Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shh... Don't Tell Eric

So we  have the one shaving soap, Clean Cut (which also works well as a bath soap).  It's got a pretty masculine scent.  I mean, I imagine some women will like it, but it's not my style.  I'm a fan of the fruits and flowers, more than the patchouli and fir.  As a result, a friend of mine suggested that we do a female shaving soap!  

So... for testing purposes, and without him knowing, I swiped Eric's bar of Clean Cut and used it yesterday in the shower when I was shaving.  It rocks.  No, I mean it, it's great.

We need a feminine (or unisex, for that matter) shaving soap.  Expect one on the horizon.

Know what else I like about this soap, though?  It makes Eric want to shave.

He hates to shave.  And I hate it when he's prickly.  It was always pulling teeth to get him to finally shave, even though he knew he should, if only for work.

This shaving soap, though, spurred him to ask for an old-fashioned straight razor for the holidays.  I got him one.  And now, as he put it, shaving is an event.  He loves it!  He actively likes to shave!  All because of soap!  And I didn't even have to spring for commercial shaving soap with the razor, which would've been crazy expensive!

Meanwhile, I've got a secret weapon for keeping Eric clean-shaven... just keep the stock of shaving soap replenished!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Charlie Brown Never Knew This Kind of Peppermint Patty

These vegan-friendly Peppermint Pumice Patties, I mean.

They're a mini version of our new Peppermint Pumice Foot Rounds, and a great trial size, the same size as our hand soaps.

Made with a mix of oils, cocoa butter, peppermint essential oil, and ground pumice, these all-natural soaps will clean, enervate, massage, exfoliate, and moisturize the most overworked part of your body - your feet!  All day, we walk, we stand, we jog and run.  Even when we're sitting, we never take every ounce of weight off of our feet.  We wear shoes that pinch and push, and that don't breathe.  Now in the cold weather, our feet don't even get a break with the temperature - they're variable frozen and overheated, chilled and stifled.  It's about time to take care of them!

That's not all we've been doing, though.  We've replenished our stock of vegan-friendly Lemongrass & Sage soap, this time in a proper size to match our other bars.  Just like the originals, though, these are made with a mix of oils for a great lather, lemongrass essential oil for that terrific citrus scent, and real sage.

And this time, we had enough soap "batter" for some hand soaps too!

All of these items, as well as our new Clean Cut shaving and bath soaps...

 ... are already available online, but locals will be able to see and smell them in person at Clockwork II:  Steam Pirates Invade, where Eric and I will yet again be vending and selling our soaps, scrubs, and candles.  This is a related event to Halloween in December, so I can't wait to see what they come up with this time.  If you're free on the evening of January 5, come by and witness the lunacy, plus meet us and see what I've been jabbering about since November.  Hopefully seeing our products in person will make you fall in love with them, as you should.

There's more in the works, of course.  Watch this space for news of more new and different products, specials, events, and more.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Post-Holiday Shipping Special!

All orders, no matter how big, placed from today through New Year's Day get flat-rate $5 shipping.  This is a discount even on the smallest of orders.

Take advantage of it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One for the Boys

We have come up with our first soap for men - a shaving soap!

When I say "we," mind you, I'm speaking loosely. I really should be saying Eric, since he did this one nearly solo. He researched it and worked out the recipe, he chose the scent, and he actually made it nearly all himself.

We started to make it, you see, mixed the basic ingredients, got them into the crock pot, started to cook them and stir... and then I got the call that my sister was in labor and had been for several hours. Yes, labor.

So at a quarter to 11 the other night, I dashed off to the hospital while Eric continued to make soap. My sister had the baby at 2:47 a.m., and I stayed with her and her husband visiting until 7:30 a.m. or so. I was demolished by then, and Eric was just getting up for work as I climbed into bed for a few hours.

The soap was already in the mold and curing.

Scented spicily with fir, rosemary, lavender, and patchouli essential oils, this is also our first round soap!

