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earlene

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Are there any soapmakers you like that are a bit more well known? I think, honestly, I can’t try your soap but I’d love to find a soap we could talk about. (Unless there’s a way for me to buy some of yours!) I’m new to soapmaking and just would love to be able to discuss, compare and hear others thoughts.
I don't sell soap; I am a hobbyist. I only give it to family, friends, and sometimes to service providers (nursing home staff, husband's former co-workers while he was still working, doctor office staff, etc.)

Since I rarely buy soap from other soapmakers unless I walk into their brick & mortar store or attend their booth at a market, I am not qualified to evaluate most 'well known' soap maker's actual soap product. I like very many well known soapmakers, but what I like about them is usally related to their artistic expression, their eduational expertise, the things they post online that I enjoy reading or watching, or their books that I have chosen to purchase and keep and use as reference.

Some of the ones I recommend for the above list of why I like them are:

From Grace to You (additional links from there; her e-books are extremely informative and she shares freely; her videos show how she makes her incredibly artistic soap)

Vicki Frost - Back Cat Blues soap youtube channel (artistic soap design):

Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soaps (color selection instruction & design):

Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara's Handcrafted Cosmetics (detailed information on experimental techniques in soapmaking on her blog):
Home - Auntie Clara's

Amy Warden for her longtime online presence & educational offerings & her Soap Challenge Club, which has been around since 2012.

That's just a few of the well known soapmakers I really like, there are many many more.
 

fjura

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I don't sell soap; I am a hobbyist. I only give it to family, friends, and sometimes to service providers (nursing home staff, husband's former co-workers while he was still working, doctor office staff, etc.)

Since I rarely buy soap from other soapmakers unless I walk into their brick & mortar store or attend their booth at a market, I am not qualified to evaluate most 'well known' soap maker's actual soap product. I like very many well known soapmakers, but what I like about them is usally related to their artistic expression, their eduational expertise, the things they post online that I enjoy reading or watching, or their books that I have chosen to purchase and keep and use as reference.

Some of the ones I recommend for the above list of why I like them are:

From Grace to You (additional links from there; her e-books are extremely informative and she shares freely; her videos show how she makes her incredibly artistic soap)

Vicki Frost - Back Cat Blues soap youtube channel (artistic soap design):

Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soaps (color selection instruction & design):

Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara's Handcrafted Cosmetics (detailed information on experimental techniques in soapmaking on her blog):
Home - Auntie Clara's

Amy Warden for her longtime online presence & educational offerings & her Soap Challenge Club, which has been around since 2012.

That's just a few of the well known soapmakers I really like, there are many many more.
Thanks so much, Earlene. Looking forward to checking them all out. It’s nice to know what floats other’s boats!

Find a simple recipe and make a small batch. Don't try it until its at least 3 months old.

Use individual molds so you don't have to cut, they can be real tricky to time and if you wait too long, they will crumble.

I know pink salt is pretty but I recommend against it. It can be sharp and has cut people before, myself included. Regular sea salt works great.

Plan on a one color soap for the first batch. Salt bars can trace really fast. I add scent/color before adding the lye. As soon as you get trace, hand stir in the salt. Only stick blend it again if its not thick enough to suspend the salt.
I personally never have issues with fast trace but many do.
Thank you so much! Some of these tips I’ve heard but others I’ve not so I really appreciate the additional knowledge. It’s interesting you mention the roughness of the Himalayan pink salt. Only thing I don’t like about the dook soap is that it can be too scratchy. I don’t care what color the salt is if it does and feels like what I want. I’m actually not much of a color person. I’m one of those that only wears black. Makes it really easy when you’re looking for something to wear to work early in the morning. At least you’ll know your tops/bottoms/shoes match 🥴 Out of all the brands I listed I like Binu Binu the best in terms of aesthetics. So, neutral soaps are good for me too!

Find a simple recipe and make a small batch. Don't try it until its at least 3 months old.

Use individual molds so you don't have to cut, they can be real tricky to time and if you wait too long, they will crumble.

I know pink salt is pretty but I recommend against it. It can be sharp and has cut people before, myself included. Regular sea salt works great.

Plan on a one color soap for the first batch. Salt bars can trace really fast. I add scent/color before adding the lye. As soon as you get trace, hand stir in the salt. Only stick blend it again if its not thick enough to suspend the salt.
I personally never have issues with fast trace but many do.
One more thing. Do you know if black salt is less scratchy?
 

