To Scent or Not to Scent, That is the Question

The question of scent is uppermost in the mind of anyone who makes soap, candles or bath and body products. Which scents should I use? Should I make products with seasonal scents? Should I use only natural scents or should I use lab made scents? How much do I use? Should I use scent at all? Yes, these scent questions concern each one of us.

 

We should use the scents that those we create products for desire, whether they are ourselves, our friends and family or our customers, right? It is easier said than done, however as the human nose is just so picky. Hmm. . . that may have been a poor choice of words, but I digress.

 

Some insist on no scent at all, while most others have distinct preferences–the patchouli haters, the floral haters, you know what I mean. Certainly, no universally loved scent exists; but get a head start by noting the ten best selling scents in the Raves For Faves article found in our next issue coming out on November 1.

 

Beyond that, try limited editions and small batches to judge how they appeal to your customers or friends and family before diving into anything, because making ten pounds of soap in a scent nobody likes is not a good idea.

 

If you question whether you should scent your products at all or not, it may be a good niche. A business that creates non-scented products for the niche market who is sensitive to or dislikes scent fills an important segment of the market. And think of how much room they have on their shelves without all of those oils! But again, I digress.

 

Natural scent vs. lab made scent is another choice that we each make, and the answer is determined by your market, whether it is you and your friends or your customers. Remain true to your mission and consider those who will be using your product.

 

What to do about seasonal scents? This is a tough one because we often like these special scents, yet we need to know if they will pay off. Ask your customers if you can, or dip your toe in the waters to test them. In any case, do not be persuaded by the gorgeous photos you find on social media to create batches and batches of seasonal products until you’ve proven they will indeed be to your customers like truffles to pigs.

 

We’ll talk proper usage rates in our next blog post.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS – The Raves for Faves issue is released on November 1st. If you have not yet subscribed or need to renew, simply follow this link: http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

Learning the Hard Way

Have you been enjoying your January/February 2014 issue of the Saponifier? Safety and GMP aren’t always the most popular of topics, but I do believe that they are vitally important to the growth and survival of our industry. Many of us only think of safety in regards to soapmaking, and to be sure, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are dangerous caustics that we need to respect. Nevertheless, it behooves us to be aware of safety precautions in regards to bath and body manufacturing and candle making, as well. I applaud our writers for writing articles that we love to read, but are filled with important information.

 

I know that GMP, standing for, “good manufacturing practice” is another area of concern for those with businesses making soap and bath and body products, so we appreciate Marie Gale’s article, “An Introduction to Good Manufacturing Processes,” introducing us to the topic if we aren’t already familiar.

 

I hope this issue has caused you to review your safety and GMP processes! Share with us what you have learned.

 

If you are as yet not a subscriber of the Saponifier, you can rectify that!  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

This next story is related to GMP, and my failure to properly institute a process. I recently made a five color, swirled soap. I printed out my formula, prepared my surfaces and molds, measured out my ingredients and mixed my colorants. I proceeded to make my soap and was so pleased with the colors and design. I placed my soap in my properly pre-heated oven for a CPOP (cold process/oven process) batch and congratulated myself on a spectacular session. A short time later, I noticed my carefully measured essential oil still sitting on the counter. My elation turned to despair. It was too late to add the essential oil and even if it weren’t, mixing in the oil would mix all five colors together, producing a soap only a mother of said soap could love. As a result, I have a very pretty batch of soap with no scent.

 

Who hasn’t forgotten their scent at least once? Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson. Had I had my GMP properly in place, I would have a procedure posted that included the exact step of adding my essential or fragrance oil at the right time and thus, would not have missed it. I confess to being too complacent since I print out my formula each time, thinking it’s almost as good. I now know that almost isn’t good enough.

 

Have you begun instituting GMP in your business? Share with us your experiences thus far.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Suited Up and Suitable for Soaping (and Candlemaking)

How do you dress to make soap or candles?  Are you covered head to toe in protective gear or are you be found in a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet?

 

If it’s the former, you’ll want to read on to feel good about yourself or to make sure you’re doing things the right way.  If the latter, well, consider this a lecture.

 

Making soap and candles comes with inherent dangers, mainly pertaining to heat and caustic substances.  We’ve all heard stories about people being burned by lye, caustic soap getting in the eye, burns from a forgotten pan of wax.  To be sure, things happen.  Soap gets spilled on the floor, unnoticed.  A pot volcanoes, sending soap lava out of the pot and all over the surface it’s sitting on.  The candle wax heated up faster than you thought it would and flames appear.  A properly suited up person is in a better position to react quickly and safely than one who isn’t.

