Thursday, January 31, 2013

Custom soap orders for weddings or showers

Planning a wedding or a baby shower and need small gifts for your guests? Did you know that you can order custom soaps from Ladybug Soapworks? You choose the scent, color, and shape and I do the rest! Beautiful, moisturizing handmade soap a great way to give your guests a special treat that will not clutter their house or add pounds to their hips! If you are interested in setting up an order contact me at

Ladybug Shaped Soap
As you can see from the pictures, I can make soap in different style molds or in the regular rectangle shape. Wouldn't the little animals just be perfect for baby shower gifts!?! I can also make heart shaped soap which is a great shape for wedding and bridal showers gifts. It gets even better though, all custom orders over $50 get 10% off and orders over $100 get 20% off! This is a great savings.

More Animals!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mochacchino Butter Sugar Scrub Tutorial

Need an extra boost to wake you up in the morning? This Mochacchino sugar scrub should do the trick. I like to scent mine with a mix of coffee, vanilla, and chocolate fragrance, but the butter already has a delicious scent so you could really just eliminate the added fragrance.

2 oz Mochacchino butter
2 oz sweet almond oil
1 cup Demerara sugar
1/8 cup ground coffee
25-30 drops of fragrance or essential oil 

1. Weigh out the Mochacchino butter and melt in the microwave.
2. Weigh out the sweet almond oil and add it to the melted butter.
Melted butter and oil
3. Add the sugar and coffee grounds to the melted oils and stir.
4. Add fragrance to the mixture and stir.

Mixing up the sugar and oils
 5. Package it in a pretty container and then rush off to the shower for a nice scrub down!
Pretty and packaged
You may find that this needs more or less liquid oil depending on your taste. I would let the mixture cool to room temp and then modify it if needed.

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Shea Butter

Shea butter is one of my favorite ingredients to use in soap. It comes from the nut of the African Shea (Karite) tree (Vitellaria paradoxa (also known as Butyrospermum parkii)). It is typically a yellowish or ivory color, but can be refined to remove the nutty scent and color leaving it pretty much pure white. I find that the the raw unrefined butter is great when used in soapmaking, but if you are wanting to make a lotion or whipped Shea butter, the white refined version tends to suit that purpose better.
Shea Butter and Shea Nuts
Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetic/body care industry though it is also used as a cooking oil in some African countries. You will find Shea butter as an ingredient in many products such as lotions, creams, salves, lip balm, soap, and hair conditioners. Shea butter is made of a variety of fatty acid components and many unsaponifiable (they do not react with the alkali (sodium hydroxide) and will not become soap) components. This results in soap that is more moisturizing. Shea butter melts upon contact with our bodies and is highly emollient. It has been traditionally used to reduce the appearance of scars, stretch marks and skin discolorations and sooth skin irritations like eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.  The unsaponifiable components are also thought to protect the skin against sun damage by absorbing the ultraviolet radiation. Another great fact about Shea butter is that it has a long shelf life and can easily last 1-2 years or more when stored in a cool, dry location. This means I can buy it in bulk to keep costs down and then include it in almost all of my soap! Only my Castile soap, shampoo soaps, and salt soap bars are formulated without Shea butter.

Want to know more? Check out this great page of information on Shea butter over at the National Geographic website.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ladybug Soapworks blog now available on Kindle!

I am so excited to announce that the Ladybug Soapworks blog is now available on the Kindle store for a monthly subscription cost of $0.99. This allows you to read my blog even when you are not connected to the internet. This is also a great way for you to take my recipes and tutorials with you into your kitchen or soap "lab" and have them easily accessible without printing them out and wasting paper. Want to sign up?  Click here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Indian Samosa Casserole

If you know me, then you know I LOVE Indian food.  If I could, I would eat it every night! So when I came across this recipe for a Samosa casserole, I just had to make it! The recipe below is based off of the one on the vegetarian times website (see it here). I have modified a few things in my recipe to suit my tastes, but you may prefer to use the original.

Indian Samosa Casserole Recipe

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (1 ¼ lb.)--I used closer to 2 lbs
  • 1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (~1.5 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (~1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar or sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk

1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together flours and salt in bowl. Stir in oil and then add 6 to 10 Tbsp cold water  until dough holds together. Shape into ball, cover with damp towel, and set aside.
Crust dough
2. To make filling: Stir together mustard seeds, curry, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.

