Scenting Soaps Naturally

For the past couple of years I have contemplated how I can offer more naturally scented soaps – that is, using plant-derived scents instead of synthetic fragrances. Natural essential oils can provide many beneficial properties from the plants they were extracted from. Some are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-depressant, and the list goes on… (For more information about essential oils and their properties, please visit AromaWeb.)

However, there are limitations to using essential oils in handmade soaps. Natural scents are limited by what can be found in nature, and what can be distilled into an essential oil. Even though apples and raspberries can be found in nature, there’s no such thing as apple or raspberry essential oil, for example. Natural scents are usually quite a bit more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, and their scents may not hold up to what is initially a rather harsh environment when the soap is made. As the soap cures over several weeks, it becomes extremely mild, but during those first 24 hours the fresh soap is very caustic and hot. Some natural essential oils can be skin irritants, and others can cause the skin to be extra-sensitive to sun exposure, and some are unsafe during pregnancy, so not all natural ingredients are actually good for your skin!

There are several soaps in the Great Cakes Soapworks line that are currently scented synthetically, but could be scented naturally. For instance, last year I was able to create a blend of essential oils for the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap that doesn’t really smell like the synthetic fragrance I used to use, but is still a very nice alternative. Just this past week, I decided to see if I could re-create the Cinnamon Bun Coffee Soap with some natural essences. I have some 20-fold vanilla oleoresin that is quite thick and holds up to the soapmaking process. Combining it with a bit of cinnamon essential oil smells pretty fantastic, but doesn’t have the same WOW factor as the synthetic fragrance. Not to mention that the oleoresin alone is more than twice the price of its synthetic counterpart. Here is the result of my test batch of five bars:

Naturally scented Cinnamon Bun Coffee Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I don’t think I’ll be re-creating this soap in a full-sized batch though. Even if the scent came close to what my customers are used to, unfortunately I couldn’t justify the price.

I also experimented with a couple of new soaps that are completely natural, and I believe they turned out much nicer. The first one is a test batch (5 bars) of Ginger Lime, made with ginger CO2 extract and four-fold lime essential oil and colored with algae powder:

All-natural Ginger Lime soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

It smells amazing!! I’m not sure how the green color will hold up over time, but I like the results so far! Depending on how my customers like it, I am hoping to create full-sized batches (24 bars) of this one.

The next soap came as a request from a customer for something scented with bergamot. She uses it in an oil diffuser at home and wanted to know if I had any soaps or could make a soap with the same scent. She reminded me that bergamot is what gives earl grey tea its flavor! I used a bergamot essential oil with reduced bergaptine, so it won’t cause photosensitivity and mixed it with a couple other “secret” essential oils. The result is what I’m calling Citrus Soother:

All-natural Citrus Soother Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Citrus Soother is colored with rose clay, french green clay, and more algae powder. I made a medium-sized batch of this one, so there are 11 bars. All three of these all-natural soaps will be available for purchase at around February 11th.

Soap Challenge – Week 11 Final Link-Up

So are you happy or sad that the challenges are wrapping up? I’m a little of both. Happy to have a little more time to spend with my girls – and company that’s coming to visit! Sad not to have all your lovely soaps to look forward to each week. And what on earth will I blog about now?? I’ll have to get creative again! (Remember, I am planning to do a link-up for the swap soaps in mid-July, so be sure to take some great photos of the packages you receive!)

Here is the lovely reveal of my Fruit Smoothie (all-natural) Soap for this week’s challenge:

Fruit Smoothie Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I have to admit, I sent a sneak peek to all my Preferred Customers this week, and already have 5 bars spoken for! These wonderful soaps will be available at starting June 21st.

And now…for the final reveals! *sniff sniff*

Here are the instructions to add your link:

Bloggers: Create a post about your all-natural soap – with photos of course! Which fun ingredients did you use? Did you add any scent? Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!).

Facebook business page photos: Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including any interesting ingredients or scent you used. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers: You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! There will be a little frog icon instead of a thumbnail photo of the soap, but anyone who clicks on your link will be able to see your video. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. Then in the next step, ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button.

Uploading a photo from your computer: If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. Just put n/a in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

The link-up will remain open until next Saturday!

Sneak Peek: Black Raspberry Creme Soap

Black Raspberry Creme is one of those fragrances that never goes out of style. I love it because it’s sweet and yummy – AND it is a dream to work with in soap. You get that creamy vanilla scent without the dark brown discoloration that so many vanilla fragrances create in soap. And it never sets up too fast either which gives me plenty of time to play – love that!

This time around, I did a little bit different swirl in the mold that I’ve never done before, so I will be anxious to cut it tomorrow!! Until then, here is a sneak peek at the top – with just a little bit of glitter:

Black Raspberry Creme soap in the mold

My older daughter told me that I swirl the tops of my soaps the same way every time. I can’t help it. So I decided to change it up and do diagonal zig-zags instead. But then the edges didn’t look finished, so I had to do my usual curly-ques – but only along the edges! See if she notices!

Cut pics tomorrow…

Grapefruit Jasmine and Almond Milk Soaps Now Available!

Can you believe it?
Groovy Guava soap is sold out.
Peacock soap is sold out.
Hawaiian Sunrise soap is sold out.

Time for some NEW SOAPS!!

