rose Garden Fragrance oil

Have everything prepared and pre-measured at your station.  Line your molds (our 4 lb Wooden Loaf Mold works best for this style), plug in your stick blender, and have all your whisks, bowls, and spatulas handy.  Make sure you're in a well-ventilated area, and are wearing gloves and safety goggles.  Pour your pre-measured lye into your water and stir with a whisk, making sure you're breathing away from the container.  Continue to stir until no solids remain, then set aside to cool to 110 degrees (or pop it into a cold water bath to rapid-cool).  While the lye is cooling measure your oils into a large glass or plastic container, then heat them up in the microwave or on a double boiler until they are totally liquid.  The key is to get the lye water and the oils to both be right around 110 degrees.  Once they're both there slowly pour your lye solution into the oils.  Stir with a whisk for 15 seconds, then use your stick blender for 15 seconds, alternating between the two until a very light trace is reached. 

Add your fragrance mixture and give a really good whisk for 30 seconds or until confident that everything is mixed together evenly. 

At this point you'll want to separate the soap by pouring about 1/4 of the mixture into a measuring cup, and then another 1/4 into another measuring cup, so you're left with about half the batch of soap remaining in the original bowl. 

 Add your cranberry fibre to the main batch, the activated charcoal to one of the smaller portions, and the pink clay and cotton candy mica to the last portion.  It's helpful to add a bit of water to the powdered colourants first to form a slurry, that way there's no speckling throughout the soap and it will be an even colour. 

Pour the pink soap into the black soap, from far above the soap at first, then coming right close to the surface as you near the bottom of the cup.  The reason why you pour at varying heights is so that the soap reaches all the depths, instead of settling at the bottom or just laying on the top. 

At this point you'll take the main portion with the cranberry fiber and pour a thick layer into your mold.  Then take the black/pink soap and slowly pour it onto the first layer, swishing it back and forth gently to encourage more swirling action.  Remember to pour at varying heights for this part as well!  The higher up you pour the farther down it will reach and the more interesting the swirl will be.   Continue to do this until the bowl is almost empty, but reserve a couple of tablespoons for the top.  Take the rest of the main portion and pour it over the black/pink swirl to fill the mold.  

Take the leftover black/pink soap and do a couple horizontal lines on the top of the soap.

Take a stick or dowel (or end of a spoon) and do little figure 8 or S shapes just on the surface of the soap to make a nice surface swirl. 

Let the soap sit for 24 hours!  Come back to it and unmold the soap by loosening the wingnuts and pulling out the freezer paper.  Then cut into bars and let cure for 4 weeks! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Easy Layered Candle Tutorial

Here at Voyageur we get a lot of questions about candle making such as what wick to use, what temperatures to pour at, and lots of troubleshooting about negative results.  This easy tutorial is designed to be a guideline for those making candles for the first time or for those wanting more consistent results with their candles.  

Layering in candles is all about temperatures and patience, but it definitely pays off in the end!  This lovely layered look is almost reminiscent of a parfait.  Fun and bright, these colours are eye-catching and the new candle glass jars add a unique look.  Here are the steps we took:

1.  Firstly, have all your supplies pre-measured and organized.  The less you have to focus on running around pulling things together while your wax is melting the less room there is for error.  Have your fragrance or essential oil already weighed out so you don't have to do any guess work, make sure there's lots of cardboard or newsprint under your candle containers, and have all your utensils out and ready.

2.  Start melting!  Calculations of how much wax you need should be done in advance.  Each of these candle glass containers hold 8 oz of wax, which is 240 grams.  For the bottom layer we weighed out 150 grams of the Eco-Soya CB Advanced container candle wax.  This wax is super user-friendly and is good for all candles that are going to be staying inside the container into which you pour them (as opposed to be taken out of a mold, then you'd use the Pillar Blend wax).  Melt your wax in a double boiler until it reaches a temperature of about 155 degrees F.  

3.  When all the flakes are melted, remove the wax from the heat and add your fragrance, which should ideally be pre-measured as well.  We scented these candles at 8% fragrance so for 150 grams of wax you'd need 12 grams of fragrance or essential oil.  Pour the fragrance into the melted wax and mix well, then pour the uncoloured wax into your glass container. Depending on what size your container is you'd want to pour the wax at different temperatures; for example, if you were to make tealights that would lose their heat very quickly you'd want to pour them at a higher temperature of about 150 degrees.  If you're making a candle in a thick glass jar where it will lose its heat quite slowly then you'd want to pour at a lower temperature of about 140 degrees. 

