I have some long overdue updates on my soaps!
Because of the pandemic and especially the war in Ukraine (where most of the sunflower oil in stores comes from along with Poland) the price of all oils but especially sunflower oil (one of my main ingredients) had exploded (like tripled!!!). I didn’t want to have to raise the price of my soaps and I managed not to by substituting out a portion of sunflower oil for good old Canadian canola oil. I had never made soap with canola oil before but it turned out to be a wonderful addition, making the soaps lather even smoother and creamier than before. I found this online about it
« Canola oil - Not only does it contain Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant that will help to protect your skin from free radicals, it also contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which help to combat premature ageing and soothe dry, irritated skin »
So who wouldn’t like that;)
I have have also started adding beeswax to my soaps to help make them stronger when they are accidentally dropped in the shower and less likely to break. Since we became beekeepers a few years ago I try to use our own wax, (which we now have a lot of) in my soaps. What started out as a mild curiosity in beekeeping for me and an indulgent tolerance by my boyfriend Steve in buying me a hive for my birthday back in 2019, has now led to an all consuming passion for him! I have to pretty much stay out of the way of the hives unless I want to spend at least half an hour at each one minutely examining each and every frame with him (and there can be almost 60 frames in some of the hives!!)
I also tried substituting (for about a month) the fairly pricey plastic wrap I use to wrap my sea salt soaps in with compostable parchment paper… This was surprisingly unsuccessful, even after just a few weeks in sealed tubs with plenty of natural dessinant packages (and a dehumidifier!!) they still managed to attract moisture to them and crinkle up the parchment paper very unattractively (and potentially detrimentally to their legally required ingredient labels). I found salt soaps definitely need to have to plastic wrap to prevent them from attracting moisture, and the extra protective layer of wrapping paper keeps the labels dry and is very good for my customers storage options (please don't leave them unwrapped in a bowl or towel in your bathroom until you're ready to use them!)
Another pandemic problem I had (and still have) was finding enough sea salt for my soaps… I refuse to use table salt, it makes the soaps sweat a lot during their drying period (which I try to keep around 3 months, most soap makers do around 1 month) and it just doesn’t seem as clean and nourishing to me. The sea salt I did manage to find was very coarse, and after making a few batches my normal way and getting some very sharpish lumps in them (some people do seem to prefer them that way but I don’t) I’ve decided to purée all of my salt before I use it, which does take extra time but I find it worth it for the smooth creamy lather they give.
Well that was a lot of updates for now but I also have to make one about my hand balms which will be coming soon!
Kara Needham is the founder and creator of Savonnerie de L'Estrie, a small manufacturer of handcrafted, all-natural and affordable artisan skincare in unique folk-art packaging.