Flora & Pomona at Boutique Les Petits Monstres

I am delighted to announce that Flora & Pomona products are now available at Boutique Les Petits Monstres on 2124 Mont-Royal east! This children’s clothing store in the Plateau area of Montreal just opened a few months ago, but has already become a staple for parents in the neighbourhood as well as a place to find many locally made products, from finely crafted sleep-sacks to books and now, soaps, creams and balms! Added bonus: Les Petits Monstres also has a kids corner where the little ones can play while parents browse.

IMG_5020.JPGThese are the F&P products you can find at Boutique Les Petits Monstres

  • Herbal Balm: made with organic botanicals, local Quebec beeswax and raw Shea butter. The perfect balm for all types of skin irritations, from diaper rash to eczema, this balm is the most used product in my own home.img_4756
  • Whipped Body Butter: made with organic cocoa butter, organic mango butter and organic coconut oil. A rich nourishing butter without fragrance, preservatives or colorants. A great multifunctional butter, to use after bath time, for baby massage, or on your baby belly. img_5011
  • Nourishing Lipbalm: made with organic cocoa butter, local Quebec beeswax, organic castor oil and vitamin E, this lipbalm comes unscented or with organic coconut flavor. Yum! Unlike conventional lipbalms with camphor and petroleum waxes this balm will not dry your lips but nourish and soothe them. Perfect for our Canadian winters! florapomona-nourishing-balms-9
  • Soaps: Unscented Bastille, Butters and Cream, and Bastille 5 Flavor Soap Sampler

    To read more about my soaps, click here.

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Bath Fizzies and Bath Truffles

Bath Fizzies aka Bath Bombs and Bath Truffles

If you take a lot of baths, bath fizzies, or bath bombs, can be a fun way to enhance the experience. If you rarely take baths, they can be a good excuse to give yourself a little me-time. These days, there are so many different types of bath fizzies out there that it can be hard to know what kind to get and why to get them. Some use colorants and embeds to create a effervescent fizz show in your tub, some use fragrances that stay on your skin long after you’ve toweled off. Others have SLS to create lots and lots of bubbles. Others are formulated to have more of a therapeutic effect, maybe to soothe sore muscles or rashy skin. I don’t want to judge those that use fragrance and SLS but my fizzies definitely fall into the latter category. Although I’m not making medicine balls quite yet, I definitely like my bombs to be packed with soothing goodies. Of course, I like my products to smell and look good too and so I choose ingredients that nourish and appeal to both body and mind, things like botanicals, clays, mineral rich salts and essential oils that are pretty and yummy all by their natural selves.

Bath Truffles
Lavender & Vanilla with Kaolin Clay
Sea Salt & Kelp
Pink Himalayan Salt & Grapefruit

To market to market! Here’s my display of bath bombs and antique teacup candles 🙂

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October 7th 2016 : Flora & Pomona at Marché Angus. This side housed my aromatherapy teacup candles and bath fizzies neatly packaged in Kraft bags. From the left: Cocoa-Mint Bath truffles (packaged with natural raffia), Sea Salt & Kelp Bath Fizzy, and Pink Himalayan Salt & Grapefruit Bath Fizzy. The plate with the business cards also holds little samples of the bath bombs, and full size samples of the bath truffles.

Antique Teacup Aromatherapy Candles

 

What are they?

Antique teacup aromatherapy candles are a beautiful way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, especially now that the colder months are upon us. Right now I have three different aromatherapy blends – Calm, Happy and Relax – in three different cups: a dark rose pattern, a dusty pink rose pattern and a blue flowers and vines pattern.

What are they made of?

These all-natural soy candles are made with 100% EcoSoy, a wax made from non-GMO soy and a cleaner alternative to paraffin. Most commercially available candles are still made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum oil, which releases the carcinogens benzene and toluene when burned. As an added bonus soywax is also biodegradable, non-staining and easy to remove! The wicks are made of 100% cotton and also primed in soywax. To the wax I add my own blend of pure essential oils and then this is poured into an antique tea cup and left to set.

Why teacups?

