To Scent or Not to Scent, Part II

Essential oils require much more knowledge than fragrance oils and thus, more due diligence before using them.

Is the scent skin safe? Is the percentage rate limited? Will it survive cold process soap? Is it permissible for soap but not for bath or leave-on products? Will it work in candles? All of these factors must be known before one can safely use essential oils in candles or skincare products and thus, require the user to do research on each oil he hopes to use. Be sure to seek out reputable sources of information regarding essential oils. Unfortunately, too much misinformation is found out there that is inadvisable, if not dangerous. One of my favorite non-vendor sites for reliable essential oil information is www.aromaweb.com.

 

How much fragrance oil should I use? The answer is simple. First of all, check with the vendor for proper usage rates for your product. That not being possible, the rule of thumb for cold process soap is .7 oz. per pound of soapmaking oils. For instance, if you are making a two pound batch of soap and have measured out two pounds of oils, you will use about 1.4 oz. of fragrance oil. You may safely go up to 1 oz. per pound if necessary, and some scents will perform beautifully at .5 oz. per pound. Hot process will require less scent than cold process soap. Most other products use less scent than soap. Start at .5 or 1% and add a bit more if necessary. This works for most anything outside of cold or hot process soap. Be careful if making cp soap, however, because not all fragrance oils are suitable. Some rice or accelerate, which can be tolerated, but others seize like a motor without oil and require emergency measures to deal with. Save yourself the hassle and inquire about your oils prior to using them in cp and make sure of their usage in other products you intend to make, as well. Note: some fragrance oils, such as those you find in craft stores are not suitable for cold process soap at all; they are meant for potpourri and body products. Additionally, some are sold for use in candles and potpourri, not for products meant to be used on the skin.

 

As you can see, fragrance oils are much simpler to use than essential oils, provided you check the usage information; but don’t let that be an obstacle to using these wonderful, natural gifts of nature! Just be sure to thoroughly research any oil you care to use and use them properly.

 

Want to know whether your colleagues use more fragrance oil or essential oil? Check out the Raves for Faves issue just released today! Need a subscription? http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

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

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Design Mania, Cosmetics Issue and a Job Offer

I’ve been hinting for awhile now, and it’s time to announce our Design Mania contest!

 

I trust that many of you have been trying your hand at the designs presented in the May/June 2014 issue, and I’ll bet that you have one or two to show off. Now is the time. Here’s what you do: try the designs if you haven’t already and submit photos of your best one or two. Your photos will be uploaded and voted on by the public. The person who gets the most votes overall will win the grand prize, and it is grand, indeed! The winners after that in each technique category will win a package of prizes that you will be thrilled to receive. Complete details and the entry form may be found here:  http://saponifier.com/enter-design-mania-contest-2014/

 

I am so excited to see what you have to offer, I can hardly wait! Once the entry deadline is reached, I’ll be back with voting information. Take a look at the prizes; they are awesome. Many, many thanks to our generous vendor partners who are participating with us.

 


Speaking of soap, I could look at soap designs all day long. The artistry of some of my soapmaking colleagues is nothing short of jaw-dropping–far more intricate and creative than I could ever hope to attain. Even so, I am just as pleased to use a rather Plain Jane or primitive looking bar as long as it performs well. I guess it’s true that if you love soap, you love all of it. Well, almost all of it, anyway. It never ceases to delight me that we can combine various oils and lye to get a bar of soap. I hope it never does.

 

What about you? Will a plain bar of well-made soap be as pleasing to you as a fancy, artistic one?