Obsidian

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One more thing. Do you know if black salt is less scratchy?
I believe black salt is ok but all it is, is sea salt with a layer of charcoal on it. It will turn your soap grey instead of being the pretty black specks you are imagining.
 
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My question about obsidian using natural ingredients was sort of an inverse question meaning, I’m sure obsidian uses some natural ingredients as well. Some people work exclusively with the most natural ingredients they can find and for others it’s not a priority. Sorry if it came across as something different to you.

Of course there will be some elements in the process of making and selling that can’t be all “natural” but if we focus on these then nothing is natural.

Their branding is for their target market and if that’s not you then that’s ok. I suppose maybe I’m their target market and that’s ok too. When choosing soap (specifically soap, let’s not take a detour into everything else I buy or use) I look at the ingredients. Seeing that a maker chooses to be as environmentally responsible as they can is something I like. I wouldn’t buy soap that uses “fragrance”. I like essential oils. It’s all just matter of preference. And we all know no one is perfect or can put out a product that is perfect for everyone.

My current definition of lots of money is enough to support yourself and the growth of your business (and I do not have lots of money lol). You’re right. I don’t know each of these soapmakers personally and I was making assumptions based upon instagram follower count. I would hope they’re all doing well. From what I can tell, soapmaking is each person’s primary source of income.
No worries and thank you for clarifying. I also use primarily “natural” (an unregulated term for soap in the US, btw) ingredients, eat mostly organic and unprocessed foods, etc. I actually started making soap, bodycare products and cleaning products, bc I react to a lot of commercial products, especially scents. So we are probably aligned at least somewhat in our thinking and approach 😊

Where I have trouble is with advertising that suggests or even claims that these small companies are helping the environment. Perhaps their products do put less toxins and waste into our bodies and environment during use, but they are ignoring all the other issues mentioned above, which I find disingenuous.

It is the same reason I struggle with advertising for EOs and electric cars. The manufacturing process for both is far from green. In fact, almost everything in an electric car, including the batteries, and all the plastic and metal components, require the extraction and processing of fossil fuels and metals. They also produce horrifically toxic waste in the form of used batteries.

Anyway, sorry for the soapbox speech. I do appreciate and respect your and anyone’s desire to eliminate as many toxins as possible from daily use.
 

earlene

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One more thing. Do you know if black salt is less scratchy?

I believe black salt is ok but all it is, is sea salt with a layer of charcoal on it. It will turn your soap grey instead of being the pretty black specks you are imagining.
I believe it depends on your source. I have some very course Black Lava salt that I would not put into soap for fear of scratchiness. Plus it was really too expensive for use in soap anyway. I bought while visiting Iceland 2 or 3 years ago and probably paid far more than it was worth, but it was a novelty to me at the time.
 

fjura

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I believe it depends on your source. I have some very course Black Lava salt that I would not put into soap for fear of scratchiness. Plus it was really too expensive for use in soap anyway. I bought while visiting Iceland 2 or 3 years ago and probably paid far more than it was worth, but it was a novelty to me at the time.
Good to know no matter what. I love salt and use all different kinds! My favorite for table salt is grey sea salt although I’d imagine it wouldn’t work in soap because the salt has a high moisture content. But it’s so good on the pork butt and butter beans I made last night!

I believe it depends on your source. I have some very course Black Lava salt that I would not put into soap for fear of scratchiness. Plus it was really too expensive for use in soap anyway. I bought while visiting Iceland 2 or 3 years ago and probably paid far more than it was worth, but it was a novelty to me at the time.
And! Iceland sounds amazing! I’d love to visit one day.
 

Marsi

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It is the same reason I struggle with advertising for EOs and electric cars. The manufacturing process for both is far from green.
I'm curious to know why you state that EO manufacturing is far from green?
(This surprised me a little, which is why I'm curious)
 
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Another great question. 😊 It does depends somewhat on the specific EO and the extraction method chosen, as well as the manufacturer. But a few points are:

~The large amounts of plant matter needed to create a small amount of oil, often resulting in over-harvesting and destruction of the plant and its ecosystem (sandalwood comes to mind)

~ The shipping from very remote regions of the world to more populated regions.

~ The locals’ loss of control over their surrounding habitat, and often deprivation of use of their traditional plants bc all is taken for EO manufacturing.

~ The packaging waste, esp from the MLM companies that sell millions of tiny bottles with their fancy ad programs - glossy flyers, “educational” materials, and the like. All ending in landfills.
 

paradisi

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Another great question. 😊 It does depends somewhat on the specific EO and the extraction method chosen, as well as the manufacturer. But a few points are:

~The large amounts of plant matter needed to create a small amount of oil, often resulting in over-harvesting and destruction of the plant and its ecosystem (sandalwood comes to mind)

~ The shipping from very remote regions of the world to more populated regions.

