Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Melt & Pour Soap: Butterfly Curl Soaps

After a long, cold winter, we Northerners are always anxious for signs of Spring. The first spotting of a colorful butterfly signifies that Spring has arrived. This project features a clear glycerine butterfly soap embedded with colorful soap curls. This project can be completed in as little as 60 minutes and makes a wonderful gift for Mother's Day, Easter, or just for yourself!

Here's what you need:
  • Mold Market's Butterfly Sheet Mold
  • 1-lb Clear Glycerine Soap- will yield approximately 4 butterflies
  • Soap Curls or colored soap scraps. You will want at least 3-4 different colors.
  • 2 teaspoons fragrance oil per 1 lb. soap base- this recommendation is based on the fragrance oils we stock. You may need to adjust the amount if using another supplier's fragrance.
  • Soap Thermometer- absolutely essential when working with embedded soap
  • Glass Measuring Cup
  • Microwave or Aluminum Melting Pot
  • Rubbing Alcohol in a spray bottle

Monday, April 21, 2008

Melt & Pour Soap: Learn to Make Sea Shell Embed Soap

Here in Northern Michigan the first signs of Spring are evident. Warm beach weather isn't far off and we'll soon be heading to our beach houses or cottages along the shorelines of the Great Lakes.

This shell embed soap is perfect for summer beach houses no matter where you live. And, it's very easy to make. All the supplies for this soap project can be purchased at GoPlanetEarth.com.

We've provided a step-by-step pictorial video below. Prinatable instructions will be availabe on the Projects Page at GoPlanetEarth very soon.

Weight Loss: Week Four Weigh In

Well, it's now been one month since I started my weight loss plan. Here is what I lost this week (shown in soap, of course).

That BIG block of soap shown (left) in the photo is the amount of weight I hope to lose. To the right of the BIG block is the amount of weight I've lost in the last three weeks. When you add the above block of soap, you can see that I am making progress. I'm very close to the halfway mark. Last week three people asked if I had lost weight. That was encouraging. Personally, I still don't note any changes in how I look or how my clothes fit. I do have more energy though.

I've increased the pace on my treadmill walks and have added some upper arm resistance training. Also started some ab excercises this week. WHOA! my stomach is sure feeling the burn.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to Make Soap Curl Embeds

Colorful Soap Curls for Embedding Once you've mastered how to make Soap Logs, you can then have the option of making soap curls. Soap curls are great for embedding in molded cavities. Use only 'non-bleeding' colors when making these embeds. You don't want the colors from your embeds migrating into your soap overpour. If you look at the picture below, you will see how the clear soap (the overpour) has remained just that, clear. The pigments used in the soap curls were non-bleeding colors. The color stays put!
Most of the liquid gel colors sold at GoPlanetEarth are non-bleeding. The above picture shows some of the beautiful, bright colors you can achieve with liquid gels. Curls pictured (above) were all achieved using FLX Formula white soap base. You can use FLX white or FLX clear bases to create soap curls. Which base you use will depend on the colors you want for your curls. The dark purple and mulberry curls in the rectangle soap were achieved by coloring FLX clear base. FLX white base was colored for the lavender and rose curls.


Embedding Soap Log in a Loaf Mold

Soap Log in a Loaf Mold In my last post I showed you how to make a soap log and a ribbon embed for use in a Mold Market loaf mold. This post will show you how to make the loaf of soap. For this demonstration a soap log colored with Neon Bright Pink liquid gel was used. The overpour is white soap; no additional color added.

Supplies for this project can be purchased at GoPlanetEarth.com, including the loaf mitre box and straight soap cutter. A wavy soap cutter can also be used with the mitre box.


How to Make Soap Logs and Ribbon Shaped Embeds

In January 2008, GoPlanetEarth discontinued the production of ready-made soap logs and ribbon embeds. We were the only company online offering these types of embeds 'ready-made'. The order volume was overwhelming, and simply put, we just couldn't keep up with production. Since discontinuing the embeds, emails come in daily from customers wanting to know how to make these embeds. My response is always "an instructional is forthcoming". Well, that day has arrived!

We have produced a step-by-step instructional on how to make, not only, these embeds, but how to use them to make a loaf soap. There's also a bonus instructional on how-to make 'soap curls' for use in molded cavities. Printed instructions are in the works and will be posted on our web site shortly.

