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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Soap or Bad Soap?

What's the big deal about making good soap?  How do you know if a person makes good soap?  

I was asked these questions not too long ago, and they are very good questions!  The first one is quite easy to answer, but the second one I had to ponder.

Generally speaking, the goal of a soapmaker is to create a bar that is well-balanced, meaning it lathers and cleans well, is hard enough, and yet, not drying.  This is accomplished by using various fats and oils.  Some oils make a hard bar, others a conditioning bar, and so on.  Nevertheless, there are times when a soapmaker will want one that is extra-conditioning, such as a facial bar for mature skin, or extra-cleansing for a mechanic's soap.  Non-soapers would be surprised at all of the possible oil combinations a soapmaker could use, but that's part of the fun for most soapmakers, and thus the big deal about making good soap.

The second question, how one determines if a soapmaker makes good soap is much more difficult to answer.  Aside from what is probably obvious-- if the soap looks or smells funky or has rotting matter in it, you'll have to dig a little deeper.  

  1.    If you wash with the soap and it stings or dries out your hands, it may be that the soap is not mild enough.  Personally, I have never used a handcrafted bar of soap like this, but it is conceivable.  Conversely, if the soap is on the soft side and doesn't seem to clean well, it may not be strong enough.

  2.    Question the soapmaker.  How long have you been making soap?  What oils do you prefer?  How do you know you have made a good batch?  If the person doesn't mind sharing the oils used, the process, her experience, and other details, chance are, you are purchasing good soap!  Although it is possible for one to make a perfectly good batch on the first try and to use the same recipe for each subsequent batch, it's research and experience that produces a really good, knowledgeable soapmaker.  That's the person you can buy with confidence from.

If you're really nervous about whether the soap is OK or not, you can do what most good soapers do, the tongue test.  Ready?  Very gently and quickly, touch the tip of your tongue to a bit of the soap.  Don't lick it.  Don't keep your tongue there for 30 seconds!  Just a quick touch will do.  If you feel the "zing" like a 9-volt battery, the soap is not skin-worthy.  If it just tastes like soap, you're OK.  Or, you could ask your soapmaker how she (or he, of course) tests it!

Batch #1, "Dig My Patchouli" Soap

Batch #2, "Dig My Patchouli" Soap

Which one do you like better?
 Please Vote!!!
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This week's ad:  

Clearing out lotions!  All 8 oz. bottles I have in stock are a whopping 25% off. Regularly $12, now only $9  The bottle is metal and features a pump for your convenience. Scents include:

Gingered Orange (tangy orange with a tiny bite of ginger)
Black Raspberries & Vanilla (nice berry scent.  Everybody likes this one)
Spun Sugar  (cotton candy sweet)
Sultry Sandalwood Vanilla (smooth sandalwood with a bit of sweet vanilla.  Very sultry!)



*Note:  I am not discontinuing lotion altogether, I just want to sell these last few before I make another batch.


Get them while you can for gifts and for yourself!

1 comment:

  1. Great info about how to spot good soaper. One who tells you what is in their soap and why is always a good sign :-) And as far as your vote goes.... I loved pic #1 .... but then.... I scrolled down and saw pic #2! lol tough choice as I think they are both beautiful, but the faux funnel effect in pic #2 wins my vote!

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