soaping where there are no soapers

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Mommy

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So as much as I love soaping, and wish I could think about having a business* one day, it's tricky where I live.

*before I continue, I just want to give a disclaimer that I've soaped for over a year, I've lurked here even longer, and I cure minimum 5-6 weeks.*

Okay back to the location thing:
There don't seem to be many soap makers here. This is good because there may be scope. But it's bad because there's no infrastructure, making a lot of my costs really high. One day, it would be great to build a soap-supply infrastructure for others, but for now I'm just trying to develop my own soaping techniques.

So FO's for example- whatever the regular cost, I pay about double with the shipping (ex a $4 FO costs me $8). Butters and beeswax just are super-expensive on their own, let alone with shipping. Colors are also double, and base oils are okay since I get them here (not as cheap as the US but still okay).

I can't really offset this with larger order quantities, because there are incoming shipping laws that charge you a lot of $$ on any shipment over $70 USD (merchandise, not including shipping).

So I'm trying to assess what choices I might have when I get to the point of selling.

I've been thinking to try to do HP only (the fancy smoothed out HP) to decrease the amount of FO's I'll need. I also wonder if sesame paste would work as a soaping butter, since that's locally available. It's not on soap calc- has anyone here tried it before?

Are butters a total must in soap? I've been pretty happy with the 25 or so batches I've made with all different combinations of oils, various additives, and salt/sugar. I've never tried an artisan soap made with butters though, so I always wonder if the soap I'm making will never be as good without them. Thoughts??
:p
 

shunt2011

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Can't help you on location. However, you can certainly make soap without using butters in it. You could make a simple Olive, Palm/Lard, Coconut soap and have a great soap. If you have access to Castor I would add that at 5%. In a lot of cases butters are pretty much for label appeal. Though, I do love Shea and Cocoa they are not necessary.
 

Seawolfe

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I think you should go with your strengths. Olive oil certainly, some sesame oil (I think not more than 10 or 20% though? I cant remember), perhaps beef tallow or sheep fat (I can't imagine lard soap would sell well in Israel). Then maybe look for things like avocado oil, shea butter, palm oil, coconut. If you can get your hands on at least some of these, you should be good to go.

As far as scents - can you get basics like lavender essential oil? Perhaps this is where a trip to somewhere like Turkey or Europe would be useful.
 

Jstar

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First, butters are 'not' a necessity to make a really good soap..I love my coco butter and shea, but I see them more as of a luxury than a 'need'. My tallow soap that is just under a month old now is fabulous, and its only got Tallow, CO, and a bit of soybean and I love it...it can only get better as time goes on :)

About your location..have you thought maybe of finding someone in the states you trust and have them order what you need and send it to you instead of buying it yourself online? That may help on some fees but Im not sure.

You could tell the person what you want, send them the money or whatever and they could do the order here and then ship it to you like a gift thingy...idk..just brain storming here
 

Mommy

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I think you should go with your strengths. Olive oil certainly, some sesame oil (I think not more than 10 or 20% though? I cant remember), perhaps beef tallow or sheep fat (I can't imagine lard soap would sell well in Israel). Then maybe look for things like avocado oil, shea butter, palm oil, coconut. If you can get your hands on at least some of these, you should be good to go.

As far as scents - can you get basics like lavender essential oil? Perhaps this is where a trip to somewhere like Turkey or Europe would be useful.

You're right- there are certain things that are great for soap that are indigenous here- olive oil and avocados for example (haven't found affordable avocado oil, but the slurry is an option). Goat's milk, date honey, etc.
Palm and Coconut are not local but I've found them for okay prices. I've shipped in Castor and it's expensive but not AS prohibitive as the butters.
Lard is not an option as you said, but I'm working on sourcing tallow.
So far I used palm/olive/coconut/castor, and the only thing I think is lacking in my soaps is that they're still drying, even with a low CO and an 8% superfat. There is hard water and no distilled option, so my next test will be to switch to milk or goat's milk and see if that offsets the drying quality.
My hope is that, without butters, I can achieve a gentle soap for skin like mine that dries out at the thought of soap.

First, butters are 'not' a necessity to make a really good soap..I love my coco butter and shea, but I see them more as of a luxury than a 'need'.
About your location..have you thought maybe of finding someone in the states you trust and have them order what you need and send it to you instead of buying it yourself online? That may help on some fees but Im not sure.

You could tell the person what you want, send them the money or whatever and they could do the order here and then ship it to you like a gift thingy...idk..just brain storming here

Thanks for reassuring me about the butters- when I read some of the recipes that you veterans share, they seem so common that I thought there's no great base recipe without them.

Re: FO's- there are EO's here, but actually the pricing comes out to a bit more per bar than if I import FO's from the US. And since they're not soap-intended and skin-tested like the EO's and FO's from the US, I don't want to use them so much anyway.

Re: people bringing them in-I've spoken to people about it and they find the idea of bringing fragrance oil or other ingredients (SLSA, cream of tarter) really sketchy and they're afraid they'll get busted in the airport.

Re: them shipping it from their homes- maybe. I'd still pay double, but they could fit more in their box than a $70 order. But then they have to write the value of the contents and I'll get taxed on that the same as I would with an over-$70 shipment from a vendor.
 

dixiedragon

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Interesting conundrum.

Coconut slurry - what is that? How is it made? Possibly you can filter it out and end up with liquid that is a mix of the coconut oil and the milk?

Possibly a dumb question - do your movie theaters sell popcorn? Popcorn is usually popped in coconut oil. That might be a possible source if they'd be willing to sell you a bucket or let you piggy-back on their order.

Is Bay Laurel Oil for Aleppo soap available to you?