~ The locals’ loss of control over their surrounding habitat, and often deprivation of use of their traditional plants bc all is taken for EO manufacturing.

~ The packaging waste, esp from the MLM companies that sell millions of tiny bottles with their fancy ad programs - glossy flyers, “educational” materials, and the like. All ending in landfills.
And the same is mostly true for fo's as well, as many include eo's & eo derived isolates, plus then the synthetics & energy for processing & shipping.

It behooves us to do what we can in our own realms, and to encourage our suppliers to improve their practices as well. I've recently seen suppliers drop styrofoam & other cheap but awful shipping dunnage because customers pressed them on it.

We can have positive effects, working together.
 

Marsi

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Another great question. 😊 It does depends somewhat on the specific EO and the extraction method chosen, as well as the manufacturer. But a few points are:

~The large amounts of plant matter needed to create a small amount of oil, often resulting in over-harvesting and destruction of the plant and its ecosystem (sandalwood comes to mind)

~ The shipping from very remote regions of the world to more populated regions.

~ The locals’ loss of control over their surrounding habitat, and often deprivation of use of their traditional plants bc all is taken for EO manufacturing.

~ The packaging waste, esp from the MLM companies that sell millions of tiny bottles with their fancy ad programs - glossy flyers, “educational” materials, and the like. All ending in landfills.
Point 1 - it is true that the output of EO from plants can be small, in percentages.
(Fortunately for sandlewood, we have a native in Australia that is being farmed, rather than wild-harvested :thumbs:).
Points 2 and 3 could also be made for some popular oils and nearly all butters.
I wouldn't mind reading more on your point 3, if you have some links?
Point 4 - totally agree!
 
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Sounds like you're a good candidate for becoming a soap addict; welcome to the obsession!

As for the list of makers; I've only seen two of them before, so have limited impressions based on their appearance (appearances can sell, but doesn't mean the soap is good). Some of those makers seem to have found a very specified niche and marketed to that...which can be the secret to success in a very saturated market. Worthy of your admiration for sure; but keep in mind that marketing is marketing....like a 3 year old playing dress up and putting on a show. Another part of marketing is denigrating your competition, or creating fear of another product to make your product look better. There are makers who outright lie to make themselves shine. (one reason why I decided not to get into selling products....as much as I love what I make, I won't play "dress up" in order to make a sale.

IMHO, natural is highly overrated. I've been making soap for about 8 years and I did the "natural" thing....briefly. I find it unnecessary because in order to make a quality bar of soap, you need quality ingredients that are wonderfully safe to use. Unsafe and poor quality ingredients make a noticeably inferior product. Also, there is no recognized body in authority that has defined the term "natural"....so the word can be slapped onto ANY product. There's a shocking amount of makers that do so be it soap, food, or what have you. (I've shopped and purchased many dozens of bars from all over the US.)

Keep in mind, natural doesn't automatically mean safe.

Btw, as someone who recently took college level physiology, anatomy and chemistry classes, I've learned that its not true that the skin absorbs everything you put on it. In fact...it does a fantastic job of keeping things out. That's why you haven't gained 20 lbs of water after taking a shower, or why you have to swallow your medicine, instead of rubbing on your skin. (the exception is transdermal patches....which are made with ingredient that cause your skin to absorb the medicine....because your skin won't do it without help!)

I'm sure you're eager and impatient to experience and make all kind kinds of soap....and that is the best way for you to get opinions on soap recipes, shapes, ingredients! And more fun than listening to us! I encourage you to do that. Admiring other makers, getting inspiration from them, is all good, but be sure to listen to yourself too.

As for salt soaps; I make a lot of them but only used Himalayan salt ONCE and that was a big mistake. There is something about the crystalline shape that makes that stuff really scratchy....I had bleeding scratches from the batch I made! Many other people on the forum have had the same experience! Maybe Dook polished their salt first, but suggest you find a nice sea salt instead. (honestly, I often use the cheap stuff from the dollar store and save the good salt so people can eat it. Salt soap doesn't detoxify you....for a couple of reasons)

Besides Obsidians recipe, search for Irish Lass's (with the coconut milk and powder) and CMZHA's salt bar recipes. Both are really good too! After you experiment and test your soaps...I can pretty much guarantee you, you'll be making something you love more than Dook's! Enjoy!
 

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