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

What do You Really Know About Fragrance Oils, and Other Goodies for Soapers

I was happy to read Cindy Noble’s, Understanding Fragrance Oils:  From Blending to Safety.  Learning about the building blocks of fragrance oils, terpens, carriers, alcohols, and chemical compounds helped me to understand what a fragrance oil is other than a bunch of chemicals mixed together with a carrier to make them skin safe.  Many of the terms I was familiar with, but not in the defined way Cindy presented them.  Some of it, I admit, was a little shocking, but fascinating, nonetheless.

In the delightful article, My Soap Went Up in Smoke, Larry Strattner regales us with his tale of his soap adventures and his good friend, Deb.  Through them, we learn that some basic rules and tricks of the trade would be useful for us to share with our customers.  This one was how we could help our customers keep their soap longer and proper storage of soap bars.  Your customers would be pleased to learn this information!

H.R. 2359:  heard of it?  How about its title, Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011?  If you haven’t, you need to read, An Update on H.R. 2359:  Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.  In one page, it sums up what the bill is about, its status and popularity, and commentary on why some support it and others oppose it.  It’s something you need to know about!  This bill was not sent to the House for a vote before their session ended in June, but may be brought up again when they reconvene, so any soap/cosmetic maker would do well to become familiar with the bill and track its progress.

Which article was most helpful to you?