I was browsing around the Salvation Army op shop last weekend, and came across this cute little coffee cup so I snapped it up for the grand old sum of $0.50.
Seriously, if you have any op shops in your area they are a treasure trove for cheap old cups and bowls which make perfect candle vessels! I try and stay away from thin glass, such as wine glasses, and pick the more solid looking items like tea cups or glass tumblers just to be on the safe side.
I also nabbed a set of tea cups and saucers for $2.00, bargain!
Not to be painfully predictable, but I decided that our fresh coffee fragrance would be the perfect scent for my newly acquired coffee cup.
You can use these instructions to make your own candle in the glassware that you have on hand. The biggest problem with using odd bits of crockery is trying to figure out how much wax you need to fill it. But if you use this formula it will make it simple.
How much wax do I need?
- Put your empty cup on the scales and tare the scale to zero.
- Fill the cup with water up to the point where you would make the candle to. I generally stop about 1cm from the top of the cup.
- Take note of the weight. In this instance, the weight of the water in the empty cup is 128 grams.
- Use a calculator (unless you’re a maths wizard) and multiply the water weight by 0.86. So for me, I would do 128 x 0.86 = 110
- That’s how much wax you’ll need to fill your cup! Easy peasy.
Once you’ve figured that out, tip the water away and dry your cup thoroughly… water and wax don’t play nice together!
Now onto the next big question…
What size wick do I need?
We have a handy little wick chart which has our wick sizing recommendations. You can find that here. Remember this is just a guide, and while it works most times, things like fragrance and colour load can alter the size wick you might need. The best thing to do before making a huge batch of candles only to find you needed a bigger wick, is to make a single test candle and burn it. That’s the only way to know for sure.
With that said, figuring out what size wick is generally pretty straight forward. All you need is a ruler.
Measure across the diameter of your cup and use our chart to pick the wick.
I went for the CDN-16 purely because that’s the container I found first. I use both brands of wicks all the time and they’re both excellent wicks.
Making the Candle
Now that you know how much wax you need (110 grams in my case.) Measure it out into a heat safe container. I use microwaveable plastic jugs which I picked up at the Warehouse for something like $2.00 each. I only use these for candle making. You don’t want to be putting these back in the cupboard to use when baking.
For the amount of wax that I needed, I microwaved first for 90 seconds, gave it a stir and checked the temp which was only around 50C, so it went back in the microwave for another 30 seconds, stir and temp check again, it’s up to 70C by now, so into the microwave for 15 seconds where it comes out bang on 83C – perfect!
Add your fragrance. I used our Fresh Coffee fragrance which I loooove. At a 5% ratio I used 5.5ml (110 x 5% = 5.5)
Once you’ve added the fragrance give it a gentle stir for a few minutes so that the fragrance fully incorporates into the wax. You’ll need to wait until the wax cools down to about 60-65C. If you pour when the wax is too hot you can get problems with a pitted top. You don’t need to watch the wax like a hawk during this time, just give it a stir every couple of minutes until you reach the right temperature.
In the meantime, you can stick the wick to the bottom of the cup. I use a wick sticker to make sure the wick doesn’t float up when you pour the wax, then use a wick holder to make sure the wick stays up straight and centred.
Once the wax is cooled, pour it into your wicked cup and wait for it to set. This usually takes a few hours, but for best results don’t burn the candle for at least 12 hours (overnight is best)
Trim the wick to 1cm
And there you have it. A super easy, and not to mention cheap, candle!
As much as we love using glass bottles for our oils and fragrances, unfortunately this busy season has highlighted the fact that they are very breakable! I’ve had one too many courier claims to deal with lately, which isn’t fun for me, and it especially isn’t fun for you with the delays that it causes, waiting for the courier to inform me of the breakage, then waiting some more for me to send a replacement!
Over the coming few weeks we’ll be switching our 300ml glass bottles to 250ml plastic bottles. Don’t worry, all the smaller 25, 50 and 100ml sizes will be staying in glass as those little bottles are much stronger than the large bottles and we have far fewer breakages with those sizes.
With Christmas fast approaching, we’ve extending our shop opening hours so those of you who can’t make it in during the week can have a chance to pop into the store.
We will be open on Saturdays from 9am – 12pm from now until the 17th of December.
I hope to see you here!
I’m not sure what the weather is like around the rest of the country, but here in Tauranga it’s horrible! It is definitely the kind of weather that is perfect for soaking in the tub.
