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.)

Soap making secrets: Why is handmade soap cured?

Why is handmade soap curedIn soap making, your patience is often tested. For me, waiting to cut into a batch of soap is the hardest part of the process. After making a batch of soap, I want to cut into it right away. It smells good, it’s pretty and I want to use it!

Melt and pour soap, like this Champagne soap, provides the instant gratification I’m looking for. As soon as the soap hardens in the mold, it’s ready to slice and use.

I can’t do that when I make soap from scratch using the cold process method.

Cold process soap is made with lye, water and oils. When the mixture of lye and water is added to the oils, a chemical reaction known as saponification occurs. (Want to know more about using lye in soap? Check out my earlier post discussing how lye is used in soap making.)

After a few days, the chemical reaction is complete and the soap can be removed from the mold and cut. You can use the soap at this point, but I guarantee you wouldn’t love your experience. Why, you ask? Because the soap is still soft and has a high moisture content (it was just oil and water a few days ago, after all), you’d feel like you’re washing with a nicely scented stick of butter. Curing cold process soap allows moisture to evaporate and creates a long-lasting bar of soap. The soap also has to saponify (I love that word) a bit more so it is as gentle as possible on your skin.

All of Emmet Street Creation’s soaps are cured for at least six weeks to ensure that they are long lasting and mild. Soaps that have a higher concentration of liquid oils, like our Crisp Apple Rose, get a little more time to rest before making an appearance in the store. While it’s difficult to wait such a long time, it’s worth it. Don’t take my word for it, check out our customer reviews!

Do you have a question about the soap making process? Ask it in the comments or on our Facebook page and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post. 

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 4

Editor’s note: To celebrate Emmet Street Creations’ first anniversary, we’re reposting the series Christine wrote detailing her journey to bring Emmet Street Creations to life. Enjoy!

I enjoyed the time I was investing in my handcrafted soap making sessions. Soon, I wanted to add some challenge to my repertoire. I knew the next step I was interested in taking—making cold process soaps—but I was afraid of taking that step.

I had to reach deep into the reasons why I was attracted to cold process soap making. I liked the idea of being able to control the ingredients. I wanted what I made to be as eco-friendly and skin friendly as it could possibly be.

So, I studied the techniques and read everything I could. I watched countless YouTube tutorials. In spite of all my research, the idea of working with lye still scared me.

As I learned about cold process soap making, I stumbled upon this website that made up my mind to face my fear head on.

In the article, the author addressed the fear of using lye, liking it to the fear one goes through when learning to drive a car. Cars are dangerous and, when used the wrong way, can be deadly. But, the author pointed out, with practice one gets over the fear and, eventually, barely thinks about the danger of speeding down a highway with other cars merely feet away. We’ve got places to go, after all.

I refused to let fear stop me.

Working with lye is dangerous. When used the wrong way, it can be deadly; but, with knowledge, safety precautions and practice, lye can be a useful tool. I purchased a cold process soap making kit and excitedly waited for its arrival.

Me in my protective gear; waiting excitedly.

My first batch of cold process soap was unscented and uncolored. It came out perfect and so did I—I didn’t burn myself with lye! My confidence bloomed. After six weeks of cure time, I handed out samples to friends and coworkers.

I received rave reviews:

“I’ve never felt so clean,” they said.

“I haven’t needed moisturizer, my skin is so soft,” they gushed.

“You should sell this!” they advised.

A few dozen batches later, here I am ready to try my hand at selling the mounds of soap I’ve made. I know it won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing is. I love making soap and sharing my creations with others.

Welcome to Emmet Street, won’t you come sit a spell?

Sneak peek

Now that the holiday season is over, I’m back in my lab (a.k.a., my extremely tiny kitchen). Here’s a sampling of some of the things I’ve been working on.

I managed to crank out three loaves of soap in two days before I ran out of ingredients. The loaf on the left below is a new batch of Summer Block Party. The swirls turned out so differently this time around. I’m getting more bold in my use of colors and scent and you can see the results in the middle loaf. It’s scented with essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender. I haven’t thought of a name yet but it is definitely a sinus clearer!  Finally, Soap á l’orange is a customer favorite. I make this anytime I get my soaping equipment out. I can’t wait to cut into these! They will need to cure for at least six weeks so I expect them to be in the shop in February.

(L-R) Cucumber Melon & Pear, Eucalyptus Mint & Lavender, Soap á l’orange

I’ve also been making “No Fuss Fizzies.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little frustrated by all the color and glitter and floaty things that go into some bath bombs. While I love anything that nourishes my dry skin, sometimes I just want to take a bath, relax, and not worry about scrubbing glitter off the sides of my tub (and out of other places).  My “No Fuss Fizzies” are the perfect solution. They are color and floaty-thing free and made with simple ingredients and gentle scents that will leave your skin feeling soft and your tub ring free. Look for these to make an appearance in my Etsy shop soon:

Large and small bath fizzies

Be sure to follow Emmet Street Creations on Facebook and Twitter so you can keep up to date with all of my new product offerings!

The 12 soaps of Christmas: And a partridge in a pear tree…

Crisp Pear 5

This pear-scented soap should come with a warning label:

Warning

The color swirls will enchant you with the way they change as you use it. It’s a good thing this soap is packed with moisturizers—specifically coconut, palm, olive, rice bran and castor oils—since you’re spending all your time in the shower.

We recommend using Crisp Pear only on weekends; you will be late for work if you try to use it during the week. If you are late for work too often, you may be unable to buy more of our soap; that would make us sad.

The 12 soaps of Christmas: Day 11

Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, but the hours the sun is in the sky are pretty amazing. Here in the northern hemisphere, we rejoice on the days the sun is shining bright—it makes the cold seem a little less, well, cold.

There are also a lot of holiday parties (i.e., eating occasions) this time of year. Maybe at one of those functions someone will bring a dessert featuring cranberry and fig. Don’t expect to see one of those fancy desserts if you come to my family’s house; the fanciest thing we make is pumpkin pie using an old, family recipe—the one featured on the label of the can of pumpkin.

But, if you do happen to stay as a guest, I will have Winter Solstice on hand for you to use when you shower. Not only does this soap look and smell lovely, it contains several moisturizing oils that will soothe your dry, itchy skin (and maybe your soul after your exposure to the insanity that is my family).


The 12 soaps of Christmas: Day 10

Snuggle Blanket 4

The long, cold winter nights have settled in. I don’t know about you, but one of the best ways to pass the time is to snuggle up with my honey under a cozy blankie and sip some homemade cocoa (marshmallows optional).

When I’m cold, I like to cuddle up to my sweetie pie and “steal his heat,” because the man freakin’ radiates heat. I am seriously jealous of his internal furnace, because I spend the winter months with my fingers and toes feeling permanently frozen. Sometimes I think getting hot flashes would be welcome, but my menopausal acquaintances assure me I will think otherwise when they actually start to happen.

Anyway… back to cuddling. If I’m lucky enough to catch my man after he showers, I can smell the scent of the shaving cream he uses. It’s lovely. The scent of this Snuggle Blanket soap smells just like it; it’s the next best thing to having him around.