Occasionally we are contacted by someone who has a small nub of a bar of soap they loved, and bought a while ago, but cannot find it again… and they want to. Their nub of a bar of soap is often a treasure they want to share only on the condition that we can figure out what is in it, and duplicate it for them.
Soap making is a science that involves following specific recipes to the letter… so when we are handed small slivers of someone else’s recipe it can be tricky. The basic cold process recipe may or may not be the right formula… and then there is color, essential oil, and added textures….. what could be in that bar of soap?
Our first adventure in reproducing someone’s favorite soap was truely an adventure. The soap was not fully opaque, and not fully transparent… so it was not a glycerine soap, nor was it a fully cold processed recipe. We did a lot of research, and finally determined it was a process known as cold process oven process… The soap formula was mixed like a cold process recipe, but the filled soap mold was placed in a warm oven for several hours to cure. In that hot cure process the formula transformed to a natural glycerine/cold process recipe.
But it was the scent of the soap that had us all stumped. It was a masculine scent, an after shave smell that was familiar, but not identifiable. We asked everyone that we knew…. sniffing that sliver of soap. After countless discussions one of our friends said “Oh, Hey, i know what this is…. it is Brute! I know because that was a favorite aftershave i wore in the 1980s.” OK – that is a faint memory for me… so i hit the internet and discovered it was a drug store cheap aftershave that is still sold in discount stores and places like walgreens. So we hit the internet to find the fragrant oil – knowing this may be tough because the trade name is probably patented as is the fragrance. But we found it… and knowing we were making only a small batch for this client, we were able to purchase just enough to make a 1 pound loaf for him.
From a sliver of soap left probably from one of those “Christmas Gift Sets” given years before, we were able to find and match the recipe of the soap. The color was an odd mossy green on the original sliver, but ours was a bit less intense in color.
Challenges are good for us – they push us on, cause us to research and learn new things, and build confidence that we can duplicate someone else’s soap creations. Its an interesting niche.