Mediterranean Vacation & Other Creations

You thought I was going on vacation, didn’t you? Nope. I have an order for a special soap that a local organization wants to give its generous donors as a thank-you gift. We did this last year, too, when they sent out several dozen bars of Malka. It was a huge hit, so we’re doing it again this year.

We decided on a blue and (almost) white color scheme, and a spicy floral scent. I say (almost) white because it’s impossible to get pure white soap when the majority of oil is extra virgin olive oil. The combination of the blue and (almost) white and the scent makes me think of the Mediterranean, so that has been my inspiration for the soap: I start with a sea salt brine solution for the lye water, and use a majority olive oil in the soap itself. Very Mediterranean!

My first thought was to split the batter and color about half with ultramarine blue, then pour it back into the uncolored half and let it swirl as I poured. That creates pretty bars with a lovely, if unpredictable, organic swirl. But it’s less dramatic in the slab mold that I’m using than in, say, a loaf mold, and my client wanted a defined swirl.

“Malka,” Dead Sea Salt & rose clay soap in the 36-bar slab mold. The color will settle down to a pale pink when it’s finished.

So instead I used this, a brand new…soaping tool?

Squeeze bottle Like a lot of my tools, I bought this in a restaurant supply place. What do chefs use it for?

I split the batter, colored half, and poured each into a squeeze bottle with triple tip. Then I squirted a lazy S of each soap across the mold, alternating colors. When all of it was used up, I dragged the Comb Swirl Tool through the top to make a kind of wave pattern. There are many more complex patterns that can be made with this and similar tools, but I liked the natural feel of this pattern, and the feeling of waves.

You might ask what starting with a brine solution does for the soap. Isn’t salt drying? No! Not in soap (and not if you take a dip in the Mediterranean, either). My favorite facial soaps are salt or brine soaps, because they leave my skin so soft and smooth and not at all dry. The trace minerals in the salt are said to be good for your skin, as well.

The lather of a brine soap has a creamy texture, and it seems to lather faster than other soaps.

All in all, I’m a real fan of brine soaps. And in this case, it was a natural fit with my inspiration: sea salt, ultramarine blue, waves, and, of course, lots of extra gentle olive oil. I hope there will be some very happy donors!

Yesterday, I made 72 bars of Mediterranean Vacation (as I now think of it), 100 Chai Spice lip balms, and, as an experiment, some bath fizzies. Back in May, at the HSCG conference, I went to a presentation by Holly Port of the Lotion Bar Café. Holly makes the most amazing bath fizzies. They are something I have attempted on a few occasions, but never felt I wanted to do on a regular basis. They are finicky!

Bath fizzies fizz because of the chemical reaction between baking soda and citric acid. In addition to the fun of the fizz, both baking soda and citric acid are great for your skin, and make your bath water and your skin feel very nice.

However (and it’s a big however), what sets off the fizz reaction is water. Moisture. Humidity. You know I live near a large lake, right? And that it rains about 200 days out of the year here? So on the few occasions when I tried to make them, they invariably ended up with little bumps where the fizz went off prematurely. Not a good look. I couldn’t imagine making a decent, salable product in this area.

Holly changed all that for me.

Make It Fizz
Holly Port of Lotion Bar Café with her book, Make It Fizz

Her method and ingredients really make the difference, especially in this damp climate. I’m more than happy to plug her book, and give Holly props for sharing.

So–back to my workshop. Last night I used a variation on her basic recipe to make some mango butter, rose clay, and geranium bath fizzies. I must have mentioned that at the HSCG conference, we all received a large “swag bag.” Well, one of the freebies was a sample of body safe glitter.

I’m not a glitter girl. You must know this.

But my daughter is. Avital is 6, and glitter, all things pink, rainbow, and unicorn are still awesome to her. So I put in some glitter, just for her. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it does make your tub water a bit sparkly.

Bath fizzies with mango butter, rose clay, and geranium
Bath fizzies with argan oil, mango butter, rose clay, and geranium


I thought they turned out very nicely! In fact, I put on my Chief Product Tester hat and tried one out last night. The rose clay turned the water pink only very briefly, but was eventually diluted away. The scent was heavenly. The water felt like silk. And there was just enough mango butter and argan oil to be luxurious without turning the tub into an oil slick.

What do you think? Should bath fizzies be an Avital’s offering?





  1. Ellen says

    Bath fizzies sound amazing. so does the mediterranean vacation!

  2. Lesli says

    Thanks for writing! I think I will. Making the fizzies before was pretty frustrating, so I’m really pleased. And they are such a fun thing to have on hand!

    And the Med Vaca? Yes, it certainly deserves a regular spot. I was surprised at how well the squeeze bottle system worked.

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