Soap Nuts for laundry, the best laundry solution yet

  • Soap nuts for laundry is easier than you may think. Also consider that when you use toxic store brand laundry detergent, you are wearing these chemicals everytime you wear your clothes, or use a towel, or sleep! Soap nuts has become the best way to naturally clean your laundry! Get some history on soap nuts here, it has a proven track record.

  • Basically, using soap nuts for laundry is easy - place 5 soap nuts in a bag, usually supplied with the soap nuts, draw the draw string tight, and place in with the laundry. That's it. Some people add a few drops (10) of essential oils for a natural scent, such as lemongrass and lavender. You will get 5 loads worth from these, then the shells can go into a compost.
    In point form, laundry soap nuts are:
    environmentally friendly
    sustainably produced
    chemical free
    not messy like powders.

    For your skin, soap nuts are:
    gentle on clothes
    great for sensitive skin
    reduces allergens
    reduces eczema
    better for babies
    makes clothes softer
    has no scent.

    When using soap nuts for laundry:
    remove bag before placing clothes in dryer
    re-use the soap nuts for 4 - 5 loads
    good for front and top loaders
    use less for half a load
    can leave in spin cycle
    do the usual separation of darks and lights
    wash darks with new nuts and whites with used nuts
    no fabric softener is needed.

    And the variables:
    some say the soap nuts for laundry work best in warm and hot water, some say cold works just as well
    liquid version of the soap nuts can be made for cold water, 1/4 - 1/2 cup
    you can use a sock for the cotton drawstring bag
    soap nuts are darker, shinier and soft when used up
    can put 3 nuts in the cutlery holder of dishwasher for your dishes (and vinegar in the rinse dispenser)
    that nuts work in hot or cold, but that you would have less loads when using these on hot
    keep the soap nuts out of direct sunlight
    keep in an airtight container to prevent stickiness (in humidity)
    if sticky, still good to use
    2 pounds or 1 kg of soap nuts should last for over 300 loads
    the rinse cycle could be skipped as there is no detergents to rinse away
    for stains you may still need an oxygen based whitening powder.

    Liquid soap nuts can be used for a variety of uses, such as shampoo, dish soap, hand washable, household cleaners, pet shampoo, and anywhere else you would use a liquid cleaner. Usually there is a liquid version where ever you would purchase your nuts.
    To make liquid soap:
    put about 6 - 8 soap nuts (2.5 oz or 50g) of crushed soap nuts in 4 cups of water
    bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
    let cool and add a natural thickener like Xanthum Gum
    and a natural essential oil scent if desired
    a batch will make enough for 8 loads, at 1/4 to 1/2 cup each load
    uses batches within 2 weeks (the nuts last almost forever).

    Essential oil scent examples are:
    For bathroom - tea tree or lemongrass
    for dish washing - sweet orange
    for laundry - lavender.

    Sunflower oil in soap making and skin care

    Sunflower oil in soap making, a great nut oil with natural nutrients. It's botanical name is Helianthus annuus, and the oil is obtained through the cold pressed method. This pale-yellow to yellow oil has high amounts of Vitamins A, B, D and E, minerals, lecithin, insulin, and unsaturated fatty acids and used commonly in massage, manufacturing, and in aromatherapy, all with no known cautions. As a massage oil, sunflower absorbs slowly, lessening repeated applications. it has a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year with cooler temperatures and no-sunlight conditions, though refrigeration after opening is recommended.

    Sunflower Carrier Oil is described as the non-volatile oil expressed from sunflower seeds, containing linoleic acid, oleic acid, lecithin, carotenoids and a high Vitamin E content. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid and a component of natural fats derived from either vegetable oils or animal fat. Oleic acid acts as an emulsifier, surfactant, thickening agent and emollient. High Oleic Sunflower Oil has at least 82% oleic acid. Only the high-oleic variety possesses shelf life sufficient for commercial cosmetic formulation.

