Friday, August 29, 2014

Root Beer Soap & Lemon Vanilla Shampoo Bar Giveaway

Root Beer body soap by Aquarian Bath is a body soap made with an essential oil blend which includes Birch and Mint

Yesterday we posted an ingredient spotlight about Benzoin Resin, which has a sweet Vanilla like aroma. Today we are starting a giveaway for some odds and ends bars that we have here which have Benzoin resin as an ingredient.  One winner will receive one of our Root Beer soaps, but the bar we are giving away is an extra large bar with a slightly irregular shape. We are also giving 2 of our Lemon Vanilla Shampoo bars.  These two bars are normal sized, but they are are end of loaf bars, kind of like bread butts.  This contest will run for 1 week and is open to US and Canadian residents. You can enter to win using the rafflecopter widget below.  If you don't see the widget right away, try refreshing the blogpost or from a different web browser.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Botanical Ingredient Spotlight: Benzoin Resin

One of our favorite natural aromatic ingredients for our Aquarian Bath shampoo bars and soaps is Benzoin resin. Benzoin has been important as an incense and medicinally since ancient times. It a botanical resin from the trees Styrax benzoin (Sumatra) or Styrax tonkinensis (Siam). Styrax trees grow in Thailand, Loas, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra and Java. The dark sap of the tree is harvested starting when the tree is 3 years old and is harvested once a year over the next 7-9 years. Trees produce around 1 pound of resin per year. We are currently using Benzoin resin from Loas. When I list this ingredient in our soaps and shampoo bars on our website, I call it Benzoin Botanical resin so that it is not confused with Benzoin, which is a completely unrelated chemical compound. Benzoin resin has a sweet vanilla like aroma due to its unique composition of benzoic acid, cinnaminic acid, and smaller percentages of vanillin, styrol, styracin, phyenyl-prophyl, cinnamate and benzaldehyde. Cinnaminic acid is also found in shea butter and has a honey-like aroma. Benzaldehyde gives bitter almond it's characteristic almondy aroma. Different researchers have found varying chemistries between these two Styrax species, with some finding no cinnaminic acid in Siam varieties. The difference may be due to innate differences between the species, different extraction methods, different growing conditions, or the time of harvest of the resin.

This is our Lavender Vanilla Shampoo Bar. The dark color is from Benzoin resin.  We also make Lemon Vanilla Aloe Shampoo bars. Despite the sticky nature of Benzoin resin, the ingredient leaves no awkward build up in the hair or on the skin, even with hard water. It may provide a slightly volumizing effect for hair, but we need more customer feedback on that point to say with confidence.

Whenever you see an Aquarian Bath shampoo bar or soap listed with the name "Vanilla," we are using Benzoin resin as a substitute. The reason that we prefer Benzoin resin over Vanilla Oleoresin is because Benzoin resin has other very special properties. For many years Benzoin resin has been used an antioxidant for preserving fats and oils. What this means for soap and shampoo bars is that our "Vanilla" soaps and shampoo bars made with a high concentration of Benzoin resin have an extremely long shelf life. I have never seen one of our Vanilla soaps or shampoo bars become rancid, even those tested for years on the shelf. This makes the Vanilla bars very good candidates for ultra-prepared customers who like to buy in quantity. But why would anyone want to have old bars of soap hanging around? Actually, the soaps that have cured the longest, tend to stay harder and last longer in the shower. This is because more water has evaporated from the bar. Some people like to cure their soaps for a longer period of time after receiving them. You can do that very easily by storing your soaps naked in a dry well ventilated place that does not get too warm. Because of its great antioxidant qualities, we also use Benzoin resin in smaller amounts in many of our other soaps and shampoo bars to help extend the shelf life. We have even started adding a very small amount of Benzoin resin to our unscented Castile soaps to extend their shelf life. Benzoin is one of the top ingredients that I have suggested to soap makers in countries where there is high humidity and no air conditioning available. A testament to its ability to endure, the resin has been identified from a more than 200 year old shipwreck.

Vanilla Chai soaps are scented with Benzoin Resin, Clove bud and Cinnamon essential oils
Benzoin resin also acts as a fixative in natural perfumery. We use it in this capacity in our soaps and shampoos to better anchor lighter and more volatile essential oils. A few examples of these bars are Tea Tree, Key Lime Salt Soap and Root Beer Soap. Styrax tonkinensis is the species used most often in perfumery.  You can also find powdered benzoin listed as an ingredient for potpouri or incense formulas.

Benzoin resin has other special properties which have led to its use not only in traditional herbal medicine, but also in continuous use today for military first aid. The Styrax benzoin species is more commonly used for this purpose. Benzoin resin is the primary active ingredient in Compound Tincture of Benzoin (CTB), which is roughly a 10% solution of benzoin resin together with very high proof alcohol, Aloes, Tolu Blossum, and Storax. This tincture is used after disinfecting wounds as a sealer for preventing bacteria from contaminating the wound. It can be helpful for making bandages stick better to the skin. Further it provides a barrier on the skin for people who have an allergy to adhesive bandages. Medics can treat blisters by removing fluid from the site and replacing it with an injection with CTB. A plain non-compounded tincture of benzoin is used in steam inhalations for bronchitis and colds. It is also applied to recurring mouth sores.

