Big week--need advice from more experienced soapers

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Carly B

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So this past week, two major events---I retired and my elder son got engaged. :dance:

How do these relate? Well, now that I'm retired, I have time, and they requested that I make soap as favors for their wedding. After sending them a bunch of questions (I hope I asked all the right things), it came down to this

Date: early April
Quantity: 150 stamped rectangular bars. At one point they were talking about paw print soap (they met and bonded over their puppers) but they decided a rectangle with a stamp would be better.
No determination yet on color, but I'm thinking one color and maybe a mica stamp contrasting color. This all transpired yesterday so we're still working out details. And it's not too late to offer other suggestions.

Anyway--I have a few questions for those experienced in such things. Thanks in advance for any guidance.

I usually make soap one or two pounds at a time in silicone freestanding molds, and have had trouble getting the corners to harden and come out clean. I know I'm going to have to lay in some supplies and hardware, but I'm planning on multiple batches, because at this point, I can't see myself making about 40 pounds of soap all at once.

So, would it make more sense for me to get a few 12 bar silicone molds and do it that way, or get bigger wooden molds with the thin silicone liners? I have a big soap cutter, so cutting isn't really an issue, although the idea of beveling 150 soaps is a bit daunting.

And what about packaging? I was thinking about organza bags with a card with ingredients on one side and bride and groom stuff on the other. But the bride and her mother are sensitive to fragrance (although she does want them fragranced TBD), so she asked about some sort of plastic packaging, which I would do if this were M&P, but not CP. I suggested custom printed boxes with a window, but it has yet to be discussed, but I'd like to get some ideas as to what others have done.

I'm open to any suggestions about any of this.....I'm a hobby soaper so this is a big change, but I have plenty of time and I am very pleased they both like my soap enough to want it as part of their wedding day. :)

I know this was long winded, thanks for reading. And thanks for any guidance. :)
 

TheGecko

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Congratulations on both life events.

If it were me as a hobby soap maker, I would go with the 4-pack Rectangle Molds from Amazon ($13.00). Make sure you add Sodium Lactate or salt to your Lye Solution, place the molds on a cookie sheet and pour at a really light trace; no having to cut bars and minimal planning on the back side. At 24 per batch, you will need to make seven batches and you can do a batch a day or a batch every other day depending on how firm they are after 24 hours. Based on a similar mold I bought elsewhere, your total batch weight for each mold will be approximately 24 oz (96 oz for all four molds). I would recommend getting the molds soon than later so you can tweak your recipe and recipe size for the best results.

I would go with multiple [single] colors based on the colors of the bridal party...I just think it would be prettier, each batch could be a different color or shade.

You'll want to keep the stamp simple, no small letters or numbers and like the molds, getting it sooner is better than later so you can practice stamping or purchase a new stamp in necessary. I would go with just their first names.

For scent I would go with something like Black Raspberry Vanilla or Oatmeal and Honey; fairly inoffensive and I would go 'light' or 'medium' on the usage rate. I would get 2 oz bottles of each and make a test batch, I would also made a test batch of unscented since unscented soap can be pleasing.

For packaging...Shrink Wrap; 200 for $8.00 on Amazon. You'll want a Heat Gun...$20-$25 (didn't include a link because I just borrow my sister's and I don't know what hers is). And you'll need those extra 50 bags because there is a bit of a learning curve. The advantage of Shrink Wrap is that the scent is contained, folks will be able to see the mica stamp on back and you can simple insert an ingredients label, made from plain paper and cut to size inside the back, and even if you have to purchase a heat gun, it's cheaper than boxes and you need sticky labels for your Ingredients. You're looking at $0.25 per bar for Shrink Wrap, Gun, Paper vs around $0.65 per bar just for Medium w/Oval Cut-Out Box
 
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If you have problems unmolding with clean corners, put your mold in the freezer, your soaps will pop out clean. This goes for your individual molds also. Just make sure your soaps are ready to unmold before putting them in the freezer.

As The Gecko mentioned I would also go with shrink-wrapping even if you choose to put them in boxes, it is just neater. When shrink wrapping you will also need a heat sealer, which is pretty inexpensive on Amazon. I purchased this one back in 2018, it still works like a champ after sealing hundreds of bars of soap. It was actually, only my second sealer in 10 yrs so they do last, my first one still works, but my daughter snagged it because it was a larger one.

I have used BRV for weddings because they are fun to color and it is a nice scent. This is a beautiful BRV that does not accelerate or discolor. It was a fragrance that always sold out for me and she ships fast with flat rate shipping. Soap Supplies - Fine Quality SoapCrafting Supplies
 
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Congrats on both events, and I love everything that Gecko and CMZaha suggested!