    In cosmetics, Sunflower Oil has smoothing properties beneficial for both dry and oily skin complexions. It gently moisturizes the skin without leaving an oily sheen and often used to manufacture creams, lotions, sun creams, massage oils, hair creams, bath oils and more.

    sunflower oil in soap making According to the National Sunflower Association, there are three types of sunflower oil: linoleic, high oleic, and NuSun. Linoleic sunflower oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fat, essential fatty acids. High oleic sunflower possesses a high level of monounsaturated fat. NuSun sunflower oil contains less than ten percent saturated fat.

    Sunflower oil is a perfect source of vitamin E, containing more of the vitamin than any other vegetable oil. One teaspoon of sunflower oil has 5.5 milligrams (28 percent of the needed daily value) of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents damage to human cells.

    In skin care, sunflower oil in soap making and lotions, can provide protection for the skin as it offers a protective coating that can help prevent infection and inflammation, as well as treating acne. Skin care products, such as body wash, cleansers, and moisturizers often contain sunflower oil because of its natural power to retain skin moisture.

    sunflower oil in soap making Homemade bath product makers often include sunflower oil in soap making and skin care products due to its excellent moisturizing. Because it is rich in linoleic acid it is useful for soaps designed to soften the skin. But when sunflower oil is the only oil used in soaps there is a much higher chance of the product spoiling, it works well as a superfatting oil too.

    In other bath products using sunflower oils, natural preservatives such as rosemary or grapefruit extract will help. These can help to slow down the oxidization process so that the product lasts a lot longer. Using a high oleic Sunflower oil can also give an extended shelf life.

    Sunflower oil has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of skin conditions, such as acne, because of vitamin E levels.

    Christmas, the biggest selling season!

    Christmas is the best time of the year sell soap and make some decent money.  At my soap store, the months of November and December accounted for almost 30% of our annual sales.  Next were the summer months, and January being the worse.

    One of the seasonal soaps we had was Christmas Spice, with orange, cinnamon and cloves.  We tinted it orange with a brown swirl, to represent the cinnamon and cloves.  If we didn't sell them all at Christmas, then we changed the label to Orange Spice, and that scent sold the rest of the year.

    There was also a Candy Cane soap, which was peppermint scented, an all white bar with a red swirl.  If this bar didn't sell at Christmas, it ended up in the discount section.  (These are the bars above, I've edited out the company name as we sold this business a couple of years ago, and unfortunately, my scanner did not pick up the gold shimmer in the bar, but trust me, it was beautiful)

    The best selling Christmas bar was a Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, a nice neutral scented bar good for men and woman.  This bar was white, with a tan swirl, and gold mica on its front.  It was definitely one of the prettiest bars around.  Make your bar as usual, we used fragrance oil for our scent, and when the bars were cut and cured and ready for labeling, we would dip the bar face into a plate of gold mica, carefully or you will have a mica cloud, gently rubbed the mica into the bar, brushing off any excess, then labeled.

    We would take these 3 christmas bars, place them in a long flat cello bag so that all their labels and faces were showing, tied the top and sold as a package.  This was a big seller.

    I am attending a christmas sale this weekend, and I think I am ready to go.  My signs and decor are all ready, and I am planning to sell out.  Don't be afraid to take your discount bars as well.  I took my last year, and these were the first to go.  So yes, people are christmas shopping, but if there is something they can get for themselves, or simply add soap to an existing gift, they will appreciate these bars. 

    And a photo of one of the packages we had pre-made, these five bath salts came in a little wood crate, and looked so pretty, a mineral bath salt for every occasion!

    My soap classes

    I teach soap making classes, as well as lotion and perfume oil making classes.  I teach these through the local recreation center.  These classes are fun to do, and the students always have good questions to ask.  I charge a modest $30 per student, and they get to leave with a container of approximately 4 bars worth of soap base that they have scented themselves.