I’m usually a bubble bath kinda girl, but lately I’ve been using bath salts instead. The benefits of epsom salts are many. They can help to relieve muscle pain and inflammation, and can improve circulation. Himalayan salts are also excellent for aches and pains so adding both salts to your bath is like having a super charged soak! The addition of baking soda helps to soften and detoxify your skin. The macadamia oil adds a little luxurious moisturisation and the Wild Musk fragrance oil has a lovely “clean and soapy” aroma that I think is perfect for bath products. Feel free to substitute the Wild Musk fragrance for any of our other skin safe fragrance oils.
Bath salts are probably one of the easiest things to make.
(makes 5 stand up silver pouches)
Combine all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands to work out any clumps.
Add the macadamia oil and fragrance. Mix well.
Spoon into our stand up silver pouches, or container of your choice. Add about half a cup to your bath, then relax and enjoy!
This lip shine not only gives your lips a nice shimmer, it also provides some beneficial moisturising which can be sorely needed during these winter months.
Avocado oil contains a lot of Vitamin B which can help with skin damage, skin protection, and cell generation. It also contains Vitamin A and Vitamin E which are both great for your skin too!
This recipe doesn’t contain enough mica to make a lip tint, but you can definitely add more if you want a lip colour as well as lip shine.
(makes eight (8) lip balm tubes)
8 Lip Balm Tubes
7 grams Beeswax
10 grams Cocoa Butter
20 grams Avocado Oil
5 grams Castor Oil
2 mini scoops Mauve Mica
1 mini scoop Bronze Mica
2ml Chocolate Flavour Oil (or any flavour of your choice)
Weigh out the beeswax, cocoa butter, avocado oil and castor oil into a heat safe container. I’m using one of our 100ml glass beakers (they’re awesome for this kind of thing!) I always chop my beeswax into smaller pieces, that way they melt a little easier.
Place in the microwave and melt using 30-60 second bursts. Beeswax has a high melting point, and can take a long time to melt. Be careful – because of the high melting point, the heat-safe container can melt or explode in the microwave if it gets too hot.
Add the flavour and mica and mix well to combine. If you want to make a lip colour I suggest using approximately a total of 1Tbsp of mica.
Carefully pour into lip balm tubes. Fill to the top then wait a couple of hours for them to harden. You will notice that they will sink and get a hole in the centre. This is caused by the mixture cooling. To level off the tops you can gently go over them with a heat gun to melt the tops to make them nice and smooth.
These aren’t a rock hard lip balm so we suggest keeping them out of the sun so you don’t end up with a puddle of lip balm in the tube.
One of the most common questions I get regarding candle making is “what wax should I use?”
The wax that you should use is entirely dependent on the type of candle you want to make. Are you using a container, or making a free standing candle? Or perhaps you’d like to make a votive candle or wax melts?
Pillar Candles (Moulded Candles)
These are the candles which you make by pouring into a mould, usually made from aluminium or polycarbonate. Pillar candles need to be hard since they don’t go into a container. They need to stand on their own without becoming too soft, or even melting, in the hot sun and while burning.
Container and Tealight Candles
These are the most common type of candle that we make, as such there are a couple of different choices in wax. They are all pretty similar, but have a couple of differences that set them apart.
GW464 has the best fragrance throw of all the waxes and happens to be the easiest to use for consistent results (in my humble opinion!)
CB-Advanced doesn’t have as good a fragrance throw as the GW464, but it is the best wax on the market for achieving smooth finishes with the least amount of frosting.
CB-135 is similar to the GW464 but it is EcoSoya brand. This is a great wax to use if you’re using essential oils in your candles.
Votive candles are a cross between pillar and container candles. They’re hard, but not hard enough to stand alone while burning which is why you burn votive candles in a votive holder – they “puddle” when burning.
The GW416 has a higher melt point than the other waxes so is perfect for tarts and votives.
Here’s a handy table which outlines the properties of the available soy waxes that we currently stock.
(For the record – my “go to” favourite wax to use is the GW464)
What is Franken Polish? I hear you say!
“Frankening” is the process of mixing existing nail polishes together to create a new and unique colour, or adding glitter to an existing polish to give it a sparkle. The name comes from Frankenstein, who was created using bits and pieces of other things.
We are super excited to be able to bring our very own range of DIY nail polish supplies to you all. We’re the only supplier in New Zealand that sells un-tinted nail polish base. So if you’re looking for a new hobby, or to start a new nail polish business you’ve come to the right place!
How do I make my own nail polish?
