Soapmaking is such a rewarding hobby. Allowing you to express your artistic vision and create a product exactly the way you’d like it; soap makes a great gift option for family, friends, and even fundraisers. Some people may want to try their hand at soapmaking but it can seem overwhelming at first. Trust me, we’ve all been there. Here’s the thing – you cannot fail because there will always be a demand for soap.* Whether your creation ends up being sold on a commercial scale or you make it for personal use, it is a practical craft that will not go to waste. *Unless you spill the soap all over the floor like I have… then that’s a fail.
I was always fond of handmade soap, but had no clue how it was made. I knew it smelled better and lathered nicer than store-bought soap. Once I became part of the team here at Bulk, I began experimenting with our products and through much practice, patience, trial and error, I began to get the hang of this whole soaping thing. Keep in mind, I come from the car business – these products were all foreign to me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up being the one making handmade soap! I went from motor oil to sweet almond oil and I’m not complaining.
Today’s recipe was created with beginners in mind. I chose these items because it is possible to try your hand at soapmaking without making a huge investment. For that reason, the subtotal of these items will come to under $20.00 when added to your shopping cart on our website. This recipe will yield approximately 4-6 bars of soap, depending how thick you choose to cut them.
Spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, kitchen knife, cutting board, Pyrex glass, spoon
Let’s Get Started
Begin by unwrapping the block of soap base and proceed to chop into small cubes with a kitchen knife or soap cutter. Once the block has been cubed, place in a microwave safe container.
Since our color blocks are so highly pigmented, I only used about 1/8 of the color block to achieve a nice, subtle lavender hue. Place the color block slices into the cubed soap and microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between. When the soap has liquefied, remove from microwave and add fragrance oil. French Market is such a lovely scent, with mingling notes of tuberose, ylang ylang, lilac, vanilla and a touch of lavender, it’s strong yet subtle scent composition smells of pure luxury. Using a thermometer, make sure the soap temperature ranges between 120°-140° F.
Here we go – it’s time to pour! Gently pour the melted soap into the mold. I love this particular mold because I don’t have to commit to a large batch of soap. It holds 20 oz. so 1 lb. of soap fills it just over 3/4 to the top. It’s perfect for small batches and testing new recipes. Do you see all the little bubbles at the surface of the soap? That happened because I poured too fast and with too much force. Pro tip: Always keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol nearby, as a few quick spritzes will eliminate any bubbles or foam that have formed on top of the soap.
After pouring the soap and spraying rubbing alcohol, allow the soap to cool for at least six hours. Alternatively, pop the mold in the fridge to speed up the process. Side note: this may cause condensation to occur on the soap. Don’t be alarmed – you can easily blot off the dew with a paper towel.
When the soap is cool and hardened, gently pull the sides of the mold away from the soap. You will be able to see the vacuum seal releasing as you pull apart. Flip the mold over on a clean, flat surface and gently push the soap completely out.
Using a soap cutter, slice the soap into individual bars to the size of your liking. You can either do 1″ bars, or even cut them smaller to make sample size bars to share your soaping success with your family!
When did you start your journey into soapmaking? Do you have any questions or comments? We’d love to hear your stories! Please share with us in the comments below!
The Birth of Bulk Apothecary
Picture it: Streetsboro, Ohio, 2008. A small company called Natural Essentials owned by a family with a dream to expose the public to the benefits of natural living without harsh chemicals. Natural Essentials was a direct supplier to companies for pre-formulated soap bases and raw materials such as cocoa butter, shea butter, vegetable glycerin and the like. When the economy began to take a downfall, The Pellegrino family began scratching their heads, wondering how they could turn their small business into something more profitable with greater purpose.
One family member said, “Hey, why don’t we start selling these products directly to the consumer?” And so, Bulk Apothecary was born in 2010 and consisted of one packer/shipper, one customer service representative and the CEO himself.
Now, let’s fast forward about eight years and three warehouse moves later.