    Recently, one of my students is moving to a beautiful little island on the coast and is going to start making soap herself, and selling it through her new bed and breakfast, as well as local events.  This student has already ventured and started making liquid soaps and created her own scent blends.

    Another of my students, who took both the soap and lotion classes, has started making lotion for sale too.  We were together at one of the markets, me with my soap, and her with 100% natural lotions.  I even bought one of hers.  Even though I know how to make it, I had ran out and hadn't got around to it.

    Making natural products yourself can be addictive.  Once you realize that you are able to make quality and all natural products, customized with the ingredients that you want, you can never go back.  Which is good, as having less chemicals in our lives, makes for a healthier environment.

    Much luck to my students as they progress with their natural soaps and lotions.!!

    Selling soap at the Farmers Market

    I've mentioned the Farmers Market a few times in these posts, but the market has been on my mind a lot lately as it is summer and I am attending as many as possible. Yet as wonderful and outdoorsy and eco-friendly these markets are, there is sometimes a thread of unhappiness.  I've been attending these things for years, all over the place, and here are a couple of things to consider.

    When soap is fairly new, in the 1 - 3 month stage, it is susceptible to sunlight.  Oddly, not so much heat, but direct sunlight.  I will leave soap in my van for days till the next event, and this extreme heat will not soften the bars.  Yet if I have the same soap in direct sunlight at a market, it will get a little softer, especially at the minimum cured age. 

    So when I go to out of town markets, I explain that I will want a north facing booth so that the sun does not ruin my product.  And they always say sure, that they will make a note of this.  Yet when you get there, half of the time you are not facing north.  I will find the market rep and ask about this only to be told that they didn't really know which way was north.  (I think I was speechless the first time I heard this, I have since taken a poll and only about half of people seem to know which direction is north, or south, etc.)

    Another super important fact is location.  For some crazy reason, my local market has some strategy known only to themselves.  Our market is in a parking lot corner, clearly visible on the main street, can't miss it.  But when people come to visit, they enter from the other side, and they do not always walk around to the outside row of booths, the booths that actually face this road.  They do walk around the center, which is U-shaped with a large canopy in the center to sit under.  From this center vantage point, they see a surrounding of booths, and perhaps they think these interior booths are the same booths they spotted from the exterior.  But they are not. 

    We have talked to them about having a large U-shape around the perimeter of this area, with a row of booths up the center, then everyone could be seen.  But they don't do this.  A couple of weeks ago, I got stuck on the outside, and made probably the worse sales ever.  A week later, I have an inside space, and get sales 20% over my average. 

    A friend of mine, a soapmaker, went to an event where they had agreed on a particular space, upon arrival, it was an in-the-sun and less-traffic space.  She gave it some thought, said no thanks, she wanted the agreed space, and maybe she'll come back next week.  Then Presto, they just happened to have a better space for her. 

    On being an Artisan, part 2

    The entire reason for my previous post was to inform artisans that there is always the fine print, there is always something that they are not telling you.  I did not know that there was such an unfair discrepency in the rent paying and commissions at the artisan store.  How can someone (store owner) be so stupid to not see how their negative and unfair behavior may actually annoy some people.  So here is some of what you may need to know when you consign your soap or anything else.

    1. Most artists pay a commission on the sale of their product.  The average seems to be anywhere from 25% - 40%.  It is not usually any less, but may reach 50%; 

    2. Find out if there are any additional hidden fees, such as advertising;

    3. If you feel you need insurance for your products, you are the one that is responsible for that.  Because the store owner does not own your product, they cannot insure it;

    4.  Which leads to a very important point, your product belongs to you and only you.  Nobody can tell you when you can pick up/remove your product.  They may prefer non-store hours, and you may have signed something stating non-store hours, but you take your product when you want;

    5.  Do not agree to an exclusive arrangement.  This is when one business wants to be the only business in town/area to carry your product.  These are people that are being selfish and silly and are thinking rather high about themselves.  A friend of mine that makes soap consigns here products at a hair salon/gift shop, and this store owner wants an exclusive.  The thing is, if my friend could make enough money from this one store, then go for it.  But if you are making a measly few dollars then don't;

    6.  Do you supply the display materials?   At my store, we had some extra supply materials that the artists were welcome to use.  We often we didn't have the right or complementary displays, so the artists would bring in their own. A nice display sells the product.