It really is as simple as adding colour, whether it’s one of our liquid tinters, or micas, to one of our three nail polish bases and shaking well. That’s it! You can also add glitter to make a sparkly polish – just make sure that the glitter is solvent resistant. The colour possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
We have one size bottle available at the moment, but we’ll be adding more soon. The 9ml flat bottle is a great size and comes with two metal balls to make mixing easy.
Nail polish base
We have three different untinted lacquer bases available. All our bases are developed using the “5 Free” formula, which means there are no nasties (No Toluene, Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Camphor and TSF resin).
Standard Nail Polish Base – use this base for making polishes that mostly use liquid tinters that don’t contain a lot of mica.
Silica Nail Polish Base – this has better suspension capabilities than the standard base, so it’s a great option if you want to make a polish with lots of mica or add a small particle glitter.
Glitter Suspension Base – this is the base to use if you want to really load up your polish with lots of sparkly glitters.
Choose from our range of liquid tinters – these are D&C pigments which are formulated in our 5 free base. Or for a more shimmery looking polish you can either use our Aluholo tinter, or any of our micas.
As a general guideline, we use about 1 part liquid tinter to 2 parts nail polish base (use more tinter if you want a more concentrated colour). For example – to make this pretty pink colour we used 2ml White (titanium dioxide) tinter and 1ml Red-34 tinter. Then topped the bottle up with 6ml of standard nail polish base. For micas you can use anywhere from 4-5 mini scoops up to a dozen or so. It really just depends on how dark you want your nail polish to be.
We don’t stock any glitters at the moment, but we will be getting some in the future. The most important thing to remember when buying glitter for making nail polish is to make sure it is solvent resistant. If it isn’t then the nail polish will eat right through the glitter.
Nail polish bases and liquid tinters are extremely flammable. They have a dangerous goods classification which means they can only be shipped via road (sorry no overnight deliveries are possible to the South Island)
When making your nail polish please ensure that you are working in a well ventilated area away from any heat sources such as naked flames, heaters, or even an oven. Also ensure that your unused ingredients are stored away from any possible heat sources.
It’s a good idea to put some newspaper or handy towels down on your work surface to make sure you don’t get any stray drops of nail polish on your furniture.
I’m sure this is a familiar sight for any cold process soap maker – the container (or boxes in my case) of soap shavings and off cuts which are left over when you cut and tidy your soaps.
All of our bathrooms at work have my soap off cuts for hand washing, and you’ll more likely than not, find lumps of squished together soap scraps in most of my family’s homes – we haven’t bought soap in a loooong time! But after you’ve been making soap for any length of time, you’ll come to realise it is virtually impossible for you to use all the scraps up! Every time I make a new batch of soap the pile grows. I haven’t weighed all my scraps, but at a guess I’d say I have roughly 5kg of off cuts at the moment!
I can’t stand the thought of wasting, so that’s where the re-batching method comes in. Sometimes this is called triple milled or French milled soap. Re-batching is the process of taking pre-made cold process soap and “melting” it down to create a new bar of soap. Keep in mind that re-batched soap tends to look pretty rustic so don’t plan on doing any fancy designs or swirls as it just won’t happen!
How to Rebatch Cold Process Soap
I picked out about 600 grams of light coloured scraps and grated them. You could do more or less depending on how many scraps you have, or how long you want to grate soap for! I’m lucky enough that I have an old food processor that I use solely for my soaping projects so I didn’t have to go through the nightmare of hand grating all the little scraps.
Once you’ve grated all your soap, put into your slow cooker, or double boiler. I’m using my slow cooker this time because I have lots of things to do today and don’t want to stand around monitoring the soap cooking. The beauty of the slow cooker is you can walk away and not have to worry about a pot burning dry. The trade-off is that it’s a slower method than using a double boiler. If you want to use a double boiler that’s totally fine. The method is the same, you just need to keep an eye on your soap and stir more often.
Once you have your grated soap in your cooker, add water. The amount of water depends on how old the soap scraps are. If you’re rebatching relatively fresh soap (less than two weeks old) you may only need a couple of tablespoons of water. However, many of my soaps are at least two years old, so I’m using half a cup of water. Don’t worry too much about over watering, it just means your soap might take a little longer to un-mould, but the quality will be the same.
Give the soap and water a quick stir, pop the lid on the crock pot and walk away. I came back about 30 minutes later and gave the mix a stir. After about 45 minutes, I added some extra soap that I had cut up into chunks. This isn’t necessary, but I wanted to add some interest to the soap so it wasn’t just a plain brown bar. After stirring the chunks through, I left the soap to melt again. All up I had the soap cooking for around one and a half hours.