 3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, return to pot, and mash, leaving small chunks.
Potatoes mashed
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes, or until carrot is tender. Move onion mixture to side of pan, and add mustard seed mixture in center. Toast for about 30 seconds.

Toasting seasoning

5. Stir in frozen peas and broth. Fold onion mixture into potato mixture; stir in agave nectar or sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mixing the onions, carrots, and pea mixture into the mashed potatoes.
 6. Spread filling into a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.

Filling spread in pie pan
7. Roll out crust dough to 11-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface. Cover filling with dough and crimp edges with fingers. Cut X in center to vent steam and lightly brush with milk just before baking.

Filling covered with crust dough.
8. Place pie on baking sheet to catch any potential bubbling over and bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cooked until the crust was golden brown
 9. I topped it with a tamarind-date sauce I bought from an Indian grocery store.  Yum!

Let me know if you make this and how it turned out!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sweet treats for your Valentine

Looking for something great for that special person in your life? Ladybug Soapworks has an assortment of products that would make anyone happy. To find the items in the picture below, go here for the cupcake soaps, the bath melts here, the bath salts here, and the geranium rose soap can be purchased here. Order soon as Valentine's day is in only 20 days! 

If you prefer, you can find all the same items listed at my etsy store here. Be sure to friend me on Twitter and get a 15% off discount for use on either site!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Soaps, Drugs, & Rock and Roll

I have to admit that this is really old news, but I am sure that most people have not heard this story and I wanted to share this great video. The video below explains how real soap tests positive (false-positive that is!) for the date rape drug. This is simply a problem with the drug testing kit, but it turns out to be a great way to find out if what you are using is indeed real soap and not a mixture of synthetic detergents. Their are many cases of products being mislabeled and claiming to be soap when they are in fact detergent. While this test is a pretty cool trick for us soapmakers, I am sure most people will not want to check their soap with a drug kit to determine if it is really soap. An easier way to determine what is in your product is to look at the labels. Be on the look out for "soaps" that have Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, or Cocomidopropyl Betaine as these are all common detergents used in soap-like products. On the other hand, if the label lists oils and sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide as the ingredients, then you have real soap. I should note that real soap and detergent products can be found in both solid (bar) and liquid forms.

Check out the video below and at the very end you will see a list of companies that are falsely advertizing their product as soap. As a consumer, you should be able to make an educated choice about what products you are putting on your body.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Geranium rose bath (oil) melts tutorial

Bath melts are a wonderful way to to add scent and skin nourishing oils to your bath. They are essentially bath oils made up in a solid form. All you have to do is drop 1 or 2 of them into a nice, warm bath and they will melt dispersing the oils and scent into the bath water. The melts pictured below are made from a combination of cocoa butter, shea butter, and sweet almond oil. The are scented with a Geranium Rose essential oil and topped off with some red and iridescent glitter, because sparkles make everything better!

Geranium Rose Bath Melts

A simple recipe to make your own bath melts is given below.
  1. Melt 1 part cocoa butter and 1 part shea butter in the microwave.
  2. Add to the melted butters 1 part liquid oil.
  3. If needed, let the oils cool to below 120 degrees F and then add your fragrance (1-3% for fragrance oils and 1-2% for essential oils).
  4. Mix and pour into small molds (about 1 oz mold size is good)
  5. Allow to cool and harden either at room temperature or for a faster cooling place in your fridge until solid.

If all these "parts" are confusing, here is an example using oz.
1 oz cocoa butter
1 oz shea butter
1 oz liquid oil (sweet almond, hazelnut, hemp oil, or pretty much any other liquid oil would be fine).
17 (1%)-50 (3%) drops of fragrance

You may want to play with the ratio of hard oils (butters) to liquid oil to find what looks and feels best to you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tutorial: Calendula Salve

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) commonly known as pot marigold has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has traditionally been used for treating sunburn, cuts, insect bites and stings, acne, soothing sore or inflamed muscles, diaper rashes, and other skin irritations.