I have some experience making a large number of soap favors for ladies' retreats, also in a variety of colors and scents. Based on that experience, I will also suggest that you design and order your labels through OnlineLabels.com. They have hundreds of label sizes and shapes from which to start, and their software program lets you create it just as you desire.

I'd recommend creating just one label version that simply lists "color" and "fragrance" among the ingredients. IMO, in this situation there is no good reason to complicate things by specifying the name of either color or fragrance. You aren't trying to entice folks to buy these - they are free gifts. People will pick what they want based on their eyes and their nose anyway.

OnlineLabel's costs are extremely reasonable. An an example, I just purchased 150 labels from them. All were printed on the same label base, but I needed two versions with slightly different ingredients listed. Still, there was a discount for the fact that the label base was the same for all. My total cost including shipping was $52.

Had I purchased all 150 labels in exactly the same format, the total cost including shipping would have been under $25. I doubt that I could have printed them for much less than that on an inkjet printer using plain labels. This also eliminates the time and hassle of trying to create the label on your own, and getting them to print well (unless you want to invest in a label printer, which is another option if you think you might start selling).
 

Carly B

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Thanks, @TheGecko. You are always so very helpful. I made M&P years ago and would shrink wrap that. I've never shrink wrapped CP before, though. I actually didn't think it was an option for CP because the soap couldn't "breathe." So that gives me an additional option. The kids are coming over in a couple weeks to snuffle some fragrances and discuss things more detail. They decided for the stamp they wanted the image below. This is still in the early stages, so right now it's a lot of questions and info with emails. I'm not going to do anything major until they come over. I'm still in the info gathering and sharing phase.

1629047361946.png


And thanks everyone else so far. Question--I used to use a blow dryer with shrink wrap. Is a heat gun noticeably better?
 

TheGecko

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I actually didn't think it was an option for CP because the soap couldn't "breathe."

I wouldn't recommend shrink wrapping out of the mold because that could cause a problem. I would allow the soap to cure for three months and then wrap them.

They decided for the stamp they wanted the image below.

Paws might come out more solid, but it would work elsewise.

I used to use a blow dryer with shrink wrap. Is a heat gun noticeably better?

Oh yes, but as I said, there is a learning curve.
 

Babyshoes

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I like the advice you've had so far, I'm picturing a beautiful basket of solid colour soaps, in white and a couple of pastel shades, with a shiny mica stamp.

Is your regular recipe veggie/vegan? If not, you might want to make a small batch of a vegan recipe, just in case. Perhaps do them in a different shaped mould or in a different colour, to make it obvious which they are.
 
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I use a blow dryer, too. My husband has offered his heat gun, but I prefer the lower heat since I'm just not that good at shrink wrapping yet.

I will also say that my first heat sealer was a cheap hair straightener that I found at a discount store. Works great if I use a layer of aluminum foil between the hot surfaces and the item I'm sealing.

Also, if you'd rather skip the shrink-wrap and heat sealing, these bags from Amazon have also worked very well for my retreat favors.
 
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When I made soap favors for my mom's big birthday, I used an 11lb silicone liner and cut the soaps smaller than normal. I was not making that many though, I put them in soap boxes and organza bags. When I did my niece's quinceanera, I shrink wrapped them and put them in organza bags (the boxes were too big for those). I made those in a 5 lb loaf mold and cut them smaller than a normal bar.
In this blog post there is a picture of how they look on the table at the party to give you an idea of how they looked. I labeled the front and the back with the ingredients.
 
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I wouldn't recommend shrink wrapping out of the mold because that could cause a problem. I would allow the soap to cure for three months and then wrap them.
You can shrink wrap cp soap as early as a 4-week cure. When I was selling all my soaps were shrink-wrapped after 1-4 months of pouring them.

One suggestion I will make when you shrink wrap, after sealing and cutting the excess of your bag snip off a tiny corner as a breathing hole. Soaps will continue to cure and shrink even after shrink-wrapping so I would suggest wrapping as close as possible to the wedding.
 