We now have a 22,000 square foot facility dedicated to botanicals. Here you will find bundles upon bundles of lavender bursting with beautiful aromatic buds, sweet-smelling rose petals, clays being poured into buckets and vats of potpourri components to be fragranced by our customers.
Two streets away, we have another building. In this 30,000 square foot production plant, day and night we combine raw components to create lotion bases, body wash, shower gel and custom formulations
Today, you will walk into Bulk Apothecary and find that there is a full-time team dedicated to making our customers get the product quality and customer service they deserve. In our new warehouse, we’ve got 200,000 square feet of space filled with stocked product, order fulfillment specialists, product specialists, packers, shippers, inventory management, a dedicated customer service department, a team of graphic artists, a laboratory, maintenance technicians and so much more. In addition, we proudly employ individuals of all abilities, as this was part of our mission to allow people with various conditions to be active, productive, employed members of the community.
After providing our client base over 8 years of service, we’ve come to know and build relationships with customers from all walks of life. We have worked with patrons who spend $2.95 on a bottle of fragrance oil, to larger companies who require monthly orders of coconut oil by the pallet. No customer is too big or too small – here at Bulk, we want to help you grow and reach the goals you have set out with your hobby.
We sincerely believe in community and utilizing the resources you’ve got at hand and we would like to share with you what we have learned over our years of growth. If we did it, you can too, and we are here to help you along the way! We would like to introduce our new small business blog series.
In this series, we will be covering a variety of topics including:
- How to brand your business
- How to determine your market
- How to price your product
- How to efficiently increase your production
- How to package and what packaging best suits your products
- Designing labels for your product (and how Bulk can help!)
- FDA labeling requirements
- How to overcome objections from dissatisfied customers
- Where to sell your product
- Quality control
We hope you join us every Saturday as we will be covering a variety of topics pertinent to the success of the hobbyist who wants to take it to the next level.
- the action or capacity of smelling; the sense of smell.
The olfactory system is complex and still being studied in-depth by scientists. What we do know: Neurotransmitters carry the olfaction into the limbic system of the brain, the temporal lobe and the hypothalamus – where emotion lies.
Simply put, pleasant fragrances trigger emotional effects. Be it a romantic attraction or a scent that conjures up a childhood memory, most of us have a scent that can transport us to another and often happier place.
For me, it is the scent of Flex™ shampoo, which was launched in 1971 and remained popular throughout the 1970s and 80s. It had notes of balsam, vanilla and maybe a just a tinge of citrus. My father absolutely refused to use any other brand of shampoo, and in the 2000s when we realized it was being phased out, I would scour the local drug stores to gather any remaining bottles I could find. He was certainly stuck in his ways, but I knew how much he loved that scent, so I obliged as any daddy’s little girl would.
Fast forward to present day. Digging around in the bathroom closet looking my first aid kit, I spotted that familiar green bottle hidden all the way in the back. The lid is covered in a bit of dust, the remaining shampoo in the bottle has discolored, but I don’t care. I quickly swipe it up, flip the lid and put my nose above it. In that moment, the familiar, nostalgic scent transported me back to a place when my dad was still alive. I could almost feel his arms around me, giving me a big hug. It was such an intense moment that I forgot what I was looking for in the first place! Since his hair always smelled like Flex™, it was a fragrance association that I wasn’t even aware of until after his passing.
With over 300 fragrances, we often get questions from customers asking for more information about these products. Understandably so, because surprisingly, there is a lot to learn! What is the difference between a fragrance oil and an essential oil? What exactly is an essential oil, anyway? Can they be blended? Does one last longer than the other? What are the ingredients? How much should I use?
Whether your venture is in soapmaking, using fragrance for perfume or to diffuse in your home, we are here to help you learn all about fragrance.
Fragrance oils are revered because they are scents that you simply will never find in nature. From unique scents to high-end perfume & cologne copycats, the possibilities are almost endless. The great thing about fragrance oils is that they offer a consistent scent batch to batch because fragrance oils are mainly comprised of lab-created elements. Many customers opt for this type of oil since they are typically more affordable than natural fragrance oil or essential oil. I’ve never smelled a plant that smells like Ramen Noodle Soup (our version) – have you? [Side note: it really does smell like the chicken flavored seasoning that comes in the foil packet, no joke!]
