Creating a Home-Based Soap Business
Like most home-based businesses, small-scale soapmaking for profit often begins as a hobby. What usually starts out as an on-the-side undertaking for personal fulfillment, or for meeting particular needs of the individual or the household, turns into an enterprise that may occupy you part-time or full-time.
Friends or relatives who try out your home-made items may find them to their liking, then request to be supplied on a more or less regular basis. They may even ask you to make them according to their own unique specifications. Word spreads around, and before you know it, your have more orders than you can handle.
Market for Your Home-Based Soap Business
Handmade soap making perfectly fits this pattern of development. The question is, is there a big enough market for the soap you make at home in bulk quantities? The answer of course will depend on your location, the appeal and quality of your product, and other factors. What is certain is that there are numerous ways of making handmade soap a marketable item—this is one product that’s rather flexible. It can easily be tailored to meet certain consumer needs or wants. Often it’s just a matter of adjusting ingredients.
Furthermore, handmade bar soaps have several real advantages over commercially produced ones. One of these is that they tend to be free of potentially irritating chemicals such as foaming agents. They are also usually high in glycerine, a natural humectant or moisturizer released by vegetable oils during soapmaking, particularly if the cold process method was used in production.
Cold and Hot Process Methods for Home-Based Soap Business
There are basically two ways of making handmade soap from scratch: the so-called cold process and hot process methods. Cold process is the more common of the two, and may simply be described as the mixing of 1) lye or some other alkali and 2) fats or oils. A batch made by this traditional approach takes a few hours to saponify (the process of becoming soap), but may take as many as four weeks to cure completely.
Hot process is a variation of this first method. It is different in that it involves cooking the soap. Advantages of this procedure include a nearly non-existent curing time and easier handling of added scents and colors. Downsides include high energy consumption and difficulties in molding large batches of the low-fluidity soap pastes produced by cooking.
If you are out to sell out of your home-based soap business, several things considered incidental in soapmaking as a hobby become musts. Superfatting is one of these. You cannot afford to omit this additive part of the saponification process which improves the soap’s moisturizing property, brings it closer to its correct pH level and make it less irritating to the skin. The addition of coloring elements and scenting oils also becomes essential, to ensure your product’s chance of competing with the various fancy and highly refined commercial soaps.
With a bigger scale production in mind for your home-based soap business, you may also have to invest in certain equipment, such as a blender or amalgamator, or a microwave oven which you can use with the hot process method of soapmaking.
Home-Based Soap Business: Marketing Your Soap
You may also have to be creative with the way you mold your soap. You can try and be fancy yourself with the way you shape the soap bar or engrave or emboss your product name on it. Or you may opt to be deliberately “crude” but homey with your presentation, and reduce appearance and packaging to their barest essentials.
The following are selling points you’ll want emphasized when you market the product of your home-based soap business. Your handiwork is: 1) an inexpensive luxury that everyone is entitled to, 2) a benefit to individuals with sensitive skin, and 3) an earth-friendly commodity.