Soap Factory

The soap factory is in full production mode.  Kim and I have been very busy making lots of different types of soap for a big order we have from a friend.  We have been making two types, a basic castille (olive oil) soap with various fragrances for display, and a more bubbly and cream soap for friends and personal use.  I use the following oils; Olive, Rice bran, Sunflower, and Coconut for the proper soap.  The initial batch of Rose soap was used here at home, but I took in a sample to work and sold seven bars to my collegues.  They were very pleased with the smell and I have had back glowing reports of how nice it is to use.  I also agree, as we have used up the rest of it already.  I am on to the castille soap now, which is creamy, but not a lot of bubbles.  Still works okay though.

On Sunday, we make 5 kg and added some colourings as well as fragrance.

The purple slab is Lavender with flowers, the Pink is Sweetpea and Vanilla, and the White is Sandlewood and Musk.  They all smell divine.  My friend Michael visited Lush (a soap shop in Melbourne) and told me that they are selling slabs like this for $80 a kg!  You even have to cut it up yourself.  What a rip off, when it only costs us about $10-15 a kg to make depending on how much extras we add to it.  I bet they use cheap palm oil bought in bulk to keep their costs down even lower than mine.  That is quite a profit margin.
Anyway, here is the soap after it has been cut into bars.
Lavender with flowers
Sweetpea and Vanilla (smells like fairy floss to me).
and a lovely display of our wares by the artistic Kim. 
Don’t they just look good enough to eat?
In four weeks time we will be selling some of them for $5 a bar to whoever wants them.  Kim has asked me to set her up a blog so that she can start up a small cottage business, and she really loves making soap.  I will be getting that off the ground in the next few days, and help her set up an Etsy shop as well.  I have heard that they are quite simple to run and the selling fees are much less than Ebay.  Not wanting to be too forward, but if anyone is interested in buying some, please drop me an email.
So, lots of fun at the TGOG soap factory, and stay tuned for a link to Kim’s shop of homemade soaps. 


  1. says

    Huh, I don’t know why everyone hates on Lush — perhaps it’s not as good in Australia as in the US. But, they do not use Palm oil (I actually found out about the whole shtick with palm oil from them), and they can cut their soap into ANY SIZE or price that you want. I don’t know how your friend managed to miss that part.

    Also, the sales folks recommend letting the soap sit in a drawer for at least a week prior to using to cure.

    … I’m just surprised by all the anti-lush sentiment, hence this little comment.

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Gav
    about the regulations buy this book it tells you all you need to know called soap naturally you can get it The Good Life Book Club on thw web. I also hope you bought some ph test strips to make sure the soap is ok.
    anyway hope this helps


    • Anonymous says

      I have just stumbled on to this site with interest. I also make soap and selling it is not easy. Regulations kill you especially when you have to pay NICNAS their $395 (may have gone up by now) annual fee to sell even one bar. Then there is the insurance on top. Expensive. But having said all that the soap is better for your skin.

      • Susanne Roach says

        I thought the NICNAS fee was only $138.00 per year. Not that I have any at present, have been trying to look into it as I wanted to start selling soap

  3. Anonymous says

    Lush IS a ripoff, sans Palm oil or not. Soaps is shit, doesn’t clean the skin and is not cured, so it’s gone in a week, 8 bucks USD down the drain. Anyone that can afford to spend ridiculous amounts of money on crap will be very happy with Lusg.

  4. says

    I would second the thing, totally in keeping with your local philosphy too. I would love to get my hands on some of that sweet pea and vanilla soap. If it smells half as good as it looks, you will be onto a winner!!

  5. says

    “Not tested on animals” as of 2004, NO cosmetics are toiletries are to be tested on animals anymore, so it is not a unique claim at all, but if one bangs on about it, it makes it sound as if they’re the only one doing it, which isn’t true. Skipping out palm oil only to add more SLS to products (ever wondered why bars made you itch, make your eyes burn, your skin dry?) isn’t a good trade off IMO.

    There are other online sources out there, maybe some even more local than Etsy – I use Folksy in the UK and have very good results, but it must be said I have seen a HUGE jump in people making soap these days, some better than others, and competition is quite high. Good luck if you manage it, but don’t expect to make your fortune!

  6. says

    Wow Gav, just got to say I love logging into your blog and seeing your photographs. If you didn’t add wording to this post I would have thought the soap was something you could eat – they look so yummy!