It lathers like crazy from the combination of oils used, perfect for shaving.  Plus, it's made with Rhassoul Clay, which has been used for over 1400 years as a natural beauty treatment for skin and hair, and shea butter, which also makes it a wonderful bath bar.

Personally, I love that we tried round bars too.  They just look so nifty!  They were... interesting to work out, though.  Removal from the mold was a heck of a process that included lots of trial and error, freezing the soap and a hammer.  There were times we might have looked like an Abbott and Costello routine, in fact.  But the result is definitely worth it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It Was a Blast!

Tonight, Eric and I took Reef Botanicals on the road for the very first time.  The event was Halloween in December, a fundraiser for Isaac Bonewits, a well-known Druid leader and author in the Pagan community.  He's got cancer and is undergoing chemo, and his family is having difficulty keeping up with bills.

So we packed up our soaps, sugar scrubs, and candles, and hit the road, down to the IHOP in Somerset, NJ.  IHOP graciously agreed to close its doors for this "private party," so the event organizers could collect $5 per person toward Isaac's recovery from anyone who entered.

The soaps went into these great baskets we found, that gave us just the natural feel for which we were looking.

I also made up three gift baskets.  One, a Chocolate Decadence basket, we donated to the fundraiser's silent auction.  The value of the basket was $40, but the lucky person who was the highest bidder got it for $20, half  price!  Even with the discount, the basket was the highest-paid prize of the auction.

The basket contained a small round pillar candle in our Chocolate Decadence scent, a 10 oz container of our Cafe Mocha sugar scrub, two large Fudge Chunk soap bars, and two Fudge Chunk hand soaps.

We have two more gift baskets still in stock.  There's another Chocolate Decadence basket, this one with a larger square pillar candle in Chocolate Decadence, a tea light in Chocolate Decadence, a 10 oz container of our Cafe Mocha sugar scrub, one large Fudge Chunk soap bar, and two Fudge Chunk hand soaps.

The other basket is Citrus Splash, featuring our square pillar in Lemongrass & Sage, a votive in Lemongrass & Sage, a 10 oz container of our When Life Hands You Lemons sugar scrub, a Lemongrass and Sage soap, and a Root of the Matter soap.

Setup of our table was... fun.  Actually, it was, but it was definitely a challenge.  We had a booth, so our wares were tough to reach at times, and soap tends to be a fairly hands-on item.  People want to touch it and smell it.  We worked it out, though.  Our baskets were perfect, and the signs I made for them turned out to be very pretty with the two-tone green.  Our candles were something of a hit; the Chocolate Decadence sold out immediately, and our blue Winter Wonderland candles were a hit as well, as were our pale yellow-green Lemongrass & Sage candles.

Our Lemongrass & Sage soaps sold out entirely, and our Honey Chocolate isn't far behind!  We'll be making more of both imminently.

All in all, we were very well received and very happy with our experience.  Even from people who didn't purchase immediately there was a lot of interest, taking of business cards, and inquiries as to our next appearance.  As a result, the remaining sugar scrubs are up on the site and ready for purchase, and the candles won't be far behind!

On top of everything else, we were glad to be able to help out a family in need.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not for Guitarists!

Eric has been using solely our soaps and sugar scrubs, and noticed tonight that all the callouses on his hands are gone. As he was "lamenting" their loss, he commented, "I'm glad I'm not a guitarist." They need their callouses, y'see.

Tonight, I finished the batch of Cafe Mocha Scrub for the Halloween in December event this Sunday evening.  It's... it's... OK, I'll say it, it's great.  It smells of the brown sugar, coffee, cocoa, and spices from which it's made.  Eric says that he plans to use it every morning because the spiced coffee scent helps him wake up.  And there's nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh coffee, is there?