Using one of the methods I explained in this previous blog post, prepare some Calendula flower infused oil. I prefer to use Olive oil for this recipe. You may also add Lavender essential oil to this salve to give it a soothing, sedative effect. Lavender is known to relax muscles, calm anxiety and promote sleep. It is also antiseptic and can be used on cleaned cuts and bruises to minimize scarring and relieve skin irritation. Lavender and Calendula really complement each other in a healing salve.
Calendula Flower
© Lessadar | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
3.5 oz Calendula flower infused herbal oil
½ oz Beeswax (small pellets will be easiest to work with)
20 drops Lavender essential oil (optional)

Melt beeswax in the Calendula infused oil over a double boiler until melted. Beeswax melts at 144 to 147 °F (62 to 64 °C). Remove from the stove. Once the temperature has reached 120 °F, stir in the Lavender essential oil. Pour into clean (sterile preferred) tins or glass jars. Allow to cool thoroughly before using or placing caps on the jars. This salve should last 1-2 years if kept free of water.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Sugar Scrub

I have been working on some sugar scrubs this week and I have made some that I think are unique. One of my favorites is the chocolate coconut sugar scrub. It is made from unrefined coconut oil (retains the lovely coconut scent), sweet almond oil, demerara sugar, and a bit of chocolate fragrance oil. This is such a yummy scent, it reminds me of a candy bar! I love that I was able to get half of the scent from the coconut oil. This helps to keep the product even more natural by eliminating some of the fragrance oil.

Getting the ingredients out.
 I first measured out the oil and sugar. The coconut oil was then gently melted in the microwave.
Mixing the scrub
 The sugar was added to the oils and mixed. Then the fragrance was added and mixed into the scrub.
In it's pretty little container
I packaged the scrub into cute 8 oz containers. No preservative is needed in this scrub as it does not have any water in it. Since the scrub will be used in the shower, you may want to scoop a bit out with a clean spoon instead of your fingers to keep out the water and any germs on your hands.
It looks delicious!
Since this is not an emulsified scrub, it will leave your skin smooth and moisturized. Scrub made from oil may leave your tub a little slippery, so you need to be cautious when getting out of the tub.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tutorial: How to make infused oils.

Infusing botanicals into vegetable oil is a great way to transfer the properties of flowers, roots, seeds, or leaves into an oil. This oil can then be used directly on the skin as a medicinal oil or to make soap, lotions, salves, balms, or many other bath and body products. Some herbs are great for imparting a color to the oil which can be used to color soap, lotion, etc. There are two methods that are most commonly used to infuse or macerate herbs into vegetable oils. Both methods are quite simple and can be done with items common to most kitchens.

The first method: Traditional Cold Brewing

Step 1: Clean a glass jar  with soap and hot water (I like to spray it with 70% ethanol to sanitize after washing). Allow jar to completely dry.
Cleaning and drying my jar.
Step 2: Fill the jar with loosely packed dry herb. You can use many type of herbs and flowers such as calendula, jewelweed, chamomile, comfrey, arnica, etc.
Jar filled with Calendula petals

Step 3: Pour in a liquid vegetable oil to cover the plant material. I like to use olive oil, but you can use sweet almond oil and many other types. You may want to choose your oil depending on what you plan to make with the infused oil. For a lip balm, sweet almond oil would probably be better than olive oil and for a massage oil you may prefer to infuse into fractionated coconut oil.
Olive oil added to jar so that it is just above the plant material

Step 4: Close the jar, shake, and place in a warm sunny window for at least 3 weeks but you could continue infusing for up to 6 weeks. During the first two weeks, try to shake the jar daily.
Soaking up the sun's rays!

Step 5: Strain out the plant material using either a metal mesh strainer and/or a cheese cloth.

Step 6: Bottle the infused oil and store in a cool dark place. The oils should be good for at least 1 year.

The second method: Quick Hot Brewing

Step 1: Place dry plant material into a crock pot, bain-marie, or a double-boiler. I prefer to use a crock pot as I can set it up and just come back occasionally to check on it. If you are doing this on the stove, you should be sure to stay nearby for safety.

Step 2: Cover plant material with oil of your choice. For this method, since you are adding heat you can even infuse into oils that are solid at room temperature (such as shea butter, coconut oil, mango butter, etc).

Step 3: Heat oils and plant material at about 100-125 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-3 hours. You want to gently heat the oil and not boil it as that could destroy the properties of both the oil and plant material.

Step 4: Strain away plant material as explained above.

Step 5: Store infused oil in a clean jar in a cool, dark place and it should be good to use for about 1 year.

This picture shows some of the other infusions I have made. The Ayurvedic olive oil is an infusion of 4 Indian herbs, the jewelweed infusion was made from the leaves of the plant, and the reddish-pink oil is alkanet root-infused olive oil. I can't wait to try the last one in soap to see how the color comes out!
Other herbal infusions
I look forward to hearing if you try either of these methods and how the oils turn out.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Curing Rack...Yippie!

