blog post vent has been a while in the making. Like a volcano bubbling under the surface, it’s finally time to punch through and get my frustrations out. The topic?
Not all beginner soapers. I’m specifically looking at the ‘silver platter’ beginner soapers. The ones that think making soap or other body products is easy and all they need to do is ask and they will be told everything they need. I’m seeing it everywhere now and it’s starting to drive me a little batty.
Maybe I’m just old… after all, I remember when the Library used the card system. If you needed to borrow a book, you first have to go through long, narrow draws of cards first to locate the book. We’ve moved so far past that even movies like Twilight have the phrase “Google it”. (so out of place that line!)
Ten months ago I was a beginner soaper. I’d say more like 12 months ago that I became interested in soaping. My first step – google. And from there I started taking note of soaping books that people recommended, I searched them out and I purchased them. This in itself almost seems like an ancient thing to do… spend money on a book to learn? Why on earth would I do that when the internet is free!
Yes, the internet is free. And yes, the information is out there. BUT, so is a lot of misinformation. And even more scaringly, some of the information out there is shared by soapers who themselves have not spent the time to learn their craft correctly. Talk about the blind leading the blind! No, I chose to read from accomplished soapers so that when I did move onto further education from the class of Google, I would have a slightly better understanding and possible misinformation would raise a red flag.
On my bookshelf I have seven books and five eBook print outs. I have a dedicated bookmarking folder for soap information sites and more. I searched for forums and through reading and eventually posting, I have found one that suits me. AFTER spending countless hours reading and learning, I finally felt ready to take the plunge and try my first batch of soap.
Even after all of the above, I still hit hurdles. Hell, I managed to hit every hurdle ever had in soaping AND discover some new ones. But I’m special – anyone who knows me will agree I’m sure. “oooh yeah, she’s special alright” would likely be the nod of agreement.
This is probably why I get so frustrated when I see post after post, thread after thread of ‘newbies’ just sticking their hand out.
- Looking for a Handcream recipe?
- Working out costing for lip balm?
- Working out how much to sell products for?
- What can I and cannot put in melt and pour soap?
- When to add ingredients to the soap?
- Bath Bomb, Bath Fizz Recipe?
Another newbie was surprised that they can’t just cut a recipe in half without running it through a lye calculator again (I don’t know how many times I’ve read people saying you must always run it through a lye calculator!). I’ve seen people asking what superfatting means, asking for a ‘newbie friendly’ recipe, how much EO or FO can you use, what does EO (Essential Oil) and FO (Fragrance Oil) mean, what’s the difference between Palm Oil and Palm Kernal Oil, etc. ALL of which can be found on the internet. Literally googling the exact wording of a question you have will give you the answers or a starting position from which you can google other terms.
To a non-soaper, sure I can see how some of the soap related names and terms can be confusing. But, the people asking the questions are the same ones that are wanting to actually create the soap – some of them so much so they are already laying out their business plan!
I shouldn’t see any “can you tell me a recipe for xxxx” threads. Ever! There are hundreds of recipe’s for everything on the internet. Newbie soap recipes, hand cream, shampoo bath bomb recipes, and even the highly secretive bubble bar recipe. I make bubble bars. I never asked for a recipe. I googled, I googled, I googled some more. I found about ten different recipe’s out there on websites, forums and more. I compared each of them against each other to narrow down similarities and then researched the benefits to using the other ingredients different in each one. I did my homework. And, considering I basically finished school after grade 6 (approx 11 years old), others should be more familiar with doing their homework than I am.
After homework – comes prac. Or, practice. Testing. Tweaking. Test, test, test! I have made over ten batches of bubble bars so far and only now am I getting close to a recipe that I would feel confident allowing customers to test. Through each hands on experience I am learning how different levels of ingredients effect each batch.
Soap is just the same. When I started making cold process soap I tried probably twenty different recipes. I remember being told that I should just start with one basic recipe and perfect that, but for me, trying all the different recipes and ways of making soap right at the start was a good thing. I was able to learn how each ingredient performed in the soap and what qualities it brought with it.
My recipe’s were taking from the books on my shelves, websites and even through other people’s soap websites (the ones where they sell soap). I tried, I tested, I learned. And never once did I just stick my hand out and expect someone to give me their tried and tested recipe so I could skip that step. And you know why? Because it takes months to perfect your recipe! This is something I know first hand. Knowing the time, effort, and cost that goes into learning and perfecting your craft, there is no way I would ever expect someone to just hand over their recipe or technique.
Oh how I laughed at the poster who, struggling with their total of $75 invested felt they had to start selling to recoup costs.
On the flip side, you also have the the ‘Well I know better’ attitude. The latest comment I read that prompted me to actually write this post is on the soaping forum I frequent. After someone asked for feedback on their ‘itching cream’ recipe, someone else shared theirs. Not a problem with that at all, except, for an 8oz batch, they have a 1oz blend of Lavender and Eucalyptus essential oil.
