Traci sent me a great question about the Jumping Juniper shampoo bar that's featured in our new book Make Your Own Naturally Balanced Shampoo Bars.  She was having difficulty with it, namely that it was not holding shape and seemed to crumble when she tried to take it from the mould.  She assured me that she had followed the directions and carefully weighed each ingredient but felt that possibly it needed a fatty acid to help bind the soap particles. 

I am glad she asked,  as now I am able to tackle the issue and also offer additional advice on processing.For clarification, some of these shampoo bars do not call for any emulsifiers or waxes to hold them together.  The wet ingredients dissolve some of the surfactant which binds them. However, what needs consideration is the brand of SCI that you use, they may behave differently, they may require more or less wet ingredients and you may need to wait longer before they are the right consistency for molding.

For your viewing pleasure, and to hopefully help you become a pro at making shampoo bars, I have a little guide to using both pearls and noodles in your shampoo bar formulas.

Using Noodles and Needles

I made a shampoo bar with my son that is very similar to the Jumping Juniper. Instead of using pearls as is called for in the original formula, we used noodles.  The dried calendula was substituted for purple iron oxide and instead of blue tansy and juniper essential oils we used an allergen free fragrance oil.  When we first added the vinegar and floral water it appeared that the noodles were swimming in liquid, then as the surfactant dissolved it became like slush. But, after about 5 or so minutes, it appeared that the mixture started to absorb the wet ingredients and started to thicken.  You can see from the image that it eventually turned into a dough like consistency.  This is the point where working quickly is important; you will need to swiftly mould with your hands or use a press.


Using Pearls

Below is the original Jumping Juniper.  The surfactant pearls go by the name of Jordapon CI.   You can see that almost instantly the water both dissolves the surfactant and makes the mix a dense.    It should be able to keep its form in your hand. This is the texture you need for the final press. It important to not wait to start moulding.  Waiting could result in the dough becoming too dry and start to crumble.NB: I know you are going to ask me where I got the press/puck.  It was from TheMakerShoppe. This is a nice mould and easy to use. The one featured in the images are 2" in diameter using 50g of shampoo mix. Personally, I would probably go for something slightly bigger.


Things to Consider

As seen, your shampoo bar may come out differently if you use the same surfactants that come in a different form i.e noodle or pearl. Indeed, if you use a different batch of the same ingredient, you might get odd results or even find you have to alter how you process your product. This goes for any other ingredient in your shampoo bar. In this case it is a good idea to make a small test batch. Sometimes difficulties with formulas could be a result of something that seems very minor, but has a big effect.You may find that you want to adjust the levels of wet ingredients (waters and vinegar) so that you have more time to play with your mixture.  In fact we encourage you to play around so that you get the mix that is right for you.