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Tools of the Trade

Ann Stoll

Today was the first day that I made soap in a 7 gallon bucket. Whoa! That's a lot of soap! This particular soap is being made for a private label customer. These are shave soaps that are poured into a PET container. The customer then applies their own label. I've been trying to figure out how to manage such a large order efficiently, because shave soaps are a strange beast. My formulation uses a dual hydroxide and most people do what's called Hot Processing, which is basically forcing the gel phase of the soap faster. The process I began to recently use doesn't have a name, but I learned it from another maker at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild conference I attended in May.

When making large batches of soap, it's imperative to find more efficient ways to produce the product. Tiny batches of anything are not efficient. It still takes you just as long to collect and weight all the ingredients as it does for a large batch. Mixing takes about the same amount of time, etc., but you end up with less product for almost the same amount of work as a large batch. So I was very pleased to learn this new method that is very similar to what I normally do when I make soap, and that is Cold Processing.

When scaling up the process of making any product, you are suddenly in a spot to see that maybe your equipment needs a bit of an upgrade. For these soaps, I went from a large stainless stock pot to a 7 gallon bucket. Another thing that was upgraded was my mixing tool. Seven gallon buckets are very deep and my immersion blender is just not long enough, nor do I have any device that was long enough. So, I purchase a mixer tool that attaches to a drill. Genius.

My hubby let me use his Milwaukee for this project. I will probably have to get my own drill in the future. The shaft on this is about 30 inches.and fits nicely into the bucket and does a bang up job blending all that goodness into something amazing. I see myself using this tool more and more as Blossom's Barn continues to grow and expand. I was able to mix up 127 jars of shave soap in one batch. Hurrah!! I could actually do more, but I didn't this time. I get to play with this again tomorrow to finish up this order. 

See ya around the soap shop!