I love fragrance oils because I can blend them to create my very own individualized scents. For more information on how to blend fragrances that compliment each other, please check out our blog post about combining scents by using the fragrance wheel.
Variety of choices
Scent less likely to fade
Deemed safe by IFRA but ingredients are unavailable
Does not fit “all natural” business model
All-Natural Fragrance Oil
All-natural fragrance oils are composed of aromatic isolates from nature and essential oils. Much like essential oils, these fragrances have zero additives or unnatural elements. You may be surprised to find out how some of these natural scents are derived! For example, anywhere from flower petals and seeds to twigs and beaver castor sacs (seriously – it gives fragrances a berry-like scent), these compounds, believe it or not, can mingle together to make for an exemplary fragrance experience.
All natural fragrance oils are perfect for people who want to avoid using synthetic ingredients in their product but would still like to maintain a variety of scent other than those strictly distilled from plants. Natural fragrances offer a bit more variety than essential oils because of the various natural elements within their composition.
Ability to blend
Higher price point
Sometimes not as strong as synthetic fragrance
Standardized/Industrial Essential Oil
Standardized/Commercial essential oils are sometimes referred to as “nature identical” and they maintain a consistent aromatic profile. They have been altered from their natural state by adding, removing and combining aromatic elements from other natural sources. With today’s technology, scientists are able to isolate the desired aromatic constituents within the oil. These components are acids, alcohols, aldehydes, coumarins, esthers, esters, ketones, lactones, terpenes, oxides and phenols.Many companies in the personal care industry opt for standardized essential oils because it allows them to offer their customers an all-natural product while still keeping a more affordable price point for the business and consumer alike.
A perfect example of this would be our Lavender 40/42 essential oil. The “40/42” refers to the balance of Linalool and Linalyl acetate esters, which are what gives the oil a consistent scent. It has a balsamic woody undertone with a floral, herbaceous fresh scent.
More affordable than therapeutic grade
Essential oils are pure and most commonly steam distilled or cold pressed and contain no additives. For example, it takes approximately 250 to 300 lbs. of lavender to make just one pound of lavender essential oil. The same amount of peppermint leaves is required to produce one pound of peppermint essential oil. That’s a lot of plant matter for just one 16 oz. bottle!
Essential oils maintain moderate consistency in fragrance from crop to crop, but may slightly vary. The reason? We are dealing with a 100% natural, pure product from Mother Nature herself! It is pertinent to understand there may be several variables that affect not only the scent, but also the price of the essential oil – market prices fluctuate, bad crop, harvest and availability will all play a role into the cost. Despite these two factors, the essential oils will always maintain the same therapeutic properties.
Some companies will encourage you to ingest these essential oils, claiming remarkable health benefits. So… let’s go back up two paragraphs. If there are 250 lbs. of peppermint leaves in that one pound bottle, that equals 15 lbs. of plant matter per 1 oz. So, essentially, (see what I did there?) that little 15 mL bottle contains approximately 8 lbs. of peppermint leaves. Now think about the sensitive mucous membranes in your mouth, throat and digestive track. Do you see how this could be a recipe for disaster? Essential oils have incredible potency and unfortunately, they are not FDA regulated at this time. Unfortunately, many people have experienced injury or illness due to essential oil misuse.
It is important to work closely with a physician and aromatherapist if you choose to use essential oils in this manner, but we strongly advise against it. Bulk Apothecary sells its essential oils for cosmetic use only.
Slight batch variations
Higher price point
Scent may not hold well in some applications
There is still so much to learn about these products – so much that we hope you will be tuning in each week for our Fragrance Friday. We will be covering topics about fragrance applications, usage rates, blending, aromatherapy benefits, staff reviews of our scents and more. What questions do you have about fragrance oil? Is there a particular fragrance you’d like to learn more about? Drop us a note in the comments below!
Office De-Stress Diffuser Blend Recipe
Today we wanted to share with you one of our staff favorites! This blend of bright, energizing citrus rounded out by soothing lavender makes for a productive, upbeat work day!
