Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Black Crow Soaps

Here it is. The finished product. We have been giving these bars of various home made soaps to Lee's real estate clients. The response has been astonishing. Kate and I just fell in to this hobby. But now people as far away as North Dakota have begun asking how to order different styles, fragrances, and just more of it. It's been a lot of fun handing little bars of personal delight. Most of Lee's clients wind up as long term friends, and sharing/giving among friends is part of that. THANK YOU to all of Lee's real estate clients who have given us such helpful and gracious feedback. If you keep giving us suggestions and requests, we'll keep the soap coming!
-Lee and Kate

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Super Swirl

Going super-swirl. What a delight. I even threw away my decades-long habit of commercial shave cream and now use our own home made Black Crow Soap instead. It really is the creamiest, smoothest shave cream I have ever used!
Our friends and clients who have used it have been telling their friends about how it leaves their skin silkier and more fragrant than any other soap they have ever used.
This home made soap thing is truly a great treat. Any one can make it. We have not introduced any major innovations. We just leave out the harsh preservatives and chemicals found in the commercial detergent-bars sold in stores. There's "home made soap" and then there's "chemically preserved detergent bars." I wouldn't wash with dishwashing soap in gel form, and now we'll never need to again. Go ahead, make your own. You'll discover what we did.
And you can see by these photo's that it is its own art form.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Last night Kate and I made swirly-soap for the first time. That's what I call it any way.

Kate points out the proper name is Cumin and Paprika Soap. While I stirred the main batch of light yellow base, Kate was busy combining the Cumin and Paprika in a separate concoction.

Not that you'd ever really want to eat the Paprika. It's there for color. But it's nice to know, nevertheless, that if you ever get trapped in a very long shower that spills over in to dinner-hour...


PS: Oh, by the way. You ask: "Who is Ms. Kitty? This is the famous Good-eye The Cat, from the famous PackGoats Search and Rescue mission during the blizzard of '08. She became very ill recently while living out in the barn during this year's bitter winter blizzards. Lost half her body weight. So weak, barely able to stand and walk. Pretty much down for the count. Kate made a warm nest for her inside the garage. We gave Kitty some very painful penicillin shots two days, warm cream to sip, and tons of gentle cuddling. Kitty seems to be recovering now. Slowly. She has a looooong way to go to regain her body weight and strength.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What, exactly, is "soap"?

If you mean the regular “soap” you buy in the store, then it is a bar of detergent consisting of some or all of the following:

· parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl), synthetic fragrance, synthetic colorants (labelled as FD&C or D&C), petroleum derived ingredients (petroleum, mineral oil, Vaseline), sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, formaldehyde, aluminum, toluene, phthalates, polyethylene glycol compounds, and synthetic alpha hydroxy acids.

The fact that “soap” in the store is actually detergent is made clear by the Food and Drug Administration. If you want all the gory details, read “All that Lathers is not Soap” on the FDA site:

Old-fashioned or home-made soap consists of oils and animal fats that have reacted chemically with lye so that they are “saponified” to become something that is neither fat nor lye. . . . but soap!Soap is not found in nature, but neither is wine, glass, bread, and other stuff humans create. When a fatty acid meets a strong alkali (e.g., lye), the alkali splits the fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerin. After that, the sodium or potassium part of the alkali joins with the fatty acid part of the fat. This newly combined substance is “soap.”

If you want a thoroughly nerdy explanation offered by a chemical engineer, go to .What, exactly, is in Black Crow soap?As you might guess from reading above, the list of what is not in our soap is far longer than what is in it.The simplest soap recipe we use is as follows:2 pounds of lamb tallow or well-rendered beef fat1 pound of coconut oil1 pound 10 ounces of safflower oil~8 ounces of lye~23 ounces of distilled water

That’s it.

Of course, we rarely do simple. We use specialty oils, such as grapeseed, olive, tea tree, neem, jojoba, and other oils to make soap that is particularly emollient for the skin.

We also add natural cosmetic-grade oxides for color and cosmetic-grade essential oils (purchased mostly through if you are curious).

We are also learning how to include natural antioxidants, such as rosemary and vitamin E, so we can keep those brown spots from appearing if the soap sits around unused for days.Commercial soap—even the “organic” stuff—has preservatives added to it in order to keep the lawyers at bay. Since we are not chemical engineers, we want to stick with ingredients we could eat.Why use this home-made stuff instead of good old lifeboy?

The answer we came up with is “because we know what is in it, and it makes our skin feel better.”You can read many research articles on the topic and will learn that commercial detergent cleanser (i.e., “soap”) strip the skin’s natural pH balance and typically kill off the harmless bacteria on our skin that is there for a reason. . . . Again, we are not doctors or chemists, so all we can do is repeat what we’ve learned and stick to ingredients we could eat.What about that pure-looking glycerin soap sold in the stores?Glycerin is also precious soap ingredient, and when we make a batch that forms droplets of glycerin on the top, we know we have a great recipe on our hands.Alas, the clear “glycerin soaps” on the market are not made from pure glycerin. Those bars are just ordinary detergent soap mixed with other ingredients, such as alcohol and sugar, to make it translucent.

While we could eat both sugar and alcohol, we elect not to use either in our soap.Is it easy to make soap?Yes—and fun. But you have really got to find it relaxing and engaging to make it worthwhile because there is a LOT to learn and a fair amount of equipment to assemble.Making soap can also take over your kitchen and living room pretty readily!

Rather than give a slew of URL references, we suggest doing an online search for soap making techniques. You probably want to look for “cold process” techniques. You definitely do not want to be fooled into thinking you are making soap by melting and pouring into molds so-called “melt-and-pour” soap.

“Hot process” techniques simply refer to cooking the soap longer. It’s not particularly hard once you get it right, but, overall, we find that the cold-process technique results in a better product.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Greetings. Welcome to Our Blog on Natural, Home Made Soaps

Hi. Welcome to our Black Crow Soaps blog. Please let us know if you were here: Thank you. -Kate and Lee