Monday, February 27, 2017

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Well, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but it got hot outside all of a sudden! Spring chores that I normally would do 20-30 days from now suddenly needed to be done...soooo, it's been that and bath products. Again!

Also, my "real work" has kept me busy with a project to deliver, so all day long it's this with Chaz:

Touch-me-don't-touch-me....GOOD LORD CAT MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Valentine's Inspired Bath Products

I promise I am not going to turn this blog into a bath and body product blog, but this is what I’ve been up to lately! The truth is, my long-term intention is to maybe take this somewhere. As in a small business perhaps. Gulp.

I’ve told my husband that I am going to experiment and get my recipes down, and if I am still as passionate about making bath and body products by this summer, I am going to pursue starting a side business to sell at next year’s farmer’s market.

My goal is to have 4-6 solid products ready to debut, so I’ve given myself a good year to get them right. This includes branding and marketing, but I need to have something. I also would actually need to HAVE a business and liability insurance if I want to do this in 2018, so that too!

Big goals…I haz them!

Anyway, I’ve been busy and my dining room table looks like I already have a business…LOL!


I experimented with these cutie patootie bath bombs for Valentine’s Day. I saw pictures online of these made with just one candy, so I made them with two, but I think I like them better with one.


As well as these bubble scoops that look like ice cream. I was mostly focused on getting the recipe right, so I didn’t want to bother rolling any dough out into bars.



I gave those bath truffles a try again (with success), as well as improving my shrink wrap skills. I bought an impluse heat sealer which made a huge difference!


I also tried my first body butter recipe, which IMO is more of a body salve, as it's more of a solid butter consistency than a whipped butter consistency. I was REALLY happy with this, as it's all yummy, skin-loving oils and self-preserving. That means there are no other fillers or water added to this recipe, just the good stuff!

I love it and it's not greasy. It's definitely heavy-duty for very dry areas like heels, elbows, and knees. I used "Lovespell" fragrance oil for it, which is kind of funny because I love it and have used it so much on other things that I'm kinda burnt out.  I need to make this again with something else. 



I've been giving all my samples to friends and family to try and give feedback. I've been using all of these products as well and I'm very happy with how things are coming along. I'm pretty solid on bath bombs, bubble bars, and butters/lotions seem easy enough, so that only means this is next to tackle:

I can't wait!!!



Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Lemon Zest, and Fennel

This has become my most favorite, healthy side dish to date! I discovered this recipe in my copy of Cook's Illustrated 2016 Annual Special Collector's Edition magazine and boy, was I happy I gave it a try!


Hubs and I are eating more low-carb meals lately, and although sugar snap peas are not considered low-carb, they are a very healthy, side-vegetable to serve with a low-carb meal.

In the past, sugar snap peas have been hit-or-miss for me. That is until I learned to cut the peas pods on a bias first before cooking first! This makes ALL the difference to ensure you don't end up with either tough, under cooked sugar snap peas, or soft, mushy sugar snap peas. All this yummy dish needs is a little water to steam crisp-tender and you are all set!

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Lemon Zest, and Fennel 
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated 2016 Annual Special Collector's Edition

1 lb fresh, sugar snap peas
3 T pine nuts
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 T water
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T fresh, chopped basil

Cut the sugar snap peas on a bias. Smaller pea pods can be cut in half at a bias. Set aside.


Next, dry roast the pine nuts in a dry saute pan over medium heat, just until they start to brown. Add the fennel seeds and continue to roast for 2-3 more minutes, or until the pine nuts are a light-brown. Do not over cook, as they burn easily!


Dump the pine nuts and fennel seeds on a cutting board and add the lemon zest, pepper flakes, and salt. Mince this whole mixture together with a knife. Alternately, you can dump this in a food processor and give it a whirl or two. Don't over chop. Set pine nut mixture aside.


Heat vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the sugar snap peas and 2 T of water; give a quick stir and immediately cover the saute pan with a lid. Let sugar snap peas cook for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and add the minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes, or until the water evaporates. 

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pine nut mixture and basil (I didn't have any for this pic) :-( Serve while warm and try not to eat the whole pan!


Friday, February 03, 2017

Bath Bombs: Why Do They Sink or Float? (Part 3)

For the third and last part of my topic on why bath bombs sink or or float, I am going to talk to molding, shape, and drying time.

If you're just stopping by, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this discussion first!

