Avg costs of bar when starting out?

Discussion in 'The Introduction Forum' started by CroMagMan, May 23, 2019.

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  1. May 23, 2019 #1

    CroMagMan

    CroMagMan

    CroMagMan

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    Hello, my wife and I are new to both here and soap making. We are curious of the costs of an avg rectangular bar to make. A basic bar is fine to start. Coconut oil, lye,(not sure what else yet, possibly cocnut milk).
    And then what are super high bar costs?
     
  2. May 23, 2019 #2

    shunt2011

    shunt2011

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    Hello and welcome! Cost will vary depending on what ingredients, additives, fragrance etc are used. You can find a lot of ingredients locally at the grocery store or Walmart to start.

    I suggest you read the last 10 or so pages in the beginners forum and in the Lye soap forum as well. You will glean a lot of information from those.

    Then you will want to learn to use a soap calculator. You can check the qualities of each oil and formulate a recipe to try. I suggest trying different recipes to see what you and your wife like in the end. Everyone is different.

    You will find a lot of shared recipes on the forum. If you aren't opposed to animal fats. Lard makes and awesome soap along with some Olive, Sunflower or Safflower and Coconut.
     
  3. May 23, 2019 #3

    lsg

    lsg

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    My bars were more expensive starting out because I got caught up in using recipes that included expensive butters and oils. As soap is a rinse off product, I suggest that you start by using coconut, palm (lard or tallow may be substituted for palm), olive oil and Castor oil. Make 1 lb. batches at first so that any failed batch won't be so expensive. Use a lye calculator with every batch. Essential oils can make soap very expensive so use essential oils that are readily available. If you decide to use fragrance oils, buy them from a reliable supplier and read the reviews before purchasing.
    The Soapmaker's Friend and Soapmaker3 are software programs that allow you to enter supplies etc. in an invetory which should automatically calcualte the cost of a batch and a bar.
     
  4. May 23, 2019 #4

    earlene

    earlene

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    Welcome to the forum CroMagMan! Do you both have your own accounts, or are you going to share one account?

    Depending on your choice of ingredients and your choice of equipment, the cost of making soap can vary quite a lot! I can't even start to tell you what the cost per bar was when I started out. I was just learning to make soap and that's all I really wanted to do at the time. Also the size of your bars will impact the cost per bar and how much waste once you cut and trim or bevel or otherwise clean up those bars. (But I do give a cost per bar example in the 2nd to last paragraph.)

    When I was new I used recycled material for soap molds, so that did not have to figure into the cost of making soap. I just cleaned out milk cartons, margarine tubs, ice cream tubs and the like to use as molds. Although once I started buying freezer paper to line molds, that would have factored in, but a box of freezer paper actually lasts a long time. Later I started buying molds and cutters and other adjuncts to use as design tools. That gets quite expensive when you let it.

    And the oils I used were usually the best price I could find at my local stores. Prices vary from store to store and it's easy enough for me to do a price comparison in my little town with not very many stores to visit. I did not start ordering oils online until I'd been soaping for several months, so I was limited to what oils I could find near me, and those were pretty limited. The oils I used at first were: Olive Oil (grocer - average cost at the time), Coconut Oil (on sale at good price), Castor Oil (expensive in pharmacy section of Walmart), Cocoa-Butter (expensive at Dollar General in lipstick-type tubes), Almond Oil (used to be sold in grocery store, but no longer available there), Grapeseed Oil (grocer), Vegetable Shortening (grocer - sometimes cheap), various other oils as I found them in stores. I tried many different oils just to see what they were like, but mostly it was just for fun and experimenting, which is good in my book.

    Other factors when considering expense of soap: Distilled Water (grocer or WalMart - cheap); Lye - NaOH (Tractor Supply Company - expensive), fragrances (expenses rise exponentially when you let it), colorants (expense can go sky high if you let it, but you can start out without any colorants and that's fine, then experiment with naturals like carrots, tomato juice, spices, then look into soap safe colorants from soap suppliers).

    When I say expensive above, I am referring to the 'per ounce' cost as it compares to buying from a soap supplier. For example, I can pay approximately $15.00 for a 32 ounce bottle of lye at TSC (Tractor Supply) or get it at a far better per ounce price from a soap supplier online. I save a lot of money doing that, but in the beginning, I bought locally and was fine with that at the time. Others find lye at ACE hardware for a fairly reasonable price; I did once myself while traveling, but not anywhere close to where I live.

    So I know that doesn't answer your question. But it should make it evident why it's a hard question to answer with any specificity. But I'll try and give you a cost per bar if I were to make uncolored and unscented Castile soap at today's prices for oil, lye (at TSC) & distilled water today: Lye=51¢ per ounce; Distilled water=under 1¢ per ounce; Olive Oil=26¢ per ounce. Using a lye calculator such as this one, you can get the answers yourself as you can enter all your supplies and their costs into the database before you even make the soap. But here's what I come up with for a batch with 32 ounces of olive oil: $10.27 to make this batch. The total batch size is 45.31 ounces, but 18% of that is water weight, which after cure should all evaporate, so I would end up with 37 ounces of soap. If I cut my bars to way I LIKE THEM (we don't all cut our soap bars the same size or shape, so this is purely subjective), then I'll end up with say 8 bars of soap. Considering some loss from planing & beveling, then I'd end up with 8 bars at maybe 4.5 ounces of soap each. Each bar of soap would have cost me about $1.28 to make. But that doesn't account for my time, my electricity or even my gasoline to go shopping. Once I start adding more ingredients and different oils into the soap, the costs per bar are going to go up quite a lot.

    I doubt my soap is as inexpensive to make now as a plain-jane bar of Castile soap. I'd be willing to bet that they tend to cost me at least double that or more these days, when I factor in the other materials I use. And that's still not taking into account electricity and my time.
     
    Nanette likes this.
  5. May 23, 2019 #5

    Bladesmith

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    I'm new to soap-making, but I bought the SoapMaker 3 program before I made my first batch. Punched in every single ingredient. Did not factor in labor/gas for stove, etc. Also not including any labeling/packaging.

    My first batch with castor, coconut, olive, palm, shea butter including cost of lye and a honeysuckle fragrance with no coloring totaled out to (10) 4 oz (cured) bars at $0.83 each. This recipe had a fairly high percentage of shea butter (expensive). My newer recipes (much less butters) with lots of additives and such ends up at almost the exact same price. I'd say the price is variable depending on ingredients used but I try to keep mine under $1/bar (not including labor/utilities/labeling/packaging). And obviously economies of scale apply as well. I was buying the 7lb containers of oils.

    Now, if I punch 100% coconut oil bar into my program with a 20% superfat, incl. cost of lye but no colors, no fragrance... I get bars around $0.52 per bar at 5oz bars (un-cured). Now this is based on price I paid at the time.

    I'm just a newbie but I do like to know how much I'm spending on this stuff! I got started because I was tired of paying $8/bar for my soap. I've probably spent enough on oils and soap equipment to supply myself with $8/bar soap for several years at this point! :D

    You can definitely use the SoapMakingFriend calculator and punch in costs of stuff you'd be looking to buy and get a quick figure on what it's going to cost you to make the soap you would like. It can be cheap or very expensive.
     
    Nanette likes this.

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