    7. Do you have to have your products coded and priced?  In the beginning of our store, the artists would bring in a box of say, little stained glass items.  None priced or labeled or even ready with fishing line to hang them up.  For a couple of years we would code, label, string these items but realized it was time consuming.  And I mean, we would spend all day getting this stuff ready for sale.  So don't depend on the store owner to do all this for you.

    8. Do you have to have bar codes?  Probably not, but if you are selling to any store chain they will want bar codes.  A lot of stores will have bar code machines and can make some right at the store for your product.

    9. Hanging paintings or stained glass?  Make sure that the supporting hardware is strong enough and don't rely on the store owner to supply these.  We had this really nice carving at our store once, and when the front door got banged open, it caused this carving to fall off the other side of the wall and break.  This was sad really, as this was expensive, but this carving had not been hung up with proper heavy duty hardware.  Our fault, their fault?

    10. People and stores that consign your products will not take care of them like you do.  I can't count the times that I have checked on my products to discover that they are covered in dust, labels ripped, bars damaged, etc.  I've had to trim these bars and put them in my dollar basket.

    11.  Testers.  People like testers and if you don't supply them, they will make some for you.  For instance, I sell a bug repelling essential oil blend at the artisan store.  Now I did figure that people would open a lid to smell it, but I did not count on people opening every single bottle and using it.  Every bottle is down 10 - 20 percent of my filling it.  People don't seem to realize that this is actually stealing.   And if you do supply a Tester, people will still open the ones that are not testers.  This kept happening at our store, so we started using fluorescent yellow paper for the tester label, and this helped a little, but people would still keep opening the sealed bottles.  We then had to have a display of the essential oils and keep in the full bottles out of reach. 

    12.  Signing a contract.  I would really think twice.  Perhaps sign a 2 month contract just to test the store.  Take the contract home with you first and read it carefully.  We didn't have a contract at my store, but we did give the artists an information sheet re: display materials, pay outs, etc.  And I might add, I didn't have a contract where this Dic took it upon himself to take my money to pay for his rent.

    13.  I have found artists to be an interesting group of people, from every walk of life.  And I suppose like very other occupation, some have really high opinions of themselves.  One painter took his paintings from our store because we didn't "promote the artist" - being him.  Excuse me?  I'm not your mother.  This is a natural soap shop people!  I lent you space to sell your paintings that aren't selling, and somehow this is my fault?!

    I did go to the artisan store last night, but the Dic was there, so I left.  I think my boyfriend and I are going to go there today after the car show today. 

    On being an artisan . . .

    I'm a little mad at the moment, and should wait that 24 hours before doing anything, but what the heck!  I mentioned before that I sell soap at a little artisan store on main street, and it is run by another artisan that creates leatherwork.  There is a total of 24 artists and crafters that sell from this store, and about 4 that actually operate it, myself being one of them.

    In the beginning, a lot of these people were from the local farmers market, who decided to open a storefront after the summer season, and who would all split the rent and expenses.  Good so far.  The leather guy put all in his name and has the final say on whatever goes on, rightfully so.  But after a few months, a lot of the artisans quit because of the slow season (January - April) and other artists were added on a consignment basis.  So I joined about 5 months ago, and started contributing to my share of the rent.  Little did I know, is that there is a lot of different rates and payments for different people.