As a final review, there are 5 factors that contribute to whether a bath bomb sinks or floats:
  1. Ingredients
  2. Ingredient Density
  3. Molding
  4. Shape
  5. Drying Time

Molding

It is true that technique for molding/packing bath bomb dough contributes to “floatage” or “sinkage”. If you pack your dough into a mold as tight as you can and your bath bomb comes out and dries like a cannonball, then it probably won’t float!

A real cannonball, not a bath bomb!
Remember density! The denser your bath bomb materials are pressed together, the less air pockets there are in between their ingredient particles. You want to incorporate as much air into your dough and bath bombs as possible, so go gentle on molding. This can be done by lightly sprinkling your dough into each mold half and gently cupping the material with your hand to create a small mound and keep it in place. Do the same with the other mold half and then gently press them together.
  • No packing
  • No twisting the mold halves together
  • No Pecs of Thunder…you shouldn’t have to press hard!

Photo courtesy Not Martha
Lastly, think about purpose and intention. If your bath bomb is not intended to entertain or float, feel free to pack tighter. A tighter packed bomb will be sturdier and has the potential to give your user more “bang for their buck”. 

Shape

The shape of your bath bomb plays another part in “floatage” due to water displacement. A round bath bomb will displace a smaller surface area in water compared to a flat bath bomb. The larger an object is, the more water it displaces. This also considers density, and takes into consideration the Archimedes principle of why things float or sink, but that is getting really deep. Water displacement principals along with density are why ships that weigh several tons are able to float and not sink.

A floating star bath bomb
Additionally, a round bath bomb has a smaller, compressed mass in which to support air pockets compared to a flat bath bomb. A flat bath bomb has more surface mass to distribute those air pockets. So, flat, boat-shaped bath bombs have a better chance at floating than round ones.

Drying Time

For some reason, there is the expectation that our bath bombs must dry rock-hard within 24-hours of being made and be able to float! I know there are some crafters out there who are able to do that, but the truth is, you will do yourself and your bath bombs a huge favor by letting them sit for a few days to dry.

Remember what I said in Part 2 about ingredient density? Oils, water, alcohol, etc. have close-to or the same density as water. When we make a bath bomb, we are trapping those liquids in between the grains/particles of our other ingredients. The bath bombs need time to dry those liquids in order to contribute to those wonderful air pockets. Air pockets gooood! Wet bath bombs baaaad! A wet bath bomb will weigh heavier than a dry one.

Photo courtesy Making
For example, as an experiment I made a bath bomb that weighed 7.2 oz. upon initial creation. At the end of 3-4 days drying time, the weight of that bomb decreased to 6.7 oz. That’s almost a HALF OUNCE LESS! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but for me and my recipes, I know that a couple tenths-of-an-ounce difference will make my bath bombs sink or float.

Another perspective: When Lush makes their bath bombs, they are left completely in their mold for 24-hours to dry before being removed. After that, who knows how long it takes for that bomb to be packed, shipped, stocked, purchased, and eventually used in someone’s bathtub? I’m betting that a Lush bath bomb at its EARLIEST doesn’t get used for at least 10 days to 2 weeks after creation. Some of the bath bombs stocked in Lush stores may have been sitting there for months before being purchased. Now THAT’S some drying time!

So do yourself and your bombs a favor by letting them sit to dry for a few days before using. 

Lush bombs...waiting to go home!
Well, that concludes my thoughts on bath bomb "floatage". I hope this has been helpful, and I couldn't have come to this point without the hard work and input from the talented bath and body community out there. Keep it up everyone!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Bath Bombs: Why Do They Sink or Float? (Part 2)

For Part 2 of my topic, “Bath Bombs: Why Do They Sink or Float?” we are going to talk about ingredients. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable because we are going to go deep.

As a reminder from Part 1 of this topic, there are 5 factors that contribute to whether a bath bomb sinks or floats:
  1. Ingredients
  2. Ingredient Density
  3. Molding
  4. Shape
  5. Drying Time
Okay, here we go.

Many people say the only way to get a bath bomb to float is how you mold/pack it – there is no recipe for a floating bath bomb – but that is not entirely true. Ingredients play a HUGE part in that mystery. In this post, we are going to talk to the type of ingredients used and their density.

Ingredients


This concept is pretty much common sense. If you make a bath bomb that contains a lot of heavy ingredients like butters and salts, it’s not going to float without some help. There are other binding ingredients that you can add to help bath bomb “floatage” and I will talk about that next.