10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops of Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil
3 drops of Sweet Orange Essential Oil
*Mix in diffuser.
Easter Egg Bath Bombs Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 C. Sodium Bicarbonate
1 C. Citric Acid
10 – 30 drops Forget Me Not Blossoms Fragrance Oil
2 t. Sweet Almond Oil
Spray bottle of Witch Hazel
2 Large/Medium Bowls
Empty plastic eggs (I got mine at the local dollar store)
In a large bowl, combine the citric acid and sodium bicarbonate by mixing with a whisk or large spoon. Alternatively, you can used your gloved hand. Just like baking, it is important to mix the dry ingredients before the wet ingredients. Divide the mixture evenly into two bowls.
Add coloring as desired – I chose pastel colors for this project. If you use mica, remember to use a teaspoon of Polysorbate 80 – this is an emulsifier and will keep the color from staining you or your tub. Mix until the coloring is evenly distributed.
Once the dry mix is ready to go, add the fragrance oil and sweet almond oil. Mix, mix, mix! Spritz witch hazel into the mixture as needed until the consistency is that of wet sand. You should be able to clump this mixture in your hand without it falling apart.
Layer the colors as you loosely pack the mixture into the mold, leaving the top of each side of the mold heaping with mixture. This will allow the bath bomb to fully form when you press the two sides of the mold together. There may be some trial and error in this – don’t give up! Sometimes this takes a little patience and practice.
Place the mold in your hand and gently remove the top. Turn the bath bomb over and remove the remaining half. Allow to dry overnight. Enjoy!
Coffee Cup Candles
You might have seen those adorable candle mugs at the craft fair or online. Some are selling up to $25.00 for a small size mug. Today I am going to show you how to make these adorable mugs at a fraction of the price. Look in your cabinets, do you see any mugs that you love, but just don’t use anymore? We all have our go-to morning mug, am I right? Look for something that you wouldn’t mind sitting on your counter or stove. I found two that I bought and totally forgot about. Those worked out just perfect!
Mug (I used a 16 oz)
Whole coffee beans ( I used vanilla beans)
Place the candle wick in the center of a clean mug. I used a little dab of glue from a hot glue gun. It worked perfectly, however if you prefer to not use glue, simply place wick in center of the mug and prop up using pencils or skewers along with tape. This method works just as well.
Using a microwave safe bowl begin melting the wax flakes. Start at 35 seconds intervals. For best results, only do a cup or two at a time. Re-melt if needed, only at 10 seconds intervals or until you hear the wax my pop. You can also use the double boiler method if you prefer. Just make sure to stir every few minutes.
Add 5 drops/shakes of Nature’s Oil Creamy Root Beer Float Fragrance Oil and 1/2 cup of whole coffee beans. I used vanilla beans. The combination together smells amazing!
Slowly pour the hot wax mixture into the mug, avoiding the centered wick. Be careful not to move around the mug. Let set for 24 hours before using.
Trim the wick, light and enjoy your new coffee candle!
We would love to see your creations. Instagram and Twitter followers use hashtag #bulkapothecary. We can’t wait to see what you created 🙂 Enjoy!
Coffee Cup Candle Recipe
Galaxy Soap Bar Recipe
These bars are really out of this world! This recipe is so simple and you can use just about any color re-batch (leftover) soap bars. This past week I made Valentine’s soap, needless to say, I had plenty of pink and purple leftover. Re-batching is the simplest way to create something beautiful and unique. Let’s get started, shall we?
Matte Black Oxide Pigment Powder– 1/4 tsp
Any color left over soap bars (I used 2 colors)
Fragrance or Essential Oil of you choice (I used Be Enchanted Fragrance Oil)
Step 1: Cut Clear Organic SFIC (all natural) Glycerin Melt and Pour Soap Base into small chunks and add 1/4 tsp Matte Black Oxide Pigment Powder. If using the microwave method, heat on high at 30 second intervals. Continue melting until the soap base is completely melted. Add, 7-10 drops of fragrance oil. I choose Be Enchanted Fragrance Oil. This scent definitely smells enchanting. Slowly pour hot soap mixture into a silicon soap loaf pan. Small bubbles may begin to appear, simply spray a spritz of rubbing alcohol on top of your soap loaf.