I definitely recommend purchasing our FLX Melt and Pour soap base when creating these embeds. It has a slower set up time which allows you to manipulate the soap base before it becomes to brittle to shape and form. FLX soap base is available in both clear and white (opaque).


Weight Loss: Week Three Weigh In

This week I hit the goal I had set for Week Five. That's good news; but, I'm still not feeling the weight loss when I put on my clothes. I'm going to add another day of walking to my regimen and see what happens.

I'm still eating very balanced meals and sticking with five small meals a day. I'm starting to get more creative in my meal planning. Today was my first time eating out in three weeks. We went to a Mexican restaurant of all places. There wasn't much on the menu in the low-fat neighborhood, so I ended up with a chicken taco salad. I did splurge on a Corona Light. Would have opted for a Marguerita but the calories would have put me back a few days.

I would love to lose another couple of pounds this week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Phthalate Debate

I received the following email from a customer concerned about Phthalate issues. I have posted my response on the blog in response to other emails and phone calls I have received about this 'hot' topic.


You know, it's was surprising last year that most of the vendors I utilize for my M&P soap making hobby, even know what Phthalates were. Now, it seems to be some are changing and some are not. That's ok. I still have some questions that I'm hoping you can help me with. I'm sure this is a major undertaking... I am looking forward to hearing from you. I currently have a drawer full of fragrances I need to use up, and reassess the direction I'm going.


Here is my post:

There has been much debate in recent years about the use of 'phthalates' in cosmetics, fragrances oils, and medical equipment. Phthalates are a group of chemical compounds used in plastics and as fragrance stabilizers. The discussions concerning the use of phthalates have increased lately due to a report published in the Pediatrics Journal about the alleged health effects of phthalates in children. The Journal conducted a study in Seattle that analyzed urine samples from 163 infants for the presence of phthalates. The presence of at least one phthalate molecule was found in every urine sample, while 81% of the samples had measurable amounts of more than one phthalate. Those infants exposed to multiple fragranced baby products tended to have the highest level of phthalates in their urine. Based on this, it was concluded that the topical application of fragranced baby products was the culprit.

A rebuttal was issued to these finding by the Personal Care Products Council. They stated that the results “do not make sense because only one of the seven phthalate compounds reported is even used in baby care products. This suggests that most of the phthalates found in the urine samples came from another route of exposure…” DEP (diethyl phthalate) is the phthalate used in fragranced baby-care products which is regarded as safe for use. The researchers responsible for the published study did not test any baby-care products for the presence of phthalates (only urine samples were examined) and their research did not account for other potential means of exposure. The mere presence of DEP does not equate to genuine risk.

The FDA continues to evaluate data on DEP and has not taken any action to restrict the use of DEP in fragrances. Extensive research on DEP has shown no evidence of being a reproductive toxin or endocrine disruptor as suggested. Even the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) which provides scientific advice on the safety of non-food consumer products has concluded that DEP is safe for use in cosmetic products in the present practices of use and concentrations and represents no quantifiable risk for the consumer. The SCCP is the regulatory arm of the European Union comparable to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

GoPlanetEarth realizes there are individuals who may want to advertise a Phthalate-free product. Over the course of the next few months we will be adding a line of Phthalate-free fragrances to enable buyers to make fragrance choices based on their marketing niche and customer base. GoPlanet's current fragrance selections will remain unchanged.



Monday, April 07, 2008

Melt & Pour Soap: A Beginner's Primer

I've been in the soaping business for so long that I sometimes forget there are many newcomers who are clueless to the basics of melt and pour soap making. Just this week I received an email from a customer wanting to know just that...the basics. A 'primer', so to speak. GoPlanet put together this no-frills short instructional video for those just discovering the world of melt and pour. After viewing the instructions, you should be able to make your first bar of soap without a hitch.

Questions? Just email. The crew at GoPlanet will be glad to answer any questions pertaining to this primer or help you select the supplies needed to get started. A printed version of this primer will be available on the web site project page in the couple of days.

WARNING: Melt & Pour soap making can be addicting. Once you get started, it may be hard to quit.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Weight Loss Weigh In: Week Two

Well, I'm still on track! I've been walking on the treadmill 4x a week for 35 minutes and eating 5 small meals a day. Also started using a soy protein powder. I'm adding 1 scoop to 8 ounces of liquid or sprinking on my morning oatmeal or cereal. I'll let you know if the soy protein mix is worthy of the advertising hype. Still haven't started any resistance weight training, mostly because I barely have time to schedule in treadmill time. I have a niece who's a certifed personal trainer; I think I'll schedule her for 2 sessions to set up a resistance training regime.

