Friday, February 19, 2016

Spring Soap Scents Revealed!

I'll be launching my new Spring Soap Scents on my brand new website on March 1! As I mentioned in my Sneak Peek blog post, some of the new scents are floral, and some are a little bit earthy. If you absolutely cannot wait for March 1, I have a new limited edition Honeysuckle soap that has a subtle sweet and a floral scent that's available a little bit early.

Here's what's coming on March 1:

Floral Soap Scents

Rose Garden
This rose scent is fresh and green without being heavy or perfumey, and
I've added some dried rose petals to the top!

I have 3 lilac bushes in my back yard, and I can tell you that this soap
smells just like the real thing! I blended the colors in dark purple, lavender,
and white to replicate my own garden.

Honeysuckle Gardenia
Notes of gardenia are combined with a hint of rose and sweetened
with tender honeysuckle. The scent is complex and lovely!

Earthy Soap Scents

Patchouli Orange
This soap is made with all natural essential oils and colorants. If you like
the scent of earthy patchouli, you'll love it combined with
the sweet tang of orange!

Olive Grove
This complex scent is a musky combination of lemon and bergamot intertwined
with olive branches and some vanilla tones. I added sunny calendula
petals on the top to bring bright spring sunshine to mind!

Handmade soap makes a perfect gift for spring celebrations like Easter and Mother's Day. If you need to do some online shopping, make sure to use the coupon code WELCOME20 for 20% off of your order, no minimum purchase! (This coupon code will only work at, and will not work on my Etsy site.)

I'd love to know what you think of the spring soap scents. Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 15, 2016

What's Fresh, Clean, and Natural?

What's Fresh, Clean, and Natural? My new website, complete with new look! Have no fear if you're a ride or die Etsy fan, as my Etsy shop will stay open for the foreseeable future. The benefit of using the new website is that it will have the latest scent additions to my line (like my Spring Scent Soaps that will be coming out on March 1), and you don't have register for an account to make a purchase like you do on Etsy.

Emily's Handmade Soaps has a new look!
My logo has a new look, as well! Since I started my business, I've worn many hats. In fact, Emily's Handmade Soaps is a one woman show at this point. That means that I've needed to hone my skills in everything from photography to website coding. It's been quite an adventure, and I've learned so many new things! After many attempts at designing my own logo, I decided to work with a graphic designer to help me achieve that fresh, clean, natural look that I was going for.

I chose the imagery of an olive branch in the background for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that olive oil is a primary ingredient in my handmade soaps. It's a fantastic oil for soap making that's great for your skin. The olive plant itself  boasts lovely shades of green, and reminds me that beauty comes with age (something I need to be reminded of as the big 4-0 looms on the horizon). Olive trees embody strength, nourishment, and beauty to me, and as a longtime peacenik, I like that the olive branch has a peaceful connotation.
My first attempt at a logo.
I promise I'm way better at making
soap than graphic design.

In honor of the new website, I'd like to offer you a coupon code! This code will only work on the new website at and will not work on the Etsy site. Click the Shop tab at the top of the page to be redirected to the new website! Use coupon code WELCOME20 for 20% off of your order of any size.

I'd love to hear some feedback on the new site. How does it look? Is it easy to use? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Another early packaging theme. 

Packaging at present, without the new logo.
Everyone loves the organza bags, so I'll be keeping those!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Suds in Suds!

Beer Soap

One of my best selling soaps is my Beer Soap. Yes, there is actual beer in it and no, it does not smell like beer. Customers buy this one by the dozen sometimes to give to husbands, boyfriends, sons, or just because they tried it once and got hooked on it. I'm featuring Beer Soap today because it makes an excellent Valentine's Day gift for the fellas in your life, and I just made a big double batch of it so the process was fresh in my mind.

Making soap with beer takes some forethought because the beer needs to be flat before it's added to the soap batter. I also like to give some thought as to the brand of beer I use, and generally choose beer from local breweries. The beer pictured below from my most recent batch is Two Beers Brewery Jive Espresso Stout made in Seattle, WA. So why do we need the beer to be flat?

A pitcher of flat beer is no
cause for tears in soap making!

Here comes the science!

