Hello everyone! A here!
Today is about a remake of a soap many of my customers seem to enjoy: Desert Mint! It’s a wonderful mixture of peppermint essential oil, mint tea, agave nectar, and aloe vera juice. Its one of Halcyon Baths’ signature soaps, and definitely one of my favorite to make: complicated yet simple!
In this remake, I changed the oil recipe (slightly) and bumped up the superfat just for fun. The oil recipe is primarily made of shea butter and ricebran with coconut oil for bubbly. After years of soaping, I can definitively say that ricebran, coconut, and shea butter is one of those perfect combinations for me. No matter what the percentage, these oils impart the right amount of moisture and bubble factor. I never have to worry about DOS or any other sign of rancidity either. I’m also looking for more combinations that always work no matter what the proportions… there’s one combo I’m working on with cocoa butter and coconut oil, but I haven’t found the perfect soft oils.
The process begins with freezing some aloe vera juice. This is the good stuff–inner leaf. I also brewed some strong mint tea that also went into the freezer. Here’s where the mint tea I use for soap differs from the way I usually brew for my body: I double brew. I make one strong mint decoction, strain it, and then I use the strained liquid as the “water” to make the second tea. Strain it again, and voila! I add lye to the frozen liquid slowly, aiming to keep the soap under 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
I’ve already talked about the oil recipe, so I’ll move on to the additives. I used agave nectar. I wouldn’t call it a substitute for the body or slipperyness honey donates to lather, however it does add a je ne sais quoi. It’s a great addition to aloe. Now usually I would mix any liquid-y additives with my essential oil of choice, but I don’t like to mix watery additives with essential oils because they don’t blend. Instead I added it to my barely emulsified soap and continued to stickblend.
After achieving a light trace I went and added the peppermint essential oil. This is honestly my favorite part of soapmaking–adding the scent! I mixing it into trace and smelling the fragrance bloom in the soap. Peppermint EO tickles my nose a bit, but it’s a delicious tingle.
The essential oil resting on the top of the soap. Emulsified soap is denser and the scent floats. I keep on blending from here.
After getting a solid medium-thick trace, I’m ready to mold everything. I used one of my wooden molds to make a solid, thick bar and piled more soap on top, using the back of the spoon to add some texture. A light dusting of mint leaves on top. At this point, the color of the soap was an angry orange from the mint tea; making strong, hot decoctions always results in this shade.
A wet soap pic. Even though I don’t insulate my molds, I rarely worry about partial gel because wood usually provides enough heat containment as it is. Anymore and I would risk overheating. Additionally I prefer to keep my soap uncovered because I can check its process, and I like to keep my eye on soaps that I know contain some type of sugar.
Twelve hours later and it is time to unmold. The soap is in that perfect limbo between soft and hard to cut. Because they’re peaked high, I cut this loaf into one-inch sections. The resulting bars are a good 8 ounces before cure. They’ll lose about half an ounce in water weight and become hard enough to stick around in the shower.
Here you can see how the color lightened up. Now it’s a paler mustard color. I do try to stay light on the amount of mint I sprinkle on tops of soaps because it seems to always bleed and leave little rust spots once in the bath.
Cut soaps. Recently I’ve been waiting to bevel my soaps until they’ve been curing a couple weeks.
That’s how I make Desert Mint, one of my favorite soaps in Halcyon Baths’ line! The soaps cure for about two months before they hit the shop. What’s your favorite soap to make? Ingredients? And what’s your favorite part of soaping? Do tell!
You can also find this post on Let’s Talk About Soap, a place I guest post on.