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!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sights around the county

On deliveries this morning, we saw this Amish family harvesting the tobacco crop. The tobacco is already "lathed," meaning it is cut and the leaves are pierced at the bottoms and laced on laths. That is what has caused the cone shapes you see in the field.   It appears the family is out with the wagon to pick up the laths which will now be hung in the barn to dry.  In the winter, the dried leaves will be "sized" and baled up ready for sale.

Tobacco used to be a very popular cash crop here, but some time ago, the price of the leaves (we grow the variety used as the outer wrapping of cigars) dropped dramatically.  It was so bad that the farmers refused to sell their crops and eventually just stopped growing tobacco.

If you look closely, you can see that the wife had already done wash and hung it out on the line stretched across in front of the barn. This family also has a large, immaculate garden in their front yard, vegetables and flowers combined beautifully... They sell both!  Don't try to find the garden! I just know it is there because we pass this farm pretty often. 

I'm assuming the price is back up because tobacco seems to be making a comeback here even though it is a very labor-intensive crop.  Planting, topping (removing the bloom from the top to prevent it going to seed) and harvesting are all hand work.  It is a good crop for a family that has extra hands and works well together.  

Tobacco used to be a very profitable crop here and it was not unusual for the boys on an "English" farm to be given their own acre of tobacco to tend.  In the late 60's, early 70's, if you saw a young man driving a new Corvette around here, chances were he had grown his *own* tobacco, saved for a few years and bought his car for cash when he hit 16. I know a lot of non-farm kids resented them, but that car represented a lot of sweat and toil.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is so rare....

As the saying goes, "What is so rare as a day in June."  Well, I'll tell you - not just one, but TWO days in July with low humidity and ideal temperatures, that's what!

We have had extreme temperatures and high humidity for the majority of our summer, interspersed with lots of rain.  My husband has been going out in the mornings, very early to try to keep the Christmas tree farm in some sort of order, but I have been doing my very best to stay inside, concentrating on the soap business and ignoring my poor plants and flowers!

As it turns out - they are all very forgiving and last evening, between the two of us, we finally cleared out the, oh-so-healthy, weeds!

Walking out to the shop this morning and seeing the riotous flowers with butterflies fluttering here and there was a joy - the kind of day when you just want to throw your arms up in the air and let out a whoop just for the joy of living!

Our tomato fences are full - need to be tied up one more time, I think.  The marigolds I planted in front of them have reached a mature size and filled in.  There is a sunflower at the end of each fence section and the grape arbor behind it all is lush and lovely.

I know this has nothing to do with soap, but I just wanted to share this delicious day with you all!

It is truly rarer than a day in June!