02-28-2019, 03:12 AM
#1
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I have a question regarding soap manufacturing, since I know there are some artisans and other knowledgeable people here. Bear with me...

Small soap companies seem to pop up everywhere, locally we have a whole bunch in Sweden that are either new or at least I've never heard of them previously ("Noberu", "Grön Lycka", "Grevinnans rum" etc). Now, I'm wondering how many, if any, of these new small producers/artisans actually does their own saponification. As I understand it you can buy "soap pellets" from big manufacturers, at which point the "manufacturing" of the soap seems to be about heating up the pellets and adding whatever scents, oils or other things you can think of, pour it into cans and sell it for premium prices. 

Now, I don't see a problem with this as long as the soap pellets they buy are good. Saponificio Varesino makes these, for example (according to their website they manufacture 2500 tons per year) and if an artisan were to use those I would of course not have a problem with that. However, I don't see any information about this from these small soap companies/artisans. So when I don't know if they do their own saponification or from whom them buy their soap pellets then I feel the claims of "locally produced" or "our own manufacture" lose some of its luster. 

Here's my question(s): does this matter? I must assume not all soap pellets are alike so should one demand to know where the soap comes from when evaluating a small soap producer? This isn't really a problem with larger producers since there's plenty of reviews, they have a reputation etc, but for small, new producers it seems to be useful info. Should I ask or is it not important?

If anyone with experience of soap making would care to comment, I'd appreciate it.

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 02-28-2019, 04:56 AM
#2
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Answer: It could matter, all soap is not created equal. AND (BIG and) Why do you think they will tell you the truth ?
As I've said before "In every belief there is a  possible LIE." I've made my own melt and pour shave soap, and mine
is better than some I've bought, which is what I think many do. Ask all you want......BUT (BIG but) don't expect the truth.

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 02-28-2019, 05:07 AM
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(02-28-2019, 04:56 AM)zipper Wrote: Answer: It could matter, all soap is not created equal. AND (BIG and) Why do you think they will tell you the truth ?
As I've said before "In every belief there is a  possible LIE." I've made my own melt and pour shave soap, and mine
is better than some I've bought, which is what I think many do. Ask all you want......BUT (BIG but) don't expect the truth.

I only expect the truth when it is in their interest to tell me the truth, like if their gain is insignificant and the potential risk is great. 
That said, what I am asking about here is not related to the producers honesty as such. There need not be any malice behind the fact that they don't tell you upfront where they buy their soap pellets (or if they make their own), since the vast majority of customers neither know nor care.

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 02-28-2019, 05:53 AM
#4
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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whatever these artisans are doing wherever they may be:

the proof of the soap is in the shaving. 

most artisans will sell you a sample. if it works for you, however it was made, buy a tub and a backup (YOU NEVER KNOW) 

if the sample doesn't work for you or stops working for you, then PIF or trash or that big pile in the back of cupboard.

recently, a member offered a big box of "not what i hoped it would be for me" items for the cost of shipping. the member who received the box was happy and he reported that he will PIF what he doesn't use to friends and family. who wouldn't be happy with free soap and or splash to try. (sorry but I dont remember who these members are)

as spring cleaning season is soon upon us, I imagine there will be more of these boxes springing up like daffodils.

so i don't worry too much about what artisans say about a product (everyone loves their own brand),

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 02-28-2019, 06:12 AM
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(02-28-2019, 05:53 AM)RyznRio Wrote: the proof of the soap is in the shaving. 

Assuming they do sell you a sample and assuming you have the patience and time to order samples from all these (apparently numerous) artisans. I found another local one today, one that is located not far from where I live. Anyway, I'm not so sure if it is really all about the shaving. I mean, some local producers use the fact that they're local as a strong selling point.

It seems to me that if it's really just about how the soap performs in shaving, there is no reason to buy from small startup soap companies at all as there are plenty of respected soap companies that has been making quality products for a hundred years. If you can see my point.

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 02-28-2019, 12:28 PM
#6
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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(02-28-2019, 06:12 AM)RazorSteve Wrote:
(02-28-2019, 05:53 AM)RyznRio Wrote: the proof of the soap is in the shaving. 

Assuming they do sell you a sample and assuming you have the patience and time to order samples from all these (apparently numerous) artisans. I found another local one today, one that is located not far from where I live. Anyway, I'm not so sure if it is really all about the shaving. I mean, some local producers use the fact that they're local as a strong selling point.