4.  Next is positioning your wick.  We recommend using the HTP 1212 x 3.5" wick for these glass jars.  Stick the wick tab down to the bottom of the jar, then use scotch tape to keep the wick centred, making a # sign with the tape.  This ensure the wick does not move around while cooling which would cause an uneven burn pool. 

5.  Instead of trying to wash your dishes out in the sink causing a waxy mess, try cleaning your bowls and pots with paper towel; this is the best method we've discovered to clean candlemaking supplies as long as the wax is melted.  If it solidifies you can use a heat gun to melt excess wax off your equipment, then use paper towel to finish up. 

6.  The trick to a nice layered candle is making sure that the first layer is set up enough where it won't be disrupted by the second pour.  Sometimes, depending on the thickness of your container and the heat of your environment, this can take quite a long time so we definitely suggest moving onto your next candle while your first starts to solidify.  Because it's summertime and the glass jars are very well insulated it took a couple of hours for the first layer to set up.

7.  Repeat steps 2-4 with the same or varying fragrances. We made 4 candles at one time, then waited for the bottom layer to cool.

8.  When your first candle's bottom layer is totally solid it's time to start the top coloured layer.  Have 90 grams of Eco-Soya CB-Advanced wax pre-measured.  Melt the wax to 155 degrees and add your candle dye chips until it reaches the desired shade.  Remember: the wax will always look darker when in melted form, to see its true colour once solidified dip a spoon into the wax and stick it into the fridge for a couple minutes.  Once all the chips have melted remove the wax from heat and add 9 grams of fragrance oil, stirring well. 

9.  Remove the tape surrounding your wick and allow your hot wax to cool until around 140 degrees, then pour it onto the first layer of the candle.  If the wax is too hot it will melt the first layer and cause bleeding of the colours which is not desirable.  

10.  Repeat steps 8-9 until you've finished all your candles!  Here are some great scent and colour combos that we used:

Watermelon Lemonade:
Watermelon Fragrance Oil
Lemon Fragrance Oil
A combination of Red, Pink, and Orange Candle Dye

Sandy Shores:
Almond Fragrance Oil
Golden Honey Candle Dye

Sweet Summer Night:
Pineapple Mango Fragrance Oil
Peach Blossom Candle Dye
Pink Candle Dye

Cucumber Mojito:
Cool Cucumber Fragrance Oil with a touch of Peppermint Fragrance Oil
Lime Green Candle Dye
Seafoam Candle Dye

Here are some frequent troubleshooting questions that we get:

Why do I get that black carbon build-up on the tip of my wick when burning my candles?

This is called mushrooming, which is a carbon build-up caused by the combination of your wick and fragrance.  EcoSoya CB-Advanced wax is clean burning but the addition of scent and colour affects the combustion process of a candle.  Changing the wick, scent, and dye combination can correct this problem.

What wick should I use?
Wicking depends on many factors.  Generally the goal is to have a burn pool that extends all the way out the the edges of the candle and is 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep.  Here is a rough guideline on where to start when using EcoSoya CB-Advanced soy wax:

Candle 1 to 2 inches in diameter - RRD 34 or HTP 104
Candle 2 to 3 inches in diameter - RRD 40 or HTP 126
Candle 3 to 4 inches in diameter - RRD 50 or HTP 1212

Keeping in mind that successful wicking also depends on the fragrance and dye used as well. 

Why are there spots on my candle that look like the wax has pulled away from the glass?

These are called wet spots and are affected by cooling temperatures.  If you're finding your candle has wet spots try cooling the candle slower (ie. in front of a fireplace) or faster (ie. in the garage).  The recommended cooling temperatures for candles is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Why are there bumpy frosted patches on the sides or top of my candle?

Frosting can be attributed to many different variables such as pouring and cooling temperatures and combinations of colour and scent.  Try increasing or decreasing the pouring temperature by 10 degrees, or changing the colour and/or scent.  If the surface of your candle is rough and bumpy you can use a hair dryer or heat gun 5-6 inches away from the candle to polish them up.

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