Zany_in_CO

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The one time I did this it was for my nephew's graduation from Law School.
So, would it make more sense for me to get a few 12 bar silicone molds and do it that way, or get bigger wooden molds with the thin silicone liners?
I think a 12 bar silicone mold is a good idea. 2 molds is better for production purposes. Cut each (5 oz) bar in half to make 24 (2.5 oz ea.) bars. My thinking -- as a memento of the occasion, most guests are unlikely to use the soap so why bother making full-size bars when "guest" size will do.
I have a big soap cutter, so cutting isn't really an issue, although the idea of beveling 150 soaps is a bit daunting.
No need to bevel. I never have. If you can get a clean edge, it's better for wrapping than a beveled edge.
Color: White - Traditional.
Fragrance: ???
Stamp: None
Label: Cigar Band - leave ends open. No further packaging needed. 6 half/cigar bands fit across a page in landscape mode. This is where color & creativity come in. Have fun designing then send to a printer for printing on card stock or print your own if you want.

I'm sorry I don't have a copy of the cigar band I made for my nephew's event. It was red, white & blue with "Blind Justice" pictured on the front and "PASS THE BAR" for the name of the soap. haha

ETA: Lovin' Soap Studio Cigar Band Labels Note: I cover my soaps right to the edge, leaving no soap outside the end of the label to get damaged. :thumbs:
 
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Carly B

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I use a blow dryer, too. My husband has offered his heat gun, but I prefer the lower heat since I'm just not that good at shrink wrapping yet.

I will also say that my first heat sealer was a cheap hair straightener that I found at a discount store. Works great if I use a layer of aluminum foil between the hot surfaces and the item I'm sealing.

Also, if you'd rather skip the shrink-wrap and heat sealing, these bags from Amazon have also worked very well for my retreat favors.


Turns out my hubby has a heat sealer, but I really like those Amazon bags you linked to. I think when they come over to talk about packaging, I'm going to mention those too. Thanks!
 

dibbles

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The advice so far is good. I would just say, as a fellow hobby soaper, look into your options for mold choice. Once you are done making the soaps for the wedding, I would think about what type of mold(s) you would like to have. If the soaps don't have to be absolutely identical, this might be an opportunity to get a wood mold with a silicone liner, a slab mold in a size you like and a couple of individual cavity molds (12 bar or 4 bar silicone molds). I love my wood molds with the silicone liners, and if I make sure the soap gels, I have no problem with damaged corners.

Fragrance - leave it up to your son and future DIL. I'd tie color to their wedding colors, which might influence fragrance choice. Although I do realize that everyone doesn't have the issues of needing the fragrance to go with the color that I do. That struggle is real for me.

Packaging is always a problem. I do remember the first time someone gave me something in a little organza bag, it felt very elegant to me. I'd never seen one before and even though I've since found they are readily available and reasonable in price they still feel special to me. I probably wouldn't wrap them in one of those bags (except for the unscented bars), although shrink wrapping would offer a bit more protection. Maybe check with your son and DIL to see if they have any strong feelings about plastic. I also use these boxes - WSP has them on sale for 25% off pretty frequently, and they aren't too terribly costly on sale. I like the bags that @AliOop recommended - they look nice and would be easy to use.

Congratulations on both of your exciting life events! Have fun planning what you will make, and enjoying the time you have to do it.
 
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What kind of soap stamp are you using? My experience with something similar to the paw prints and the heart shaped O is that you may have problems when trying to stamp fine detail, Ending up spending extra time cleaning out the soap stamp in between bars. I have a great Milky Way paw print stamp, but I can’t find it online anymore. I could lend it to you if you want to borrow it. It works fantastic with mica!

Must say you’ve gotten incredibly fantastic advice on this thread!
image.jpg

Hmm. Now that I look at it, that is actually a cat paw print. You could have a custom stamp made with dog paw prints on it with the heart. Dog paw prints are more oval and the toenails show, but you could omit the toenails. I have a similar stamp to the heart and paw prints that incorporates a treble clef for music, sort of a singing in the shower theme. It works pretty well, but the thin lines don’t work well in a custom acrylic stamp, so take that into account with the design.
 
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I love the idea of the plastic bags and sticker! I have shrink wrapped cured cold process soap for years with great results. I band them first in handmade marbled paper with a wax seal. I discovered from some tutorial that plastic wrap can be used, so I tried it. It’s not as good as shrink wrap, but it’s accessible and not expensive. I would recommend Trying it first with a heat gun and whatever plastic wrap you have in the kitchen. If you’re satisfied with that result, look into Freeze-tite Premium Plastic Wrap for freezing food. Just wrap it like you would a block of cheese and fold the edges over. The plastic shrinks down around the soap beautifully with a heat gun. I have friends and family who are highly sensitive to fragrances, so I tend to seal my soaps well if they have fragrance just in case they might cause a problem.
 
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