My cold process soapmaking started as a hobby and turned into a side business. I have a full-time job, but as a divorced, middle-aged woman trying to make mortgage payments on my own, soapmaking has become a great way to earn extra money to help make ends meet. Wow, that last sentence was hard to say; the middle-aged part, not the divorced part ;-)
I don’t have the high-priced equipment that some soapmakers have, most notably, a precision soap cutter. Instead, I cut all my soap by hand with a regular kitchen knife that I bought on sale at a Marshall’s discount store. My cold process soap comes out as one large loaf of soap, much the same as a loaf of homemade bread. I put the finished soap loaves on a kitchen cutting board and slice them into bars with my handy-dandy cheapo knife. By the way, I keep this knife and cutting board separate from my food cutting boards and knives so that I don’t end up with toast that tastes like chamomile or tomatoes that taste like lavender. As you can imagine, since I cut soap by hand, I end up with bars that are not all the same size.
I have been fortunate enough to sell enough soap online that I don’t have to sell wholesale to stores. When you sell wholesale, you are giving those stores a good bit of your profit which (to me) defeats the whole purpose of selling soap as a second form of income. I do make one exception to this. I sell my soap wholesale to a place called Tamarack. Tamarack is an artisan craft center here in West Virginia. It is a popular destination for tourists coming through this state. They have stunning handmade items of wood, glass, textiles, etc. Each artisan must past a jury process to have their items featured there.
When my soap passed the jury process and I was preparing my first shipment to Tamarack, I had to update my labels to meet the required criteria, including listing the weight of the soap. Since I print my own labels on a small printer and cut them out by hand with scissors, I definitely did not want to have to weigh each bar of every loaf and then print the exact weight of each.
Handmade cold process soap weight usually goes by the weight of the soap at the time it was made. As cold process soap cures, water evaporates out of it and it will get a little lighter. This is a good thing though, because the more water that has evaporated out of the soap, the longer that soap usually lasts.
Tamarack said it was fine if my soap weighed more than the weight stated on my labels, it just could not weigh less than the label stated. So my solution was to print the lowest weight of my smallest soaps on my labels – 4.5 oz. So I printed that weight on all my labels, even though nearly every bar weighs more than the 4.5 oz stated – sometimes much more.
So if you receive an order from me and some of your soap bars seem undersized, please don’t think you were shorted on those bars. Your smallest soap weighs at least 4.5 oz. So you have not received some bars that are too small, you’ve actually received some bars that are extra large. Now, go take a shower and stop worrying about size.