 

If it seems like overkill, think about it as if you were an employee of a company or that one of your loved ones was.  What if that company allowed its workers to be barefoot, making soap?  What if your child or other loved one were put to work in that environment without access to safety gear?  I can predict that you would rightfully expect that both you and your loved ones would be properly protected, so offer the same to yourself.

 

Chandlers, think you’re off the hook?  Not so fast!.  Hot wax is dangerous and cannot be removed easily, so as with soapmaking, shoes and socks and a heavy apron are essential equipment for protecting from splashes.  Long sleeves and eyewear are also important.

 

Even in creating bath and body products, certainly safety rules must be obeyed.  The first one that comes to mind is a mask to filter out particulates from powders such as cornstarch and powdered herbs.  The second is to protect the skin from scent by wearing gloves.

 

Finally, wearing a respirator mask when working with scent, whether fragrance oils or essential oils, is just plain smart.  We often worry about scent in regards to our customers, but tend to forget that we are exposed to much stronger scents, more frequently and for longer time periods than  the average user and thus, are more likely to develop problems with scent than the general public.

 

My advice:  get yourself suited up so you can safely pursue your craft!

 

Until next time,

 

May your days be filled with bubbles &  wax.

 

Beth Byrne

Meh or Yeah?

As I was showering the other day, I noted how quickly my husband and I go through soap.   It’s a good thing I make it!  

 

You see, hubby likes that soap-to-body experience– no wash cloths or soap savers for him.  I’ve tried to convince him to use them, but to no avail.  He also tends to judge a soap by its lathering capability, the more lather, the better.  You can quite imagine how low he would rate castile soap.  Moreover, he isn’t particular about scent, as a general rule. If it’s in the shower, he’ll use it.  He also likes larger bars than I do, and prefers rectangles.

 

I confess that I like lather, too, but I also like soap savers, cloths, and other cleansing and holding devices.  Additionally, one of my criterion in soaping is to make a hard soap, except for facial use.  Not that I don’t engineer it to be moisturizing, but if my batch wasn’t hard, then I would consider a batch to improve upon.  I do enjoy a wide variety of scents,  whether essential oils or fragrance oils and yet, I am much more discriminating when it comes to scent than hubby is.  I like different shapes in soap as long as they fit in my hand, as well.

 

Of course, as a soapmaker, I am more attuned to colors and patterns in soap than most of the general public is, and admire those so skilled as to create them.  That same consideration ranks at the bottom of my husband’s checklist.

 

Thinking about our marked preferences caused me to wonder, what makes soap perfect in your book?  Do you insist on hard bars?  Do you search for the most conditioning oils and make them a large percentage of your soap?  Perhaps scent is your biggest concern or you prefer only essential oils or only fragrance oils.  Is a particular shape or size your favorite?  Does it have to be artistic or do you prefer Plain Jane?  Are soap savers and so on, a godsend or a hindrance?

 

Tell us about your perfect bar.  What changes  “meh” into  “yeah” for you?

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne

Natural Scent Music, Hydrosols, and Projects for Chandlers

The Thanksgiving weekend is wrapping up as I write and I reflect on all that took place.  I had such a wonderful time with my family and our friend who spent the day with us.  I hope yours was equally as blessed.

 

On Saturday, I met up with a couple of soapmakers who hadn’t heard of the Saponifier before, so of course, I directed them to the site.  It made me think about how the past articles have helped me to become a better soapmaker and how much I have enjoyed being on staff.  Aren’t you glad you have the Saponifier?  If you know of a soapmaker or chandler who doesn’t read the Saponifier, show her or him the light!

 

Interested in natural scents and blends?  If you’ve read Erica Pence’s, Scenting Naturally, you’ve not only expanded on your knowledge base, but are likely composing beautiful scent symphonies to use in your products.  If you don’t know why I am using musical metaphors, you haven’t read the article yet!

 

Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats and distillates, are lesser known aromatherapy products, but certainly no less useful.  Sherri Reehil-Welser introduces them to us in The Healing Art of Hydrosols.  If you’ve been wondering about them and how to use them, I’m sure you are or will find the information you read invaluable as you seek to use them more.