I couldn't stop there, though.  Oh, no!  We now also have a batch of When Life Hands You Lemons Scrub.  This one is my personal favorite, because I just love citrus.  I'm in heaven with the scent of light homemade lemonade to wake me up in the morning.  And yes, I squeezed the lemon juice myself!

The jars and tags make them look so gorgeous too.


So you figure then we went to bed, yes?  No!  No, because we wanted candles.  We already made a few Chocolate Decadence candles for the gift baskets we'll be bringing to Halloween in December, one as a prize for the silent auction and two for sale.  These candles are mottled mahogany brown and scented with Fudge Brownie and Vanilla Hazelnut.  Yum!

And we already had our Thanksgiving Harvest candles, in a deep mottled orange-red, with an apple spice scent...

... and our Healing Tea candles, in a mottled sage green, scented with green tea and eucalyptus.

Well, tonight we poured Winter Wonderland candles, which will be a beautiful light blue, mottled with snowflakes.  Because, y'know, there won't be enough snow this weekend!  Ha!  Of course, this weekend at Halloween in December only, the candles will be dubbed "I'm Dreaming of a White Halloween" candles.  It's only fitting.

Photos will follow tomorrow!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting to the Root of the Matter

Root of the Matter soap, that is.  Our newest vegan-friendly soap is made with pureed ginger, beet, and carrot - three different roots.

The funny thing is, we originally did this soap because we wanted the ginger scent, and we wanted to try getting color from the beet and carrot, and didn't think much past that.  We obviously researched to make sure that none of those are harmful for topical use, and they're not.  So it was full steam ahead with the production.

The colors were obviously an experiment.  Eric was pushing for more of a mix of colors, like our Fudge Chunk soap.  I wanted to try the two-tone layering.  The ginger is present throughout the soap, giving it a very faint ginger smell when dry, that gets more pronounced and definitely noticeable while the soap is in use.  I know because I showered with it this morning, and it was heavenly.

Then we took half of the soap and mixed in beet, and half with carrot.  The carrot half - the bottom - gave us a nice orange color.  The beet, though, didn't turn purple or red, much to our surprise.  It's a nice, natural, earthy tone, but decidedly not red or purple.  We were sure that with the way the fresh beets were staining my hands as I peeled them the red would just pop.  Not so much.  As it is, I really like the way these turned out, it was just unexpected.  Gotta love experimentation.

Because of the way we make the hand soaps, we didn't do those two-tone, but they are damn cute!

When it came to writing up a description of the soap, I did some research into the ingredients to see what I should say about them.  Well, as it turns out, all three roots involved have virtues that are espoused for various health and well-being purposes among those who are into holistic remedies.

All three are said to have antioxidant properties and various other benefits, but the most surprising to me was the carrot.  I actually read that carrot is said to have some sun protection built in.  Apparently, when carrot oil is used in conjunction with regular sunblocks, it enhances the power of the sunblock.  I'd had no idea.  I hope it works and that our soap can provide some of that benefit.

In the meantime, I do know that I just love it for the smell, the feel, the lather, and the way it washes clean.

The best thing?  These are up on the site, just in time for the remainder of our promotion:  Free hand soap of our choosing with any purchase through December 19!  Finish your holiday shopping at Reef Botanicals!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The New Face of Hand Soap

As I posted the other day, my sister and brother-in-law got us the best Chanukah/Christmas gift! Well, the new Ginger Soap is busy curing, so we were able to change up how we do our hand soaps while they're still soft.

Previously, you'll recall, we were making plain, albeit hand-rolled and cute, soap balls, like so:

Those are the Fudge Chunk.  We don't have many right now, so they're not on the site.  At any rate, our new design for hand soaps is much better.  It looks like this:

How adorable is that?  Each hand soap made from today forward will now be marked with a cat paw, making it somewhat flatter and easier to handle.  Our other hand soap varieties will be replaced with these as the stock runs out.

I really am so excited about these it's silly already.  I can't help it; they're just too cute!  Each is 1.5 oz, and would make great guest soaps.  Now if only they'd cure faster... did I mention I'm not a patient person?