Thanks for reading our Benzoin resin ingredient spotlight. Hope you enjoyed it and be sure to check out one of our soaps or shampoo bars made with this ingredient by shopping at Aquarian Bath. Please feel welcome to leave a comment about your experience with Benzoin resin, CTB, or our products with Benzoin resin.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Front Porch Pickings of Daytona Beach now offers Aquarian Bath soaps

Front Porch Pickings is a subscription produce delivery service business in
Daytona Beach, which offers local and Organic produce to customers. In
addition to Daytona Beach, Front Porch Pickings also delivers to Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Palm Coast, St. Augustine, DeLand, Deltona, Orange City, Debary, Deleon Springs, Edgewater, Sanford, Lake Mary and New Smyrna. We have been a customer since earlier this year, and are very happy with the produce. The subscription boxes are customizable, so you can get exactly what you want each week from the available offerings. In this way it is somewhat different compared to many CSAs, which just give you a box of what they have available. The produce boxes are delivered with cold packs, so you don't have to worry if you aren't home right when your box is delivered. Aquarian Bath is pleased to announce we are now offering a limited variety of body soaps as add ons for Front Porch Pickings deliveries. The variety will change over time with our inventory levels, and we plan to have holiday seasonal soaps accessible during the Christmas and Hanukkah. Please remember to let Front Porch Pickings know that Cory from Aquarian Bath sent you when you sign up. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After Swimming Hair Care Tips

What is the best way to take care of your hair after swimming? I'm sharing tips here today for hair care after ocean, pool and Florida springs swimming. The focus is on shampoo bars since that is what we make here at Aquarian Bath.

Ocean Living near the ocean we are in the water very often. Due to the salt and minerals in the water, I have found it best to wash you hair twice after swimming in the Ocean. This doesn't have to happen right away, you can wait a couple days if you like, but when you do wash your hair wash it twice.  This will help get all the salt and minerals out of your hair which can otherwise bind with the shampoo bar lather and leave somewhat of a residue. After washing comb or brush your hair out as usual. If you feel like your hair may be drying out from lots of sun exposure, you can also apply a small amount of leave in serum to smooth and nourish the hair. By the way, a very easy way to get dread locks is to let your hair lock up naturally after a few days ocean swimming. It's a great way to get a surfer style dreads. If that is not your style, then I wouldn't wait for more than a few days of ocean swimming to wash and brush out your hair.

Conventional Chlorinated Swimming Pools If you are swimming in a conventional pool, I also recommend washing you hair twice and also immediately after swimming. Leaving Chlorinated water in hair damages it, and can even turn blond hair green if done repeatedly. Washing the hair twice has been my standard recommendation before I even started using shampoo bars. I learned this tip somewhere along the way when I was  swimming competitively in school, lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons. A single wash, even with shampoo designed for after swimming can still leave a Chlorine smell in the hair. Also, pool chemistry is a delicate and not all pool managers have mastered the art of using minimal chemicals. For some pools a single wash may be adequate, but to be on the safe side do a double wash, especially if you detect a strong Chlorine smell at the pool. Those who swim often may also find a leave in serum beneficial if they are finding that their hair is becoming damaged. Also, I should mention, swim cap is very helpful for preventing exposure to the chlorinated water, but they can be feel awkward to put on and wear with dry hair. In that case you can put the cap on in the shower with wet hair before getting into the pool. In that way you can pretty much avoid the Chlorinated water on your hair altogether.

photo via Kevin Tuck,

Spring Water Florida Spring water comes from deep underground rivers fed by Mountain snow melt. The water is very pure, cold, and delightful to swim in. No special care is required after swimming in Spring Water.  I generally wash my hair with a shampoo bar once, as usual, a day or two after swimming in spring water.

I have less experience with hair care after swimming in sulfur springs and oxygen pools. I would suspect though that and extra shampooing might be required after swimming in sulfur springs due to the mineral content, though the sulfur can be beneficial to scalp and skin for some people.  

Do you use shampoo bars after swimming? We would love to hear your after swimming hair care tips.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is the difference between Aquarian Bath's two activated charcoal soap formulas?

Both of Aquarian Bath's charcoal soaps contain activated charcoal and bentonite clay. What is the difference between Aquarian Bath's Black Magic Clarifying charcoal soap and the Zeolite Detox soap?

The Black Magic soap is our original formula formulated for oily skin types. It includes shea butter and has a stronger lather than most of our other soaps. This means the formula is more cleansing for oily skin compared to our regular soaps. This soap is one good option for oily and acne skin types, though I personally tend to prefer our salt soaps for acne skin types. I say this is a personal preference, because many customers with acne skin types have reported good results with this formula.

The zeolite soap is a milder formula. It is okay for normal and even dry skin types, elderly and kids. It includes cocoa butter. The lather is milder, so not as strongly cleansing. In addition to the activated charcoal and bentonite clay, which is also found in our original charcoal soap this soap also contains fine zeolite powder. Some larger Zeolite particles are also included, which makes the bar a slightly exfoliating. Zeolite is a specialty ingredient that is used specifically for clean up of toxicity and deodorizing.  Zeolite is even used in the clean up of radioactive Cesium particles, due the chelation properties imparted by its unique structure. Sometimes I use small pieces of our Zeolite Detox soap in our Zero Waste Soap Saver bags for washing vegetables. 

Here is a detailed summary comparing both bars:

Both bars: Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil, Organic Coconut oil, Olive Oil Pomace, Castor oil, Activated charcoal, bentonite clay, vegan, non-GMO, SLS-free, not tested on animals

Black Magic bar: strong lather for oily skin, raw unrefined Shea Butter

Zeolite Detox Bar: moderate lather for normal skin, formulated to be gentle enough for kids, elderly and those with dry skin, Organic Cocoa Butter, Zeolite, somewhat exfoliating