Step 2: Cut your re-batch soap into different size pieces, lengths or shavings. Drop into the soap mixture. Some pieces will sink down, others may float. The different sizes, shapes and placement will give the finished soap loaf a really unique look once sliced. Step 3: Once soap loaf has hardened, remove from silicon loaf pan and slice into desired size. I used a crinkle cutter for that extra pizzazz. This soap loaf is really “out of this world!” Enjoy!
I wanted to incorporate all colors of the rainbow in this special confetti soap. My favorite part about doing this type of soap is that you never quite know what you’ll get until you begin slicing the bars of soap. This recipe is a little more time-consuming than most because it includes many colors. Alternatively, this recipe provides a great opportunity to use up any leftover soap ends or scraps!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Spray bottle of rubbing alcohol
Begin by cutting the clear soap into uniform sized cubes. This process will take a bit of time, as it requires melting down six individual colors and pouring them into the block cavities of the soap mold.
Separate each bar of clear soap base into four parts. Using half of the remaining clear soap base, cut in half and quarter. We now have enough soap to make six colors.
Quarter each color block and place one quarter into each container of 0.25 lb soap. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir, and then microwave an additional 45 seconds until completely melted. Pour the soap into the cavity of the soap mold, spray with alcohol, and repeat with each color until complete.
Allow the soap blocks to cool thoroughly before unmolding.
After removing the soap from the mold, I grated each color into a big bowl. Don’t forget to wear gloves – this can get messy! As always, please use extra care and caution when using the grater. (You can pick one up at your local dollar store for $1)
Now that I’ve got all the preparation complete, it’s time to make the loaf! After cubing the white soap and microwaving on 45 second increments until liquified, it is time to add fragrance.
How could I not choose our Rainbow’s End (our version) fragrance oil for this soap? It is a soft, fresh delightful scent and will not discolor the white soap. This makes a nice unisex fragrance.
It’s time to pour the soap! With the colored “confetti” soap nearby, pour the scented white soap into the mold. After the mold is approximately ¾ full, spray with alcohol and start grabbing handfuls of colored soap confetti and start sprinkling it in! Use as much or as little as you’d like. Be sure the spray the top of the soap with alcohol one more time once you’ve added the confetti.
Allow the loaf of soap to cool completely for at least 12 hours. Once unmolded, it will look something like this!
First look inside…
Once cut, the soap is ready to use. Enjoy!
Rainbow Confetti Soap Recipe
Botanical Bath Bombs Recipe
After the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received from our Bath Bomb Ornament tutorial, I wanted to do a similar recipe, this time using botanicals as part of the formed bath bomb. Since this recipe calls for soap molds rather than classic bath bomb molds, it is a great way for the beginner to become familiar with formulating bath bombs, without worrying about pressing each side of the bath bomb mold together. Make these for yourself or someone you love and treat them to a homemade spa-like experience! Rose petals floating in the bath water is sure to make you feel like royalty. PS Check out our ready-made Madly in Love bath bombs – these can also give you the same experience without having to do the work! 🙂
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 C. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
1/2 C. Citric Acid
1 t. Arrowroot Powder
1 t. Bentonite Clay
10 – 30 drops Japanese Cherry Blossom (Our Version Of) fragrance oil
1 t. Sweet Almond Oil
Spray bottle of Witch Hazel
Large spoon or whisk
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly using a whisk, large spoon or your hands. Be sure to get to the very bottom of the bowl to incorporate all ingredients. I chose to use bentonite clay because it is believed to be abundant in minerals and serves as a way to remove toxins from the skin. The arrowroot powder will serve as an agent to help keep the bath bomb hard and sturdy. Alternatively, you may use cornstarch or cream of tartar.