I have been dreaming of getting a bakers rack for a long time to use as a curing rack for my soap.  I was finally able to get one and it just works perfectly! I love how it has wheels and I can roll around the room if I need. It also has plenty of shelves, so I can fit a lot of soap in the rack.

I found this rack at you can find the rack I got here. I would highly recommend that store as they have very good prices and quick shipping. I also bought a stainless steel cart with 2 shelve and they have stainless steel work benches for a very good price as well.  Those are the next items on my wish list!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Adding Social Media Icons to your Blog

As you have probably noticed, I am making a lot of upgrades to both my blog and online store. My newest additions are the pretty social media icons you can see to the right. Adding these icons to my blog took a lot of trial and error, looking at the source code for other sites and trying to figure out how to modify it for my site. Well in the end Dylan helped me and I FINALLY got it to work.  Since I found this process so difficult, I thought others might be going through the same struggles as me and perhaps I could save them some time and hassle. These directions are only for Blogger (Blogspot) blogs. So here we go:

Step 1:
Find some social media icons that you like. A simple Google image search for "social media icon png" will bring up a ton of options. Download the ones you decide to use. For my site, I am using a set called "Minimalist" that was designed by Zee Que at You can get them here for free.
Step 2:
If you have your own website upload your images to your Public_HTML folder. This will allow you to access the icon at Obviously, you need to change YOUR_WEBSITE to the name of your site and IMAGE_NAME to the name of the image (likely something like Twitter.png or Pinterest.png).

If you do not have your own site to upload the images you can upload them to a place like Flickr where you can get a link the the specific icon image.

Step 3:
Go to your blog and select the layout tab. Then click on the 'Add a Gadget' in the area of the blog that you would like to place your icons. In the popup, select the "HTML/JavaScript add third-party functionality or other code to your blog" gadget.

Step 4:
Give this gadget a title if desired. Then you will have to type in a modification of the code given  below. You will need to add the text highlighted in gray between <a and </a> into the content box. The first example is for Facebook. In the text below, where it says YOUR_USERNAME you will need to change to text to reflect your Facebook name. You will also have to change/modify the link to access your icon image; replacing YOUR_WEBSITE with the name of the site where the image is stored and ICON_NAME to the exact name of the icon.

<a href="">
<img width="60/" title="Follow YOUR_USERNAME on Facebook" alt="Follow  YOUR_USERNAME on Facebook" src=""/>

Here are the examples for Twitter and Pinterest for my site. Now following the directions above, just change where I have Ladybug Soapworks and my website and image name to the appropriate names for your site.

<a href="!/LadybugSoapwork">
<img width="60/" title="Follow Ladybug Soapworks on Twitter" alt="Follow Ladybug Soapworks on Twitter" src="" />

<a href="">
<img width="60/" title="Follow Ladybug Soapworks Pinterest" alt="Follow Ladybug Soapworks Pinterest" src=""/>


I hope this tutorial will help you to get your blog looking a little more professional, too!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The History of Soapmaking

It is impossible to say who invented soapmaking and when soap was first made. Soap had been used by humans for thousands of years. Interestingly, soap was first used to clean fabrics and pots. It was not until much later that people began using it to clean themselves. Before the development of soap, it is likely that people used plants containing saponins for cleaning. The earliest known use of a natural soap-like substance was the Reeta (Sapindus) nut, which had been used by Indians since antiquity. Other plants that have been used are the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), many species of Yucca, Soap Lily (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), and the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)(1). Even today, many people throughout the world employ these plants as cleansers.

Reeta nut (Soap nut)
 A popular myth claims that soap was first discovered and takes its name from Mount Sapo a location near Rome. It is said that animals were sacrificed to the Gods on this mountain and legend has it that the animal fat and wood ashes from the braziers would be washed into the Tiber River during rain storms. The animal fat and ashes would combine to create a soap-like substance that would stick to the sides of the river. When women in the area came to wash their clothing in the river, they noticed that the soap-like substance made their wash cleaner with less effort. However, the location of Mount Sapo is unknown, as is the source of the "ancient Roman legend" to which this tale is typically credited.

It is believed that a soap-like was first invented by the ancient Babylonians at least 5000 years ago. The first evidence of this substance was found during excavation of ancient Babylon. The soap-like substance was found in clay cylinders and dates back to around 2800 BC (2). A clay tablet from Babylon dating to around 2200 BC records a formula of water, alkali, and cassia oil to make soap. This soap is thought to have been used in both cleaning wool and cloth in textile manufacture and also used medicinally.

