Frequently Asked Questions
About The Soap Lady
When did you start making soap?
In 1977 my daughter was born with a serious skin condition known as seborrhea. By the time she was 3 months old, her little body was covered in angry red patches that burned and itched. She could not be held. Her clothes irritated her. Commercial soap and detergents seemed to aggravate Sara's skin. Prescription creams and lotions did nothing to soothe her.
An elderly neighbor named Dorothy suggested I should try her old-fashioned laundry soap. I washed all of Sara's clothes and bathed her little body with and old brown bar of Dorothy's homemade soap. In a week my little girls skin was normal! So I learned to make my own soap.
How can I contact The Soap Lady? Is it okay to call?
Email: You are welcome to contact me by email, email@example.com
Phone: 920-386-2565 If you need to call, I am usually available 9AM-5PM CST Monday - Friday (except holidays). If there is no answer, please leave a message.
Mail: The Soap Lady, W6378 Highway 26, Juneau, WI 53039
Do you teach classes? Do you teach people how to make soap? Do you share your soap recipes?
I do not share my soap recipes. I have been developing and perfecting my own recipes since 1977 (and I'm still perfecting them!). I do not teach classes in soap making. However I am happy to recommend a list of very good books. See below.
- Soap Recipes By Elaine C. White This book is easy to read and contains several simple recipes along with safety features for the beginning soap maker. It features both vegetable based and animal fat based soap recipes. If you choose to purchase just one soap-making book, this is a very good choice.
- The Natural Soap Book By Susan Miller Cavitch Susan Miller Cavitch features clear instructions and illustrations for the beginner soap maker who wishes to make vegetable based soaps. Her personal touch and hints make this book a good addition to your library.
- The Soapmaker’s Companion By Susan Miller Cavitch A lovely companion for The Natural Soap Book by the same author, this book goes more in depth to helping the soap maker personalize her soaps with color and scent. She'll take you to new heights with color, texture, and suggestions for interesting soap molds.
- The Complete Soapmaker By Norma Coney Norma's book is well illustrated and contains complete instructions for the beginner. She takes the reader through step-by-step instructions for creating basic soaps, hand milled soaps, and specialty soaps. A good read.
- The Soap Book, Simple Herbal Recipes & Soothing Soaps For Healthy Skin By Sandy Maine Sandy Maine features one basic soap recipe using Crisco as the base, and gives a variety of scented oil blends to make many different soaps. Sandy is the owner/operator of Sunfeather Handcrafted Soap Company, which currently produces and markets over 140,000 pounds of soap per year.
- Transparent Soapmaking By Catherine Failor For the soap maker who wishes to have some fun with transparent soaps, this book features simple step-by-step instructions for making "see through" soap. This book also features a comprehensive listing for suppliers of raw materials needed by the soap maker.
How is your daughter Sara's skin doing now?
Sara is now in her forties and she has beautiful skin. When she was 14 years old she tried commercial soap products. Sara quickly learned that her skin is still sensitive to commercial products. After breaking out again with seborrhea, she went back to using my homemade soaps, and still uses them today.
About My Soaps
What are the ingredients in your soaps?
All of my soaps contain the following saponified oils and natural ingredients:
- Olive oil, an emollient
- Coconut oil for lather (except castle soap)
- Beef tallow as a base
- Organic oils for scent (no perfumes)
- Vitamin E, Nature's deodorant
- Castor oil, to help prevent bathtub ring
- Food coloring (no dyes)
Do you use lye in your soap?
Lye is used to make soap, but soaps do not contain active lye. All soap requires an alkali (such as sodium hydroxide, aka lye) to chemically react with a fat (I use both olive oil and beef tallow) to produce soap and glycerine. This chemical reaction is called saponification. Potassium hydroxide (potash) is another alkali used to make soap. However, potassium hydroxide will yield liquid soap rather than solid soap (bars).