So far, I'm happy with my results. It's a good start, but there's still many more pounds to go. I have a feeling that the weight loss won't be so dramatic in this next week. I'm trying to stay encouraged, but I'm not noticing any changes in how I look or how my clothes fit. Maybe next week!

What's the Scoop on Organic Labeling & Marketing

Organic, Organic, Organic

Everywhere we turn there’s some kind of "organic" product being marketed and sold. My local grocery store stocks several aisles of organic product, not to mention a whole fruit and produce section. Organic products are not just limited to food stuff. Lately there has been a myriad of cosmetic and toiletry companies introducing "organic lines". So what does this mean to you, the consumer? What exactly is organic and does it differ from certified organic?

First, it is important to understand that there is no agency or governmental branch that regulates a "Certified Organic" product. Currently the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) works from a Food Industry list that includes food products deemed safe as certified organic raw materials. It’s called the 205.605 list. That works for the food industry, but many of the items on the list are not choices for the toiletry or soap industry. The word "organic" is not properly regulated on personal care products as it is on food products.

By law, you must go through a third party company that has been commissioned by the USDA to certify your product as certified organic. So even if a certified organic lab creates your product, in order to carry the seal, you must involve an independent party to certify your product. It is costly and at this point in time, does not mean any more than following USDA guidelines. This is why you almost never see a product with the actual certified organic seal.

Currently, if your product contains 70% certified organic ingredients, you can legally call it an organic product. This does not mean the product carries a “Certified Organic” seal, it only means that the product contains 70% certified organic ingredients. To carry the Certified Organic seal the product would still need to go through a USDA approved independent for certification approval.

Sadly because of such lax regulation, many personal care products have the word "organic" in their brand name or otherwise on their product label. However, unless these products are USDA certified, the main cleansing ingredients in particular are usually made with conventional not agricultural material, combined with petrochemical compounds.

For now, "organic" means whatever manufacturers say it does and may fall short of the promises implied by the label. There are people working to organize this industry to have agreed upon standards to carry the organic seal, but they do not yet exist, so everybody is working off of the 70% organic standard. This means that 70% of the ingredients in formulas are Certified Organic raw ingredients. Again, this does not mean that the formula is Certified Organic. It does mean that it is an Organic Product.

Presently, as of January 2008, the NSF organization is working to define organic labeling and marketing requirements for organic personal care products. They are working for standards in materials, processes, production criteria and conditions to be met in order for the organic label and marketing claims to appear on products.

NSF is an independent, not-for-profit organization that develops standards that are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems.
You can have a voice in this whole organic debate. Visit the following link and sign the “Coming Clean Petition’ to pressure the Organic Trade Association and USDA’s National Organic Program not to codify or implement extremely weak standards for organic cosmetics

You will find additional information about Organic Regulations, product and safety information at:

Organic Trade Association

NSF Organization

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

How to Wrap a Bar of Soap

I thought it odd the first few times I received emails from customers about how to wrap a bar of soap. I thought, doesn't everyone know how to wrap soap? As I considered my customer base, I realized I have a great number of customers new to soap making. Many have no idea that melt and pour soap needs to be wrapped or what wraps are recommended.

Melt and pour soap must be wrapped to prevent it from sweating. Left unwrapped, little moisture droplets called 'glycerine dew' will appear on the surface of finished soaps. These are perfectly harmless, but not so pleasing to the eye. Melt and pour soap base contains glycerine. By nature, glycerine draws moisture from the air which creates unsightly little water beads on the surface of unwrapped soap. The only way to prevent this from happening is to wrap the soap.

Some soapers prefer to use shrink bags or shrink wrap. My personal favorite for wrapping melt and pour soap is basic stretch wrap (I prefer the Saran brand, red box, I swear by it). The following video takes you through the process of wrapping a basic square soap. I'll cover how to wrap circles, ovals, and odd shaped soaps in a future post. Once you master the technique, you can wrap a number of bars in no time flat. The secret is to not pull too hard on the stretch wrap and the have the stretch wrap cut to fit your bar. You don't want a bunch of extra wrap on the backside of your soap.