Marla Bosworth is the founder and owner of Back Porch Soap Company. She teaches classes, corporate events and experiences including candle making, soap making, organic skincare and perfumery.

December 19, 2015

Video: How to Achieve Accurate Bar Size in Soapmaking

There are three ways to cut cold process soap loaves into bars: by hand, with a manual cutter, and with an electric cutter. The disadvantage to cutting soap by hand is that it is challenging to get consistent bar size and accuracy. If you currently cut soap by hand, try weighing each bar and see how close each one is in weight. Surprisingly they can be as much as .5 oz or more different. Also, it's next to impossible to scale your soap business with cutting soap by hand. Imagine cutting thousands of bars by hand.

When we move to a manual or electric cutter, our accuracy increases and so does the professional appearance of our soap bars. I prefer a manual cutter to an electric one, the reason being is that it takes so much time to replace cutter blades from loaf cutting to bar cutting.

In the following video I'll show you how we easily cut loaves into bars. This particular batch yielded 27 loaves, which in turn produced 378 bars of soap.

How do you cut your soap? Do you have any tips to share?

Thanks for watching!

December 18, 2015

Video: Large Batch Soapmaking Equipment: Molds and Cutter

Two years ago I invested in soap making equipment for large scale production of cold process soap. The cost was over $10,000. The investment is well worth it if you are looking to grow your soap business. My company already owned a water-jacketed soap melter, plenty of stainless steel tables, bakers racks and utility shelving. But what we needed was a system to produce thousands of bars of soap per week with ease.

Equipment for increase production can be costly. Factors to consider when contemplating a purchase in equipment include:

  • How is this a wise investment for your company? (In other words, prove it to yourself.)
  • Do you plan to grow this segment of your business for at least 5 or more years? 
  • Will the equipment retain its value for resale?
  • At what capacity will your equipment investment allow your production to grow? Then what
  • As your production grows, can you add on to the equipment or will you have to purchase a completely new system?
  • Is there considerable growth from your current production volume and that in which you estimate your equipment will provide? How long will you start to see return on investment (ROI)?
  • How will you finance your equipment?
  • Can you grow areas of your business to help pay for the equipment (such as adding or increasing wholesale capabilities, private label, etc.)?
In the following video I'll show you the large mold (pictured below) and electric cutter. The cutter hoists the soap mold onto the platform. From there the mold block is secured and the soap is released from the mold by removing all four sides. The large soap block is then positioned under the wire cutters and the soap is cut into loaves. The loaves are then cut into bars.

Have you ever seen soap making equipment in action? Do you have plans to grow your business? What questions about large-scale production do you have?

Thanks for watching!

How to Make 100 lb. Batch of Handmade Soap

Like many soapmakers, I started my business in my home kitchen, making small batches of soap. As demand for my products grew, I found myself outgrowing a stockpot, then a 5 gallon pail. Stickblenders were no longer large enough to emulsify a batch of soap.

After much research, I invested more than $10,000 in soap making equipment: water-jacketed electric tanks to melt oils, large stainless steel mixing pot on tipping stand, 350 bar molds, drill with paddle attachment to replace stick blender, electric soap cutter, more stainless steel tables and baker's racks.

In this video I'm making a 100 lb. batch which will yield approximately 400 bars of soap. I'm mixing my oils and lye water together and getting ready to add essential oils and herbs. Let me show you how I combine 10 lbs. of lye, 73 lbs. of oils/butters and 56 oz. of essential oil!

As a business, we need to be mindful of operating efficiently. What areas of your production would you like to improve?
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