I select teacups that are made with fine china, have distinct features that I enjoy, like gold rims or interesting handles and that have a feeling of  history to them. Some have matching plates and some I have matched with plates from other sets. In the end each candle is unique. While it is cute to set a candle on a plate it also serves a function to catch possible spills and make it easier to transport a lit candle with hot wax in it.

Aromatherapy?

The aromatherapy blends were designed to create specific “odorous” ambiance and give relief to the stresses of the daily grind. I imagined the candles being used at the end of the day, while having a nice bath, or having a warm cup of tea and reading a book. As a mom I know that these moments are few and far between but much needed and can do wonders to the tired worn mamas and papas out there. So here are the blends:

1. This is a woods blend I call Relax. It is a blend of Siberian pine, cedar wood and ho wood. Ho wood is an ecological alternative to rose wood which is now a restricted  and endangered species. Pine, cedar and ho wood all have stress reducing properties, and this blend is designed to reduce nervous stress especially. If you can’t take a walk in the woods, this candle will give you a little “forest bath” in the comfort of your own home.

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Aromatherapy Candle in Antique Teacup: a woodsy blend of pine and cedar to help you relax

2. A rose blend called Calm made of palmarosa essential oil, ho wood and Victorian rose aromatic essence. An aromatic essence is 100% natural but is not an essential oil. It is derived or extracted from plant material through alcohol distillation and mixed with organic vegetable oil. Palmarosa, ho wood (known as the peace oil) and rose are both calming and soothing, perfect if you are feeling wound up, irritable and in need of a bit of peace. It also smells really nice 🙂

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a rosy blend of palmarosa, ho wood and rose creates a calming atmosphere.

A. A citrus blend called Joy made of lemon, grapefruit, lemongrass and bergamot essential oils. Research shows that the smell of citrus can lessen stress and makes people feel happy. Remember that perfume from the 90’s, Happy? It is mostly citrus. The smell of citrus can lift your mood, brighten your day, and take the edge off frayed nerves. So a citrus candle might just be what the doctor ordered for those long dark and cold winter months: brightening in both senses.

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a blend of citrus essential oils to brighten smiles and lift frowns.

Flora & Pomona’s debut at Marché Angus

Yesterday, October 7th, I debuted Flora and Pomona at Marché Angus’s Parc Jean Duceppe location. It was a gorgeous day, tall blue skies, lots of sun and summer-like temperatures – perfect for an outdoor market!

I was the first one to arrive, clearly the newbie on the block. So I poured myself a cup of lemon balm and peppermint tea and started setting up my stall.

In addition to my soaps, I also brought two types of bath bombs, chocolate mint bath truffles, aromatherapy tea cup candles, an herbal balm and two types of lip-balm. The coconut lipbalm turned out really well, if I do say so myself.

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All my soaps are cold processed and in bar form, except this keychain soap sampler. Isn’t it cute? I got the idea from a baby book my daughter has.

There are five soaps on the rope: peppermint, lavender, orange, cinnamon and unscented. They are all colored with natural herbs and spices. The hemp string has a bit of a story. Apparently, it’s made by an Italian family owned company that has been making hemp rope for five generations, and this was from the last roll the Montreal store received from them before they went out of business. It’s very fine string indeed. Marche-Angus-Flora-&-Pomona-October-7-2016 (41).JPG

This teacup aromatherapy soy candle is called “Woods – Relax” because it is scented with an essential oil blend of Siberian pine, cedar and ho wood. Pine and cedar are good for relieving nervous tension, anxiety and stress. Cedar has a calming effect, helping you unwind and relax, while pine gives you a lift when you’re feeling down. Ho wood is referred to by aromaweb as a “peaceful” oil that helps you relax and unwind and like cedar and pine is perfect for someone who feels anxious, stressed and has trouble sleeping. This candle is ideal for the holidays, in so many ways. Smells like walking through an evergreen forest, or sitting next to your Christmas tree. I’m very happy with how it came out 🙂

At the end of the day the sun came around into my stall. At the far end I had my bathbombs, bathtruffles and teacup candles. But of course, the soaps did better than the bath products, and out of the soaps, the best seller was Pink Salt and Grapefruit. It’s my favourite as well 😉

Flora & Pomona will be back at Marché Angus next Friday, October 14th from 3-6PM. The location can be hard to find unless you know the area, but aiming for the corner of William Tremblay and Augustin Frigon you will get you right into the market. Hope to see you there ❤

Handmade Cold Processed Soaps

Hello! This is my current menu of handmade cold-processed soaps. All my soaps are made with high quality vegetable oils and butters, and they are superfatted by at least 6% to ensure that they are gentle and don’t dry the skin. And of course, because they are handmade, they naturally contain glycerin, a humectant that helps keep your skin moisturized.