  7. says

    Hey the soap looks so pretty! I just blogged about my latest 100% olive oil castile batch. I tried French green clay in it for help with oily summer skin.

    I also looked into Etsy. I pulled up the number of soap sellers and was a little dismayed. Then I pulled up the number of castile soap sellers and was still dismayed.
    Plus, some of the prices were less than I wanted to sell for ($4/ bar.) So, I decided to go with local craft sales, friends, etc. Especially during holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s.

    But you’ve got quite a good blog going here, so you guys may get a soap shop up and running in no time!

  8. says

    Wow – that all looks fantastic. I can see that I’m going to have to add soap making to my ever growing list of things to try!

  9. JulieG says

    I’ll be another one sticking up for Lush – they’re heading towards palm oil free, don’t test on animals, use minimal packaging, and have to charge for labour and rent as well as materials. They’re not perfect but they’ve got a program of continuous improvement, lots of small changes all the time.

    Don’t forget to charge for your time as well as the materials you use, you’ll be selling yourself short if you don’t :)

  10. says

    Okay, okay, I will stop bagging Lush, and do a little more research next time before listening to information 3rd hand. Sorry about that.

    As for the shop, Kim as dismissed Etsy as an idea, however looks quite promising. She will be selling other craft and jewellery items besides just soap. On your good advice, I will be checking out the regulations before selling to more than just family and friends.


  11. says

    EEK! Actually i just saw the bit where you said “Etsy shop”. PLEASE do not think selling soap is as easy as just bunging it in a shop and running with it. There are regulations you need to follow, assessments you have to get, all sorts of things. I see many people do this time and time again. If you’ve done all that, then well and good, but if not, please be sure to do your homework on your local regs first before opening a shop.

  12. says

    You will need to check the liability insurance & all that, there are regulations on selling soap in Australia.

    Lush announced a few months back that they are now palm oil free on their soaps, and have joined the campaign against palm oil. I’ve never noticed them ask anyone to cut their own soap either – yes it is displayed in large slabs, but next to the slabs are the precut pieces. Not that I buy their soap (I make my own too), but I’m in there regularly to buy bath bombs & other stuff.

    And lastly – my experience with putting lavendar into soap is that it soon looks like mouse droppings. Hope yours don’t discolour the way mine did.

  13. says

    They look great Gavin! I am going to have buy one on the new Etsy site.

    I also recommend checking out for another Australian online selling site that crafters can set up. This is very Australia focused.

    As for lush soaps, I loathe the bath bombs, they have way too much fragrance!
    I did take a lush shampoo bar with me on a trip through India so I didn’t have to take bottles of shampoo/body wash/clothes wash and it was fantastic. 1 month in India and I was at least semi clean the whole the time. :)

    I don’t work for lush and have no association with them but this shampoo bar was a good investment for this backpacker!

    warmest regards

  14. says

    I second checking into your liability. I also second Esty over Ebay. Esty is for handcrafted and now antiques/vintage. So its the correct venue for what you are doing. Personally I wouldn’t get into the whole shipping thing, but that is me, it would be an extra trip to the post that I wouldn’t want to make.
    The soaps look great and good luck to Kim setting up an Etsy shop and blog. I buy my soap local handmade because I am afraid of lye. I have no caustic materials in my home. If I could make it without the lye I am sure I would. 😉

  15. says

    Believe it or not, Lush soap isn’t even done like yours, it’s melt and pour, which is a soap base and usually loaded with SLS. “Natural” indeed!

    Do have a care with the sales and orders – I don’t know how it works in AU but when you’re actually selling to people, you could be liable for damages if they’re allergic. Might want to look into it just to be sure you don’t get zinged.

    • Darque Myst says

      @ Hathor’s Bath: If you actually know what you’re doing, then you’ll know that you don’t sell soaps that cause anyone to “get zinged”.

      Insufficient curing times are the cause because the oils are still saponifying during that time- still ‘digesting the lye’, to put it another way.

      Curing times can range from 4 – 8 weeks, with many settling for 6.

      No idea what soapers you hang around with, but in Australia, most of us would sooner die than sell an inferior bar of soap that hasn’t been properly cured and passed the ‘tongue test’.

      Furthermore, I haven’t met a single soaper who’s so lacking in intelligence and sense of responsibility that they’d even be capable of cutting curing times just for the sake of a sale.

      They know they’d never sell another bar of soap, and their name would forever be ‘mud’ in the community.

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