 

What are you doing?  Go outside, gather a pile of pine cones and get busy making dipped cones!  What a lovely gift they’ll be to your fireplace-owning friends and family, and so easy to do.  If that’s not enough, Erica Pence also explains how to make Whipped Snow Cones and Snowballs in Winter Snow and Pine Cones – Making Whipped and Dipped Candles.  Have you made any of them yet?  Let us know how it was for  you.

 

Talk to us and let us know what you think about this issue.  We love to hear from our readers!

 

Best wishes for a happy holiday season,

 

Beth Byrne

Three Reasons to Read the Saponifier

What’s New?  Well, almost new.  More accurately, the question is, what’s coming up in the Nov./Dec. edition of the Saponifier?

You voted, you waited, and it’s almost here–the Raves for Faves, 2012 results!  Find out your colleagues’ favorite suppliers, form of communication, scents, products, and more!  Will you be surprised by the results or will they be what you expected?  No hints today.  You’ll have to read the article by Beth Byrne to find out!

As if that’s not enough, you’ll also find. . .

Sustainability in the Aromatic Market

As a soapmaker or chandler, the scent aspect of a product is essential to developing not only a cohesive retail line but also in the development of a loyal customer base. In layman’s terms, scent is extremely important to everyone involved in the toiletries and cosmetic industries. Yet the production of scent, the very building blocks of the aromas relied on by so many, is affected by numerous outside influences. As researchers across the globe turn their
attention to the aromatic market, they all echo the same sentiment: Will our current actions lead to a day when it is impossible to create
a scented product?

 

Scenting Naturally

Just as you can use essential oils to scent your soap and bath products, you can also use essential oils to create all natural perfumes. First you need an understanding of some of the basic elements of perfume. In this month’s Herbal Wisdom column, Erica Pence walks us through the building blocks of a natural perfume, giving us the tools to begin producing our own custom essential oil blends.

Just a few more days and you’ll be reading your very own copy!

Oils, Oils, and More Oils!

Do you feel comfortable using essential oils?

If the answer is no, but you would like to learn, Marge Clark on The Essentials of  Essential Oils is for you.  Beth Byrne interviewed Marge to get the scoop on essential oils, from what they are to how they are obtained.  She explains the production processes, how to choose oils of acceptable quality, and questions to ask suppliers to ensure pure, good quality oils.  She also talks to readers about proper and safe use of essential oils.  Read the article and arm yourself with the knowledge to make appropriate buying decisions!

What are your favorite essential oils for your products, and why?

No doubt you know of a soapmaker who has sought an alternative to palm oil–maybe one of these soapmakers is you.  The reason?  The rampant burning of the rainforests in order to create farmland for palm trees to satisfy the needs and desires of the world.  The effects of this uncontrolled practice are widespread and alarming, and who could look at Orangutans losing their habitat and not feel a pang of guilt?  Erica Pence, in The Search for Sustainability, aptly explains the situation, not simply for palm oil and Orangutans, but also for other products and causes, and urges us to search for sustainable products, instead.  She makes a compelling case and even provides us with two formulas to try out.

Have environmental or social global concerns affected the way you do business?

Carrier oils, how much thought do you give them?  Except for getting the right balance for soap, do you pay attention to them?  I admit to being an oil afficionado, so Sherri Reehil-Welser’s article, The Beauty of Carrier Oils, was on my must-read list.  She reviews a long list of oils, ranging from the most common such as olive oil, to a few that are more obscure, namely Tamanu and KuKui Nut.  She informs us as to the vitamins and other properties of the oils, as well as their effects and what products or conditions to use them for.

How many of your favorites were mentioned?

Until next time, may bubbles be part of your day.

Butter and Oil: What You Need to Know!

Are you eagerly awaiting September first?  You should be!

Among the many fine articles in the next issue is Erica Pence’s, In The Search for Sustainability.  In it, she provides us with cold, hard facts on environmental and social concerns as they relate to oils and butters that we use in our products.  Beware:  you may not like what you read!

Thankfully,  Erica does offer alternatives, showing us how we can be part of the solution by explaining where to go for more information, and key words that you need to know.  To emphasize sustainability, she includes two formulas that will enhance your product line while protecting our future.

Finally, what do you know about essential oils?  Perhaps you’re a rank beginner at using them.  If so, you’ll want to read Beth Byrne’s  interview of Marge Clark from Nature’s Gift, The Essentials of Essential Oils.  Marge starts at the beginning, from how essential oils are obtained to safe use, finding a vendor, and spotting a fraud.  Even if you use essential oils frequently, you’ll enjoy the information Marge offers.  Enjoy the benefits of essential oil use without the dangers!