Scaling up – what are my options?

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alexanderte

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Once I’ve learned to consistently make non-cracky Castiles, I’m interested in creating larger batches. I only do CP (RTCP even).

The size of each of my 14 batches has been about 2 pounds (1000 grams). I use a 1 gallon (4 liters) plastic bowl for my batter, and a slightly smaller for mixing the lye water solution.

I want to either double or quadruple the amount for each batch. So my goal is either 4 pounds (2000 grams) or 8 pounds (4000 grams). This should lead to 40 soaps per batch.

What do you use for the lye water solution and the batter when making larger batches? I’ve been looking at some beer brewing equipment, and I’m including a photo of a boiler. This thing does have a tap which I assume would work as long as the trace isn’t too thick. This boiler is a bit expensive though. It’s about $200. Buying one without a tap is a lot cheaper.

I’ve also found a large blender. It is way over my budget, but I might want at some point if things are getting more serious.

WEB_Image Kjele 36L med Kuleventil 1035486272.jpg
 
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houseofwool

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It seems like overkill to me. I often make batches that are 96 bars. I have an enameled canning pot that I use to melt the oils and mix the soap. I measure my liquid oils into a 3 gallon bucket.

Unless you physically cannot lift a heavier bucket, I would be leery of cleaning out the tap.
 

shunt2011

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I use a 5 gallon bucket with a spigot to masterbatch my oils. However I don't use it to make and dispense the soap. I agree it would clog quickly especially if you bring your soap to trace. I do use a large stainless pot to make large batches of soap. I don't usually make more than 12 lbs at a time.
 

alexanderte

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Why, exactly, are you looking to scale up so quickly?
At some point I really want to do an attempt at starting a micro soap business. This is a goal that I’m slowly moving towards. I know that it’s frown upon to think business right after having started making soap, but I will not sell anything before I’m confident that what I’m making is good.

I’m not so much into learning a lot of recipes and decoration techniques (but I love watching other people’s creations). I’m interested in making soaps that are as simple as possible – both the soap bars and the labels. I love the most is the process and how to make it more efficient. Right now it feels right to me to look at how to scale up, but that doesn’t imply that I’m going to sell my soaps right away.

My number one priority is making good soap. And I find every aspect of the soap making process incredibly fun. But I’d be lying if said that making money wasn’t one of my goals with my soap making.
 
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The Efficacious Gentleman

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Before looking at scaling up, have you looked at what is required for a cosmetic safety assessment in the eu? Plus any particular requirements from your country? For example, in Germany you have to have an area solely for soaping, you can't use your usual kitchen. These things can cost a lot and need to be factored in to your plans before looking at larger stick blenders
 

alexanderte

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And while Norway is not in the EU, it IS in the EEC and is part of the same cosmetic regulations - see page two, end of paragraph one in this document

http://www.intertek.com/eu-cosmetic-regulation-and-attaining-compliance/
Thanks, will check it out. We have something called Mattilsynet that deals with laws regarding cosmetics. I’ve got plans to contact them some day next week.

If I need a separate space for making soap, then it will be nearly impossible for me to start a business, at least in the short term, as I live in an apartment, and renting a place for the business is expensive.
 

alexanderte

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You would also need to check with your agreements regarding the apartment, too.
Good point! I’m the owner of the apartment, but I live in a housing cooperative. I worry sometimes if the noise from the stick blender annoys the neighbours. Stamping the soaps also makes some noise as I hit it with a soft hammer to make a stamp. I’m not that worried if this is done occasionally (soap making as a hobby), but it might be problematic if I do this often/everyday.
 

BrewerGeorge

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Also consider where you're going to age that much soap for the year that Castille needs...

But for your original question, be careful when looking at brewing equipment. You do not include a link, and while it looks like it's all stainless (it should be for the price) brewing equipment will often use aluminum, brass and/or bronze. I know aluminum is out, and I'm not sure about brass/bronze. Also the valve seat materials need to be verified safe with lye. For example, Delrin is a common material for valve seats for water (and wort) but will be destroyed by lye. OTOH, PTFE (Teflon) has excellent resistance to lye. You have to be sure what you're buying. In short, brewing equipment is designed for benign wort, not aggressive lye solutions. Also, that 1/2 inch ball valve is going to be too small for anything but the loosest trace; I'm not even sure a 1" valve would be good enough without a pump.

The best way to get an inexpensive stainless vessel of decent size is to buy a decommissioned beer keg from a scrap yard and have a hole cut in the top.
 

DeeAnna

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Brass and bronze contain copper. Since copper ions accelerate rancidity, that's not a good mix with soap or fats.
 
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