I am not familiar with freeze dried aloe vera powder at all, but I received a sample from Aloe Vera of California and decided to give it a try:
According to the literature I received with the sample, the aloe gel is harvested and concentrated, and then freeze dried and ground into a fine powder and mixed with maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a starch-derived food additive that is commonly used as a thickening or filling agent in foods; in this case, I am wondering if it is being used to prevent clumping?
This aloe vera powder is food grade and certified organic, and their prices seem very reasonable! The powder I am using is a 100:1 concentration, and they also offer a 200:1 concentration and a 50:1 concentration.
I have used aloe vera juice in soap, and this powder can be reconstituted to make aloe vera juice. The powder is very economical to use, because it has a long shelf life (2 years) and you just need such a small amount of the powder (99 parts of distilled water to 1 part aloe vera powder, if using the 100:1 concentrated powder) to make the aloe vera juice. Once you have made your aloe vera juice, you can use it right away (chill it first) or freeze it into cubes to use later.
I am testing this reconstituted juice using my favorite 100% coconut oil and aloe vera juice recipe from Kenna of Modern Soapmaking (click on the text in the blue box below to access the recipe):
I actually converted the liquid in her recipe to grams because I am used to working in grams, so I measured out 297 grams of water to mix with 3 grams of aloe vera powder:
Then, add the aloe vera powder to your distilled water to make the aloe vera juice:
I noticed the powder didn't completely dissolve right away, but that may have been because I was busy taking pictures and didn't stir it as it was going in; in any case, after letting it chill in the fridge (it needs to be chilled for Kenna’s recipe), it was all dissolved and the water was clear.
Once it had sufficiently chilled, I measured out the lye and added it to the aloe vera juice - the aloe juice turned a very cool bright yellow when mixed with the lye!
It was cloudy at first but then settled to a clear yellow color. While I was waiting for my aloe vera lye solution to cool down, I measured out the rest of my ingredients. This is the easiest soap to make, because there is only one oil to measure - the coconut oil!
From past experience in working with this recipe, I remember that this soap likes to heat up like crazy, so I actually chilled my molds in the freezer prior to pouring the soap:
I previously had not noted on Kenna’s instructions that she recommends you add half your lye solution to your coconut oil and stickblend well, then add the remaining half of your lye solution. I asked her the reasoning behind this, and she says it is to make sure the some doesn't trace too quickly - great tip! I will try this method with my other soap recipes too - my base recipe comes to trace VERY quickly, so I am hoping this method might give me a bit more time.
As Kenna suggests, I brought my soap to very thin trace only (just until it was emulsified). For the color, I wanted kind of a mossy green, so I am going to try this Woodland Green mica powder from Lather & Lotions:
I love using micas because there is no premixing required, I just stir them with a whisk into the raw soap:
I also wanted try this lovely Lavender Green Tea fragrance from Brambleberry; apparently it was one of the winning fragances from their 2012 S.O.A.P. panel. It is described on their website as being “fresh and clean smelling, almost like a linen scent. It reminded one of our panelists of an Aveda blend with its natural lavender notes.” Sounds divine, right? And a perfect match for an aloe soap :)
Once you have added your color and fragrance, you are ready to pour your soap into the mold:
Look at that dreamy green color! :)
Putting it in individual molds helps to prevent the soap from heating up too much; however, despite my best efforts, this one did start to heat up and was gelling in the centers, so I immediately placed the soaps in the freezer.
Again, this recipe sets up super fast, so you want to remove it from your molds and cut it within 6 to 12 hours (make sure you handle with gloves as the soap will still be caustic at this point).
In my case, because they were in individual molds and I put my soap in the freezer, I was actually able to remove these soaps from the mold after only 1.5 hours! I ended up with partially gelled soaps, but I think it works in this soap. And it actually allowed me to see what the color of this mica would be gelled and ungelled, which is pretty cool!