About Me

Ruth Esteves started making handmade so3848831076_8be7fac9e8_map in 2006 as another in a long line of hobbies. Trained as a laboratory research scientist but looking for more creativity in her life, Ruth found that soapmaking is the perfect blending of chemistry and art.

Since then, her beloved hobby has grown into a business that feeds her soul. Ruth designs and sells her own line of artisan soaps online at Sirona Springs.  And as a co-owner of The Nova Studio, she gets to teach other creative people from all over the world how to make their own beautiful handmade soap. She has spoken at annual conferences for the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild in 2012, 2013 and 2014. And recently published her first eBook, Coloring Soap Naturally.

The Sirona Springs Blog shares interesting facts about soap, soapmaking and soapmakers. It highlights the joys and mishaps that are an inevitable part of the process. And it strives to explain why handmade soap is the best thing since sliced bread. (Better! Sliced bread makes a mess in the bathtub.) ;)

Besides this blog, you can also find Ruth on Facebook and Pinterest!

21 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi, My name is April, I was also in Denver for this year’s guild. I was wondering if you would help me with some color choices. I noticed that you have used the Liquid Pop Micas from TKB Trading….I’m looking for vibrant, girly colors (think polka dots with pinks with greens etc. for CP soap. I just don’t know enough about TKB to know if they are a good company to purchase product from. I want chemically safe, vibrant watermelon summer time colors. Do you think their liquid pop Micas would do the trick? Thank you for your help.
    April
    april@sheachic.com

    • Hi April! Sorry that we missed each other in Denver. I am very confident in recommending TKB Trading for soap colorants. The owner, Kaila Westerman, is very knowledgeable about all kinds of colorants for personal products, including soap. There is a section on the website specifically listing soap-safe colorants. I use oxides, ultramarines and her Pop! micas in my soap. My experience is with the dry, powder form of these. The liquid form is the same colorant already suspended in glycerin. Very handy! If you are looking for vibrant color, I think you’ll like the Pop! micas. Good luck and I’d love to see how your soap turns out!

      • Thank you so much for your response. I took your advice and I am very pleased with the colorants with TKB. I absolutely loved your vibrant colors and that too is what I was looking for. My website is http://www.SHEACHIC.com and I’ve been open now for a little over one month. I have been blessed with almost more business than I can handle. Thank you so much for your help in finding these wonderful colors!
        ~April

  2. Hi Ruth! I saw on your website that you make soap that looks like truffles. I’d like to order some for my cousin, who is turning 90 on September 20th. He’s a great practical joker, and one of his best gags involved soap that looked like candy. He was at a very formal party and the hostess had the soap in her bathroom. My cousin, Seymour, moved the soap to the piano, where everyone was dancing. Many people bit into the soap—and one even came back for a second piece! The hostess was NOT pleased! I wrote a poem about Seymour and included this incident. I thought it would be great to send him similar soap for his upcoming big birthday. Would this be possible?
    Thanks so much! Debbie

    • Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for getting in touch and for sharing that funny story! Your cousin sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, you must have me confused with another soapmaker, because I don’t make soap that looks like truffles. I’ve blogged about my attempts at “foodie” soap, but don’t have any for sale. I suggest you check out etsy.com and search for “truffle soap”. There are some very talented handmade soapmakers there, and I’m sure you’ll find what you are looking for. Best of luck!

  3. Hi Ruth,

    It is so much fun! Lemon bar is my favorite dessert. I am glad to see that you turn it into a soap. I love to try it some day. I still have all your colorful soap samples in my showroom. They are so wonderful displays and smell good. Isabel

  4. are you familiar with what i would call ‘folded soap’ ? i saw a picture on a website but have not been able to get the info on the process? the owner is ‘setting up online’ classes, but it has been months……the bars look 1/4 thick, but then have 2 folds; how does this work?

  5. I am intrigued by your natural colorant ebook. But before I purchase I was wondering what you consider “natural?” I use a lot of clays and plants and beer and food like pumpkin to color my soap. I see your soaps on the ebook look rather vibrant. Are we talking plants here or micas etc. Thanks!