After what I considered to be a fair reply by a soaper who’s been doing it for years warned them to be careful with that level of essential oil in that size batch, their reply came back with that “I know better” tone:
“Well, I have used this recipe for years with no adverse reactions. It is my understanding that lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be used full strength on the skin. If one is worried, they could always halve the amount of the essential oils, but I have never had a problem using it as it is listed.”
This sort of reply bugs me. Unless you are the best in the world at what ever you are doing, there is always room to grow, to learn, to improve. Most people who read or partake on a forum are there to learn, and sometimes that learning can come from unsolicited advice. I don’t mean someone PMing you trying to tell you how to do things, but like the above, you post a reply to someone’s thread, and as a result, you may find out that you could improve your own soaping.
Now, just because someone offers you advice does not mean you have to take it, but, when someone points out that you may be using a possibly dangerous level of a certain ingredient, I believe you should at least take a moment to ponder if they could in fact be onto something. This is never more true when you are hand crafting something that is used on or in the body of other people.
Peanuts – I can eat them by the handful, yet someone else will end up fighting for their life with just one bite. Shea Butter – Many people love it and most wouldn’t think twice about using it, but a fellow soaper is allergic to it. I think this sums it up best:
“The point is to be aware of potential problems using ingredients. When someone like xxxxx, who has years of experience with soaps and toiletries, passes along that kind of information, it’s just something to keep in mind.”
Remember all the question threads I mentioned above? Well all of those are from the same person! And every single thread was answered along the same lines “read books, read threads, learn, learn, learn”. This was a special case though, they weren’t interested in learning or perfecting their hobby at all. They were only in it for the money. After not extracting people’s recipes on the forum, they turned to the M&P group on Facebook. They didn’t get their answers their either. And when they didn’t, they went ahead and made soap anyway – a goat’s milk soap base in which they added milk powder to (huh?), instant coffee (yikes!) and poured it too hot so it look liked a lovely brown turd had been embedded into the middle of their soap. Yummy!
They were proud of it. They posted a picture of it. And nearly every reply was along the lines of “Um… I would do it this way next time.” Did they take the advice? Learn? Improve? Nope!! They went ahead and listed their VERY FIRST SOAP for sale on their facebook page. Excuse me while I collect my bugged out eyeballs from the floor…
The soaper wanting to create a wash for animals with essential oils, the soaper who, after one or two batches of M&P now feels completely ready to begin CP soaping, the M&P soaper who, in one of their first batches used four times the recommend (and tested!) amount of honey in their soap and was so proud they were “pushing the envelope” and then selling them instantly without any idea of how they would hold up down the track.
Don’t even get me started on the forum posted who thought they knew everything because they already had a business – making signs! The same poster who, upon receiving very valid advice of not selling your soaps until you know how they perform, then went and labelled us all bitchy and rude on another forum.
I find myself struggling to visit my favourite soaping forum or soaping groups on Facebook. The amount of times I find myself shaking my head or rolling my eyes because someone else is asking a question that they should have been able to research and answer themselves (I’m talking basic stuff), or, after being informed they should be careful (ingredient levels, not selling your first soaps, waiting a minimum 6 months before selling) etc come back with a “yeah what ever, I’ll do what I want coz I know what I’m doing” attitude. If it keeps going I’m going to shake my eyes right out of my head!
I’m no expert. Far from it. BUT, not only do I know this so am open and willing to learn from the experienced, I am also the one sitting here for a couple of hours researching something new I want to try. And before I get that instant rebuttal of “some people don’t have hours to search the internet”, they should ask themselves if they should be creating something that other people use on their body. If you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it at all. There are other hobbies out there that don’t carry the same potential for harm that would be better suited.
If you are going to make soap, or any other body product, you have to be prepared to put in the time and effort to learn what you’re doing.
Oh the irony. Literally while I am proof reading this blog, yet another thread is posted:
“Just wanted to know if anybody had a shea butter soap recipe they might like to share. I just bought some shea from BB and am dying to try it out. I would prefer if the recipes did not contain any tallow, and that is why I decided not to use the one listed on Teach Soap. Also, I do wonder if I could get this bar to be pretty hard. I just bought sodium lactate, so can you share some advice for using that?”
So let me get this straight… they purchased ingredients without having a recipe already to try. And they purchased sodium lactate without knowing how it’s used. Right. What’s scarier is their signature linking to their soaping website which then links to their etsy store where they are SELLING soap!
I can feel my voice going higher, my arms waving around a little more and am noticing I’m standing on tippy toes as I vent. You know, that Oh My GAWD she did what?! kinda animated freak out. Time to take a deep breath…
Maybe I’m too harsh. Maybe I shouldn’t expect other people to put in the same amount of effort as other seasoned soapers? Hell maybe I’M the one doing it wrong and should just start posting a question three seconds after it enters my head without any consideration for googling and seeing if someone else has ever thought to ask the same thing before. After all, I’m special, everything I want to try is new to the soaping world and would neeeeever have been thought of before. Noooooo. /end sarcasm
*walks away muttering and looking for the chocolate*