You can see the consistency of the soap is very thick. The original soap that was grated has melted down, and the chunks that I added half way through are left pretty much in tact.
If you want to add fragrance, add it in right before you’re ready to mould. Stir in well. I used 20ml of Kumquat fragrance in this batch as there wasn’t much smell left in the soap scraps.
Spoon the soap into your mould. Make sure you tamp the mould down hard to get rid of air pockets. Depending on how much water you used, you will be able to un-mould the soap after about three hours. There’s no need to wait to use the soap, as all the scraps are old and fully cured a long time ago!
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post you can find it here
It’s been one week since I made the test bars of soap. It took that long just to be able to un-mould the bars in one piece. You can see from the photo below that the bars were still very soft and the edges smushed on a few of the bars. When using silicon moulds it’s a good idea to have a relatively hard recipe, unless you want to wait about 10 days before un-moulding!
So, the results…
I’m very happy to see that none of the colours I tested have morphed at all. The colours are ‘what you see is what you get’. So when choosing one of our micas you don’t have to worry about the beautiful purple powder turning grey when it mixes with your soap.
A couple of observations I had were
- The Blue Sky Mica and Ultramarine Blue look very similar. The mica has a little more depth than the UM Blue, but overall they are a pretty close match.
- The Red Mauve Satin mica, in my opinion, doesn’t look mauve at all. More of a rusty brown colour. I’m seriously thinking of discontinuing this colour and trying to find a nicer mauve.
- The Patina Gold looks like olive green, not a hint of gold in there!
- The Chesnut and Luster Brown micas are virtually identical. The Luster is a touch deeper but it’s very hard to tell them apart. These are great micas for mineral make-up though!
So there it is. Keep in mind that none of these test bars had any fragrance added, so if you’re having trouble with discolouration it’s probably a fragrance issue. We try to note on all our fragrances whether they can cause discolouration so be sure to check the descriptions when purchasing your fragrance oils.
As someone who has made cold process soap for several years now, I have certainly experienced my share of soap fails. Usually it was because I was unprepared or because I hadn’t looked up how a fragrance oil performs (‘cement’ soap in a bowl is NOT what I generally strive for!) Colours have also been a major sticking point for me in the past. I used to have a real problem getting a nice purple, it would always turn a washed out grey colour – ick! I’m still having issues getting a nice true red using mica, but that’s another topic all together!
These days I’m careful about what colours I use in my soaps, I tend to stick to my tried and true favourites. That way, when I plan on having a beautiful four colour swirl, it turns out as planned with nice distinct colours.
A few months ago we switched to a much better supplier for our micas. So far every mica I’ve tested has been stable in cold process soap, which means they don’t morph (change to an unexpected colour)!
I tested each of our new micas in a basic recipe containing Coconut, Palm, Canola and Pomace Olive Oil but didn’t add any fragrance in case of discolouration issues. I used a ratio of 1/2tsp of mica per 100 grams of soap. So for 1 kilo of soap the usage rate would be 5tsp of mica.
I premixed each mica in a teaspoon of canola oil so that any lumps of powder would be fully dispersed before adding to the soap mix.
One thing to note about using micas as opposed to other colourants such as oxides, is they can speed up trace very slightly. It’s never been an issue as the acceleration is mild, but it is something to be aware of. I tested our Ultramarine Blue and Chromium Green Oxide at the same time as these micas and the oxides didn’t affect the soap mixture consistency at all, even when the mix was left sitting for a while before I poured it into the moulds. Once I added the mica to the soap the mixture went from a thin trace to a thin/medium trace after sitting for a couple of minutes.
Each of the colours are very vibrant after being poured and have stayed true with no colour morphing at all. I haven’t gelled these soaps, they were left to set uncovered on my work bench.
As a side note – I used half the amount of oxide as I did for the mica. Usually oxides produce a very concentrated colour so you don’t need as much for a bright colour. So for the Ultramarine Blue and Chromium Green soaps above I used 1/4tsp oxide per 100 grams.
After 24 hours you can see the colours are still stable. They are losing that shiny sparkly look as they dry, which is completely normal. You can only keep the sparkle from micas when using a clear melt and pour soap base, but as far as the actual colour goes, so far they’re all performing excellently!
I’ll leave these soaps to harden in the silicon moulds for another few days over the weekend. I used a very slow tracing soft recipe so I wouldn’t be rushed when making these test soaps. As a result I need to be patient before un-moulding them so they don’t break apart in the cavity!
I’ll write an update next week after the soaps have been un-moulded and have had a little more curing time.