Friday, September 12, 2014

Round 2: Soaps & Shampoo Bar Odds and Ends Giveaway from Aquarian Bath

Aquarian Bath is having another giveaway to clear out soap and shampoo bar odds and ends.  We are trying to make space for the holiday soap inventory we are putting together. We will send out these 6 bars to one winner selected in Rafflecopter from the entry form below. Here are the soaps (nearly 1.5 pounds):

Tea Tree Eucalyptus soap - smaller than average bar
Tea Tree Soap - irregular back side "soap butt"
Evergreen Woodland Soap - unstamped bar from previous batch with slightly different essential oil blend
Citrus Bay Rum Patchouli soap - scratch and dent
Extra Stout Soap - made with Guiness, smaller than average bar

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Join the Global Radiation Monitoring Network

uRADMonitors are shipped globally to create a new Global Radiation Monitoring Network at

Aquarian Bath and SolarNetOne are joining a new Global Radiation Monitoring Network, and you can too. This network was designed as an alert system for monitoring radiation level spikes. You can see that currently Europe, parts of the United States, Australia are represented. Each point on the map represents a special Geiger counter designed by Radu Motison. In the Orlando area radiation levels are low today, however we are interested particularly in monitoring our area since there was a recent spike in radiation levels in Miami.
Screen shot of map from September 6, 2014

Radu is trained as a software engineer, with a masters in Computer Science from West University of Timisoara.  Electronics started as a hobby during Radu's childhood. Radu started the Global Radiation Monitoring Network to give something useful to the community. The project began with a single monitoring station for his personal use Radu explains. "Then it became clear that having multiple stations across the Globe would provide interesting insight to backgrounradiation fluctuations and possible causes. Also in case of nuclear incidents, the distributed units would be able to pickup any raising trends and sound an alarm for seeking additional information on the event." Radu designed, built and tested his new uRADMonitor with the testing help from beta-testers who are currently on the network map. 

uRadMonitors use the same detector tubes calibrated against a common reference.

I asked Radu how is his network better than existing crowd sourced radiation monitoring networks or government networks. 

It's open, so everyone can see real time, unaltered data. It's using the same detectors, calibrated against a common reference. Thus, the numbers displayed on the portal are easily comparable. It's easy to use, and it only takes one look to see where the "hot" spots are. See for example the unit in the Ceska Cermna: that is almost the double of the average readings of the entire network. This is due to naturally occurring thorium and uranium under the soil where this unit is located. And uRADMonitor was able to detect this phenomenon right away. It is probably the first global network of this kind. The data collection is safe as it resides on the server side. The data transmission is protected to a certain degree using a security code.

How easy is it to set up?  Can anyone do it?

It's the simple to set up your uRADMonitor Geiger counter. uRADMonitor must be mounted outside, but not directly in the sunlight. Ideally uRADMonitor should be mounted 1 meter above the ground level. The units are rainproof if mounted with the cables facing down.You will need to connect it to power, using the power adapter included with the unit, and to the home internet router using the included network cable. The device does everything by itself: gets an IP address in the local network, and starts transmitting real time measurements. On the server side the location is approximated and the new unit appears on the map, showing the radiation readings in real time.

uRAD monitors are shipping from Romania at this time, and are available either on Ebay or by emailing Radu.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Best Shampoo Bars to use with Hard Water

Our Key Lime Eucalyptus shampoo bar worked well in hard water conditions.
Thanks so one of our awesome Aquarian Bath customers, I am happy to share our top shampoo bars to use with hard water. Kimberly had initially used one of our shampoo bars (Rose hemp) while on vacation in Florida with great results. Her hair type is long with natural henna-dyed hair. When she returned home and used the same bar, she experienced a build up in her hair. Apparently her city water was exceptionally hard, so much so that the water had a dirty smell. Even some laundry wasn't coming 100% clean, and had the same dirty smell. Hard water is water that has a high mineral content, and some minerals can give an off smell. Kimberly ordered different sample shampoo bars to try out, and I also threw in a 2 or 3 additional sample bars for her to try. I'm thrilled she tested all of the ones she received and provided great feedback for me to share with everyone.

Here are is Kimberly's detailed feedback and special tips for shampooing with hard water:

With hard water you have to use more soap then you would have to with soft or normal water. So two things I started doing are using more shampoo. This seemed to really help and also I started combing my hair as I rinse the shampoo out, in hope that no minerals would get stuck in the tangles. I tried each bar at least once with combing when I rinse and once without combing, and I found the combing did make some difference. What I think worked best for my hair would be Aloe Lavender Rosemary Mint and the Key Lime Eucalyptus. They made my hair very shiny and lay very smooth. The Neem and Vanilla Lavender both worked on my hair but gave me more volume and less shine.
Lavender Rosemary Mint Aloe shampoo bar was the other top pick.

Best results with Hard water:

Worst results with Hard Water:

I think that these results may have something to do with the concentration of Jojoba oil which is used in our formulas, though not all of our bars were tested. The bars that had the best results had no Jojoba, with the exception of Neem, which has only 1 percent Jojoba. The two other bars that gave poor results have a higher concentration of this liquid wax. This was a bit of surprise, because Jojoba is generally considered a luxury oil for hair care. The Rose Hemp bars also are scented with a Bulgarian rose wax, which leaves no residue in normal water.

Do you have experience with hard water and using any of our shampoo bar formulas? We would love to hear your feedback, because as you may have noticed not every bar was tested.  I will post any more relevant feedback about hard water and our other shampoo bar formulas to this blog post.  

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.