What is your biggest challenge making cp soap?

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I don't cut time - I still mix each batch of lye solution as I go. I generally make just 1kg at a time, but occasionally I will do a double batch, so 2kg ( and I split that into two different soap batches using fragrance/colour etc).
I mix the lye solution first - using ice cubes so it doesn't get so hot. I rest that in a cold water bath to cool while I measure then melt my hard oils (on the stove). While they are melting I measure out my liquid oils and fragrance, prepare colours, etc. When the hard oils have melted I turn off the heat and mix in the liquid oils, then pour it all into my mixing bowl to finish cooling until 'warm to the touch' - approx 40 degrees celsius. This takes about 2 - 5 minutes ( if that) and I get everything else ready that i might need - molds, spatulas, extra jugs etc.
Then I mix and pour! The whole thing is usually done well within 50 minutes for a 1kg batch, and maybe an hour or a tad more for a double batch with a separate pour/colours/design etc.
The process is pretty slick and meditative for me, unless I soap in a hurry, which is when I tend to make mistakes and it takes longer than if I'd just done it without being in a hurry, lol.
Basically this is what I do. I soap in 11 lb batches and get 30 5.5 (+/-) bars when it's cut - no waste either! Sometimes, if I havae something to do on the farm and need a small batch, I'll make the lye ahead of time. 99% of the time, I do what KiwiMoose does!
 
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Yes I had that issue in the early days. But you can sell them really fast at, hair salons, spa and market events
Sadly that is not always true. I always found hair salons one of the hardest venues to sell in and from what I have seen selling in outdoor markets has really slowed down in this economy. After selling for many years I retired when Covid hit. I visited the holiday market in Norco I attended for many years and sold a huge amount of soap during the 5-day run each year. As usual, there were multiple soap sellers, although not as many as in past markets when I was selling, but sadly I saw no one buying soap. I stopped and spoke to a couple that I knew from previous markets and they informed me sales were really bad and they had not made the daily booth space cost of approx $88, which was also up considerably from what I used to pay.

My biggest challenges were packaging all the soaps I made, and keeping supply costs down even when I was making soaps.
 

TheGecko

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Yes I had that issue in the early days. But you can sell them really fast at, hair salons, spa and market events
That is not strictly true. While those are potential options, there is absolutely no guarantee that you're going to be able to sell. In my area...soap doesn't sell well at salons or spas. Markets can be hit or miss though holiday craft fairs are generally a good choice. I had signed up for three holiday markets and two cancelled.

I spoke to a couple of soap makers I found in my general area...one anticipated making a 'killing' during Covid because people where washing their hands so much, the other did what I did and scaled back. Yes people were buying more soap, but they weren't buying $7.00 bars of soap.
 
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My biggest challenge has been keeping up with demand. I only sell at one market on Saturdays every week. (I have a website but barely anything comes through there.) I didn’t anticipate the amount of sales I would have this year. Trying to keep up with how much I’m selling and what I have cured/ready has been extremely difficult. I’m a one woman show with two teens (13 & 12) as well as a baby, who is almost 15 months old. My husband owns a tattoo/comic shop, and I’m there three to four days a week, which takes away from my time to make soap and other bath + body products.
 

Servant4Christ

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Welp, figured out why I've been in such a funk.... I'm home sick today with a head cold. At least, that's all I hope it is. Sinuses ache, throat hurts, feeling lethargic and so, so tired. No wonder I didn't feel like doing anything. Slept for over 12 hours last night and I'm ready to crawl back into bed.
(((@Misschief))) This is how I show hugs.
 

Servant4Christ

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Thank you, hon. I'm over it now and feeling a LOT better. No soap for now, though. I have two markets to go and then it's time to rest up and inventory. After the Christmas rush is over, I'll be ready to get back into soap making. :)
I had a feeling you were better by now, but noticed a few were trying to show/send hugs your way and thought I'd show them the way I've learned to do that. Triple parentheses are hugs.

As for the most challenging part of soapmaking: for me, it's usually deciding what SF to use because I can never make up my mind. I'll make multiple small batches of the same recipe until I figure out which SF I like best, because the same SF doesn't feel the same in all recipes. I know, I'm weird.
 

Cosmo71

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My biggest challenge in CP soap making apart from making to much soap...slight soap addict, is fear of trying new things. I see lots of amazing designs and recipes but have fear that I will waste my supplies and just make the same soap I've always made which is beautiful but I am sure I am limiting my potential.
 

TheGecko

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but have fear that I will waste my supplies and just make the same soap I've always made which is beautiful but I am sure I am limiting my potential.
I bought a 6" slab mold to try designs for slab molds...makes lie 4 bars of soap. I have a 4" Square Mold for testing and a small 2lb mold for 'loaf' designs.
 
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I'm with @Zing it is so awesome to learn about what people find challenging, especially from the experienced soapers! Experienced people: you are the Yodas of the board, and I can't tell you how inspiring it is to know that even Yoda has a bad day (batch)! Really. It makes this process so much less foreboding when a newb like me can see that challenges are just part and parcel of this craft.

