Soap, Soap, Soap!

I was sitting here thinking that I needed to write a blog - but about what?  There's so many topics, even just things we've done in the last week, but I don't want to get into a cycle of "this weekend we did this and this and this...)  I'd rather do a better job addressing single subjects at a time - and then I realized I haven't talked about soap in a while - there's been too many animal and other things going on (and still are!).  But I didn't want to neglect my soap!  We've finally gotten our tax information compiled for the accountant, and yet again my soap is the only part of the farm that flat-out makes money :)  Everything else still seems to have as much or more costs as income, but every year my income on soap actually makes a decent profit (relatively speaking, of course!).  I've been making a concerted effort to maintain my inventory, and keep this part of the farm enterprise at least successful if not growing.  

The second store I have been selling soap and lotion in is doing well for me, so I've been making soap every couple of weeks recently, and actually made 4 batches this past week - not counting rebatches (more about that in a minute).  I've been so involved in fleece and yarn recently that I've lost a bit of soap inventory over the last couple of months, and had to play catch-up (and really, I need at least two more batches to be there).  

I made 2 batches of "house soap", just a basic tallow/lard recipe for turning into dish and laundry soap, and using sink-side.  I made the usual one - 9 bars - and then decided to do the second because I've been burning through my stash by washing sheep fleece.  (The good news is that I have 2 whole fleeces skirted and washed!  Of course that leaves 3 more...)  Then I made a batch of peppermint & tea tree soap with mint leaves, one that I make into both plain square bars and pretty molded bars.  Finally, yesterday I made a batch of honeysuckle goat milk soap, both sleeping goats (very cute) and some sample-size leaves and Celtic knots.  That should have me caught up for a while - except for the new, best-selling soap that I'm consistently running out of!  I started wrapping my not-perfect bars (had bubbles, or a toddler fingerprint, whatever) in alpaca fleece and lightly felting it to make a scrubbing cloth that keeps felting down with the bar as it's used - and I can't hardly keep them in stock!  They are selling in both stores, more than the rest of the soap combined, and I've used up all my imperfect square bars.  Next, I started rebatching the bars that had lost fragrance or weren't squares to start with (mangled goats) or were the tail-end half-bar of a batch pour - I grated them up, added a bit of water, slowly melted them over the lowest heat on the stove, and re-poured into square bars with new fragrance added if needed.  I just made the last rebatch last night, using the last of those unmarketable bars, and now I'm relegated to actually making perfectly good soap just to cover them up with fleece :)  I never thought I'd use up all those misfit bars - I probably had 40 or 50 - but here I am.  That also means that, for the first time in almost 10 years of soap-making, we will be using perfectly marketable bars of soap in the house!!  I've never done such a thing!  It's like using a perfectly clean, scrubbed, non-stained, non-cracked egg - virtually unheard of around here :)  

The felted bars are not just a good way to use up non-marketable soap, but also let me play with dying wool in small amounts.  I've done some with food coloring - very simple - which had much more nuance than I would have thought.  I learned that I can get several different colors out of one dye pot by removing the wool periodically and putting in a new batch.  I made a pot of what appeared to be deep purple, and it resulted in a fuschsia-pink, a lavender (perfect for the lavender soap), and a very pale blue.  I also did a nice green (goes well with my mint and tea tree scented soap), and then of course I have a variety of natural colors - brown, tan, gray, white.  I even did some blending - streaky gray and white, lightening the hot-pink, etc.  It's been a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to finding more time to play with colors!



Another wonderful post!

I love the felt wrapped soap.....soap and washcloth in one!

Not Surprised

I have to say, I'm not surprised those felted soaps would be your best sellers. I'm personally not a huge fan of bar soap in general because it can be a pain/mess to use. But when I saw those felted bars, I thought... I could get behind those, because they take away all the annoying things about bar soap. :) Glad to hear they are doing so well.

They really are great

Yes, I really like the felted soaps myself, and I find more positives about them as time goes on. I realized recently how great they are for travel since they dry out so quickly!

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