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  • Jill Holdaway

WHY I LOVE SMALL BATCH SOAP MAKING

Updated: Jun 29

Some say go big or get out. I say, go small or nothing at all.


There are many handmade soap makers who make huge batches of soap for large wholesale accounts and volume customers. You’ll find their soaps in retail chains and packaged as house soaps in hotels and guest rentals. I admire their success, industry, and ability to manufacture soap in large quantities. I’m not one of them. I prefer to craft small batches of soap instead of manufacturing large batches.


I guess it depends on your values. I buy limited edition jewelry from Etsy instead of Costco because it is unique. I enjoy the bread I make at home more than what is available from large conglomerates. That’s me, and hopefully it’s you too after you’ve had a chance to read through this post and browse my soaps.


I may spend days perfecting a soap recipe and taking my time choosing the right colors and fragrance for the design. Though I may make more small batches of a popular soap, I don’t rely on one set of soap recipes when I limit myself to small batches of soap.


So and Soap has a staff of one: me. Manipulating the heavy equipment and large volumes of materials a large scale manufacturing environment is not going to work well with one 70 year old woman with a bad knee.


For my small batches, I typically use a 10-inch loaf mold that holds 3 pounds of soap batter that make 10-12 bars or a slab mold that holds 6 pounds of batter and makes 18 bars of soap. I also use single cavity molds when I want to make certain soap shapes.


So OK, why diddle around with tiny batches when I can go big?


Design Time - Working with smaller batches lets me achieve more detailed designs (and change my mind about the design) before the soap batter becomes too thick for crafting. For example, if I make peaks on the top of my soap pour, I may decide to smooth our those peaks and try something different. There are endless possibilities of different design options, including layering, drop swirls, hanger swirls, textured tops, and more. I love it all and I try it all.


Design Experiments - It’s easier to experiment with different soap designs, colors, fragrances, additives (lavender buds on soap tops turn black after a while!).


Soap Finishing - I examine each bar before I package and sell it. I may steam off the soda ash that forms as soaps cure for vibrant colors and a shiny finish. I may plane or bevel each bar individually to better reveal the design. This is harder to do with big batches if it's done at all.


Soap Value - Each soap is more valuable because there are fewer of them, and no two batches of the same soap recipe come out exactly the same.


Scaled to My Small Business - My small batches are scaled to to the reasonable number of soaps I am likely to sell.


Cost Effectiveness - What? How can that be if I’m buying ingredients in smaller sizes? I have better cost effectiveness for failed batches troubleshooting or experiments that don’t work out.


OK, so what’s in it for you? Why should you care if your soap comes from a batch of 12 instead of a batch of 300?


Usable Art - Soap is a usable, practical product, and though plain soap cleans you just as well as a designed soap, these small batch soaps brighten up your soap dishes and shower shelves. And with hand finishing for each bar, they’re even more delightful to behold. There are many handcrafted items to choose from in this world, but a soap is more likely to get used.


A Unique Product - Small batch soaps are like buying original art instead of a print from a large run. Which would be more valuable to you and your gift recipient? Soap 1 of 10 or soap 117 of 300?


Just Enough Gift - I doubt that you would give a bar from from Colgate-Palmolive or Proctor and Gambel as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer. But a handmade soap from a small batch maker tells your recipient that you are a thoughtful gift giver who seeks out the unique and beautiful for them.


Think small, buy from So and Soap small soap batches.


So and Soap online store.


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