My soaps are free of synthetic fragrance oils, petroleum derived products, animal by-products, detergents, preservatives and SLS. I like to keep my soaps as natural as possible and like to add natural colorants, and botanicals and clays that further enhance the soap’s nourishing and cleansing properties. Instead of fragrance oils and synthetic perfumes I use essential oils. I choose and blend the essential oils to match the soap’s properties and purpose: for example, in my shampoo bar, I have added essential oils that are good for the scalp and hair follicles: rosemary, basil, eucalyptus and lavender.

Another thing that is important to me is to minimize the use of plastics. Handmade soaps do best when they can breathe anyway, and so my soaps come wrapped in a simple paper cigar-band. For packaging gift bags and gift boxes I use 100% recycled kraft paper.

I am very pleased to say that four of these soaps – Unscented Bastille, Butter & Cream, Oatmilk and Shea Butter, and the Bastile Sampler Soaps, are available for sale at Les Petits Monstres on 2124 Mont-Royal east.

If you are interested in buying any of the other soaps please contact me on twitter, facebook or on my  webpage.

Salut! Voici mon menu de savons faits à la main à froid. Tous mes savons sont faits à base d’huiles et beurres végétales de haute qualité, et ils ont un surgras d’au moins 6% pour s’assurer qu’ils sont doux et ne séchent pas la peau. Parce qu’ils sont faits à la main, ils contiennent naturellement de la glycérine, un humectant qui aide à garder votre peau hydratée.

Mes savons ne contiennent pas des parfums synthétiques, des sous-produits d’animaux, produits pétrolier, des détergents, des conservateurs ni des sulfates. J’aime rester au naturel le plus possible et donc mes savons contiennent des additifs naturels, comme les argiles, les huiles essentielles, les herbes et les épices. Afin de minimiser l’utilisation des plastiques, mes savons sont enveloppés d’une simple bande de papier.

Quatre de ces savons – Savon Bastille sans parfum, Beurre et Crème de Coco, Lait d’Avoine & Karité, et Savon de Bastille Échantillonneur, sont disponibles à la boutique  Les Petits Monstres sur 2124 avenue Mont-Royal est. Si vous êtes intéressé à acheter un des autres savons s’il vous plaît me contacter sur twitter, facebook ou sur ma page web.

Almond Latte – with Komodo Dragon coffee and organic coconut milkalmond-latte-soap-fp

Butter & Cream – with organic cocoa butter, raw Shea butter and coconut creambuuter-n-cream-soap-fp

Chamomile & Aloe Shampoo Bar for blondes – with fresh aloe and chamomile infusionchamomile-aloe-shampoo-bar

Green Clay & Wakame – with algae infusion, avocado oil and raw Shea buttergreen-clay-wakame-soap-fp

Rose Clay & Grey Clay with Pine and Cedar his-n-hers-clay-soaps-fp

These soaps were designed as companion soaps for a wedding, a kind of his n’ hers soap bars, with a romantic touch. The clays give these soaps rich lather and added cleansing properties.

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Lavender and Bergamot

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Lavender and Bergamot: all natural scented with essential oils and colored with tumeric and alkanet root infusion. Superfatted with sweet almond oil this is a

Anise and Peppermint – with activated charcoal and pure essential oilspeppermint-and-anis-soap-fp

Unscented Bastille – perfect for sensitive skin, children and babiesunscented-bastil-soap-fp

Citrus and Yellow Clay – with raw Shea butter, yellow clay and Australian red clayimg_3905

Pink Himalayan Salt & Pink Grapefruit – exfoliating spa bar with lotion like lather IMG_4240.JPG

Oat Milk & Shea Butter, unscented: with organic colloidal oats and raw Shea butter

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Oatmilk & Shea butter : unscented with 7% superfat  / Lait d’avoine et Beurre de Karité : sans parfum et surgras de 7%

 

Bastille All Natural Soap Sampler: peppermint, orange, cinnamon, lavender & unscentedmarche-angus-flora-pomona-october-7-2016-20

Presenting … Flora & Pomona!