It seems to me that if it's really just about how the soap performs in shaving, there is no reason to buy from small startup soap companies at all as there are plenty of respected soap companies that has been making quality products for a hundred years. If you can see my point.

i disagree. 

if they are local producers selling locally then what is the problem? if they are just rebranding melted down cella with a few drops of EO added then that's a problem.

some people like buying from people, face to face and will use the internet to order when that is the only way to buy the product that they desire.

typically i will buy samples from artisans or old respected products, if available, most companies artisan and others offer samples even if hand packed from tubs. 

recently I wanted to try shaving cream as opposed to soap, Maggards repacks the creams in 4-5 shave portions. i picked 4 creams with different scents from 4 different soap companies. i will pick a scent and one sample from a product line. i don't find ordering samples any more difficult or time consuming than buying anything else on the net. YMMV

so now i have artisan soaps and "corporate" soaps in my cupboard. i purchased the tubs based on the performance of samples. no sample, most likely no purchase unless i am overwhelmed by the scent. luckily i am in NYC one day a week and Pasteur's Pharmacy is a short walk from my office. i think that just about every shaving product ever created; other than vintage razors, is somewhere on a shelf or in a clearance bin at PP.

shame we cant sample hardware like we do soap, balm and splash. are there any brick and mortar stores that will let you try out a brush and razor?

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 02-28-2019, 02:45 PM
#7
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(02-28-2019, 12:28 PM)R  yznRio Wrote: i disagree. 

if they are local producers selling locally then what is the problem? if they are just rebranding melted down cella with a few drops of EO added then that's a problem.

Not sure exactly what your disagreement is as you pretty much restated my point above.

If the soap pellets are important and what these "artisans" do is to buy pellets from a corporate producer, add some fragrance and resell then, as you say, that's a problem. If so, then I think it's time to start asking where they get their soap.

Which would be an answer to my original question.

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 02-28-2019, 04:45 PM
#8
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I developed all of my own recipes and make all of my own products like most artisans.  I buy my lye in 50 lbs pails and do the whole saponification process.  You can always tell if a soap is melt and poor (premade like the soap pellets) by the recipe.  They are glycerin or sorbital based with a bunch of other chemicals.  Melt and poor is more expensive so anyone worth their salt is making the soap themselves.

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 03-02-2019, 04:07 PM
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(02-28-2019, 04:45 PM)asiliski Wrote: I developed all of my own recipes and make all of my own products like most artisans.  I buy my lye in 50 lbs pails and do the whole saponification process.  You can always tell if a soap is melt and poor (premade like the soap pellets) by the recipe.  They are glycerin or sorbital based with a bunch of other chemicals.  Melt and poor is more expensive so anyone worth their salt is making the soap themselves.

That's interesting info, thanks.

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 03-03-2019, 01:54 PM
#10
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I think we're talking about three separate things here: artisan soapmakers who make their own soap from original formulas; soapmakers who use melt & pour bases (blocks of meltable soap base - usually made with a detergent but sometimes soap-based - with added glycerin, sorbital, emulsifiers, preservatives, etc); and the use of "soap noodles" which are pre-saponified oils or fatty acids that can be ground, mixed with fragrance, glycerin, preservatives, etc. in proprietary formulas for making milled soap that is mixed, extruded, and pressed into cakes.  

There are many kinds of melt & pour soap bases on the market, including ones with shea butter, goat's milk, and ones that mimic the look of opaque white soap, and other ones specifically formulated for shaving soap. They can be good or bad, depending.

I've seen a lot of contradictory information online regarding soap noodles, confusing them with melt & pour soap and even artisan hot process soap.  Soap noodles are made using a commercial process that separates finished soap from the glycerin, and are exported in huge quantities from countries where palm and coconut oils are produced.  It makes sense to me that it is probably cheaper and more convenient for the larger soap manufacturers to buy soap noodles and then add their own proprietary fragrances and added ingredients and package them, than it is for them to make their own soap from scratch even if they originally did so.

I don't know about small scale use of soap noodles in "hand made" soap. It's possible that some "artisans" are using commercial soap noodles to "make" their own soap but I don't personally know of any. Any soapmaker should be willing to honestly disclose their ingredients and be prepared to answer questions from their customers. 


