For some soap makers, it means exactly what it says – it is a small batch of soap made in the home for personal use.
But I think it can mean much more than that. To me, homemade soap is a soap that is artisan crafted in small batches where careful attention is given to each recipe. To me, it must be made by hand – not by large machines where the ingredients are poured into giant drums. That is definitely NOT home made!
So, does the soap have to made inside someone’s house to be called homemade? Not necessarily. While it is true that our soap making operation moved out of our personal kitchen many years ago, it didn’t go that far. Around 2006 we purchased a soap making shop – one of those quaint barns that most people use for storing bicycles, old furniture, and Christmas ornaments. We then proceeded to insulate the entire barn, install drywall, counter tops, flooring, and electricity. In the picture below, our soap shop may not look very large but it is very well organized with work stations on either side, drying racks for the soaps, an oil melting station, and a shipping area. The barn lofts are great for store bottling and packaging.
My point is, our soap shop is still located at our home, just 15 feet from our back door right beyond our studio and the goldfish pond. In front of the shop is our herb garden where there is: oregano, thyme, sage, Asiatic lilies, lavender, catmint, beebalm, yarrow, and green peppers.
To the side, you will see my hydrangea bushes on either side of the door. In the summer months, there are hanging baskets of petunias and impatients. An old elm tree shades the soap shop, helping to keep in cooler during the summer months. But, yes, there is air conditioning in the shop. Soap needs the humidity pulled out of the air in order for it to dry and cure properly.
I went surfing the web trying to find other soap makers that made soap in barns or outdoor workshops but wasn’t very successful in finding any pictures. I did, however, run across another soapmaker with the cutest little shop. Their store reminded me of an upscale version of our barn with the rustic appearance and the landscaping out front. So, here’s a nod to Rosner Soap of Sugar Loaf, NY. Great looking shop!
Now, back to homemade soap. Just being made on our property isn’t the only factor in calling our soap homemade. It also has to do with the fact that it is made in small quantities – only 36 bars at a time, sometimes only 12 bars at a time. True, we may have to make soap more often than our competition but this attention to detail and quality makes me secure in the notion of calling our soap homemade.