Hello Dear Readers,

Flora and Pomona is the name I have chosen for my soap company! Flora and you may know is the goddess of spring and flowers. Pomona, her less known sister, is the goddess of the orchard, the flowering fruit trees. When I was searching for a new name to best represent my budding business I thought of all the ingredients I use and the direction I want to take. It was clear in my mind that botanicals play an important role in my products, and my increasing interest in herbalism would continue to influence how I create my recipes. The soaps and bath products I make are made with the flowers and fruits of the earth: from sweet almond oil I use in most my soaps, to chamomile infusion in my latest shampoo bar. I have decided to keep the name Marsbalms for this blog, at least, for now, and I will continue to post updates on my latest developments. I will be building a website with a online store, and in the meantime will keep a webpage up with the essential information available. I am participating in this year’s Marché Angus, on October 7 and 14. Hope to see you there!

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Testing Natural Green Colorants in Cold Process Soap

I use natural colorants in my soap, as much as I can. Things like paprika and tumeric make excellent soap colorants and they are easy to find, economical and have the benefit of being natural (for those of us who prefer that). But some colours are hard to come by in the natural world: blues, purples and even true reds (read about my misadventure using rose hip powder here). I still haven’t been able to find indigo root in stores, and certainly not online at a reasonable price. [I have found it now at Maiwa]. The colour green falls somewhere in between. [ Read part 2 of this green colorants experiment here ]. On one hand it’s easy enough to find green tea and spirulina, but on the other it can be difficult to predict how these organic materials will react to lye and a long cure. Usually clays are very reliable since they are not vegetable matter and so are more stable. But green clay isn’t really green. And as I just found out, many clays sold as colorants are actually mixed with micas or oxides (French pink clay, Brazilian purple clay).

Last week I saw a bag of green powder at my local Middle Eastern grocer. The kind owner was surprised and delighted that I knew about carete, a middle eastern ingredient, and apparently a favourite of hers. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only did I not know what it was, I planned to use it in soap (the leaves of the jute plant, or Jew’s mallow, are often used as a soup thickener in Middle Eastern cuisine). At 2.50$ for 250 grams it was worth the gamble. At the same store I had recently also purchased some spirulina and chlorella, which I had yet to use in soap. And finally, I had some dandelion leaves, which I had picked and dried myself the previous summer. I had 6 different possible green colorants and so I decided an experiment was in order! To test all of my green colorants, six in total, 3 of which I had never used in soap before: green clay, chlorella, spirulina, macha green tea, dandelion powder, and jew’s mallow.

I decided to use a muffin silicone mold with six cavities, and a 14 oz Bastile recipe. I would leave it unscented of course and would have to measure it in grams because it’s important to be precise with small recipes like this. Usually we are told to use 1 tsp of colorant per pound of oils, but I decided that if I wanted the differences to be apparent I would have to increase that ratio to 2 tsp/lbs of oils. I calculated that each cavity would hold 14 oz/6 of oils = 2.33 oz of oils which is 6.8th of a pound. 2 teaspoons is 9.8 ml, almost 10, so I divided 10 by 6.8 and got = 1.4 ml. A quarter teaspoon is a bit less than that, so I decided to use quarter teaspoon.My hypothesis was as follows:

  • That chlorella and spirulina would come out looking the same: a darker mottled green. Possibly speckled as well and possibly not very green. I did not think that the blue-green of spirulina would actually be visible.
  • That the green clay wouldn’t look very green at all, but instead, kinda grey.
  • That the dandelion powder would be the most yellowish of the bunch, speckled as well.
  • That the matcha green tea would be the punchiest of the greens, not speckled or mottled. The ideal colorant in other words.
  • That the Jew’s mallow would do one of the following: 1) thicken the soap batter and possibly burn during forced gel. The fact that it’s used to thicken soups worried me a bit because starch means sugar and sugar means heat. 2) Come out looking like the dandelion soap, another leaf, but less mottled.