 

Also, it’s just a short time until July 1st, when our next issue comes out. I can’t describe to you how I anticipate actually seeing the magazine! I’m like a kid at Christmas. This issue concentrates on cosmetics, an important subject to many of us, so I hope you’ll enjoy it if you’re a subscriber. If not, we’d love to have you aboard.  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Finally, we have an opening for a writer at the Saponifier. This person’s regular column would center on the “That’s Life” and “Wit & Whimsy” side of soap, bath and body and candlemaking. You see the humor in everyday life with your craft and don’t mind sharing. This might include your mistakes or crazy things that happen when you’re selling or other events that we can all relate to. Interested? Contact beth@saponifier.com

 

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

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

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

Hope That Works

Hope.  What do you think of?  Generally, we think of it as fulfilling a desire of some kind.  For instance, I hope you had a great holiday season, that you made the amount of money you projected, that you enjoyed the season and that you remained sane.  I hope you didn’t gain weight.

 

I was reminded, however, of a more archaic definition:  trust and confidence.  I find that I like that definition even better.  We have a trust and confidence in something coming to pass, whether it be in our businesses, our relationships, our bodies, spirituality or any number of facets of our lives.  Rather than a pleasant, but ineffective kind of “best wishes” hope, we have trust in the future.  I call it, “hope that works.”

 

I then ponder what it takes to produce confidence in the future.  Is it merely an idea of what we’d like see come to pass?  “I’d like to sell more product in 2014.”  How far will that get us?  Like most of our New Year’s Resolutions, they’re nice ideas, but not enough to move us, especially not for the long haul that 2014 will prove to be.

 

Therefore, rather than uttering general hopes, let us make them concrete and attainable.  Instead of, “I’d like to sell more product in 2014,” set a goal and a plan for getting there.  How much soap would you like to sell?  How will you accomplish it? What do you need to do to get ready?  Don’t forget to set realistic dates for each activity to keep yourself moving!

 

It’s more work than a wish, but it’s hope that works.

 

Don’t forget to put a Saponifier subscription on your to-do list for 2014.  You have just a few hours left to subscribe for a 25% discount:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saponifier

 

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

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Five Ways to Survive the Silly Season

The Silly Season is upon us.  

 

Silly Season, in case you don’t know, is roughly that period of time between November and Christmas when many businesses do the bulk of their sales.  Add that to the busyness that most of us find ourselves immersed in with friends and family obligations and other activities, and you have a Silly Season, indeed.  Even hobbyists find themselves in a similar situation with their desire to create lovely gifts for all of those fortunate people on their lists.

 

We all need to cope with this season and create ways to make our way through and come out the other side, victorious, having neither damaged theirs or their families’ health and sanity, so ideas to get the discussion going follow:

 

1.     Plan ahead.  Take a bit of time to sit down with your calendar and plan what you can do between now and the date you want to cease production by.  Take into consideration your other obligations and your health and sanity.  Even those among us who find planning to be sheer agony can benefit.  You might not write, “Nov. 4, make Peppermint Soap,” but you might make a list of what you want to make and think about how much time it will take you to accomplish it and then decide how much fits into your timeframe.   If  you need supplies, order now.  Don’t put yourself in the position of stressing over whether your order will arrive in time for you to make the products your customer wants.  Allowing two weeks for shipping to you is a good idea at this time of year.

 

2.     Bring in holiday help.  Every retail store that is busy during the holidays does it.  It may be worth the cost in order to have the product your customer wants.  If you’re lucky enough to have good friends and family who will help, don’t be a hero.  Let them!  Reward them, of course, but take any good help you can get.

 

3.     Encourage your customers to order early.  Don’t expect that they will automatically take into account your busy schedule or the fact that you have limited supplies.  Instead, head those last-minute shoppers off by making it attractive to order early.  Offer a coupon for a November purchase, feature weekly sales in November, or promise a freebie with their order, anything that will compel them to order now rather than later.

 

4.     Limit your offerings.  I know, I know, you want to offer every holiday scent candle or soap shape that you and your customers like, but resist the temptation.  Instead, offer just a few holiday products.  It’s less confusing for your customers and for you, and keep in mind how much easier it is to make three large batches of scents/colors than it is to make thirteen.  Even for regular stock, you might consider cutting back to your most popular products and scents for the season.  If you find that you don’t have time to keep up with your regular line, don’t bother to offer holiday products. It’s better to end up with twenty lavender candles after December 25th than to end up with twenty Balsam Fir candles that are in low demand the rest of the year.

