Sunday, June 6, 2010

Homemade Organic Soap Base

I have made my own soap for decades but I have always used fragrance oils (FO). I found that they were not only cheaper, but the scent lasts a lot longer. They are not organic, however, and this has been a problem for customers, more so lately.

(The pictures in this blog are pictures of my soap, taken by me.)

I have used essential oils (EO) but find that the scent doesn't last long. I have to wrap each bar individually sealed in plastic to keep the scent just long enough to sell or give away the soap bars. If the customer unwraps it and lets it sit long, the scent dissappears altogether. This is the case with all essential oils as they are very volatile (they evaporate quickly).

Organic colour has also been a problem. I have used non toxic children's crayons for soap colour in the past, most of the time. Since the soap was not organic anyway, being made with fragrance oils, it didn't matter that the colour was not organic either.

This is all changing. My soap, henceforth, will be purely organic, although I will use up the supplies that I have on hand now.

I am experimenting with making my own organic soap colour this year from what I have here on the farm. I already have a small bottle of dark red hibiscus colour, that I made last year. I am going to use it soon, as an experiment.

Various green colours are easy to make. Spinach makes a great green colour, as does comfrey and other plants that grow here. Calendula makes a yellow, ditch day lilies will make orange (but I intend to make wine from those and the hibiscus flowers).

One does have to be careful what one uses to make organic colouring as the properties of the plant are also being imparted to the soap. (Uh...if you are going to make your own green colour from plants, don't use poison ivy. Just a hint.)

All of this is a lot of trouble, as is the selling of one bar at a time. Because of this, I am considering selling organic soap base for those who like to add their own stuff to the soap and sell it. This kind of soap base is called "melt and pour" (M&P) soap. Most "homemade" soaps these days are made with purchased M&P soap base but the commercial M&P soap bases on the market are not organic. Mine will be.

I might offer a variety of types:

  • A very hard soap base that lasts a long time and doesn't melt away in water, which is usually my most popular soap. I make it this way because of the feedback from year's of customers who complain that homemade soap is too soft and doesn't last.
  • A softer Castille soap base made with some olive oils.
  • A vegan soap base of medium hardness
  • A combo choice made to order, paid in advance

I might also sell organic soap colour in small amounts. I don't know about that yet. I have considered distilling my own essnetial oils for sale, but I don't think I am going to go there. WAY too much trouble!

This is all just in the thought stage. I know there will be a market for the organic colour, I just don't know if I can produce enough to make it worth it. I will just have to experiment and see. I have lots of comfrey but need to use it for fertilizer on the garden. I have lots of hibicus flowers but want to make wine with them, although if I can make enough money to make it worth my while, I will go with the colour instead of the wine. I can't sell the wine! (It's not legal and we're not going there!)

What do you think? Is there a market for organic M&P soap bases made to order. They would not be expensive, since they would be basic and simple. I would not be adding expensive oils and creams. Those things are for the home crafters to add themselves unless there is a special request for it, then that cost would be passed on to the purchaser.

Hmmmmm...I could even sell it already grated!

It is still just a thought. I am way too busy right now to do anything about it yet but I would love some feedback on my new idea!


simply_complicated said...

this sounds like a good idea to me... i have been recently thinking about tackling the idea of soap making, but as much as i would LIKE to make it from scratch on my own, i know that if there is a natural option out there to reduce the work and time needed, i may well take it!

Mrs. G said...

Good for you! And your soap is gorgeous. I have soap envy : )
I haven't made soap in ages, since the Christmas rush in October (you know, so it can mellow for a while.)
I need to get on the ball with my goats - nobody freshened this year, maybe because the horrid ram bred them? And get some goat milk soap made.
With FO and micas though, I'm just not as thorough with my organic line. I do sell a lot of unscented castille, which is pure.
Thanks for posting. It's inspirational.

The Japanese Redneck said...

Wow, a lot of work. Good luck with it!