Look for them on the site soon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Something New

While we wait for our last very interesting batch of soap to cure - and I really can't wait to unmold it to see what it looks and smells like, since there's ginger involved! - Eric and I decided to try something new tonight.

It's a success, I think.

We have made our very first sugar scrub!  It's brown sugar and oils, together with cocoa and some other spices to make it smell just heavenly!  (So it's vegan-friendly.)

It'll be debuted this Sunday at Halloween in December, a fundraiser for the family of Isaac Bonewits, a noted author and teacher who is fighting cancer and as a result has a lot of bills to pay.  Eric and I would have been attending anyway, but now we're donating a gift basket to the fundraiser's silent auction.  Plus, we'll be vending, selling our products and donating a portion of the proceeds back to the fundraiser as well.

Please note that the container in the photo is the one that will be used for this initial batch of sugar scrubs only; it will not be the jar that will appear on the website.  This is a glass container, and because we are concerned for your safety in the bath, future scrubs will be available in a clear plastic jar with a white lid.

Eric and I both tested the scrub tonight, and then washed our hands with our Oatmeal Honey soap.  Even after washing, our hands were notably moisturized and softer.  We're so excited that it worked!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best Gift Ever!

And this time, I don't even mean our soaps, though it is soap related.

Last night, I got together with my family for the first night of Chanukah to eat brisket sandwiches, latkes (potato pancakes), and exchange gifts.

My sister and brother-in-law got a terrific gift for me and Eric!  We are now the proud owner of a whole slew of hand-sculpted soap molds from Milky Way Molds!  We had been intending to try cold process soaps - all of our current varieties have been done via the hot process method - and now we can make fancy cold process soaps in gorgeous molds.  I'm so excited to get to it immediately after the hot process batch we already had planned for today.

Cold process soaps take much longer to cure, 6 - 8 weeks, so don't expect to see them on the site just yet.

But, they also got us two stamps for our soaps, a curled cat to go with our Reef cat logo, and a paw print!

Those can be imprinted into our hot process soaps as long as we cut them while they're still fairly soft.  You can, therefore, expect to see our new soaps with their logo imprints very soon.

Plus, if today's batch is successful, you can expect to see something pretty funky on the site pretty soon.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wounded, But Worth It

Cool as a Cuke soap is almost here!  Yes, that's cucumber soap, made with real pureed cucumbers and coconut milk.  That awesome light green color comes entirely from the cucumber peels.

This is our first soap with nothing scratchy in it.  It's a nice, smooth, cool bar that does not exfoliate.  About time, right?  We've been so nutty about putting all sorts of things in our soaps, trying new recipes, that I finally had to step back and suggest a smooth bar.  It worked!

We were both exhausted when we got to soapmaking, having worked all day.  And Eric got slightly wounded when the unadulterated sodium hydroxide hit his arm, but it was just a few specks, and he's fine.  It's amazing that making soap can cause injury and yet the soap itself is so innocuous, even helpful.

The funniest part was the "zap test."  I generally leave that part to Eric, since I'm not keen on some of the soap to my tongue to see if it tingles and therefore isn't ready yet.  Well, it's not like any of the soaps we've made actually ever taste good, but this one was hilarious.  Either it tastes worse than our other soaps or Eric was expecting it to taste a little better from the cukes, but I've never seen him make faces this funny.

It was worth it, though.  The Cool as a Cuke soap is this amazing shade of light green, our first soap with a real, funky color to it.

Eric is going crazy over it, because of the lather.  When I got home the other day, tired and wanting to sit, he dragged me to the bathroom to try it.  He'd just taken the "extra" off of our equipment, smushed it all together into a blob, and used it, even before it's completely cured.  It's safe to use, just still very soft at that point.  So I tried it, and it didn't disappoint.  We found a mix of oils that gives a huge lather, instantaneously.  He, of course, had to use it again and started blowing bubbles between his hands from it.  He's like a kid!  But he's right, it's pretty kickin'.