Sesame paste - is that like peanut butter but with sesame seeds instead? You could use SOME, but you could not substitute it for sesame oil.

Fragrance - I would contact suppliers and see if they have any suggestions or know somebody closer to you.
 

Mommy

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Interesting conundrum.

Coconut slurry - what is that? How is it made? Possibly you can filter it out and end up with liquid that is a mix of the coconut oil and the milk?
Fragrance - I would contact suppliers and see if they have any suggestions or know somebody closer to you.

Thanks for your help! I guess I wasn't clear. I've been able to acquire for so-so prices: palm, coconut (these two aren't indigenous but they are locally distributed), almond, and olive oils. The slurry I mentioned was avocado slurry, since avocado is available but avocado oil is too expensive to soap with.
I've shipped in castor oil which is not cheap, but doable. Colors and additives are also shipped in but since they're lightweight and used in small quantities, its not that big a deal.

What I'm missing (not really sold here and the shipping doubles the price, AND it takes a month to arrive) are butters (cocoa, shea, mango), beeswax, EO's in bulk, and FO's.

But if the butters are not 100% necessary, and the big expense is just the FO, it might be doable with a lot of planning and back up. I can't imagine relying on month-long shipping times when running a business.
 

Seawolfe

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Do you have any African markets around? They might have Shea butter available. Beeswax would be nice - I would imagine that at least some of the farms or Kibbutz would keep bees for pollination and honey. Although I don't find beeswax critical in soaps, but its very nice for salves, lip balms and lotion bars.
 

Mommy

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You're right- I live in the city, but there must be Israeli beeswax because I've used Israeli honey in my soaps. I haven't done enough research on real beeswax- I've just looked for cosmetics suppliers who would sell the pellets.

Time to take a trip out to the countryside!
 
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You say you are working on sourcing tallow. Check with your local grocery stores, butcher shops and farmers markets. Purchasing raw fat and rendering it into clean tallow is cheap and easy. I just purchased a bit more than 10# of grass fed beef fat for $10 from a local organic farmer. I'll start rendering this weekend. I do a boil rendering and I boil it three times. I actually like this process. I find it very satisfying to turn "nasty fat" into beautiful tallow. My tallow is incredibly white and has almost no smell. (My house, on the other hand, needs a good airing after my rendering!) I've read that sheep tallow makes a good, hard soap. I would imagine there are more sheep (and goats?) in Israel than cows, yes? You may have an easier time "getting your tallow on" than you think. Good luck!
 

Mommy

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You say you are working on sourcing tallow. Check with your local grocery stores, butcher shops and farmers markets. Purchasing raw fat and rendering it into clean tallow is cheap and easy. I just purchased a bit more than 10# of grass fed beef fat for $10 from a local organic farmer. I'll start rendering this weekend. I do a boil rendering and I boil it three times. I actually like this process. I find it very satisfying to turn "nasty fat" into beautiful tallow. My tallow is incredibly white and has almost no smell. (My house, on the other hand, needs a good airing after my rendering!) I've read that sheep tallow makes a good, hard soap. I would imagine there are more sheep (and goats?) in Israel than cows, yes? You may have an easier time "getting your tallow on" than you think. Good luck!

Wow, never thought that tallow could have almost no smell.
I actually intend to render it myself (I've rendered chicken fat, but it's not as hard as beef fat), but I meant I'm sourcing the fat. My local butcher imports meat from Argentina with a lot of the fat already removed, so I need to look further. Good to hear you like the process.
 
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I think the boiling process (and multiple boilings) is the reason for the faint odor. I've noticed with each boil, the smell gets lighter. This weekend, I'll experiment. I'll set some aside after boiling three times and boil a few more to see if a 4th or 5th does anything to eliminate the smell or whiten the tallow even more. I'll post my results.
 

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I read an interesting article awhile back about an American woman who retired in Israel to be close to her adult children. She is a soap maker and has started a non-profit, and to raise funds she sells her soap. It was quite awhile back and I cannot remember her name, or the name of her non-profit. I am only mentioning it because I think there are possibly more soapers in your country that you might first think. I can appreciate how difficult it must be to get ingredients that most people just take for granted.
 

dixiedragon

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My tallow rendered with Lionprincess's method is almost odorless. I think the boiling method is better b/c you are less likely to burn the tallow. Burned tallow is yucky.
 

snappyllama

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I think butters are nice but not required to make a good bar. You can jazz up olive oil by infusing it with all sorts of things... a quick search showed folks infusing dates into olive oil. To me any way, that's a great way to use your location to your advantage by making something unique to where you live.

There was a linked in notice I found with someone else looking for fellow soapmakers in Isreal. They mentioned being willing to share their suppliers' information: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/1851400-121007604
 

Cactuslily

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Could you source your tallow from a kibbutz? Snappy, that was an awesome piece of info to share regarding LinkedIn! It's been a long while since I've sent anything to friends in Israel, are you taxed on gifts?
 

Mommy

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Good question- I'm not sure about taxation on gifts, I think it depends on the estimated value, and actually getting clarity on the updated taxation laws is something I'm working on now.
Tallow- good idea (kibbutz).
Thank you snappylama and everyone else, you've really helped me. :razz:
 
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Extra boils for the tallow didn't really improve anything. By the third boil, everything was cleaned. Boiling it a fourth time didn't do anything. When I pulled the hardened tallow out of it, the water looked, smelled and felt drinkable (no, I didn't!). The first two times, there was obvious gunk in the water. The third time (when I normally stop) the water is just greasy feeling. So, maybe that 4th boil did do something after all, since it didn't feel greasy. (I said I tell you what happened. So, there it is, for what it is worth.)
 

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