Flying, TSA, and Soap

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by CatahoulaBubble, Nov 8, 2019.

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  1. Nov 8, 2019 #1

    CatahoulaBubble

    CatahoulaBubble

    CatahoulaBubble

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    So I just wanted to do a little PSA for soap makers out there. Last week I was headed on a flight to St. Louis to my sister's wedding. I was bringing along about 40lbs of soap because my family and some of their friends wanted to buy my soap and since I was headed there and figured I'd save on shipping costs I packed my bags with soap. I had about 20lbs of soap in each bag, one checked, one carry-on. The checked bag went through, no issues. But when it came to the TSA check point they pulled my bag because of an unknown biomass.

    I had a box full of wrapped and labeled soap bars in my carry-on. They asked what it was and I explained that it's lye based soap and that I made it. They open the box and swab the packages but because it was lye based it flagged and set off the alarm from residual sodium hydroxide. They then unwrapped the soap and swabbed it directly and again an alarm. I told them this would most likely happen especially since one batch was less than 48 hours old and I knew it would test positive for sodium hydroxide.

    Since the alarm went off the supervisor was engaged and he pulled out the box of soap and had to visually inspect every bar. He unwrapped every bar of soap, looked at it then put it in another bin. After inspecting all 40ish bars of soap he then handed me the bin of soap and said I was good to go. It had taken me hours to wrap and label all of that soap and then pack it so it wouldn't shift in the box. All I could do was just wrap the same scents together in a bundle and toss out the extra wrapping and tuck all of the soap back in the box the best I could. Some had fancy soap icing tops and got damaged unfortunately. On top of that all of my labels were lost for the most part.

    Thankfully my customers understood what had happened and I re-wrapped the bars once I got to my sister's house in parchment paper and just hand wrote the labels. Because I was flying with so much soap and my bag couldn't weigh over 50lbs I split the soap but in the future I will probably just check an extra bag rather than have TSA undo all of my work. So when traveling with lots of soap, check it, don't carry it.
     
    Nanette likes this.
  2. Nov 8, 2019 #2

    dibbles

    dibbles

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    I've had that happen, and so have people I've given soap to that put it in a carry on bag. Here's the post I wrote: https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/tsa-and-suspicious-soap.59097/

    I've been stopped every time I've traveled with soap in a carry on. Now, it all goes in a checked bag, or I mail it. I've even taken the soap out of the carry on, put it in a bin and it still gets pulled aside for inspection. I think they can't tell what it is when it is going through the x-ray - it just looks like a solid mass of ??

    Thanks for the heads up! Lots of people have joined since I wrote that post who may avoid one hassle at the airport.
     
  3. Nov 8, 2019 #3

    Mobjack Bay

    Mobjack Bay

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    I’m sorry to hear that you spent all that time wrapping only to have it undone and your soap damaged.

    I had a bag search when I flew to Mobile Alabama this past Tuesday with 7 bars of soap in my carry on. I had the soaps in clear cellophane bags, explained what they were and invited them to open. They passed me through pretty quickly without any swiping. I know they don’t like big solid masses in bags because I’ve also been searched when carrying rocks, driftwood and heavy books.
     
  4. Nov 8, 2019 #4

    jcandleattic

    jcandleattic

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    I rarely every have carry-on bags. I almost always check my bags because I travel with my soap. Doesn't stop TSA from pulling ME aside (but that's a story for a different day - so frustrating EVERY. SINGLE. TIME)
    There was one time I wanted to take a bar of soap and a candle to my boss in Singapore and didn't check my bags, but had it in my carry-on, they went so far as to pull it out of my bag and throw it away. GRR (but I knew better, so my fault)
    TSA is the WORST. And the fact that they have statistically rarely even stopped any known threats makes it even more frustrating.
     
    Deborah Long likes this.
  5. Nov 8, 2019 #5

    Mobjack Bay

    Mobjack Bay

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    Do you think they tossed it because it was an international flight?
     
  6. Nov 9, 2019 #6

    Dawni

    Dawni

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    How frustrating @CatahoulaBubble, sorry it had to happen to you. I wonder if the international flights are more lenient?

    I've flown by Etihad and Thai Airways through Abu Dhabi, Karachi and Bangkok airports with soap in both my carry on and checked in, no problems. Funny though, I bought some marble eggs from the souvenir shop inside Karachi airport and they stopped me for those lol

    My dad too, has not gotten stopped so far for carrying my soap in his carry on. A cousin using Emirates through Malaysia then Dubai also had no problems with soap in her carry on.

    Of course, these are very limited experiences, and never with more than a kg of soap maximum, and it could still happen, but just saying..
     
  7. Nov 10, 2019 #7

    runnerchicki

    runnerchicki

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    I'm sorry - I'm trying to wrap my brain around this. TSA will not let you carry SOAP???? I can't even ...
     
  8. Nov 11, 2019 #8

    jcandleattic

    jcandleattic

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    No. I think they tossed it because there is something about ME that gets pulled aside every single time I fly regardless if it's international or domestic. Every airport I have ever been in, in every country I have been in save Gatwick has pulled me aside and checked me and or my bags (If I have carryon) and I fly a LOT. I've tried applying for CLEAR so that doesn't happen, but I got denied, so who knows. The fact they say it's random and they don't profile is total BS.
     
  9. Nov 11, 2019 #9

    Steve85569

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    I simply cannot fly any more. I get no explanation but I am nearly strip searched for attempting to get on a plane. Might be my mis-spent youth or the fact that I am an RSO and firearms instructor.

    I sent my daughter home one year with a loaf that had been cut into bars with parchment placed in between each bar.
    What's in that?
    Home made soap.
    Smells nice!
    Boarded as usual for daughter.
     
  10. Nov 11, 2019 #10

    Mobjack Bay

    Mobjack Bay

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    Wow, sorry to hear that you both get the once over, over and over by the TSA. What a drag. Does anyone think that taking off shoes is making us any safer? I once travelled frequently and enjoyed flying, but the fun days of flying are a dim memory. We’re thinking of buying an RV for retirement so we can enjoy the ride and the scenery without getting on planes.
     
  11. Nov 11, 2019 #11

    CatahoulaBubble

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    TSA doesn't actually do anything except inconvenience people. They've never really caught anyone and in fact people get on planes all the time with dangerous objects and mostly it's the flight crews that catch suspicious people.
     
  12. Nov 11, 2019 #12

    shunt2011

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    I've traveled several times and carted large amounts of soap for weddings favors and just for family. I always check it. Not worth the possible hassle that you went through.
     
  13. Nov 11, 2019 #13

    amd

    amd

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    Occasionally when my engineers travel to Germany, I will have an EU soapmaker send soap to the office and have the engineer bring it back (saves quite a bit on shipping or for those makers who can't ship out of country). I try to keep it light (no more than three bars) because most of my guys only travel with a carry on. Every single time they have been stopped and searched because of the soap. They were told it is because drug smugglers have started to hollow out soap bars and pack it with drugs. Now the guys know to unpack the package and pull it out of the carry on when they go through security. I've never NOT had soap make it home. Same when traveling personally - I always travel with several bars of soap, just in case I forget one in a hotel (typically my China trips will involve no less than 6 hotels over two weeks) and for gifting for the many people who translate and make sure I get fed, lol.
     

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