He actually risked shaving with the lather from this soap and ended up, happily, nick-free and incredibly smooth.

This one will be available soon, once it finishes curing.  It's on the racks now, getting ready!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Something Funny

The other night, Eric was surfing the web, looking for more soap recipe ideas.  Mind you, we don't steal the recipes of others, we just get ideas, modify them, and make up our own.  We're like mad scientists that way.


At any rate, in surfing, he found this:

It's basically:
50% olive oil
25% coconut oil
25% palm oil

This recipe will make about 3 lbs. of soap.

Now, that is, in fact, a super simple soap recipe.  Only thing is, it's a little too simple.  See, there's no mention of water or sodium hydroxide.  I promise you, mixing three oils in a bowl, even in those ratios, will not give you soap.  If you attempt to wash with this mixture, you will not be clean, you will be an oily mess.  I swear.

And there's another problem.  50%, 50%, 25% give you three pounds of soap.  Um... does that mean if I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of palm oil, I get THREE POUNDS of soap?  Cool!  That's... like... the cheapest, easiest soap ever!  We could have a lifetime supply of soap on one bottle of each ingredient!  OK, maybe two bottles of olive oil.

So we did get a good chuckle.  Of course, once you click on the link provided and go here:  http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/soaprecipes/r/MMSbasic3oilsoaprecipe.htm you get the full (albeit sparse) recipe.  It was just funny to see ratios of oils listed, nothing else, and no measurements, with a claim that the non-recipe yields 3 lbs of soap.  The folks at About.com need to work on their summary-drafting skills, I think.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I've no new soap to post about... yet.  No worries, more varieties are on their way.

But in the interim, I have a confession to make.  I cheated on our soap.  No, don't get worried there, I didn't cheat with regard to our soap.  I cheated on our soap.  I used other soap.  I know, I know, how could I?  But... see.. ... I still had other soap in the cabinet when we started making soap!  Was I supposed to waste it?  Well, was I?

I didn't think so either.

So... despite the fact that we have one of each variety (I'm not kidding you here) of our soaps in the dishes in the  bath and one of each in the soap dish on the bathroom sink (This is Eric's doing, I tell you.  Yes, we need to test each batch, but do we really need 17 bars of soap in a single soap dish?  And a duplicate in the bath?), I opened and tried a different soap.

This is a commercial soap, a French soap.  It's very pretty and smells wonderful.  It's got ground almond in it.

Mind you, we also have in our soap dishes our own almond soap.  Why haven't you seen it on our website for sale, you ask?  Because our almond soap was our very first batch of soap ever, and while it's perfectly viable soap and we love to use it, we overheated it, causing it to have properties similar to shale.  When we went to cut it, therefore, we got these funky, irregular shapes.  So we could, theoretically, sell it by the pound as Almond Rock soap in person when you could pick the chunks you want, but we can't in good conscience sell it online when you couldn't see in advance what you were getting and no two people would get the same size/shaped chunks.

So we've got this perfectly good almond soap of our own making in the bath.  It's got crushed almonds in it, some finely ground, some bigger chunks.  I love it.  And yet I opened the commercial version, with all finely ground almond in it.  I guess what happened next serves me right.

I hopped in the shower, and started to wash.  It smelled great, and I was happy.  Now, I tend to scrub with soap.  And I love exfoliating soaps and accessories.  I've used soaps with all sorts of things in them - oatmeal, almond, almond shells... I've used scrubs, facial scrubs, sugar scrubs, salt scrubs.  I'm not afraid of things that are grainy.