    I find out that the painting artists, with art that hangs on the walls, pay only a 10% commission and no rent.  Artisans with products such as pottery or fabric arts, pay a 30% commission and no rent.  Five of us, myself included, pay rental and no commission.  But us rent payers said that we didn't think it was fair that some of us pay rent, yet some don't.  Sure some pay commission, but ultimately, us rent payers are paying for the others to have a space.  And when the others have a sale, they pay a small commission and get the balance of their monies.  Yet when us rent payers have sale, we need to sell a certain amount first to cover our rent, before we see any of our monies.  The Dictator says he has come up with a plan and that is $1 per day, plus 10% commission.  We all say okay. 

    So a couple of days ago, I tell the bookkeeper/artisan that I would like to switch over to the new commission method, mainly because I really have a problem with paying other people's rent so they can sell stuff.  She says she will tell the Dictator.  Today I go into the store to man it, along with the Dic, thinking that I will be on the commission method, mainly because new artists have joined and they are on this new method, so why wouldn't I be?

    One of the painter artists comes in to pick up her monies, and the Dic gives me my envelop as well.  I say I was told there was a 3-digit amount here, but there is only $9.56.  He says he took my rent out!  I said that I don't want to pay the rent, I want what other people have, I want to switch to commission, any one of the commission methods, and why do the new people get a better deal than me?  The Dic goes on about the rent and expenses etc, and that we are all switching over in August anyways, I say I want to switch now.  He refuses.  I am on the verge of tears. 

    I am now understanding why this man is single.

    Even the artist who was in to get her money is siding with me.  She is a well known and gifted painter and has had her art in many galleries, and is trying to tell him how other galleries do their commissions, etc.  He wants to do it his way.

    Oh, and did I mention that I had a store myself?  With artists of every caliber?  That I dealt with commissions for years, and rent, and expenses, etc.  Did I also mention that I have been nominated for Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Customer Service of the Year?  All from my soap and artist store?  Yet this early-retired Fisherman knows better.

    So I have been paying rent, manning the store, bringing display materials from home, re-decorating the front display window, making signs with my materials, advertising for the store, trying to recruit more artists, washing the front windows, and bringing the Dic my homemade cheesecake!  All for free!  So other people can reap the financial benefits! 

    People describe me as mellow and calm.  But we all have our breaking points.  Even people who have known me for years are surprised when they hear me yell for the first time, mostly surprised because I can yell really loud.  I am beyond explaining the unfairness of his methods.  I think I am going to pull a stealth maneuver, go tonight to the store, and retrieve all my stuff from the store.  I know that when I tell my boyfriend about this, that is exactly what he will say. 

    And to top it all off, he insulted my soap.  He says that the artists such as painters pay less money and commission because thier stuff is really art, whereas my stuff is just following a recipe and mixing it.

    It was at this point where I got very quiet.  I don't talk when I am mad.  I will answer you, I may look at you.  But I sure am not going to have a nice little conversation.

    At the artisan store, I have soap, a dozen varieties, essential oils, books that I have co-wrote, and little soap gift bags, filling up a 3 level receded shelf.  I have also brought in one display table, and an assortment of table cloths for the displays, two of which are in the front window.  Which means that when I remove my belongings, one artist will not have a display table any longer and her stuff will be on the floor.  My cloth-covered shelf will revert back to its rustic-not-carpenter-made self, and the front display window will be back to its rustic-fake-grass-plywood-looking-non-decorative self.

    Oh, and by the way, he would like me to be in tomorrow.

    UPDATE:  We, my boyfriend and I, did go to the store to get my stuff and what a hassle!  The Dic did return some of my money but then just had to add a new cleaning fee of $25, to me only, his way of being an even larger ass and still screw me out of money.  He is the type that has to have the last word, has to be right even when he is not. He had also called one of the artists and told her that I had dumped her stuff on the floor and took her table (it was my table and I was lending it at the moment), and upsetting her for no reason.  Since this stealing of my money, we have talked to a couple of other people and they too were aware of his stealing ways.  One being a guitar from a music store at the Lake, and another being cash from a horse riding club.  Also, he illegally sleeps and lives there at the business, I found him there when I stopped by at 1 am once.  So us rent payers are also providing his housing, where he really should take advantage of the shower.