Grapefruit Jasmine Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for grapefruit scents. Grapefruit is just so tart and yummy – and so refreshing for Spring and Summer!

Almond Milk Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Almond Milk is a fresh goat’s milk soap. The brown parts of the soap have darkened more since this photo was taken for even greater contrast with the creamy center! You can see why and how I made this soap here!

Click on the photo to purchase – you won’t be sorry!

On the Curing Rack: Antique Lilac

The Antique Lilac soap is definitely a favorite for Spring! I get requests for it every year – and this time the customer who requested it happened to be coming by last night to pick up an order when I was getting ready to cut it…so I let her do the honors!

After all the embeds, faux funnel swirl, gradient, and vertical mold experiments, I was ready to go back to my old standby: swirl-it-in-the-pot method. The base is the lightest lavender, and there are two swirl colors: true purple, and a bluish-gray purple. The lilac fragrance is just barely workable for two swirls – especially after I had tweaked my colors until I liked them. It was setting up fast in the mold by the time I swirled the top and added just a light sprinkling of glitter.

Antique Lilac Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Antique Lilac Soap - another view

The glass plate is an antique item, but because I was having a difficult time picking a background, I took some photos with an antique tablecloth as well:

Antique Lilac Soap with an antique background

Which photo do you like best??

The Antique Lilac soap will be available at on April 4th.

On the Curing Rack: Fruit Salsa Soap

The Fruit Salsa soap project has been a lesson in patience for me! Some of you have been following this drama on my Facebook page.

First, I started out making half the soap by adding the fragrance and dividing it into five different colors:

Fruit Salsa soap embeds

The next day, I cut the soap into chunks, made the other half of the soap, added the chunks, and poured/spooned it into the mold.

Fruit Salsa soap in the mold

The following day, I attempted to trim the top so I could cut the soap into slices, but it was still soft.

Soap top partially trimmed

Finally, this morning I was able to finish trimming and cutting the soap!! It was still a little bit on the soft side, which surprises me considering how much I discounted the water… It’s a very workable fragrance, so obviously no problems with it setting up! Speaking of the fragrance, it’s one of those complex fruity-floral scents with fruity notes of mandarin orange, dewfruit, sweet pineapple, red apple, and plum. So those are the colors of the embeds (Not finding any results in my search for dewfruit, I imagine it to be green like a honeydew melon). The floral notes include rose, peony and white lily, all rounded out with sensual sandalwood and exotic musk.

Fruit Salsa Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Considering how long it has taken for this soap to set up, I am going to be generous with the cure time and estimate six weeks until it will be ready. That will be April 19th – just in time for the farmer’s market to start up again on the 21st!

On the Curing Rack: Grapefruit Jasmine

I haven’t made a Grapefruit Jasmine soap since August 2007! The fragrance blend is a little bit different this time, and I think I like it better – more grapefruit!! The swirls are pink and orange, and I’ve also added a sprinkling of pink and orange jojoba beads throughout.

Grapefruit Jasmine Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Another view...

This lovely soap will be ready for purchase at on March 26th. Only 12 bars!

Hawaiian Sunrise Soap Now Available!

Just a quick post to let you know that the Hawaiian Sunrise soap is available for purchase:

Hawaiian Sunrise Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Need a little vacation? Take your senses to Hawaii! Hawaiian Sunrise soap is a blend of scintillating notes of citrus, raspberry, and pineapple with the tropical fragrances of hibiscus and pikake for an intoxicating scent. This is one of my favorite gradient soaps!

Just $5.50 each when you buy 4 or more soaps (of any kind!). Click the photo to purchase – only 10 available!

On the Curing Rack: Orange Bliss

On the same day I made the Tranquil Pear soap with my daughter, I also made a new batch of soap called Orange Bliss. It’s a combination of a gradient soap using the faux funnel method. The fragrance is an all-natural blend of five-fold orange, bergamot, carrot seed, lavender, ylang ylang, and vanilla essential oils.

My daughter gets caught on camera (very briefly) in the video below without her knowledge. (She thinks she’s being sneaky!)

And here’s the photo in case you don’t have time to watch the video:

Orange Bliss Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

The color turned a bit more terracotta after the soap set up, and the fragrance is definitely on the sweet side from the ylang ylang and vanilla. Orange Bliss soap will be available for purchase at on March 15th.

My friend Cynthie is planning to come over this afternoon to help make a goat’s milk soap video. I think I’ll make Almond Milk. I haven’t made that one in quite awhile and I have an idea on how to make it look a little more interesting…

On the Curing Rack: Tranquil Pear

It’s really quite ironic that the name of this soap is Tranquil Pear. The process of making it was anything BUT tranquil! It was inspired by Emily of Shieh Design Studios and the soap she made (with her husband’s help) in a vertical mold on Super Bowl Sunday. Emily convinced me that I should try a vertical mold also. She made it look so easy, I thought, “Sure! Why not?” The only vertical molds I have are PVC pipe molds, but I figured it would work the same way as her rectangular one.

In theory, yes. In practice, not so much. Check it out:

Tranquil Pear Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

The fragrance is just amazing! If you like pear scents, you will love this soap! Tranquil Pear soaps will cure for a good four weeks before being made available for purchase at – probably on March 20th.

How do you like the parrot?