Michelle

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 03-03-2019, 03:54 PM
#11
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(03-03-2019, 01:54 PM)Mystic Water Wrote: I think we're talking about three separate things here: artisan soapmakers who make their own soap from original formulas; soapmakers who use melt & pour bases (blocks of meltable soap base - usually made with a detergent but sometimes soap-based - with added glycerin, sorbital, emulsifiers, preservatives, etc); and the use of "soap noodles" which are pre-saponified oils or fatty acids that can be ground, mixed with fragrance, glycerin, preservatives, etc. in proprietary formulas for making milled soap that is mixed, extruded, and pressed into cakes.  

There are many kinds of melt & pour soap bases on the market, including ones with shea butter, goat's milk, and ones that mimic the look of opaque white soap, and other ones specifically formulated for shaving soap. They can be good or bad, depending.

I've seen a lot of contradictory information online regarding soap noodles, confusing them with melt & pour soap and even artisan hot process soap.  Soap noodles are made using a commercial process that separates finished soap from the glycerin, and are exported in huge quantities from countries where palm and coconut oils are produced.  It makes sense to me that it is probably cheaper and more convenient for the larger soap manufacturers to buy soap noodles and then add their own proprietary fragrances and added ingredients and package them, than it is for them to make their own soap from scratch even if they originally did so.

I don't know about small scale use of soap noodles in "hand made" soap. It's possible that some "artisans" are using commercial soap noodles to "make" their own soap but I don't personally know of any. Any soapmaker should be willing to honestly disclose their ingredients and be prepared to answer questions from their customers. 


Michelle

Thank you, very good info. This is exactly what I was after.

My concern is with transparency. I am fine with any sort of product as long as I know what it is. What I am reacting to is local soap "artisans" or "producers" suddenly popping up seemingly everywhere and using vague terms like "our own production" (which, to my mind, can be used to describe either of the three categories you mention above). I've began writing some emails and asking questions, it'll be interesting to see what they say.

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 03-03-2019, 04:34 PM
#12
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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Every shaver has an opinion on soap. Our opinions are based on performance, price and reading labels and guessing which ingredient or combo made the soap good bad or indifferent.

I really want to thank the folks in the industry for their input. Your opinions create product lines that are fine tuned by testing and experience. sharing your knowledge has helped me to understand why soaps perform the way they do; so that I am able to choose the products that work best for me.

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 03-03-2019, 05:33 PM
#13
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(02-28-2019, 04:45 PM)asiliski Wrote: I developed all of my own recipes and make all of my own products like most artisans.  I buy my lye in 50 lbs pails and do the whole saponification process.  You can always tell if a soap is melt and poor (premade like the soap pellets) by the recipe.  They are glycerin or sorbital based with a bunch of other chemicals.  Melt and poor is more expensive so anyone worth their salt is making the soap themselves.

(03-03-2019, 01:54 PM)Mystic Water Wrote: I think we're talking about three separate things here: artisan soapmakers who make their own soap from original formulas; soapmakers who use melt & pour bases (blocks of meltable soap base - usually made with a detergent but sometimes soap-based - with added glycerin, sorbital, emulsifiers, preservatives, etc); and the use of "soap noodles" which are pre-saponified oils or fatty acids that can be ground, mixed with fragrance, glycerin, preservatives, etc. in proprietary formulas for making milled soap that is mixed, extruded, and pressed into cakes.  

There are many kinds of melt & pour soap bases on the market, including ones with shea butter, goat's milk, and ones that mimic the look of opaque white soap, and other ones specifically formulated for shaving soap. They can be good or bad, depending.

I've seen a lot of contradictory information online regarding soap noodles, confusing them with melt & pour soap and even artisan hot process soap.  Soap noodles are made using a commercial process that separates finished soap from the glycerin, and are exported in huge quantities from countries where palm and coconut oils are produced.  It makes sense to me that it is probably cheaper and more convenient for the larger soap manufacturers to buy soap noodles and then add their own proprietary fragrances and added ingredients and package them, than it is for them to make their own soap from scratch even if they originally did so.

I don't know about small scale use of soap noodles in "hand made" soap. It's possible that some "artisans" are using commercial soap noodles to "make" their own soap but I don't personally know of any. Any soapmaker should be willing to honestly disclose their ingredients and be prepared to answer questions from their customers. 


Michelle

Andrew and Michelle, thank you for your expert contributions to this thread.

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