 

5.     Set a “last date to order” date and a “last day to purchase” date, along with any other rules that will make the season tolerable.  Set specific times of the day for phone orders, a cut-off date for special orders and gift baskets, or an “in stock products only” date that will work for you.  Don’t find yourself stressing and losing sleep for a bar of soap!

 

If we think about it, we can brainstorm a multitude of ideas to keep us on track and sane through the holiday season.  I’m not suggesting that we can make the next two months stress-free, but I am suggesting that we exercise some control over the season and not let it defeat us by looking realistically at our individual situations and planning how we will deal with them to only do what we can reasonably do and by finding ways, big and small, to make our goals attainable.

 

What do you do?  How do you manage Silly Season?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  Let’s help each other get through 2012!

 

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

Remember When? A Request of the Experienced

Remember back to the days when you first began to make soap or candles.  For some of you, it’s a distant memory.  For others, it’s easily recaptured.  Regardless of the time and path traveled from then until now, try to remember how “green” you were– maybe far enough back that “green” only meant the color or that you were new to the craft!  Are you remembering how confusing everything was, how many terms you had to learn, how to procure the equipment and supplies?  Remember carefully studying the safety tips others gave you?  I want you to put yourself in that place again for a moment.

 

 

Why?  I have a couple of reasons in mind;  one of them is empathy.  If you can remember how much there was to learn and the trepidation that you felt at the beginning, you can feel empathy for the newbies you run across.  Yes, it may feel as if you’ve answered a certain question a hundred times and yes, it might seem obvious what the answer is to another.  Nevertheless, you can answer that question or help the person figure out the answer, paying back what has been given to you.

 

I don’t have to tell you that soap and candlemaking have been serious industries and crafts for centuries, their secrets closely protected and passed on to future generations.  Just as in the past, this vital information must be passed on to others now, so the crafts will be preserved for the future, which is my second reason for asking you to think about where you began.  I personally remember many teachers I had–Rita Scheu of  TLC Soaps and many others I “met” online who taught and encouraged me along the way.  Indeed, I’m not finished learning.  Just a few days ago, I asked a question which other soap makers helped me with, and that knowledge will make me a better soapmaker.

 

Potential and beginning soap and candle makers these days face a different challenge than many of us faced.  Before the explosion of the internet,  instruction was difficult to find.  Today, they are barraged with information, much of it inaccurate at best, and dangerous at worst.  If you can lend some encouragement along the way and show newbies where they can find good information (Saponifier), you’ll be doing them, the craft, and you, a world of good!

Until next time, bubbles up!

 

Beth Byrne

Scents of Summer

Scents of summer. . . what are your most popular scents from June – August?

I have a two-pronged purpose here.  The first is to get an idea of what’s hot;  the second is to put scent selection into perspective.

Some soapmakers and chandlers like to offer special scents for seasonal sales.  Do you make product with special summer scents, for instance?  This tactic can be a great way of creating anticipation and consequently, demand.  It may offer you a chance to test out scents for a permanent place on  your scent list.  On the other hand, however, it could distract you from your core business and become an expensive proposition if you’re always chasing after new scents to offer.

I have seen fellow crafters of scented products own so many scents that they can barely count them all, and they strive to have product for each one in stock!  Their goal is usually to make sure they have whatever scent the customer might desire.  Of course, we all want more business and we want to make our customers happy, hating to turn away a sale.  While that’s understandable, it isn’t likely to be part of a smart business plan.  Even large companies limit their offerings.

That’s not to say that offering a  seasonal scents is a poor idea , just that taking a good look at your business plan and checkbook should be number one on your list!

So, tell us, what do you do?