This... this was different.  The smoothly molded outer layer wore off in the water, as it should, and I got to the almond.  Or glass shards.  It might've been glass shards.  I jumped and looked down, expecting to see that my skin was gone and blood running into the bathtub drain.  The skin was there, blood was not, and I was glad of that.  But holy crow, what the heck was that?  It was the almonds.  I have no idea what this company did to the almonds, but they were sharp.  They hurt.   It scared me.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I've used the soap again.  I've found that if I put zero pressure, it almost doesn't hurt but still kind of does just from the weight of the bar alone.  Ow!  I'm sad, because I want to like the soap.  This is a $10.00 bar of soap, people!  This is good stuff!  But ow.

And no, I'm not writing this to try and compete with them.  Hell, I'm not even naming them.  And I'm not delusional enough to believe that our teensy weensy business, producing soap batch by batch at our kitchen table in a couple of crock pots is any competition for a huge fancy French soap company.  We're two different species entirely.

But I was really surprised.

On another note, an awesome note, Eric found a very cool soap blog.  This chick rocks.  She's in Florida and she reviews soaps.  At some point, we will send her some soap to review.  But so we've both been reading her blog, and if she was still in Brooklyn, where she's apparently from, Eric and I would be looking to hang out with her.  Her sense of humor, and that of her husband who's posted at least once, is reminiscent of the cakewrecks chick.  And if you don't read Cakewrecks, you should.  Everyone should.  It is funny.  Interestingly, the Cakewrecks chick is also in Florida.

I wonder if they hang out with each other.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Special!

From now through December 19, all orders will include one free hand soap of our choosing!

(while supplies last, of course)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our Best Yet!

OK, this is one I can get really excited about.  I am a huge, huge fan of lavender, and our only delay in making lavender soap was getting our tushes in gear and getting some essential oil and dried lavender buds.  We did.  And we made the soap, which we cut tonight.

It is, and I know I'm tooting my own horn here, amazing.  We used a variety of oils that created a hard off-white bar but with an amazing, creamy lather.  The lavender smell is gorgeous.  I just know these are going to be a hot item, but I'm definitely keeping a bar or two for my own use!  It'd be a sin to let it all go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Our newest hot process soap is made with strongly brewed coffee and premium coffee grounds.  Coffee is said to be great for cooks and anyone else who works with pungent scents, as the coffee absorbs fish, meat, gas, and garlic smells.  The coffee grains we've mixed in are a natural exfoliant, and for the recipe's liquid, we used a strong fresh-brewed coffee, giving it a faint coffee scent.

The lather from this soap is rich, and results in hands that feel moisturized and comfortable.

We've created both bath bars and hand soaps.  The hand soaps are in the form of soap balls, each separately hand-rolled, and not created with a mold.

Each soap comes packaged, as do all of our soaps, in an ivory organza bag, tied with a ribbon and finished with our label  tag.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Clean Endeavor

I am Larissa, doing business with my husband Eric as Reef Botanicals, making high quality natural soaps. We knew we were right for each other early on, but didn't even realize until after we married in March of 2009 that we both loved to make things from scratch.

It was only natural for us to combine our talents for art, craft, and recipe development and step into the arts of candle and soap making.

We've got four recipe varieties so far:

Fudge Chunk contains Ghirardelli cocoa powder and has a subtle chocolate scent.

The Oatmeal Honey is made with precisely those ingredients, and smells amazing! We have it in both bath bar and hand soap size.

The Honey Chocolate is similar, but made with premium crushed cacao nibs, giving it a slight chocolate smell and exfoliating properties.

And our Lemongrass & Sage soap is made with lemongrass essential oil and dried sage. It has a great lather and an amazing citrus scent that wakes me up in the morning.

All of the soaps are made with all natural ingredients, nothing synthetic. Many of our soaps are also vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Those are noted in the descriptions.

Today, we're planning a coffee soap with fresh-brewed coffee and coffee grinds for exfoliation.

Each bar comes packaged in a beautiful organza bag, tied with a ribbon. They're perfect for gifts or to spoil yourself.

We're having a blast! Feel free to visit the site, email us with questions, and place an order.

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