Thursday, September 15, 2016

Big Changes

It seems like there are lots of changes in the air around here.  As I reported, earlier this year, we worked on changing our labels.

The biggest change to our product is happening right now though.

Over the years, Palm oil has become more and more controversial as its demand has caused deforestation which endangered and destroyed the habitats of many creatures (in particular, orangutans) while contributing to climate change.  We really do not want to encourage, even on our small part, these unethical practices and we hear from many of our customers that they don't either.  We have attempted to acquire sustainably harvested palm, but find it not only difficult to find, but hard to validate.

As a result, for some time, we have been experimenting and researching, trying to figure out how to change our soap formulation to keep the quality the same while removing palm oil from our recipe.

At the beginning of the month, we started making our soaps with rice bran oil replacing the palm. Because palm added to the hardness of the bar, we also added a small amount of sodium lactate to each batch which helps to harden soap.

You will probably not notice any difference in your soap except in the list of contents on the label, but we will all feel better about making and using our soaps.

Friday, August 26, 2016

New Soap Labels

We were working on new labeling since the end of last year when we found that we could no longer purchase the paper we always used for the "cigar band" labels for our soap.  We have always liked the idea of a stick on label that would allow buyers to actually see the soap because while all of our soaps are beautiful, some seem to almost be miniature works of art. This gave us the opportunity to make some changes.

We tried a couple of things, but finally found a size and color that worked for us - the result looks very similar to our old labels:

Until you realize there is no label on the back or one of the sides:

All the pertinent - and required information is still readily available on one side, but the colors and designs of the soap are fully visible, and as always, it is easy to smell the scent of the soap through the stretch wrap.

We are pretty happy with this new label.

We hope you will like it too.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kutztown Folk Festival - Podcast!

In early July, I was a vendor at the Kutztown Folk Festival in Kutztown, PA.  It is a great celebration of traditional PA "Dutch" foods and crafts.

The festival lasts 9 days and there were many high points, but one was meeting Phoebe from Phoebe's Pure Foods and making a podcast with her.  We talked abut soap and some of our other products.

You might want to give it a listen:

Phoebe's Pure Food - Podcast

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Making Soap - Slideshow

In case you are curious, here's a little slideshow to show how we make our REAL soap:

We make "cold process" soap, from scratch. Each soap has the same base. Additives are what make each variety special.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What is wonderful about our soaps?

I was recently taken aback when I was asked to say something "wonderful" about our soap. For one thing, I have a hard time "blowing my own horn," and for another, we've been making and using our soap for so long that, I guess I just take its wonderfulness for granted! I mumbled something about it being natural, but while that is important, it is not the most wonderful thing about our soap.

After thinking about it for over a week, maybe here is what I should have said:

Our soap is just that - soap!  It is a simple process of mixing fats and lye together to form a lovely, bubbly bar that no longer contains any of the lye, but only a luxurious, fragrant, moisturizing "salt" that we call soap. What we often find in the grocery store labeled as soap is really a detergent bar made up of a list chemicals. most of which are unpronounceable and certainly unfamiliar.

Often, the people who have learned to make their own soap have done so because they or members of their family have developed skin problems.  They find that the problems are soothed and usually disappear with the use of plain and simple soap.

The thing that makes our soap special is that we have been making soap for over 20 years.  Over this time, we have perfected our recipe - adding a bit more this for a better textured bar, or a little of that to improve the bubbles or the soothing qualities.  We make our changes slowly to be sure that they are changes for the better.  If we find a new scent that we MUST add, we will try it out and test it to be sure it is as attractive to others as it is to us.  We make sure it will "stick" and not just last long enough to get it on the shelves.

Our current challenge is that we are working to remove palm oil from our formula because we feel it is the proper thing to do, ecologically. We are trying various replacements for the qualities that we feel palm oil imparts and when we feel we have found the correct replacement, we will make the switch.

We are very proud of our soap.  It is still, truly made in small batches.  We tried making larger batches and found that the texture of the soap suffered and that is not our style.  We have improved our methods so that we can make our small batches faster, but we will never become a major supplier, masquerading as a small operation, who is willing to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Philadelphia Gift Show - Winter Edition

Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc. began the year at the Philadelphia Gift Show at Oaks, PA.  The weather was bitterly cold and unpredictable, but a number of hardy souls attended to search out products for their stores.

We saw many of our established customers, met some new ones and dreamed about how great a winter show would be if the "Arctic Vortex" weren't there too!

As you can see from our display, we were thinking - as were our customers - about spring!

Our great, all-natural, bug and rash products were very popular and generated a lot of interest. You may want to consider them as an addition to your own store.

As soon as the shop warms up (since I had turned the heat down before we left,) we'll be working to get all our orders out.

This is the second time we have "done" the show and felt that we learned a lot last summer to make this experience better. We were much more comfortable and confident and it was such fun seeing our customers, meeting new people and renewing friendships among the other vendors we had met last time.

Already looking forward to the summer show in July!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Souffle - Soap!

I had to come out to the shop early this morning to check on an experimental soap we made last night.

We had already planned to call it "Pumpkin Souffle," but didn't realize how accurate the name would prove to be!

Because of the addition of actual pumpkin and a number of spicy oils, the soap started to overheat and puff up out of the mold (which it already filled to the very rim.)

We saw what was happening and popped it into the freezer, which stopped the puffing.  As it cooled, the soap fell somewhat in the center, but since it will fit our cutter perfectly, all the crazy popping and dipping on the top will be trimmed off.

We love to try new things to see what happens and sometimes the result is something we feel the need to add to our regular line.  I very much doubt this will be a permanent addition, but if it were to be, there would be some changes made to the recipe - like the amount of pumpkin would probably be smaller.

I'll try to remember to update this post with a picture of the finished, cut soap...  Can't wait to try it and see what kind of properties the addition of pumpkin produces!