Ingredient Density


This is where it might be a little heavy to understand, but once you do, a light bulb will go off in your head. First I need to give credit to Irene at Body Bonbon for being the first to put this information out there. I had just started thinking about how some ingredients weighed more than others and contributed to floating/sinking bath bombs when I stumbled upon her post “Bath Bomb Buoyancy – Thoughts”.  Once I read her post and applied what I had already knew, I was able to tweak my recipes to get a floating bath bomb.

I knew many other people added binders like cornstarch, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder to their recipes to help their bombs float, but I didn’t want to go down that path. This decision was two-fold: One, for some reason, adding those binders to my recipes even is the tiniest amount didn’t work for me or my end-product expectations. I didn’t like how they turned out, how they felt, or their reliability. Two, the stubborn streak in me knew that floating bath bombs could be made without all those binders (Lush does it) and I wanted to figure out why.

Photo courtesy Lush
So, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Basically, the ingredients you use in your bath bomb have different densities during the creation process: particle, bulk, poured, wet, and tapped. If you think about it, we are basically taking several types of materials, mixing them together, wetting them, packing them into a mold, and then letting them dry. Each step in this process creates a different density. The trick is to understand the right combination to make a bath bomb float.

Here’s the various density definitions:

  • Particle density (or true density) – This is the density of one particle of an ingredient. For example, one singular grain of citric acid.
  • Bulk density – This is the density of a lot of particles in a mass. For example, a cup of citric acid.
  • Poured density – This is the density of a bulk mass poured into a vessel/container. For example, sprinkling your bath bomb dough into a mold versus packing it in.
  • Wet density – This is the density of a bulk mass when it contains moisture. For example, your bath bomb dough weighs more when it contains a liquid versus when it is dry.
  • Tapped density – This is the density of a bulk mass when it is packed versus when it is poured. For example, packing your bath bomb dough into a mold versus sprinkling it.

So, with that in mind, here’s the particle (or true) and bulk densities of some of the typical bath bomb ingredients (again this info was borrowed from Body Bonbon):

  • Sodium Bicarbonate2.2 g/cm3 and 0.80 g/cm3
  • Citric Acid 1.66 g/cm3 and 0.769 g/cm3
  • Kaolin Clay2.6 g/cm3 and 0.801 g/cm3
  • Cream of Tartar 1.05 g/cm3 and 1.05 g/cm3
  • Cornstarch – .08 g/cm - .10 g/cm3  and bulk average of 0.62 g/cm3 - 0.77 g/cm3 (tightly packed 0.63 g/cm3 and loosely packed 0.54 g/cm3)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol0.785 g/cm3
  • Coco Butter Liquid - .92 g/cm3
  • Most Oils - .92 g/cm3
  • SLSA 0.971 g/cm3
  • Water0.995 g/cm3

So, what can we take away from this? 

Obviously, some of these ingredients have a higher particle/true density than water, BUT at the same time have a lower bulk density than water. And although a single grain of citric acid may be denser than water, a group or a mass of those grains are less dense and weigh less due to the air pockets trapped in between those grains!

Photo courtesy Slate
For example, if you were to weigh a cup of sodium bicarbonate and a cup of citric acid, you will find the cup of citric acid weighs less. This is because the sodium bicarbonate grains are smaller than the citric acid grains and; therefore, have less space in between each individual grain for air pockets.

Another thought: kosher salt and table salt. Kosher salt has bigger, individual grains compared to table salt, which means it has bigger air pockets in between each grain. A cup of kosher salt weighs less than a cup of table salt.

So, the key to making bath bombs that float when considering ingredients is to include as many ingredients that have a lesser bulk density than water. This is why cornstarch may help a bath bomb float and cream of tartar may make it sink. It’s not that cornstarch makes a bath bomb float, it’s just that it's bulk density is less dense than water. I found in my own recipes that decreasing the amount of cream of tartar and increasing other less dense ingredients helped me find a happy, floating spot.

Photo courtesy SheKnows
Additionally, this is why it is so important to let your bath bombs fully dry after making them. Since oils and water have close-to or the same density as water, if your bath bomb hasn’t completely dried, then those spaces in between those particles haven’t had a chance to dry into air pockets. Those air pockets are a big key in “floatage,” which is what I will talk to next when discussing molding and drying time.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I talk to how molding, shape, and drying time contribute to a a floating or sinking bath bomb!
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