Freshly stocked: Crisp apple and rose soap

Crisp apple rose soap

Crisp apple & rose handmade soap from Emmet Street Creations

Fall is quickly approaching and with it comes apple season. I love picking apples, eating apples, cooking with apples, and taking pictures of apples. I’m pretty much an apple fanatic. Give me a peck of freshly picked Honey Crisp apples and I’m in heaven. It’s only natural that my love of apples inspired me to make a crisp apple and rose scented soap.

This customer favorite soap features a blend of olive and rice bran oils to treat your skin gently. The scent is a perfect blend of fresh crisp apples and soothing rose petals.

I’ve restocked this soap in the Emmet Street Creations store on Etsy, just in time for the fall season. Give it a try today while supplies last!

How I learned to make handcrafted soap

My visit to the Otion soap bar in Seattle

My visit to Otion: The Soap Bar, Bramble Berry’s store in Bellingham, Washington.

Isn’t the internet awesome? Without the internet my productivity would plummet because I’d have no adorable animals to ooo and ahh over in the middle of a stressful work day. I wouldn’t be able to prove Matt wrong when he misidentifies an actor in a movie (thanks for all your help IMDB). Most importantly, I would have never started Emmet Street Creations or even found the fulfilling craft of artisan soap making.

For me, it all started with an internet search for handmade Christmas gifts. I found an article by Martha Stewart illustrating how to make melt and pour soap and after one weekend, I was hooked.

I spent hours looking at every resource I could find related to soap making. I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of information available. How could I, a novice soap maker, know who to trust? How could I be sure that the recipe some stranger posts online is actually safe to use? I nearly gave up before I even started.

Then I found her. Anne-Marie Faiola, The Soap Queen.

I stumbled across her blog and I knew I was seeing something different. The blog is full of tutorials for all skill levels, inspiration, troubleshooting guides, business advise and even the random food recipe. (I highly recommend the banana quinoa pancakes.)

Before I ever made my first batch of soap, I did weeks worth of research. I started where every aspiring soap maker should start, with the Basics of Cold Process Soap Making. This four-part video series by Anne-Marie is a quick and concise overview of the soap making process. I watched this series several times and took detailed notes about everything from lye safety to the tools that Anne-Marie used. I read “The Soapmaker’s Companion,” by Susan Miller Cavitch, from cover to cover, twice. I carefully gathered all of my soap making tools and supplies. Once I felt like I understood the process completely, I dove in and made a batch of plain, unscented soap. It came out perfectly thanks to my hours of preparation!

The Soap Queen’s blog is the official blog of Bramble Berry, the soap supply company Anne-Marie created. To be fair, one of the goals of the blog is to sell Bramble Berry products by showcasing all the wonderful things you can make with them. But, it’s more than just a marketing ploy. If your business succeeds and you sell more products, then their business succeeds because you’ll come back for more supplies. It’s in their best interest to fully test their recipes and products to ensure they are giving you only the best information. They even make themselves available to their customers to troubleshoot why something might have gone wrong in a batch of soap.

Thanks to Anne-Marie and the Soap Queen blog, I can now formulate my own recipes, decide on my own color and scent combinations and figure out what I did incorrectly when a batch goes wrong. I can also look at other resources with an objective eye and decide if the information is good or bad.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to learn how to make soap,” then start with Anne-Marie and the Soap Queen blog. You’ll be happy you did!

P.S. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I have not been provided with any products or compensation to write about the awesomeness of Anne-Marie and Bramble Berry. 

Soap making secrets: Using indigo powder as a natural colorant

Soap making secrets: Using indigo powder as a natural colorantA few weeks ago, I spent some time at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and was so inspired by the herb and dye gardens that I decided to work with indigo powder as a natural colorant in my soap.

Indigo is a plant-based dye that has been used for thousands of years as a dye for cloth and pottery. Did you know it’s also used to add color to bath and body products?

I used indigo powder in two different ways to achieve different looks.  For the striped soap on the left in the picture above, I mixed a small amount of indigo powder with olive oil. I then added the mixture to a small portion of the soap batter to make a dark blue layer. This soap is scented with a nice unisex blend that has fruity notes of lime, lemon zest and apple, along with floral notes of lily of the valley and rose.

For the second batch, I wanted the entire soap to be one color, so I mixed the indigo powder into the water portion of my soap recipe. Once it was diluted, I added the lye. I scented this soap, shown on the right above, with the juiciest smelling blueberry fragrance oil. I can’t stop sniffing it!

If you’re a soap maker interested in learning more about how to use indigo or other natural colorants in your formulations, I recommend reading this post by The Soap Queen, Anne-Marie Faiola. It’s loaded with great tips on usage rates of several natural colorants.

As I researched the use of indigo in soap, I learned that this stunningly beautiful dye has had a long and tumultuous history. If you’re interested in learning more, listen to this NPR interview with Catherine E McKinley, the author of “Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World.” I’ve added this book to my reading list!

I also learned that extracting dye from indigo containing plants is a difficult and arduous task. Because of this, most indigo used today is synthetic and not plant derived like the powder I used. But, I stumbled across a small company called Ricketts Indigo that is dedicated to using traditional methods of extracting dye. They create gorgeous cloth, towels, handkerchiefs and other items that are dyed with the indigo they grew and processed. Their shop is full of beautiful items that would make the perfect gift for anyone who uses the color indigo in their decor.

My indigo-inspired soaps will be available for purchase in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store in mid-August. They’d make the perfect gift for that hard to buy for guy or gal.

I cannot lie…

Bag of ButtsI like little butts. (Soap butts that is.)

Our customers inspired the idea for the Bag of Butts. Folks said they were interested in trying samples of our soaps before they committed to a full-sized bar. Unfortunately, we don’t have molds small enough to make mini bars of soap… but we do have a bunch of end pieces (which we dubbed soap butts) from our regular batches that are not quite large enough to be a full-sized bar. Thus, the Bag of Butts was born!

Like our own heinies, no two pieces are the same size or shape. Your bag of booty will contain 4 to 5 butts of different scents. We will, of course, give you a list of the contents of the bag so you know which of our lovely scents gets the stink off your posterior the best.

Of course, the best way to try out our scents is to come see us in person. Don’t forget we’ll be at The Flea at the Evaporator Works in Hudson this Saturday (6/27) from 9 AM to 5 PM. Come out and give your nose buds a treat! 

Introducing our first palm-free soap!

A lot of folks are concerned with the use of palm oil for cosmetic (and industrial) purposes and the impact of overproduction to environmental sustainability.

Even though Emmet Street Creations only uses palm oil from Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies (a company committed to only buying its palm oil from suppliers who are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), Christine’s recent trip to Costa Rica, during which she saw miles of palm plantations that strip some beautiful areas of the country of biodiversity, inspired her to further her efforts toward creating palm-free handmade soap that met her high standards for quality.

It’s been a challenge for Christine, but today I’m happy to announce she is ready to introduce the first palm-free handmade soap to the Emmet Street Creations lineup: Mango Papaya soap!

Mango Papaya soapThis soap is not yet available in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store. It will premier at The Mom and Pop Shoppe in Akron on 4/25! So if you want to be the first kid on the block to have this tropical-scented soap, come out and see us. Our booth will be set up at Musica from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Now that Christine has experienced success, you’ll likely see more palm-free soap offerings in the Emmet Street Creations store in the future. But be assured, when palm oil is part of the recipe, we’re committed to only using products by sources committed to sustainable production methods.

(If you want to read more about the use of palm oil in soap making, check out this excellent post on Bramble Berry’s blog.)