Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Product Review: Botanical Soap Making Kit

I totally had one of those random ‘ooohhh-let’s-try-to-make-soap’ moments, plus, I had a $10 off coupon, that came in a craft-of-the-month kit, to use on any Life of the Party craft kit I wanted to try. And this particular kit was 40% off, so I ended up only paying $2.00 plus tax.


So, there was definitely a moment of ‘what was I thinking?’, when I was standing in my kitchen surrounded by half-melted soap cubes and a bottle of spilled patchouli essential oil. Although once I managed to get into the swing of things—and sorted out the instructions, I kind of found soap making to be relaxing.

Botanical Soap Making Kit
Brand: Life of the Party
Price: $19.99
Description: With this Rejuvenating & Exfoliating Botanical Soap making Kit make awesome, fresh, handmade beauty products. This kit is a great way to de-stress after a long day and includes a bonus shower puff. Makes 7 exfoliating soap bars.

Kit Contains:
16 oz Opaque suspension formula soap
.03 oz Rose mica powder colorant
.35 oz Apricot seed
.2 oz Cool Citrus fragrance
.2 oz Warm Vanilla fragrance
.2 oz Fresh Herbal fragrance
Plastic tray containing 4 Celtic Design Molds
My Thoughts: The first thing I did when I brought this kit home was test out a piece of the suspension soap that came in the kit to see if it lathered. It didn’t. So, I searched around online and discovered that I needed to add a few drops of Glycerin to each batch of melted soap. So, back to the store I went for a bottle of glycerin. Because I found the soap that came with the kit to be dry, I also picked up Goats Milk Suspension Soap Base and a small 2 oz block of Cocoa Butter.
So, I gathered my supplies and started on my first batch.
In a glass 4-Cup measuring cup, I added ten cubes of the goats milk suspension soap, 4 cubes of the white soap that came with the kit, and about a 2 inch x 2 inch cube of cocoa butter. I covered the measuring cup with a wet paper towel and heated it 20 seconds as per the instruction. Although rather than adding it back for 5 seconds at a time, I heated it for 15 seconds, then 10 until all the soap melted. I then added about 15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil, stirred the mixture together, and divided the soap.

Here’s where I encountered my first problem. I wasn’t sure how much rose mica powder colorant I was supposed to add. The instructions are actually for the liquid colorant and not the mica powder that’s included in the kit. I ended up just dumping a bit of the mica powder into the soap. Then I discovered that the mica powder wouldn’t mix properly. While it’s not as visible in the in first batch because it darker, it’s very visible in the lighter ones.
The reddish-pink dots are from where the mica failed to mix
So, by the time I figured that out and added ten drops of the warm vanilla fragrance that came in the kit, the soap had started to harden in the measuring cups.
So, I ended up reheating the soap scented just with the lavender oil and adding Oatmeal I ground, rather than the apricot seeds provided in the kit. I filled the four molds halfway with that mixture then reheated the second rose-colored mixture.
This was where I encountered my second problem. The instructions say that you can layer the soap but it fails to tell you how to do so. I ended up winging this part, and thankfully, the rose-colored soap didn’t seep into the white top layer. Although on a later batch, I found that the white seeped into the pink mixture and a few bars didn’t seem to adhere and are now starting to curl up.
Finally, my first batch of soap was complete. All I had to do was allow it to set until cool.
This is where I encountered my third problem. The instructions say allow to set for 30-40 minutes then remove from the mold. So, I cleaned up the measuring cups and straightened up my workspace then finally it was time to pop the soap out. The instructions say to ‘release from mold by applying constant, even pressure with thumbs to the backside of the mold. I tried that and the soap wouldn’t budge. It had set too long in the mold and it ended up taking me about 15 minutes to get the first bar out. So, I ended up leaving the next batch in for only 15-20 minutes and it was so much easier to pop out.
According to the soap crafting tips, you can also allow the soap to harden in the fridge. Although it doesn’t tell you how long yet it warns not to leave it in too long because the soap will lose moisture.
Overall, I liked the Celtic design of the molds and the three included fragrances smelled rather lovely. This kit claims to make 7 bars, I’m not so sure that it actually would have. I used about ¼ of the block in addition to 32 oz of goats milk soap and only ended up with 12 bars.
Was the kit complete and include everything I needed? No, I needed to add other items besides the basic ‘household items’ that was required. Everything in grey was what I had to purchase.
Were the instructions complete and easy to follow? Not really. The instructions were pretty much worthless and I actually had to end up Googling several things I needed to know.
-The Basic Melting Instructions were clear only if using a microwave. If using a double boiler, you’re apparently on your own. 
-The Making Botanical Soap Instructions were a bit of a mess, although I should have realized that the instructions were going to be off when they spelled ‘botanical’ wrong in the instructions and step 2 was missing.
The Soap Crafting Tips were basically waste of paper. It provided 7 tips without telling you how to actually utilize them.

Overall, I ended up with 12 bars of soap. I allowed them to cure overnight, then wrapped them cling film. Thanks to the goats milk soap, cocoa butter, and glycerin (which were all additional purchases) the soap lathers well and moisturizes. Although I noticed that the fragrances that came with the kit seem to fade rather quickly whereas the patchouli and lavender essential oils that I purchased last a bit longer.   
Would I buy it again? Probably not. The mold was nice, but the instructions were incomplete and I had to add several items that were a bit costly, (the goats milk soap was $10.99, the glycerin was $7.99).
The original price of the kit ranges from $12.99-$19.99 depending on the craft store and while it could work for someone just wanting to try out soap making, I honestly think that it’s cheaper to purchase the items separately.

Have you tried making soap?

Or have you ever had a crazy crafting whim?

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