My final hypothesis was that all colorants except the clay would look some shade of green. That all the colorants except the matcha and the clay would have some form of speckling effect, because the powders are still broken down vegetable matter, but the green tea is made of tender young leaves and is therefore more powder-able. That I would be most impressed with the macha. Here is what happened.

I premixed the colorants with some of my oils, then brought my soap batter to light trace and measured equal amounts of soap into 6 containers and added the colorants. I was happy to see that I had calculated the amount of soap correctly and each muffin cavity was filled to capacity. From top left to right, and bottom right to left: Green Clay, Chlorella, Jute Mallow, Dandelion, Matcha green tea, Spirulina.

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At this point, I had high hopes for the Matcha. I put the muffin tray into a preheated oven for about 2 hours, then when I started seeing alien brains on the jute mallow soap, I opened the oven door to cool it down a bit. Eventually all the soaps except the clay soap developed mild alien brains.

In the end this is what happened:

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  1. All of them except the clay developed some form of alien brains in my heated oven.

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    Jute or Jew’s Mallow Soap: overheated during gel phase and developed alien brains.

  2. The matcha was really disappointing. It turned from the brilliant green when wet to a muted darkish green to brown – not a nice shade of brown either. I’d be curious to see how it performs in hot process soap.
  3. The green clay stayed stable, as expected. Not grey though, more of a tan colour. A stable non-colour essentially. Like Joni Mitchell said: “constant in the darkness – where’s that at?”
  4. The spirulina and chlorella looked almost identical at first, but after a few days, the chlorella started taking a  yellowish, faded tone, while the spirulina stayed on the bluer side of green. I guess this makes sense, since spirulina is blue-green algae. Surprisingly, the chlorella also got pock marked! Here’s a closeup:

    Chlorella-spirulina-comparison-6wkcure-marsbalms

    Notice the pock marks and yellowish tone in the chlorella soap…

  5. The jute mallow also got pock marked. From over-heating I suppose, which I had suspected would happen due to the starch. But overall, it performed really well. The tone is nice, if a bit subdued, but provides a nice natural-looking green. Best of all, it has stayed that way, and after a two month cure has barely changed.
  6. The dandelion was the most mottled, as expected since it wasn’t as fine a powder as the jute mallow or matcha. However, it is also the most stable of the plant colorants. This was really surprising, and now two months after the experiment, the dandelion soap still looks the same shade of green and hasn’t faded or turned yellow. It is also, in my opinion, the nicest shade of green. But alas, it’s mottled and not a solid colour. The dandelion also happens to be the only one I didn’t pay for. It was “wild crafted,” as they say.

Here they are at the six week mark. The difference between spirulina and chlorella is more pronounced than it was after a few days, the matcha is browner and the dandelion, jute (as far as I can tell) and clay are the same (!).

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And lets see what they look like inside:Natural-green-dyes-6wk-cure-inside-marsbalms In conclusion, out of these six materials, I’d say only four qualify as worthy green soap colorants: chlorella, spirulina, jute mallow, and dandelion leaves. The superfine french green clay is a nice soap additive, but as a colorant produces a tan, not a green, colour. The matcha green tea makes soap green for about five minutes, then turns brown. Spirulina beats chlorella as a green colorant but not by much, and while both are worthy soap colorants that produce solid green tone, they loose points for fading and turning yellowish. Jute mallow is a new discovery for me, as a food and possible soap colorant. I have never heard of anyone using it to colour soap so it was nice to see it perform so well. Just beware of overheating. Ironically, my handpicked bunch of weeds – what some people pay and work so hard to get rid of – has to win this one. I have never heard of anyone using dandelion leaves to colour soap either, but it was an idea that paid off. In spite of the mottling, I find that dandelion produces the nicest green tone, which is surprisingly stable and doesn’t give off a smell (unlike the algae, which do).

Doing this experiment was so much fun, and I can’t wait to do another one. Thanks for reading 😀

What do you use to colour your soap green? Have you used any of these materials before in your soapmaking? I’d love to hear your stories.