When sodium hydroxide (lye) is added to oils and butters (fats) it begins an endothermic reaction, meaning that the combination absorbs heat from its surroundings. In other words, it gets really hot. When you add sugar to the mix (or in this case, the sugars in the beer), things can really heat up! When the combination heats up too much, you can end up with something that soap makers call a soap volcano. Yes, it's a real thing. Now imagine if that super hot, erupting soap volcano was carbonated. Not only would it be a huge mess, it would be really dangerous for anyone nearby.

Once the flat beer is added to the soap batter, I have to work really quickly to get everything properly mixed and into the mold before the batter starts to harden. Usually this takes a matter of a minute or two. During this phase, seconds count! You can see in this picture of newly poured beer soap that the soap in one of the molds has already started changing color due to the heat. I poured these two soaps less than 5 minutes apart.
I poured these batches less than
5 minutes apart. The saponification
process is well underway!

Now that we're well into the saponification process (the chemical process of transforming lye and fats into soap), the beer soap goes through a very hot gel stage when it gets so hot that it becomes liquid and translucent. After several hours, the soap cools and hardens again. A day later I cut the cooled bars and let them cure for 4-6 weeks before they're ready to use. The waiting is the hardest part, but oh, so worth it!

So why put beer in soap, anyway?

Some people give me an odd look when I tell them that my Beer Soap has real beer in it. They wonder why on Earth I would put beer in soap?! For the bubbles! The sugars and other carbs in beer soap make an incredibly bubbly, creamy lather, which makes for a really luxurious bathing experience.

If it doesn't smell like beer, then what does it smell like?

The scent of the beer does not survive the saponification process, so it does not smell like beer. My Beer Soap is scented with a teakwood and cardamom blend with hints of cedar, sandalwood, amber, and patchouli. It's an enticing fragrance that customers have described to me as warm and spicy. It's a fragrance that you'll smell, think about, and then smell again. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Customers Who Warm My Heart

It's cloudy and cold today, and I miss the warm days of summer at the Des Moines Waterfront Farmers Market with the sun shining and the breeze rolling in off the Puget Sound. With Valentine's Day coming up, it got me thinking about a couple of times that customers absolutely warmed my heart with their kind words and deeds.

One customer that stands out in my mind had purchased soap from me as a gift for her mother. Weeks after her purchase she stopped by my booth at the farmers market to tell me that her mother (who was in her 80's) had recently suffered an injury that kept her off of her feet. Her mother was regularly quite healthy and active, and being told to rest was vexing to say the least! My customer told me that her mother had placed her newly gifted soap next to her resting spot, and had told her that the scent had helped in soothing her. I felt so proud and inspired that the scent of my soap was a small comfort during this vibrant woman's recovery!

On a more romantic note, another customer that really made an impression on me was a young man, probably in his mid-teens. He was clearly a guy's guy, and came right to the point when he walked up to my booth. He told me that he wanted to buy a gift for his girlfriend because he "thought she'd be into this stuff." I pointed him toward some of my more popular scents and we chatted a little bit while he picked a soap that he thought his young love would like. I was absolutely inspired by this young man's thoughtfulness, especially at such a young age. I hope his girlfriend knows what a keeper she has!

Sometimes it's the little things in life that make all the difference, and it makes me feel really good to be a small part of bringing joy to people's lives. It's so special to me to know that the soap that I make may brighten someone's day when given as a gift, or just used for a little bit of luxury in an otherwise hectic day. That's why I always package my soaps for gift giving. Even when you buy my soaps "just" for yourself, you should still feel like you're receiving a little gift, to you, from you (and maybe a little bit from me, too).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Sneak Peek at New Spring Soap Scents!

I'm more than a little bit glad that ol' Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow this morning. While his methods aren't exactly scientific, anything that gets us a little bit closer to an early spring is welcome in my book!

Speaking of spring, I'm pleased to announce that I have several brand new spring scents coming to my Etsy site! As you know, I try to keep my soaps as natural as I can (with a few exceptions for artistic license), so I focused on scents that tie into the season. You'll see a lot of floral inspiration along with a little bit of earthiness in my spring line.

I will make my spring scents available for sale on Tuesday, March 1, but I've included some soapy eye candy here in the meantime. Enjoy!