The ancient Egyptians are also known to have made soap. A medical document, the Ebers papyrus, dating to around 1550 BC states that soap was made by combining animal and vegetable oils with an alkaline salt. The soap was used for treating skin diseases and for washing.

Ebers Papyrus
It is also evident that soap was used by the Roman empire. Pliny the Elder recorded in Historia Naturalis(around 70 AD) the manufacture of soap using tallow (fat) and wood ashes (3). He states that the soap was used as a pomade for hair. This book is also the first appearance of the word sapo, Latin for soap. It was originally thought that an entire soap factory had been found, complete with bars of soap, in the ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii was destroyed and frozen in time due to the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. This has proven to be a misinterpretation, it is now thought that this building was used to clean and prepare textiles. Unfortunately this error has been repeated widely and can be found in otherwise reputable texts on soap history. While bathing is known to have been important in Roman life, cleansing with soap was not recognized as important until latter centuries of the Roman era. Soap was generally used as a treatment for skin diseases and cleaning textiles.

Soap made by the Gauls and Romans used goat's tallow (fat) and the ashes of the beech tree to produce both hard and soft soap. The name soap is derived from saipo, the term the Gauls used to describe the product of animal fats and plant ashes.

Muslim chemists in the medieval Islamic world were the first to produce soaps as we know them today. They were made from vegetable oils such as olive oil, aromatic oils like thyme oil, and lye. The formula for soap used since then hasn't changed. It is known that from the beginning of the 7th century soap was produced in Nablus (West Bank, Palestine), Kufa (Iraq) and Basra (Iraq) (4). Arabian Soap was perfumed and colored and some of the soaps were liquid and others were hard. They also developed soap specifically shaving. The Persian chemist Al-Razi was the first to record soap recipes in a manuscript. More recently a manuscript from the 13th century was discovered that details even more recipes for soap making (5).

In the Middle Ages, artisans worked independently to develop dyeing and soapmaking. Since creating good recipes required so much trial and error, the recipes became secret and were handed down from master to apprentice, and from father to son. Soap was largely developed for use in the cloth industry, to prepare wool for dyeing, and not for personal hygiene. Soapmakers in Naples were members of a guild in the late sixth century (6), and in the eighth century, soap-making was well known in Italy and Spain where soap was made with goat fat and Beech tree ashes. During the same period, the French started using olive oil to produce soap. Eventually, fragrances were introduced and soaps for bathing, shaving, shampooing and laundry began to be made. By 1200 AD, Marseilles, France, London, England, and Savona, Italy had become soapmaking centers.

From the 16th century finer soaps were produced in Europe using vegetable oils (such as olive oil) as opposed to animal fats. This switch to vegetable oil was not simply due to the fact that animal fat soap smelled so bad but also because its manufacture would deplete the nation’s tallow reserves, thereby driving up the cost of candles beyond the reach of the poor.

The most important step in the advancement of soapmaking came from two French chemists. Due to the inconsistencies in the concentration of the alkali extracted from ash, it was difficult to maintain quality control of the soap.  Sometimes it would be too oily and other times it would be too caustic. 
Nicholas Leblanc and Michael Chevreul around the turn of the 19th century help to overcome this problem. In 1791, Leblanc patented a method of making sodium carbonate or soda ash from commonly available salt. In 1811, Chevreul discovered the relationship and chemical nature of fatty acids, glycerin, and fats.

The standardization of sodium hydroxide (lye) production has allowed us to refine our recipes and be able to consistently make batches of soap that have the same qualities. We now know the saponification values for different oils, so we can calculate just how much lye is needed to completely saponify (turn into soap) a specified amount of oil. This ensures that we never have a batch of soap that has excess lye in it and we can control how much free oil remains in the soap to create a nice moisturizing bar.

Ladybug Soapworks Gingerbread Soap
(2) Willcox, Michael (2000). "Soap". In Hilda Butler. Poucher's Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps (10th ed.). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 453. ISBN 0-7514-0479-9
(3) Pliny the Elder, Natural History, XXVIII.191.
(5) Chemistry Google e-book by Wikimedia Foundation
(6) Understanding the Middle Ages: the transformation of ideas and attitudes in the Medieval world, Harald Kleinschmidt, illustrated, revised, reprint edition, Boydell & Brewer, 2000, ISBN 0-85115-770-X.