It is a popular misconception that soap contains lye. During saponification, lye molecules (sodium hydroxide, or NaOH) break apart into sodium (NA) ions and hydroxide (OH) ions. The sodium becomes part of the soap molecule and the hydroxide ions become part of the glycerine once saponification is complete.
What are "glycerine" soaps?
Glycerine is a natural byproduct of good soap making. When saponification ( the name for the chemical reaction that takes place when soap is made ) occurs, glycerine and crude soap are formed in the bowl. If the soap is kept warm for at least three days, the glycerine remains a part of the soap. If soap is allowed to cool quickly, the glycerine separates and floats to the top.
When I make my soaps, I keep it warm for three days, before allowing it to cool and then cure for a period of three weeks, before cutting it. Glycerine is therefore an integral part of my soaps, making it very good for your skin. True soaps do not remove your natural body oils when you use them. They will leave your skin feeling moist and supple, healthy.
Most commercial soaps are not true soaps, but detergents. They remove your natural body oils, leaving you feel dry and itchy, and the need for lotions.
How is handmade soap different from soap I buy in the store?
Commercial soap is often detergent, not true soap. See the question: "What's the difference between soap and detergent?" for an explanation of the difference between soap and detergent.
What's the difference between soap and detergent?
Most commercial soap is actually detergent. If you wash with a detergent bar of soap your natural body oils are removed. This is why when you use a commercial soap you leave the shower or bath feeling dry, your skin is tight, and you feel the need for lotion. Detergent soaps are made from synthetic chemicals produced in a lab, usually from petroleum products. Non-detergent soaps are made from naturally- occurring ingredients such as animal fats, vegetable fats and lye.
Non-detergent soaps like mine leave your natural body oils in place while removing daily soil and odor. Your body produces oils to shield you from invading bacteria. When you wash with a true soap, these oils remain in place to keep your skin healthy and supple.
How big are your soaps?
I produce soap in three sizes: a three and a half-ounce bar, a four-ounce heart, and a half-ounce mini heart. Since my bars are hand cut, their size varies individually and with age. The image below gives approximate dimensions of my soaps.
What are bath salts?
My bath salts are a mixture of scent, baking soda, cornstarch, and citric acid. They are used to scent and soften hard bath water. Soft water dissolves soap better; keeping your skin from feeling dried out, and creates better lather. The baking soda helps prevent itchy skin. Bath salts scent the room, your bath and you! They also prevent bathtub ring.
How should soap be stored?
My soap will last longest if it is allowed to age, dry, and become hard. Never store soap in plastic or airtight containers- it cannot dry this way. Store soap in a box, in brown paper, or on a shelf with your towels to make them smell nice. Direct sunlight will fade the color of the soap, but will not affect its quality.
How long should a bar of soap last?
That all depends upon how old it is at the time of purchase. A fresh bar of soap is soft enough that you can make a dent in it with your finger. At that time it contains more water than if it is allowed to age, dry and harden. The longer you allow my soap to dry before initial use, the longer it will last. However, that also makes the scent less apparent. The scent will return when the bar is wetted for use. If you allow the soap to dry, a complexion bar can last up to a year! Of course, soap used in the shower by multiple people will consume faster.
To increase the life of your soap, never allow soap to sit in a soap dish where shower water can hit it. Use a soap dish with ridges so the soap is not in contact with the water and can dry between showers.
Can soap get too old?
No. The scent and color will fade with age, but this does not affect the quality of the soap. In fact, the soap will last longer if allowed to age (dry and harden). The scent will return when the bar is wetted for use.
I use [Mary Kay/Dove/ etc.] and I like it. Why should I switch to your soap?
If what you are using works for you, and you are happy with it, you shouldn't change. I make soap for people who are not happy with what they are using. Many of my customers have serious skin problems. They have tried many other soaps, creams, or ointments to no avail, but find that my soap alleviates their skin problems.
I have very sensitive skin. Will your soap irritate it?
