What’s the difference between “Soap Making” and “Soap Finishing”?

“Soap Making” usually refers to the entire process in manufacturing soap from the first chemical reaction known as Saponification to the finished product which is a bar of soap. “Soap Finishing” is a reference to making only the finished bar of soap from an intermediate product know as “Soap Chips”.

The entire soap manufacturing process actually consists of 3 steps:

  1. Saponification,
  2. Drying,
  3. Finishing.

Soap Making consists of all 3 steps and soap finishing is step number 3 only.

Is “Soap Making” economical on a small scale?

The only type of soap production which is economically feasible on a small scale is soap finishing. Performing the 3 “Soap Making” steps above, (Saponification, Drying and Finishing) on a small scale is not feasible. The minimum amount necessary to make the entire process economically feasible is approximately 1 ton per hour.

Can soap finishing be done with small machines?

Yes. Soap finishing can be performed with small size mixers, refiners and extruders. These are the same machines that larger manufacturers use for their Pilot Plants.

Can small bars be extruded and stamped together to make larger bars?

No. Although the resultant larger bar will at first appear solid, after a series of wet and dry cycles, cracks will begin to develop in the bar and the pieces will separate.

Can liquid soap be poured into a Plodder and made into a solid soap bar?

No. An extruder does not transform liquid into solid. An extruder (Plodder) will only re-form solid material.

What’s the difference between a Plodder and an Extruder?

Basically there is no difference. A plodder is a very simple forming extruder. In the soap industry this type of forming extruder became know as a plodder.

Is a refrigerated die necessary?

Yes. The reason for refrigeration of the die is so that the soap will not stick to the die after being stamped. The only other way to avoid this is to line the die with a piece of plastic film or spray with silicon or other type of release agent before every single stamp. This is fine for laboratory work but becomes very cumbersome even in small production.