After the dry ingredients are mixed and you begin to add in the fragrance and oil, you will notice small clumps forming. Spritz 10-20 sprays of witch hazel at a time while working through with your hands. Keep mixing thoroughly until the texture of the entire batch is that of wet sand.
Prepare the mold by lightly placing small pinches of the botanicals in the heart cavities. Be careful not to overdo it – we still need surface area for the bath bombs to adhere.
Firmly pack the bath bomb mixture into the cavities. Allow to set for ten minutes, then carefully flip over onto a hard, flat surface. I prefer to do it on a baking sheet so I don’t get crumbs everywhere.
Allow the bath bombs to dry for at least 24 hours, and be sure to enjoy! <3
Hello Wine Lovers,
I bet you didn’t know Bulk Apothecary carries many different wine fragrance oils. Well, we do and they all smell terrific! Just trying to figure out which scent to use in this recipe was a pretty difficult decision! Grab yourself your favorite glass and let’s get started with this soap bar wine recipe!
Pink Moscato Soap Bar Recipe
Shea Butter Stephenson Melt and Pour Soap Base– ½ cup melted
Silver Glitter (or any you have on hand)
Melt ½ cup of Shea Butter Stephenson Melt and Pour Soap Base (simply cut off a chunk of the soap base and add more if needed). Slowly pour lines, swirls or designs, leaving open space in the guest rectangle tray soap mold. Sprinkle or spoon in the empty spaces with small amounts of glitter.
Cut and melt 2 lbs of Oatmeal and Shea Butter Stephenson Melt and Pour Soap Base. You can use the stove top or microwave, whichever works best for you. Once completely melted add ¼ block of Shimmer Raspberry Melt and Pour Soap Block and melt for an until 25-30 seconds. Stir until you achieve a pretty pink color. If you’d like a darker raspberry color, add another ¼ block. Either color will come out looking beautiful! Next, add 10 drops of the Moscato Fragrance Oil. Doesn’t it smell delightful? Pour on top of the soap mold tray and let harden.
Removing soap out of a plastic tray is sometimes tricky. It can be hit or miss! A great tip is putting the tray in the freezer for 10 minutes before removing, next firmly push on the tray. The soap will pop right out. Slice into 10 rectangular shape bars. These bars are a perfect little Valentine’s Day gift for your friends and loved ones. Wrap in clear cellophane or burlap and tie with a big white, pink or silver bow. You’ll be a hit at your next wine night! Enjoy!
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I wanted to make a soap that could be a versatile gift – yielding eight bars a tray, this is a great way to show the people in your life that you love them! What better fragrance to use than Bulk Apothecary’s version of “Falling in Love?”
Here’s what you’ll need:
Spray bottle of rubbing alcohol
Begin by cutting 1 lb. of soap in half. Put one half aside (we’ll use that later) and cut the remaining half into two. One half will be for the bubblegum pink color, the other for magenta. Cut the soap base into cubes and then quarter the color blocks and then use ¼ of the block in each measuring cup. I sliced a quarter of the color block into three slim slices to allow it to melt faster. Microwave for one minute, stir, and microwave again for an additional 30 seconds.
Add 10-30 drops of fragrance oil to each measuring cup and stir. The soap is ready to pour. Carefully pour the soap into the heart cavities of the mold. If you pour extra, do not worry – you can scrape the extra soap off the mold before pouring the second layer (not everything has to be perfect)! Spritz the hearts with alcohol to eliminate bubbles, and allow to cool for 20 minutes before pouring the next layer.
Melt the remaining 1.5 lbs. of cubed soap, along with ¼ of the shimmer pearl color block, for one minute. Stir, and then continue to microwave in 30 second increments until completely melted. Add the remainder of the fragrance oil, stir, and pour very carefully. Be sure not to pour the soap directly onto the hearts – this could cause the layers to mix together.
After allowing the soap to set for two hours, carefully pull away at each side to release the vacuum seal that has formed. Flip the mold over and lightly push the soap out onto a flat surface. Your soap is now ready to cut! Use a knife of soap cutter to divide the tray up into eight individual bars.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Bulkers!
Valentine Soap Recipe