In the 40+ years that I have been making soap, I have not received a single complaint. The reason I make soap is to help people with extremely sensitive skin. My customers with distressed skin find relief with my soap.
Have you found your soaps to be helpful with scalp conditions?
My soaps can, indeed, help with scalp conditions. You use it just like shampoo. Wet your hair, lather with the bar, rinse, repeat.
My brochure has complete instructions and recommendations for use as shampoo, as well as suggestions for rinses.
I recommend Prairie Sage or Fresh Meadow soap for scalp condition.
How often do you create new scents?
Whenever I get a hankering for something new, or when someone makes an interesting suggestion.
Does your soap contain petroleum products, perfumes, or dyes?
No, they do not, for two reasons. First, petroleum - based ingredients adversely affect my soap recipes. Second, I have found that people with sensitive skin are sensitive to petroleum- based products, perfumes and dyes. Since my goal is to make soap soothing for sensitive skin, I will not use any of those ingredients.
About Soap Making
What is saponification?
Saponification is the scientific name for the chemical reaction that occurs when a fat (I use olive oil, coconut oil, and beef tallow) combines with an alkali (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) to produce soap and glycerine.
Fat is made up of triglyceride molecules, which are shaped like a capital E with three fatty acid molecules attached to a fat; the lye breaks down into sodium ions and hydroxide ions. The sodium attaches to the glycerol backbone to form glycerine.
Do you need special equipment to make soap?
There is no special equipment to make soap. In fact, it's all in your kitchen.
All you need is:
- A bowl large enough to hold the recipe you're using. (Enameled or stainless steel bowls are preferred. Do not use glass or aluminum bowls; they will react with the lye.)
- A slotted spoon to stir
- A scale to measure
- A good recipe
- A soap mold
- Soap cutting tools
Is soap making a safe project for children?
I don't recommend it.
Do you have any suggestions for gifts?
My soaps make wonderful gifts for all occasions, including Mother's day and Father's day, birthday's, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Weddings, and baby showers. Customers buy my mini hearts in large quantities for party favors. Bed & Breakfasts put my mini hearts instead of candies on their bed pillows. I have several gift collections with colors and scents that complement each other.
Do you gift-wrap?
Yes, I use festive colors of tissue paper and ribbons appropriate for the season and/ or the gift recipient. I charge $7.50 for each gift-wrapped box. Simply enter the number desired in the gift-wrap box on the order blank or click the "Gift Wrap" button on the Gift Collection page.
How do I order and pay by check?
To use the website to order and pay by check, print the order blank and enclose your signed check.
Do you accept credit cards on mail orders?
Yes. Print the order blank, include credit card number, expiration date, billing address and signature in the bottom section of the order blank.
We also accept credit cards through our On-line Shopping Cart.
How much does the shipping cost?
I base the shipping on the total dollar amount of your order. I ship via USPS Priority Mail.
- $1.00 to $18 add $7.99
- $18.01 to $75 add $14.99
- over $75 FREE SHIPPING
- CANADA add $10
- RUSH ORDER add $25
How long does it take to ship?
I assemble orders on Monday of each week. All orders received before 5 pm Central Time on Monday will ship (the next day) Tuesday by USPS Priority Mail. You should receive your order by Thursday or Friday.
For a Rush Order I request a $25 fee, and I will ship it the same day I receive the order, using USPS Priority Mail.
Will you include a gift card with the gift box?
Yes, upon request. Please include desired message when gift card is requested.
Can I custom order a gift box?
Absolutely! Just call (920) 386-2565 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have volume discounts?
I like to keep my soap prices at the lowest possible level, so that my customers who truly need it can afford it. Therefore, I do not offer wholesale or reduced prices. However, I do offer one FREE Bar of End Of The Day Soap when you order 10 or more bars. I also have several specially priced boxes of eight bars, as well as the gift baskets, all priced for less than the individual piece price.