  6. Hi Ruth,

    My name is Melika Pasic and I am a soap maker in Tunisia.
    While I was looking through different soap pages in America I came across your blog.
    I fell in love with your soap ART. Gorgeous !!!!

    I wanted to ask you which BRAND of dyes and aromas/scents you use???

    Thank you very much in advance and hope to hear from you soon,
    Melika

    • Thanks for your nice comment, Melika! :)
      I use mostly a class of colorants called pigments. Some are also called oxides or ultramarines. There is no one brand of those, but I think you’ll find that they are all of good quality. As to scents, I use many different suppliers that are here in the US. Some of my favorites are Bramble Berry, The Scent Works and SoapSupplies.net. I also use essential oils from New Directions Aromatics. But there are many others. Try to look for suppliers that sell fragrances that are skin-safe, meant to be used in soap and cosmetics, and that they test their fragrances in soap to make sure that they are compatible. Best of luck!

  7. Hi,

    Thank you very much for your prompt reply :-))) I am using essential oils and oxides, but still sometimes am not pleased enough with the intensity of the scent (due to essential oils being quite delicat scent) and note being able to get white color and other very bright colors without having the color residue while using the soap :-(((

    Thanks again

    • So you are getting colored lather? That means you are using too much colorant. Think about what your soap looks like uncolored. The color of your oils can affect this. If you are not getting a bar that is pretty close to white (but maybe more yellow or green), it can be hard to get a bright color with any colorant.

  8. Hello Ruth,

    I’ve just recently read your blog. I truly enjoyed reading it and I thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. Although I it’s been some time since I was last there, I’ve taken quite a few classes at the Nova Studio. I’ve purchased Lori’s Coloring With Confidence ebook and I’ve considered purchasing your natural colorant ebook. I’ve heard that natural colorants tend to fade with time, is this issue discussed in your book? Does your book have pictures that demonstrate the change in color (or lack of) over time? Lately, I’ve been experimenting with making soap (and very recently) lotion. I’d like to have a bath & body care business sometime in the future. Thanks again.

    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea! It’s true: natural colorants do tend to fade over time, especially when left exposed to light. But some last longer than others. I do mention in my book which ingredients give a color that lasts longer than most, but I don’t have photos comparing fresh soap with older soap. The photos I do include compare the ingredients when added to the soap at different points in the process: at trace, as oil infusions and in the lye.
      Best of luck, and maybe we will see you at The Nova Studio again, soon!

  9. Your background as a lab research scientist caught my eye. I’m a seasoned Hot Process soap maker. I am looking for someone to point me in the direction of an established list of the order in which base oils saponify. That is, in a mixture of say, coconut, palm kernel and olive oils, which would saponify first, second and third. I am experimenting with coconut oil / castor oil as my base soap, adding a quantity of olive oil to superfat at the end of the cooking, to ensure olive oil will remain as the conditioning oil. My thoughts on the usefulness of this have been challenged, and I want to better understand the argument that was given. A list of the order of saponification was mentioned and I am curious. Any ideas?

    • Hi Diane! I’m not sure that there is a list that will tell you the rate of saponification for every oil. I know that Kevin Dunn, in his book “Scientific Soapmaking”, describes some experiments where he found that the oils left unsaponified in bar soap are the same whether you add “superfatting “oils after trace or use a lye discount right from the beginning. This is only true, of course, for cold processed soap. When you superfat hot processed soap (that is, add the superfatting oil after the saponification reaction is done but before molding), then you know exactly what is left unsaponified. So if you are concerned with superfatting in hot process, I think you can be confident that it’s your olive oil that is left unsaponified. When making soap by the cold process, it’s impossible to control which oils are unsaponified. Hope that helps!

  10. Yes ma’am that helps a lot!!! Thank you very much for your response. You have confirmed for me that I DO understand hot process soap making as well as I thought I did. I can always find new things to learn, I surely do not know it all, but … anyway, thank you. Now to determine if the soap is really as mild as I am hoping for it to be. My thought is that the olive oil should furnish conditioning properties. Enough to overpower the declared drying effect of coconut oil??? It would be very convenient to only use one oil + castor, super fat with exotic oil of choice and have great conditioning soap…In a perfect world maybe. In the real world, probably not. But it gives me something to ponder. Thanks again.

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