Overall, I still have a lot to demystify about the soaping process. I'm trying so many new things rapidly, and I'm still building an experience-based knowledge bank to troubleshoot and refine.

I think the biggest challenge I have right now is fine-tuning my knowledge of trace to the point where I can predictably achieve the trace I want for the effect I want. Fortunately, I've made enough mistakes :beatinghead::rolleyes::hairpulling: that I'm learning what naughty FOs are capable of and some idea of how to compensate for them, and what lye water ratios and soaping temps work for me.

But the emulsification stage has eluded me thus far, and it's a skill I'm keen on as I want to take the artistic dive into the really complex designs. I have ideas for creating things I haven't seen before, but I'm just not there yet with my skills to make it happen.

I *think* my stick blender may be partially at fault. I'm using a low-power, nonadjustable kitchen cast-off ($10 hamilton beach) with an entirely white plastic shaft, bell, and teeny tiny SS blade (maybe 1.25" tip to tip). But it's like a Formula 1 car. Seriously 10 pulses, and I'm at trace. When I say pulse, it's less than 2 seconds a pull. Just a firm pull/release on the button. In fact, it's so fast I keep count. I'm 4 pulses away from oily separation ribbons to full-blown light trace. So I really pay attention when I add my additives, like FO and, recently, Kaolin clay.

Overall though, for all of my mistakes, I've only made 1 (eh, possibly 2):rolleyes::rolleyes: batches that are completely unusable (the first one I was trying really hard to achieve emulsification and failed miserably, the result were dry crumbly bars that aren't even soap, but they smell great in the sock drawer). The rest of the "also ran's" I have learned I can repurpose through the magic of the caligia method -- even Ron Burgundy has been spared from the circular file. Thank you @AliOop!
 

TheGecko

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I don't know of a single soap maker who hasn't had a batch go rogue on them for any number of reasons. For me, it's usually FO related so I tend to test all new FOs, but this year I got in a hurry and just went for it with Christmas soaps...everyone of them accelerated on me. Key is not to panic. The worst that could happen was that I would toss the soap or I would put it in the donate box. I was lucky and only had to toss one soap (it was bad) and the rest were sellable. And what doesn't sell by the 23rd, I will give as gifts and/or donate.
 
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Here is a fantastic video on emulsification.

Full disclosure, I typically can pulse my batter maybe 5 times max before zooming past emulsion. And that's while soaping at 100F or less (usually less) and with high lard.

Usually I stop and split my batter just before the batter reaches a stable emulsion. That leaves me wiggle room for hand-stirring in the FO and colors while keeping a fluid batter.
 
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Honestly, I've benefitted so much from the patient help of the more seasoned soapers here, as well as all those YouTuber soapers - the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Watching someone do something I don't like, or come up with a result I find less than acceptable, can be just as educational in its own way. 😁
 
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@AliOop OH HEAVENS I just watched the video, its BRILLIANT! By far the BEST demonstration of trace I've ever seen.

I can't believe a) its possible to soap at room temp in the 60°s, b) I really need to start wearing cheaters so I can see the tiny grains on the bell :rolleyes: (I've always judged by wisps and then thickness), c) if I have a false trace, I can simply wait it out and let the lye work its magic to bring up the temp and do the work for me, and d) that waiting period offers a BONUS WINE BREAK! 🍷🍷🍷:dance::dance:

I mean, honestly, a bottle-a-day habit doesn't happen by itself.... its hard work and dedication.
 
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My biggest challenge in CP soap making apart from making to much soap...slight soap addict, is fear of trying new things. I see lots of amazing designs and recipes but have fear that I will waste my supplies and just make the same soap I've always made which is beautiful but I am sure I am limiting my potential.
Keep in mind that, honestly, only you know what you had in mind. Most people, looking at what you've made, will have no idea of what your vision was; all they'll see is soap. And on that note, even our "failures" will still get you clean.
 

Berry Clean Soaps

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That is not strictly true. While those are potential options, there is absolutely no guarantee that you're going to be able to sell. In my area...soap doesn't sell well at salons or spas. Markets can be hit or miss though holiday craft fairs are generally a good choice. I had signed up for three holiday markets and two cancelled.

I spoke to a couple of soap makers I found in my general area...one anticipated making a 'killing' during Covid because people where washing their hands so much, the other did what I did and scaled back. Yes people were buying more soap, but they weren't buying $7.00 bars of soap.
Thank you The Gecko, I agree with you selling soap can be a different experience for different people. For example I have been making cp soap for 3 years and have been selling it for $13-16 each bar. This has been online, farmer market, events, hair salons and other retailers. Remember that cp soap is way superior then a detergent bar. The ingredients are more costly so a maker should not charge for example; $3 for a bar when it cost $4 to make, package, label and then sell it. You need to have a healthy gross profit margin for example; if it cost you $4 to make it including labor, ingredients and packaging and other overhead selling it wholesale at around $8 would put you at a 50% gpm and retail at $13 at a 64%gpm.
 

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