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Just out of the mould…

A fresh batch of Enchanted Isle, scented with basil, sage, and mint, just out of the mould and sliced. Fresh and clean and lovely. I could get fourteen slices out of the loaf, but I like to keep a piece from each batch to see how it holds up over time. The other small piece will either be cut up for samples, given away, or used at home.

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Relax, it’s Bathtime!

Picture the scene… You’re in the bath, it’s steaming hot, water and bubbles up to your chin, a glass of wine nearby. A gorgeously scented candle adds gentle light and soft fragrance. *Sigh* Isn’t it lovely?

Sadly, that is not the reality for many of us. My bath is so small I can’t lie down in it. If the water is up to my chin, that means my legs are out of the water. Plus, the plug is one of those that is operated by a twist handle that is situated really low down in the bath, so you can only fill it to where the handle is. And the boiler is acting up too, so it’s impossible to run a HOT bath. Sitting barely waist deep, shivering in tepid water just doesn’t have the same appeal. I’d rather skip it altogether, than have an unsatisfactory bath.

That said, I used to live in a rented house where there was no shower, so your only option was a bath. I will admit, the novelty did wear off. Except when the cat jumped in there, not realising it was full. Yeah, that was pretty funny 😊

I’d love to hear about your perfect bath time. Do you read? Watch movies? Do you like bubbles, salts, essential oils? If you use bath bombs, do you like the ones that release flower petals into the water? Either comment below, or join my facebook group:

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“Do you use caustic soda?”

“Do you use caustic soda?” is a question I get asked from time to time. Yes, is the answer – it’s the only way to make soap.

“Is there caustic soda in your soap?” is another one. The answer to that one is no.

Although that seems contradictory, both are true.

When you mix an acid and an alkali, a chemical reaction occurs, and a salt is produced. Soap is made my mixing a combination of fats – the acid – with sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as caustic soda, or lye* – the alkali. The process is called saponification, and when it is complete, the alkali is neutralised – there is no caustic chemical left in the product.

Different combinations of acids and alkalis result in different salts:

Olive oil (acid) + sodium hydroxide (alkali) = Sodium Olivate (salt)
Palm oil (acid) + sodium hydroxide (alkali) = Sodium Palmate (salt)
Coconut oil (acid) + sodium hydroxide (alkali) = Sodium Cocoate (salt)

That is why the ingredient labels on my soap list sodium-this and sodium-that, rather than olive oil, coconut oil etc. It’s a legal requirement to list them that way. When olive oil and sodium hydroxide go in, sodium olivate comes out. That’s also the reason why sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, is not listed on the label – it doesn’t have to be, because it is not present in the finished soap.

“Ah, but you CAN make soap without lye!” is one common response. Whilst it is true that you can buy a pre-made base that you can simply melt down at home, and add whatever colours and fragrances you like, this melt-and-pour base is initially made with lye. It simply has other chemicals added, to enable it to me more easily re-melted.

So, there is really no need to be concerned about lye. You simply can’t make real soap without it.

*To clarify, sodium hydroxide, caustic soda, and lye are all the same thing. Whilst technically, “lye” refers to the liquid made from dissolving the caustic soda in water, the terms are generally used interchangeably.

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An amazing Manx woman.

Today marks 100 years since (some) women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time. Everyone has heard of Emmeline Pankhurst, but did you know that her mother, Sophia Goulden, was born right here on the Isle of Man? Born in Laxey, she moved to Manchester after she got married, but later moved back to the island and is buried at Braddan.